October 19, 2014

‘What Do These Landmark Stones Mean? Bring Back a Good Report’

following is the sermon that Ted N.C. Wilson, leader of the Adventist world
church, gave at the 150th anniversary of the Bordoville Seventh-day Adventist Church on Oct. 18, 2014, in West Enosburg, Vermont. Read the news report about the sermon here.

The children
of Israel had just crossed the Jordan River after having wandered in the Sinai
Desert for 40 years. It had been a miraculous process.

3:14-16 records that, “When the people set out from the camp to cross over the
Jordan, with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and
as those who bore the ark came to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests who
bore the ark dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its
banks during the whole time of harvest), that the waters which came down from
upstream stood still and rose in a heap very far away.”

It was the
springtime and the water was very high. Patriarchs
and Prophets
, page 483 reports, “The host descended to the border of the
Jordan. All knew, however, that without divine aid they could not hope to make
the passage. At this time of the year — in the spring season — melting snows of
the mountains had so raised the Jordan that the river overflowed its banks,
making it impossible to cross at the usual fording places. God willed that the
passage of Israel over the Jordan should be miraculous.”

Many times
God leads us into difficult or impossible situations where we will give Him the
glory when we see how He arranges our progress through that difficulty. How do
we react when God opens the way for us? Do we truly give Him the glory and for
how long? That’s why God wants us to remember His interventions in our lives
and set up landmark memorials.

Verse 17
tells us that the priests who carried the ark into the middle of the Jordan
stayed there until all the people had crossed through the river. Before the
priests left the middle of the river, Joshua called for a representative from
each of the 12 tribes to take a large rock from the riverbed to represent their
tribe in setting up a memorial.

Joshua 4:6-7
says, “that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come
saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ Then you shall answer them that the
waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when
it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these
stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.”

150th Anniversary Landmark

There has
always been a need to remember. The easiest way to do that is establish
something that will constantly remind you. That was the purpose of the stone landmark
monument of the Israelites crossing — to remember what God had done for
His people.

That’s exactly
why He wants us to remember what happened here in Bordoville, Vermont, 150
years ago. Bordoville is the “landmark.” God has a strong purpose for this very
church to help us remember how He has led in the past so we will have no fear
for the future as Life Sketches indicates
on page 196, “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of
advance to our present standing, I can say, ‘Praise God!’ As I see what the
Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ
as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget
the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”

What a
privilege to be in Bordoville today for this 150th anniversary of
this precious church! What a special record! Of course, God does not only wish
that we remember, He wants us to continue the real mission for His church and the
reason for the existence of the Bordoville Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Let’s see how
God has led this precious Bordoville Church. It has the fine distinction of
being the first church to actually be built as a Seventh-day Adventist church by
the Bordeau brothers on their own land in 1864. It is located in the little
town of West Enosburg, Vermont, and was known as the “Seven-day Hill.” Ellen
White not only preached here, but had visions in this very place. In 1996 there
was a break in the continuous use of the church until renovations took place to
put the building back into useable condition.

For 150
years God has been blessing this precious congregation and building as a landmark
memorial for the Lord and His truth.

It is
marvelous to look back and see the historical developments. However, as much as
we enjoy reviewing history and looking back, God intends for us to look forward
to what He will do for His remnant church not only here in Bordoville but all
over the world in every local church and community as we anticipate Christ’s
soon return.

<strong>THIS OLD CHURCH:</strong> The Bordoville Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Enosburg, Vermont, that was built in 1864 by the French-Canadian brothers Augustin C. and Daniel T. Bourdeau.

Good or Bad Report?

So, what
kind of report will you bring back from this 150th anniversary? Will
you bring a good report or a bad report? Will you only see things from a
historical perspective or will you see things from the big picture of eschatology
and end-time perspective? Will you only see the program of today or will you
see God’s mission plans for the future? What kind of a report will you bring
back from this 150th anniversary?

It all
depends on your perspective. Take a look at this glass of water. Some might be
tempted to say, “How could the organizers be so negligent as to give our guest
a glass of water that is half ‘EMPTY?!’ How thoughtless!” Others would say,
“Why isn’t that nice, they provided some water for Pastor Wilson and the glass
is half ‘FULL!’”

It all
depends on your perspective. If you are used to lots of water you might be more
negative. If you were a Bedouin in the desert, you would be delighted with a glass
that is half-full since Bedouins tend to be able to live with one small glass
per day anyway. Of course, that is not what we advocate for good health reform
since we actually need five to six glasses or more of water each day for
optimum health. But that evaluation of the water level in the glass all depends
on your perspective. What kind of report will you bring back from this 150th
anniversary celebration — a bad report or a good report?

Since we are
today’s spiritual Israel on our journey to heaven, let’s go back to the
Children of Israel and their journey toward the Promised Land. Forty years
before that profound event of crossing the Jordan River into Canaan and setting
up the landmark memorial, Moses sent 12 spies into Canaan to find out all they
could about the land that God had promised to them. What kind of a report would
they bring back?

Turn with me
to Numbers 13. Verses 17-20 say Moses sent them to spy on the land of Canaan to
“see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or
weak … whether the land … is good or bad … whether the land is rich or poor.” In
the last part of verse 20, Moses urged them to “Be of good courage. And bring
some of the fruit of the land.” So the 12 went to spy out the land and bring
back a report after 40 days. Verse 23 says they cut a branch of grapes so big
it took two of them to carry it in addition to pomegranates and figs. They
brought back reports from their visit saying in verse 27, “It truly flows with
milk and honey, and this is its fruit.” It was a good report.

However, as
with many reports, there is the word “but,” and then the rest of the story that
tends to be negative. In verse 28, 10 of the spies reported, “Nevertheless the
people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very
large.” They brought back a bad report.

Then Caleb
stepped in, quieted the people and brought a good report saying in verse 30,
“Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome

A Grasshopper Complex

However, the
10 other spies countered in verse 31 with a bad report saying, “We are not able
to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” They falsely
reported that the land devours its inhabitants, which was a lie, since they had
just said it flowed with milk and honey. They reported seeing men of great
stature and in verse 33 said, “We were like grasshoppers in our own sight.” They
had the “grasshopper complex.”

Do you have
a grasshopper complex about the current work of the church in the Bordoville
area? Some might say, “Oh, it’s so hard to introduce the Bible and spiritual
things to people here in New England. Pastor, our church is so small that no
one pays any attention to us. Pastor, we’re just like little grasshoppers and
why should we try to do anything?” When you participate in that thinking, you
bring back a bad report.

attendees here in Bordoville, throughout New England or wherever you may be
from, we are not grasshoppers, we are Seventh-day Adventists! At this 150th
anniversary landmark memorial today, let’s determine, by God’s grace and power,
to never take on the grasshopper complex.

Let’s bring
back a good report! We are God’s remnant people with a distinctive message, a
distinctive mission and a distinctive name that would identify us as those “who
keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus” as revealed in
Revelation 12:17. The selection of the name “Seventh-day Adventist” came after
the pillars of our faith had been established through intensive study and consecrated
prayer. Little did the early pioneers imagine that this movement would grow to
encompass the world with over 18 million members in about 205 countries of this

As we
celebrate 150 years of the Bordoville Church, we should remember that in those
early days of the church, when Bible study was the central feature of the
movement, the Seventh-day Adventist Church was primarily led by young people. I
implore our Seventh-day Adventist young people today to stand up for Bible
truth and reclaim that great spiritual legacy. Get involved in your local
church, in missionary work and in the strong proclamation of truth through
personal witness and public outreach.

Older ones
in the congregation, get to know your young people and encourage them in their
work in the church and for the community. Give the youth work to do and send
them into the towns and villages of New England.

people, tell your youth leaders, pastors and teachers that you want solid biblical
and Spirit of Prophecy teaching and preaching. Avoid the temptation to merely
entertain yourselves, but instead be active in service to others. Don’t fill your
minds with music that doesn’t glorify the Lord, but rather keep a song of
praise to God in your heart. Young people, take control of your lives and help
return the Seventh-day Adventist movement to primitive godliness. Resist the
urge to fasten your faith to the shifting sands of mystical experience.
Instead, build a foundation upon the solid rock of God’s Word and establish
yourselves on a clear “thus saith the Lord.”

Bring back a
good report! Our early Seventh-day Adventist Church, including Bordoville, developed
out of intensive Bible study. We believe in sola scriptura; that the Bible is
our foundation and only rule of faith. As the early believers who formed into
the Seventh-day Adventist Church studied the Bible, prayed earnestly for truth,
and were led by the Holy Spirit, they discovered the biblical beliefs and
pillars of our faith that we hold dear. These dedicated pioneers, in simple
faith, took the Bible as it reads even when it led them away from some of the
most widely accepted errors popular in the churches of that day.

We must also
remain faithful to a determined belief in the clear teaching of God’s Word. In Christ’s Object Lessons, page 79, we
read, “As in earlier ages, the special truths for this time are found, not with
the ecclesiastical authorities, but with men and women who are not too learned
or too wise to believe the word of God.”

We describe
these precious truths as fundamental beliefs and they are just that — fundamental!
As attendees at this 150th anniversary here in Bordoville, let’s
uphold those 28 Fundamental Beliefs that are rooted exclusively in Scripture
with Christ at the core of every fundamental belief.

Bring back a
good report! Paul declared in 2 Timothy 3:15 that the Scriptures “are able to
make you wise unto salvation” and it is absolutely true today. Be faithful to
God’s Word and to the Spirit of Prophecy. That special gift has been poured out
on this end-time movement not to replace Scripture but to amplify its meaning
and help us more correctly apply God’s Word in our lives.

I believe
that the Spirit of Prophecy is one of God’s greatest gifts to the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. Study God’s Holy Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy and you
will have a clear understanding of the biblical truths of this precious Advent

Proud of Your Adventist Identity

Don’t be a
grasshopper! Bring back a good report! When someone asks what church you belong
to, don’t say, “Well, it’s a very small church. You probably have never heard
of it. Well, I’m a member of the … (muffled
).” No, look the person in the eye, smile nicely and say with
anti-grasshopper feelings, “I’m a Seventh-day Adventist and let me tell you
about it!” Every time you say those words, you preach a sermon!

When you
share with the public in writing or in speech, don’t just refer to yourself as
an “Adventist” or hide behind the abbreviation “SDA.” Never, never be ashamed
of our name! When our church began, many names were suggested and considered,
but when the name, “Seventh-day Adventist” was discussed, God impressed church
leaders that it was the best.

Ellen White
addressed the feeling to shy away from our distinctive name when she said in Selected Messages, Book 2, page 384,“We are Seventh-day Adventists. Are we
ashamed of our name? We answer, ‘No, no! We are not. It is the name the Lord
has given us. It points out the truth that is to be the test of the churches.’”

As 21st
century Seventh-day Adventists living at the close of earth’s history, let’s
not hide our name or be grasshoppers! Say who you are and with that name preach
a two-word sermon to everyone who passes by your church or with whom you come into

Bring back a
good report! The “seventh-day” refers to God’s power in creating this Earth in
six literal, consecutive, contiguous days and capping it with a memorial of
that creation, the seventh-day Sabbath. We are a direct creation of God and certainly
not a result of evolutionary process. Saying you are a Seventh-day Adventist
identifies you as a believer in what is so plain in Scripture! God has
commanded us in Exodus 20:8-11 to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six
days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh-day is the Sabbath
of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor
thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy
stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and
earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore
the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

Listen to
what Selected Messages, Book 2, page
385 says about attempts to de-emphasize our distinctive beliefs,“I was told that men will employ every
policy to make less prominent the difference between the faith of Seventh-day
Adventists and those who observe the first day of the week. In this controversy
the whole world will be engaged, and the time is short. This is no time to haul
down our colors.”

Bring back a
good report! As Seventh-day Adventists living on the very brink of eternity, we
are not to minimize our “seventh-day” distinctiveness, we are to accentuate it,
giving the trumpet a certain sound. We are told in Selected Messages, Book 2, page 370 that, “The Lord has permitted
the enemy of truth to make a determined effort against the Sabbath of the
fourth commandment. He designs by this means to awaken a decided interest in that
question which is a test for the last days. This will open the way for the
third angel’s message to be proclaimed with power.”

The third
angel of Revelation 14 shows us that the Sabbath will be God’s special seal or
sign of His people in the last days and anyone worshiping on another day than
the seventh-day Sabbath will receive the mark of the beast. That is how
important the Sabbath is to God and how important it should be for us. Therefore,
we should not align ourselves with any other religious organizations or
ecumenical bodies.

Of course,
we should show ourselves friendly and treat all with respect, but we are
cautioned in Selected Messages, Book
2, page 371 that, “There is to be no compromise with those who make void the
law of God. It is not safe to rely upon them as counselors. Our testimony is
not to be less decided now than formerly; our real position is not to be
cloaked in order to please the world’s great men. … While we should not seek
for controversy, and should not needlessly offend, we must present the truth
clearly and decidedly, and stand firm to what God has taught us in His Word.”

The wonderful
Bible text in 2 Chronicles 20:20 tells us to, “Believe in the Lord your God,
and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”

bring back a good report! In the same way that the words “Seventh-day” remind
us of where we came from, the word “Adventist” tells us where we are going. We
are waiting for the imminent return of our Lord, Jesus Christ, at the
culmination of earth’s history. The literal return of Christ is the great
objective of every Seventh-day Adventist. It is that Blessed Hope to which we
cling. Let this and every Seventh-day Adventist pulpit ring with the loud and
exciting proclamation that Jesus is coming soon!

Pastors and
elders should preach on the second coming of Jesus Christ, not just once in a
while, but often! Let’s remind each other that we await the soon return of our Redeemer.
Tell the public that we are people who await the literal return of the King of
Kings who will take us home to heaven. Tell them that every eye will see this
incredible return of Jesus and that He will not set foot on this earth but that
we rise to meet Him in the air. Unashamedly proclaim those precious words of
Paul found in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord Himself will descend from
heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of
God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the
air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another
with these words.”

powerful, heaven-borne message is a proclamation of hope — it is a good
report! It points to God as the Author and Finisher of our faith. It lifts up
Christ in all His beauty and proclaims the Great Controversy theme from the
beginning to the end.

The 10 spies
brought back a bad report. What kind of report will you bring from this 150th
anniversary of the Bordoville Seventh-day Adventist Church?

Pastor and a Biology Teacher

A pastor and
his friend, a biology teacher, were talking one day. The pastor expressed his
frustration with his congregation when he was preaching since some of them fell
asleep during the sermon. The teacher invited the pastor to come with him from
the more rural setting of the church and school into the middle of the city.

As they
stood on a busy sidewalk, the biology teacher told the pastor, “Listen.”

The pastor
said, “What do you mean, ‘Listen?’ We’re in the middle of the city with buses
and cars creating so much noise and people talking and you say, ‘Listen.’ What
do you mean?”

The biology
teacher said, “Listen.”

So, the
pastor listened but he didn’t hear anything of importance.

Then the
biology teacher quietly walked to the edge of the sidewalk to a rock in the
grass and lifted up the rock. There under the rock was a cricket chirping away.

The pastor
said, “How did you hear that in all the noise of the city and nobody around us
heard it?”

Then the
biology teacher reached into pocket and pulled out a coin. He said, “Now watch

The biology
teacher dropped the coin onto the sidewalk. Immediately and without hesitation,
all the people on the sidewalk stopped and started looking for the dropped

The biology
teacher then turned to the pastor and said, “You see, pastor, people hear what
they want to hear!”

What are you
hearing today at this 150th anniversary celebration and in your
personal walk with the Lord? Will you bring back a good report or a bad report?

After the
bad report of the 10 spies, Numbers 14:1 records that the people cried and wept
that night! They complained against Moses and Aaron saying in verse 2, “If only
we had died in the land of Egypt!” The people rebelled against God and said in
verse 4 that they wanted to select another leader and return to Egypt!

What kind of
report will you bring back from today? A report of retreat away from the
distinctive Seventh-day Adventist message that made the Bordoville church a
strong beacon of light in this area or will you rally under God’s guidance and
ask Him to lead you away from Egypt and toward the Promised Land?

A Good
Report Will Bring Us to Canaan

Don’t get me
wrong, I love Egypt. It’s where I grew up. I love the Middle East – its people,
culture, food and historical aspects. But from a spiritual perspective, I want
to go home to the heavenly Promised Land! How about you?

A few weeks
ago, Nancy and I had the privilege with some others to stand on top of Mount
Nebo in Jordan and look out to the west at the Dead Sea, at the city of Jericho
and at the Jordan River that separated Moses and the children of Israel from
the Promised Land.

It was
thrilling to imagine that great throng ready to pass over to the other side of
the Jordan River into Canaan at the end of the 40 years of wandering that was
the result of the 10 spies bringing back a bad report.

Moses was
not allowed to enter the Promised Land at that time, but was given a vision on
Mount Nebo before His death of what would transpire in the future. He saw the
ups and downs of the children of Israel after they took possession of Canaan. He
saw the rejection of Christ by the Jewish nation, and in Patriarchs and Prophets it says that he wept. He knew the value of
bringing back a good report.

Moses died
on Mount Nebo and was buried in an unknown valley by Christ and His angels but
only for a short time. The Lord resurrected him and took Him to heaven as a
symbol of those who would die in Christ and be resurrected to cross over into
the heavenly Promised Land at the time of Christ’s soon coming.

God wants us
to bring back a good report and pass over the Jordan into the Promised Land! Jesus
is coming soon!

After the
bad report of the 10 spies and the rebellion of the Children of Israel, Numbers
14:5 tells us that “Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly
of the congregation.” It was then that Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes and
spoke to the congregation bringing a good report saying in verses 7-9, “The land
we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights
in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which
flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the
people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from
them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”

Caleb and
Joshua brought back a good report, but verse 10 says the people wanted to stone

Don’t be
afraid to give a good, clear report even if people mock or criticize you. God
has given us the three angels’ messages to share. He expects us to give a
strong report in love to bring people back to the true worship of God.

before the crowd could stone Caleb and Joshua, God intervened and the glory of
the Lord appeared in the tabernacle — and the stones dropped from their

God will
protect and care for those who are bringing back a good report of His unique
prophetic message proclaimed by a prophetic people that are on a prophetic
mission — that means you and me here in Bordoville today and all over this
world as Seventh-day Adventists plead in earnest prayer with the Lord for
revival and reformation leading to the outpouring of the latter rain of the
Holy Spirit. Let’s bring back a good report!

Because of
unbelief and rebellion, the children of Israel had to wander for 40 years in
the desert — one year for every one of the 40 days that the spies were in
the Promised Land bringing back a bad report. Only Caleb and Joshua were
allowed to enter the Promised Land 40 years later and participate in setting up
the 12 stones as a landmark memorial of what God had done in finally bringing
them across the Jordan River.

God is
counting on all of us to bring back a good report! The proclamation of the
three angels’ messages is to go like wildfire throughout every part of this
world through the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants to see that happen again
in New England and it will!

To be sure,
we are very grateful for all the diligent work that has gone into the planning
of the sesquicentennial program of today here in Bordoville, but actually, this
is kind of a sad anniversary. We should have been home by now. The Promised
Land awaits us!

Today, we
set up, figuratively by this special program, the 12 stones as a landmark memorial
to God for 150 years of blessing on the Bordoville church. Today, let’s answer
the question about “what do these stones mean” by bringing back a good report! That
good report is that the Lord has wanted to come long before this and that He is
coming soon! Today, let’s pray that God will open the way to celebrate future
anniversaries in heaven!

If you want
to be ready for Christ’s soon return through His grace, to pledge yourself to
be part of those waiting and working for Christ’s soon coming, to bring back a
good report and help reinforce this landmark memorial for God, would you join me
in quietly standing in commitment to our coming King?

Related links

Adventist Review, Oct. 18, 2014: "Wilson Calls for ‘Good Report’ at Church’s 150th Anniversary"

Other recent sermons and speeches by Ted N.C. Wilson:

Sermon to the 2014 Annual Council on Oct. 11, 2014: "God’s Prophetic Movement, Message, and Mission and Their Attempted Neutralization by the Devil"

Closing speech to the International Conference on the Bible and Science on Aug. 24, 2014: "God's Final Message and Your Role"

Keynote speech that opened the International Conference on the Bible and Science on Aug. 17, 2014: "God’s Authoritative Voice"