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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.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The testimony of Jesus

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Rev. 12:10-12).
 
The testimony that they gave was the testimony Jesus gave. Theirs resembled His. It was full of heart-felt yearning for the souls of their persecutors. Jesus did not resist Judas, but mildly rebuked him when he came to betray his Master, appealing to the heart of His former disciple one more time.
“And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come?” (Matt. 26:50).
“Judas… drew near unto Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:47,48).
No anger or resentment marred the tone of Christ’s reproof. Only the pathos of His Father’s infinite love. How He spoke to Judas, then, is evidence for how He spoke to all of His priestly, rabbinic, Pharisee, and mixed multitude objectors. “Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love.… He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes.” Steps to Christ, p. 12.

 
The heart’s testimony of Jesus is heard on Calvary with His seven sayings:
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
“Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Vs. 43).
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46).
“When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His mother, Woman, behold thy Son!
Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:26,27).
“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.” (Vs. 28).
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” (Luke 23:46).
“Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice,” “It is finished” “and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (Matt. 27:50; John 19:30).
 
“He hath poured out His soul unto death.” (Isa. 53:12).
 
The testimony of Jesus was heard most distinctly at the end of His earthly life.
 
“He wept over Jerusalem, the city He loved, which refused to receive Him, the way, the truth, and the life. They had rejected Him, the Saviour, but He regarded them with pitying tenderness.” Steps to Christ, p. 12.
 
“Jesus gazes upon the scene, and the vast multitude hush their shouts, spellbound by the sudden vision of beauty. All eyes turn upon the Saviour, expecting to see in His countenance the admiration they themselves feel. But instead of this they behold a cloud of sorrow. They are surprised and disappointed to see His eyes fill with tears, and His body rock to and fro like a tree before the tempest, while a wail of anguish bursts from His quivering lips, as if from the depths of a broken heart.
…This sudden sorrow was like a note of wailing in a grand triumphal chorus. In the midst of a scene of rejoicing, where all were paying Him homage, Israel’s King was in tears; not silent tears of gladness, but tears and groans of insuppressible agony….
…Yet it was not because of these reminders of His cruel death that the Redeemer wept and groaned in anguish of spirit…. It was the sight of Jerusalem that pierced the heart of Jesus--Jerusalem that had rejected the Son of God and scorned His love, that refused to be convinced by His mighty miracles, and was about to take His life. He saw what she was in her guilt of rejecting her Redeemer, and what she might have been had she accepted Him who alone could heal her wound. He had come to save her; how could He give her up?...
     Jesus raised His hand,--that had so often blessed the sick and suffering,--and waving it toward the doomed city, in broken utterances of grief exclaimed: “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!--” Here the Saviour paused, and left unsaid what might have been the condition of Jerusalem had she accepted the help that God desired to give her,--the gift of His beloved Son….
     But the bright picture of what Jerusalem might have been fades from the Saviour’s sight. He realizes what she now is under the Roman yoke, bearing the frown of God, doomed to His retributive judgment. He takes up the broken thread of His lamentation: “But now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.”
     Christ came to save Jerusalem with her children; but Pharisaical pride, hypocrisy, jealousy, and malice had prevented Him from accomplishing His purpose. Jesus knew the terrible retribution which would be visited upon the doomed city. He saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, the besieged inhabitants driven to starvation and death, mothers feeding upon the dead bodies of their own children….
Jerusalem had been the child of His care, and as a tender father mourns over a wayward son, so Jesus wept over the beloved city. How can I give thee up? How can I see thee devoted to destruction? Must I let thee go to fill up the cup of thine iniquity?... When the fast westering sun should pass from sight in the heavens, Jerusalem’s day of grace would be ended. While the procession was halting on the brow of Olivet, it was not yet too late for Jerusalem to repent. The angel of mercy was then folding her wings to step down from the golden throne to give place to justice and swift-coming judgment. But Christ’s great heart of love still pleaded for Jerusalem, that had scorned His mercies, despised His warnings, and was about to imbrue her hands in His blood. If Jerusalem would but repent, it was not yet too late. While the last rays of the setting sun were lingering on temple, tower, and pinnacle, would not some good angel lead her to the Saviour’s love, and avert her doom? Beautiful and unholy city, that had stoned the prophets, that had rejected the Son of God, that was locking herself by her impenitence in fetters of bondage,--her day of mercy was almost spent!” The Desire of Ages, p. 575-577.
 
The deep pathos of Christ on mount Olivet was plainly seen in Abel, and painfully absent from Cain. While Cain wildly accused his younger brother of every corrupted fabrication his mind could imagine, Abel yearned for the salvation from the devils that haunted his heir-apparent older sibling. Abel’s audible and visible expressions evinced only endearing love, which his elder interpreted as stubborn resistance. Cain desired to pull Abel into his ugly frame of mind, but Abel found no desire to be drawn into the temptation to retaliate against the provocations and to dishonor his Redeemer. But, in Cain’s diseased mind, the spirit of Christ, the testimony of Jesus in Abel only added to the offense. Love from above was fuel that stoked the fire that Satan had developed in the soul of Cain. The more love that flowed from the sight and sounds of his brother, the more anger and hatred raged in his heart, until he could no longer endure the air of heaven, and, in an instant, rose up and silenced his brother forever.
 
The history of every prophets’ testimony has been strewn with the same desperation and obvious need of divine aid to help sinners see the exceeding sinfulness of their rebellion. The helplessness of the servant of God adds to the powerful “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” (1Cor. 2:4). Like the Saviour who is inspiring them, their groaning, the choking back of tears, the anguish from the voice, all cut through the hardened insolent hearts, and show evidence of its divine origin. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. 4:12,13).
 
Jesus, the Prince of princes, and High Prophet of prophets, had the testimony of the Spirit more than the chiefest of prophets. “The men of Nineveh…repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” (Matt. 12:41).
 
The testimony of Jesus is much more than a pat phrase that equals the gift of prophecy and pinpoints the remnant seed of the church. The testimony of Jesus is more than just man-made words; it is Spirit. And every prophet had more than just humanly inspired words or written letters; they had the Spirit of God, the Spirit of prophecy. The Spirit of prophecy gave them powerful yearning from God, and came from the human agent through whom their Redeemer spoke.  The testimony was more than just a message, but a messenger; not just a written treatise of rebukes and warnings, but a spoken message from a sanctified being moved by the Spirit of the divine. It was more than the voice of authority to point out error, but the voice of helpless, desperate yearnings to turn the erring back into the paths of truth and long life. The testimony of Jesus from all His little ones will have the quality of His deep love for those being warned and reproved and admonished. They are “spiritual” (Gal. 6:1) and meek, tender-hearted and acutely mindful to avoid overdoing rebuke toward the erring. Jesus works together with His servants to “restore such an one in the spirit of meekness” (Gal. 6:1).
 
The spirit of the testimony from Jesus, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom. 8:2), does not give us a profession of faith, but a confession of faith, that is, a confession of love.
 
“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Rom. 10:9). The witnesses give their confession of Jesus from a heart that He has sanctified and molded into His image, rather than from a profession of empty words, from the head, and not from the Spirit of Christ.
 
“For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Rom. 10:10). Once we have had this kind of faith and openness of expression, we will speak correctly for Jesus. Even if the vocabulary is faulty or the language a barrier, the spirit from which the testimony flows will be a fountain of life. And when the spirit of the listener has the need for God, the Spirit will give the correct meaning of the words spoken, even if the words come in an unknown tongue. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of the prophet.
 
The testimonies of Jesus in His prophets were not given in cold formalism, suspicious distrust, fear of reprisal of ridicule, or hard-heartedness, but from the warm, sorrowing soul of prophets sent to convince and evict the cold formalism that atheistic unbelief always brings to the people who need to hear the true testimony by the servants of God. If they refuse to hear it from the written word, they must hear it audibly and visibly.
 
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2Cor. 3:17), “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:19). The prophets of God have “the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:21). “The Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” (Rom. 8:2). By that liberty from the power of sin, they also have perfect freedom because they are liberated from the strictures of reputation and social custom. They have the freedom to boldly express the will of God. Their focus is no longer on self. Their full expressions are equally to the people in public and to God in the privacy of their souls. Neither humiliation nor mockery of their outer appearance prevents the revelation of their inner thoughts, and their presentation communicates the full will of the Creator to all the senses of the hearers. They have renounced the world, and have been sanctified by Law of God, and “the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1Tim. 1:5). The Lord has put His Law in their hearts, and their testimonies reflect the Law and its Author as He speaks it profoundly in their conscience.
 
“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Isa. 8:20). The Law alone is not enough for the sinner to distinguish his faults; the Law must come with the messenger from God who is converted and filled with God’s loving Spirit. False teachers, false leaders, and false prophets cannot have the testimony of Jesus because they do not have His Law hallowed in their hearts and written in their minds. They are dark, and their testimonies reflect their darkness.
 
They don’t have peace with God because they never surrendered to His Law. Therefore they never submitted to the righteousness of God and had faith put into them that would have reconciled them with God. This faith is the gift of Christ, His faith to be transmitted to them through His Spirit, the faith of Jesus under whose wings they could have come to trust. Without this faith it is impossible to please God and to be released from His curse upon their souls, His chastisement of their peace. Their dark souls are heard out of their testimonies which are devoid of sweet love, joy, and peace. They might have light and power, some even great light and power, but they will have no sweet love, joy, and peace. The followers of the true Shepherd hear His voice in the testimony of His under-shepherds; but the true followers will flee from false, empty testimonies that have no peace and credentials of heaven.
 
The hard-hearted leaders in Jesus’ day had nothing of the testimony of Jesus. Though His purity makes His children tremble, they feel safe only with Him.
 
“Jesus looked for a moment upon the scene,—the trembling victim in her shame, the hard-faced dignitaries, devoid of even human pity. His spirit of stainless purity shrank from the spectacle.” The Desire of Ages, p. 461.
 
But, “the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26) have His Spirit. They see the glory of God in the face of Jesus, and they show that glory in look and word. Even in reproof His voice is heard in theirs. They trust that any success in advancing the kingdom in their community or in individuals is only the work of God, and not in themselves. They have wonderful rest in that reality. Paul’s experience is theirs. “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. …when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor. 12:9,10). “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 16:25).
 
In the testimony of Jesus outside the tomb of Lazarus, we peer into the heart of Christ. There we see His love for people for who He longed with fierce longing to uplift and to make sons of the living God.
 
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
Jesus wept….
Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” (John 11:33-35,38,39).
 
The paid-for weepers thought that they were the only real children of God on earth. But, they were ignorant in the way of salvation, though they believed themselves saved. It was His love for them that caused Jesus to noticeably groan and weep. In the testimony of Jesus there is room for the groaning that holds back burning tears inspired by the Spirit of Christ; there is even room for outbursts of weeping, as we see in Christ. “The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Rom. 8:26).
 
The testimony of Jesus comes from a father’s heart of love, and at times can be a rare, strong expression of love.
 
“And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,
And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;
And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not My Father’s house an house of merchandise.
And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up.” (John 2:13-17).
 
“What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?” (1Cor. 4:21).
“And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.” (Ex. 32:19,20).
 
But, testimony of Jesus is the farthest thing from the testimony of Jehu.
 
“And [Jehu] said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.
And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the LORD, which He spake to Elijah.
And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.
Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal.
And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.
And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshippers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.
And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshippers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.
And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but the worshippers of Baal only.
And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that letteth him go, his life shall be for the life of him.
And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.
And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.
And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.
Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.” (2Ki. 10:16-28).
 
“The truth should be presented with divine tact, gentleness, and tenderness. It should come from a heart that has been softened and made sympathetic. We need to have close communion with God, lest self rise up, as it did in Jehu, and we pour forth a torrent of words that are unbefitting, that are not as dew or as the still showers that revive the withering plants. Let our words be gentle as we seek to win souls. God will be wisdom to him who seeks for wisdom from a divine source. We are to seek opportunities on every hand, we are to watch unto prayer, and be ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear. Lest we shall impress unfavorably one soul for whom Christ died we should keep our hearts uplifted to God, so that when the opportunity presents itself, we may have the right word to speak at the right time. If you thus undertake work for God, the Spirit of God will be your helper. The Holy Spirit will apply the word spoken in love for the soul. The truth will have quickening power when spoken under the influence of the grace of Christ. 
     God’s plan is first to get at the heart. Speak the truth, and let Him carry forward the reformatory power and principle.” Testimonies for the church, vol. 6, p. 400.
 
“Jehu Religion Unsafe.--Men are slow to learn the lesson that the spirit manifested by Jehu will never bind hearts together. It is not safe for us to bind our interests with a Jehu religion; for this will result in bringing sadness of heart upon God’s true workers. God has not given to any of His servants the work of punishing those who will not heed His warnings and reproofs. When the Holy Spirit is abiding in the heart, it will lead the human agent to see his own defects of character, to pity the weakness of others, to forgive as he wishes to be forgiven. He will be pitiful, courteous, Christlike (Review and Herald April 10, 1900).  Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 1038.
 
“If we would enter into the joy of our Lord, we must be colaborers with Him. With the love of Jesus warm in our hearts, we shall always see some way to reach the minds and hearts of others. It will make us unselfish, thoughtful, and kind; and kindness opens the door of hearts; gentleness is mightier far than a Jehu spirit.--Review and Herald, Feb. 10, 1885. Temperance, p. 221.
 
“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1Pet. 2:16).

2 Comments:

Blogger Elise Ellsworth said...

I really appreciate your heartfelt comments about your faith.

2/04/2016 9:53 AM  
Blogger David said...

Thank you Elise. I wrote this because I had done the opposite of what it says. Then the Lord made it all plain to me. And it is what the people at the end will have when the gospel is preached one last time. It will be beautiful and powerful for good. I pray that we can both be there.

2/05/2016 11:45 AM  

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