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At Argentine Adventist University, Wilson Stresses Full Message
On dedication Sabbath, emphasizes unity of justification, sanctification (Posted May 23, 2012)
BY MARK A. KELLNER
, news editor, reporting from Libertador San Martín, Entre Rios, Argentina
half century to the day from his own baptism in Takoma Park, Maryland, Ted N. C. Wilson called the 5,000 Seventh-day Adventists who attended two Sabbath services at Universidad Adventista del Plata (UAP) to ground their faith in Christ alone.
“The foundations of all revival and reformation stem from the righteousness of Jesus Christ,” the General Conference president told capacity crowds of 2,500 at each of the two morning services. “We should be the strongest proponents of Christ and Christ alone; to realize that the two great provisions of salvation--justification and sanctification--cannot be separated. They represent the fullness of Christ and his righteousness.”
JESUS IS CENTRAL: Ted N. C. Wilson, General Conference president, shares a dedicatory sermon at the new church on the campus of Universidad Adventista de Plata, on Sabbath, May 19, 2012. At left is South American Division executive secretary Magdiel Perez Schulz, who translated. [Photo: Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review]
Noting that Seventh-day Adventists have sometimes been called legalists, Wilson rejected that characterization: “Nothing could be further from the truth,” he declared.
The morning meetings were held on the weekend when the UAP church, five years in the making, was dedicated. While worship has been held at the school since its founding in 1898, recent years have seen worship services held in a large, steel-roofed auditorium. Wilson recalled speaking there, adding, “It was difficult to preach there” because of the acoustics.
The spacious, new building, which seats 2,500, equipped with new pews, a platform large enough to hold a student choir, orchestra, and auxiliary orchestra along with speakers and a podium, won’t pose similar problems. Along with a bank of flat-panel display screens on the wall facing the congregation there is an acoustically balanced sound system. Visitors heard simultaneous translations via low-power FM signals. UAP also streamed the morning worship services via the Internet.
Minutes after the mayor of Libertador San Martín conferred an honorary citizenship for him, Wilson commented on the church’s many features, including a mosaic on the plaza outside the building, visible from space via satellite photography, that says “¡Ven Señor Jesus!
” (Come, Lord Jesus!).
“This has to be one of the finest church buildings not only in the South American Division, but in the whole of the Adventist world,” Wilson said. But, he added, “all of this is built not to edify us, but to bring about the soon coming of Jesus. Jesus is coming again!”
Wilson then described his meetings a day earlier with pastors and leaders in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, some four hours by car to the south. The city will be the South American Division’s evangelism focus in 2013. Erton Köhler, division president, said goals include 3,000 baptisms and the establishment of four new churches in one of South America’s most secular cities.
“It’s time to preach the full message of Jesus,” Wilson said. “And from this beautiful pulpit, God’s Word will be proclaimed with power. Time is short.”
Of the 2013 Argentine outreach, Wilson said, “I’m going to pray for the great effort in Buenos Aires. But before that begins, we have to humble ourselves before him. . . . Brothers and sisters, let us prepare our hearts in humility, to be revived in Jesus and reformed in him; to pray for the latter rain.”
At the heart of his message Wilson stressed the need for Adventists to keep justification and sanctification at the heart of their Christian walk. Neither should be emphasized to the exclusion of the other, he declared.
FULL HOUSE: A congregation of 2,500 filled each of two Sabbath morning services May 19, at the new church at Universidad Adventista de Plata, Libertador San Martín, Entre Rios, Argentina. [Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review]
If believers focus only on sanctification, they end up with perfectionism and legalism, he explained; those who focus only on justification end up with “cheap grace.” Neither, he said, is God’s plan.
“God’s all-encompassing righteousness is justification and sanctification,” Wilson said. “It is His plan for bringing us into an immediate and a long-term relationship with Him. . . . It is the grace of God, and his power alone, that accomplishes his work in us.
“It is a plan so simple that a child can understand it, yet it is so complex that we will study it throughout eternity,” he said.
Wilson added, “It is the grace of God and his power alone that accomplishes all in us and through us. When we accept Jesus. we accept his robe of righteousness. . . . Then we accept the power that comes with justification; Christ begins to sanctify us [and] we’re transformed into the glorious image of Christ. This entire change is the all-encompassing righteousness of Christ.”
While considering this, Wilson said, believers should not mistake redemption for superiority: “Let no one in the Seventh-day Adventist Church think themselves better than others. You and I are all sinners at the foot of the cross,” he said, adding, “We are saved by grace, we live by faith, all because of and through Jesus Christ.”
Wilson then noted the continuing “Revival and Reformation” program in the Adventist Church, augmented at the 2012 Spring Meeting by the launch of “Revived by His Word,” a daily Bible-reading plan that has Adventists reading at least a chapter of Scripture daily. He urged his hearers to participate in both programs.
“God is calling us to submit ourselves to him completely,” Wilson said. “What love and humility Christ shows to us as a people! We do not want to be called perfectionists or legalists, pointing out the faults of people, we are not to think of ourselves as more righteous than others, but we are to focus on Jesus.”
If the Adventists at UAP, and their fellow believers around the world, unite in that focus, he said, something incredible will happen.
“One day soon, we will look up in the eastern sky, and we will see a cloud appearing, getting brighter and brighter, larger and larger, and soon all heaven will be poured out,” Wilson said. “Millions of angels, a cloud that is pulsating with light, and a rainbow of covenant over the cloud; there seated in the middle of the cloud is the One who is proclaimed in the front of the church. “¡Ven, Señor Jesus!”