The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 14: 8 says: "Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will be ready for the battle?" This is a clear challenge to every one of us and I would like to apply these words here to my dear friends, the elder in the local congregation.
When the Lord raised up this Adventist Movement He laid upon the leaders a dual responsibility. Not only were we to warn the whole world of the impending judgment, but we were also to prepare a people to meet our Lord. Only those who posses the faith once delivered unto the saints will have the power to separate from sin and become citizens of God's kingdom.
One hundred and sixty years ago our pioneers were laying the foundation of what was destined to become a worldwide movement. They were weak numerically, but they were strong spiritually, and had a firm conviction of their divine call, they moved forward in faith. The results of their work we see today. I believe that is the reason why Ellen G. White wrote these words: "Had the purpose of God been carried out by His people in giving to the world the message of mercy, Christ would, ere this, have come to the earth, and the saints, would have received their welcome into the city of God." Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 450.
The history of our pioneers teaches us the lesson of the possibilities that reside in people who have conviction. Joseph Bates, a prominent Millerite, traveled six hundred miles in the midst of winter, down to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, a slave State at that time. In the midst of one of his meetings a heckler arose to declare that a mob was forming to ride him out of town on a rail. He assured the man that if they would put a saddle on the rail, he would rather ride on it than walk in the muddy streets of their town. Then looking the man squarely in the eye, he added: "You must think that we come 600 miles, through the ice and snow, at our own expense, to give you the midnight cry, without first sitting down and counting the cost. And now, if the Lord has no more for us to do, we had lied at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay as anywhere else until the Lord comes. But if He has any more work for us to do, you can't touch us!" Bates, Autobiography, p. 279.
I confess I like to read a statement like that. It makes my spiritual nerves tingle. It makes me proud of my spiritual forefathers. They were militant people. They were so tremendously persuaded that they had the truth, and they must preach that truth for God, that they could not think of letting anything stand in their way. Oh how we need preachers like them today! They never permitted themselves to be on the defensive. They followed the old military maxim, that attack is the best defense. Militancy, like any other quality of the human spirit, may be turned to wrong purposes, but true militancy is born of conviction-conviction not only that there is something worth fighting for, but that we are determined to fight for it.
We must not forget that either we are defenders of the cause that rests on great certainties, or else we are nothing. If we really believe that we have certain truths, then why should we hesitate to admit that they constitute the very promises of our faith?
One distinctive mark of the Seventh-day Adventist Church that bases the faith on revelation is that there are some things that are established beyond all doubt, things of which we can be so sure that we would be willing to die.
The foundation of our faith and the facts of our history require that we make them known to the world, and only people with certainty in their souls can measure up to the demands of our world today.