RENEWING HOPE                    To read this sermon in Spanish, click here.

For the duration of this Symposium, Chile Adventist University (UnACh) has become the center of South American Adventist theology.  We may imagine that the heavens are very much interested on what transpires here. Actually, we were able to perceive the activity of the Spirit of the Lord, which He continues exerting.  Events of this kind enrich and deepen the quality of our message, especially those like this one, which deal with the book of Revelation, so near to the heart of our message of hope.  This is the right message. This has been the typical message of our evangelistic projects and of our church identity in South America.  I have no doubts that these presentations will help us to renew our commitment to a solid prophetic vision, and to strengthen our preaching of Christian hope.  I would like to thank each one of you for your presence and participation, those who serve in the South American church, the representatives from the world church, theology teachers, publishing house editors, district pastors, Conference and Mission departmental secretaries and administrators, those who act in the areas of communication or education. We all need to strengthen the vision, depth and commitment to the message for the last days.

I have noticed the quality of many of the presentations and the sizable amount of literature that our Seminaries and professors are publishing. I would like to thank every one of you for your dedication, and in a special way UnACh for coordinating this Symposium.  I would like to express special thanks to all who work in the theological and ministerial training of our future pastors. This is a critical area of church work. The future of our message, of our mission, of the quality of our ministerial body and of the life of the church depends to a large extent on our theological Seminaries. This is why Biblical-Theological Symposia like this one are so important. They affect the strategic action of the church in the areas already mentioned. We have a group of theologians fully integrated into the activity of the church, with high professional standards, so we are resolved to maintain our level of support in order to ensure new generations of highly qualified pastors who will lead the church into the future.

We would like to advance together in the preparation of pastors with theological depth and theologians with pastoral vision. We must strike a balance: we should not produce academicians without pastoral ability or sensitivity, Bible professionals with a lot of knowledge to impart but without the right vision.

On the other hand, we should not produce pastors moved only by the heart, who devote all their time to day-to-day practical tasks of the ministry, without theological depth or ability to nurture and give depth to the life of their churches. Pastors who are theologically shallow are making our church more and more similar to some other Evangelical denominations and one that shows less and less characteristics of the Remnant church. We do not want to have the pews full with empty people, but churches that bespeak the fullness of heaven. We want you to be, not so much professors, but living models, teaching by precept and example. May God continue blessing the life and ministry of each one of you.
Pastor Enoch de Oliveira, a well-remembered former president of the South American church, used to mention frequently a statement of E. G. White in his sermons. “The Lord is coming.  We hear the footsteps of an approaching God …” (Evangelism, 217). How close have these footsteps become? Every time a new pope is elected we are reminded of God’s call to the popular churches (Rev. 17:15). Also, when violence affects some place in the world in a marked way, or when a war seems to be brewing, or when we see protests and social disorder, or natural disasters strike, we begin speculating. Laymen discuss these news items, and there are also theological debates.

For the history of this world to come to an end, a combination of three factors is necessary: A ripe world, a ready heaven, and the gospel of the kingdom preached into the entire world.
We could start by asking: Is the world ripe? ¿Can it get any worse? What kind of world will our children or grandchildren have twenty or thirty years from now? Somebody said: “The more we evolve, the more we have to lock our doors.”  The truth is, either Christ comes soon or the world will self-destruct.  Bible prophecies, however, do not announce the self-destruction of the world.
The second question:  Is heaven ready? Let us see what the book of Revelation has to say. John saw the new earth (Rev. 21:1), and his description shows a strong correlation between the books of Genesis and Revelation. Both the first two chapters and the last two chapters in the Bible describe a world without sin.  Genesis 1:1 speaks of Creation, and Revelation 21:1 of a new creation. Both books supplement each other, as the following comparison may suggest.
1. World beginning and end of perfection 1. World end and beginning of perfection
2. Creation of the world 2. Recreation of the world
3. Sun and moon appear 3. Sun and moon disappear in God´s glory
4. Man created in God´s image 4. Man restored to God´s image
5. God made the first family 5. We will be all a great family
6. Rise of sin 6. Elimination of sin
7. The fruit of the tree brings death to mankind 7. The fruit of the tree brings life and health to the nations
8. Humans lost access to the tree of life 8. The redeemed eat from the tree of life which fruits each month
9. Tears, pain and death appear 9. No more pain or tears, and death disappears
10. God searches for man and asks, “Where are you?” 10. All will come to worship before the Lord
11. Paradise gates closed 11. Paradise gates open
12. Eternal life lost 12. Eternal life regained
The conflict started in Genesis will be finally resolved in Revelation
In order to accept the book of Revelation we must first believe in Genesis. This is the foundation.  If we withdraw foundations the entire building collapses.  If we do not believe that man was formed from the dust of the earth, how are we going to believe that “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16).  If we are unable to believe that God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed in his nostrils the breath of life, how are we going to believe that God will resurrect somebody who died in a fire and was incinerated?

The gospel at the time of the end is based on the time of beginning.  Genesis and Revelation must be presented together. We should have no fear of confronting science when affirming the past and hoping for the future. We, believers in the supernatural, respect but do not feel prisoners of natural processes. 

The creative Word of God can alter a process which therefore does not follow its natural course any longer. For the physicians of the time of Jesus leprosy was incurable. It followed a natural process of destruction. But Jesus cured it with a single word, and altered the entire process.

For scientist today the formation of fossils faunas may require millions of years. For God only a Flood is necessary. Even when, for many people, believing in the Creation story may be difficult, not being compatible with a scientific basis, for us it is easy to believe in a supernatural God, not subject to scientific rules. We need to affirm the message of Genesis in order to give a foundation to the book of Revelation. We must renew hope by reinforcing faith in Creation.
But let us return to Rev. 21:1. There we see the fulfillment of the promise of Isa. 65:17: “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,” and the confirmation of the hope of 2 Pet. 3:13: “Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth.”  The verse in Revelation, however, presents a conflict: the sea that there was no more.  John presented in Rev. 4 and 5 a sea of glass, where the redeemed were standing: that is a sea which will continue to exist. And in Rev. 21 a sea will be there no more.  Analyses of this problem are many and varied, with diverse explanations for the statement of John that there will be no more sea in the new earth.  Personally I think that John was expressing relief. The sea was for John a threat; it separated him from beloved people and reminded him of his exile in an island.  This is why, when contemplating the new earth, he wrote that there was to be no more sea. How would you express the same idea?  E. G. White, in Adventist Home, 542, wrote  “On those peaceful plains, beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a home.”

This is our great hope, the hope appearing at the beginning of Revelation (1:7). It is the urgent message of hope repeated three times at the end of the book (21:7, 12, 20). Let us use Revelation in order to bring hope to people.  Let us make Revelation, not only into a book of prophecies, controversies and symbols, but also a book of hope.
And this is also a hope we preach with a loud voice. If during the early rain this message was able to make a 120-member church grow with 3000 baptisms, if a single sermon caused a 25-fold multiplication, if it was a message able to reach in just 50 years the 200 million people of the Roman Empire, if the Holy Spirit was able achieve out a work like that in those days, we are being called to be the angels that now preach with a loud voice in the days of the late rain.
In these latter days we will have a rain even more abundant; so Ellen G. White tells us in Ye shall receive power, 251.  Let us join forces in order to bring this hope to all South America with a profound message, with books and DVDs, with music and preaching, in classrooms and by means of publications, by means of caring acts and solidary service to our fellow man, using education and communication.  This is the challenge for every member and leader of the church. Our commitment is to make the message more profound while at the same time we strengthen the mission.

We make this commitment because we wish to see Jesus returning in our own generation. This is the part that is in our hands to perform, so that the approaching footsteps of God may finally reach us and find a church full of disciples and ready for the encounter with the Lord.

Copyright © 2018, Adventist Review. All rights reserved worldwide. Online Editor: Carlos Medley.
SiteMap. Powered by © 2002-2018. User Login / Customize.