Ted Wilson's Sermon to GYC Convention
in Baltimore, Maryland on Jan. 1, 2011 See Video
Good morning andhappy Sabbath, GYC! I’m glad to be with you and am grateful to the GYC leadership for inviting me to speak to you today. What a blessing it is to worship with such a large group of committed Seventh‐day Adventist youth! Hearing literally thousands of young people singing praises to God and seeing so many youthful faces radiant with a spirit of Christian unity is incredibly encouraging! However, as grateful as we should be for the continued numeric growth of GYC, we must always be mindful that its real success is not to be measured in numbers. The true measure of GYC’ success is nothing other than its unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ and by extension its unfaltering commitment to the mission and message of the Seventh‐day Adventist Church.
It’s a privilege to strongly endorse GYC as it champions faith in the Bible, heeds the counsels of the Spirit of Prophecy, promotes service to others, and engages in evangelistic outreach. I wholeheartedly support any youth initiative, denominationally--organized or otherwise, that strives to maintain such wonderful ideals. What a privilege for the Columbia Union, the Alleghany East Conference and the Chesapeake Conference to have the GYC annual convention meet here in their territory in Baltimore and go out into this great city by the thousands this afternoon to witness for Christ and His precious Advent movement. My wife, Nancy, and I are going with you this afternoon. We went out witnessing with you last year at GYC in the freezing weather and we are going out again this year. I know thousands of church members in these conferences, in this union, in this division and around the world will be praising God for your willingness to go door-to-door in Jesus’ name inviting people to study the Bible with church members of the local churches in Baltimore who are working with you on this great evangelistic outreach for God. May GYC serve as an example both to other supporting organizations and denominationally-organized church structures in showing cooperative involvement in the mission of the church --‐‐ an example to Seventh-day Adventist believers of all ages.
As we reflect on cooperative mission involvement, we can ask the rhetorical question of posed in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Let me tell you, the special relationship that the Seventh-day Adventist Church shares with supporting ministries like GYC is possible only by the commitment of each to Christ and the prophetic work with which He has entrusted us in these last days. There has never been a more important time to walk together AND work together as God’ remnant people than in these closing days of earth’s history. We must take seriously the instruction in Hebrews 10:24 and 25 to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Just a few months ago at the 59th General Conference session, I shared with the world church my firm conviction that the Lord has established the Seventh--‐day Adventist Church in these last days to “Go Forward”in faith and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, finish the work of proclaiming the Three Angels’ Messages to the world. Now, I believe it is providential that I am speaking to you under GYC’ corresponding theme of “no Turning Back. ”There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord is bidding us as a people to “go forward”with “no turning back.”
In your walk with Christ, turning — even the slightest bit — from absolute faithfulness to God and His Word can have disastrous consequences. When Eve turned just slightly from God’s Word, she left herself open to the serpent’s deceptions. When Lot’s wife turned her head just one time for a forbidden glance at her former home, she lost her life. When the children of Israel wanted to turn away from the Promised Land and turn back to Egypt, their bodies were left lying in the desert.
We must all live out the counsel of Paul who wrote in Philippians 3:13 and 14, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” No turning back.
This was the walk of faith experienced by Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah. Hebrews 11:13 declares, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Notice carefully that though they may have died never seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises, they nonetheless lived with their eyes of faith fastened to the promises of God’s Word. It goes on to tell us how they were able to maintain this level of commitment in verse 15. “And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.” These great men and women were heroes of faith because they never allowed the place from which they came out to occupy their minds. Once they left, they left with no turning back.
This single-minded commitment to God and a straightforward understanding of His Word was the Lord’ intent for His chosen people, Israel. Deuteronomy 5:32-33 says, “Therefore you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33 You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.” As long as they were unwavering in their devotion to the Lord and His Word success was guaranteed. Yet instead, repeatedly the Lord’ people exchanged moving ahead in faith with turning back in fear. In Numbers 14:3 and 4 we hear them exclaim, “Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt? So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’ ”Many years later in 2 Timothy 4: 3‐4, the apostle Paul instructed his young protégé, Timothy, to preach the Word, “or the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” It is important to note that in both ancient Israel and the Christian church, God’s people had no problem submitting to leadership just as long as the leaders capitulated to their desire to be led away from the Lord’s commandments and be turned back to the world from which the Lord had delivered them. But this cannot be. We must NEVER deviate from the direction the Lord leads us according to His Word.
Temptations to Turn from the Word to the World The closer we come to the second coming it becomes more evident why Jesus declared Satan the ruler of this world. As the stream of modern culture rushes headlong toward destruction, standing firm on the solid rock of Scripture will make it appear as though you are removing yourself from society. Yet seeking the approval of God must always be the single objective of our lives with no turning back.
In our entertainment there must be no turning back: Ever increasing technological advances are becoming commonplace in our society. For example, how many of you have sent or received a text message in the last 24 hours? I would be so bold as to say that a number of you have sent or received a text message since I began speaking! My point is that through modern technology we have unlimited access to literally an entire world of communication and media that, for all its evangelistic potential, is often more detrimental than beneficial to our Christian walk.
Though we live in the internet age and are almost continually subjected to the most powerful temptations through television, movies, music, and literature, we must always guard the avenues of the soul. Even in the 21st century, Philippians 4:8 is God’s formula for right thinking, charging us to think on only those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, and virtuous. Young people, let these Biblical principles and the counsels of inspiration in the Spirit of Prophecy guide you in your entertainment choices.
In our personal relationships there must be no turning back: While we should always be outgoing and friendly to everyone, we must be discerning and judicious about those in whom we place our personal confidence. Our closest relationships and most trusted companionships should be built on the solid foundation of a common faith in God and the truths of His Word. After the instruction of 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers,” the passage continues with the salient rhetorical questions, “For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”
Young people, choose godly associates who will encourage your walk with Christ. If you have any relationships, platonic or romantic, that are displeasing to the Lord, I implore you to muster the holy boldness to separate yourself for their salvation and your own.
In our behavior there must be no turning back: Today much encouragement is given to behaviors that society deems acceptable - even laudable - BUT that the Lord abhors. Promiscuity, homosexuality, violence, vulgarity, overindulgence, greed, and pride are all seen as normal in current society while a godly lifestyle marked by purity and temperance is ridiculed and mocked. But do not let that discourage you! For those who would face the struggles of a godly life in an evil world, the words of Jesus are recorded in John 15:18, 19. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” What a blessing to know that the Lord never asks you to walk a path He has not trod Himself. What encouragement is ours when we read in Hebrews 4:15, 16 that, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Brothers and sisters, the same Jesus who has been where you are and faced what you face has promised to give you the strength you need to walk with Him victoriously.