Elder Finley, you are a pastor, evangelist, church planter, author of numerous books and served as the Vice President of Evangelism for the General Conference. You have led thousands to Christ. What keeps you going?
I think it’s my own personal relationship with Jesus, that’s one thing. But the bible says “they that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not be worried, they will walk and not faint.” I think anytime we do service for Christ everything we do is based on who we are – being is more important for me than doing. So, one of the things that keeps me going is the fact that Jesus lives in my life, fills my heart, gives me strength. The second thing is that I love what I do. I am passionate about it.
The thing that keeps me going is the fact Jesus lives in my life, fills my heart, gives me strength.
I think if you love what you do, what you do is not drudgery but it’s rather renewing to your energy. And I think the third thing is, that I am commited to the Adventist message. I believe that God has raised up the Adventist church and that we do have something to say to the world. If you look at your work in ministry as an occupation, that you’re just employed to get money to do, then you lose energy for it quickly.
“Revival and Reformation”, those are words we hear a lot from the General Conference. Why is the GC putting such a big emphasis on this topic?
Because the bible does. The Bible talks about spiritual renewal. What is a revival? It’s the rekindling of your spiritual life of the soul. What about a reformation? A reformation is the reordering of your life and has to do with spiritual growth, with sanctification, with holiness. And Seventh-Day Adventists believe that just before the coming of Jesus there will be a mighty revival, a mighty reformation and that that will prepare the way for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Revival is the rekindling of your spiritual life. Reformation is the reordering of your life.
We don’t seek revival for revival’s sake. We believe the Spirit is here today, He has always been with the church, but before the coming of Jesus there will be a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that’s what we seek in revival for the finishing of God’s work on earth.
Can true revival really be “produced” by a program? What is true revival? How does one get it?
True revival can’t be produced by a program. But programs can help people to pave the way for revival. True revival is produced by the Holy Spirit. So revival comes really in three ways. One, as we seek God in prayer. Two, as we actively study God’s word. But even if you pray and study the bible you may not have true revival!
If revival doesn’t lead to witnessing, something is wrong.
The Pharisees prayed and studied the bible and they cruzified Jesus. The third is service and witness. So, all prayer and all bible-study opens our hearts to be filled with the Living Christ and His Holy Spirit, so that we can participate in witnessing and service. If revival doesn’t lead to witnessing, something is wrong. If reformation leads to an inward kind of holiness or an inward desire to be holy, and it leads me to be critical and separate from others, something is wrong. So, bible-study, prayer and service lead to true revival.
Is Revival something “new”?
Revival is the ongoing work of the church in every generation. Revival is not something new. It’s not a program, it’s a way of life. The bible says “His mercies are new every morning” in the book of lamentations. So we seek revival daily as each great biblical individual did through history.
You are constantly “on the run” for God. How do you stay focused? How can you uphold a personal relationship with Jesus?
I think you have to put priority on it. You have to take advantage of opportunities to read the Bible, to study, to pray. And I think I have the same battles, same struggles as others do to keep that focus. I think also health is an important thing. For me personally to try to get daily exercise and to try to eat a healthful diet and to try to get adequate sleep. And although I am on the road I try to be quite conscious of my health and I think if you are, your mind is clearer to receive guidance and directions of the Holy Spirit.
What is your vision for the Adventist youth?
My vision for the youth would be that they know Jesus Christ, that they share Jesus. That they know and share the Adventist message, that they really know scripture and are passionate about sharing it with others. The youth has tremendous potential. One thing that I noticed about youth is they don’t want a shallow, superficial Christianity.
My vision for the youth would be that they know Jesus Christ, that they share Jesus.
They want something that’s genuine, they want something that’s real. They don’t want something that’s make-believe. And I really pray to God that our youth will see in Adventism a genuine message that can reach people for this hour of world’s history and they’d be so passionate about Jesus that they will long to share Him with others.
You have been in the ministry since a few decades now, does God still surprise you sometimes?
Oh, God surprises me regularly. I just had an evangelistic meeting in Alabama. I met a business lady, actually from Germany in the parking lot of the church and she had just driven up to the church. She was looking for answers to questions – she was eventually baptized. I met another couple, that came across Hope Channel on TV. They were baptized. Met another person who found on the ground a little advertisement for a bible-study and they were baptized. That surprises me. When a person finds a bible-study advertisement on the ground, when I meet somebody in the parking lot, when somebody is flipping the dial of the TV, pushing the remote. So I would say, every day I live, God gives me some surprise.
Thank you for the interview!
This interview was originally published in ‘Salvation & Service’, Summer 2012 issue.