Sermon delivered July 22, 2000 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

In Eternity's Shadow

Words of our special music: "Family Reunion" by Buddy
Houghtaling  

There will come a day when we see Jesus And know the troubles of this world are through. In the east we'll see our Savior coming, As He promised, making all things new.

First we'll hear the angel's trumpets blowing, Clearer, brighter as the cloud draws near. Then we'll hear sweet Jesus say, "I love you, And I'm so glad that all of you are here."

At God's family Reunion, Jesus Christ our Brother at the throne, Family reunion, God has come to take His children home.

All of us on earth know separation When someone that you love so much has gone. Leaving us a teary eye and memories, Longing for this golden dawn.

When God will finally raise His sleeping children, They will meet their loved ones in the air. Tears of joy will flood the streets of heaven. Brother, I can't wait to see you there.

At God's family reunion, Jesus Christ our brother at the throne. Family reunion, God has come to take His children home.

No more sorrow, no more pain. Ever with the Savior to remain. No more heart aches, no more grief. Only joy beyond belief.

At God's family reunion, Jesus Christ our brother at the throne. Family reunion. God has come to take His children home.

Sung by Judy Robertson

This song is available from Adventist Book Center under the album title, "Family Reunion," either tape or CD.

Thank you so much, Judy. I really appreciate that. I'm glad you're here with us, David. That was great. Some day there's going to be a family reunion. What a great day that will be.

We had a family reunion about two weeks ago up in Indiana. Three weeks ago we were at the General Conference Session. "Well, you say, "how could that be a reunion?" I saw so many people that I had known and I recognized them all. They had all changed so much. I praise the Lord that I haven't changed. Oh! I'm sure I've changed more than they have. So many people said, "We're preaching your sermons. We get them off of your web page. Is that okay?" That's an awesome responsibility. How great it was to see family, and how nice it is to be home to see you, who are our family. You are so special.

Did you know that there are over 260 references in the Bible to the Second Return of Jesus? Over 30 refer to the nearness of Jesus coming. Let's examine some of the references to Jesus coming today.

I want to tell you that Jesus is coming soon. There's a text that you're very familiar with: Matthew 24. These are the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Here in Matthew 24 Jesus makes a statement... This one of about two hundred and sixty references in the bible about the second coming, thirty of which say that it is soon. I think this one tells us that He's coming soon. Matthew 24:14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." When will the end come? "Then the end will come: when the gospel is preached to all the world.

And, what is the gospel? That was a test in one of the classes when I was in the Seminary at Andrews University: "Please define the gospel." I don't really think I knew what the gospel was then. I want to tell you now, that the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, came down to this world He lived the life that I can't live. He lived an absolutely perfect life from day number one until He died on the old rugged cross. He completely paid the penalty for my sins, for your sins and then He made that beautiful resurrection morning: He was raise to eternal life and because He lives, I can live. If I accept Him as my Savior, He credits all of His goodness, all of His righteousness to my account and I am in, free because Jesus is my Savior and my Lord. That's the gospel. If you accept Him as your Savior, you have salvation today. You have the assurance of salvation.

Many Christian churches are preaching this gospel. So are Seventh-day Adventists! And our church is growing fast. July thirteenth I was listening to the news, and I heard Paul Harvey. He said, "The Seventh day Adventist church is one of the fastest growing churches in the world today, with over eleven million members, now. In fact," he said, it could be the fastest growing church in the world today." Well, that was good news for this preacher. I enjoy hearing about the success of our church. Every year now, we're gaining almost a million members. Now, that's a lot. Actually if you count all the kids of our baptized members the true involvement is over sixteen or seventeen million Adventists in the world today!

There are two hundred thirty six countries in the world and we are preaching in two hundred and five of those countries. That's great news! What is the largest protestant church in Cuba today? The Seventh-day Adventist church! By the way, we now have over one thousand churches just in one city: In Sao Paulo, Brazil! In fact, Sao Paulo has five conferences. Probably the East Sao Paulo Conference and the West... I don't know how divide it up, but five conferences in one town! That's amazing! Our church is exploding! You don't watch TV, do you? I figured you didn't. In a program you've never heard of they give away a million dollars if you can answer the questions. It kind of builds up. I don't remember the name of the program, there's a serious guy on there. And he says, "for one million dollars, here is the question and I want you to give me your final answer..." Well, I'm going to give you a question this morning: In what year will the Philippines have more Seventh-day Adventist members than there are now in the United States? And did you know that was going to happen? In what year will that happen? What is your answer? Is that your FINAL ANSWER? Are you sure? The answer is the year 2003. In 2003 there will be more Seventh-day Adventist in the Philippines than we have here in the United States! Our church is really growing!

In Russia, just in the last ten years, the number of Seventh-day Adventists has quadrupled! Four times! Four hundred percent more! The time has come in which over one thousand people are being baptized every day. In fact three thousand are being baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church every day. Every Day! That's a hundred twenty five every hour! And, do you know that a whole brand new Seventh-day Adventist church that never existed before is established every four and three quarters hours.

We're gaining! God is blessing! And I'm so thrilled for the Lord's blessings. Today there is one SDA for every 550 people. Our church is growing Rapidly. The final movements will be rapid. Come over here to Luke 14. This mentions how the church will grow. I can tell by the number of babies that our church is growing, too (Several children can be heard in the church). Luke 14:21, "The servant came back and reported this (that the invited guest were not coming) to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.'" How is the message going to go out in the last days? It's going to go out quickly, isn't it. I believe that the last movement, the last moments will be rapid ones. We're seeing that today. Our church is growing, it's just sky-rocketing up.

As I entered the Toronto Sky Dome where our General Conference meetings were held on the first Sabbath morning about three weeks ago. It was sixty thousand people there, and they were all related to me! All my brothers and sisters, all dressed in their regalia from their various countries, all different colors: black, white, blue, and green and just any color there is. They were all there! It just gave me a warm feeling to be with my brothers and sisters. I was surrounded with what seemed every nationality in the world. Many dressed in their native clothes. Sixty thousand of my brothers and sisters! What a thrilling Sabbath. And believe it or not, twenty of them were from the McDonald Road church! That was amazing!

Did you know that in South America one out of every one hundred fifty seven people is Seventh-day Adventist! Have you ever heard of Lake Titicaca? In the whole Lake Titicaca Mission, one in every fifteen people is a Seventh-day Adventist Christian! That's phenomenal! The last sign that Jesus gave is that when the gospel of the kingdom is preached to all the world, then Jesus will come and claim His people as His own. And, folks, it's about to happen! We're about to go home!

If this is the case, then we're ready! Are we ready? You need to be ready. How do you get ready? By receiving Jesus as your personal Savior, by accepting His righteousness as your righteousness, allowing that robe to cover you, and to empower you to be more and more like Jesus every day. We're ready to go home.

You would expect we are near the end, maybe right at the end. Like an expectant mother in her ninth month of pregnancy who looks ready to explode because her baby is about to come..., Are the other signs of Jesus' coming also showing? Yes there are plenty of signs.

One sign is AIDS. Let's suppose AIDS were a religion, okay? If so, then AIDS were a religion it would be the fastest growing religion in the world today. Every day eighteen hundred babies are born infected with HIV. We baptize one hundred twenty five people every hour while during that same hour that we baptize those people, HIV/AIDS claims three hundred sixty people. They're growing three times faster than we are. Six new people become infected every minute. Thirty million children will watch one or both parents die of aids in the next ten years. "Aids is the worst Plague of all Time." -(US News & World Report, July 24, 2000, page 24.) We are living among the worst plague of all time.

In 2010 a dozen or so countries in southern Africa will see life expectancies fall to just thirty years of age. In fact, in Botswana, Africa, one out of three people now have HIV/AIDS today. The Aids epidemic is beginning to spread fastest not in Africa but in Eastern Europe. India and China will be the next hotbed of AIDS. We are witnessing a modern Apocalypse. I think this is a sign of the last days.

We are witnessing a modern apocalypse. Revelation 16:11 and they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of all their evil deeds. They didn't like the damages but they enjoyed the sin too much. Not everybody that has AIDS has sinned, but a good deal of them have. I believe, myself, that homosexuality is a sin. We should not hate homosexual people, we should try to love them and minister to them, but that act is a sin.

There are many signs of the end. Sometimes I wonder when it gets so hot and so dry. How about all these Disasters. Have you noticed the number of natural disasters around the world and how they are increasing in number and force? Do you wonder if the extreme high temperatures and dry conditions might have anything to say about the end of the world?

Look over here in Revelation 7. The angels are going to retire, at least four of them, aren't they? Revelation 7:1, After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. And what's going to happen? Those four angels are going to loose their grip on those winds. Can we sense that happening now? I think it is.

It seems the angels are loosening their grip on the winds of destruction. Hurricane season predictions this fall are calling for more devastation and more storms than ever. I read something from Ellen White: "The armory of heaven is open; all the universe of God and its equipments are ready. One word has justice to speak, and there will be terrific representations upon the earth, of the wrath of God. There will be voices and thunderings and lightnings and earthquakes and universal desolation. Every movement in the universe of heaven is to prepare the world for the great crisis." - Special Testimonies Series A, Nos. 1-12 SpTA01a - Special Testimony for Our Ministers (1892) 38.3.

The Judgments of God during the last crisis will so devastate this old world that Universal Desolation will come. The winds of variance and convulsion that have been held back for so long will then be free to do their work.

The Bible brings that out in Matthew 24:22, "If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened." We can praise the Lord for that. It will be so bad that nobody would survive if Jesus did not cut the work short.

If Jesus did not cut the work short, human life would become extinct on planet Earth. So, the natural things we're seeing now, these forest fires, everything else, they are the precursors of the big blow that is going to come. And it will happen, and I think that sudden change will bring in the last of the final days. When it does happen, just depend fully on Jesus. Trust in Him to care for you.

TERRORISM is a last day sign. Luke 21:26, "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world..." There are many problems in the world today.

Experts warn us that in the next months rogue states such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran may possess intercontinental ballistic missiles that are capable of reaching USA. A senior intelligence analyst at the CIA warns that the probability that a missile armed with a nuclear, chemical, or biological weapon will be used against U.S. Forces is higher today than during most of the Cold War with Russia.

I believe the theme for our General Conference was so apropos. They passed out little booklets and gave them to all of us and on the front it says, "WE'RE ALMOST HOME." What a great theme. Almost home! Let's make sure that we are not an almost Christian.

I am so thrilled to be a Seventh day Adventist Christian! One thing that excited me was Adventist World Radio, AWR. I am an advanced class Ham Radio operator. For me, that's a special thing. So as I walked among the hundreds of exhibitors in the exhibition building I happened on Adventist World Radio. And they were broadcasting! They had a sample of the radios they're distributing to help finish the work. I bought one of these little radios and it is phenomenal! This is a short wave radio that picks up AM/FM. It's in a leatherette case. It has the nicest headphone that you could ever want. It has a long wire antenna. It has an alarm clock. It's digital read-out. All for only twenty dollars! They're making these available to the world. Are we trying hard to finish the work or what! No wonder so many folk are being baptized as a result of AWR. I was so thrilled to see what we are doing as a church.

Another amazing thing happened to me. I was sitting in a meeting for ministers and at the break I talked with pastor Chris Annan- Nunoo of South Ghana, Africa. I asked what the name of his church was where he pastored. He was now in conference work but a few years before he had indeed pastored and it was not just one church but twenty three at one time! He was the only pastor for three thousand five hundred members at the same time! How does he do that? I couldn't believe it. "How do you get around to those twenty three churches?" "Well, I preach on Friday night for vespers in one church. Then Sabbath morning I can get two. Sabbath afternoon I get another one and vespers I do another one. And then I've got two or three prayer meetings through the week: Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and Thursday night. I just bicycle around and that's the best I can do." I asked, "How do you get any converts. You don't have time to give all the Bible studies." "I don't give any Bible studies. The laymen do all the bible studies. I haven't given a Bible study in a long time. I am kept busy baptizing. Every time I go to a church I baptize somebody." I'm a pastor, and I'm wondering. He baptizes somebody at nine o'clock. Then he goes to the next church and baptizes somebody at eleven o'clock. How does he get his clothes dry? How does that work? It takes almost a week for my clothes to dry after a baptism. He must be just water-logged all the time. It's great. though. Every member must be involved. Not just pew warmers. But member who are on fire to fill up the pews with new converts. The laymen are finishing the work. They're bringing in converts. All he's doing is baptizing them. What a wonderful thing.

They did something else in Toronto during the GC session. Our young people went out and distributed brand new Voice of Prophecy CD ROM disks enabling people to do bible studies in their own homes at their personal computer. Free bible studies on the internet! They are going to be covering the United States with these. I am thrilled for this. Using technology to finish the work! That's not more than we're doing here. Dean Saunders and his team, thirty or forty Bible study instructors. We were the first church. A lot of baptisms are coming from this. A lot of people are finding Jesus through our outreach. And I'm so thrilled that we have that here in our church. Here at McDonald Road we are giving thousands of Bible studies on our church web page! But what are you doing?

I heard about another lady. She had to walk to church. They didn't have a church in her community and so this lady in Africa has to walk to church three hours each direction. No, how many of you walked three hours to get here this morning? How many of you drove for three hours to get here? Well, very few of us would be willing to do that. She would walk three hours to church. Come to church and spend the time and save the last three hours of light to walk back home, and did the whole thing on Crutches! All because there is no church building to worship at in her home town. The closest church is three hours away, and she's not going to stay home and sleep on Sabbath morning. She's going to be there. So why aren't we building more churches in Africa? Did you know that Global Mission built five thousand new churches in Africa in just the last ten years? These new churches will hold over two million people. And still, there are some areas that don't have a church within three hours. Of course, walking on crutches for three hours might not be many miles, but this lady wants a church in her town.

My question is: What are you doing?

Unfortunately most Christians are sterile. We do not reproduce ourselves. I read something I could hardly believe. If you take two adult a flies and they begin in the spring and all their progeny reproduces like they do, with not diseases and not birds eat them or anything happens to them, by the end of the season they will produce enough flies to cover the entire country of Germany in flies forty six feet deep. That can't be true, but it was there in black and white. Next time you swat a housefly, remember the importance of spiritual reproduction. And then think: What am I doing? Am I making converts for Jesus? Have I led another soul to Jesus?

Occasional we see those young Mormon missionaries going out two by two. What is a good example. Those youth are working for Jesus. And then we compare that with what we are doing as a church. Do we measure up? I want to change your impression a bit. Did you know that last year twenty thousand SDA youth went out as Global Mission volunteer ministers! And this year we're sending out thirty thousand to try to finish the work. We are surpassing the efforts of many. But the question is: What are you doing?

I want you to read Jesus' last words. Come over here to the last page of Matthew. Now whenever somebody makes a last statement, that's pretty important. Here are the last words of our Savior. And to conclude this He even says, "Amen." So, let's listen to Jesus as He is speaking to His disciples and us. Matthew 28:19,20 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age, Amen!" Jesus' last words urging us to become pew warmers, right? No, to go and baptize and make disciples. Not to be sterile but to be reproductive. That's what Jesus wants. Let's do that.

Hymn of Praise: #202, Hail Him the King of Glory
Scripture: II Timothy 3:1-5
Hymn of Response: #213, Jesus is Coming Again

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