I can’t recall whether I was taken aback or whether I simply took it in stride. A visiting member from south of the border approached me after the service to thank me for the message. With a firm handshake, he expressed how it had been quite some time since he had heard “a good, old Seventh-day Adventist sermon.” I suspect he approved of the message, but I can’t be one hundred percent sure. It did, however, leave me wondering about just what exactly he had been listening to over the years.
It brings me back a few decades, I must say, when Janice and I were first introduced to the Advent message. Striking gold in the Yukon would not have compared to this! Those were exciting days! We felt as though we had fallen upon the best-kept secret in the entire universe! Believe me; we’ve had no desire to look back.
Now, they say that confession is good for the soul, so allow me to bare mine just a wee bit. I am guilty of preaching my share of generic messages. You know the type—sermons that could have been heard in just about any good, Christian congregation anywhere around the world. Please don’t get me wrong: there is plenty of room for dissertations on the subject of love, forgiveness, faith, mercy, etc. All one has to do is read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount to be reminded that these are vital components of the gospel.
So, what is it that you and I have been called of God to preach? In other words, when we’re called upon to share from the pulpit, to our neighbours on our front lawns, to our coworkers in the workplace and to our classmates at school, what unique contribution have we been commissioned to share with every nation, kindred, tongue and people? Some astute readers will probably have caught on to the meaning of those last few words—nation, kindred, tongue and people. If you’re familiar with our particular message, you’ll know that phrase comes from Revelation, chapter 14.
Just recently, a prominent individual from the North American Division asked me what I wanted to see happen in the Maritime Provinces in the next four years. This gentleman is heavy into strategic planning and quite familiar with the old adage “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I have to admit, this kind of spontaneous challenge tends to make me draw a blank. But after thinking awhile, I told him what I thought was the sincere burden of my heart: More than anything else, I would love for our people to recapture the Three Angels’ Messages in the context of righteousness by faith. I can’t imagine any other purpose for our existence as a denomination than to proclaim Jesus’ incredible love for humankind via the distinct message we have been given.
The intent of the message, you might say, is multifaceted. First of all, it’s a message of salvation. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. . . . and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:35–37, KJV) Second, it is a serious warning for what lies ahead and a call to prepare for what will obviously be the greatest event in our world’s history. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12, KJV). And finally, it is a revelation of who God really is and what He is really like demonstrated by the lives we live, the words we speak, and the manner in which we treat people. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (1 John 4:7, 8, KJV).
I don’t know about you, but the events that are happening in places like Haiti, the uprisings in the Middle East and the disaster in Japan tell me that time is quickly running out. If ever Jesus needed to be introduced to our families and friends, now is that time. Will you join me in this awesome privilege and responsibility? It’s all about Jesus. This is what our message is really all about.
–by John Fournier, president of the Maritime conference