John Bradshaw - Finishing the Reformation
This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me for 500, our series on the Reformation. The Reformation Finished. That's what we'll be talking about tonight, and I'm glad to be able to welcome to this program the President of the World Church of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Elder Ted Wilson. Elder Wilson, thanks for joining me.
Ted Wilson: Thank you, John.
John Bradshaw: Let me ask you, we're talking about the Reformation. How much work is left to be done before we can say the Reformation is complete?
Ted Wilson: Well, I'll tell you. There's plenty of work to be done, not only outside of our own circle but even in our own hearts. The Reformation is really to start with us and our relationship with Christ, and then it is to go on till the end of time, so there's plenty of work to do by God's grace.
John Bradshaw: We've covered a lot of ground during 500, and I'd like to tell you a little bit about what motivated me to do so. You know, I wasn't raised with a Bible in my hand. When you study the Reformation, you come face to face with the central theme of the Reformation which is the Word of God. The Word of God set people free during Reformation times; people who were in spiritual slavery, spiritual bondage. The Word of God did exactly the same for me. I've given my life to sharing the Word of God with others knowing that the Word of God, the Bible, the Holy Scriptures can do for others what they did for me. The Bible will open up your eyes.
As a matter of fact, when I wore a younger man's clothes, I was presented by the Holy Spirit with a choice. And the choice for me was my church or the Bible which boiled down to my church or Jesus. I knew I couldn't have both, and it had to be one or the other. What a question or what a choice to put towards a young man in his early 20s. What was I going to do? You know, I wrestled with that, I did. I knew which direction God was leading me, I never thought at any time about going back. But here's what spurred me on. As a young man attending a parochial school, the nuns, my teachers, taught me, taught us a certain verse of the Bible. It's not that we learned a lot, and I don't know why they covered this one with us, but here it is.
The Bible says, "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul"? I had a choice. I couldn't have both because the church I was raised in and the Bible absolutely were in conflict with each other. You see, what I believe is that God gives everybody a choice. He wants everyone to have a choice. And He certainly wants everybody to choose Jesus as Lord and Savior. So during 500, we've traced this, this conflict, the conflict between tradition and the Bible, a conflict between man and God. Some of us refer to this as the Great Controversy. So where have we been? Our first program called 500 reviewed the Reformation. We took a big picture look, nothing too terribly specific, but we looked at the, the overall flow of the Reformation.
In that program, we speak to Dr. Gerard Damsteegt, recently retired from Andrews University. Second program, we looked at a pre-Reformation figure, Patrick of England, known better as Patrick of Ireland. Patrick who taught the Word of God and educated pagans to become Christians, he spoke to druids and proclaimed the Bible to them, and they converted to Christianity. Patrick was a missionary. His converts went to what we now call Scotland, and from there, took Christianity back to England which had recently fallen into pagan hands and had a colossal impact. What they were doing was sharing the Word of God. Our third program in 500 was a Lamp to My Feet. We looked at the forgotten reformer, the English Bible translator William Tyndale. And you see what this did is it focused on the key of the Reformation, it was getting the Bible into the hands of the people.
In that program, I spoke to Dr. Dedrick Blue from Oakwood University. We looked at the power of the Word of God and that's where the power is. I realized that in my own experience it's not tradition, it's truth that matters. It's not man, it's God that matters. The ability to understand the Bible and make life decisions based on the Word of God. Tyndale was persecuted relentlessly; translating the Bible cost him his life. We went together to Belgium where he died, to England where he ministered. And we were reminded that God's will for all of us is to accept Jesus Christ the Living Word in the Word of God, the Sacred Scriptures, and it's a blessing to be able to do so. Program number four in 500, Rome and the Reformation. We took you to the Vatican City.
You know something? If I'd gone to the Vatican City years ago, I would have gone there as a, uh, as a grandchild visiting his grandparents, as a wanderer who'd returned home. I would have been thrilled to be there and venerate statues and kneel before idols. I'd have been walking up Pilate's staircase on my knees. But God introduced me to His Word, to the liberating power of the gospel, and the great Reformation truths of justification by faith or sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus. Christ alone. That great Reformation truth. Not penance, not purgatory, not confession, Christ, salvation in Jesus and through Jesus. So I visited Rome looking at Rome through interested eyes as somebody who had been liberated by the great truths of the Word of God.
Then the next program was Here I Stand. Here I Stand, we focused on the life, the ministry of Martin Luther. Had the privilege of speaking to Dr. Leslie Pollard, the President of Oakwood University. Luther wasn't the only one, he was one of many Reformers, there were Reformers before Luther. But Luther was the big one. And it was Luther's ministry that brought to life the Reformation, and as we know now, it was October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the famous Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and history would be forever changed. However, when you rattle the church's cage, the church doesn't remain silent, and following the Reformation or concurrent with the Reformation for a time was something called the Counter-Reformation. Together, we journeyed to northern Spain, the birthplace of Ignatius Loyola. We went to Rome and to the Vatican City where the Counter-Reformation was launched, and that impacted history in a significant way.
I had the privilege of talking with Dr. Gerard Damsteegt again, this time about the Counter-Reformation. Then, we discussed the pilgrim fathers, A Wall of Separation. I spoke with Pastor Lincoln Steed, we looked at religious liberty, religious freedom. We studied Roger Williams, that great man of faith who named the city of Providence in Rhode Island and founded the Rhode Island Colony, and whether we realized it or not, he changed our lives entirely. Our second to last program took us to another part of New England, we particularly went to the farm of one, William Miller, who in the middle part of the 19th century caused a firestorm in Christianity with his belief that Jesus Christ was coming back to this earth. He was counter cultural, particularly in terms of religious faith. He shared a gospel that was rather different, not so much the science of salvation but a prophetic message that was different to what had been proclaimed in the world.
You know, I believe what William Miller believed, not that Jesus was coming back in the 1800s, but that Jesus is coming back soon, and that belief spurs me as a minister of the gospel to share Jesus with others. As you look around, you know that there are millions, billions of people without faith in the God of Heaven, and if we can reach just one more and let another one know that there's hope in Jesus Christ, that there's power in the Word of God, then we've done something that's valuable in the life of that person and undoubtedly many others besides. Then, Finishing the Reformation.
What a blessing to be able to speak with Pastor Wilson, and discuss the role of God's church in these last days to get the job finished. To finish the work of proclaiming the everlasting gospel. You would refer to them perhaps as the three angels' messages to let people know that there is hope, hope in Jesus that He is enough, that we can lay hold on His promises by grace through faith in His word. So tonight, our subject, our program is "Finishing the Reformation". I hope you've been blessed by 500. We're not done yet, almost, but not quite. In just a moment, back with this program filmed on location, "Finishing the Reformation". Don't go away.
This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, thanks for joining me. Now, imagine it if you can. You'd been reading your Bible, and you're now convinced that Jesus is coming back soon, really coming back, literally. You believe that you're gonna see Jesus and the angels on a certain day. October days in Eastern New York state near the Vermont border can be cool. Life in the middle of the 19th century could be difficult, and having peculiar religious views doesn't ordinarily buy you popularity, and when you're a Millerite, a follower of the Baptist preacher William Miller, you're out there on the fringes. Now you're not alone, Miller has tens of thousands of followers, but still you, well, really, none of that matters because you're gonna see Jesus. He's coming back in just a few weeks, He's coming back in just a few days. He's coming back tomorrow. You'll see Jesus in just a few hours. Can you imagine?
So as October 22nd got closer, the Millerites, the Adventists, were more than excited. These were regular hard working people, faithful Christians, and Jesus was returning? Tomorrow? William Miller had predicted that Jesus would return in 1843. But that didn't happen. But then he recalculated and said the Second Coming would happen in the spring of 1844. That didn't happen either. The Millerites were perplexed until a man named Samuel Snow calculated that Jesus would return on October 22nd, 1844, of course. William Miller was a rational man. He was not a fanatic, he was a deep Bible student, but he was wrong. He was right about an awful lot, but you don't have to be wrong about much to botch a prediction about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
As he was studying the Bible, he came to Daniel 8:14, which says, "Unto two thousand three hundred days, then shall the sanctuary be cleansed". Miller was convinced he was looking at a prophesy about the Second Coming of Jesus. Based on the prevailing idea that the sanctuary represented the earth. He figured the earth would be cleansed when Jesus returned the second time. What else could that possibly mean? Looking at the scriptures, he determined that a day represents a year in Bible prophesy. He was right about that. That's a symbol just like a beast represents a nation and a woman represents the church. Miller figured that Jesus would return at the end of 2,300 years. If only he could know when that period began, then he could know when it ended.
But then Miller found his starting point. Daniel chapter nine spoke of a decree of the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. Miller found that decree in Ezra chapter seven. It was issued in 457 B.C. by the Medo-Persian Emperor Artaxerxes, so that was that then. Start in 457 B.C., add 2,300 days or 2,300 years, and you get to 1843. You correct that because you forgot that there's no year zero, and you get to 1844. Miller's opponents couldn't argue with his logic.
Now, of course, the Bible does say that no one knows the day or the hour of Jesus' appearing, but Miller never set a date. It was Samuel Snow who set the date. He did that in August of 1844. Miller never accepted that interpretation until October 6th. He spent October 22nd in this very room. Looking out this window, waiting for Jesus to come in the eastern sky. So imagine how it felt on October 23rd, 1844. You weren't even expecting to be here, but now you have to face people. You have to go back to your occupation. You have to admit that the movement was wrong, that you've made a big mistake. Where was God in all of this? And what about the Bible? How do you relate to the Bible now? Well, some people simply chose not to, and they gave up on their hope in God altogether. Most people simply went back to the churches from which they'd come, but that wasn't an option for everyone.
William and Lucy Miller and their children were kicked out of the Baptist church that they'd been attending because they continued to hang on to the belief that Jesus was still coming back soon. And then there were others who tried to figure out how God was leading now. But what became known as the Great Disappointment of 1844 became to the heirs of the Millerite movement what the Great Disappointment of Calvary became to the followers of Jesus. Jesus' disciples were sure that their master would set up an earthly kingdom and drive the heathen Romans from the covenant land.
On the road to Emmaus, two disciples poured out their despondency to Jesus himself saying, "But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel". Luke 24:21. But the disciples' hopes had been based on a false view of the Messiah's mission. They weren't wrong in recognizing Jesus as the promised Savior, but they were wrong in their understanding of his work. The same was true with the disappointed followers of William Miller in 1844. They were correct in their timing, but they were wrong about the event. But God wouldn't leave His faithful followers in the dark for long. After an all night vigil weary and heartbroken, two men decided to visit some of their fellow believers who'd been through the same disappointment. One of them was Hiram Edson.
Here's how he explained the events that followed. "We started, and while passing through a large field, I was stopped about midway of the field. Heaven seemed open to my view, and I saw distinctly and clearly that instead of our High Priest coming out of the Most Holy of the heavenly sanctuary, to come to this earth on the tenth day of the seventh month, at the end of the 2,300 days, He for the first time entered on that day the second apartment of that sanctuary; and that He had a work to perform in the Most Holy before coming to this earth".
With this dramatic insight, the movement birthed by William Miller gave rise to yet another movement, the one predicted by the angel spoken of by John in the 10th of the chapter of the book of Revelation. "Thou must prophesy again before many peoples and nations and tongues and kings". Revelation 10:11. A movement was born, and with this new movement, God set in place a global initiative to complete the Protestant Reformation. I'll have more in just a moment.
This is It Is Written, I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. William Miller became the figurehead for a movement after studying his Bible and then sharing what he found. He and others believed that Jesus was coming back to the earth in the year 1844. And they believed this based on a prophesy which said that the sanctuary would be cleansed. But Jesus didn't come back in 1844. So where was the error? Miller believed like virtually everybody else, that the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14 was the earth. But look into the Bible and you see that that sanctuary could really only be the portable sanctuary that went with Israel throughout the wilderness or the temple or the great sanctuary of God in Heaven. In Old Testament times, the cleansing of the sanctuary took place once a year on the Day of Atonement. It was a day of judgment.
So some of these Millerite believers went to the Bible and studied, and their eyes were opened. Hebrews 8:1 and 2 says, "We have such a high priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens. A minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord erected and not man". The book of Hebrews describes this sanctuary again in the following chapter. "But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation". That's Hebrews 9:11. These believers found that on the day of atonement, a new sacrifice was offered by which the record of sin in the sanctuary was taken away or cleansed.
On that day, God's people would afflict their souls and search their hearts to be sure that no unconfessed or unforsaken sin remained in their lives. Once the record of sin was expunged from the sanctuary, the sins were transferred again to a scapegoat. That goat would then be led into the wilderness to carry the sins of the people into oblivion and to die there. But the ultimate purpose of the service was not only to remove the record of sin, but to remove sin itself from the hearts and lives of the worshipers.
Leviticus, 16:30 says, "For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord". And like the sanctuary on earth, the book of Hebrews is clear that the sanctuary in heaven must also be cleansed. "Therefore, it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these". The judgment hour message hadn't ever been proclaimed. It was a message that would lead people to the Bible. Bibles people now had thanks to the Reformers.
These were people who were free to think for themselves thanks to Roger Williams, and it was a message that would prepare people for the Second Coming of Jesus, a teaching now known, thanks to the ministry of William Miller. It's interesting that Martin Luther said this. "I persuade myself verily, that the day of judgment will not be absent full 300 years. God will not, cannot, suffer this wicked world much longer"! In the 1500s, Martin Luther said that the judgment would take place 300 years into the future in the middle of the 1800s. So what would God do? 2,000 years before John wrote in the book of Revelation that the judgment hour message would go to the world, but there was much more which by the time of William Miller still had not been proclaimed.
This is Revelation 14:6 and 7. John wrote, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgement is come. And worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters". John wrote that there would come a time when God's people would be called to live lives of complete surrender to Jesus in the time of earth's final judgement. And there's something else in that passage. "Worship him that made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of waters".
That's a direct quote from the fourth commandment, the Sabbath commandment. "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". It goes onto say, "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". It's about as clear as it could be.
In earth's last days, God would call His people to surrender, to obedience to His word rather than obedience to the teachings of men or of churches. Up until this time, very few people were keeping the seventh-day Sabbath. Sunday was the day acknowledged to be the holy day. It just stands to reason that Jesus would want the people He's going to return for to be surrendered, to be living in obedience because as He has said, surrender demonstrates love. John 14:15 says, "If you love me, keep my commandments". So who are these people who'd been keeping the commandments of God? I'll tell you in just a moment.
Thanks for joining me on It Is Written. Rachel Oakes lived here in Washington, New Hampshire in 1844. Her daughter, Delight, was a local school teacher. This was almost 70 years after this town became the first to be named after George Washington. Then as now, Washington, New Hampshire was just a tiny little slice of the New England landscape. But what happened here in Washington in 1844 went on to make a major impact in the entire world. She attended this church pastored by a man named Frederick Wheeler. Wheeler had accepted the teachings of William Miller and was active in preaching the doctrine of the second advent. While preaching during a communion service in this church building, Wheeler made the comment that only those who keep all of the Ten Commandments should participate.
Well, Sister Oaks, a Seventh-Day Baptist, challenged him. And she told him after the service that he wasn't keeping all of the Ten Commandments because he did not keep the seventh-day Sabbath. Wheeler went to his Bible and he studied the matter for himself, and he came to the conclusion that Rachel Oaks was right. And he became the first Sabbath keeping Adventist minister. And this church building became the first Sabbath keeping Adventist church in the world. In March of 1844, he preached his first sermon on the subject of the Sabbath. A number of families here in Washington became Sabbath keepers. A man named Thomas Motherwell Preble learned of the Sabbath from Wheeler, and he wrote a tract on the subject called Tract showing that the seventh day should be observed as the Sabbath. Somehow a retired sea captain named Joseph Bates who lived in Fairhaven, Massachusetts got hold of that tract.
And he was so moved by it that he traveled from his home 60 miles south of Boston to meet with Frederick Wheeler here in Washington, New Hampshire. A distance of at least 160 miles. The men studied all night long, and by the time they were finished, Joseph Bates was a Sabbath keeping Adventist. And he was committed. While heading back from Washington, New Hampshire, to his home in Fairhaven, Massachusettes, Bates was crossing a bridge near his home when a man named James Madison Monroe Hall called out to him. He said, "What's the news, Captain Bates"? Bates replied by saying, "The news is the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God". Hall began keeping the Sabbath, and so a movement began. The truth began to spread, and this was truth God wanted the world to know. The messages of the Three Angels in Revelation 14 are called by God the everlasting gospel or the final gospel message.
The final good news message to go to the world. And that final message contains a call to worship the Creator by keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, a day set aside at creation so all of God's children could rest, worship, and commune with Him in a special way. The most basic principle of the Protestant Reformation was the supreme authority of the Bible, supreme over church councils and church tradition. This new movement God raised up from the ashes of the Great Disappointment of 1844 would focus in a special way on testing all Christian beliefs and practices by the Holy Scriptures. Even though, many Reformers taught things that didn't quite measure up with the Bible, they all appealed to the Bible as their ultimate authority.
Martin Luther had theological challenges, John Calvin taught predestination in spite of the fact that the best known verse in the Bible says that, "God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life". And down through the years, the Reformers had a blind spot about the law of God. Something so fundamental and yet, they were missing something essential. But rather than castigate them, we remember that the likes of Calvin and Zwingli and Luther came to the Bible from out of complete darkness. Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest. They came pre-programmed by tradition. The fact that they were able to shake off so much of that tradition is remarkable. And it's important to remember that truth is progressive. It grows down through time. Knowledge of agriculture, of science, of mathematics, of physical wellness, well, that grows.
The same is true of knowledge of the Bible. But the sad truth is that many people simply don't grow. They accept what they were taught as children, and then spend the rest of their lives defending that instead of asking God if there is more that they could learn. All the way to about the time of William Miller, Christians, with some exceptions, believed in not the Ten Commandments but in the nine commandments. And when those Adventists saw the truth of God's word and understood that all of the Ten Commandments should be kept, it was the dawning of a new day. Sunday had come into Christianity as a tradition of the Roman Catholic church. Rome had absorbed Sunday worship from paganism. It didn't come from the Bible.
So you would think then that Christians who were conscientious about separating from tradition would be open to embracing the seventh-day Sabbath. That's certainly what God was hoping. And that's why the message of the Sabbath was included into the final gospel message to go to the world. As the movement grew, it eventually became the Seventh-day Adventist Church, identified in the Bible as a "Remnant which keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus". That's Revelation 12:17. This group would proclaim the everlasting gospel, the judgment hour message. A message of cleansing and preparation pointing to Jesus as high priest and the believers' only hope.
The seventh-day Sabbath, total surrender to the indwelling of Jesus, resulting in willing obedience to God's law and not man's law. The call out of Babylon, out of false worship and into true worship. A call to the world to worship not the beast but the lamb, Jesus and to receive the seal of God rather than the mark of the beast. And the relationship with Jesus so strong, a dependence on Jesus so complete that they're characterized by Revelation 14:12, which says, "Here is the patience of the saints. Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus". This final company of the faithful and the sacred story will share one last message of mercy with the world.
Jesus was clear, he told Peter in Matthew 16:18 that he would build his church. The early Christian church was led by people such as Peter and James and John and Paul and others like them who presented Jesus to the world as the sinner's only hope. But that early church lost its way, it became corrupted by traditions, many of which came into the church from paganism. And then the church was hijacked by a system that neglected the Bible, that departed from the Bible. That obscured the Bible and then kept the Bible from the people.
But Wycliffe and Tyndale and Luther and others like them put the Bible back in the hands of God's children. Hearts were touched by the power of God's Word, and the broken system was reformed. But that reformation didn't go all the way, so God raised up others across the ocean from Europe, beyond the reach of a pope to go back to the Bible, to discover neglected teachings, and to deliver the final gospel message to the world. Organized in 1863, and now numbering in the tens of millions of members, the Seventh-day Adventist Church exists to complete the work of the Reformers, to take the message of justification by faith, the message of salvation, to reveal the character of God to the world. And will that work be finished? Yes, it will. God has promised. The everlasting gospel will go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back to 500 brought to you by It Is Written. My guest is Pastor Ted Wilson, the President of the World Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pastor Wilson, thanks very much for joining me.
Ted Wilson: Thank you so much. Great to be here.
John Bradshaw: And, and we, I'll tell you what. We're just thrilled to be able to talk with you, I think, about an, an incredibly important subject. We look back to the Reformation that began 500 years ago. There's a little bit of work to be done. Now, let's talk in the very positive. What were the great victories or successes of the Reformation do you think?
Ted Wilson: Well, first of all, the Bible itself was so critical and crucial to the Protestant Reformation. You know, so many people were not able to access the Bible, and it was just a powerful thing that Martin Luther took about, uh, 11 weeks or so, translated the Bible into a recognizable German that became really the lingua franca of that region and for the future. And the Bible became something so positive in people's lives that it, it changed their whole perspective on life. And, you know, the Protestant Reformation had as its great pillars, uh, sola Scriptura, only the Bible. Uh, then the aspect of sola fide, only by faith can we have this relationship with the Lord. And then sola gratia, only by grace are we saved.
John Bradshaw: I'm convinced, and I, I'd like to think this is changing, but I'm convinced that still not enough people understand the concept of righteousness by faith by allowing the power of God's word through the power of the Holy Spirit to work in a person's life. Speak to me about how that truth has impacted you when, when, whenever it was your eyes were opened to the fact that, that what we are called to do is yield so God can work through us. Explain that to me. Let, let's hear that in terms that are gonna make it real to us. God at work in a person's life.
Ted Wilson: You know, it takes a while for everyone to really make it your own. I remember when I was in my early 20s, uh, someone, you know, mentioned some questions to me and, and posed these questions. I, uh, what if Jesus were to come tonight, would you be ready? Well, you know, maybe, I think so, I mean, I'm trying to be a good Chris..., but to really understand this relationship, you have to understand that this is a gift of God, salvation is not something we purchase, it's not by works, it is a wonderful gift provided to you, and you can either accept or reject a gift. And this marvelous gift of salvation has a number of parts to it. Essentially two. Uh, one is that you accept Christ, and then, of course, you are accepting his righteousness.
Christ covers you with his robe of righteousness, and it, it, it becomes your robe because He's covering you and you are appearing as if you are perfect. When in reality, it's his righteousness. Well, that's being justified. Sanctification, once you accept Christ, sanctification is also a gift, but it starts working in your life so you become more and more like Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Righteousness by faith is a complete package, it's God's great gift to us, but we have to exercise faith in Him and an acceptance of relying completely on the Lord. It's not our own works, it is the works and the beauty of Christ working in us. The righteousness of Christ is the focus, the center of the plan of salvation and certainly, in the book of Revelation chapter 14, it talks about the three angels' messages, the very heart and core of those messages is the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
John Bradshaw: It seems that God has given a special message to be proclaimed in the end of time, the everlasting gospel, the eternal gospel, the final gospel message to go to the world. We find it in Revelation chapter 14 starting in verse six, really wrapping up in about verse 12.
Ted Wilson: Mm-hmm.
John Bradshaw: Let's walk through this together. These, these few verses of the Bible and identify what God might be saying to His people down here in the end of time. In Revelation 14:6, we read where the Bible says, "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven having the everlasting gospel to preach to them that dwell on the earth and to every nation and kindred and tongue and people". Luther certainly wasn't capable of proclaiming to the, the world as we know it. Now we're down here in the end of the time God has given a global mission to His people. Talk about that for me for a moment.
Ted Wilson: You know, interesting text of Acts 1:8, it says that "we would receive power when the Holy Sprit was come upon you". That's talking about the early apostles. And then there are gonna be "witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the end of the earth". I mean, we're talking about now the gospel going to every corner of this vast globe. This is a phenomenal thing when, uh, when the church perhaps began thinking about mission and reaching out, it was perhaps just across the street or to the next town or maybe another part of the country. But in reality, it is to every part of the entire world. And Seventh-day Adventists are in about 215 countries of the world using multiple languages, uh, helping people who haven't even understood the name of Christ before, understanding that God wants to use His people in a powerful way locally and globally. But I want to tell you something. It is impossible to do that without the power of the Holy Spirit. We can do all kinds of programs, all kinds of activities, but if we don't have the power of the Holy Spirit, everything will come to nothing. Praise God for His spirit in our lives as we tell people about Him.
John Bradshaw: There's gonna be a great work done.
Ted Wilson: Absolutely.
John Bradshaw: As you look at these populations and you know that, that we can't get it done by ourselves, what does this suggest to you about what God is gonna do down here in the close of time?
Ted Wilson: Well, it's so exciting because in the book of Joel, in the book of Acts, it tells us something's going to happen at the end of time, and that is the Latter Rain of the Holy Spirit. In fact, we're to pray for the Latter Rain, we're to ask God to empower us with this incredible outpouring of the Latter Rain. Of course, that involves a right relationship with the Lord, that revival and reformation, all of us turning to the Lord and humbling ourselves in a, in a very special way. You see, as we look at the conditions of the world and the natural disasters that are happening, the, the violence that is taking place and you can hardly escape, uh, one day without hearing about some horrible thing that's been happening, all these things tell us that we are coming to the very end of time. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming very soon.
John Bradshaw: Amen.
Ted Wilson: And that gives me a real sense of urgency to understand that the Lord is coming very soon, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to proclaim this message through revival and reformation, our lives will be changed so that we can take part in this amazing ability to tell people about Christ's righteousness, His plan of salvation and His soon coming. I'm so glad to be a part of it.
John Bradshaw: I suggested to you that God is gonna do a, a remarkable work. Now, what I don't want to do is leave the wrong impression as though we sit on our hands and watch God do His thing. God has a plan to get people involved, and we'll talk about that. Perhaps, what you and I can do to share Christ with a dying world in just a moment.
John Bradshaw: Welcome back, this is 500, brought to you by It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw, and my guest is Pastor Ted Wilson, the President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Pastor Wilson, a couple of moments ago, I was talking with you about how God is going to do a great work to see the everlasting gospel go to earth's remotest bounds, and we believe, both of us, that it's gonna take a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Latter Rain is gonna take place. Yet, it's possible then that we could say, the work is just too big for us, God will get it done. I don't see that in the Bible. I see God commissioning His people, and you referred us earlier to Acts 1. What can we do? We're church members, we sit in our pews in our little churches or our big churches. Our circle of influence is only so great. Maybe it's tempting to leave it all to somebody else. What would God have us as church members do or pray for about the finishing of this work?
Ted Wilson: Wow, that's really a, an interesting question because I think we have to look back at the pioneer days of our church and understand that at the very beginning, everybody was animated for mission. They were full of the, the spirit to share in a very simple way, the marvelous aspects of their relationship with the Lord. And in those pioneer days, pastors were not necessarily settled pastors over churches, they were itinerant preachers and evangelists. And what happened was they would be there for a while, they would train church members, the church members then would say, "Pastor, go. Open up new fields. Uh, teach these things to other people. We'll take care of the church, it's okay". Now, of course, many times people simply expect that a pastor's going to be there every, every week, gonna be preaching every week, and there's this mentality that we can kind of sit and watch but not necessarily be part of the incredible process.
John Bradshaw: Sure.
Ted Wilson: I believe that we're gonna see a return to those pioneer days when pastors and church members are gonna be so involved in the proclamation of, of the message that you won't have time to simply look at yourselves, but you're gonna be outward focused. There's a wonderful quotation in the Spirit of Prophesy that indicates to us that "The work will never be finished on this earth until the men and women comprising our membership rally to the work, and cooperate and work in cooperation with pastors and church leaders". Everybody working together. Total member involvement. Everybody doing something for Jesus.
John Bradshaw: So there's work for everybody to do when, when, when Christ fills our hearts, He says you're the light of the world, we become the light of the world, and then we see God's church do great things.
Ted Wilson: Absolutely.
John Bradshaw: When you look at these three messages and you boil 'em down, you consider the scholarship of people of great wisdom. What's our message through this to take to the world?
Ted Wilson: We have to understand that really we're trying to turn people back to the true worship of God and understanding that the, the Lord, uh, wants to have a personal relationship, helping people to, to understand that He has a very meaningful purpose for their lives. And, and you can place yourself in the hands of God, that you align yourself with a God who, who loves and cares for you and also One who's gonna save you. I mean, the Lord is our all in all. Uh, there's a really distinct difference between salvation by works and salvation by grace. Uh, salvation by works makes you an unhappy person because you simply can't do enough good things in order to get into heaven or to bring your relationship with the Lord up to the level that it should. When you are saved by grace and you understand that, you're filled with a power, you're filled with an understanding that the Lord will work in your life to make you a new creature and that you can then give Him glory because He's actively working in your life. And this becomes a powerful message that you can share with everyone.
John Bradshaw: So we're living down here in the end of time where, we're at the very tips of the toes in Daniel 2, we look back to the Reformation, we've been doing that over these past several programs. What are the key lessons you'd like to see people take from the Reformation as we go forward into the final days of earth's history? What's the lesson or what are the lessons for us as we look back and now we go forward to take this gospel to earth's remotest bounds?
Ted Wilson: A really important thing is that the gospel is a personal message. It is not to be interpreted by religious leaders without you understanding what the word of God says yourself. Uh, you're responsible for your own salvation, you can't depend upon other people or groups, uh, although, we are part of a church and a wonderful advent movement. Uh, this is a marvelous thing, but we're not saved by groups or by connections with other people, we're saved by connection with Jesus Christ. And so that's why it has to be a very personal wonderful relationship with, with the Lord. And this gives real meaning, uh, to what it means to be part of the Protestant Reformation. I mean, the Protestant Reformation made things personal, so it wasn't a detached kind of situation. You were in connection with the God of heaven who actually created you and now gives you life and empowers you to tell somebody else about it.
So the simplicity of God's plan is an amazing thing. It, it, it helps us to understand how He wanted us to relate to Him, and then to be able to relate to other people. And when you think of those foundational aspects of, of the, uh, the Protestant Reformation, sola scriptura, uh, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus, only by Christ's mediation can we truly find salvation, you understand that the, that the Protestant Reformation was really helping people to understand their personal relationship with Him, and that He would not forsake them, He would be with them to the very end of time. I get so excited when I think about it.
John Bradshaw: It's true, isn't it that the church God has raised up down here in the close of time is a church with a specific mission. Address that with me.
Ted Wilson: Well, you know, there's a lot of confusion in the religious world. Uh, people have misunderstandings about biblical things, about why they're here and how they're supposed to involve themselves in, in activities whether they are religious or social or whatever it is. But really, you're brought back to the question why am I here and where am I going? Where did I come from? And really, the gospel answers those questions perfectly. Uh, the gospel gives us a, a full understanding of our purpose for life and why God has intended for us to be part of the proclamation at the very end of time. Uh, you know, the mission of the church is, is not only to just live a happy life of relationship with the Lord, it is an expression to other people as to what God can really do in your life. And you go back to the Bible because the Bible is the Word of God.
It is that which gives you life and meaning and understanding. It helps you to understand your place in history and why God is working in your life right now. And you go to every doctrine that we believe in. Every doctrine must have at the core, and it does, Jesus, the center of everything we do because every good thing comes from the Lord. And then the Lord asks us to share that with others, not in some legalistic way, beating people over the head with scripture but explaining to people the powerful effect that a relationship with Christ and accepting His righteousness can really have in our own lives in the way we live and the way we treat people and the invitation to have somebody else be part of that incredible heaven ordained process of leading someone to the foot of the cross.
John Bradshaw: Pastor Wilson, thanks very much for taking this time, I really appreciate you making time in your schedule and sharing with us. Thanks.
Ted Wilson: Great to be with you.
John Bradshaw: And thank you for joining us. We customarily close with prayer at about this time. Pastor Wilson, would you be willing to pray for us?
Ted Wilson: Let's pray. Our father in heaven, we thank You for this great privilege of focusing upon the Word of God, upon Christ the Living Word, of understanding our place in history and the incredible opportunity that You have given to us to tell somebody else about our relationship with You. Lord, thank you for salvation through Christ, thank You for the faith that You can instill in our lives, thank You for the grace that has been provided to us. Thank You for Christ our mediator and that You are the one to be worshiped. Help us Lord as we walk through life to recognize that You are leading us and that You've given us a purpose in life, and that is to share you with others. Now, Lord in a special way, bless every viewer, each individual in their own respect and all of their needs, bless their families, and Lord, help them to be in contact with You day by day through the reading of Your Word, through prayer, and through telling somebody else about their relationship with You. We thank You for the promise of Your soon Second Coming, and we ask all of this in the powerful and wonderful name of our Creator, our Redeemer, our Lord, our High Priest, our coming King, and our best friend, Jesus Christ, Amen.
John Bradshaw: Amen. And thank you again. And thank you. I'm looking forward to seeing you again next time. Until then, remember, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"