“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 09, 2018

Why testimonies?

“Nevertheless He regarded their affliction, when He heard their cry:
And He remembered for them His covenant, and repented according to the multitude of His mercies.
He made them also to be pitied of all those that carried them captives.
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto Thy holy name, and to triumph in Thy praise.” (Ps. 106:44-47).

Maybe you can tell by my profile and by my favorite books being authored by Ellen White, that I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I am a third generation SDA and a tenth generation Sabbatarian, descending from a long line of Seventh-day Baptists. So, although I am not a pastor, if I need to be credentialed, I suppose I have credentials.

Then, why am I featuring so many people in their testimonies, people who obviously are not Adventists? They are showcasing their heinous sins and lurid past, and some, after they come to Jesus, are even promoting speaking in tongues, which is not biblical. Most (but not all) of these witnesses end up in Sunday churches. Am I advertising for the Sunday denominations, instead of the three angels’ messages?

No, I’m not. But, I see things in these testimonies that fulfill the desire of Jesus for the three angels’ messages, which I would like to explain.

There always exists the danger to God’s people that, after He has cleaned them up, they begin to compare themselves to the unsanctified world around them, and they become proud of their sanctification, their health and beauty, their prosperous infrastructure, their amazingly consistent and successful tithe system, their effective work to advance the cause of God, and on and on. By now, it should be obvious to every Adventist that obedience to God and His Law results in amazing prosperity and success. But, lurking behind all that prosperity and success always laid their undoing—pride.

And it has always been like this. The children of Israel revealed this problem at the very start of their nation.

“Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is He which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire He shall destroy them, and He shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.” (Deut. 9:3-7).

The power of pride was so deeply ingrained in Israel, that before teaching them His statutes, Jehovah Jesus first gave them a book that taught the greatest lesson of all—the dangers of pride in the experience of Job.

I have found that most people don’t read beyond the first two chapters of the book of Job and come away from it almost worshiping the man. But, Job had a deadly character flaw. Not reading chapter 32 to the end of the book creates a sort of mental proxy for the readers’ own self-worship through the great attainments of Job’s holiness. It’s true that he was upright and eschewed evil. But even though he was sanctified, he wasn’t sinless, as so many infer. He was sanctified, but the problem he had was that he knew that he was sanctified. He exalted himself secretly, so secretly that he probably didn’t know he was doing it. And neither did anyone else, except the Lord and the youthful Elihu the son of Barachel.

“Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.” (Job 32:2).

This first written book ended with Jehovah Jesus thundering upon Job all the reasons Job needed his baptism of fire. Christ’s great finale shows why Job was oppressed by Satan. The invisible mystery seed of pride opened the door to the hosts of darkness, and Jesus did not restrain the demons for His purposes of opening not only Job’s eyes, but also the eyes of the children of Israel who would read this book during their wilderness wandering, and our eyes today who still have Job’s flaw of self-exaltation. “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” (Prov. 26:2).

Paul struggled with staying victorious over pride. Like Job, Paul too had received abundant gifts from heaven. Therefore Jehovah Jesus sent him also a “messenger of Satan” (2Cor. 12:7) to buffet him. And he needed that. We all need it. And, all during His life here, Jehovah Jesus accepted from His Father the same mode of protection, especially at the end. “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Heb. 5:8). The Lord our God Himself submitted to the universal lesson that He had been teaching His children since the beginning. He willingly poured out His soul unto death Before He should be highly exalted as High Priest in the greatest divine enterprise ever to be conceived, He must be infinitely humbled, not only into the dust of death, but into infinite damnation.

And everyone who is saved by His infinite humbling into their damnation will taste of that humbling. They will also pour out their soul unto the death of self. All who accept the punishment of their iniquities, who accept God’s assessment of their accountability for their life of sin—no matter how good their life has been compared to the publicans and sinners of the world—they can relate to the offering of Christ for them. All who fall on their face before the judgment seat of God, who acknowledge the rebuke of God for their sins, and who recognize a good Father in His punishment and therefore seek His face for His unmerited mercy, they receive His power. They become powerful sons of God to be born again. They know the approval of God toward them, and they alone “He is not ashamed to call…brethren” (Heb. 2:11). “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one” because both have submitted to the righteousness and authority of His Father, their Father. Both Saviour and saved have been humbled into the dust. Both have stumbled over the greatest Stumblingstone, the greatest Schoolmaster—God the Father. Both have known repentance—an infinite sorrow for sin and the hatred of it.

This is why justification plays so large a role in the redemption of man. There is no salvation through sanctification alone. And these testifiers on YouTube have justification. They have suffered in the flesh, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1Pet. 4:1). They have sought the God of love, who Rose called, “Love”, for the lack of knowing His real name.

These people have mourned over the lack of divine, everlasting, unchanging love, even if subconsciously from a rebellious heart, and even if such a love was an imagined, but little hoped for, extension of wonderful earthly relationships already experienced. Their travels to have that love might have been long and circuitous. But, Jehovah Jesus was able to eventually draw them in to His love for them. And all of them received the witness of Jehovah’s Spirit, a new heart, new eyes, new ears, a new mouth, a whole new body.

Let’s not get discouraged if we are currently surrounded by the enemy and his bonds. We have His promise.

“But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee, and I will save thy children.” (Isa. 49:25).

The strongest captivity by Satan is no match for the stronger Saviour/Creator, Jehovah Jesus—Jehovah Joshua—which means “Deliverer”. The greater the seeming impossibilities of our captivity, the greater potential for Him to cast all of our care upon Him, and see His salvation. And it usually takes a long time for us to come to repentance, although it never need be. But, when we finally receive His repentance, no sooner do we fall before Him, than He immediately routs the great adversary. “And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though He bear long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” (Luke 18:7,8).

This real life deliverance is true justification. Heaven registers the faintest sound of help from a heart that has wholly given up the fight for survival. Their cry reaches to the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. They and they alone He declares righteous, and worthy of His salvation. They are declared to be the just who “live by faith.” (Heb. 10:38).

“The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.” (1Pet. 3:12). His deliverance of Israel from Egypt was His promise to the whole world throughout perpetual generations.

“And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt.” (Ex. 3:7-10).

“And Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel:
And Aaron spake all the words which the LORD had spoken unto Moses, and did the signs in the sight of the people.
And the people believed: and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped.” (Ex. 4:29-31).

It’s their own Bochim, that results in their humiliation of heart and mind and soul.

“And it came to pass, when the angel of the LORD spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the LORD.” (Jdg. 2:4,5).

It’s their own stumbling by the Stumbling Stone. “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.” (Luke 2:34).

“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7).

His necessary stumbling would be “for a sign which shall be spoken against;” (Luke 2:34). But, His stumbling and humiliating circumcision of human hearts would be rejected by the self-righteous ones, the self-exalted, self-sanctified people.

“What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.” (Rom. 9:30-33).

So, who will cry out in desperation, as these YouTube testifiers have done? Who will allow the consequences for their sin lead them to seek Him with their whole heart? Who will let His adversary and theirs, create in them a humbled heart, a heart of flesh, a circumcised heart, the heart of faith? This is the faith that has justified God’s people since Adam and Eve witnessed the first animal sacrifices.

“He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” (Rom. 2:29).

Such a circumcision will be the test of fellowship with Jesus until the very end of time. “I tell you … when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

Then, out of that new birth will come the new life.

“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded.
Unto you therefore which believe He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation….” (1Pet. 2:6-12).

There are no substitutes for soul-baring and the new birth—no laughter and high-fives, no extensive expositions of the Spirit of Prophecy counsels, no great works for God. There can be no new life without the new birth, with all of its embarrassing nakedness by people exposing their soul desires, people caught in their own delivery from desperate and painful riddance of sorrow.

Will the people of God go where Jesus has gone before us? Will they pour out their soul with the Lord’s Servant, who “hath poured out His soul unto death” (Isa. 53:12)? Will churched Adventists and Protestants go where most men have never gone before? Will they humble themselves before the mighty hand of God? Will they go where these ex-New Agers, ex-witches, ex-drug abusers, ex-porn addicts, ex-sinners and publicans have gone? Will we let our pride of morality be banished by the humiliating experience of birth into the kingdom of Christ? Will we be crucified with Him, examining their faith daily, continually? The decision resulting from this question is where the sealing and the mark divide the last generation. The strait gate, which most never find, or the broad road where the whole world travels to its destruction. Humiliation and a soul-baring testimony will characterize God’s chosen, while pride, self-sufficiency will characterize the lost and wicked.

We want the Holy Spirit that comes in whenever Jesus enters. We want His anointing that “teacheth you all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him. And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” (1Jn. 2:27,28).

Let’s go to all lengths to have it, “to have Him” and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. As Rose said, “There was this hope that came in. And I fell in love with this God, and I wanted to have Him…. So, I called His name, ‘Love’, because I didn’t know what is His name. Because when He came into my room that day, He did not tell me what is His name. He just showed me His nature, His character. He showed me He is love, and He is not condemning me.”

The benefits far outweigh the cost.

As Shayne testified, “I finally said out loud, ‘Jesus, do you really love me?’… The very next moment, … I heard a voice …, ‘I am your God who loves you.’ … In that moment I knew I was created to be a home for this incredible, loving God. From that moment, I knew that life was serving this amazing God…. It’s now 25 years since I started this amazing journey. And it’s too hard for me to read what I’ve written of that night without tears. It was the happiest, most joyous experience of my life.”

This is humanity’s final frontier before the winding up of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan.


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