"Your story matters! Tell it well. Tell it often."
- Dave Edgren, Storyteller
Invite Dave to speak to your crowd today!
Friday, May 05, 2023
The Kingdom of God
Friday, April 28, 2023
Investigating The Investigative Judgement
To many, the idea of a final judgement may seem intimidating or even frightening. It certainly was in early Adventism. However, as Adventists continued studying, we grew to understand judgement to be one consistent work of God commencing at the cross and culminating in the return of Christ, the goal of which is the salvation and sanctification of all who embrace Christ. This belief brings comfort, as it reminds us that we serve a loving and just God who is actively working for the salvation of all people.
Salvation in Christ
Christian author C.S. Lewis expertly explains Salvation in his work Mere Christianity: "We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed."
Jesus' death on the cross has reconciled us to God and provided a way for us to be forgiven and receive eternal life. Lewis's words demonstrate that God's justice is rooted in His love and grace and that the cross represents the ultimate expression of this love and grace.
This understanding of judgement as a manifestation of God's love is also reflected in Bible texts such as Romans 5:8, which states: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
The Sanctuary Revealed
The Sanctuary in the Old Testament was physically present and able to be seen by all but was only symbolic in its role and capability. It pointed to the work of Christ. The Sanctuary in Heaven, conversely, is impossible for us to see and yet it is truly effective in processing the forgiveness of all mankind.
Considering the priests in the Old Testament sanctuary, the author of Hebrews writes: "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the Tabernacle: 'See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain'" (Hebrews 8:5).
The Old Testament sanctuary was a "copy and shadow" designed to reflect the true sanctuary in Heaven. As such, the Old Testament sanctuary served as a visual representation of the work of Jesus and the salvation that he would bring through his death and resurrection. This verse helps connect the Earthly sanctuary with the sanctuary in Heaven, and reminds us that the work of Jesus was foreshadowed and anticipated in the worship practices of the ancient Israelites.
As Adventists, we believe the investigative judgement is an expression of God's love and justice. As Ellen G. White writes in her book The Great Controversy: "In His great love, [God] provided a way of escape for all. The whole plan of redemption is a manifestation of His love to a world that has sinned. The very fact that a way of salvation has been provided, and that we are permitted to come to God through His dear Son, is an evidence of His great love."
Hell and Back
Judgement is a topic that has matured in both understanding and explanation as the church has grown. In the early days of Christianity, judgement was often seen in terms of eternal damnation or punishment. However, as the church has developed and deepened its understanding of God's character and the nature of salvation, the concept of judgement has come to be seen in a more compassionate light.
One Christian author who has written extensively on this topic is Rob Bell, whose book Love Wins challenges traditional understandings of judgement and argues for a more inclusive and loving view of God's plan for humanity. Bell writes: "It's not about getting people to recite a certain formula about God in order to avoid an eternity of torment. It's about inviting people into a way of life that leads to healing and flourishing."
Adventist pastor Dwight Nelson writes in his book A Strange Thing in the Land: "The investigative judgement is not a judgment of condemnation but a judgment of exoneration. It is the final verification that the work of atonement accomplished by Jesus on the cross was fully sufficient to save all who will accept it."
The Book of Life
What of this book in Heaven that Christ looks at to determine our eternal destination? Is it a list of all our sins or is it something else?
Dwight Nelson continues: "The investigative judgement gives me hope. It tells me that my sin has been dealt with and that I am reconciled to God. I don't have to fear the final judgement because I know that my name is written in the Lamb's book of life. That gives me peace and confidence as I go through life, knowing that I am loved and accepted by my Creator."
It is the Book of Life, the record of Christ’s blood applied by Him and accepted by us, that reveals our eternal home. Our name in His handwriting! This is the investigative judgement. We are judged not by our fitness for the Kingdom but by Christ’s gift of salvation. We are saved because He is Saviour. Jesus’ blood has been applied and is effective in saving all who accept His invitation. Your name. His blood. That’s what’s written in the Book of Life.
Adventist historian George R. Knight writes in his book A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists: "The Seventh-day Adventist Church...has always maintained that God is a God of love and that the central message of the gospel is the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. This emphasis on the love of God and the saving grace of Jesus has been a significant factor in the growth and development of the Adventist Church."
Following Salvation – the point at which we accept Christ's gift of eternal life – His work in Heaven inspires the rest of our story. For us here on earth, the investigative judgement brings into focus the Holy Spirit's process of revelation and enlightenment in our lives. As we grow closer to Him, God reveals to each of us the true nature of who we are In Him, allowing us to see how our choices impact our faith journey.
As we await the return of Christ, I am grateful to be part of a faith tradition that encourages us to deeply consider the nature of judgement and to understand it in the context of God's eternal love and grace.
Thursday, April 20, 2023
Easter: All Things New!
Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings and for many cultures around the world, it’s a time to celebrate. From the Christian holiday of Easter, the Jewish holiday of Passover, the ancient Persian festival of Nowruz to the Hindu festival of Holi, the arrival of spring is marked by a variety of traditions that all share a common thread of celebrating new life, restoration and a sense of hope.
Though they have largely become festivals celebrated in secular ways, each of these spring holidays were originally holy days—set apart to commemorate significant, meaningful moments of spiritual renewal. The communal hope for their memory and longevity keeps these ancient holidays in practice today.
Food is central to Easter, as it is to all cultural festivals in every part of the world. In Australia, one of the most popular Easter foods is the hot cross bun. These spiced buns are traditionally made with raisins or currants1 and are marked with a cross on top, symbolising the crucifixion of Jesus. Traditionally these buns were not just enjoyed on Easter Sunday, but also on Good Friday as a way to commemorate the day of Jesus’ death.
Published in Signs of the Times - Click here for the rest of the article
Monday, April 03, 2023
Getting into Heaven
Good vs Evil
How the Gospel Works
WHAT GOD IS ALL ABOUT
The Fall of Lucifer
We have a Hero!
Sunday, April 02, 2023
Identifying Gods People in Revelation 12
Friday, March 31, 2023
Sabbath School Chat 2023Q2L1 Revelation 12
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Look up and Love
A conversation in a market in Gympie, Queensland turns into a teaching moment for us all.
Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Hold steady, hold light: A driving illustration from my holiday
Sunday, February 12, 2023
Teaching Kids about God's Love and Prayer isn't hard if you get them involved. Try this!
Wednesday, February 08, 2023
An open letter to the pastors at the 2023 AUC Minister's Meetings
I write to you as you gather at Avondale for your quinquinial Australian Union Conference ministers meetings.
Two decades ago, on Sabbath morning, I told the children's story at Avondale during the divine service at the minister's meetings. If you were there, perhaps you remember John the Baptist recounting his nightmare about a seven headed dragon. Storytelling was and is my passion.
Over the next ten years, I went through severe faith deconstruction. The apex of which occurred during my time as Associate Editor at Signs Publishing. I went through it alone. I spent many a drive home from Warburton calling to God and waiting for an answer. I even tried the silent treatment and listened for a still small voice. As you might expect, I heard nothing.
There was no one spiritually mature and safe to whom I could talk. My ministerial secretary was perfect and distant, as were all the men at the top. That seemed to be the way to survive. So, I tried. I joined the acting game.
I didn't want my storytelling to end but there were fewer and fewer topics on which I could preach or write with honesty. I read old scripts, danced old jigs. And in my private time I devoured books by McLaren, Campbell, Rohr and Spong. I needed to find God. I needed to find myself. Both were shadows of who they once were.
January 4, 2013 a brain tumour was safely removed from my auditory nerve. It left me deaf on that side with severe tinnitus but otherwise normal in appearance. My energy levels were massively depleted as the neurosurgeons said they would be. For three months, I took all my sick leave as I couldn't drive and stayed home on doctors orders, to recover.
One year later, to the day, I was removed from ministry permanently.
So, what happened during that year? The three months of recovery were bliss. Too tired to do much, I laughed with my family and ate every meal at home. I decided to be honest. When asked to go back to work, I would tell them who I really was. I would tell them what I believed and didn't believe.
When the call came, two churches - one small and one as assistant to a power pastor, I said exactly… nothing. During that year, I rode my motorcycle too fast. Numerous corners nearly took me. I spiralled into spiritual self loathing. One day I told my wife she would leave me if she knew what I really believed. She disagreed vehemently! And then, in my private thoughts, I wondered if I still had the old charm. So I tried. And I failed by succeeding.
January 4, 2014 I received a phone call from the conference President. We met in a McDonalds birthday party room. Our family had just moved so I could take a full time school chaplaincy role. When the President, General Secretary and power pastor asked me why, I told them everything. All the above but in greater detail. It felt blissful to unload a decade's burden! I talked and talked. The General Secretary commented that I seemed relieved not upset. True. Finally someone was listening and I couldn't be punished for my deconstruction.
My risk taking could have been partly a result of surviving brain surgery. It happens. But, it was definately a result of my faith deconstruction. The broken me was being unbroken and didn't want to go back into the paddock. I didn't want to sacrifice my new found freedom and honesty to return to the cowardice of the past. And so I bucked at the system's reigns. I took risks. Big ones. And I was fired, guilty as charged.
I went home with my tail between my legs. I'm grateful I wasn't brave enough to wrap it around my neck as some do. I went home where I was loved into accepting reconciliation. I was forgiven the moment I confessed. I still don't fully understand it. Much as I struggle to understand the cross, even though there is no better place to fall.
I've been told by others that I didn't deserve mercy. Duh. One pastor's wife told me her husband would be on the street after she emasculated him (not her words), should he ever dare! A decade later, she obviously still believes he is perfect as he remains intact.
A year later, while attempting to share a devotional I was writing on healing, a pastor told me if he were to help me it would send the wrong message. He said he wasn't sure how much time needed to elapse before He could be seen helping me. He didn't want to be unfit for duty in the temple, I guess.
The laity have been kind and accepting, welcoming me into their ranks with inclusive embracing arms. Over all, I've come to realise we teach and preach forgiveness well enough for the people to understand and act. And as I have listened to them over the past decade, even deconstruction is welcomed and expected. The discussion is vibrant.
Unfortunately, pastors are human. Deconstruction is part of maturity. This means, pastors who mature deconstruct and rebuild their faith. The needs for nonjudgmental mentoring, safe policies and empowering procedures for pastors with questions still remain unmet. Room to breathe and a safe place to debrief is desperately needed.
And thus, pastors in deconstruction manifest a variety of unhealthy behaviours.
In the pulpit: Poor preaching. Flimsy exegesis. Pathetic proofs. Weak point, pound pulpit.
In the home: Disconnection. Impossible expectations. Fake smiles. Do as I say, not as I do.
In the heart: Anxiety. Depression. Loneliness. Unbalanced relationship with God. From broken vessels that hold nothing - to - being so heavenly minded you're no earthly good.
I write to you not because I want back in. I'm much safer and healthier out here. I'm a better Christian now that I've come through my rebuilding phase.
I write to you because keeping our heads in the sand is killing pastors. We loose them to safer professions. We loose them in deconstruction. And, shockingly, we even lose them to death. The Seventh-day Adventist church must stop killing pastors.
While you are gathered this weekend, demand better. Your leaders have titled this gathering "The Empower Ministerial Convention." May it live up to its name. Pastors are deeply loved by God. It's time we started treating them that way.
Yours in Faith,
Dave Edgren ~ Story: Teller, Author, Trainer ~
BOOK DAVE NOW! Dave Edgren is passionate about creating a values-based storytelling culture. In his engaging and often hilarious way,...
Introduction Sabbath School was the backbone of the early Adventist church. As a people of the Book at study , we matured as a people ...
Dear Pastors, I write to you as you gather at Avondale for your quinquinial Australian Union Conference ministers meetings. Two decades a...