JERRY A. STEVENS
Retired General Conference Worker/
Ponderer of Our Changing Times
As promised in our last issue, we offer herewith its companion volume devoted to the pulpit ministry. The immediate emphasis falls within the time span extending from the second half of the 20th century up to the present time—in other words, the era of “modern” preaching. But we include, as is our usual practice, timeless counsel from the pen of inspiration.
We daresay that if we polled our readers to suggest the single best sermon they ever heard, we would receive a dizzying variety of answers. Be assured, then, that your very favorite sermon is very likely notreprinted here. This is not to say—no, not at all—that we have thrown together a strictly arbitrary anthology of mediocre sermons or “filler” material in the present volume. On the contrary, each sermon has been carefully selected and endorsed by our editorial board. Considered individually, each addresses provocative, sometimes even sensitive, topics. Taken as a whole, they represent a wide spectrum of current trends and concerns—some highly alarming—among us as a people.
The names of the speakers, for the most part, may be familiar to most of our readers. We would like to suggest, however, that each reader make a concerted effort to “listen” very attentively to the “spoken” word. See whether the Holy Spirit just now may be spreading a banquet table in the wilderness—a veritable feast in the midst of the prevailing spiritual famine (Amos 8:11 ).
We open with a mini-compilation of Ellen White’s comments on the subject of proper pastoral pulpit decorum. Read her inspired counsel, then ask yourself how nearly today’s preachers measure up to the divine standard. For those who don’t, pray earnestly that God will raise up preachers who will.
Long-time General Conference president Robert Pierson carried a profound burden for God’s remnant church. Not long before he died, he delivered a poignant parting appeal to church leaders gathered for the Annual Council. As events would play out, the accuracy of some of the details in this sermon almost causes one’s hair to stand on end.
Another brave general in God’s army was Enoch Oliveira. During a time when Adventism was going through an especially turbulent theological maelstrom, he seems to have had almost prophetic insight when warning his beloved church against the dangers of insidious Trojan horses ensconced within the gates.
It would have been a delight to be present when Carlyle Haynes occupied the pulpit. As he addresses fellow ministers, you too will appreciate his nononsense approach to correct, no-frills, Biblical preaching.
I thank God for men and women who have stood for the right, though the heavens fall. One of them was Joe Crews. After reading his sermon on marriage, divorce, and adultery, I found myself wondering how many other pastors even dare to touch this hot topic nowadays.
Our immediate predecessor, Lawrence Maxwell, once again graces the pages of this journal via his unique way of evaluating excuses for not attending church. In the process, and in typical Maxwellian style, he makes a famous Bible story of healing come alive once more.
Randy Skeete is a familiar author in this journal, and for good reason. After recounting the story of a highly focused, missiondriven, Old Testament gentleman, see if you don’t come away from this sermon more challenged than ever to do something meaningful for the Lord without also succumbing to competing distractions.
One of the most beloved names in modern Adventist circles is Leslie Hardinge. In his penetrating study of the character of Judas Iscariot, the “listener” finds himself closer than he ever fancied to being more like Judas than Jesus. Be challenged by this masterpiece of Biblical biography, and be changed!
In my last editorial (fall 2006) I used the title, “Who’s in Charge Here?” Little did I realize at the time that this topic would receive such masterful treatment in the present issue of Adventists Affirm. Richard O’Ffill handles a very delicate intergenerational issue with all the tact of an ambassador. And indeed he is: a seasoned ambassador for our Lord Jesus Christ.
If you thirst for a practical yet succinct message on a distinctive Adventist doctrine, you need look no farther than W.D. Frazee’s brilliant coverage of the sanctuary message. It is simply amazing how he compacted so much truth about a topic that has challenged so many, using so few words. This in itself preaches volumes.
This issue ends with our reprise of a very thoughtful devotional message by Laurel Damsteegt. Even if you have seen it online before, be blessed all over again!
In sum, our sincere wish is that you will feast sumptuously on these sermons. Our earnest prayer is that your faith that God is still in charge of His remnant church will once again, more certainly than ever, be thoroughly AFFIRMed.