“You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. And so this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, members of 3,800 branch churches all over the world including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Honduras, Peru, Argentina, Germany, France, Russia, Belgium, the Netherlands, and countries in Africa including Kenya, Uganda, and Congo, and in China, Japan, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, India, Mongolia, Egypt, Israel, and Korean branch churches and local sanctuary members, all those attending the service on the Internet all over the world, and television audience,
This is the 17th and the last session of the series on “Goodness.”
During the series, I have testified to the levels of goodness and the goodness of Ruth, Jonathan, David, Daniel and his 3 friends, Naaman, the apostle Paul, Moses, Abraham, and Elijah.
Besides these individuals, I could probably spend more time explaining in detail the goodness of other fathers of faithfulness we find in the Bible.
The likes of Mary Magdalene, Joseph, and Enoch had also accomplished goodness of the highest degree.
But I have explained the goodness of others before, and if you take after the goodness of the 12 I have explained in the series, you can also arrive at goodness of the highest degree.
During the course of the previous 16 messages, how much closer have you gotten to the perfect goodness?
If you still feel something wanting, listen to the messages again, pray on them, and wholly make bread of the messages.
Picking up from where we left off, this is the 3rd lecture on “The Goodness of Elijah.”
The 1st trait of Elijah’s goodness was his humbleness in heart and how, because he didn’t have his own will, Elijah never quarreled with anyone.
I also said that while Elijah may have seemed fragile in nature, by the trials Father God had allowed him, Elijah became strengthened and confident.
After listening to the first lecture on Elijah, were you able to find in the Bible that tells us about Elijah’s feeble and fragile nature?
After Elijah had received God’s answer by fire at Mount Carmel, the news of his having killed all the prophets of Baal reached Jezebel and she vowed to kill Elijah.
We find in 1 Kings 19:3-4, “And he was afraid and arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O LORD, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.'”
God sent an angel to Elijah and the angel fed him “a bread cake [baked on] hot stones, and a jar of water,” and the prophet could last by the strength of that food forty days and forty nights.
The 2nd trait of Elijah’s goodness was how he loved God with his deeds and in truth.
In his perfect love for God Elijah could boldly and fearlessly carry out his God-given duty while in this world, and even after his ascension Elijah’s love and longing for God the Trinity only intensified.
In the last session, I said that once Elijah had come to learn the duty of God the Son, his longing for the Lord became even more fervent and as he confessed, “I will do anything for You, my Lord,” he assumed the duty of making ready the way of the Lord.
Elijah returned to this world as John the Baptist, faithfully carried out his duty of making ready the way of the Lord, and died a martyr.
Today’s message will focus on the 3rd trait of goodness of Elijah, who returned as John the Baptist, and how he faithfully carried out his God-given duty of making ready the way of the Lord.
For those of us living in the last days and longing for Our Lord’s appearing, it is necessary to take after this trait of Elijah.
May the message be true life and strength to you, and may God deem each of you “precious” as He had Prophet Elijah, in the name of Our Lord I bless!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I explained last time how Elijah, who had been lifted up to heaven alive, could be born again in this world.
Contained in “the spirit” God had sent at the conception of a new life was the heart of Elijah. As a child inherits his parents’ hereditary characteristics and influences, God selected a couple whom He considered to be exceptionally good.
(But one thing you must understand before you go on is that because only a part of Elijah’s heart came as John the Baptist, Elijah in heaven did not vanished. After John the Baptist died a martyr and his spirit reaches heaven, it will become one with Elijah’s spirit.)
John the Baptist’s parents were a priest named Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth, and from Luke 1:6 we know that “they were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.”
However, because Elizabeth was barren they had no child, and they were both advanced in years.
Then the archangel Gabriel appeared before Zacharias and told the priest that the couple would soon give birth to a child.
Luke 1:13-17: “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Later on, Elizabeth indeed became pregnant and gave birth to a boy.
Can you imagine how faithfully they must have brought up their child as they kept the words of Gabriel in mind?
Then in Luke 1:80, we find, “And the child continued to grow, and to become strong in spirit, and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”
To say that John the Baptist “lived in the deserts” signifies that his life was separate from the ways of this world.
In such a way of life, John the Baptist always maintained spiritual communication with God and knew exactly when he would appear to Israel.
Did John the Baptist himself realize he was Elijah?
When asked if he was Elijah, John the Baptist said in John 1:21 answered, “I am not.” John the Baptist had no idea he was Elijah.
While John had received the spirit containing Elijah’s heart, it was clouded by hereditary characteristics and influences he received from his parents.
Because the heart of Jesus was the spirit itself and because he did not receive any hereditary influences from His physical parents, Jesus was aware of His identity and purpose even at an early age.
We know this through an incident that took place when Jesus was 12.
To His physical parents who found Him in the temple, Jesus said in Luke 2:49, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s [house?”]
While Jesus clearly knew who He was from an early age, John the Baptist didn’t.
But because Elijah’s heart was contained in his spirit, John the Baptist at least faintly knew in his heart what kind of life he was to lead.
As he lived a life that was separate from the ways of this world and always communicated with God, John the Baptist came to understand his duty on his own.
John the Baptist waited for his time as he was led to understand little by little he had to wait for the One who was to come, what he was to proclaim, and what he was to do.
At the time John the Baptist made his public appearance to Israel, we read that he “himself had a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather belt about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.”
In order to faithfully carry out his duty of making ready the way of the Lord, John the Baptist had led a life of distinction and self-control.
And when his time came, John the Baptist proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and gave the baptism of repentance.
We read in Matthew 3:5-6, “Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.”
400 years after God’s prophecies through Malachi ended, at the crying of John the Baptist people went out to him like the deer panting for the water brooks.
They listened to the words of John the Baptist, repented, and received baptism for the forgiveness of their sins.
In Luke 3:15 we read, “Now while the people were in a state of expectation and all were wondering in their hearts about John, as to whether he might be the Christ.”
Then in the following verse, John responded to the crowd, “‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.'”
John the Baptist certainly knew that his whole duty was to make ready the way of the Lord and he did not cross that boundary.
As John the Baptist proclaimed to the people about the “One is coming who is mightier than I,” can you imagine how earnestly they must have longed for the One?
For them, John the Baptist himself was a great prophet of God. After hearing him say, “I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals,” their curiosity of the “One” coming only grew stronger.
“The thong of sandals” is similar to shoelaces. People could only wonder, “How great is the Man before whom John humbles himself, even to say ‘I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals’?”
As John the Baptist splendidly made ready the way of the Lord and the time of God’s choosing arrived, Jesus began His ministry.
Then a great number of people who had followed John the Baptist now followed Jesus.
At this, John’s disciples came to him and said in John 3:26, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have borne witness, behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him.”
What could have gone through John’s mind?
Would John have become heartbroken and said, “Oh, no, my time is up”?
Would he have become discouraged?
Today’s Reading Passage John 3:28-30 expresses John’s heart and attitude very well.
He said, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’ He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. And so this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John instead admonished his disciples, meditated on his duty, and truly rejoiced in the appearing of the Lord.
We cannot find a trait of selfishness or unrighteousness in John but only feel his spiritual love for the Lord and see him rejoicing in the truth.
Love of John the Baptist for the Lord remained the same even after he was imprisoned and until he died a martyr.
Our Father God regards John’s faithfully carrying out his duty of making ready the way of the Lord to be truly good.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Believers everywhere living in the last days, when the return of the Lord is closer than ever, all have a duty of making ready the way of the Lord.
Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for people to believe that Jesus was the Christ, each of us must bring that one last soul to believe in Jesus Christ and stand ready to meet Our Lord on His return.
For this purpose, there are duties God has given to our church, and accomplishing them in one heart is a way to make ready the way of the Lord.
Spreading the gospel to s of the earth and every step leading up to the construction of the Grand Sanctuary are directly connected with the salvation of souls.
That’s why there are various departments and organizations within the church, and when each person faithfully carries out his duty, the church as a whole will have accomplished its duties.
So remember that faithfully carrying out your individual duty is making ready the way of the Lord.
Even if you do not have a specially assigned duty, all believers of God have a duty of spreading the gospel and being the salt and light of the world.
And these are no small tasks.
Regardless of the duties given, when each person faithfully carries out his duty the way John the Baptist had done, he will have prepared the way of the Lord well.
If anyone fails to remain faithful with their duties, that’s because he has become arrogant.
Because of selfishness – the heart to seek his own benefits – he may fall away from his original, pure purpose.
But if we are to become God’s precious vessels the way John the Baptist was, we must humble ourselves without any selfishness in our hearts and only magnify and praise the Lord.
When we do something through which Father God can be glorified, He will add more glory onto us.
In serving God, a desire to glorify ourself cannot become our goal.
I don’t mean that anybody should stop expecting heavenly rewards altogether.
Without a selfish desire to glorify oneself by doing God’s work, each of us must – with a truthful heart – do everything only for the glory of the Lord.
Moreover, if our fellow workers can give greater glory to God in accomplishing His work, we must be able to give them our vested rights in sincere joy and thankfulness.
This is the heart of a great and pure vessel.
He who loves the Father with all his heart places more emphasis on “How can I reveal more of God’s glory?” than “How much work can I do for Him?”
This is the heart of the one who only seeks the glory of the Lord instead of his own.
The time has come to select workers who will serve in various capacities in the year 2006.
Whether new workers are chosen by appointment or election, if each Manmin member possesses a heart like that of John the Baptist, peace in every aspect will abound and more of God’s glory can be revealed.
Instead of wishfully thinking, “What kind of duty will I be given?” each of you must long for the esbalishment of workers who are more capable than yourself for God’s kingdom and the Lord’s glory.
This is different from our zeal for the Lord’s work disappearing, or us backing away because that zeal has grown cold.
What would you do to be considered as good if a worker, who you think is less capable than you, is made the head?
Goodness would have you help with all your heart the leader carry out his duty in the fullness, without revealing yourself.
A truly good person who possesses the faith of the fathers does not feel unpleasant or uneasy even if the accomplishment of a worker with less ability or experience receives more recognition than his own.
Nor does he become jealous if that worker is loved more.
With the heart of a father, when that worker is loved he can rejoice with her.
In genuine concern for her lack of experience, he would even pray more earnestly to the Father, asking Him to fill up anything she may be lacking.
This is exactly how I feel as I send ministers on handkerchief crusades.
I do not focus all my energy in anxiety after dispatching them.
It’s just that I pray for them to be victorious by their faith because I know evildoers hate the light and when God’s power is manifested, the enemy devil and Satan can interfere with their work and they may face challenges outwardly.
When those ministers gave great glory to God and receive love through the handkerchiefs, I rejoiced and gave thanks with all my heart.
Never have I thought, ‘They receive with the handkerchiefs on which I prayed!’
Instead, I am grateful to see such powerful ministers and wish to see more ministers of the same strength.
Moreover, I have only given thanks and glory to Father God for manifesting today “extraordinary miracles” which we read about in the Bible; never have I desired to glorify myself.
In John 14:2 Jesus told us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go to the Father.”
While I have run the race by holding fasting to His Word to this day and while God has manifested great and wondrous works of His power, even the Most High Power of Creation, never have I considered any of it as my own.
I know too well that unless God came to meet me and cleanse me from my sins with the precious blood of the Lord I love, as I had been waiting for death from the 7 years of torment of diseases, I couldn’t be standing here today.
No matter how greatly I may have glorified God, I have never considered it my own. With all my heart I confess that it all belongs to the Lord and the Father.
God has been pleased with the truthfulness of my heart, and I believe that He will fulfill all the duties He has given this church as He manifests His power even more wondrously and greatly in the days to come.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, in Matthew 11:11, Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen [anyone] greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
The significance of the 2nd half of the verse is the difference between spirit and flesh; once in flesh, no one is comparable to those in heaven.
By now, you should know why Jesus said, “among those born of women” – in other words, among all creation – “there has not arisen [anyone] greater than John the Baptist,” who, in other words, is the greatest.
How great would his rewards be as he became perfect before God and was lifted up to heaven alive in Old Testament times and returned to this world as John the Baptist, faithfully carried out the duty of making ready the way of the Lord, and died a martyr?
One person has faithfully carried out his duty twice in Old and New Testament times and accomplished whole spirit.
During the last 3 sessions, I explained the reason God had selected Elijah.
In the humbleness of his heart, Elijah had emptied himself, been at peace with everyone, demonstrated his love for God with his deeds and in truth, and faithfully carried out his duties.
If you earnestly desire the appearing of the Lord, I urge each of you to obey and live by the Word as revealed in “The Series on Goodness” every day of your life until the day of Our Lord’s return.
And may each of you wholly make ready the way of the Lord, greet Him in glory, and embrace Him in gladness, in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ I pray!