In Matthew 24:3-14 we find Jesus and His disciples taking a tour of the temple grounds in Jerusalem. Enamored, the disciples wanted to view more of it.
Throughout the week people had been piling in to visit the temple, drawn to watching the great debate in progress. There was the lonely Galilean, unlettered, untaught, surrounded by priests and scribes and rulers with all their rich apparel and judiciary badges and earthly trappings. Jesus, calm, poised, and dignified, unflappable, had met with confidence every theological question and challenge.
People were visibly inspired. They were impressed with Jesus. But they were perplexed. They didn’t understand why the scribes would not respond to Jesus’ words. After all, this was the trusted intelligentsia of Jerusalem. The people couldn’t believe that the rulers didn’t believe Jesus when He explained everything so carefully.
The Jewish leaders were never going to receive Jesus as the Messiah. And to His disciples, their mission seemed hopeless.
This was the background upon which Jesus warns the Pharisees: “Look, your house is left to you desolate” (Matt. 23:38, NIV).
What? the disciples must’ve thought to themselves. How could my Lord say something so foolish? Is He losing it? The stones of the temple were of the purest marble, restored to the luster and grandeur of the first temple.
Jesus cautioned that all the buildings would be knocked down, and “not one stone here will be left on another” (Matt. 24:2, NIV).
He continued, describing the signs of the end with false messiahs, earthquakes, and more (see verses 4-12). Jesus also declared that “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verse 13).
Prophecy is fast being fulfilled. “The Spirit of God is gradually but surely being withdrawn from the earth,” writes Ellen White.1 “The agencies of evil are combining their forces and consolidating. They are strengthening for the last great crisis. Great changes are soon to take place in our world, and the final movements will be rapid ones.”2
Seventh-day Adventists are indeed a people of destiny. And like the church of Christ’s day, we have a stake in the outcome of the situation. We’ve been teaching and preaching this stuff for years. What is Christ waiting for?
He is waiting and longing for the manifestation of Himself in His church.
W. R. Robinson, one of the forerunners of our missionaries to Africa and editor of Message magazine, one of the oldest gospel periodicals the church has published, used to stand up and say, “When the message goes out, guess what? Souls come in!”
We can’t quit now.
We are Christ’s witnesses. Preaching will forever remain primary, but we’re not going to get everyone into our evangelistic revivals. With all the preaching that Paul and the other apostles did, the greatest witness was declared by the believers.
Imagine a friendship ministry. A hospitality ministry. A sharing ministry. A compassion ministry. Imagine inviting your new friends in Christ to a prayer conference, an evangelism revival, a marriage seminar. Imagine exploring the Bible with them at Panera once a week while you eat dinner. Imagine a discipleship ministry. Imagine a vision complete.
God never, ever leaves undone what He has started. He leaves no stone unturned. God would never ask us to do the impossible.
We have to model to this generation that we are a preaching ministry and a witnessing ministry. Because when this gospel of the kingdom shall have been preached, born witness, we can go home.
1Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press, 1948), vol. 9, p. 11.
— Alvin Kibble is vice president of the North American Division for Leadership Development, Big Data + Social Media, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, and Literature Ministries.