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Jesus is all in all! There’s no one like Him! He’s still the fairest of ten thousand that everybody ought to know! 

June 3, 2021

What Makes Adventism Adventist?

Lake Union Conference President, Maurice Valentine, encourages us to be Christ-centered and keep our eyes on Jesus.

Is it our penchant for wholistic living that causes us to live as many as 7 to 10 years longer than we would if we didn’t have our health-transforming, Bible-informed, plant-based, dietary plan the world is now discovering? Is it our many doctrines we hold so dear, especially the Sabbath, State of the Dead, Sanctuary, Spirit of Prophecy and Second Coming of Jesus? Or is it our linear view of the Great Controversy theme which helps us understand the prophetic timeline that begins with the crafting of the plan of redemption to the restoration of mankind to face-to-face communion with God? Is it our laser-like focus on end-time events as informed by the Three Angels of Revelation 14 that tell us what milestones to look for on this timeline, helping us know what’s soon to come on all mankind? Is it the faithfulness of our lay-leaders and members? Could it be the tremendous burden we have to practice prayer, study God’s Word, and share our faith?    

Is it our organization and institutions? As for organization, through the dedication of missionaries, our message has reached around the globe in less than 150 years. As for institutions, in 11 years of service as a church administrator, I have been honored to sit on many boards, every one of them doing nothing less than extraordinary work. Just from following God’s blueprint for Christian education, we are blessed to have what are likely some of most committed people on the planet running these institutions. And how does a church so young have one of the largest religious education and healthcare delivery systems in the world? As I look at where our people land in places of employ — be they blue-collar or white-collar workers because all are co-laborers with Christ who was both a blue-collar and white-collar worker, carpenter and teacher respectively, innovation abounds in all that we do. Our organizations and institutions rise on the thermals of God’s grace even as we individually also excel in agriculture, private business philanthropy, entrepreneurship, government and corporate setting.  

Is it because all of our institutions globally are interconnected? A healthcare leader of another faith community recently said, “We have a lot to learn from you in the way that you work so closely together.” Today’s corporations and franchises turn out high-quality products because they maintain high standards and quality controls for all of their wares and outlets that represent their brand. I’ve noticed the same is true of our many institutions. Because we have core values that leaders are admonished to attain to in every institution, our level of high-quality delivery of heath, educational, publishing, media, and church level training and products causes us in many respects to be recognized by our friends in the public arena who say, “You have something special.” There’s not a board meeting I’ve left where I haven’t been absolutely inspired at the grace of God as demonstrated by how He has filled the leadership ranks in each institution with visionary, creative, innovative, dedicated, committed and inspiring leaders. Repeatedly, I leave these meetings saying to myself, “Wow, look at what God hath wrought!” 

But what is our product?   

Our product is the proclamation of the gospel in the context of the Three Angels’ Messages which is transported by the wavelength of God’s grace as demonstrated by His giving His only Son, Jesus. In other words, we have much more than a product — we have a Person! What makes Adventism Adventist? It’s Jesus! He’s central to all we do. That’s what is Adventist about Adventism. Because of His equality with God and equality with man, in the heavenly Sanctuary scene of Revelation, He’s the only One that can open the book sealed with seven seals.  

You may retort, but every church in Christendom has the same thing we do. Our hymns are Christ-centered, but so are theirs. Our liturgy is Christ-centered, but so is theirs. Our institutions are Christ-centered, but so are theirs. Is it really a Christ-centered message that sets us apart? I respond emphatically, “Yes!”  

Healthcare leaders from other faith-based institutions tell ours repeatedly, “What we have learned from our interaction with you in your hospitals is that you still intentionally live out the mission of Jesus, and we are better for having associated with you as we realize what we were missing.” For us, it’s a living, loving relationship with God and our fellow man that is to be lived out in all that we do. Ivy league schools were once faith-based. Yet ours, although very much imperfect, are still rooted in Jesus so young adults go out and make a Daniel-like difference in the marketplace and missionaries still go like streams of light from our schools to distant lands to share our compelling message to come out of Babylon.  

Yes, Jesus has blessed us to be the head and not the tail for the same reason as ancient Israel. He said, If you obey my commands, I will bless you when you come in and when you go out. Jesus places a high priority on commandment-keeping because it is the best litmus test of our love for Him and that’s what makes us Christ-centered. That’s why Jesus said, If you love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). Then He restates its importance in Revelation 14:12 where it’s clear that those who sidestep the Mark of the Beast are those who do His commandments. Lastly, this powerful prophetic book concludes with Blessed are they that do His commandments. . . (Rev. 22:14). Our name, Adventist. implies a great love of Jesus and a yearning for His return.  

Our doctrines are Christocentric, but it is keeping Jesus’ commandments from a heart of love that makes us the most Christ-centered movement on earth. While the enemy would have the world believe we are working our way to heaven because he doesn’t want others to attain this love for Jesus, I’m glad to be a commandment-keeper because I love Jesus. I’m so grateful He died for me. Keeping His commandments is the least I can do to please Him. Remember, Jesus loved the Father so much that He kept His Father’s commands. But, rest assured, Satan labeled Him before the heavenly host as a legalist. It’s hard to be labeled the exact opposite of who you are and what you stand for, and that’s what the great controversy is all about.   

Hopefully, by now, you have figured out that in my final editorial I want to shine the light on Jesus as never before. Many times, I’ve failed to do this so, in my final years of service, I’m determined to make up for my mess-ups. Jesus is all in all! There’s no one like Him! He’s still the fairest of ten thousand that everybody ought to know!   

As Sharon and I depart to serve at the North American Division, please know that we love the Lake Union, and we love you. Please continue reading Patriarchs and Prophets that illustrates many leadership transitions in ancient Israel and trust that God is giving you in a new president, just what you need. Please pray for your new leader. And from God’s Word, may we all experience a Holy Spirit-led Revival and Reformation in our love for Jesus and may we never forget He is the true head of our church. We are simply feeble co-laborers with Him.