By Colleen Tinker
The governor’s wife in the Nigerian state of Abia addressed a regional Seventh-day Adventist women’s conference at the Adventist-operated Babcock University earlier this month. Mrs. Nkechi Ikpeazu urged the 5,000 women to see their places in their homes and society “as a divine call leading to a better home and a better society.”
She explained that in order to have “a solid home that would produce quality and well-trained children,” women must be complements to their husbands. She also told the women that they should learn skills and use whatever careers they might have in order to be “economically empowered”. Economically empowered women, she said, are good managers and good employers, and she urged women to “partner their husbands in whatever they are doing.”
At the same conference, the president of the Western Nigerian Union Conference, Oyeleke Owolabi, encouraged the women “to always seek the face of God” because such seeking would “give them the courage to overcome any challenge that may come their way.” He further assured them that “God always gives His people testimonies whenever they gather to seek his face.”
The vice-chancellor of Babcock University, Professor Ademola Tayo, told the women that the convention would “provide them a platform for spiritual and social networking for the work in God’s vineyard.” He also encouraged them “as women of faith and value to remain steadfast in your unique roles as mothers, faith builders, meaning maker and co-laborers in the Lord’s vineyard.”
Pathfinders in Asia
Meanwhile, 2,000 leaders and members of the Adventist Pathfinders Club gathered for the second Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) Pathfinder camporee from August 8–12. The meetings, entitled “Contact+, Experience Jesus,” took place at the Taiwan Adventist College. Attendees came from Japan, Korea, China Mongolia, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Brazil and the United States.
The main speaker was NSD “Education, Sabbath School, and Personal Ministries director Richard Sabuin.” The Adventist Review reports on his talks in these words:
“Sabuin stressed the importance of personal contact with Jesus Christ, illustrating his sermon with the fascinating stories of Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, the Roman centurion, and Apostle Paul. The common thread? ‘All of them had personal contact with Jesus and were transformed,’ he said.”
He further stated, “God has special expectations and purposes for our lives, but to listen to His messages, we need to watch and pray. We should go and preach the gospel message of Jesus’ second coming and His salvation so that we fulfill His purpose for us.”
Conference attendees also chose from among several activities each day; these included “Christian Manners, Post-Card Making, and Kite Flying”.
NSD president Jairyong Lee said the camporee programs were well-received and stated, “We should always remember that we are missionaries for God, and must use what we have learned here for mission in our homes, schools, churches, and our neighborhood.”
While the two conferences described above may seem unrelated and relatively unremarkable, they demonstrate the reality that Seventh-day Adventism is intentional about training its members to influence their communities and proselytize them into their religion.
Significantly, in spite of the Christian “face” of the instruction the speakers give, the true nature of Adventism is indirectly revealed by the profound lack of the biblical gospel in the pious-sounding exhortations. For example, Richard Sabuin’s teaching that the “common thread” among Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the Roman centurion, and Paul was “personal contact with Jesus” which led to transformation completely misses the biblical accounts of these people. While it sounds spiritual to urge “contact with Jesus” in order to be “transformed”, this teaching is actually devoid of meaning.
The Bible, however, shows that each of these people to whom Sabuin referred trusted Jesus with their lives and reputations. They recognized Him as the Messiah who could forgive their sin and give life—two things only God can do.
Having contact with Jesus was not enough. They had to trust Him and acknowledge that the Lord Jesus was God. Nicodemus was reproved by Jesus for not understanding the new birth which had been taught in the Old Testament (Jn. 3:3-6). He later risked his reputation with his colleagues by helping to bury the crucified Christ.
Jesus confronted the Samaritan woman with her lie and with her sin of having had four husbands and her living with a man to whom she was not married (Jn. 4:7–28). She owned her sin and told her townspeople that she had met a man who told her all her sins and wondered if He was the Christ.
Paul was confronted by the risen Christ as he was on his way to kill Christians, and the Lord struck him blind and sent a Jew named Ananias to tell him “how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16). Paul had to repent of his unbelief and also of his murderous rage against God’s born-again Christian sons and daughters, and he spent his life suffering every imaginable offense for the sake of the Lord Jesus and His gospel.
The Roman centurion whose servant Jesus healed came to Him humbly. He laid aside his significant military and political authority and called Jesus “Lord”, saying, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word” (Mt. 8:8). He recognized the authority of God in Jesus and asked Him to do what only God could do: heal his servant with a word.
None of these people merely had “personal contact with Jesus”. In fact, countless people had personal contact with Jesus who did not believe and humble themselves, admitting their unworthiness and submitting to the will of God as expressed in Jesus. Encountering Jesus is not sufficient for transformation. Only believing—repenting of one’s sin and trusting Jesus’ finished work as the source of forgiveness—yields transformation.
Adventism is actively “making a difference” by acts of humanitarianism and care for the poor. Nevertheless, it is not attracting people with the sufficient and completed work of Jesus. Instead, they present Jesus as a teacher of good morals and a doer of good deeds.
While these things may produce superficial change, they do not yield changed lives unless the truth of the gospel—the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus for the payment of sin and the destruction of death—is taught. Importantly, the “gospel” is not the message of the second coming. Jesus will return; in fact, His return is a promise He cannot break because He cannot lie. The gospel, however, is the truth about Jesus’ personal sacrifice for the sin of the world and His resurrection from the dead.
Adventism is actively training its members to be good citizens and doers of good deeds. These things, however, can be taught by any religion. The world needs the real Jesus of the Bible: God the Son who became a man without losing any of His divine attributes (Col. 2:9), who became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). The world needs Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins according to Scripture, buried, and raised the third day according to Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-4) who now sits at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 8:1). This Jesus saves “forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
The Lord Jesus—crucified, buried, and risen again—is the only hope of the nations.