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Ninety-Five Theses for God's Church in the 21st Century


By Richard W. O'Ffill

  1. If you don't think for yourself, others will do your thinking for you.
  2. Influence flows down hill.
  3. Be careful what you tell your wife about the problems you may be having with your congregation. She may become bitter.
  4. Television, as watched by the average Christian, is incompatible with the Spirit-filled life.
  5. A minister has a potential conflict of interest with God. He may want God to bless him so that he can climb the professional ladder.
  6. Our Church can find itself an enemy of the Ten Commandments. What would make that happen? Answer - the word "legalism."
  7. Judgmental, Legalist, and Pharisee are terms that are being used to beat back the holy life.
  8. The uniform a soldier wears is not a moral issue, but it is a life-and-death issue, because it indicates which side he is on.
  9. Madison Avenue, which is the advertising center of New York City, uses sex appeal to sell its products. Is it possible that sex could ever be used to sell the Gospel? Could the answer be, "Yes, through music"? The basic rhythms of rock appeal to sexual desire.
  10. The call to holiness is a call to separate from the world. Scripture says, Love not the world. And he who loves the world is God's enemy.
  11. The most difficult place to be a Christian is at home. A person who is not a Christian at home is not a real Christian anywhere.
  12. Baptist parents rejoice when their child gets "saved." Adventist parents rejoice when their children are baptized.
  13. We must not forget that a mission must be preceded by a message. A young messenger wanted a mission (to carry a message to David), but he had no message.
  14. In some cases, we seem to be putting more emphasis on methods than on the message.
  15. Constantine meant no harm. He was simply trying to make the Gospel "user friendly."
  16. We cannot find unity in diversity. We must find it in spite of diversity.
  17. The charismatic churches may well be receiving the "false latter rain" Mrs. White tells us would precede the outpouring of the true Latter Rain.
  18. The Gifts of the Spirit can be counterfeited or obtained on the Black Market.
  19. A Church member should take the Fruit of the Spirit Exam before he takes the Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
  20. Fanaticism is often emphasizing one truth at the expense of other truth.
  21. New truth that requires us to throw out old truth isn't true.
  22. The Church cannot "finish the work." Only the Holy Spirit can do that, because preparation to stand at the Close of Probation is a work done in the heart.
  23. We must not forget that obedience did not put Lucifer into heaven, but disobedience took him out. Obedience didn't put Adam and Even into the Garden of Eden, but disobedience took them out.
  24. Unless we forgive those who wrong us, God will not forgive us.
  25. A church that decides to employ the methods used by Willow Creek and Saddle Back Community Church often weakens its commitment to the mission and doctrines of the world Church.
  26. Those who preach a Gospel that is not in the context of last day events, the Close of Probation, and the Second Coming of Jesus are not preaching a relevant Gospel.
  27. Your life will be 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond.
  28. A minister who no longer believes the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church should resign.
  29. It is not correct to say that the Church has apostatised. Some may have apostatised; but we are part of the Church, and we have not apostatised. God will have a Church without spot or wrinkle.
  30. The most accurate commentary on last-day events is the book, "The Great Controversy." It may not reveal every detail of last day events but enough to give us the big picture of what will occur.
  31. Don't try to answer every question that comes to mind. Test the premise of the question before you try to answer it.
  32. There are questions that have only wrong answers.
  33. He who asks the questions controls the agenda.
  34. There are two kinds of prayer. One seeks to do the will of God and to glorify His name. The other seeks to exploit God and impose our will on Him.
  35. Some say that we don't need to obey God until we understand. The truth is, we will not understand until we obey.
  36. There is no sin so strong but that God's grace can break it.
  37. The methods we use to communicate the Gospel are never program-neutral. They are either correctly representing the Gospel or misrepresenting it and thereby inventing a new Gospel.
  38. If the Apostle Paul were alive today, the focus of his preaching would not only be Christ and Him crucified, but Christ as the soon-coming King.
  39. Some leaders of other denominations may refer to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a cult. However, the Church that meets every criterion for being a cult is the Roman Catholic Church. Those who insist that Adventists are a cult without acknowledging the Catholic Church as the mother of all cults must sadly be classified as being hypocritical. Our Church has changed nothing that is in Scripture and so cannot honestly be classified as a cult, whereas, the Catholic Church has. Those churches that follow the mother of all cults must be her children.
  40. Those who try to use science to prove the Bible are in effect putting science above the Bible. While science and archaeology do sometimes confirm the Bible, they often contradict it. The basis for confidence in the Word of God is faith and faith alone.
  41. Nowadays people are saying that it is ok to do good on the Sabbath. The fact is we are asked to not only do good on the Sabbath, we are commanded to keep it holy. Christians must do good every day. There is only one day that is holy, and that is the seventh day Sabbath.
  42. Hippies and new-agers seem to be more committed to healthful living than many Seventh-day Adventists. Someone has said that, although health isn't everything, without it everything is nothing.
  43. We owe it to those who love us to live a healthy life.
  44. It is in the interest of Evangelical Christianity to see the unique doctrines of our Church disappear.
  45. It is difficult to understand what people mean when they say that it is not the melody but the words that make a song good or bad. They seem to ignore the fact that movie producers always use music to set the mood. A movie thriller would appear ridiculous were it not for its music.
  46. The word "repentance" has largely been replaced by the word "acceptance." Repentance is a change word. Acceptance means that things stay the same.
  47. Jesus' preaching was not contemporary, but it was relevant.
  48. This generation has no problem having a relationship. What it doesn't want to do is make a commitment.
  49. The Bible teaches that God will have a Church without spot or wrinkle. There have always been worldly people in the Church. The difference is that in the recent past they were in the "closet." Now they have come into the open.
  50. If someone were to tell you that they think our Church has too many doctrines, ask them what it is they know about the will of God that they wish they didn't.
  51. Now that we have settled the issue as to how we are saved, let's get on to the big issue: How does a person live who has salvation?
  52. We can rise no higher than our concept of God.
  53. A person's theology tends to be a reflection of their personal morality. A clear conscience is the only thing that will keep us from being deceived.
  54. We cannot lead people closer to Jesus than we are ourselves.
  55. Error in the short term may be stronger than truth. Truth mixed with error gives error credibility, while error mixed with truth can make truth of none effect.
  56. Christian standards are the roof that protects the foundations and walls of the Faith.
  57. The doctrines of our Church are last-day spiritual intelligence that will keep the believer from being overrun by the deceptions of the last days.
  58. If the Evangelicals can convince us to give up our faith in the Spirit of Prophecy and our belief in the Investigative Judgment, they will have effectively emasculated us. And it will be only a matter of time before we follow in the paths that they have taken.
  59. Once we accept the lifestyle of the practicing homosexual as the base line for morality, adultery and fornication cease to be issues. We will lose the ability to discern between right and wrong.
  60. The Bible is losing influence in the Church. When we study chemistry and physics and math, the professor never asks us what we think it means. He teaches what it is and we only apply the principles. A pilot doesn't decide how he will fly an airplane, he decides only if he will fly. The principles of faith and morals revealed in Scripture are just as normative as the laws of aerodynamics.
  61. A person who doesn't breathe will not survive. Prayer is the breath of the soul. A person will not be saved because he prays, but he cannot be saved unless he prays.
  62. The two institutions that God established at Creation--the Sabbath and Marriage--are under attack.
  63. The context of a particular text is not just the verse before it and the verse after it; it is the rest of the Bible.
  64. Don't become an expert in the Gospel according to the Apostle Paul until you understand the Gospel according to Jesus as recorded in the first four books of the Bible.
  65. The date for the Second Coming of Jesus is not open ended. Jesus said His Father already knew which day it would be.
  66. Until recently, many Seventh-day Adventists were like Catholics in that they were looking to the Church to save them.
  67. Elijah thought he was the only faithful one left. God told him he was wrong.
  68. The active ingredients of the Christian life are repentance and forgiveness.
  69. The Scripture says that the time would come in which there would be deceptions so well crafted that they would deceive, if possible, the very elect. That time is here. We expected the devil to come in like a herd of elephants. Instead, he came in like a swarm of termites.
  70. The devil now speaks our language. If you take over the language of your enemy, you make it impossible for him to communicate his ideology.
  71. The pop doctrines of self-love and dysfunction have put the power of the Gospel into gridlock.
  72. The words "Gospel" and "Doctrine" are not adversarial concepts. Gospel means good news and doctrine means teaching. The Gospel is a doctrine. Those who say that we ought to preach the Gospel and not worry about doctrine often mean that they prefer Baptist doctrine to Adventist doctrine. Baptist doctrine is all right to die by, but it will not get you ready for translation.
  73. A person once told me that, if he has to choose between love and the law, he would choose love. I asked him how the will of God (His law) could be adversarial to His love.
  74. Seventh-day Adventists were not wrong in the past, perhaps narrow and shallow. We preached that it was wrong to eat pork, but we should have included the sin of pride and a mean disposition. It was right to preach the Fourth Commandment, but we should have included the importance of being kind and forgiving. Now, in many Adventist circles, pride and meanness are out, but so is the Sabbath. Kindness and forgiveness are in, but so is pork (in some homes).
  75. Question: Can you get something from Willow Creek without getting Willow Creek fundamentals; i.e., congregationalism and a non-doctrinal approach to theology? Answer: It's hard not to. Just check the trends and note recent casualties. Note: The methods that we use to communicate the Gospel are never program neutral. They are either correctly representing it or misrepresenting it and thereby inventing a new Gospel.
  76. These days they are saying that we should plan worship services for the un-churched. Question: How can a person who has not made Jesus the Lord of his life worship? Answer: He can't. What he does will either be self-centered or pure flattery.
  77. "Un-churched" is a code word for agreeing not to engage in sheep stealing. The Bible doesn't see people as churched or un-churched but as saved or lost. This Church was raised up not only to save the lost but to keep the saved from losing their salvation when the great deception comes.
  78. The grace of God doesn't make obedience unnecessary, rather it affirms obedience necessary and makes it possible.
  79. Fanaticism is emphasizing one truth at the expense of another.
  80. Television as watched by the average Christian is the opposite of everything that the Holy Spirit is trying to do in our lives.
  81. If things continue as they are, the Sabbath could soon be at risk in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
  82. There are those who teach that it is ok to worship God according to your culture. The stories recorded in the Old Testament say no. Sacred history is clear that to "do it your way," or "my way," or "their way" is not necessarily God's way. When God took offence at home-grown worship styles in the Old Testament, the results were hardly "accepting." Just because we haven't seen the ground open up doesn't mean that God is pleased with our worship styles.
  83. Somehow the word "Adventism" seems to have re-placed the words "message" and "truth." Adventistism is for Adventists. The message and the truth are for everyone.
  84. If it could be said that the revelation of God in the New Testament is mercy and forgiveness, it could also be said that the principal revelation of Him in the Old Testament is holiness. It could also be said that mercy, grace, and forgiveness have little significance until they are seen from a perspective of holiness. To appreciate the grace and mercy of God to their fullness, we must first understand what holiness is.
  85. Be careful of people who are continually talking about the evils of legalism. If legalism has slain its thousands, anti-nominism has slain its ten thousands. If you are going to talk about the dangers of Phariseeism, you would do well to talk about the dangers of Sadduceeism at the same time. We must not forget that Jesus was killed by a coalition of what we might call liberals and conservatives. The Sadducees hated Him because He was so principled, and the Pharisees hated Him because He was so nice. I want to be like that.
  86. We can as an organization preach the gospel and teach the gospel, but we cannot finish the work because the finished work is something that is done in the heart of the believer and only the Holy Spirit can do that.
  87. Often when we begin to talk about holy living, someone will break in and say that we are not saved by works. It is true that we are not saved by obedience, but we are saved for obedience.
  88. Jesus has no problem with people who keep the letter of the law. He only insists that they keep the spirit of the law, too. You can keep the letter without Jesus. The spirit of the law comes only from the new birth.
  89. Just because something is successful doesn't mean that God is blessing it. The devil is also answering prayer (see Matthew 7:21-23).
  90. God's command to His people to be holy as He is holy means we must be separate from the world. The Christian life must be the antithesis of the worldly life.
  91. The writings of Ellen White do not add to the Bible, nor do they constitute a new Bible, nor should they be used instead of the Bible. They are to help us understand the Bible and apply its principles to our lives. The writings of Mrs. White were specifically to help raise-up a church whose purpose and message would be to prepare the last generation for the coming of Jesus.
  92. A Seventh-day Adventist in the 21st Century who gives up believing in the Spirit of Prophecy will not be an Adventist for long. This is because they will be deceived when the deceptions come which Jesus said would deceive, if possible, the very elect.
  93. You can tell if you have salvation or not by how you feel about obeying God. A person who has salvation wants to obey. A person who doesn't have salvation resents the concept. The Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and Philippians 4:8 have something in common. They are all the will of God for the Christian. Those who are saved from every generation will have had the same attitudes in common. They were sorry for their sins, and from the heart they wanted to do the will of God.
  94. These days they are telling us that we shouldn't judge each other. Though we are not called to judge each other's motives, we are called to discern between right and wrong, truth and error. This age refuses to discern but chooses to judge. This can be seen when someone commits a crime. Society is quick to judge--that is, to explain--what motivated the person to commit the crime.
  95. The buzz-word these days seems to be mission. The word mission is generic. It indicates an activity. We must not forget that our mission must be based on our message. It is the message that drives the mission. Unfortunately we seem to be hearing little about our message.