Updated: Jul 31
All Christians know (or should know) the Great Commission, in Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Amazingly enough, polls show that a small majority of Christians never heard of the Great Commission, and a vast majority don’t know the verses where it is found. One wonders if Adventists would fare differently?). For Adventists, one could argue, and justly, that the three angels’ messages, particularly the first angel, is our Great Commission for the last days.
The first angel’s message reads, “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water’” (Revelation 14:6). Of course, the key is found in the part that reads “to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people,” another way of saying to “make disciples of all the nations.”
Though the verses are not expressing exactly the same thing, the parallels are close enough. Yes, we need, first and foremost, to “make disciples,” followers of Jesus; but, in the last days, in the very last days before Christ returns, those disciples need to know “present truth” (2 Peter 1:12), which we understand to be, and rightly so, the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12. And these end-time messages begin with the foundation of all SDA theology: “the everlasting gospel”—which (again) is to be preached “to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people.”
On one level, at least in terms of being worldwide, SDAs have done an amazing job. Of the 235 countries recognized by the United Nations, Adventists have a presence in 212, one of the most universal Protestant churches in the world. (When I first joined, in 1980, I had heard a saying: “Anywhere you go in the world, you find three things: Roman Catholics, Seventh-day Adventists, and Coca-Cola.” Which, considering what we teach about Rome and Coca-Cola, is very interesting.).
Of course, having “a presence” is one thing; spreading “present truth” there is another. One can barely walk down the street in Jamaica without, sooner or later (and usually sooner than later) meeting an Adventist. One certainly could not say that about Pakistan, or Iran, or a host of countries, particularly those in what is known as the 10/40 window, which our church has been making a special effort to reach. This 10/40 window contains two-thirds of the world’s population but remains the least-reached area on the planet. As the General Conference’s Global Mission site reads: “The 10/40 Window is a high priority for Global Mission church planting. Thousands of pioneers are needed to share the gospel in the light of the three angels’ messages. If you’d like to help place pioneers in this challenging area, please visit Giving.AdventistMission.org and select ‘Reaching the 10/40 Window.’”https://gm.adventistmission.org/the-1040-window
We have a sacred responsibility to tell others, many who have never even heard of Jesus, much less know the three angels’ messages.
As Adventists, we all have a part to play in teaching others the truth, yes, “the present truth,” which we love and cherish so much. We—who know about Christ’s sacrifice for us, about the forgiveness of sins, about death as sleep, and about the great hope of the Second Coming and the resurrection to life—we have a sacred responsibility to tell others, many who have never even heard of Jesus, much less know the three angels’ messages.
No matter who you are, where you live, what you have or what you don’t have, if you want a part in the Great Commission for the last days, you’re at the right site here, at Go Missions.