Seventh-day Adventists have been uniquely chosen for mission, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson said at the beginning of his annual address at the 2023 Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, on October 7. It is a mission that includes sharing the three angels’ messages for the end times with Holy Spirit power as described in Revelation 14.
“God tells us in numerous places in His Word about being chosen,” Wilson said. “What a privilege to be called and chosen by God to deliver the last warning to a perishing world.”
Mission is the raison d’être for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Wilson emphasized, noting that 2023 marks “the 160th anniversary of the organizing of the General Conference and the 150th anniversary next year of formal church mission service.” He added, “Since that time the church has globally grown exponentially, with missionaries going from everywhere to everywhere.… God’s global work is flourishing because we are chosen for mission. Nothing can stop God’s mission.”
Hindering the Mission
Wilson reminded the hundreds of General Conference Executive Committee members listening in person and the many others following online that the devil tries everything to hinder the mission of the church, including through violence, hostile environments, persecution, discouragement, confusion, internal bickering, distractions, and false doctrines, among many other attacks against God’s people.
“These confusing interruptions tend to derail God’s mission as entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” he said.
In the next few minutes, Wilson listed some of those confusing interruptions.
First, he referenced a lack of understanding the Bible, how to interpret it, and even some antagonism against God’s Word. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church believes in the authenticity and authority of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, to be applied to all people everywhere and for all time,” Wilson emphasized. “Do not be influenced by those, even in the church, who ignore, denigrate, or depreciate the Word of God.”
Wilson then referred to confusion and misinformation about the Godhead — “Seventh-day Adventists believe there is one God, and that this one God is three co-eternal Persons who work together in unity” — and misunderstandings about human sexuality — “The church does not and will not accept individuals as church members or elected church leaders who are not adhering to the biblical understanding and practice of human sexuality,” he said.
He also mentioned confusions about the sanctuary service, misconceptions about biblical creation and the seventh-day Sabbath, and some of the false doctrines circulating. He zeroed in on those who promote love for God as the opposite of pious behavior. “These false doctrines are very dangerous and should not be accepted since they destroy the entire understanding of Christ’s justifying and sanctifying righteousness.”
In the next section, Wilson mentioned those who seem to have lost their sense of urgency in the Advent movement. “The second coming of Christ … should permeate every aspect of Seventh-day Adventist life,” he emphasized. “We are living at the end of time. Let us live with that sense of urgency that will allow the Holy Spirit to work through each of us.”
Connected to this, Wilson mentioned the loss of identity as God’s remnant church. “Do not be confused as to who Seventh-day Adventists are … God’s special messengers and His remnant church. Don’t allow ‘mission drift’ in our church entities and institutions, which results in loss of identity,” he pleaded.
The next part of Wilson’s sermon saw him address false accusations about the church’s relationship to ecumenism — “Nothing can compromise our biblical understanding of truth and nothing will”; challenges to church authority — “We are called to press together.… Do not drift into congregationalism”; and misunderstanding about the Spirit of Prophecy in the life and work of Ellen G. White — “I urge you to have a strong commitment to reading the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy and following God’s instructions for His last-day remnant people.”
He also mentioned the lack of understanding about the true meaning of the seventh-day Sabbath as God’s sign of creation and redemption, confusion regarding the state of the dead, and derision regarding the Adventist understanding of the last-day prophetic events. “Do not be deceived into thinking that there are explanations for end-time events other than that shown through Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation and by the book The Great Controversy,” Wilson said. “Read the biblical prophecies and the book The Great Controversy, and you will be reaffirmed about end-time events.”
Finally, Wilson referred to a lack of enthusiasm for direct personal and public evangelistic outreach — “Personal and public evangelistic outreach is the lifeblood of the Advent movement” — and the neutralization of personal Christian lifestyle and church comportment. “Remain faithful to God’s injunctions to live a pure and simple lifestyle as a witness to the world,” he said.
God Is In Control
While Wilson called his listeners to “resist temptations by false teachers to deviate from our biblical beliefs and heaven-sent mission,” he made clear that God is above any challenge we might face.
“Regardless of the confusing interruptions to mission, God is in complete control of the destiny of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the proclamation of the Advent message,” Wilson emphasized. “Despite the future attacks on the mission of the church, God will see His remnant church through to His second coming. Regardless of the slippage of biblical beliefs and practice by some, regardless of the shaking and sifting, God is directing His final mission, which will not fail despite the attacks from within and without.”
Against that background, and as church leaders focus on remembering the 160th anniversary of the General Conference itself, Wilson emphasized that it’s a relevant time to remember that God has chosen us for the mission of giving the final cry before His second coming. “By God’s grace, we will not celebrate many more anniversaries on this earth,” he said.
At the same time, the denomination is preparing to remember in 2024 the 150th anniversary of the sending of the first missionary, John Nevins Andrews, who, with his son and daughter, left for Switzerland on September 15, 1874.
In honor of that milestone and to renew the Adventist focus on mission, Wilson announced that a family would be sent as missionaries to Switzerland, just as Andrews did almost 150 years ago. A brief ceremony saw the family marching across the GC auditorium for a special prayer of dedication.
Wilson closed by calling again for a redoubling of missionary efforts. “Now is the time for greater mission effort locally and worldwide. Now is the time to follow Christ’s way of evangelism,” he said. “Let us relieve suffering and teach Christ’s righteousness engaging in complete mission outreach … [because] we are chosen for mission!”