Sermon delivered September 25, 1999

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted. KJV - King James Version; NKJV - New King James Version; GWT - God's Word Translation; CLT - Clear Word Translation (Blanco); NJB - New Jerusalem Bible.

ADD-VENTISTS

October 12 is a very important day, it's a milestone. Are you aware of what's happening on October 12? That's the day that the world population will reach six billion. October 12! I don't know how they figure that out, in the morning, the afternoon or just when. How do they know that? Of those six billion, eleven million of them are Seventh-Day Adventists. I'm so thrilled with that. Now, who are Adventists? Adventists are dream chasers. We have a dream! We pursue development of Quality Christlikeness while increasing the Quantity of Christ's followers. If you condense down all that we are into one sentence, how would you say it? "Adventists are ..." I've thought a lot about this. I'd like to propose: "Adventists are Christians who love and obey Jesus." Now, I kind of like that. I've often thought the name, "Seventh-day Adventist" ought to have "Christians" in it, like "Seventh-day Adventist Christians". Or something with "Jesus" in it, so every time I'd tell people, "Well what church do you pastor? What religion are you?" "I'm a Seventh-day Adventist Christian." Because we believe in the seventh day and the soon coming and we're Christians.

Now, what bible texts would you use to show that we are Christians that love and obey Jesus? Well, our Scripture reading this morning: Revelation 12:17 (KJV) And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Notice the verbs in that sentence which describe what the Remnant people actually do: They keep and they have.

   KJV-    Keep      and     Have
   NIV-    Obey      and     Hold
   GWT-    Obey      and     Hold      (God's Word Translation)
   CWT-    Keep      and     Hold      (The Clear Word Translation - Blanco)

Someone who "HOLDS" to Jesus and His word is someone who loves Jesus. I like to hold my wife sometimes. I like to give her a hug. That's bound to be a person who is in love with Jesus. If you hold on to something, you love it don't you. Somebody who holds onto Jesus and His word is somebody who is in love with Jesus. One who keeps God's commandments is also one who loves Him. If you're keeping God's commandments, you are also somebody who loves God. I love my Savior. Look at John 14:15 (KJV) If you love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15 (NIV) If you love me, you will obey what I command. Adventists are Christians who love and obey Jesus. Adventists are lovers and keepers. That's who we are.

I'd like to point out several factors about our church.

First of all, Seventh-day Adventists are ADDventists.

We're adding, we're growing. We believe in reaching out.

Look at Acts 2:41 about the New Testament church. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. That made the whole Christian population three thousand one hundred and twenty. A big group of people. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in just ten years we will be baptizing that number of people every day.

Our church is growing. Adventists are now nearing eleven million and growing. In twenty more years projections show as many as thirty million! When I was a kid in the first grade there were 600,000 total Adventists in the whole world and now we now we baptist that many every nine months! We are ADD-ventists. That's what we are. New churches are being planted around the world. Existing churches are growing.

In fact, in 1993 one Adventist congregation in China, led by two local elders, held the second largest single baptism in Seventh-day Adventist history when 4,415 joined the church in one day. The biggest baptism I ever had, I was in the water two and a half hours and baptized seventy five people when I was in Hartford, Michigan. We Adventist are now preaching in over 725 languages and another 1,000 dialects.

We are one of the fastest growing Christian churches in the world. Just twenty years ago this McDonald Road church did not exist. It was just a cow pasture. Now there's a church here with over seven hundred fifty members.

Now I have a personal question for you: Have you led anyone to Jesus in your life? The church is growing. Have you personally led anybody to Christ? Do you know how many members it takes to make one new member? Fourteen. Every fourteen years each one of us ought to add another member. What are we waiting for? Go out and invite someone to the Millennium of Prophecy Seminars that begin here in the McDonald Road Church on October 15. We're going to have Doug Batchelor from Amazing Facts here in this pulpit, via satellite. He's going to be here, and we've already spent our budget for handbills, so how are people going to come? You're going to invite them. You're going to invite your mail lady or mail man. You're going to invite your neighbor, your children who have backslidden. You're going to invite people to come, and God is going to have another harvest here at this church. We've got a lot to do.

Here's what Jesus wants us all to become. Matthew 4:19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." In the New Jerusalem Bible it says, And he said to them, "Come after me and I will make you fishers of people."

We have much to do. In the world one hundred forty eight people are being born every minute. We baptize nearly two a minute. We're about a hundred forty six short of our goal. We've got a lot of work to do out there, but we are gaining velocity. The trouble is we are short on time. Did you know that every twenty minutes an entire species of animal or plant life goes extinct (See Popular Science, October, 1999). Wow, that's a heavy thought, extinct forever. Every day hundreds of people are going extinct without the knowledge of gospel of Jesus. They are dying forever for an eternal death. We need to witness as never before. We need to give out our literature. We need to give for TV, and radio and internet ministry. We need to give for missionaries.

I am jubilant to be a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. I hope you are, too. It doesn't mean we don't have problems in our church, we do have problems. But the disciples had problems too. And there were problems on Noah's ark. There will always been problems until sin is eradicated. We will always have problems. But I'm jubilant to be a Seventh-day Adventist. We have a sense of mission. It is sad to know that many denominations have lost their sense of mission. Their churches are declining as the older generation dies off. Some may be just one generation from extinction.

2) Not only are we a growing people, but Seventh-day Adventists are a UNIQUE people.

WE preach a distinctive message in this church, a very unique message that you just don't get anywhere else. In our church, I want you to know, when people join our church they seldom feel that they have simply joined "another" church. They feel they have joined the "Truth." They join something special, something unique, a movement that is going somewhere. Who else preaches Revelation like Adventists?

Revelation 14:12 (KJV) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (NIV) This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. Keep the commandment of God, and have... what? they remain faithful to Jesus. They hold onto Jesus. They have the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17, last part).

When you come to church and the message from the pulpit simply echoes contemporary thinking, you might as well stay home and watch TV or read the paper. You, as Seventh-day Adventists, have joined a movement. I appreciate Lisa, who was baptized here last Sabbath. She is here this morning. Praise God, Lisa. I'm so thrilled. She has joined a movement. We have several more who are getting ready for baptism. Praise the Lord for that! Adventists preach a timeless but relevant message. We give the trumpet a certain sound. Jesus is coming again and His coming is soon!

I Corinthians 14:8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? (NJB) It the trumpet sounds a call that is unrecognizable, who is going to get ready for the attack? The trumpet has to give a certain sound, doesn't it.

Jesus trumpeted a clear and powerful message. Adventist missionaries are risking their health and their life to preach the gospel of Jesus to others. But God is actively blessing them.

In July of 1999 we got this report from the Global Mission office of Seventh-day Adventists:

A young man named DAcula is a missionary in the Zambian part of Africa. One day he needed to travel to a distant village that needed the gospel. He traveled alone, a single missionary gentleman. He set out on foot by himself. The trouble was that he had to go through lion country. This was a journey of many hours. Knowing that this would be a dangerous trip, so he prayed that God would protect him on this trip. He prayed and expected God to guide him. He had to travel through the deep bush where hundreds of lions were. As he came along the path, several hours from home by himself, he saw a clearing ahead, and in that clearing were a number of lions lying there in the middle of the path. He thought, "Hm. This is a bad situation." He debated on what to do. He walked a little slower while he was thinking and praying and trying to figure out what to do. Finally, he thought, "If I turn around and run, I've had it. I'm just going to keep walking." They were right there in the center of the path, lazily looking at him. And so he kind of walked around them and kept on going. As he walked by them, he noticed that they were watching him. And as he went by, they got up and they headed toward him. They began following him. And he thought, "I'm not going to run, I'm going to keep walking." Soon, some the big beasts were walking right beside DAcula. It was as if they had assumed the job of being his guardian angels. And they walked for hours side by side. No other beasts bothered him.

When DAcula grew tired, he stopped to rest and he even took a nap. The lions stopped, too, and they took a nap. When he got up, he resumed the trip and again the lions escorted him, all the way to the edge of the village. Finally, when he walked into the village, the people were amazed that he had come all those hours through the heart of lion country and was still alive. "You have no guards with you. You have no guns." And he told them the story, and they were amazed. His God had not only shut the lions' mouths, but the very thing he feared the most became his protection. (As reported by Michael L. Ryan, General Field Secretary, SDA Global Mission July, 1999.)

I want you to know there are happenings going on right now that are every bit as exciting and true and awesome as the stories in the Bible. This is going on. This happened in July this year. It's happening right now. The Lord is leading. God is real! God not only shut the lions' mouths, but the very thing that he feared the most became his protection. Now, I know some of you have been through some heavy losses in your personal family. Some of you have experienced some great tragedies. I want you to know that in the end, it will work out. You just hang in there. Don't you turn around and go down the path. Keep going in the direction God would have you to do and God wit be with you. Don't you leave God. You trust in Him and it will work out. There are miracles, and God is alive, and I tell you, you may be facing some terrible circumstances, lions may be lurking in the shadows of your mind. And you may have all kinds of doubts, you believe in God and He'll go with you. He will provide a way for you to pass through in safety.

Adventists have a dynamic but unique message. We are truly Christians, believing in salvation by Grace totally through the merit of Jesus Christ. Yet we keep the seventh day Sabbath. Very unique! How many Christians do you find that keep the Sabbath? Not too many, because they can't get their mind wrapped around the fact that if you believe you're saved by grace, why do you keep the Sabbath? That's legalism. It's not legalism. Why do we keep the Sabbath? In order to be saved? No, we keep the Sabbath because we are saved. That's why, because we love Jesus. "If you love Me, keep my commandments." And so we preach these things with Biblical authority.

Here is something about Jesus. You know, He preached with authority. You can't preach with authority preaching out of Time Magazine or the Reader's Digest. No other book takes the place of the Bible. Matthew 7:28,29 (KJV) And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

I am so glad that our church does not treat the Bible as a story book. You know, some churches believe that parts of Genesis are sort of made up, and various parts of the Bible. I am thrilled that we as Seventh-day Adventists view the Bible as the authoritative word of God.

Today some so called Christians have become so sophisticated in their sinning, instead of committed Christians, they're committed sinners. I believe that when sin is not declared from the pulpit, the people will lose a sense of right and wrong. It is up to ministers to step on toes. We should do that. We should point out sin while pointing to the Savior from sin. Jesus is the answer to the sin problem.

Jesus gives the answer here in John 14:6: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. You've got to come through Jesus.

3)- Not only are Adventists a growing people. Not only are we a unique people. But Adventists are a LOVING People.

Whenever you come in the church, get a warm handshake. Sometimes you even get a hug. You get a warm smile when you come into the church. It ought to be that way. God's people have always been loving. Come over to Deuteronomy 7:9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. Here are those two words again: "love God and keep His commandments." You find that thread through the whole Bible. Those who love Him keep His commandments. The love is the motivation, and the yardstick, look at the yardstick, is the keeping of the commandments. That's how we measure the motivation. They love and they keep. They're lovers and keepers.

The whole duty of man is summed up in the last phrase... Those who LOVE Him and KEEP His commands. Christians ought to love Jesus. Ah, how we should love Jesus!

A story is told of how once upon a time a man died and supposedly went straight to heaven. He was so thankful to be there and told Peter how nice it was but he had just one request, could he get just one brief glimpse of Hell? That way he could appreciate Heaven all the more. So Peter granted the request.

In Hades the man saw a long table extending as far as the eye could reach, laden down with the most delicious types of food the man had ever seen. But there was trouble. Everybody was starving. WHY? Peter explained: Each person is required to eat with chop sticks that are 4 feet long. They can't get the food in their mouth and are starving.

"Get me out of here quick!" So Peter took the man back to heaven. At lunch time behold he was taken to a beautiful silver table. The menu was identical to that of Hell. Mouth-watering food in great quantities was available to all. Everybody was happy and well fed. Then he noticed a shocking thing; everybody was required to eat with chop sticks that were 4 feet long.

The man said: I don't understand it. All these are well fed and the ones in Hades are starving. What is the difference? Peter said: In Heaven we feed each other!

John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

Love fosters obedience. Adventists love Jesus. Love is not an antique. Love is not out of style, a relic from the past. About 200 years ago one of our well known encyclopedias discussed the word "atom" with the use of only four lines. But five pages were devoted to a discussion of "love." But, two hundred years later, in a recent edition of the same encyclopedia, five pages were given to the word "atom" and the word "love" was omitted! It isn't even there! I want you to know that love is still in style.

Friend, are you a Loving person? You would be a good Adventist. Hate and love are very similar, you know. If hat and love had a shape it would be the same shape. I believe it would be the shape of a boomerang! It's going to come back. Hate and love.

4) ADVENTISTS ARE A GIVING PEOPLE

Matthew 10:8 ...Freely you have received, freely give. We are a giving people.

The average in our McDonald Road SDA church in total church giving is $2861.50 per family per year. (1998) This includes single people, as well as large families .... both active and inactive members. Christians who love, also give.

John 3:16 (KJV) For 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 you say, "Well, I pay my tithe." That's an obligation. Paying is returning what already belongs to God. That isn't giving. You're not giving anything when you pay tithe, when you return tithe. It's already His. To give, I give an offering in addition to the tithe. That's when you rally give. And I give my life, I give my time to Jesus. I give my love and my heart to Jesus. I go to Benton and help build that church out there. Pastor and I were there Sunday along with a bunch of you. I think a third of the whole group were from the McDonald Road church. You would be interested to know, the roof is on now, almost all of it now. All the trusses are up. The plumbing is getting roughed in. I wish I could go tomorrow, but I've got a funeral to work at. I would love to be there because I love doing something for my Savior.

5) ADVENTISTS ARE COMMANDMENT KEEPERS

We've said that already, but that's a unique point. God's children have always kept His commandments.

Daniel 9:4 I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love Who does He keep His covenant with? with all who LOVE him and obey his COMMANDS, There it is! You love Him and you obey Him. "Trust and obey, for there's nor other way." The obedience doesn't save us, that's the fruit of our salvation.

Because we love God we keep His commandments. I want to be keeping the commandments of God. And I want to have the faith of Jesus.

Here is how it works: A woman got married to a man whom she didn't love. He made her get up every morning at 5 a.m. and cook his breakfast and serve it at 6 a.m. sharp. She had to wait on him. Her life was miserable. Finally he died.

After a few years she remarried. This time she was deeply in love. One day while clearing out some old papers, she came across the strict set of rules and regulations her former husband had written out for her to obey. She began reading: Arise at 5 a.m. Serve breakfast at 6 a.m. On and on she read. Then she stopped and thought, and realized that now she was fulfilling every single one of his demands, but she had not given it a single thought because she was doing it out of love.

Adventists are Christians who Love and therefore Obey Jesus. Good works are the fruit of Salvation. I am glad for the present emphasis in our church on grace and away from works as the method of gaining salvation. You get more works by falling in love with Jesus than any other way.

6)- We are Sabbath-keepers.

That's something that is very distinct about Seventh-day Adventists. And why do we keep the Sabbath? Because we love the Lord of the Sabbath. We keep the seventh day because, really, honestly, that is the only day mentioned in the whole Bible that we should go to church on.

7)- Adventists have a health message.

When you become a Seventh-day Adventist, you quit smoking, you quit drinking, you become a healthier person. You begin exercising, you begin taking care of yourself, and as a result, according to many surveys, Seventh-day Adventist live an average of seven years longer than the average American. That is a proven fact. Part of that, you know, is that we keep the Sabbath. You think about that. We take one whole day off. Only the minister works, and I'm doing this because I love to preach. [His preaching is part of the worship. So he still keeps the Sabbath.] Because we take one whole day of the week off, we rest and we give our bodies a break, we live seven years longer. What a blessing that is! No one ever loved Jesus without benefitting from that.

We have less cancer. I guess you knew that, didn't you? We have a lot of advantages. Of course I couldn't end this sermons without saying that from Revelation 12:17 it says that ... those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). [The writings of Ellen G. White are accepted by Seventh-day Adventists as the Spirit of Prophecy.] That doesn't take the place of the Bible. It can't. God's word has to be prominent. We must preach from the Word of God. But I also believe in the Spirit of Prophecy. And I want you to check that out. Additional benefits are derived from that.

Would we have the health message without the Spirit of Prophecy? I doubt that we would. In Ellen White's day, her health message was very unpopular with the scientific world. It is only recently that people have come to accept the principles of good health that were given to God's people a hundred years ago. And there are many other benefits we have received from her writings.

Ellen White is the most translated author in the world, at least in America. It's amazing.

I want to tell you that Seventh-day Adventists are Christians. We love our Savior, and we love our God, and we love His commandments. Adventists are the only church today that finds their roots in Revelation 10, that find their messenger in Revelation 12, and find their message in Revelation 14. We preach the books of Daniel and Revelation. What other church is preaching the Three Angel's Messages (Revelation 14:6-12)? We have a very unique church. We have a long way to go. We are not perfect. You look around here, people are not perfect, including your pastor, but we're striving. You don't keep your eyes on those lions in your path. There are ions in your path, you keep your eyes on Jesus. He will lead you through.

I John 5:1-3 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, Here again we have this phrase, "Love God and obey or keep His commands or commandments."

Who are Adventists? We are Christians who love and obey Jesus. God is faithful. Let us be faithful to Him.

Opening Hymn: 61, God is Here!
Scripture: Revelation 12:17
Closing Hymn: 100, Great is Thy Faithfulness

990925GETTYS#182



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