FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
December 13, 2013
Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part IX
In the face of the rash to venerate those considered great men of the earth, the Christian is confronted with the truth that the Holy Scriptures has little to say in praise of men. Such is the propensity to lavish words of honor and glory, influenced by the cascading voices of the majority and the persuasive powers of public-opinion molders, to ascribe in prose and song, words of adoration and even titles that exclusively belong to the Creator and Savior of mankind, to his fellow sinner and mortal.
“Little space [in the Bible] is given to recounting the virtues of even the best men who have ever lived. This silence is not without purpose; it is not without a lesson. All the good qualities that men possess are the gift of God; their good deeds are performed by the grace of God through Christ. Since they owe all to God, the glory of whatever they are or do, belongs to Him alone; they are but instruments in His hands. More than this—as all the lessons of Bible history teach—it is a perilous thing to praise or exalt men; for if one comes to lose sight of his entire dependence upon God, and to trust to his own strength, he is sure to fall. [See Jer. 17:5; Ps. 146: 3, 4; etc]. Man is contending with foes who are stronger than he.
‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in high places.’ Eph. 6: 12 (margin). It is impossible for us, in our own strength, to maintain the conflict; and whatever diverts the mind from God, whatever leads to self-exaltation or to self-dependence, is surely preparing the way for our overthrow. The tenor of the Bible is to inculcate distrust of human power and to encourage trust in divine power.” – E. G. White, Patriarchs & Prophets, p. 717.
Speaking of the character and work of the Holy Spirit, Christ’s only Vicegerent, Jesus said: “Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak on Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come.” John 16: 13, K.J.V. Of Christ Himself, we read:
“Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying How knoweth this Man letters, having never learned? Jesus answered them and said, My doctrine is not Mine, but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: by He that seeketh His glory that sent Him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.” John 7: 14-18.
“In every generation God has sent His servants to rebuke sin, both in the world and in the church. But the people desire smooth things spoken to them [Isa. 30: 10, 9-15], and the pure, unvarnished truth is not acceptable. Many reformers, in entering upon their work, determined to exercise great prudence in attacking the sins of the church and the nation.
They hoped, by the example of a pure Christian life, to lead the people back to the doctrines of the Bible. But the Spirit of God came upon them as it came upon Elijah, moving him to rebuke the sins of a wicked king, and an apostate people; they could not refrain from preaching the plain utterances of the Bible—doctrines they had been reluctant to present. They were impelled to zealously declare the danger which threatened souls. The words which the Lord gave them they uttered, fearless of consequences, and the people were compelled to hear the warning.
“Thus the message of the third angel will be proclaimed [in the last days]. As the time comes for it to be given with greatest power [at the latter rain], the Lord will work through humble instruments, leading the minds of those who concentrate themselves to His service. The laborers will be qualified rather by the unction of [the Holy] Spirit than by the training of literary institutions.
Men of faith and prayer will be constrained to go forth with holy zeal, declaring the words which God gives them. The sins of Babylon will be laid open. The fearful results of enforcing the observances of the church by civil authority, the inroads of spiritualism, the stealthy but rapid progress of the papal power—all will be unmasked. By these solemn warnings the people will be stirred. Thousands upon thousands will listen who have never heard words like these.
In amazement they hear the testimony that Babylon is the [universal] church, fallen because of her errors and sins, because of her rejection of the truth sent to her from heaven. As the people go to their former teachers with the eager inquiry, Are these things so? The ministers present fables, prophesy smooth things, to soothe their fears and quiet the awakened conscience. But since many refused to be satisfied with the mere authority of men and demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ the popular ministry, like the Pharisees of old, filled with anger as their authority is questioned, will denounce the message as of Satan and stir up the sin-loving multitude to revile and persecute those who proclaim it.” – E. G. White, Great Controversy (1911), pp. 606-7.
Jesus solemnly reminded His disciples: “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.” John 15: 20-24. See also Ps. 69: 4.
“It is the work of conversion and sanctification to reconcile men to God by bringing them into accord with the principles of His law . . . . Through the merits of Christ he can be restored to harmony with his Maker. His heart must be renewed by divine grace; he must have a new life from above. This change is the new birth, without which, says Jesus, ‘he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ [John 3: 1-21]. The first step in reconciliation to God is the conviction of sin. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law.’ ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ 1 John 3: 4; Rom. 3: 20. In order to see his guilt, the sinner must test his character by God’s great standard of righteousness.
It is a mirror which shows the perfection of a righteous character and enables him to discern [judge] the defects of his own. The law reveals to man his sins, but it provides no remedy. While it promises life to the obedient, it declares that death is the portion of the transgressor. The gospel of Christ alone can free him from the condemnation or the defilement of sin. He must exercise repentance toward God, whose law has been transgressed, and faith in Christ, His atoning sacrifice. [Acts 20: 21; 1 John 1: 7-10]. Thus he obtains remissions of sins that are past” [not present or future!] and becomes a partaker of the divine nature [as imparted alone by the Holy Spirit!].”- Great Controversy, pp. 467-8.
Based on familiar Biblical examples: individuals (King Saul, Judas); couples (Ananaias and Sapphira); families (Achan’s), cities (Sodom), generations (the long-lived antediluvian race), and even the chosen people, we see how anyone can start on the slippery slope that leads, in time, to committing the unpardonable sin:
“It is not God that blinds the eyes of men or hardens their hearts. He sends them light to correct their errors, and to lead them in safe paths; it is the rejection of this light that the eyes are blinded and the heart hardened. Often the process is gradual, and almost imperceptible. Light comes to the soul through God’s word, and through His servants, or by the direct agency of His Spirit; but when one ray of light is disregarded, there is a partial benumbing of the spiritual perceptions, and the second revealing of light is less clearly discerned. So the darkness increases, until it is night in the soul. Thus it had been with these Jewish rulers. They were convinced that a divine power attended Christ, but in order to resist the truth, they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. In doing this they deliberately chose deception; they yielded themselves to Satan, and henceforth they were controlled by his power.”
“Closely connected with Christ’s warning in regard to the sin against the Holy Spirit is a warning against idle and evil words. The words are an indication of that which is in the heart. ‘Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.’ Matt. 12: 34. But the words are more than an indication of character; they have power to react on the character. Men are influenced by their own words. Often under momentary impulse, prompted by Satan, they give utterance to jealousy and evil surmising, expressing that which they do not really believe; but the expression reacts on the thoughts. They are deceived by their words, and come to believe that true which was spoken at Satan’s instigation. Having once expressed an opinion or decision, they are often too proud to retract it, and try to prove themselves in the right, until they come to believe that they are.
“It is dangerous to utter a word of doubt, dangerous to question and criticize divine light. The habit of careless and irreverent criticism reacts upon the character, in fostering irreverence and unbelief. Many a man indulging this habit has gone on unconscious of danger, until he was ready to criticize and reject the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’ Matt. 12: 36.
Then He added a warning to those who had been impressed by His words, who had heard Him gladly, but who had not surrendered themselves for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not only by resistance but by neglect that the soul is destroyed. [Matt. 12: 43-45]. The most common manifestation of the sin against the Holy Spirit is in persistently slighting Heaven’s invitation to repent. Every step in rejection of Christ is a step toward the rejection of salvation, toward the sin against the Holy Spirit.” pp. 323-4.
“The judgments of God are in the land, and our testimonies are to be given under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Now, just now, is our time to work under the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit. We must give the message quickly, line upon line [Isa. 28:9-13]. Men will be forced to a decision, and it is our part that they are given an opportunity to understand the truth, so that they may make their stand intelligently on the right side.”- Upward Look, p. 351. (To be continued next week)