Soon and Very Soon?
Given the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s history and distinctive focus on the second coming of Jesus Christ, it’s not surprising that, during tough economic times, after natural disasters or amid seasons of great uncertainty, many members speculate how “near” the end is. The Visitor team talked with four pastors and captured excerpts of their perspectives.
Cesar Gonzalez, pastor of Chesapeake Conference’s Cambridge and Beacon of Light churches on the Eastern Shore of Maryland
After the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, a religious wave washed across the country. Many churches were full of attendees, and talk of “the end” was on everyone’s lips—the same as it is today. I find it alarming that this sort of talk almost always hides a deeper concern.
In the last few months, I have had dozens of conversations that start with the end times and soon become personal. “Pastor,” people ask, “how do I know if I am ready?”
It makes me wonder: How could so many Adventists still be unsure of what salvation and redemption mean?
First, our evangelism should focus more on discipleship for a broader audience. Prophecy is the deep end of the pool in a society that is more and more secular. We must find ways of more effectively portraying Jesus as the answer to the universal search for meaning, peace and happiness within every human.
Second, we must go beyond cranial knowledge to a divine revelation that the real Babylon is inside all of us. It is because of our enduring focus on global powers and external Sabbath-keeping that so many Adventists still don’t comprehend that these are emblems that represent the real cosmic conflict within our hearts. Without this deeper understanding, our people will continue to wonder—crisis after crisis—if they are indeed ready for the end times.
Lance Moncrieffe, volunteer lay pastor coordinator for the Pennsylvania Conference, and volunteer lay pastor of the Chestnut Hill church in Philadelphia
In talking to many people about current events possibly relating to the end times, the one consistent response appears to be, “I’m not ready.”
I view this as a very special time where God has used circumstance to show us that we’re going to have to depend on Him ... but I understand where others come from, where they question what’s happening.
[But] if indeed this is some portion of God speaking to us and waking us up in a time before He is coming, then certainly the actions that are [found] in Revelation 14:6–8 are what we ought to be doing now.
Naomi McKey-Tricomi, pastoral assistant for Mountain View Conference’s Weirton and Wheeling churches in West Virginia
We are called to be disciples, to prepare our fellow travelers. We are supposed to follow the example of Jesus when we witness. If a person is ill, hungry or demon pos- sessed, they need to be healed, fed and given a measure of God’s love to prepare them to accept the gospel.
Yes, there are many signs that would indicate our Lord’s soon return. However, we must always live every day as if it is our last day. We can understand all the prophecies, memorize our Bible from Genesis to Revelation, but if we do not develop a personal, loving relationship with Jesus, it is death to our souls. That relationship is our ticket to the kingdom.
Heather Crews, pastor of Potomac Conference’s Courthouse Road in North Chesterfield, Va.
I paused as I read a question a pastor posed on social media: “What if we are in the time of trouble and it’s simply different than what we have been taught?” Just reading the question made me hope. What if we are? I breathed a long pause of expectation.
I grew up reading books that described end-time events. The authors portray plagues, national Sunday laws and running to hide at summer camps in the mountains. I felt fear as I turned the pages. Those stories left out the sense of hope that I feel walking through our current difficult times.
I am eager to see Jesus! I trust that my salvation is sure. My salvation is certainly not because of anything I am or have done, but because of who my Savior is. He paid the ultimate price to make my salvation certain.
In this light, I feel my role as a pastor, first and foremost, is to make sure my people know Jesus. If these are the last days and the next thing we see is Jesus’ face, we will be OK. If the Lord tarries to allow more to come to repentance (see 2 Peter 3), we will be OK. Whatever point we are in earth’s history, the best preparation is a closeness with Jesus as we journey with Him. He will make sure we will be OK.
JOIN US: The Visitor staff will dig deeper into this topic on the next Visitor News Live, January 29, 7 p.m., at facebook.com/columbiaunionvisitor.