Please read the Missionary Report from Malta below

Sabbath, February 28, 2015

“The influence of the Holy Spirit is the life of Christ in the soul. We do not see Christ and speak to Him, but His Holy Spirit is just as near us in one place as in another. It works in and through every one who receives Christ. Those who know the indwelling of the Spirit reveal the fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.” –(Manuscript 41, 1897) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1112.

The Christian tree and its fruit

1. To what is the Christian compared in the holy Scriptures? Who is the tree of life whose branches reach down to our world?

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

“The man who loves God meditates on the law of God day and night. He is instant in season and out of season. He bears the fruit of a branch vitally connected with the Vine. As he has opportunity, he does good; and everywhere, at all times and in all places, he finds opportunity to work for God. He is one of the Lord’s evergreen trees; and he carries fragrance with him wherever he goes. A wholesome atmosphere surrounds his soul. The beauty of his well-ordered life and godly conversation inspires faith and hope and courage in others. This is Christianity in practice. Seek to be an evergreen tree. Wear the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. Cherish the grace of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness. This is the fruit of the Christian tree. Planted by the rivers of water, it always brings forth its fruit in due season….

“To all who believe, He

[Christ] is as the tree of life in the Paradise of God. His branches reach to this world, that the blessings which He has purchased for us may be brought within our reach…. He has given us a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, which will present to us the precious fruit from the tree of life. From this tree we may pluck and eat, and we may then guide others to it, that they also may eat.” –My Life Today, p. 50.

2. List the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22, 23, first part But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance:…

“When one is fully emptied of self, when every false god is cast out of the soul, the vacuum is filled by the inflowing of the Spirit of Christ. Such a one has the faith that purifies the soul from defilement. He is conformed to the Spirit, and he minds the things of the Spirit. He has no confidence in self. Christ is all and in all. He receives with meekness the truth that is constantly being unfolded, and gives the Lord all the glory, saying, ‘God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit.’ ‘Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.’ 1 Corinthians 2:10, 12.

“The Spirit that reveals, also works in him the fruits of righteousness. Christ is in him, ‘a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ John 4:14. He is a branch of the True Vine, and bears rich clusters of fruit to the glory of God. What is the character of the fruit borne? The fruit of the Spirit is ‘love,’ not hatred; ‘joy,’ not discontent and mourning; ‘peace,’ not irritation, anxiety, and manufactured trials. It is ‘long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.’ Galatians 5:22, 23.” –Gospel Workers, p. 287.

Bearing fruit in abundance

3. What makes it possible for the sinner to be able to produce the fruit of the Spirit?

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.

Jeremiah 17:7, 8 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. 

“Man, fallen man, may be transformed by the renewing of the mind, so that he can ‘prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ How does he prove this? By the Holy Spirit taking possession of his mind, spirit, heart, and character. Where does the proving come in? ‘We are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.’ A real work is wrought by the Holy Spirit upon the human character, and its fruits are seen. 

“Just as a good tree will bear good fruit, so will the tree that is actually planted in the Lord’s garden produce good fruit unto eternal life. Besetting sins are overcome; evil thoughts are not allowed in the mind; evil habits are purged from the soul temple. The tendencies which have been biased in a wrong direction are turned in a right direction. Wrong dispositions and feelings are changed, new principles of action supplied, and there is a new standard of character. Holy tempers and sanctified emotions are now the fruit borne upon the Christian tree. An entire transformation has taken place. This is the work to be wrought.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1080.

4. What is essential to bear the fruit of the Spirit and thus glorify God?

John 15:5, 7, 8 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing…. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

“Abiding in Christ means a constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His service. The channel of communication must be open continually between man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus, and receive from Him by faith the strength and perfection of His own character.

“The root sends its nourishment through the branch to the outermost twig. So Christ communicates the current of spiritual strength to every believer. So long as the soul is united to Christ, there is no danger that it will wither or decay. The life of the vine will be manifest in fragrant fruit on the branches….

“When we live by faith in the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 676.

“Those who have this union with Christ will declare it in spirit and word and work. Profession is nothing unless in word and work good fruit is manifest. Unity, fellowship with one another and with Christ–this is the fruit borne on every branch of the living vine. The cleansed soul, born again, has a clear, distinct testimony to bear.” –The Upward Look, p. 295.

5. How can one bear abundant fruit?

Colossians 1:10, 11 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness.

“God takes men as they are, and educates them for His service, if they will yield themselves to Him. The Spirit of God, received into the soul, will quicken all its faculties. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mind that is devoted unreservedly to God develops harmoniously, and is strengthened to comprehend and fulfill the requirements of God. The weak, vacillating character becomes changed to one of strength and steadfastness. Continual devotion establishes so close a relation between Jesus and His disciple that the Christian becomes like Him in mind and character. Through a connection with Christ he will have clearer and broader views. His discernment will be more penetrative, his judgment better balanced. He who longs to be of service to Christ is so quickened by the life-giving power of the Sun of Righteousness that he is enabled to bear much fruit to the glory of God.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 251.

Fruit and character

6. What is revealed by the fruit a person produces?

Matthew 7:16, 17 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

“Christ hungers to receive from His vineyard the fruit of holiness and unselfishness. He looks for the principles of love and goodness. Not all the beauty of art can bear comparison with the beauty of temper and character to be revealed in those who are Christ’s representatives. It is the atmosphere of grace which surrounds the soul of the believer, the Holy Spirit working upon mind and heart, that makes him a savor of life unto life, and enables God to bless his work.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 298.

“All the true followers of Christ bear fruit to His glory. Their lives testify that a good work has been wrought in them by the Spirit of God, and their fruit is unto holiness. Their lives are elevated and pure. Right actions are the unmistakable fruit of true godliness, and those who bear no fruit of this kind reveal that they have no experience in the things of God. They are not in the Vine.” –Messages to Young People, p. 377.

“Let us so speak and so labor that our fruit may be unto righteousness and we letting our light shine forth in good works. Profession is nothing. A godly life alone will God approve….” –The Upward Look, p. 154.

7. For how long will the Christian tree bear fruit?

Psalm 92:12-15 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; 15 To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

“Your experience should not be ten, twenty, or thirty years old, but you should have a daily, living experience, that you may be able to give to each his portion of meat in due season. Look forward, not backward. Never be obliged to tug at your memory in order to relate some past experience. What does that amount to today to you or to others? While you treasure all that is good in your past experience, you want a brighter, fresher experience as you pass along. Do not boast of what you have done in the past, but show what you can do now. Let your works and not your words praise you. Prove the promise of God that ‘those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the Lord is upright: He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.’ Psalm 92:13-15. Keep your heart and mind young by continuous exercise.” –(Review and Herald, April 6, 1886) Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 221, 222.

For personal study

“If you draw close to Jesus and seek to adorn your profession by a well-ordered life and godly conversation, your feet will be kept from straying into forbidden paths. If you will only watch, continually watch unto prayer, if you will do everything as if you were in the immediate presence of God, you will be saved from yielding to temptation and may hope to be kept pure, spotless, and undefiled till the last. If you hold the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end, your ways will be established in God; and what grace has begun, glory will crown in the kingdom of our God. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. If Christ be within us, we shall crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.” –The Adventist Home, p. 338.


Missionary Report
from Malta

To be read on Sabbath, February 28, 2015

The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, March 7, 2015

“And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. And the barbarous people showed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold.” Acts 28:1, 2.

Malta, officially the Republic of Malta (old name Melita), is an island country comprising an archipelago of three main islands in the Mediterranean Sea. It lies 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Sicily, 284 kilometers (176 miles) east of Tunisia, and 333 kilometers (207 miles) north of Libya. The country covers just over 316 square kilometers (122 square miles), making it one of the world’s smallest and most densely populated countries in the world with a population of 450,000. The capital is Valletta, which is also, at 0.8 square kilometers, the smallest capital city in the European Union.

Although it is just a tiny dot on the map, Malta had the greatest privilege to be visited personally by the apostle Paul, who, along with two hundred seventy-six people, survived a shipwreck there. This shipwreck is described in the Bible, and in 2001 the expedition of archaeologist Robert Cornuke managed to find the four anchors that were let out to try to help the ship withstand the tempest. Acts 27:29. Two of those Roman anchors can be seen in the Malta Maritime Museum today. Also, the geographical place described in the Bible corresponds to St. Thomas Bay where even today two seas meet, leaving a sad history of numerous shipwrecks in the area. Today, the place where the ship ran aground is still a massive reef located next to the steep rocks on which the waves were breaking during the storm. Acts 27:41. The Biblical description is absolutely exact and, in fact, again, could not be more exact! 

Malta’s location as a naval base has given it great strategic importance throughout history. A succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Normans, Catalans, Habsburg Spanish, Knights of St. John, French, and British, have ruled the islands. Independence from the United Kingdom was gained in 1964, and the country became a republic in 1974. It was admitted to the United Nations in 1964; and, to the European Union in 2004.

Although there are two official languages–Maltese and English–the majority of the population speaks Italian due to the island’s proximity to Italy. The Maltese language has a Semitic origin and is believed to be the extinct Phoenician (ancient Canaanite) language. It is the only Semitic language written in Latin script. It is believed that prior to Paul’s visit the barbarous people worshipped Baal, and even today the name Baal appears in some colloquial expressions.

The country is a popular tourist destination with its warm climate, numerous recreational areas, architectural and historical monuments, and seven Megalithic Temples, which are some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world (older than the Egyptian pyramids). 

Malta has a long Christian legacy. Today it is considered Europe’s most religious country with over 98 percent of the population being Roman Catholic and more than 70 percent attendance at mass on Sunday. On the main gate of the ancient capital, Medina, it is depicted how the apostle Paul survived the bite of the poisonous snake. The Maltese population is very proud of the fact that the apostle Paul spent three months there, according to oral tradition.

The first Adventists in Malta were Charles Malia and his family, who came from Australia. For fifteen years, he remained faithful to the Adventist doctrines all alone without having a congregation. Now there are thirty members in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which was officially opened five years ago.

The first Reformer to visit the island was Sister Elena Taneva, who introduced the concept of the Reform Movement to the newly formed church there. The believers all studied the subject and requested to know more. They all have pacifist convictions and are mostly vegetarian. Last year the island was visited by some Italian IMS members.

It is very difficult to work among the population, for most people believe that everyone who does not belong to the Catholic Church is damned. However, as the barbarous people were won to Christianity through the labors of the apostle Paul, there is no doubt that right before His second coming God also wants to open the eyes of those living in the most religious country in Europe.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, be generous with your offerings and pray for the opportunity to expand the Reform Movement among the Maltese population. We need to establish a place of worship and to send a missionary worker who can work in harmony with Jesus’ declaration in John 4:35: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” The offering will also cover the cost of holding evangelistic and health meetings.

Dear members and friends, “Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37, 38. God once used a storm to bring Malta to the knowledge of the Almighty One. Today He wants to use you and your generosity to let His light shine in places that have not been fully illuminated by His truth. 

–Elena Taneva
for the brethren of the General Conference