Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School Lesson
Growing in Christ
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Nature Testifies of God
Upon all created things is seen the impress of the Deity
Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of death." Revelation 1:18.
Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven.
Justification by Faith
Vatican Official Exhorts the Sunday
Sunday should be a day for worship, rest and time with family and friends, said Monsignor Miquel Delgado Galindo, under secretary for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Jesus said "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars....For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places."
In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle. If possible, even the very elect would be deceived.
A Faithful Record
Nature is an open book which reveals God. All who are attracted to nature may behold in it the God that created them.
Book of Nature
Iraq persecution testimony before US Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Ted N. C. Wilson is President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. [ANN file photo]
Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson released the following statement today expressing concern over the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq and Syria:
It is with great sadness and deep concern that we have learned of the tragic situation where tens of thousands of Christians and others have been subjected to persecution, coercion, killings, intimidation and lack of religious liberty in certain areas of Iraq and Syria.
I urgently call upon all Seventh-day Adventist Church members around the world to pray for the victims of this extremism in religious intolerance. We also need to pray for various religious minorities who are targeted because of their religious convictions and beliefs.
It is important that the international community act unitedly to stop the persecution of Christian believers and others who represent those who have lived in relative peace with their Muslim neighbors in the Middle East for hundreds of years. The Seventh-day Adventist Church will do its best to assist victims of this new tragedy, which reflects a total lack of religious liberty, and we will earnestly pray for a positive resolution to this appalling situation. May the Holy Spirit as the Comforter come especially close to those facing immediate persecution and death at this time.
—Ted N. C. Wilson, President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson delivers the closing sermon.. [photo: Andrew McChesney/AR]
Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson made a case for vegetarianism in a Sabbath sermon closing a weeklong health conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and he expressed disappointment that some people liken the church’s emphasis on a plant-based diet to fanaticism.
He also encouraged the audience of 1,150 Seventh-day Adventist leaders and health professionals from 81 countries to boldly share the Jesus-centered health practices that they had learned at the Global Conference on Health and Lifestyle, even if they faced opposition in their home churches.
Wilson, who compared the energy required of Adventists to the high metabolism of a hummingbird, said he was familiar with discouragement and the best recourse was to lean on Jesus.
“I hope you will go from this place filled with God’s intense desire, like the hummingbird, and to be careful in what you do, to be balanced in what you do, but to proclaim God’s precious word,” he said.
The conference, organized by the world church’s Health Ministries department, featured science-based presentations from leading global health professionals that showed the best safeguard against premature killers like cancer, heart disease and diabetes was a healthy lifestyle with a vegetarian diet and regular exercise.
The conference’s goal is to ultimately open community health centers with programs offering a Christ-modeled blend of physical and spiritual wellness in every Adventist church. The programs could include stress management courses, fitness classes, and Breathe-Free 2, a stop-smoking initiative unveiled at the conference.
Practice what you teach
In his July 12 sermon, Wilson returned to a theme that had dominated the conference: Attendees must apply what they were learning to their own lives in order to effectively share it with others.
“Lifestyle ought to be modeled,” he said. “Avoid detrimental lifestyles. Show the love of Christ in all that you do.”
Wilson added: “I want to tell you I feel sad when I hear of places that think that because you talk about healthy living, you’re a fanatic; if you talk about the sanctuary service, and its completeness, and the righteousness of Jesus, that you are some kind of a quack; if you talk of Jesus’ soon return, that you are a fanatic; if you talk about promoting the values in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, that you belong in another century.
“I want to tell you brothers and sisters: The principles in God’s Word and the Spirit of Prophecy are as fresh today as they were when they were written,” he said, drawing loud “amens” from the audience.
Wilson prefaced his remarks by saying that he had spent hours rejoicing and praying with conference participants during the past week but had been troubled by some of the things that they had shared.
Wilson then turned his attention to what Adventists eat.
“Nancy and I have been vegetarians all of our lives,” he said, referring to his wife, who was in the hall.
“That doesn’t mean I’m any closer to the kingdom of God than the person who is eating meat,” he said. “It simply means that I am trying to follow God’s health laws so that the frontal lobes and the delicate nerve endings can receive the impressions of the Holy Spirit in a wonderful way.”
The Adventist Church has no ban on meat eating with the exception of pork, shrimp and other meats designated as unclean in the book of Leviticus. Studies suggest that nearly half of North American Adventists are vegetarians, but many believers in other parts of the world such as South America and the former Soviet Union eat meat, and some have resolutely resisted change.
Presenters at the Geneva conference offered an abundance of scientific evidence suggesting that vegetarians live longer, healthier lives. They also pointed out that a healthy person tends to be more receptive to spiritual matters than a person who is distracted or numbed by fatigue or illness.
Wilson noted that Adventist church co-founder Ellen White foresaw that Christians awaiting Jesus’ return in the last days would not eat meat.
“I want to encourage you to read some of that and pray about it and see how the Lord impresses you in terms of your lifestyle: what you eat, what you watch, what you read, what you do. And I myself have to do the same,” he said.
Indeed, White wrote in her book Counsels on Diet and Foods: “Among those who are waiting for the coming of the Lord, meat eating will eventually be done away; flesh will cease to form a part of their diet. We should ever keep this end in view, and endeavor to work steadily toward it.”
Wilson, reiterating a point he made at the conference earlier in the week, stressed that vegetarianism would never determine salvation.
“I live in a healthful manner, not to earn my way to heaven, but because the Lord has told me that’s the best way to live,” he said. “And that’s what we need to share with others. I challenge you to live the lifestyle.”
‘Don’t Get Discouraged’
He told attendees to remain balanced and calm if they faced opposition from “your local church or even, God forbid, from your pastor or from a church administrator or an organization that doesn’t understand what we have been talking about this week.”
“Don’t get discouraged,” he said. “Lift people’s eyes to what Jesus did.”
Wilson said he could empathize with those tempted to feel discouraged. “Sometimes the things that people throw at me are, you know, things that aren’t very pleasant,” he said. “I’ve learned by God’s grace to just give them all to the Lord. Lean on Him.”
He then read from Matthew 5, which says: “Blessed are you when they shall revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad for great is your reward in heaven.”
“Go with that attitude,” Wilson said. “Be a vital missionary for Jesus. … Go in the power of Jesus. Be a vital proponent of God’s wonderful work.”
Elder Wilson closed the Michigan Camp-meeting with an encouraging talk reminding God's church who we are. June 21, 2014.
Victory in Jesus
Seventh-day Adventists have been entrusted with the sacred oracles of God. With that trust comes a great responsibility. Elder Ted Wilson understands this and pleads with God's church to wake up and give the last warning message to a world soon to perish. He calls upon God's people to once again be known as "the people of the Book". Pastor Wilson places Jesus in the center of his sermon, as he always does.
Here is Elder Wilson giving the Sabbath sermon at the Michigan Camp-meeting, June 21, 2014.
Prophecy is fulfilling before our eyes.
[Photo: Karen Porter]
Leaders and members of the Adventist Church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) wondered aloud if the fourth and last multi-day session of the group would yield a consensus on the thorny issue of ordaining women to ministry.
One TOSC member wistfully noted to the group that Wednesday, June 4, was Pentecost in the Jewish calendar. He hoped, he said, that a miracle of unanimity might conclude the two-year study process as members were asked to choose their preferred solution, or “Way Forward,” on the issue the church has wrestled with for more than 25 years.
However, when TOSC chairman Artur Stele announced the results of an informal survey of the group of scholars, church administrators, pastors and laypersons, three positions emerged from the data, with no position claiming a majority of the 95 votes received.
Forty TOSC members identified as their first choice a position that “Each entity responsible for calling pastors be authorized to choose either to have only men as ordained pastors; or to have both men and women as ordained pastors.”
Thirty-two members favored a proposal that affirms the "practice of ordaining/commissioning only qualified men to the office of pastor/minister throughout the world church . . ..”
A third option was the first choice of 22 participants. It stated, “Christ is the only head of the church,” noting that there is a “biblical pattern of male leadership, under the headship of Christ, in the office of the ordained minister.” But this option also added that “We recommend that denominational leadership at a proper level be authorized to decide, based on biblical principles, whether such an adaptation [permission to ordain both men and women] may be appropriate for their area or region.”
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson spoke to committee members after the poll results were announced by Stele. “As we move forward with this process, I’m asking that we each act with humility—not authoritatively or in an overbearing manner,” Wilson urged. “We should do all things in the spirit of Jesus.”
Wilson also thanked participants for an action they voted unanimously earlier in the day. TOSC members acted “to affirm that in spite of the differences of opinion on the subject of women’s ordination, the members of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee are committed to the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as expressed through the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.”
“We will be very open and fair in the way we approach the handling of this matter,” Wilson assured the committee as he sketched key stages the church will follow in the months ahead.
Several administrative groups at the church’s world headquarters will consider the written report of the TOSC process during meetings June 16-19, Wilson said, and will place the matter on the agenda of the denomination’s Annual Council convening in Silver Spring, Maryland October 9-14. General Conference leaders have promised to make all materials from the recent study process and supplemental documents available in advance to the 300+ member Executive Committee, which decides what to recommend to the church’s quinquennial General Conference session planned for San Antonio, Texas, 13 months from now.
Wilson said that multiple presentations will be made at the scheduled administrative meetings as part of helping church representatives openly review the subject.
“The results of today’s poll shouldn’t dictate any outcomes for the world church, but they should be given their appropriate weight,” said TOSC vice chair Geoffrey Mbwana, also a vice-president of the church. “No one should quickly say, ‘This is all a clear matter.’ All that is really clear at this moment is that we have strong differences about the matter of ordaining women to ministry.” TOSC leaders saw the survey as an evaluation tool to determine if consensus positions had developed in the committee.
The TOSC group’s assignment was to do an in-depth study and analysis of the subject of ordination with input from world divisions of the church: the committee wasn’t organized to be proportionately representative of the world church. A more international assessment will come in the process at the 2014 Annual Council and 2015 General Conference session when delegates selected by church constitutional and policy provisions will consider the issue.
Karen Porter, TOSC Secretary and assistant secretary of the world church, underlined the value of the study.
“What we’ve experienced here could be an important template for the world church as it considers other international issues,” Porter said. “We’ve learned lessons of both kinds—what works, and what doesn’t—and we’re all better for having spent so many days and hours listening to people we may not always agree with.”
Stele also praised the spirit of committee members as the 24-month study process concluded. He suggested that the fourth session had probably been more positive because of the greater amount of time spent in caucuses and working groups instead of plenary presentations.
“Though we’ve had challenging and difficult discussions at times, we’ve developed a camaraderie—a respect for each other—during the last two years,” he said. “A large majority of participants learned to trust each other as they prayed together, ate meals together, and talked in the hallways. This is the first truly global study process on this issue that has ever been attempted. It’s been gratifying to see and feel how much this unique process has built up mutual understanding and better relationships.”
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of the Adventist Church’s education department and a TOSC member, focused on the long-term gain to the church from the study process. “One of the most important developments for us as a global, multi-national church was to revisit our hermeneutics, and think about how we study the Bible across many cultures,” she told Adventist Review. “This experience helped us to clarify what we believe—and why we believe it, as well as focusing us on how we unitedly pursue our mission.”
Wilson urged committee members to remain hopeful about the ultimate outcome of the process as the Wednesday session ended.
“We may not yet see just where the Spirit is taking us on this issue,” he said. “But we firmly believe that God will open the way for His church to fulfill its mission.”
Seventh-day Adventists march against tobacco in Venezuela last year [IAD file photo by David Buenaño]
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is one of many groups joining the World Health Organization to mark May 31 as World No Tobacco Day.
The Adventist Church is supporting this year’s theme, “Raising Tobacco Taxes,” which is a core policy recommendation of the Church’s 1996 statement on tobacco.
A statement from the World Health Organization said, “A tax increase that increases tobacco prices by 10 percent decreases tobacco consumption by about 4 percent in high-income countries and by up to 8 percent in low- and middle-income countries.” The statement also said, “Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally and is currently responsible for 10 percent of adult deaths worldwide.”
Dr. Peter Landless, Health Ministries director of the Adventist world church, said increasing taxes on tobacco is one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce the use of tobacco, especially among those who are young or poor. “While we respect freedom of business in the marketplace, we should also respect the freedom for citizens to establish policies that curb the single most preventable cause of death,” he said.
Adventists—long known for a promotion of healthful living—were on record against tobacco more than a decade before the denomination was officially established in 1863.
As developed counties toughen their restrictions on smoking, tobacco companies increasingly focus on developing countries, where they face less resistance. Adventists are continuing anti-tobacco initiatives through the denomination’s worldwide network of churches, schools and hospitals.
In the Southeast Asian country of Cambodia, where smoking rates are approximately 40 percent among men, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency has implemented anti-tobacco projects since 1995. Government health officials could once be seen smoking during meetings, which prompted ADRA to partner with other non-governmental organizations to help reduce the smoking rate down from 70 percent in the mid-1990s.
“ADRA is currently working on more awareness education through its rural based development programs and partners where smoking rates have not reduced nearly as fast as in the urban centers,” said Mark Schwisow, director for ADRA Cambodia.
In the Eastern European Country of Bulgaria, data reveal that 45 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 64 smoke, said Dr. Gergana Geshanova, leader of the Bulgarian Smoke Free Coalition. The Adventist Church in Bulgaria is one of several group advocating for the reinstatement of a ban on tobacco, which was rescinded by Parliament in 2010, Geshanova said.
In the Western European nation of Portugal, the Adventist Church has held smoking cessation programs since 1967, said Daniel Bastos, director of the Health Ministries department for the Adventist Church's Portuguese Union of Churches. More than 4,000 programs have reached some 60,000 smokers in the country, he said.
The Adventist Church first brought the world a smoking cessation program in the 1950s, which was later named “Breathe Free.” In July, the Church will release an updated version of the program to include new research and methods. The new Breathe Free was rewritten in collaboration between the International Commission for the Prevention of Alcoholism and Drug Dependency and the Adventist Church’s Loma Linda University.
“We pray that this will serve as an impetus to renewed energy in the Church’s efforts to make the difference in the lives of many wishing to break the habit,” said Landless, the Health Ministries director. “My prayer is that we will answer this call. The need is clear and our duty defined.”
I was born into a non Adventist home, well that is an understatement really. My father was and still is a heavily practicing Satanist and as such, myself being a female, made me a target for ridicule and I was most certainly placed way below my brothers in the family......Tamara's Testimony
Too late to move?
Moving to the country is becoming very hard in some locations. Selling a home and financing a new one is difficult. Some government agencies want to move everyone into the cities. God's people need to take their families away from the cities, into the country, where they can raise their own provisions; for in the future the problem of buying and selling will be a very serious one. We should now begin to heed the instruction given us over and over again: Get out of the cities into rural districts, where the houses are not crowded closely together, and where you will be free from the interference of those who are opposed to the truth. Pray that God will open a way.
Hotbeds of Crime
European Sunday Law?
The world will urge an outward compliance with the laws of the land, for the sake of peace and harmony. And there are some who will even urge such a course from the Scripture: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. . . . The powers that be are ordained of God." But what has been the course of God's servants in ages past? When the disciples preached Christ and Him crucified, after His resurrection, the authorities commanded them not to speak any more nor to teach in the name of Jesus. "But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Today, our liberty is being threatened.
European Sunday Law