September 16, 2005

United in Witnessing
to the Second Coming


1540 thursday capnd I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Rev. 14:6, 7). That passage is followed by a reference to two other angels who proclaim a particular message to the world.

In 1844 when Christians from different parts of the world rose up to proclaim the return of Jesus in glory, they were preparing a way for the proclamation of the message of the first angel of Revelation 14. After the Great Disappointment of 1844 new light came from the Lord, and a faithful remnant group started proclaiming the message of the first angel in the midst of mockeries and sarcasm. The message of the hour of God's judgment was proclaimed, appealing to all to "worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."

The voice of the angel of Revelation 14:6, 7 was heard through human instrumentalities. These were not numerous people coming from diverse horizons, professing different doctrines and sets of beliefs. Rather, they were united, as one voice, behind one message, marching in close ranks but willing to be dispersed all over the earth. It was within that commitment to unity that the foundation of the Adventist movement was laid. The goal was to continue the work started by Christ and his disciples, who powerfully announced the glorious return of Christ.

One Common Hope
Today the church holds the hope of living with Christ the Lord throughout eternity. About 2,000 years ago Jesus said: "I go to prepare a place for you. and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John
14:2, 3).

1540 fridaySince that time this promise has become the blessed hope of the Adventist Church. This hope, which has remained a fundamental uniting factor of the people of God, becomes a source of encouragement when it gets engraved in our hearts and minds. It sets faith ablaze and enables one to sail through present crises and difficulties with tranquility, and to look into the future with serenity. Injustices, pains, and sufferings that are brought into our lives in this world of sin are seen as passing moments. Our true life is the one that we will spend along with our Lord throughout eternity. When Christians project themselves into the future, and live here on earth with that wonderful expectation, the burdens of life seem lighter upon their shoulders.

We should make Jesus the object of our thought, our meditation, and communicate with Him moment after moment. Those who have experienced that fellowship can bear witness to the fact that in times of trouble the greatest and sweetest consolation is found in keeping in touch with our Lord. We should always keep our eyes on Him and entertain the vision of walking side by side with Jesus on the golden streets of the New Jerusalem. Any Christian who constantly dwells on such thoughts will surely experience genuine Christian joy (1 Thess. 5:16). We ought to cherish that wonderful hope. It gives sense to our existence. Someone has said that without this hope we shall be like a ship without a sail on the high sea.

Paul reminds us that we "are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4:4). Christians share this unique hope all over the world. It does not fail. Despite an environment filled with uncertainty, insecurity, chaos, and confusion, our joy must grow deeper.

This environment reminds us of a better tomorrow, and gives way to everlasting happiness for those who are waiting for the return of the Lord. It heralds Christ's imminent glorious appearing. Signs of His soon coming are occurring before our eyes. Only those who don't want to believe will ignore them. Peter remarked: "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (2 Peter 3:5-7).

Therefore, as children of God we hope in joy because the coming of the Lord marks our deliverance and eagerly expected reunion. We are not surprised. We ought to discern the times in which we are living. The crisis of the political world the moral decadence of our world, and the preaching of the gospel throughout the whole world cannot escape the attention of a Christian who lives in expectation.

One Common Witnessing
The expectation of the return of Christ unites Christians and propels them to look for that event. That expectation led us into the church and motivated changes in our lives introducing us to a biblically coherent style of life that attests that we belong to a "peculiar people," the people who await the Second Coming.

The Adventist Church, established after 1844 to give voice to the messages of the three angels, does not constitute an additional church within the Christian churches. It was founded at a precise prophetic moment that coincided with the beginning of Christ's work of judgment in heaven. The other side of the message was the call to worship God the Creator and to keep the fourth commandment, which is the seal of authority of the creator of the universe.

Questions for Sharing

1. What aspects of contemporary society speak to you of the imminence of the Second Coming?

2. When did you last share with others outside our faith communion your belief in the Second Coming? What strategies have you found most

3. Why do you want Jesus to return? What elements of life today do you most want to see become things of the past? Be specific.

At the fullness of the prophetic times God Himself raised the church to carry out these messages to the whole world. Every new member of the Adventist Church is united to the existing body to strengthen and amplify the impact of the three messages, to invite men and women to repent, and to make up a peculiar people, a holy people, ready to acclaim Jesus descending from the clouds of heaven. Jesus had already entrusted this commission to the first disciples: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19, 20). The reality of Jesus' soon coming must constitute an essential concern and interest for Christians. We are not only to share this hope, but it should also be part of daily life.

Christians should continue to spread this message as if their lives were at stake. Surely, the lives of their parents, neighbors, and colleagues are at stake. The apostle Paul rightly confirmed this thought: "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:13, 14).

And so the angels' voices are being heard all over the world through the ministry of the Adventist Church, inviting people to join a people that share the common experience of getting ready to see the Lord coming in glory and to live with him forever.

One Common Experience
Revelation 21:2-4 throws some light on some details related to the heavenly dwelling of followers of Jesus, the New Jerusalem. In that new city "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain," and God himself "shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."

How many wonderful realities God keeps in store for His people! We ought to keep in mind the beauties of our heavenly inheritance in order to prevent current difficulties from discouraging us. Those who hold to that promise are united around common principles, having their characters shaped into the likeness of Christ.

Writing to Titus, Paul reminded him of the following: "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:11-13).

Peter makes the same recommendation to all those who share the same hope and wait for Christ's return: "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:11, 12). Those reminders are for us, Christians of the end time who, having "obtained like precious faith" with the disciples (2 Peter 1:1), are waiting for the manifestation of the blessed hope.

While waiting for that unique meeting and the prospect of living with our Lord, we shall begin right now on earth to live like "chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9, NIV).
Lucile Sabas is the rector of Adventist University Cosendai in the West-Central Africa Division.