By Pastor Tony Brandon
Baker City Seventh-day Adventist Church
November 2, 2013

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Sermon Transcript (edited for clarity)

What I am going to be addressing this morning is a very specific issue, and that is abortions in Adventist institutions. So that's what I'm going to be focused on and I have taken a whole different angle on this, that I don't believe that you've heard before.

But I want you to understand that I'm not here this morning and I'm not going to stand in front of you pointing fingers and condemning and browbeating. The focus of this sermon this morning is Jesus Christ. And that is always going to be front and center. So I'd ask for your prayers as I give this message this morning.

Father in heaven thank you so much for the opportunity that you've given to us to be Seventh-day Adventists. Lord we have a reason for existence, we have a mission, we have a message for the world, and we just want to be sure that we're not misrepresenting you, the God we claim to represent. So I ask that you will speak through me this morning. That you will speak to each one of our hearts, that you will be here in a very very special way. In Jesus' name, Amen.

 

I want to share with you this morning an article from the nationally known, prestigious newspaper the Washington Post. We've all heard of the Washington Post, it is the newspaper of Washington DC. This article was posted in January 2011, it's by Sally Quinn and it is titled "Seventh-day Adventists and Abortion." It is a lengthy article but it is worth the read. Alright? So I'll read and you listen. Here we go.

"Christians of all denominations are gathering on the national Mall today to protest the 38th anniversary of Roe V Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. But one denomination that may be sparsely represented is Seventh-day Adventists whose large worldwide network of 170 hospitals allows elective abortions. "

How many of you were aware that there are some Seventh-day Adventists clinics and hospitals that allow abortions of convenience? Okay, well I hope you're not too shocked. Let's continue to read.

"This stance was revealed last week when Maryland state regulators gave Holy Cross hospital, a Catholic institution, permission to build a hospital in growing northern Montgomery County shutting out the Seventh-day Adventists who also wanted to build a hospital in the area. Some abortion-rights advocates opposed the Holy Cross proposal because it does not allow abortions."

So a Seventh-day Adventists hospital was denied the privilege of building a hospital because they were proclaiming that they were full-service hospital, which means they also perform elective abortions while the Catholic hospital does not. Let's continue.

"Their distinctive rites include worshiping on Saturday, the seventh day of the week as opposed to Sunday an emphasis on the second coming of Christ and an emphasis on following Jewish dietary laws, which is untrue, concerning abstinence from pork, shellfish, and other foods proscribes unclean in the Old Testament. The denomination is known for its emphasis on health, alcohol and tobacco are prohibited, and many Adventists are vegetarians."

I find that strange. Without comment we'll continue reading.

"But the denomination may be the only theologically conservative Protestant group that allows elective abortions. Many of their own members don't know that their worldwide hospital network perform the procedure, which has been quite the discussion on the Adventists for Life Facebook page."

By the way I cannot find that Facebook page any longer.

"A number of posters were shocked to learn the denomination stands. Here's some comments from Seventh-day Adventists: I can't belong to organizations who advocates abortion. I believe in Christ my Savior, the Sabbath and etc., I believe in Sister White also. Another poster said that Adventist opposed abortion until 1970. listen to this, that is when Hawaii legalized abortion and Castle Memorial Hospital and Adventist institution in Kailua Hawaii, the poster said, was pressured by its own doctors and donors to start offering abortions. At the time Adventist leaders in Washington indicated they did not oppose the procedure and thus more Adventist hospitals began offering the procedure."

The proverbial slippery slope.

"In 1992 the denomination issued guidelines for abortion, the official position of the church is that abortion is allowed only in extraordinary circumstances."

Now there are some Seventh-day Adventists who were quite angry at learning that Adventist health system allows elective abortions. Let me read to you a response from one Seventh-day Adventist. It's quite interesting.

"My wife and I no longer refer to ourselves as Adventists because we were embarrassed to do so. We keep the Sabbath and pray to God that he will help us to continue to grow in grace and knowledge daily. We will not continue to support a church that obsesses more on how bad milk and meat is for you or how much makeup you wear, while completely disregarding the weightier matters of the law."

I agree 100%. There are, Jesus says there are camel sized issues and there are gnat sized issues. Do you remember what he said to the Pharisees? You strain a net but you are willing to swallow a camel. There are camel sized issues and there are gnat sized issues. Continue,

"It's high time for the Adventist church to stand for more than how much makeup you wear, whether you're going to hell if you get a divorce, condemnation from the old-timers if you put cheese on the casserole, or if you go for a walk on the beach during the Sabbath day. The list of standards is never ending. Not that these things aren't important, put everything in its
proper place."

He continues. "The Adventist church has always been good at proclaiming how important it is to keep all, all of God's 10 Commandments including the most neglected one of all the Sabbath. At the same time it turns a blind eye to the sixth commandment. And what is the sixth commandment? You shall not kill. Okay this doesn't say murder, says you shall not kill. That's a whole different issue. until this church puts the same passion behind the commandment against killing or against murder, it has no legitimate right to say that it promotes all God's law, Shame. Shame."

Interesting comment, is it not? I have this question I want to post for you. In light of our reason for existence as a movement, should we be in the business of elective abortions or abortions of convenience?

The Seventh-day Adventists movement is a prophetically-born movement with a prophetic mission and a prophetic calling. Let me give you just a bird's eye view of what our reason for existence is. Why do we exist as the Seventh-day Adventist movement, birdseye view?

And we start with the prophet Daniel. There's so much I can say, and as I say, this isn't a nutshell, this is a bird's eye view. In Daniel Chapter 7 and eight, Daniel is given a vision, and in that vision, in that vision it is revealed that the character of God will be uglified and distorted by a religious system claiming to represent Jesus Christ.

Daniel has a vision, and sees a religious system claiming to represent Jesus and this religious system uglifies and distorts God's character. Now in Daniel 8:13, one Angel says to another, how long shall this process of uglification of God's character last? And another angel answers in Daniel 8:14, until 2300 years, then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.

In other words after 2300 years which brings us to 1844, God would raise up a movement. He would give this movement and message, a message that reveals the character of God as He is. A message that de-uglifies and undistorts the character of God. Okay?

Now let's change gears for a few moments here. Do you realize that Christianity gone bad is primarily responsible for the rise of modern atheism? Religious institutions claiming to represent Jesus and giving an ugly distorted representation of God's character. Let me show you. The French Revolution, which by the way is alluded to in Revelation chapter 11, was the forerunner of modern atheism. Let me share with you what was going on in France. France was a union of church and state. The Roman Catholic Church was the church in France. It had ruled for century, after century, after century. French people served God but they served God out of fear. They served God as groveling slaves, and you know what, people can only do that for so long before they launch a revolution and that's exactly what happened. The French citizens rose up against this union of church and state. They were tired of the character of God that had been misrepresented through the Roman Catholic system that claimed to represent Jesus. So they rose up, they overthrew the government, they overthrew the church. They said if this is what God is like, we want nothing to do with God.

Now in Revelation chapter 10 we have the rise of the movement after the French Revolution. Revelation chapter 10 foretells the rise of the movement after the French Revolution. It was a movement that would emerge from an intense study of the prophecies of Daniel. It was a movement that would have a bitter sweet experience.

And why was it a bittersweet experience? You Adventists out there can answer this. Why was it a bittersweet experience? Because they believed that Jesus was going to come in 1844, they misunderstood the prophecy, they were looking forward for Jesus, and he didn't come, a bitter sweet experience. So was that the end of this Advent movement? No, because an angel appears to John, in Revelation chapter 10 verse 11, and this is the message, this is the mission of this movement – this intense bittersweet experience. Revelation 10 verse 11. You must prophesy again to many peoples, nations, languages and Kings. What is this movement? This movement is the Seventh day Adventist movement. This movement that we are all part of was given great light from God concerning the character of God in contrast to the false picture that had been painted by Christianity gone bad for so many centuries.

So what is our mission, what is our mission as a movement? Our mission is the de-uglification of God's character. In other words, God has raised us up as a movement to present God to the world as he truly is. Our purpose for existence as Seventh-day Adventists is to reveal the character of God through the message that God has given us, but more importantly, through the way that we act, the way that we treat other people, the way that we live. That's our mission.

Our mission is to reveal the character of God which has been so uglified and distorted even in most of the Christian world. So I ask the question, once again, in light of our mission as a movement, what is our mission? To reveal the character of God.

Should we have anything to do with abortions on demand? Are we not continuing to misrepresent and uglify God's character by participating in a system that takes away life indiscriminately? Are we not misrepresenting the God whose character was revealed at Calvary?

Think about it. Think about Jesus. At Calvary Jesus painted the clearest picture of God ever witnessed by the entire created universe. And what is the picture? We have a picture of a God who comes looking for his one lost sheep. And he hangs between heaven and earth, he hangs upon the cross, and in that hanging upon the cross he is sending a message to us, and he is sending a message to the universe. God says, "I love this planet more than I love myself." Every single human being has unsurpassable worth and unsurpassable value. Is that the message that we send to the world when we choose to perform abortions in Adventist institutions? Are we saying that that human being has unsurpassable worth, unsurpassable value, and that we love this human being more than we love ourselves? Is that the message that we're sending to the world?

You know it's very interesting, Paul says something about the church, about the Adventist church in 1st Corinthians 12:27.

Listen to what he says,

"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." 1st Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

Yes, all of us together are Christ's body and each of you is part of it. Do you understand the implications of what Paul is saying there? You see Jesus is no longer here in person, however he wants to live his life through his body, through his church. Do you understand what that means? That means this Seventh-day Adventists congregation and every other Seventh-day Adventist congregation and institution is Jesus to the world. Jesus works through his body. We are Jesus to the world, we are the only Jesus that the world will see until Jesus himself returns, in the cloud, with the Father, and with all of the holy angels. We are Jesus to the world.

I like the way Teresa de Avila puts it, "Christ has nobody but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours." Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world, yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are His body.
We are Jesus to the world. You see when the world looks upon us, their supposed to be seeing Jesus, and the way that we interact with one another, in the way that we treat other human beings, and in connection with this, notice what John the apostle says, first John 4 verse 12, "No one has ever seen God, but if we love each other, God lives in us and his love is brought to full expression in us."

Did you hear that? John says nobody has seen Jesus, however, if we allow Jesus to incarnate his Calvary love in us, guess what? Then they are seeing Jesus. They see Jesus through his body, through the church. We are Jesus to the world. So I ask the question once again, are we being Jesus to the world by being in the abortion business? Are we expressing his love, his unfathomable love for every being? Are we sending the message that this being has unsurpassable worth and unsurpassable value? Because that's what Jesus was proclaiming when he hung up on the cross that he loved every single human being and that every single human being has unsurpassable worth and unsurpassable value.

Is that the message we send by being in the abortion business? Is that the message we're sending to the world? Let me say this – all Seventh-day Adventist hospitals and clinics should be operating according to what I call the 10 love promises. What are the 10 love promises? The Jews never called the 10 Commandments the law, they call them the 10 words, Aseret ha-Dibrot, the 10 words.

They are 10 love promises, not 10 Commandments. They are 10 love promises. Jesus says, "This is what I will do in you if you let me, I promise, I promise."

So every single Adventist Hospital and clinic should be operated according to these 10 love promises. And what does the six love promise say? You shall not kill. If Jesus is living in your life, you are not going to kill another human being. That's what it says.

Now if any institution is not operated according to all 10 love promises including the sixth, guess what my brothers and sisters? It's no longer a Seventh-day Adventist institution, according to Jesus. If any administrator or any worker at one of our hospitals and clinics decides, "I can no longer live by the sixth love promise, which says, you shall not kill," guess what? They can get employment elsewhere. It's not taking away their power of choice, they have the choice to go elsewhere.

If any Seventh-day Adventist feels that he or she can no longer live according to all 10 love promises, then he or she is free to go elsewhere. Think about Jesus, the Jesus live according to all 10 love promises, including the sixth who says, you shall not kill, he was the most nonviolent human being who ever lived. He never raised his hand against another human being. Never, not once. He prayed for his enemies, he said father forgive them as they were nailing him upon the cross. Jesus lived by all 10 love promises including the sixth which says you shall not kill. So you see killing should not even be on the table for Seventh-day Adventists, it shouldn't even be an option. Because it wasn't an option for Jesus. He lived according to all 10 love promises. And in doing that, he was expressing the character of God.

And what is our mission? The same, to reveal the truth about God – to resist the uglification and the distortion of God's character. So, I ask, are we being Jesus to the world by choosing to participate in the abortion business? Are we being true to our mission, the reason for our existence? Are we being true to our mission and calling by being involved in the abortion business?

Okay, so what now? How does it stop? How does it end? Through theologizing? Through sermonizing? Through angry indignant letters that we write to the leadership of the denomination? Through protesting? Through browbeating? Through criticizing? Is that how it's going to end?

Now folks let me show you the only way that Adventism will extricate itself from the abortion business, and you know what? It's all about Jesus.

Let me tell you the story of Mary of Magdela. This woman was a basket case. Scripture writes that she was possessed by seven demons – indicating the depths of degradation and evil to which this woman had fallen. She was absolutely hopeless and she was a demon in human form, if you want to put it that way, until she met a man named Jesus.

What did Jesus do with this woman, He exorcised all those demons, all seven of them. We don't know if that happened in one day, several days, whether it happened in one week, or several weeks, or months, for several months, that's not important, the important thing we need to remember about Mary is that she was healed by Jesus completely and permanently.
And you know what? This woman who was the epitome of degradation and evil at one time in her life, her heart was so filled with love for what Jesus had done for her, she was so thankful that she decided to do something to show just how much he loved Jesus. Do you know what she did? She spent almost an entire year's wages and bought an alabaster jar of perfume. Entire year's wages, and she found out where Jesus was going to be and she crashed the party. Here's the story, "When a certain immoral woman from the city, heard He was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar one year's wages, 300 Dinar, filled with expensive perfume, then she knelt behind him at his feet weeping, her tears fell on his feet and she wiped them off with her hair then she kept kissing his feet putting perfume on them."

A beautiful, beautiful picture of love and thankfulness. Well Simon the Pharisee – this was his party – he's the one who had invited Jesus, but he didn't invite this certain immoral woman. Simon is indignant, "How dare you, you're a false prophet. If you knew she was a prostitute you wouldn't even let her get close to you."

Jesus reads his thoughts, and Jesus says Simon, I have something that I want to say to you. Jesus tells this tale.

"A man loaned money to two people, 500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other, but neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their depths. Who would you suppose loved him more after that Simon?"
Simon answered, "Well I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt."

"That's right," Jesus said. Then He turned to the woman and said, "Simon look at this woman kneeling here, when I entered your home you didn't offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has wash them with her tears and wiped them with her hair, you didn't greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet, you neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume."

Now for the punch line, "I tell you her sins, and they are many, had been forgiven so she has shown me much love, but a person who is forgiven little shows only little love."

Then Jesus said to the woman, "Your sins are forgiven. I tell you her sins, and they are many, have been forgiven so she has shown me much love."

You see, the lavish love that Jesus poured out on this immoral woman created within her a desire to lavish her love upon Jesus. Did you hear that? His lavish love poured out on this woman created within her a desire to reciprocate and to lavishly extravagantly love the Lord Jesus because of what He had done for her. He had saved her and healed her from the depths of sin and evil and degradation, and she was so thankful that she was extravagant with her love because of what Jesus had done for her.

You see, love begets love. Love begets love. Desire of Ages page 493 says "Nothing reaches so fully down to the deepest motives of conduct as a sense of the pardoning love of Jesus."

We can have the same experience that Mary had. Every single one of us have been rescued, have been healed, we been saved from the depths of degradation and sin. That pardoning love should create within us a reciprocal love, just as Jesus has lavished his love upon us, in turn, I hope that we are lavishing our love upon Him.

You see, it's only the pardoning love of Jesus that can transform self-centered human hearts. And isn't that what abortion is all about, self-centeredness? The only answer is having a personal profound and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, letting that pardoning love melt our hearts, filling our hearts with that same self-sacrificing love that Jesus manifested on the cross – then abortions will not even be an issue within Seventh-day Adventism.

Once we encounter the real Jesus, once we let that pardoning love search through our hearts and transform us, we will be finished with the abortion on demand business, the abortion of convenience business. That's the only way. And that's the only way that the next promise is going to be fulfilled in Adventism. When we have a sense of the pardoning love of Christ, this is what's going to happen in the Adventist movement.

Act of the Apostles page 9, says that, "The church is God's appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. From the beginning it has been God's plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to "the principalities and powers in heavenly places," the final and full display of the love of God."

In other words, through the church, God is going to reflect his character. The members of the church, "those in Me," who are called out of darkness into His marvelous light are to show forth his glory, that is His character. The church is the repository, the treasure house of the riches of the grace of Christ. Now listen to this, through the church will eventually be made manifest even to the principalities and powers in heavenly places, the final and full display of the love of God. That's a promise that God gives us -that Adventism is going to be the final and full display of the love of God, but that's only going to happen when we allow Jesus to incarnate his love in our lives, the only way it's going to happen.

Father in heaven, the root cause of this issue is that we are not allowed your pardoning love to transform our hearts, and I pray that this will change. May we be like Mary, may we come to the realization that without Jesus we are utterly hopeless, we are utterly helpless. May we have a sense of your pardoning love in the depths of degradation and evil, that you have saved us from. And may the transforming power of that love fill us. May we see every human being with your eyes, may we have your heart for the human race including the unborn children.
In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 
 

6 Comments

  1. Nic Samojluk says:

    The Adventist Church should be in the forefront of the pro-life movement. I counted the other day 470 pro-life organizations in the U.S. aloneall of them created and sustained by non-Adventists.

    Contrast this with our church who has led in the profiting from the killing of the unborn. Will God not judge his chosen church for this incredible moral fall?

    If it werent for the Sabbath, I would have left the Adventist Church a long time ago. All I can do for now is pray for the revival of the true faith and divert my tithes and offerings to independent ministries who share my pro-life views.

  2. Kevin James says:

    Elective abortions have no place in SDA institutions. Leadership needs to be out in front on this issue.

  3. Jerry Corwin says:

    Let's be honest with folks, why not just publish new Church Guidelines which reveal that we believe all ten commandments are still binding except for the sixth, which obviously we believe was "nailed to the cross".

    If we continue to make excuses for violating the 6th commandment then it's time we stop condemning churches that make excuses for violating the 4th. They are Babylon while we are the Remnant, seriously?

    Wonder which is worse in God's sight, violated a day that He made for us, or killing creatures made in His image that belong to him? What do you think?

  4. Jerry Corwin says:

    Sorry, I meant "violating a day", not "violated a day".

  5. Paula Nixon says:

    I remember when they didn't even serve coffee in SDA hospitals.

  6. Kelly Thornsberry says:

    It is sad, because when I found out the church was performing abortions my husband and I along with our sons and 1 daughter were going to go into the ministry of Bible working. We had secured a spot with Emmanuel Inst. in Michigan ( the class was cancelled 2 weeks before we were to go), we were contemplating going to a Bible training class in Florida or Amazing Facts…then I stumbled on something on the internet and that was the abortion issue. I will say we have struggled with this for 2 years, yes 2 years we have not been to church because I can't go to a Sunday church and worship on the 1st day and I don't want to call my self an Adventist because they murder babies. It is sickening that they won't serve ham (not advocating for unclean meats) in the cafeteria of an SDA hospital but will cut or scald your baby to death and remove it piece by piece from your body. A baby that God has already named and loved. No abortions should be provided, it leaves room for compromise. If someone is taken to the emergency room and the baby or mother dies, then I have to believe it was God's will. Who are we to interfere with Gods will? I long for the church to cleanse itself of this Baal type practice and return to a God fearing Ten Commandment keeping church.

 
 
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