Sabbath, March 28, 2009
“So with the followers of Christ. We can receive of heaven’s light only as we are willing to be emptied of self. We cannot discern the character of God, or accept Christ by faith, unless we consent to the bringing into captivity of every thought to the obedience of Christ. To all who do this the Holy Spirit is given without measure. In Christ ‘dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him ye are made full.’ Colossians 2:9, 10, R.V.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 181.
THE FORERUNNER’S SUBSEQUENT MISSION
1. How did Jesus’ mission begin as John continued his mission as the forerunner?
John 3:22-24 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.
“Now he saw the tide of popularity turning away from himself to the Saviour. Day by day the crowds about him lessened. When Jesus came from Jerusalem to the region about Jordan, the people flocked to hear Him. The number of His disciples increased daily. Many came for baptism, and while Christ Himself did not baptize, He sanctioned the administration of the ordinance by His disciples. Thus He set His seal upon the mission of His forerunner.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 178.
2. Where John the Baptist’s disciples clear about the work and baptism of the Messiah?
John 3:25, 26 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
“But the disciples of John looked with jealousy upon the growing popularity of Jesus. They stood ready to criticize His work, and it was not long before they found occasion. A question arose between them and the Jews as to whether baptism availed to cleanse the soul from sin; they maintained that the baptism of Jesus differed essentially from that of John. Soon they were in dispute with Christ’s disciples in regard to the form of words proper to use at baptism, and finally as to the right of the latter to baptize at all.…
“’He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.’ No need of disputation as to whether Christ’s baptism or John’s purified from sin. It is the grace of Christ that gives life to the soul. Apart from Christ, baptism, like any other service, is a worthless form. ‘He that believeth not the Son shall not see life.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 178, 181.
PUBLIC CONFESSION OF THE MESSIAH
3. What clear conviction did John express concerning Jesus? How did he explain his relationship to the Messiah?
John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
“The Holy Spirit is waiting our demand if we will only demand it with that intensity of purpose which is proportionate to the value of the object we seek.”
–Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 175.
“John the Baptist was pronounced by our Saviour the greatest of prophets. Yet what a contrast between the language of this man of God and that of many who profess to be ministers of the cross. When asked if he was the Christ, John declares himself unworthy even to unloose his Master’s sandals. When his disciples came with the complaint that the attention of the people was turned to the new Teacher, John reminded them that he himself had claimed to be only the forerunner of the Promised One. To Christ, as the bridegroom, belongs the first place in the affections of His people. ‘The friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease. He that cometh from above is above all.’ ‘He that hath received His testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.’” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 224.
4. What clear contrast did John demonstrate between himself and the Jews when he testified of Jesus?
John 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.
“Looking in faith to the Redeemer, John had risen to the height of self-abnegation. He sought not to attract men to himself, but to lift their thoughts higher and still higher, until they should rest upon the Lamb of God. He himself had been only a voice, a cry in the wilderness. Now with joy he accepted silence and obscurity, that the eyes of all might be turned to the Light of life.
“Those who are true to their calling as messengers for God will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ.”
–The Desire of Ages, p. 179.
THE FRIEND AND THE BRIDEGROOM
5. How did John consider himself? What place will be given to the Messiah by all who are children of the heavenly kingdom? In what way will He increase in their lives?
John 3:29, 30 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.
“John represented himself as the friend who acted as a messenger between the betrothed parties, preparing the way for the marriage. When the bridegroom had received his bride, the mission of the friend was fulfilled. He rejoiced in the happiness of those whose union he had promoted. So John had been called to direct the people to Jesus, and it was his joy to witness the success of the Saviour’s work. He said, ‘This my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease.’…
“The work of God is not to bear the image and superscription of man. From time to time the Lord will bring in different agencies, through whom His purpose can best be accomplished. Happy are they who are willing for self to be humbled, saying with John the Baptist, ‘He must increase, but I must decrease.’” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 179, 182.
UPLIFTING THE HEAVENLY REDEEMER
6. What clear differences are there between a mortal human being and the One who came down from heaven? What does this mean for those who love Jesus?
John 3:31-34 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
“Those who are true to their calling as messengers of God, will not seek honor for themselves. Love for self will be swallowed up in love for Christ. They will recognize that it is their work to proclaim, as did John the Baptist, ‘Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29).
“The soul of the prophet, emptied of self, was filled with the light of the Divine. In words that were almost a counterpart of the words of Christ Himself, he bore witness to the Saviour’s glory. ‘He that cometh from above,’ he said, ‘is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: He that cometh from heaven is above all.’ ‘For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God’ (John 3:31, 34).” –Gospel Workers, pp. 56, 57.
7. What wonderful invitation does the Lord extend to all who desire to inherit eternal life?
John 3.35, 36 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 23.
“John had been called to lead out as a reformer. Because of this, his disciples were in danger of fixing their attention upon him, feeling that the success of the work depended upon his labors, and losing sight of the fact that he was only an instrument through which God had wrought. But the work of John was not sufficient to lay the foundation of the Christian church. When he had fulfilled his mission, another work was 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 and dissatisfied.
“The same dangers still exist.” –The Desire of Ages, pp, 181, 182.