By Andrew McChesney, Adventist Review / ANN
Ted N.C. Wilson, speaking in his first sermon after his re-election as General Conference president, urged Adventists to press ahead in unity in proclaiming Jesus’ soon return.
Wilson drew from hallmark initiatives of his first five-year term — Revival and Reformation, Mission to the Cities, comprehensive health ministry, and a daily online Bible study plan — to call on every church member to share Jesus in their communities.
He emphasized that regular study of the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White were key to developing a closer relationship with Jesus.
The sermon ended with a thundering rendition of the Adventist anthem “We Have This Hope” combined with "Jesus Is Coming Again" by a 1,100-member choir, a record size for a choir at a General Conference session.
“We thank the Lord for the ways He has led this General Conference session during the last 10 days, and we give Him all the glory for the unity and singleness of purpose in accomplishing His mission for this dying Earth,” Wilson said, speaking in the Alamodome stadium packed with more than 60,000 people in San Antonio, Texas.
“As I stated five years ago, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s remnant movement made up of those who according to Revelation 12:17 keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and we are on a heaven-directed journey,” Wilson said, referring to the first sermon he gave upon his election at the General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2010. “We must go forward, not backward because we are almost home. I am more convinced than ever that Jesus’ return is near, even at the door.”
Wilson then declared “Jesus is coming soon!” in 11 of the languages represented at the General Conference session: English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Swahili, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, and Tagalog. The use of multiple languages echoed the opening of Sabbath School, when presenters greeted attendees with "Happy Sabbath!" in many languages. The Scripture reading for the divine worship service — Joshua 1:1-9 — was also read in several languages.
The sermon was Wilson's first since his re-election eight days earlier on July 3 to a new five-year term. Re-elected General Conference executive secretary G.T. Ng introduced Wilson by offering a humorous comparison between Wilson and the first General Conference president, John Byington.
Wilson's sermon, titled “Cross the Jordan … Don’t Retreat,” got its name from the story of the Israelites entering the Promised Land by crossing the River Jordan. Wilson noted that the Israelites raised a stone landmark to commemorate God’s leading and suggested that each person attending the General Conference session was a “landmark.”
“He wants us to remember what is happening here in San Antonio, what the Holy Spirit is doing in our lives, that our mission is to proclaim ‘Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!’” Wilson said. “You are the ‘landmarks.’”
“Arise! Shine! Jesus Is Coming!” is the theme of the 2015 General Conference session.
Wilson pleaded with church members to “revolutionize” their thinking by sharing their personal testimonies and actively participating in the church’s mission of preparing people for Jesus’ return.
“Let it be total participation,” he said. “Don’t only get involved in the mechanics of the church. … We need a total empowerment of lay people in carrying the burden of the church’s evangelistic and mission outreach along with pastors and church workers. Tell someone else about your relationship with Christ! It’s time to go home!”
Wilson asked parents not to allow anything to creep into their homes that would distract them from God’s plans for them and their children.
“Eliminate any television, social media, music, books and other influences that will distract you from Jesus and His biblical truth,” he said. “Take up God’s command, ‘Cross the Jordan, don’t retreat.’”
He appealed to every church member to put away differences of opinion and humble themselves before God.
“Now is the time to unify under Christ, our Righteousness,” he said.