Many people think we should leave people in the world alone and not bother them with Christianity. Others would argue that if we don’t go and share the Good News of the gospel with them, they will be lost, and it will be our fault.
But what are the reasons for us to go?
1. It’s Christian
One reason why we “go” is that there are some important aspects of Christianity that people need to know and experience in order to enjoy the abundant life here and now and to be ready to meet Jesus.
The Psalmist said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (34:8). In reality, Christianity must be experienced to be truly understood. We will review here some of the basic beliefs Christians share.
But we must remember that when introducing Christianity to non-Christians, we can’t just string a list of Bible texts together to “prove” Christianity.
They must experience God as a friend rather than just accept a list of beliefs. However, it is important to realize that our convictions are firmly anchored in Scripture.
Let’s review them now.
a. Jesus is the unique source of life and salvation and people need to know about Him.
- John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life.”
- Acts 4:12: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
- 1 John 5:12: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
b. Jesus is the divine son of God. He does not claim to be just a good teacher (like Mohammed or the Buddha) or a great leader (like Moses or David) or some kind of half-god or lesser god (like Shiva or Krishna). No other major religion claims divinity for its founder.
- He claims full divinity—equality with God (John 8:58, 59; 10:30-33).
- His disciples also claimed His divinity fearlessly (Matthew 16:14-16). The proof that they gave for their claims was the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:14-20). If God raised Him, what He said must be true.
c. Jesus offers a unique salvation—salvation by grace through faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
No other world religion has such a salvation. Others may have high standards, ethical behavior, health laws, a lofty philosophy, or nice people, but they believe that people can save themselves by what they do! The foundation of these non-Christian religions is that salvation comes by works.
d. Jesus offers a universal salvation—all-inclusive and exclusive.
- “For God so loved the world . . . that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Christianity is not an ethnic or national religion that belongs to one group of people. The offer of salvation includes everyone in the world! But while Christianity is freely offered to all, it is also exclusive in that it calls for a commitment that asks one to forsake that which is incompatible with Christian belief in order to become a follower.
The truth is that God wants all people to hear the message—the Good News message that God offers a free salvation based on this unique Jesus. In the Great Commission Jesus makes it clear that we can have a part in sharing this Good News with others.
2. It’s Adventist
As Adventists we believe that we are to reach out “to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people” (Revelation 14:6). That conviction has resulted in about 19 million members in over 200 countries.
What is the essence of the message that has driven this mission? What are we to share with the world? Remember that some statements and clichés we use to describe ourselves are not understood by those with no Adventist or Christian background.
Though most of the individual beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists are shared by some other Christians, the “package” of Adventist beliefs is unique among Christian groups. I have summarized them as three convictions that guide what we believe and how we see our mission.
a. Conviction #1: Jesus is coming back again a second time—this coming is visible, literal, and imminent (soon). Before Adventism got started, most Christians either did not believe in a literal coming or de-emphasized it. Many were postmillennialists.
This means they believed that there would be a millennium or 1,000 years of peace and prosperity and then Jesus would come. What people looked for and labored for was this millennium, not the Second Coming. Adventists believe, on the basis of their Bible study, that the real hope of the world is not a millennium, but the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) of Jesus’ Second Coming.
Many Christians who are not Adventists believe in the Second Coming. This should encourage us to realize the persuasiveness of our position. Many, however, do not believe in Jesus’ coming, or if they do, it is only in a partial or warped way. They need this Good News of the blessed hope.
The biggest challenge we face, however, is the non-Christian world. Millions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and adherents of traditional religions have never heard of this hope. We must tell them. Jesus wants them to hear about His coming.
b. Conviction #2: God calls believers to loving obedience and serious discipleship.
In light of Jesus’ coming we need to make serious preparation. Faithful, obedient discipleship is important. Adventists have always believed that Jesus is our Savior.
Nothing we can do will earn our salvation. Only the free grace of Jesus enables us to become forgiven children of God. Our faithful discipleship does not build up merit points which gain favor with God. Adventists have always emphasized that true faith is manifested in making Jesus also Lord.
People saved by Jesus should gladly make Him Lord and in gratitude follow Him.
Before Adventism, many sincere Christians saw a conflict between the gospel of Jesus and the law of God. They believed that people saved by Jesus were free of certain standards of law. Some were lax in their discipleship. Adventists believe that both the gospel and God’s law are vital and go together harmoniously like the two oars of a boat.
The law leads us to Christ and serves as our standard. Jesus releases us from the law’s condemnation, and His spirit writes the law on our hearts. For this reason, Adventists—
- Support the whole Ten Commandments, including the neglected Sabbath fourth commandment, believing that Jesus gave it at Creation (Genesis 2:2). Jesus reiterated it in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11). Jesus reinforced it during His ministry (Mark 2:27).
- Believe the Sabbath is a powerful symbol of God’s creating power (Genesis 2:2, Exodus 20:8-11). Saving grace (Exodus 20:2, Deuteronomy 5:12-15). The final rest of redemption in heaven (Hebrews 4:1-11, esp. 9).
- Accept the Lordship of Christ in all areas of life, including marriage and family, dress, recreation, diet, etc. Husband, wives, children (Ephesians 5:21-6:4). Whatever is true, noble, right, and pure, is good (Philippians 4:8, 9). Your body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19, 20). Dress and demeanor are important (1 Timothy 2:8–10).
More than ever, in a world where disregard for any standards of morality and decency abound, Christianity should promote a holy life. In a world where hurry and haste lead to high levels of stress, Christians under the lordship of Christ can find joy and rest in the Sabbath.
They should demonstrate in their lives both the saving power and the lordship of Jesus.
Conviction #3: God restores in believers the wholeness of life in Christ. Christians do not go to heaven as disembodied souls. The Second Coming restores all of life. Christians should prepare for the Second Coming as whole people. God wants to restore us as whole people. Salvation involves every part of life and being. Jesus wants us to live full and complete lives. In John 10:10 He says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Before Adventism most Christians believed that religion dealt with the soul or spirit of people. At death the soul went to either heaven or hell (or maybe purgatory). The body had little or no meaning. This led to the neglect of health rules and other parts of human existence. Adventists believe that human beings are a unit. There is not a separate soul which exists by itself. All parts of life affect all other parts. A healthy body and mind help make for a healthy spiritual life, and vice versa.
Not only is physical health and mental health a part of religion, so are human relationships. The salvation or healing Jesus wants to give affects all parts of us. For this reason, we-
- Promote healthful living, including hygiene; abstinence from smoking, alcohol, and drugs; vegetarianism as an ideal; health education; exercise, and proper rest.
- Endorse Christian education.
- Encourage proper social relationships. Oppose war.
- Try to care for the physical, spiritual, and mental needs of people in our mission work.
- Believe that when we die, we sleep, waiting to be resurrected as a whole person when Jesus comes again.
- Encourage practical, vocational work as a part of education.
More than ever a world that is sick, addicted, and living in ignorance needs the message of a Jesus who cares for and ministers to all parts of our life. A dying world needs the hope of new life lived to its fullness by God’s grace and power.
Does It Make Sense to You?
All of these beliefs point to a fuller presentation of Jesus. I am an Adventist because to me Adventism is the fullest presentation of Jesus— A Jesus whom I will see again when He comes. A Jesus who is Savior and Lord, and who cares enough to guide my life. A Jesus who can and does heal not just my soul or spiritual nature, but wants to heal and minister to all I am.
Adventists often feel weird or strange among other Christians for things like the Sabbath, our diet, and standards. We should not forget that things which make us strange to other Christians are often the things that make sense to millions of non-Christians. Adventism often makes more sense to the non-Christian religions of the world than to other types of Christianity.
- Muslims like our high standards in relationship to recreation, modesty, unclean meats, and alcohol.
- Jews identify with us on the Sabbath and some aspects of diet.
- Millions of Buddhists and Hindus teach vegetarianism as an ideal and agree with our stand on noncombatancy and war.
These people are our real mission field! They need to hear about Christ from people they can readily identify with in other areas.
What about you?
If someone asked you why you are an Adventist, what would you say? What reasons would you give for your belief?
Share your thoughts in the comments below