LandMarks Magazine  
   

August 2004 Table of Contents

 
 

Out of the Darkness of Error
By Mike Bauler

For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I [am] of Apollos; are ye not carnal?  Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.  So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.  Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”  1 Corinthians 3:4–10.

In the Corinthian church, they were having a bit of a controversy.  Paul had raised up the church at Corinth; he had evangelized and started a church.  Apollos was chosen by the church to do follow-up work by continuing to sow seeds and to water, or nurture, the church.  Some church members were claiming to be of Paul and others were claiming to be of Apollos.  Paul said, “You are yet carnal.”  Paul was trying to make it very clear to the Corinthian church that no matter who did the sowing of the seed, all people are under the control of God.  He said they were still carnal, because they were still looking to man. 

Paul had sown seeds; Apollos had sown seeds, but the One that gave the increase, the One that transformed the characters of the Corinthian believers was God.  It was His grace, shed in their hearts, that made that transformation.  Not one soul will be converted unless the Holy Spirit is working on their heart, and that is what Paul is trying to get across to the brethren in Corinth.

Under God’s Control

Paul goes over the principle, time and again, that we do not own ourselves.  We are only under the control of God.  “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, [ye are] God’s building.”  We need to understand that when God sheds light upon our paths we are then made stewards of the truth that God has given us.  Paul states, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”  1 Corinthians 4:1.  If God has worked within us, we are then made stewards of what He has done for us.  We are made stewards to share it with other people  . . . according to the grace of God which is given unto me . . . .”  When God gives us something, He then makes us stewards over that, and we will be held accountable in the Day of Judgment for what He has given us.  What a precious opportunity God has given us to become laborers with Him, but what a weighty responsibility!  The grace and the truth that He has given us make us want to become laborers together with Him, to sow the seeds of truth. 

We are told, in 1 Corinthians 3:9, that we are God’s husbandry, or farmer.  A farmer tills the ground, preparing it for planting; then he plants and waters.  Those tasks are also our responsibility.  We are to go out and sow the seeds of truth that God has given us.

God’s Building

In the verses given above, Paul was talking about our work, about the foundation that we lay, and upon what it is laid—whether earthly possessions such as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble.  These texts are useful when studying health principles with people: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.”  Verses 16, 17.  The context in which Paul was speaking is our work.  How can we defile our soul temples, our bodies, where God’s Spirit is to dwell?  We defile it by not sowing seeds of truth, by locking up all of the grace and all of the truth inside, and not giving it to other people. 

Think of the responsibility that we have, with all of the truth that we have been given.  We can be like the Laodiceans, rich and increased with goods and feeling we are in need of nothing, not even knowing that we are poor, blind, and naked.  We do not even understand our true condition.  Keep these texts in mind—your body is God’s building.

Glorify God

Again Paul shows that God possesses us.  “What?  Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”  We do not own ourselves; God owns us by creation and by redemption.  “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.  

Consider Jesus for a moment.  How did He glorify His Father?  “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”  John 17:3, 4.  Paul was telling the Corin-thians that they had accepted another Jesus.  People can know some type of Jesus, but it does not mean that they know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.  In Acts 4:13, it says that “they took knowledge of them [the disciples], that they had been with Jesus.”  By their very acts, their words, and by the expressions on their faces, the people knew that they had been with Jesus.  They were showing the true Jesus to the world through their characters because of what God had done for them in their lives.  So Jesus says, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.  I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

A Work

The time of this statement was right before Jesus went to the cross.  What work is it that He had finished?  John 17:8 tells us, “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received [them], and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.”

At the end of your life, can you say with Jesus, “I have finished the work that You have given me to do; I have done everything in my power to spread the gospel, to reflect Your character; I have done everything, by God’s grace, by the grace that has been given me; to reflect Your character and glorify Your name, and I have also spread the gospel truth”?

Live the Truth

If this is Jesus’ work, what is our work?  “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.  Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”  John 17:17–20.  This is our responsibility as a church.  Jesus has given us a commission that we give to others the words that have been given to us.  What a responsibility we have of sharing this truth!  Jesus said that we have to be sanctified through the truth in order for that truth to have any effect when we give it to other people.  It has to be a living reality in our lives; we have to be living it out every day, because the truth that we give to others will have no power if we are not living it ourselves.

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”  Verse 21. 

Do you know what the world is looking for today?  An unbeliever told me that they are looking for some people who live out the truth.  There is nothing this world needs more today than a manifestation of the love of God in those who are claiming to be His people.  We need to pray, asking the Lord to fill us with that kind of love.  We must be living out that truth in our lives, sanctified by the truth that we know, or it will not do a bit of good, because we will be holding the truth in unrighteousness. 

People in the world are looking at us, watching us.  Paul says we are epistles known and read of all men.  (11 Corinthians 3:2.)  Are they taking knowledge that we have been with Jesus?  Have we spent time with Him on our knees?  The truth that we read every day—are we living it out in our lives?  That is what the world wants to see.

From Darkness into Light

“Every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous to bring others from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.”  Review and Herald, July 21, 1896.

That is a wonderful quote, but
it is a hard one, because it shows whether or not we are truly converted.  We have to ask ourselves, “Am I truly converted to the Lord, or am I connected to the vine but have no vital fluid running through it to bear fruit?”  How do we know?  If we are truly converted, we will be intensely desirous to bring others out of the darkness of error into the righteousness of Christ.  This will take a searching of heart. 

When I first came to the Lord,
I could not help but share with others.  I could not help it!  I did not care who they were, what was their status, or what they looked like—I wanted to share with them!  Why?  Because I knew what God had done for me in my life.  I have to ask myself if I am as intensely desirous now as I was then.  Has that intensity lessened, or has it grown greater?  It should grow day by day so that every truly converted soul will be intensely desirous of bringing others out from the darkness of error into the marvelous light of the righteousness of Christ. 

Mrs. White continues: “The great outpouring of the Spirit of God, which lightens the whole earth with His glory . . .”  Do you remember what His glory is?  It is His character.  It is going to be fully exhibited in His people, and it will fill the whole earth.  That is what people are waiting for today—a people who will shine forth with the light of truth that will lighten the entire earth.  “. . . His glory will not come until we have an enlightened people, that know by experience what it means to be laborers together with God.”  Ibid.

Waiting for the Latter Rain

Do we have an experience of bringing souls out of darkness?  We can all say that we are waiting for the Latter Rain, and we can say that we want it, but it will not come unless we have an enlightened people that know by experience what it means to be laborers with God.   First of all, we need to be converted, and if we are converted, we will be intensely desirous of bringing others out of the darkness.  We will do that by leading them step by step out of darkness into His marvelous light through God’s Word.  It will not come, however, unless our people are enlightened and are sharing in the experience
of bringing others out of darkness. 

“When we have entire, whole-hearted consecration to the service of Christ, God will recognize the fact by an outpouring of his Spirit without measure; but this will not be while the largest portion of the church are not laborers together with God.”  Ibid. 

If we have that burden for souls, we will start bringing people out
of the darkness of error into the marvelous light of Christ.  What
a responsibility we have!  “God cannot pour out His Spirit when selfishness and self-indulgence are so manifest; when a spirit prevails that, if put into words, would express that answer of Cain—‘Am
I my brother’s keeper?’  (Genesis
4:9).”  Ye Shall Receive Power, 310.  We can labor all we want, we can pass out literature and do all of the things that God wants us to do, but we must ask ourselves, “Am I truly converted?  Am I intensely desirous for souls?  Does selfishness and self-indulgence defile the soul temple?”  It most certainly will, because “if the truth for this time, if the signs that are thickening on every hand, that testify that the end of all things is at hand, are not sufficient to arouse the sleeping energy of those who profess to know the truth, then darkness proportionate to the light which has been shining will overtake these souls.”  Ibid.

Where are we?

Are we at the end of time?  The signs are definitely thickening around us, and they should arouse the sleeping energies.  We can become so accustomed to disasters and everything else that they just become a part of life, but we need
to look at these occurrences in a different light.  We need to be thinking about the fact that Jesus is coming soon.  Do we have selfishness and self-indulgence manifested in our lives?  Have we backslidden a little bit?  Are we still as intensely desirous of sharing God’s truth as when we first came to the Lord? 

If we do not share the light that has shown upon our pathways, it is going to go out in darkness.  Jesus said, in Luke 8:16–18, that if we have hidden our light under a bushel, it will go out, and it will be taken from us.  “There is not the semblance of an excuse for their indifference that they will be able to present to God in the great day of final reckoning.  There will be no reason to offer as to why they did not live and walk and work in the light of the sacred truth of the Word of God, and thus reveal to a sin-darkened world, through their conduct, their sympathy, and their zeal, that the power and reality of the gospel could not be controverted.”  Ibid.

My Prayer

I pray that we can have a true experience and true conversion in the Lord every day, and that the love that has been implanted in our hearts by God will be a well of water, springing up into everlasting life for those weary people in this world who are suffering under the bondage of sin.  We can have this experience, and I pray that as we look back to our beginnings with the Lord, we will ask ourselves, “Am I as intensely desirous now as I was then?”  

I pray that we each may have this experience, so we can have the out-pouring of the Latter Rain power to finish the work and go home.  Are you not sick of this world?  The signs are thickening around us, so let us work, for the night is coming when no one is going to be able to work.  Let us not hear the words from our neighbors, “You knew these things and you did not tell us.”  (See John 9:4; Review and Herald, August 15, 1907.)  What excuse are we going to give in the day of final reckoning?  Are we going to say, “Oh, yes, I could have given them a book, but I was too afraid of what they would think about me; I was afraid I would offend them; I was afraid I would not have good relations with them”?  Friends, it is better that we tell them now than at that time when it will be too late.

“God has appointed His children to give light to others, and if they fail to do it, and souls are left in the darkness of error because of their failure to do that which they might have done, had they been vitalized by the Holy Spirit, they will be accountable to God.  We have been called out of darkness into His marvelous light, in order that we may show forth the praises of Christ.”  Review and Herald, December 12, 1893.

Mike Bauler pastors the Historic Message Church in Portland, Oregon.  He may be contacted by e-mail at: mbauler@molalla.net.

August 2004 Table of Contents

 

       
 

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