God has commissioned His remnant people to be partners with Him in mission. The three angels’ messages (Rev 14:6-12) outline that mission of the remnant.
We have often made verse 12 the central message — God's people will keep His commandments and follow Him. But is that really the core message? This would mean that the emphasis of the three angels’ messages is on the remnant — on human beings.
But isn’t the loud cry calling us to true worship? Isn’t the focus of the message on the One who deserves our worship? What is the value of the remnant’s commandment keeping and faithfulness other than it brings glory to God?
The messages of the second and third angel are in response to and in explanation of the first shout from the sky: “Give glory to God and worship Him.” The remnant are those who do that!
Therefore, the ministry and mission of the remnant people of God is primarily to reveal the glory of God so that others will be motivated to truly worship their Creator. Actually, this has always been the mission of God's people — at least, it was supposed to have been.
“It was God’s purpose that by the revelation of his character through Israel men should be drawn unto Him” (PK 19). But “they forgot God, and lost sight of their high privilege as His representatives” (COL 292).
Jesus, of course, was the perfect reflector of God’s glory. The purpose of the incarnation was to have God’s true character perfectly communicated to humankind. John 1:14 says, “So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us.
He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father” (NIV).
Christ has now given this job of reflecting God’s character to the church, through whom He will work “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Phil 3:10).
If revealing and proclaiming the glory of God is the remnant commission, we must do just that. Are we? In many ways, we have shared God’s glory with the nations.
God has even revealed His glory when we have fallen short of His plan, just as He did through Israel. However, have we always made the glory of God a priority in our ministry and evangelism?
As Adventists, we have frequently proclaimed what God wants His people to do as citizens of His kingdom better than we have shown what the King is like.
We have often quoted the statement “the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people” as if it were a goal to be reached in order to fulfill God’s expectations of a remnant people.
We have recited from memory the promise that “if we would humble ourselves before God, and be kind and courteous and tenderhearted and pitiful, there would be one hundred conversions to the truth where now there is only one” (9T, 190) as if this were another device for successful church growth.
We are right, of course, in both regards; however, the important message of both quotes is that God needs a people who reflect His glory so that He can draw more people unto Himself!
If God needs disciples who can reveal His glory, then the obvious goal of our ministry and mission must be to make more disciples.
The organized church throughout the centuries has felt comfortable with the “baptizing” and “teaching them all things” parts of the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20).
According to Jesus, though, these are only steps to making new disciples — the true raison d'être for the church.
This is why we must be careful not to equate the number of baptisms with success.
Success, if we dare use that word for man’s endeavors, is only found in God’s kingdom as new believers become maturing disciples and disciplers — reaching out to a lost world in the glorious name of our God.
Engel and Dyrness remind us that “numerical growth, if it occurs, is an outcome of a church that is pure and blameless, not a goal in and of itself." 1
The traditional form of church (and its mission) has been the Informational Model, which teaches its members that they need to tell the truth “to as many people as you can as fast as you can.”
Of course, we do have truth to share, and we have promoted many effective methods for sharing those truths with the world. This is not bad, but when this is the primary model, we find the church failing to fulfill its mission — every disciple giving God glory.
This model results in “professionals” who have the gifts of evangelism, preaching and teaching doing most of the work of evangelism since they can talk well and reap well.
Their gifts are good gifts, but they have only a few of the gifts listed in Scripture. The result is that most members become spectators, cheering the evangelist from the sidelines. “Spectator” is not one of the definitions of a disciple!
The Glory of God Model, on the other hand, emphasizes building people who live God's love. The church working from this model reaches people through relationships. This requires every spiritual gift since people are attracted to God’s glory in different ways.
Since no one has every gift, everyone in the church is involved in evangelism (making relationships for God), which, of course, is the essence of discipleship.
Thus, God’s glory is being revealed in this type of church more than in a church that emphasizes programs for information distribution.
The Glory of God Model of doing church does not exclude the communication of information. If our mission is to bring glory to God, we will communicate information about God, His plan, His ways.
But demonstrating God’s glory will be the motivation! We must share truth — if by truth, we mean the truth about God and His revealed will — or we will share a false story about God.
However, truth about God can only be communicated if it actually reveals His glory. Information about our God, given at the proper time, within a relationship that results in a person being drawn to worship the Creator, is the kind of information sharing that the Glory of God Model envisions.
We cannot claim to be God’s remnant if we aren’t letting Him use us in His mission to draw all humanity unto Himself.
The three angels’ messages tell us that there is a special urgency to God’s mission in these last days. We must be people who are faithful to Jesus, follow Him completely, and reflect His character, both inside and outside of the church, so that His name will be glorified when justified and sanctified people of all nations worship Him as their Creator and Redeemer.
The challenge, then, is to make sure that our lives and the programs of our mission enterprise are assisting in this ministry and mission of glorifying God and not hindering it.
“And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts, living within you as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love; and may you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how wide, how deep, and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourselves, though it is so great that you will never fully see the end of it or fully know or understand it.
And so at last you will be filled up with God himself. Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of — infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires thoughts, or hopes. May he be given glory forever and ever through endless ages because of his master plan of salvation for the Church through Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:17-21 TLB).
By Lester Merklin
Adapted from: Merklin, Lester P. Jr., "The Mission of the Remnant: To Reveal and Proclaim the Glory of God" (2014). Faculty Publications. Paper 19
1 Engel, James F. and William A. Dyrness. 2000. Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong. Downers Grove, IL: lnterVarsity.