Ellen White described the eschaton, the times before Christ’s return, with these words: “In the midst of the time of trouble that is coming—a time of trouble such as has not been since there was a nation—God’s chosen people will stand unmoved.”*
During the month of June 2018 nearly 400 Adventist theologians and administrators attended the Seventh-day Adventist International Bible Conference on Eschatology in Rome. Throughout the plenary and parallel sessions three themes and one question seemed to emerge.
First, the application of Bible prophecy validates that we are living in the last times before the second coming of Christ. Second, to be prepared, believers must study and live truth. Third, awareness and application, while crucial for believers, must be anchored in a relationship with Jesus.
Say “yes” to Bible-based truth and “no” to every so-called truth that leads to deception.
Then this question: What can believers do to live as overcomers? In the book of Revelation the Holy Spirit provides believers with good counsel via the messages to the seven churches (Rev. 2; 3).
1. Leverage your love (Rev. 2:1-7).The church at Ephesus left its first or original love and slipped into a religion of drudgery. Through daily repentance and a love for the righteousness of Christ we must tenaciously hold on to our first joy and commitment to Christ through prayer, Bible study, worship, and growth in grace.
2. Persist through problems (Rev. 2:8-11).The church atSmyrna reminds us that tough times will come. Some tests are truly cases of unprovoked persecution. Others are brought about through personal sins. Nevertheless, we must resolutely endure the tests, always depending on God’s providence and forgiveness.
3. Test your truth (Rev. 2:12-17).God’s Word to the church at Pergamum counsels us to seek, embrace, and love truth. But be dead sure it is the right truth. Say yes to Bible-based truth and no to every so-called truth that leads to deception.
4. Review every relationship (Rev. 2:18-29).The message to the church at Thyatira warns that everyone who is friendly isn’t necessarily friend-worthy. No matter if our relationships are personal, visual, auditory, or digital, we have to guard the avenues of our souls.
5. Shake off stagnation (Rev. 3:1-6).The experience of the church at Sardis affirms that what is stagnant can be invigorated. But it takes commitment, initiative, and resisting inertia. If we slip and back-step, we have to understand that this, too, is part of Satan’s strategy of the last days. We can recharge, reboot, reignite, and reengage as often as necessary.
6. Pursue new progress (Rev. 3:7-13).The experience of the believers in Philadelphia reminds us that we can be in a good place. It says that we’re on the right track, have the right love, and exemplify the right service, and heaven is pleased with our progress. But for the sake of Christ, don’t become complacent.
7. Revive and reform (Rev. 3:14-22).The message to the church in Laodicea is that anything hot will inevitably cool unless the fire is kept burning. Riches, pleasures, success, allurements, and distractions cause fervor to wane, pace to slacken, and enthusiasm to dissipate. The antidote: inspiration, intention, and initiation. Keep the fire burning.
May this sevenfold counsel keep us on course during these last days.
*Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 9, p. 17.
Delbert W. Baker is vice chancellor of the Adventist University of Africa, near Nairobi, Kenya.