By Colleen Tinker
This week the Central California Conference is holding its annual campmeeting at the Soquel campgrounds. The plenary sessions are being live streamed, and Richard and I have been watching some of them as we work. On Wednesday morning, Rico Hill delivered the 9:30 AM sermon. Hill is a “health evangelist, entrepreneur, cofounder of Beehive Ministry”, and the author of 10 Steps to the New Life. Before he was a health evangelist, he was a non-Adventist actor and a movie executive, who, in 1996, after attending a Mark Finley crusade, converted to Aventism.
Today Hill was connecting the observance of the Adventist health message with developing the character of Christ. He asserted, based on Ellen White’s commentary, that Israel did not get sick when they wandered in the desert because they observed God’s health message. Then he said this:
One of the best ways for people to notice God is to notice us. And the easiest way is for them to look at our physical persons, and to say, “Wow! They’re amazing! They’re healthy. They don’t get sick—at least not in the large numbers the rest of us do. And then, when we see them coming to us, the Bible says that we’re going to fear God.…
So what is this message that we need to give, as it says in [Ellen White’s] Christ’s Object Lessons p. 415? What is this message for this time that needs to be proclaimed?…
It’s Isaiah 40:9. When I saw this text it blew my mind…It says, “oh, Zion, that brings good tidings. Get thee up into the high mountain. Oh Jerusalem, lift up your voice with strength. Lift it up, and be not afraid. And say unto the cities of Zion, Behold your God.”
Is it possible, friends—is it possible that in these last days, and in fulfillment of this particular prophecy, that the people of God will be able to say, “Behold, your God” to the world and not be pointing to a cross, and not be pointing to a Bible, and not be pointing to some image of Jesus Christ, but instead be pointing to themselves? Is is possible?
Christ’s Object Lessons p. 415–416 says this, “Those who wait for the Bridegroom coming are to say to the people, ‘Behold your God.’”
Are you waiting for the bridegroom coming? Well, the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible say that you and I are to say to the world, “Behold, your God!”
In other words, look at what He’s done. [The Christ’s Object Lessons quote] continues: “The last rays of merciful light, the last rays of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of God’s character of love. The children of God are to manifest His character. In their own life and character they are to reveal to the world what the grace of God has done for them.”
We receive many criticisms for attacking Adventism, for not just “teaching the gospel” but bashing a religion. We also hear from people who say we misrepresent Adventism, that the way we describe its doctrines and practices is not the way it looks in real life, that not all Adventists believe what we say they do. They tell us we sensationalize Adventist teachings and practices.
I share the quote above from Rico Hill’s sermon delivered two days ago because it is clear evidence that at the core, Adventism does not understand the true identity and work of the Lord Jesus. Never do His people call the world to behold their God by directing their attention toward themselves. Never.
Yet Adventist doctrine, no matter how compassionate and modern the packaging, leads to this very conclusion. At the core of Adventist soteriology is the belief that saved humans are those who keep the Sabbath and eliminate animal-based foods in a universal demonstration that vindicates God’s character against Satan’s lies. Humans will be the way the world sees Jesus.
Within Adventism, the cross is a demonstration more than a substitution, and the Bible is an old book that is verified not by the Holy Spirit Himself but by obedient humans who prove that God is fair and the law can be kept—including the food laws not only of Leviticus but also of Ellen White.
The quote above is as current as this week, and the speaker was chosen by the Central California Conference to be one of this year’s plenary speakers. He is not saying something obscure or outdated. He is expressing the logical conclusion of embracing the Adventist worldview.
It is the cross that demonstrates the love of God for us. It is the Bible that reveals God’s mercy and grace, and it is the Lord Jesus who shows us the Father.
We pray that as you read Proclamation! Blog, you will be convicted of the beauty of the gospel of the Lord Jesus. We pray that you will be willing, as Jesus told the rich young ruler who kept the commandments but loved his wealth, to give up what you love the most in order to trust in Jesus and follow Him alone.