Theme: The Message of the Prophets
Leading Question: To what extent is it the responsibility of prophets to help God’s people retain doctrinal integrity?
While it is very important for a believing community to hold to right doctrine, what may be even more important is for the spirit and heart of the believers to be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. In the early years of Adventism, when James and Ellen White worked together in speaking to the believers, this is the way Ellen White described their respective roles: “My husband would give a doctrinal discourse, then I would follow with an exhortation of considerable length, melting my way into the feelings of the congregation. Thus my husband sowed and I watered the seed of truth, and God did give the increase.” – 1T 75
In looking at the key doctrines that have been important for Adventists, it would be instructive for us also to ponder how these doctrines could be seen if God’s messengers have melted their way into our feelings:
1. Sin and salvation (Rom 3:21-28). Recognizing our true status before God is the first step in finding peace. Like the publican, we must plead that God will be merciful to us as sinners (Luke 18:13).
2. Sanctuary (Rev 11:19). A glimpse of the temple of God in heaven with the ark of the covenant played a key role in encouraging James and Ellen White to accept the Sabbath truth. Overall, a knowledge of Jesus’ ministry on our behalf can fulfill either of the great motive powers represented by Paul’s “stick” or “love in the spirit of gentleness” (1 Cor 4:21). If we are inclined to be careless, then we can be reminded of the sobering work of judgment which the sanctuary represents; if we are inclined to be discouraged by our shortcomings, then we can know that Jesus is our mediator, ministering on our behalf. In short, Sanctuary is not so much a doctrine in itself as a framework within which all the other doctrines find their home.
3. Sabbath (Exodus 20:1-17). Adventist loyalty to the decalogue and the Sabbath is rooted in our very name. By God’s grace, we can find the Sabbath to be a liberating prohibition, enabling us to find true joy in the Lord.
4. Eternal life only in Christ (John 3:16). Adventists believe that humans are mere mortals, dependent on God for eternal life. If we accept Jesus Christ we have eternal life.
5. Second Coming (Mat 24). The return of the Lord is both a promise and a threat. The world needs to be warned; the world needs to be invited. Some will respond to one kind of message, some to the other. Is there a way that we can bring both aspects together?