Alhamisi, 22 Juni 2017

He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease.

““He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease”

This chapter is based on John 3:22-36.

If John the Baptist had announced himself as the Messiah and raised a revolt against Rome, priests and people would have flocked to support him. Satan stood ready to urge on him everything that appeals to the ambition of the world’s conquerors. But he had firmly refused the splendid bribe. The attention fixed upon him he directed to Another.

Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Savior. Day by day the crowds around him lessened as the people flocked to hear Jesus. The number of Christ’s disciples increased daily.

But the disciples of John looked with jealousy on Jesus’ growing popularity. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before they found opportunity. A question arose between John’s disciples and the Jews about whether baptism cleansed the person from sin. They argued that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from John’s. Soon they were disputing with Christ’s disciples over what form of words was proper to use at baptism, and finally about their right to baptize at all. The disciples of John came to him with their complaints, saying, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”

Satan used these words to bring temptation on John. If John had expressed disappointment at being surpassed, he would have sown seeds of strife, encouraged envy and jealousy, and seriously slowed the gospel’s progress.

By nature John had the faults and weaknesses common to humanity, but the touch of divine love had transformed him. He lived in an atmosphere uncontaminated with selfishness and ambition. He revealed no sympathy with his disciples’ dissatisfaction but showed how gladly he welcomed the One for whom he had prepared the way.

He said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice.” John represented himself as the friend who acted as [76] a messenger between the engaged parties, preparing the way for the marriage. When the bridegroom had received his bride, the mission of the friend was completed. He rejoiced in the happiness of the couple whose union he had promoted. In the same way, it was John’s joy to witness the success of the Savior’s work. He said, “Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of selfdenial. He had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, so that everyone might turn their eyes to the Light of life.

John’s soul was emptied of self but was filled with the light of God. John said, “He who comes from above is above all. ... For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure.” Christ could say, “I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30.

It is the same way with the followers of Christ. We can receive Heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self and consent to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. God gives the Holy Spirit beyond measure to all who do this.

The success of Christ’s work, which the Baptist had received with joy, was reported also to the authorities at Jerusalem. The priests and rabbis had been jealous of John’s influence as they saw the people leaving the synagogues and flocking to the wilderness. But here was One who had even greater power to attract the crowds. Those leaders in Israel were not willing to say with John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Christ’s Example of Avoiding Misunderstanding
Jesus knew that the storm was building that would sweep away one of the greatest prophets ever given to the world. Wanting to avoid all occasion for conflict, He quietly left for Galilee. We also, while remaining loyal to the truth, should try to avoid everything that may lead to misunderstanding. Whenever circumstances threaten to cause division, we should follow the example of Jesus and of John the Baptist.

God had called John to lead out as a reformer. But his work was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church. Another work had to be done, which his testimony could not accomplish. His disciples did not understand this. When they saw Christ coming in to take the work, they were jealous.

The same dangers still exist. God calls someone to do a certain work, and when he has carried it as far as he is qualified, the Lord brings in others to carry it further. But many feel that the success of the work depends on the first laborer. Jealousy comes in, and the work of God is marred. The one wrongly honored is tempted to cherish self-confidence. The people rely on the human instrument for guidance and are led away from God.

Happy are those who are willing for self to be humbled, who can say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [77]”

All excerpts from

Humble Hero
by Ellen G. White

Ijumaa, 5 Mei 2017

Jesus Rescues the Sabbath

“Jesus Rescues the Sabbath

The Sabbath was made holy at Creation. As something God planned for mankind, it had its origin when “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. Earth was in harmony with heaven. “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good”; and He rested in the joy of His completed work. Genesis 1:31.

Because He had rested on the Sabbath, “God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it” (Genesis 2:3)—set it apart for a holy use. It was a memorial of the work of Creation, and as such, it is a sign of God’s power and love.

The Son of God created all things. “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3. And since the Sabbath is a memorial of the work of Creation, it is an example of the love and power of Christ.

The Sabbath brings us into fellowship with the Creator. In the song of the bird, the sighing of the trees, and the music of the sea, we may still hear the voice of the One who talked with Adam in Eden. And as we see His power in nature, we find comfort, for the Word that created all things is also the One who speaks life to the soul. He “who commanded light to shine out of darkness ... has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6.

“Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22. This is the message written in nature, which the Sabbath is designed to keep in memory. When the Lord told Israel to hallow His Sabbaths, He said, “They will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the Lord your God.” Ezekiel 20:20.

The people of Israel knew about the Sabbath before they came to Sinai. On the way there, they kept the Sabbath. When some profaned it, the Lord reproved them, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” Exodus 16:28.

The Sabbath was not just for Israel, but for the world. Like the other commands of the Decalogue, it is a permanent obligation. Christ says concerning that law, “Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law.” Matthew 5:18. As long as the heavens and the earth endure, the Sabbath will continue as a sign of the Creator’s power. And when Eden will bloom on [126] earth again, everyone will honor God’s holy rest day. “‘From one Sabbath to another’” the inhabitants of the glorified new earth will go up “‘to worship before Me, says the Lord.’” Isaiah 66:23.

The Sign of True Conversion
But in order to keep the Sabbath holy, men and women must themselves be holy. Through faith they must receive the righteousness of Christ. When God gave the command to Israel, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8), the Lord also said to them, “You shall be holy men to Me.” Exodus 22:31.

As the Jews departed from God and failed to make the righteousness of Christ their own by faith, the Sabbath lost its significance to them. Satan worked to corrupt the Sabbath, because it is the sign of the power of Christ. The Jewish leaders surrounded God’s rest day with heavy requirements. In the days of Christ, Sabbath observance reflected the character of selfish and arbitrary people rather than the character of the loving heavenly Father. The rabbis virtually represented God as giving laws impossible to obey. They led the people to look on God as a tyrant and to think that the Sabbath made a person hardhearted and cruel. It was the work of Christ to clear away these misconceptions. Jesus did not follow the rabbis’ requirements but went straight forward, keeping the Sabbath according to the law of God.

A Sabbath Lesson
One Sabbath, as the Savior and His disciples passed through a field of ripening grain, the disciples began to gather the heads of grain and to eat the kernels after rubbing them in their hands. On any other day, this would have drawn no comment, for a person passing through a field, an orchard, or a vineyard was free to gather what he wanted to eat. See Deuteronomy 23:24, 25. But many believed that to do this on the Sabbath would profane the holy day. Gathering the grain was a kind of reaping, and rubbing it in the hands a kind of threshing.

The spies immediately complained to Jesus, “Look, why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” Mark 2:24.

When accused of Sabbath breaking at Bethesda, Jesus defended Himself by affirming His Sonship to God, declaring that He worked in harmony with the Father. Now that the disciples were attacked, He mentioned Old Testament examples of things people did on the Sabbath when they were in the service of God.

The Savior’s answer to His accusers contained an implied rebuke for their ignorance of the Sacred Writings: “Have you not even read this, what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he went into the house of God, took and ate the showbread, ... which is not lawful for any but the priests to eat?” “And He said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” “Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? But I say to you that in this place [127] there is One greater than the temple.” “The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:3, 4; Mark 2:27; Matthew 12:5, 6, 8.

If it was right for David to satisfy his hunger by eating the bread set apart for a holy use, then it was right for the disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath. Again, the priests in the temple had more work to do on the Sabbath than on other days. The same labor in secular business would be sinful, but they were performing rites that pointed to the redeeming power of Christ, and their labor was in harmony with the Sabbath.

The purpose of God’s work in this world is to redeem mankind. So whatever is necessary to do on the Sabbath to accomplish this work is in harmony with the Sabbath law. Jesus then finished His argument by declaring Himself the “Lord of the Sabbath”—One above all questions and all law. This infinite Judge acquitted the disciples of blame, appealing to the very laws they were accused of violating.

Jesus declared that in their blindness, His enemies had mistaken the purpose of the Sabbath. He said, “If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Matthew 12:7. Their heartless rites could not make up for the lack of the integrity and tender love that characterize the true worshiper of God.

Jesus Deliberately Heals on the Sabbath
In themselves, sacrifices were of no value. They were a means, not an end. Their purpose was to direct people to the Savior, to bring them into harmony with God. The service of love is what God values. Without this, mere ceremony is an offense to Him. It is the same with the Sabbath. When the mind is absorbed with tiresome rites, the purpose of the Sabbath is defeated. Just observing it outwardly is a mockery.

In the synagogue on another Sabbath, Jesus saw a man who had a withered hand. The Pharisees watched, eager to see what He would do. The Savior did not hesitate to break down the wall of traditional requirements that barricaded the Sabbath.

Jesus told the suffering man to step forward and asked, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” Mark 3:4. It was a common saying among the Jews that failure to do good when one had opportunity was to do evil; to neglect to save life was to kill. So Jesus met the rabbis on their own ground. “But they kept silent. So when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored.” Verses 4, 5.

When He was asked, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” Jesus answered, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Matthew 12:10-12. [128]

Greater Care Shown Animals
The spies did not dare to answer Christ. They knew He had spoken the truth. Rather than violate traditions, they would allow a man to suffer, while they would relieve a work animal because neglecting it would bring loss to the owner. They showed greater care for the animals than for human beings. This illustrates how all false religions work. They originate in our human desire to exalt ourselves above God, but they result in degrading us below the animals. Every false religion teaches its followers to be careless of human needs, sufferings, and rights. The gospel places a high value on humanity as the purchase of Christ’s blood, and it teaches us to regard human wants and distress with tenderness. See Isaiah 13:12.

The Pharisees were hunting Jesus’ life with bitter hatred, while He was saving life and bringing happiness to large numbers of people. Was it better to kill on the Sabbath, as they were planning to do, than to heal the suffering ones, as He had done?

In healing the withered hand, Jesus condemned the custom of the Jews and left the fourth commandment standing as God had given it. “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath,” He declared. By sweeping away senseless restrictions, Christ honored the Sabbath, while those who complained about Him were dishonoring God’s holy day.

Those who hold that Christ abolished the law teach that He broke the Sabbath and justified His disciples in doing the same. In this way, they are taking the same position as did the disapproving Jews. In doing so, they contradict Christ Himself, who declared, “I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” John 15:10. Neither the Savior nor His followers broke the Sabbath. Looking at a nation of witnesses who were trying to find some way to condemn Him, He could say unchallenged, “Which of you convicts Me of sin?” John 8:46.

“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Jesus said. God gave the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, to His people as a blessing. See Deuteronomy 6:24. Of all who keep “from defiling the Sabbath,” the Lord declares, “Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6, 7.

“The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” For “all things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” John 1:3. Since Christ made everything, He made the Sabbath. He is the One who set it apart as a memorial of Creation. It points to Him as both Creator and Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things is the Head of the church and that by His power we are reconciled to God. He said, “I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them,” or makes them holy. Ezekiel 20:12. The Sabbath is a sign of Christ’s power to make us holy. And He has given it to all whom He makes holy, as a sign of His sanctifying power.

To all who receive the Sabbath as a sign of Christ’s creative and [129]

redeeming power, it will be a delight. See Isaiah 58:13, 14. Seeing Christ in it, they delight themselves in Him. While it reminds us of the lost peace of Eden, it also tells us of peace restored through the Savior. And every object in nature repeats His invitation, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. [130]”

All excerpts from

Humble Hero
by Ellen G. White

Jumanne, 28 Machi 2017

Satan is Not Dead

Satan Is Not Dead, October 30

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from evil. John 17:15.

Satan is not dead or palsied, and he prepares minds by degrees to become imbued with his spirit, and to work after the same manner as he works against those who bear responsibilities in the work of God for these last days. In the future Satan’s last exploits will be carried out with more power than ever before. He has learned much, and he is full of scientific scheming to make of no effect the work that is under the supervision of the One who came to the Isle of Patmos to educate John, and to give him instruction to be given to the churches....

Every ingenious device will be used, every possible method taken advantage of, to lead men to live a lie, that the truth shall not stand as God designed it to stand, to prepare a people, through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, to stand firm as a rock to principle....

There are those who do not humble their hearts before God, and who will not walk uprightly. They hide their true purposes, and keep in fellowship with the fallen angel, who loveth and maketh a lie. The enemy puts his spirit upon the men whom he can use to deceive those who are partially in the dark....

“Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered” (Isaiah 29:9, 10). A spiritual drunkenness is upon many who suppose they are the people who shall be exalted. Their religious faith is just as is represented in this scripture. Under its influence, they cannot walk straight.... They are scientific schemers, and those who could and should have helped, because of a clear spiritual eyesight, are themselves deceived, and are sustaining an evil work.

The developments of these last days will soon become decided. When these spiritualistic deceptions are revealed to be what they really are—the secret workings of evil spirits—those who have acted a part in them will become as men who have lost their minds.—Letter 311, October 30, 1905, to Brethren Daniells and Prescott and their associates.

Jumamosi, 18 Februari 2017

Maranatha 238

Sanctification is for Sabbathkeepers, August 18

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.... The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work. Exodus 20:8-10.

God has declared in His Word that the seventh day is a sign between Him and His chosen people—a sign of their loyalty....

The seventh day is God’s chosen day. He has not left this matter to be remodeled by priest or ruler. It is of too great importance to be left to human judgment. God saw that men would study their own convenience, and choose a day best suited to their inclinations, a day bearing no divine authority; and He has stated plainly that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.

Every man in God’s world is under the laws of His government. God has placed the Sabbath in the bosom of the Decalogue, and has made it the criterion of obedience. Through it we may learn of His power, as displayed in His works and His Word....

Men could not place themselves more decidedly in opposition to God’s work and to His law than by upholding a day that is without one evidence of sanctity, and professing to worship Him on that day. Those who have corrupted the law by substituting a false sabbath for the holy Sabbath of God, and who compel the observance of this false sabbath, exalt themselves above God, and honor the spurious above the genuine.

Sanctification is claimed by professed Christians who ignore God’s holy rest day for a spurious sabbath. But God declares that the sanctification coming from Him is bestowed on those only who honor Him by obeying His commands. The sanctification claimed by those who continue in transgression is a spurious sanctification. Thus the religious world is deceived by the enemy of God and man....

Men have sought out many inventions. They have taken a common day, upon which God has placed no sanctity, and have clothed it with sacred prerogatives. They have declared it to be a holy day, but this does not give it a vestige of sanctity. They dishonor God by accepting human institutions and presenting to the world as the Christian Sabbath a day which has no “Thus saith the Lord” for its authority.