Christ’s Other Sheep. These lessons are prepared by a Seventh-day Adventist and are supported by a Seventh-day Adventist institution. Quite bluntly, the question being addressed in this lesson is: Do you have to be a Seventh-day Adventist in order to be saved? The short answer to that question is an emphatic No! The implications are the focal point of our discussion.
Questions for discussion:
- Jesus’ other sheep. In John 10:16, Jesus speaks of other sheep which are not of his fold. If that is the case, where does the idea come from that only the sheep in the one “official” fold can be saved?
- Why share the faith? If a person’s salvation is not dependent on accepting a particular formulation of truth, why should any of us be concerned about sharing the truth and evangelizing the world? Won’t God save other people even if we don’t tell them?
Note: The answer to the above question may be linked with an understanding of what the Gospel is. The word simply means “good news.” About what? That there is a God in heaven who has paid the price for our sins, forgiven us our sins, and shown us how to live. The knowledge of forgiveness is a great blessing. And if the “gospel” also means instruction on how to live more happily, in a more wholesome manner, and with hope, isn’t that a message that we should share with great eagerness? The following quotation from Ellen White’s Desire of Ages illustrates the position held by most Adventists:
“Christ on the Mount of Olives pictured to His disciples the scene of the great judgment day. And He represented its decision as turning upon one point. When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and suffering.” (Desire of Ages, 637)
“Those whom Christ commends in the judgment may have known little of theology, but they have cherished His principles. Through the influence of the divine Spirit they have been a blessing to those about them. Even among the heathen are those who have cherished the spirit of kindness; before the words of life had fallen upon their ears, they have befriended the missionaries, even ministering to them at the peril of their own lives. Among the heathen are those who worship God ignorantly, those to whom the light is never brought by human instrumentality, yet they will not perish. Though ignorant of the written law of God, they have heard His voice speaking to them in nature, and have done the things that the law required. Their works are evidence that the Holy Spirit has touched their hearts, and they are recognized as the children of God. (Desire of Ages, 638)
Some may object that the above passage sounds like salvation by works. It is not, for the good acts done by those who are saved were done without any attempt to impress God or seek his blessing. The good deeds were done simply to be helpful to people. The Gospel is something we eagerly want to share because we serve a God who is in the business of helping and saving. The more of his children who understand that and accept that truth, the happier this world becomes, while we wait for the earth which God will make entirely new.
- Confrontation vs. cooperation. How do the confrontational messages of Revelation 14:6-12 (three angels’ messages) and 18:4 (the other angel) relate to a message which seeks to treat other people the way they would want to be treated?
Note: The author of this study guide (Alden Thompson) is convinced that in Ellen White’s experience we have clear evidence of a transition from condemnation to cooperation. The following quotations are typical of her later experience:
Methods Better than Condemnation: “The Lord wants His people to follow other methods than that of condemning wrong, even though the condemnation be just. He wants us to do something more than to hurl at our adversaries charges that only drive them further from the truth. The work which Christ came to do in our world was not to erect barriers and constantly thrust upon the people the fact that they were wrong. He who expects to enlighten a deceived people must come near to them and labor for them in love. He must become a center of holy influence”.
“In the advocacy of the truth the bitterest opponents should be treated with respect and deference. Some will not respond to our efforts, but will make light of the gospel invitation. Others – even those whom we suppose to have passed the boundary of God’s mercy – will be won to Christ. The very last work in the controversy may be the enlightenment of those who have not rejected light and evidence, but who have been in midnight darkness and have in ignorance worked against the truth. Therefore treat every man as honest. Speak no word, do no deed, that will confirm any in unbelief.” (Testimonies 6:121-22)
Speaking on Points of Agreement: “In laboring in a new field, do not think it your duty to say at once to the people, We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath; we believe in the non-immortality of the soul. This would often erect a formidable barrier between you and those you wish to reach. Speak to them, as you have opportunity, upon points of doctrine on which you can agree. Dwell on the necessity of practical godliness. Give them evidence that you are a Christian, desiring peace, and that you love their souls. Let them see that you are conscientious. Thus you will gain their confidence; and there will be time enough for doctrines. Let the heart be won, the soil prepared, and then sow the seed, presenting in love the truth as it is in Jesus. (Gospel Workers, 119-120 ; Evangelism, 200; cf. “Letter to a Minister and His Wife Bound for Africa” [June 25, 1887 = Letter 12, to Elder Boyd; almost verbatim “original” of the Gospel Worker quote] in Testimonies to Southern Africa, pp. 14-20).