The Church believes in baptism by immersion andaccepts into membership only those who have been baptized in this manner.(See Chapter 14, “Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists.”) Thosewho acknowledge their lost state as sinners, sincerely repent of their sins, andexperience conversion may, after proper instruction, be accepted as candidatesfor baptism and Church membership. - The Seventh Day Adventist Church Manual, published 2010
This is a beautiful testimony about the power of the gospel as shared by Adventist World Radio. Praise God for the work they have committed themselves to pursuing. What follows is no way a criticism of anything related to their ministry.
Aside from the story, however, what caught my eye was the pastor's response to the leader's desire to be baptized. "Wait!" How do I know if you're ready?"
It seems that those who would follow Jesus are being presented an open door by pope Francis in his recent interviews or 7 pages (from page 44 to 51 of the SDA Church Manual) of vows and "instruction" by the SDA Church in order to join the body of Christ.
In one of his universal statements, Jesus said "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Didn't Jesus rebuke the Pharisees and Sadducees for their rules and regulations concerning Sabbath? I certainly don't endorse the theological positions of the pope or Catholicism but how many EGW blessed, Holy Ghost steps do you need to take to get in the pool?
How you join something often sets the tone. When I crossed the burning sands of Kappa Alpha Psi to the shores of Phi Nu Pi, I "pledged hard." However, my dean of pledges, Darryl German, kept the wolves at bay, by and large and provided a great introduction to the traditions, rites and rituals of our great fellowship. Too many others, however, were not so fortunate and some were beaten badly and even killed in the years since I joined. The Fraternity's response, in a consent agreement, was to eliminate pledging. Now, once you have been accepted into membership, you are a full fledged brother with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto.
It's then that you learn to appreciate what makes Kappa Alpha Psi, Incorporated, the most outstanding greek letter organization on the planet. A frat so nice, they had to name it twice!
How exceedingly more special is the fellowship of Jesus? Isn't he revealed from faith to faith as you grow in grace and knowledge? Does my pledge to put the cigarettes and bottle down give me victory over alcohol and tobacco? Are these the only sins we reject or are they just more visible? How are these vows different than what Israel promised out of fear in Exodus 19:5-8? The old covenant can temporarily keep people in line but does it save?
The Holy Spirit is calling people into this fellowship with the promise from Jeremiah 31:31-34, the promises made to Abraham that God intended to renew with Israel (Exodus 2:24, Exodus 6:2-9) in the desert in Exodus 19:5, still misunderstood. If they would keep (cherish) his covenant and obey (diligently listen to his voice), then they too will become God's special treasure. Shouldn't we take them just as they are, trust Jesus and the Holy Spirit even though they may not yet be ready for translation?
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