UNITED STATES | MARCOS PASEGGI, ADVENTIST REVIEW Oct. 22, 2022
As the world and society disintegrate, the church is also impacted. In the midst of this, God calls us to engage in ministry to restore His image in people, Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said. Wilson’s assertion was the focus of his pastoral address during the 2022 Annual Council on October 8, at the church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.
More than 340 delegates from all over the world gathered for the church’s weeklong annual business meeting, where they will listen to and vote on reports, plans, and policies. It is also a deeply spiritual experience, leaders said, as it includes moments of worship, prayer, and outreach.
During his Sabbath worship service message, Wilson called every Adventist leader and member to avoid distractions and focus on proclaiming the three angels’ messages, biblical messages that call people to return to the worship of the true God. “Avoid picky, unproductive debates and contention. Focus on the Lord and His wonderful biblical truth in all its glory,” Wilson said.
A Comprehensive Ministry
As Seventh-day Adventists consider how to live just before Christ’s return and what role to play, Wilson discussed the significance of the Bible teaching in Isaiah 58. It is a chapter, he said, that “gives us a bold key to unlock our role and ministry at the end of time.”
Wilson explained that God calls each one of us to “sound the alarm” by embracing a comprehensive ministry that caters to the physical and spiritual needs of people within the church and beyond. It is a ministry that, according to Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White, “will bring life into the churches” and includes, among other things, carrying the work of the gospel by feeding those who are hungry and assisting those who are suffering.
What the Ministry Entails
According to God’s message through the prophet Isaiah, Wilson explained, the ministry counteracts our natural selfishness and calls us to open up to meet other people’s needs. “God is saying, ‘Don’t be self-absorbed, self-centered, or self-focused,’” Wilson said. “‘Take care of those around you who are in need. Help people who are chained to horrible habits. Bring relief to those who are weighed down with burdens. Help those who are enslaved to become free through Christ’s power. Remove the hurtful circumstances that keep people from their full potential. You have food; share it. You have a roof over your head; share it. You have clothing; share it. Stop pretending to know [God]; really show it by doing something for your fellow human beings.”
In doing so, Wilson said, we will be following Christ’s comprehensive ministry, which “involved teaching eternal truths and putting them into practical application, lifting people from degradation to see what He ultimately wanted for them: eternal life.”
Showing God’s Love
It is not about preaching a social gospel but applying the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14, which are “a practical call to restoring the image of God in human beings through the Holy Spirit’s power,” Wilson said. “The practical application of those profound prophetic messages is seen in the tangible things He does through us in fulfilling Christ’s ministry. People are longing to see the love of God shown in practical ways in our lives … When they see the unselfish love of God manifested in our lives as a practical testimony, they will ask why we act this way; they will be driven to the foot of the cross, to Christ’s amazing grace, and to His changing power.”
Wilson specifically highlighted medical missionary work, also called “comprehensive health ministry,” which entails reaching out to people in need and ultimately leading them to Christ. That practical application of Christ’s ministry is tied directly to the final proclamation of the third angel’s message, which calls believers to eschew error and embrace God’s full truth, he said.
That proactive focus on working for others will help us to avoid fault-finding and gossip, and as a result, we will be strengthened, Wilson said. He explained that the message of Isaiah 58 assures us that if we make the ministry of benevolence our own, the Lord will guide us, and we will thrive. “Because of our connection with [Jesus] as the Living Water, we will flourish like a watered garden with a spring of water that never fails.”
Repairers of the Breach
Wilson explained that sin has made a breach in the law of God and against that background, in Isaiah 58, we are called to be “repairers of the breach.” He quoted White from her book Welfare Ministry, where she wrote, “With the work of advocating the commandments of God and repairing the breach that has been made in the law of God, we are to mingle compassion for suffering humanity … It is only by an unselfish interest in those in need of help that we can give a practical demonstration of the truths of the gospel” (p. 32).
Being repairers of the breach implies lifting up the Word of God to restore His law “to its rightful place and point people to the Author of the Scriptures, our God and Savior,” Wilson said. It also includes restoring the blessings of the Sabbath to its rightful place. “Rightly understood and observed, the Sabbath is the key to man’s happiness both here and in the hereafter,” Wilson read, quoting from the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. “The Sabbath is one of the greatest blessings bestowed upon men by a loving Creator.”
In the last part of his message, Wilson called every church leader and member to embrace this mission of restoration. “As part of proclaiming the three angels’ messages, be a repairer of the breach. Do something for God as part of Total Member Involvement! We can’t help people by philosophizing on the sidelines … [We must] use our talents to make a spiritual and practical difference in the lives of people through the Holy Spirit’s power. Ask God to lead you to those who need help. He will do it. Be a repairer of the breach! God will cause us to walk on the high places of the earth as we follow His will.”
The original version of this article was posted on the Adventist Review website.