During the divine worship service on October 31, 2020, G. Alexander Bryant, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD), said we need the Holy Spirit now more than ever. “God’s Spirit, God’s grace, God’s willingness to give — He’s more willing to give it to you than a father to give bread to a hungry child, but this gift to you is in accordance to your capacity and ability to receive it.”
Bryant, preaching a sermon entitled “Why Don’t We Ask?” declared to the delegates, families, and guests viewing the 2020 NAD Virtual Year-End Meeting (YEM) Sabbath program that “the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is a necessity for living the Christian life. It’s a necessity for doing the work of God.”
“Now, He does say you must ask for the Spirit,” Bryant reminded viewers. We now need to ask for the Spirit that Jesus had while on earth. With the Spirit upon Him, “[Jesus] preached the gospel to the poor, He healed the brokenhearted, He preached deliverance to the captives, He looked out for the least of these among us” (see Luke 4:18). When Jesus was filled with the Spirit, He declared what He would do, and the Spirit anointed Him to do it.
All About Mission
Before Bryant began, Kyoshin Ahn, newly elected executive secretary of the NAD, gave a heartfelt introduction. After sharing details of Bryant’s pastoral and administrative career, Ahn said, “I’m happy to tell you that, first and foremost, he is a mission-focused leader. His primary interest is to see the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America making a positive impact upon the world.”
“Elder Bryant is a mission-minded leader, mission-minded yet grass-rooted. He has been conducting three-to-four-week evangelistic series at local churches while serving as division secretary,” Ahn explained.
Ahn shared that Bryant wants to bring everyone together to accomplish the mission of the church. “He places the mission of God and the mission of this church before his personal preference or interest,” Ahn continued. “He is a mission-focused leader. That’s why he wants to bring every group together to accomplish the mission God has placed upon this church. He firmly believes that when we are together, focusing on a mission, we are much stronger and can accomplish great things together.”
The Holy Spirit Is Working
Bryant’s sermon expanded on the theme of this year’s NAD Year-End Meeting, “Come Holy Spirit.” Bryant reminded the online congregation that “a lot of [us] can get discouraged because we don’t see the Holy Spirit working as we want it to work. But the Holy Spirit is working in places and ways that we will never see.”
Bryant used the story of four-year-old “Emmett” and his popcorn bowl as an analogy to describe how God is as willing to give us the Holy Spirit if we ask.
Courteous and well-mannered, Emmett was snacking on some popcorn while Mom was cooking in the kitchen. She walked past Emmett and took some popcorn — without asking first, as she and her husband had taught Emmett. He yelled, “You didn’t ask, you didn’t ask!”
Little Emmett reminded his mother that if she had asked, he would have been glad to share popcorn with her. “If we’re walking around here trying to do things in our own power, weak and helpless, it’s because we didn’t ask God for what He said He will give us if we but ask. We must ask for the Holy Spirit, and Jesus is ready to give it.”
And just as a parent will give bread to a hungry child, “we are God’s children, His brothers and sisters, His sons and daughters. We need the Holy Spirit, as much as a child that is hungry needs a piece of bread for sustenance,” said Bryant.
“It’s not an extra, it is not an add-on, it is not a luxury to the Christian life. Jesus is saying that the gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Holy Spirit, the acquisition of the Holy Spirit is a necessity for living the Christian life,” Bryant added.
By asking for the presence of the Holy Spirit, there are no limits to what we can do. Bryant shared, “Don’t make your plans based on your restrictions. Make your plans based on God's possibilities. Don’t make your plans based on your limitations. Make your plans based on God's great and amazing opportunities!”
Bryant concluded by stating that we, as an institution, have much more work to do, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will have a lasting impact on this world. “The Seventh-day Adventist Church in this division will not end in a whimper, but will end with a bang!”
Bryant continued, “God’s church will rise up … and do the work that God has called it to do. And we will see thousands and tens of thousands of people marching to Zion because we’re about our work — of the work of the Lord, the Holy Spirit — because we have given our lives to Him. And we have allowed Him to come in and do what only He can do.”