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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inspiration

“[He] was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (Jn. 1:9).

Do we really appreciate what God has done for our minds? He illuminates them. He is the one who stimulates our brains, and gave us faculties capable of stimulation. He is the reason we have the full range of mental acuity above that of the animal kingdom. Without our Creator, we would be droll beasts. “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish.” (Ps. 49:20).

When we turn out the lights in our house, it can get pretty dismal and even pitch black. That simulates the condition of our thoughts, memory, and conscience if we don’t have God for our helper. Each person who chooses to leave Him, thinking that the excitement of this world can provide him perfect stimulation, joy, and discovery, always ends in depressing darkness. “He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.” (verse 19). “Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of Mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” (Isa. 50:11).

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1). Without God as the light of his conscience and intellect, David would have been no different than the basest of men. God let him prove that fact through the incident with Bathsheba. He became the worst deviant; he did the basest things. No animal invents so wily a method to kill his opponent. Without the Spirit of God lighting his conscience and his intellect, David became lower than the beasts that perish.

We must thank our Redeemer for restoring in the souls of His children the lost glory of Eden.

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps. 103:1-5).

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” (2Cor. 4:6,7). David, a great man, was no better than the rest of us without his access to God. Paul, likewise, confessed,

“I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting.” (1Tim. 1:12-16).

Every Bible hero had the same moral deficit—it can be no different for anyone in the universe; every creature needs the Creator for the luminescence of their being. Without the true God, everyone would be his own god; and they would say, “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isa. 14:14). But, every soul that “is lifted up is not upright in him.” (Hab. 2:4).

Everyone must be illuminated by the Spirit of God. Isaiah would have led the same life of rebellion as Cain he had not sought the Lord early “morning by morning” (Isa. 50:4); and Cain could have led the same life of holiness as Isaiah, if he had let His Creator vitalize his envious mind with the glory of the Lord (Gen. 4:3-7). God is our life and light. Without Him our minds are all benighted in utterly the densest of gloom.

“But Jonathan … put forth the end of the rod that was in his hand, and dipped it in an honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened.” (1Sam. 14:27). The sugary honey sped into his blood and fed his heart, pumping new life into his brain and body. David compared this episode to the effect that our Creator has on our mind and nerves and conscience through His statutes and laws.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Ps. 19:7-10).

Balaam’s donkey perfectly illustrated God’s creative power over the mind. Before the Creator came to it, that animal was no more than a dumb beast of burden. Its—yes, I must call the donkey an “it” because it was so unthinking, so dull-witted. Its mental agility was made stunted from creation and, to accomplish anything, it needed to be guided. Thus, God gave Adam’s race authority over all the animal kingdom. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28). The lower creatures were all given a mental power less than man’s.

Yet, for Balaam’s sake, the Lord arbitrarily gave that ass His Spirit and suddenly the ass’s mind came to new life! With perfect clarity of thought and bold reasoning he defended his actions, and Balaam forgot himself and conversed with his beast of burden (now I feel obligated to call the articulate donkey a “he”). In fact, the donkey was more reasonable than Balaam, who was overcome by the flush of greed and pride. Under the severest oppression from his overlord, the donkey’s mind kept a perfect, gentle calm—he had a sanctified mind!

God gives the gifts of His Spirit to all whom He pleases. “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men.” (Dan. 4:17). They must recognize the gift Giver, or He takes their glory back to Himself again. Their conscience then goes dead, their emotions turn from butter and honey into chalk—blech! Their brains grow mulish; their golden intelligence becomes lead—blah! Normally, for their sake, He rescinds His gifts slowly, over the course of their threescore years and ten. But sometimes, if it serves to warn a weakening and beggarly world, God will choose to remove His privileges quickly; and, as, in Nebuchadnezzar’s case, they abruptly lose their brightness and return to the dull-witted, dumbed-down animal kingdom from which He deigned to exalt them at creation. Such was Nebu’s case, so he wrote his testimony:

“The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
And at the end of the days I Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?
At the same time my reason returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, mine honour and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added unto me.
Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and extol and honour the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase.” (Dan. 4:33-37).

Without the power of God moment by moment sustaining him, David and all of his brilliance and joy, would have been like an ass—a stinking, filthy, slobbery beast that stands out in the field getting rained on and chewing grass or hay with no expression, or like a bull which cannot control its lower urges. All the Bible heroes would have been the same way

Having said that about David hurts me, because I revere him. And, if I said that in a synagogue in Israel, I might get drawn and quartered. We all love David; he united Israel in purpose and in spirituality. Such happiness and prosperity and health and hope the Israelites had never before been known. And he has inspired millions around the world by his intensity for the love of God and His Son. He demonstrated the results of seeking after God—power over the world and over the kingdom of darkness. Other than Adam and Christ, David was the greatest servant king this world has ever known.

“I have set the LORD always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” (Ps. 16:8-11). 

However, we praise David, forgetting too often that David only could do all that by the gift of God. Without God’s working into us we have nothing to work out, in response to what He put in us. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13). “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil. 2:12). Without Christ’s Spirit abiding in us, the human race is a collection of asses, hedonistic beasts that perish.

This harsh truth has ended the life of many martyrs who bore its message to the kingdom of “the children of pride.” (Job 41:34). It comes as an affront to sinners. Yet, who can honestly deny it? Sin has led us to love the atheistic thought, that we have the innate abilities to be moral, and smart, and strong. But, God tells us differently. We are all base, and basically evil, “ravening wolves” (Matt. 7:15) apart from our Creator. There is neither religious nor irreligious, male nor female, bond nor free that escapes this state of our being.

David was brilliant in intelligence as an army general and head of state, and in spirituality as the leader of Israel’s worship and as the people’s real high priest. But, he could be this only as he chose to accept the love of God. He used his will like we use the light switch; and it was God who lightened him. This is no different with us. We own the light bulb, the switch, and the electrical wiring, but we don’t own the electric power. Yet, we always possess access to the power, and “whosoever will” (Rev. 22:17) may come to the switch and read it. It says, “On” “Off”. All sinful man can do toward having his depressed, dead mind brightened and living is to come to the switch and, in full hope, flip the switch according to its instruction for life and light.

David couldn’t lighten his own soul and spirit, or energize his body; but, he could choose to seek God who “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.” (Jas. 1:5). David sensed an implacable God-sized hole in his heart. He needed God’s mercy, and he could hope in God’s compassion. So he chose to seek Him. Something inside him said, “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever.” (Ps. 103:8,9). In faith, he sought the Lord for His unmerited favor and he found Him. David sought God with all his heart, and He rewarded him with His presence. And, under those restrictive conditions, God gets all the praise.

“When they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought Him, He was found of them.… And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought Him with their whole desire; and He was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about.” (2Chron. 15:4,15).

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3). “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isa. 50:10). Faith in God is the victory over depression and discouragement. “The just shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1:17).

Reconciled and redeemed, peace with God obedience to Him flows out of us like “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (Jn. 4:14). His commandments become our joy and the source of our great reward. “Moreover by them is Thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Ps. 19:11).

“For Thou wilt light my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.
For by thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall.
As for God, His way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him.
For who is God save the LORD? or who is a Rock save our God?
It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
Thou hast also given me the shield of Thy salvation: and thy Right hand hath holden me up, and Thy gentleness hath made me great.” (Ps. 18:28-35).

“His brightness was as the light; He had [rays of light, power] coming out of His hand: and there was the hiding of His power.” (Hab. 3:4).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of [rays of light], with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” (Jas. 1:17-20).

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Johns

John the Baptist was a hard-core survivalist. He was Elijah come alive again. The training for his special role in the great controversy was a unique training, a unique life for his time. He resembled the prophets of a forgotten era. He lived like the prehistoric cavemen surrounded by a modern society. Rome was the height of world civilization.

John was a miracle baby. He could claim the status of the great father Isaac whose parents were also aged when he was born. But, the difference was that his father had discovered righteousness by faith. And that true righteousness reflected on his son.

Isaac knew perfect peace. He was a prince of peace, the great peacemaker of his time. God prospered him in everything and he shared the wealth to everyone around who wanted it. He dug a well. It hit water. The envious locals claimed it and wanted to fight for it. So, Isaac dug another well in lieu of an endless feud. Then the locals claimed that well, too. It was their land, even if they couldn’t develop it under God’s blessings. So, Isaac gave them that well also; after all, it was a gift from his Father in heaven. In Isaac’s mind God had given it to him, and would probably do it again.

The Philistines didn’t have access to a relationship with Jehovah, but Isaac’s example taught them something. Big, empty pits spread all over the countryside shamefully indicated their many attempts to find water unsuccessfully, even after all of their professed morality and attempts to propitiate Allah through unending flattery and infant sacrifices. The third well Isaac dug was also a gusher and the Philistines realized that three wells out of three must mean Allah was with this outsider, and they left him alone. So the prince of peace quietly “called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” (Gen. 26:22).

John the Baptist had godly parents also, but, having lived under a more stringent regime handed down from Moses, which they were happy to keep perfectly, they couldn’t achieve the faith of Abraham, or his grace. But they lived up to all the light they had and sought the Lord with their whole heart; so, Jehovah picked them to rear up the greatest of prophets. Like his parents, John was “righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” (Lk. 1:6). He would also be childless.

Stern, strict, and regimented, John the Baptist knew his purpose for Israel and faithfully prepared for his difficult task. He read the experiences of Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

“Then the LORD put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.…And I will utter My judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken Me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” (Jer. 1:9-10,16-19).

“And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against Me: they and their fathers have transgressed against Me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak My words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee. And when I looked, behold, an hand was sent unto me; and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; and He spread it before me; and it was written within and without: and there was written therein lamentations, and mourning, and woe.

Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, eat that thou findest; eat this roll, and go speak unto the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that roll. And He said unto me, Son of man, cause thy belly to eat, and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. Then did I eat it; and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness. And He said unto me, Son of man, go, get thee unto the house of Israel, and speak with My words unto them. For thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech and of an hard language, but to the house of Israel; not to many people of a strange speech and of an hard language, whose words thou canst not understand. Surely, had I sent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee.

But the house of Israel will not hearken unto thee; for they will not hearken unto Me: for all the house of Israel are impudent and hardhearted. Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads. As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. Moreover He said unto me, Son of man, all My words that I shall speak unto thee receive in thine heart, and hear with thine ears. And go, get thee to them of the captivity, unto the children of thy people, and speak unto them, and tell them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear.… And I went in bitterness, in the heat of my spirit; but the hand of the LORD was strong upon me. ” (Eze. 2:3-3:11, 14).

The Messiah was to come and John was to get Israel up to speed to receive Him with honorable obedience. But, oh, what a work of preparation was needed!

He saw his people deceived, self-satisfied, and asleep in their sins. He longed to rouse them to a holier life. The message that God had given him to bear was designed to startle them from their lethargy, and cause them to tremble because of their great wickedness. Before the seed of the gospel could find lodgment, the soil of the heart must be broken up. Before they would seek healing from Jesus, they must be awakened to their danger from the wounds of sin. The Desire of Ages, p. 103.

But he wisely discerned that the desert could protect him from the influences of the insidious idolatry of modern civilization. Wilderness living would teach him the needed austerity and dependence on God. He comprehended in Daniel’s prophecy the Messiah’s coming to be the antitypical Day of Atonement which demanded the mortifying of the flesh. “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.” (Lev. 23:27-29). The deserted haunts of southern Judea would afford his lifelong straitness and separation from temptation. His communion with God and Bible study were heightened by the perpetual silence broken only by the sounds of the King’s creation. Because he bowed low before the King of kings he could stand erect and fearless before earthly monarchs.


John the disciple came from a vastly different upbringing than John the Baptist. More like Isaac’s and David’s, his childhood and home life was that of living under his father’s love. Being the youngest of Zebedee’s household, he was treasured like a little lamb. Under the regime of grace, he early learned to savor tenderness and compassion. Though a different chapter than the Baptist, John the disciple formed the other bookend of this story of the great New Testament revival. The apostle took up the work of Elisha’s revival; and, centuries earlier, the preparation for that work Elijah had modeled for the Baptist.

John was an Adventist. While John the Baptist awaited the Messiah’s first coming, John the Adventist prepared for Messiah’s second coming. John the Adventist had been a Baptist, but came out of that following because he met and followed the one to whom the Baptist had pointed. This decision led him on to heights of glory that his first pastor never knew. John the Baptist had great light and perfectly fulfilled his divine commission. But even he knew his limitations. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30). His anointing had not the fullness of the One who was to come and he never intimated that he had the full gospel.

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt. 3:11,12, cf Lk. 3:16, 17).

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Matt. 3:7-10).

Oozing atheism, the unaffected papal leaders continued their cool investigation of the uncertified, new public phenomenon. “‘Who art thou?’ And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, ‘I am not the Christ.’ And they asked him, ‘What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet?’ And he answered, ‘No.’ Then said they unto him, ‘Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?’” (Jn. 1:19-22).

The Baptist reiterated his oft repeated message given him from heaven. “He said, ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.’” (Jn. 1:23). “‘As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Lk. 3:4-6).

John the Adventist witnessed this and never forgot the disparity between this Baptist man of God and those atheists wearing garments flowing with hypocrisy. Their Roman ways and words stood out in sharp contrast to the authentic prophet. The Adventist would never forget this. Everything John the Adventist would ever preach and pen would convey the distinction between true righteousness and the falsified; the divine nature and second birth compared to the dead human nature and the first birth.

John the Adventist looked forward to the return of the Messiah because he had seen the other side of Jesus that the Baptist had not been privileged to see.

As John the Baptist had studied the sacred scrolls. He read that Messiah would “sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and … purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Mal. 3:3-5).

But, Messiah would also be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6). And, John the Adventist had seen both sides of the anointed One and partook of His anointing.

That anointing gave him a vision that far exceeded even the bold and upright message of the Baptist. The Adventist looked down the corridors of time with a mysterious vision, a full screen, surround-sound production of Hebrew hieroglyphics, a lengthy and compact proverb that riddled the minds of Satan’s kingdom until “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan. 12:4).

The final days in which his most precious Master would finally come back again inspired the famous words that closed the Adventist’s ministry.  “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” (Rev. 22:20,21).