Author Topic: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders  (Read 1136 times)

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Richard Myers

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The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« on: February 08, 2016, 05:38:18 AM »
"Except Ye See Signs and Wonders"


Listen to "Except Ye See Signs and Wonders"

           



     The Galileans who returned from the Passover brought back the report of the wonderful works of Jesus. The judgment passed upon His acts by the dignitaries at Jerusalem opened His way in Galilee. Many of the people lamented the abuse of the temple and the greed and arrogance of the priests. They hoped that this Man, who had put the rulers to flight, might be the looked-for Deliverer. Now tidings had come that seemed to confirm their brightest anticipations. It was reported that the prophet had declared Himself to be the Messiah.   
     But the people of Nazareth did not believe on Him. For this reason, Jesus did not visit Nazareth on His way to Cana. The Saviour declared to His disciples that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Men estimate character by that which they themselves are capable of appreciating. The narrow and worldly-minded judged of Christ by His humble birth, His lowly garb, and daily toil. They could not appreciate the purity of that spirit upon which was no stain of sin. 
     The news of Christ's return to Cana soon spread throughout Galilee, bringing hope to the suffering and distressed. In Capernaum the tidings attracted the attention of a Jewish nobleman who was an officer in the king's service. A son of the officer was suffering from what seemed to be an incurable disease. Physicians had given him up to die; but when the father heard of Jesus, he determined to seek help from Him. The child was very low, and, it was feared, might not live till his return; yet the nobleman felt that he must present the case in person. He hoped that a father's prayers might awaken the sympathy of the Great Physician. 
     On reaching Cana he found a throng surrounding Jesus. With an anxious heart he pressed through to the Saviour's presence. His faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed man, dusty and worn with travel. He doubted that this Person could do what he had come to ask of Him; yet he secured an interview with Jesus, told his errand, and besought the Saviour to accompany him to his home. But already his sorrow was known to Jesus. Before the officer had left his home, the Saviour had beheld his affliction.   
     But He knew also that the father had, in his own mind, made conditions concerning his belief in Jesus. Unless his petition should be granted, he would not receive Him as the Messiah. While the officer waited in an agony of suspense, Jesus said, "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." 
     Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request. The Saviour contrasted this questioning unbelief with the simple faith of the Samaritans, who asked for no miracle or sign. His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a convincing power that reached their hearts. Christ was pained that His own people, to whom the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to them in His Son. 
     Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace.   
     Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, "Sir, come down ere my child die." His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Genesis 32:26. 
     Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. 
     At the same hour the watchers beside the dying child in the home at Capernaum beheld a sudden and mysterious change. The shadow of death was lifted from the sufferer's face. The flush of fever gave place to the soft glow of returning health. The dim eyes brightened with intelligence, and strength returned to the feeble, emaciated frame. No signs of his malady lingered about the child. His burning flesh had become soft and moist, and he sank into a quiet sleep. The fever had left him in the very heat of the day. The family were amazed, and great was the rejoicing.   
     Cana was not so far from Capernaum but that the officer might have reached his home on the evening after his interview with Jesus; but he did not hasten on the homeward journey. It was not until the next morning that he reached Capernaum. What a homecoming was that! When he went to find Jesus, his heart was heavy with sorrow. The sunshine seemed cruel to him, the songs of the birds a mockery. How different his feelings now! All nature wears a new aspect. He sees with new eyes. As he journeys in the quiet of the early morning, all nature seems to be praising God with him. While he is still some distance from his own dwelling, servants come out to meet him, anxious to relieve the suspense they are sure he must feel. He shows no surprise at the news they bring, but with a depth of interest they cannot know he asks at what hour the child began to mend. They answer, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." At the very moment when the father's faith grasped the assurance, "Thy son liveth," divine love touched the dying child.
     The father hurries on to greet his son. He clasps him to his heart as one restored from the dead, and thanks God again and again for this wonderful restoration.
     The nobleman longed to know more of Christ. As he afterward heard His teaching, he and all his household became disciples. Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the entire family. Tidings of the miracle spread; and in Capernaum, where so many of His mighty works were performed, the way was prepared for Christ's personal ministry.   
     He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love. 
     The nobleman wanted to see the fulfillment of his prayer before he should believe; but he had to accept the word of Jesus that his request was heard and the blessing granted. This lesson we also have to learn. Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to believe. We are to trust in His promises. When we come to Him in faith, every petition enters the heart of God. When we have asked for His blessing, we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have received it. Then we are to go about our duties, assured that the blessing will be realized when we need it most. When we have learned to do this, we shall know that our prayers are answered. God will do for us "exceeding abundantly," "according to the riches of His glory," and "the working of His mighty power." Ephesians 3:20, 16; 1:19.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2016, 06:03:43 AM »
There is an important lesson for us learn from the wonderful truth here presented.  What does conversion, the new birth, have to do with the desire of this nobleman that his son be healed? Is the request selfish or unselfish? What is it that causes us to turn to Jesus before we are converted? Is the heart evil or good before the new birth? What must we do in order to be saved?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2016, 08:05:34 AM »
Here is a thought that will cause many to consider the condition of the heart. Is it possible for the heart to be cleansed? If so, at the end of life, or today?

The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love. 


There is much to study in this simple statement.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2016, 09:10:28 AM »
I noticed your poignant questions in a previous post, Richard, and will here take them up:

You asked, "What does conversion, the new birth, have to do with the desire of this nobleman that his son be healed?" Examining the chapter, it becomes clear in the context of Scripture that this nobleman came to Christ unconverted, and not having experienced the new birth. The Holy Spirit was striving with him, though. The man came to Christ to seek healing for his son--but would not believe in Jesus as the Messiah unless his request was granted. Hence, his faith was not the kind of faith the Bible speaks of in relation to salvation, but a degree of faith as to Jesus' power to heal.

You also asked, "Is the request selfish or unselfish?" This is simple--"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). All we can do apart from Jesus is polluted by sin and selfishness. It can be nothing but that--yet Christ draws upon the selfish heart to long for something greater....and the nobleman was experiencing that striving with His heart by the work of the Holy Spirit.

You then asked, "What is it that causes us to turn to Jesus before we are converted?" Before conversion, we are not fully aware of our sinfulness, and we turn to Christ because "the goodness of God" leads us "to repentance" (Romans 2:4).  It is God's leading more than our own power--but the soul submits to this leading, even in its selfish state. That process/experience is the greatest miracle accomplished by divine power (grace): it is the transformation of an enemy of God into a saint. The person whose heart was once selfish and evil receives a new heart through the agency of the Holy Spirit. A new being is begotten in the sight of God. Wondrous love!

Also, you asked, "Is the heart evil or good before the new birth?" This is simple from Scripture, and in the Spirit of Prophecy, many texts are linked together in this powerful paragraph: "By nature the heart is evil, and “who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” Job 14:4. No human invention can find a remedy for the sinning soul. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Romans 8:7; Matthew 15:19. The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian’s life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit." {DA 172.1}.

I also appreciated your second, more recent post from today. The statement to which you refer, Richard, is indeed a stark indictment upon the selfish, unrenewed heart. The human heart is so liable to self-deception, and only those who constantly see their need of Jesus, and cling to Him continually, will be kept from the unhallowed effects of self-love and the works of the flesh.

There are many in the church today that are in just such a spiritual condition as was the nobleman. Of them, the Laodicean message is fully applicable:

"And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (Revelation 3:14-21).

If Jesus is on the outside of the heart seeking entrance, then He is not abiding in the heart, and the heart is still unregenerate and selfish. But the moment a soul makes a complete surrender and allows Christ entrance, the heart is made new, Jesus transforms the nature, and one becomes a partaker of the divine nature through faith.

Selfishness can so blind a person that they may not even realize the evil of seeking Christ for merely personal, selfish gain. Jesus knows all about this--He turns no self-seeking one away, but seeks to lead us to see our need of His grace to change the heart, so that the very reason for which we came to Him may be cleansed away. Thus, instead our petitions (from the renewed heart) are coming to Him as the expression of grateful love and trust, not of putting God to the test (as was the case of the nobleman in initially seeking Christ, who made conditions of accepting Christ upon the granting of his own request).

Earlier in the chapter, Ellen White makes clear that the nobleman's degree of faith was much akin to others in Israel:

"Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace."   

Reading this statement can remind us clearly of the spiritual condition of many within the Seventh-day Adventist church. Jesus is calling for repentance, for revival, reformation, and true conversion. We can praise the Lord that the very trials that seem to indicate that God has forsaken us can be the very means for allowing a person to see the evil of the unregenerate heart (whether they have their name on the church books is not the issue--the issue is whether one is abiding in Christ and experiencing the new birth each day, for the apostle Paul said, "I die daily" (1 Corinthians 15:31)--the evidence of the new birth is simple--all the fruits of the Spirit are seen in the life, and not one is missing. Like light containing every hue of the spectrum, for "God is light" (1 John 1:5) , it is impossible for the light of His presence to remain hidden if the heart is truly made new by His presence. Hallelujah! The Christian life is an easy yoke so long as we are allied to the power of omnipotence through divine grace!

Clearly, not seeing one's need is itself a lost condition. So we have something very deep going on in this short chapter--the fact that Christ does something to heal the child, but ultimately seeks to lead the nobleman to see His need of a pure heart. It is not enough to have a mere "degree of faith"--but once the soul makes a COMPLETE SURRENDER, it can truly be said that "when we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing" {DA 676.4}--and that is the experience of the new heart.

Thankfully, the story of the nobleman ends in true conversion:

"The nobleman longed to know more of Christ. As he afterward heard His teaching, he and all his household became disciples. Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the entire family. Tidings of the miracle spread; and in Capernaum, where so many of His mighty works were performed, the way was prepared for Christ's personal ministry."


Hence why today we can praise God for the trials He allows--if we are unconverted, it can help lead us to see the evil of our hearts and our need of true conversion; if we are converted, the trials can be the means of allowing Christ to more fully refine us in His image. And if we are converted, but in the trial we fall out of conversion by indulging in murmuring, distrust, fear, repining, or any other of the works of the flesh, we can be brought by the Holy Spirit to conversion again (be re-justified). In confession of our sin and despair of all self-dependence, we are enabled to enter into a deeper repentance, as through the experience we come to realize more fully our need to stay close to Jesus and abide in Him. Look and live!

"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2016, 01:56:05 PM »
Amen, Pastor Sean.

This lesson Christ laid before us is very instructive. First, we are told the nobleman was unconverted and his motive was selfish. Pastor Sean has pointed out the verse that equates this with an evil heart. The unrenewed heart is" deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." This is not the heart of a converted Christian which many say it is. A converted Christian's heart is holy because he is a partaker of God's divine nature. The Holy Spirit is indwelling the heart. How was the man converted? How was his heart cleansed and made new? We are told. My comments in navy.

     Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; (but not saving faith) for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation (which he did not possess), and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace (we are saved by grace) of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation (they were Laodicean). They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace (they were Laodicean, lost, and did not know it. The same condition applies to the church today).   
     Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. (In a moment he saw his heart was evil) He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. (he is convicted of sin, but that does not cleanse the heart) His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, "Sir, come down ere my child die." His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Genesis 32:26. 
Like Jacob, he clung to Christ knowing He was who He said He was, the Son of God.

This is so very revealing to a people who need to understand the gospel and what it means to be converted daily. The man approached Jesus feeling very good, just as had Nicodemus. But, when he understood he was playing a dangerous game, he understood it might cost his son's life. He was convicted of his selfishness. He then turned to Jesus with his whole heart knowing Jesus could heal him. We are told that he now trusted Jesus with all of his heart. He held nothing back, but laid it all on the line. This is what it means to be in a converted state. It comes when we know God to be God and see His divine grace. He loved Jesus with his whole heart  because knew at that moment, Jesus loved him, as unworthy as he was.

If only more of our brothers and sisters would take time to behold our loving Savior each day, we would see a rapid revival and reformation in the church. One cannot remain apart from Christ when he sees such great love.

It is such a blessing to be able to share what Jesus is revealing to each of us. I am not a prophet, but I believe we will see this forum on the Desire of Ages grow rapidly as each of us share with others our great need of spending that thoughtful hour each day contemplating the life of Christ, and the great blessings that come when we do.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2016, 06:01:04 AM »
I am so thankful for this chapter, and as I have come to understand the connection of the fruits of the Spirit (not one being missing in the renewed heart), when I read the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, I get excited when I see one or two of them pop up, because that is evidence that the others MUST be there if the one or two is truly genuine! We see this in the nobleman's experience:

Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. 

If the peace and joy are truly from Jesus and abiding in the heart, then there will also be love, peace, long-suffering, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance! When we have Jesus in the heart, He comes with all of His divine nature! The fruits of the Spirit ARE the manifestation of the divine nature in the life of the surrendered believer in Jesus! Hallelujah! May your life today in Him be fruitful in a saving faith working by love (and all the fruits of the Spirit without one missing!).
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2016, 08:12:16 AM »
Amen, Pastor Sean!  This chapter is for a Laodicean people. It would be good for all to prayerfully read it. For one who remains in a Laodicean condition needs first to see their need of Jesus. That means they need to see their selfishness. Before self can be conquered, we must see we are in bondage to it. Then, we will understand we have  no power to escape the corruption in our flesh. It is only through an entire surrender to Jesus that we can resist the temptations that come through the flesh. 

Jesus wants to help us today, just as He helped the nobleman see his evil heart.

    He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love. 


We must renounce our selfishness. It is only possible through His grace. And, fortunately, His grace is as thick around us as the air we breathe. How do we receive it? By beholding the loveliness of Jesus. It would be well to spend a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ.  Well....I am preaching to the choir. Those who are not here, may not hear the counsel. But, those who are reading in this topic, are beholding the loveliness of Jesus and will be blessed. It is a spiritual and an intellectual truth that by beholding we become changed. The mind gradually adapts itself to that which it spends time seeing. If we spend time each day with Jesus, beholding His great love, we shall  be transformed in character. His character will become ours. It is a Bible promise!

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 2 Cor. 3:18.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2016, 07:07:36 AM »
Amen, Richard! What a blessing we get to experience by beholding Jesus! Truly, our need is great, but so is His grace and power to change the heart and make it pure and holy! What a gift He bestows!

 The nobleman longed to know more of Christ. As he afterward heard His teaching, he and all his household became disciples. Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the entire family. Tidings of the miracle spread; and in Capernaum, where so many of His mighty works were performed, the way was prepared for Christ's personal ministry.   

May we realize that our "trials mean benefit" {MB 11.3}, that not only ourselves, but those around us may see the power of God's grace and give their hearts to Jesus fully! Trials that lead to conversions are indeed great blessings! When we do give the heart fully to Christ to cleanse and purify, He fills us with all of the fruits of His Spirit--not one will be missing! Praise the Lord!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2016, 09:04:01 AM »
Amen, Pastor Sean! What meaneth this:  "Their affliction was sanctified to the conversion of the entire family"?  As the pastor has said, at conversion there is a new life, old things are passed away, and each of the fruits of His Spirit are seen in the life, not one is missing. Jesus tells us that unless this happens we shall not see the kingdom of God. We must have the heart purified as happens at a true conversion from sinner to saint. "Blessed [are] the pure in heart: for they shall see God." Matthew 5:8   .
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2017, 05:33:09 AM »
Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer.

What a precious promise I see in this. She said the "Savior cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him,..."  This is what we need to learn to do. For nobleman, however, something else needed to happen for him to get to that point. He needed to see his need and lack, so like the nobleman we need to understand our need. Then we can reach out in faith like he did. Below it's stated better than I can.

Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, "Sir, come down ere my child die." His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Genesis 32:26.
By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2017, 05:36:37 AM »
Amen, Jim! Jesus was drawing the nobleman to see that he needed conversion, a change of heart, a faith that was willing to believe without placing selfish conditions upon God, but accepted the Messiah as the Savior from sin!

Conversion is the result of a long, protracted process of wooing by the Holy Spirit. The nobleman was being drawn, and Jesus wanted him to experience not just physical healing for his son, but the healing of the soul--the conversion that can only take place when we make an entire surrender to God of heart and mind so He can purify us and make us holy, bearing the fruits of the Spirit without one missing. When we have Jesus in the heart, we have the blessing we need most!

The nobleman wanted to see the fulfillment of his prayer before he should believe; but he had to accept the word of Jesus that his request was heard and the blessing granted. This lesson we also have to learn. Not because we see or feel that God hears us are we to believe. We are to trust in His promises. When we come to Him in faith, every petition enters the heart of God. When we have asked for His blessing, we should believe that we receive it, and thank Him that we have received it. Then we are to go about our duties, assured that the blessing will be realized when we need it most. When we have learned to do this, we shall know that our prayers are answered. God will do for us "exceeding abundantly," "according to the riches of His glory," and "the working of His mighty power." Ephesians 3:20, 16; 1:19.

The most important promises we find in GOd's word relate to His ability to make us new creatures, to give us a hatred for sin, and to give us a new heart. A few promises that we can ask God to fulfill in our lives today:

Genesis 3:15 "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

We can ask God to give us a hatred for sin--and this comes as Christ abides in the heart!

Ezekiel 36:26 "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh."

He will give us a new heart--not when we make terms with God or only partially surrender, but when realizing our weakness and sinfulness, we come to Him just as we are and accept Him to take our old, stony hearts and give us new hearts that reveal His character. He is able to do this! What a miracle!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2017, 06:52:14 AM »
Amen and amen!  It is amazing how a short chapter like this one can awaken to us the most important truth we can hope to learn, our need of Jesus and His desire and ability to fulfill it. As we read this story it reveals much. For me, it says that there is much I will lose when I cease to hold onto Christ. We may wish to excuse our lapses of clinging to Jesus, but today we see that what God wants is for us to plead with Jesus to grant us our petitions. This means that God will bring us to points where we must trust Him with all the heart when we cannot see with our human eyes. This is not some idle lesson, but one of life, eternal life.

Also was presented a truth that we seldom hear being preached, the motive for coming to Jesus before one is converted. Since we can do no good thing until we receive a new cleansed heart, how is it that any come to Christ? What brought this father to Jesus in the first place? Why have we gone to Jesus so very often before and after conversion? Is not for something we desire? And, when our hearts are carnal is that desire we seek not selfish? It must be if we are not born of the Spirit.

The motive is what reveals the truth. When converted, the motive is pure and holy. When we do not make a full surrender to Jesus, then self is in control and the motives are selfish. Is this not a frightening thought? That when seeking God's help, we could be doing it from a selfish motive, in which case we are in great danger of not having our prayer answered. But, the point that I see being made is that before conversion, the sinner is seeking help for a selfish reason, and that is not bad, but good. If it were not for my selfishness, I would have not come to Christ. Fleeing to Christ for a selfish reason enables Jesus to get our attention. There are no atheists in foxholes when the bombs begin to fall. It is then that Jesus can reveal to us our selfishness and our great need  of Him.

     Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith; for he had come to ask what seemed to him the most precious of all blessings. Jesus had a greater gift to bestow. He desired, not only to heal the child, but to make the officer and his household sharers in the blessings of salvation, and to kindle a light in Capernaum, which was so soon to be the field of His own labors. But the nobleman must realize his need before he would desire the grace of Christ. This courtier represented many of his nation. They were interested in Jesus from selfish motives. They hoped to receive some special benefit through His power, and they staked their faith on the granting of this temporal favor; but they were ignorant as to their spiritual disease, and saw not their need of divine grace.   


There is anther truth revealed here that many either have not seen or refuse to believe. That which draws us to Christ in the first place is a measure of faith that He may be able to grant our petition. This does not come from a converted heart, but is given to all men prior to conversion. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." Romans 12:3. This leads us to Christ, but what we need is more faith, we need "saving faith." We must believe Jesus with the whole heart, not 90% as some believe. The whole heart must be given to Him. We must believe He is who He says He is, and His promises are ours. Jesus tells us the first great commandment that so many forget or reject: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." Mark 12:30.

And to complete the lesson of salvation we then ask "what must I do to receive this "saving faith"? What does Scripture say? "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Romans 10:17. Why? Because before we can trust Jesus with the whole heart, mind, and soul, we must know Him. The Word is a revelation of Christ. As we spend a thoughtful hour each day, what is it we are seeking to know? Or better yet, who is it we are seeking to know? Well....if we have the right gospel, we are spending our time contemplating the life of Christ, for it is by beholding Him, that we are transformed into His character (2 Cor. 3:18). He is to be at the center of our lives, our words, and our thoughts.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2017, 05:09:47 AM »
But the people of Nazareth did not believe on Him. For this reason, Jesus did not visit Nazareth on His way to Cana. The Saviour declared to His disciples that a prophet has no honor in his own country. Men estimate character by that which they themselves are capable of appreciating. The narrow and worldly-minded judged of Christ by His humble birth, His lowly garb, and daily toil. They could not appreciate the purity of that spirit upon which was no stain of sin.

....

 On reaching Cana he found a throng surrounding Jesus. With an anxious heart he pressed through to the Saviour's presence. His faith faltered when he saw only a plainly dressed man, dusty and worn with travel. He doubted that this Person could do what he had come to ask of Him;


Under similar circumstances of the nobleman's life I'm not pretending to say that I'd be much better off but I would hope that I would be. How differently does God judge the person versus the world. There is another example of this in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

We can not judge the heart like God can however we can treat people with respect and love no matter their circumstances. It may be that some poor man or woman struggling on the poverty stricken streets of Calcutta has a more noble character than those educated in the church.

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:




By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2017, 05:42:26 AM »
Amen, Jim! God measures us not by the amount of light we have received, but the use we make of what we have. Those who know less of God but respond to the light He shines on them through nature, providence, and a limited understanding of the Bible may stand nearer to God than those who have had great light, but have not walked in it. Light is a blessing--as it is applied!

I appreciated the persistence of the nobleman, and we see a picture of how grace triumphed in his experience over unbelief:

   Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. 


Do we trust Christ to redeem us from OUR SIN? Do we trust Christ to cleans OUR HEARTS? Unbelief shuts Jesus out, or puts conditions upon belief. We must come to Christ just as we are, and surrender all as the loveliness of Jesus is unfolded to us!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2017, 08:14:01 PM »
Amen, Jim and Pastor Sean.  These truths are needful in our day. Why is it that so many do not hear the voice of God speaking through His Word? Why is a sign needful when we have the Holy Spirit calling continually?

His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a convincing power that reached their hearts. Christ was pained that His own people, to whom the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to them in His Son. 


Grace surrounds us, yet it is not sought out. Why not? As a people, we do not see our need of it.  :(
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

JimB

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #15 on: July 17, 2017, 04:52:17 AM »
This might seem a little odd but this morning I'm going to start my comment with a quote from a different chapter. I do this because the title of today's chapter caught my attention this morning.... Except Ye See Signs and Wonders

The religious leaders of the day wanted miracles as proof and yet as the story goes on we discover that not even a person rising from the dead is "proof" enough to convince them. They even accuse Christ of working miracles through satan. So now I ask the leading question... is there something better than miracles? The answer is yes and we find it in the previous chapter called "The Temptation". Here it is..

But that which is greater than all miracles, a firm reliance upon a “Thus saith the Lord,” was a sign that could not be controverted. So long as Christ held to this position, the tempter could gain no advantage. {DA 120.1}

A firm reliance on the Word of God is greater than miracles. What a thought. Such a simple thing is greater than witnessing the supernatural? How can this be? It's because miracles don't change people character but the Word of God does.

In this chapter Christ in His great mercy still performs the miracle sought not to prove who He is but because of who He is and the belief of the one asking for the miracle.

Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish. His vacillating faith appeared to him in its true character. In deep distress he realized that his doubt might cost the life of his son. He knew that he was in the presence of One who could read the thoughts, and to whom all things were possible. In an agony of supplication he cried, "Sir, come down ere my child die." His faith took hold upon Christ as did Jacob, when, wrestling with the Angel, he cried, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me." Genesis 32:26.
     Like Jacob he prevailed. The Saviour cannot withdraw from the soul that clings to Him, pleading its great need. "Go thy way," He said; "thy son liveth." The nobleman left the Saviour's presence with a peace and joy he had never known before. Not only did he believe that his son would be restored, but with strong confidence he trusted in Christ as the Redeemer. 


What a gracious God we serve. Christ didn't immediately answer the request because to do so would have left the man in the same state he was before. But Christ wanted something more. He desired salvation for this man. So Christ in His mercy bared the soul of the man and then the man saw his own great need and in faith reached out to Christ and Christ delivered.

By communion with God in nature, the mind is uplifted, and the heart finds rest.  {DA 291.1}

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2017, 06:24:55 AM »
Amen, Jim! We are selfish by nature and will be unable to truly seek Christ from selfless motives until we are converted (fully surrendered). God knows this about us. He knows that the fear of punishment (the reality of a hell to shun) and the desire for reward (heaven, or in the case of the nobleman, the desired healing of his son). But even though these are realities, Christ desires to cleanse the heart from the very motives that often lead us to seek him when we are in an unconverted state. Isn't God amazing? He knows us so well, and yet He sets up a plan of redemption intended to draw the selfish (unconverted--for even we are in need of blessings from God), so that they may be converted (and only then can they seek God from pure, undefiled motives because Christ has regenerated the heart). And for the Laodicean, one who has great light and yet does not realize that his or her heart is selfish because they are not beholding the loveliness of Jesus in full surrender, they are in need of the very thing our chapter described today:

  He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love.

The natural, evil, unbelieving heart must be yielded fully to Christ, cleansed and made new, so we can in purity "trust ourselves wholly to His love"--it is not natural to trust God on His conditions, and we are liable of seeking God from impure motives if we do not recognize our CONTINUAL NEED of Jesus to abide in the heart and make us new--moment-by-moment!!!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2017, 09:09:54 AM »
Amen and amen!!   

     Like a flash of light, the Saviour's words to the nobleman laid bare his heart. He saw that his motives in seeking Jesus were selfish.


Let us look again at an important truth that has been perverted, not by liberals, but by many who call themselves "conservatives." In an effort to battle against the great deception that we are saved (retain our justification) when sinning, they have opened a new door whereby sin is sanctioned.

We are evil by nature. We come into this world evil by nature and can do no good thing until converted. Thus, our selfish motives lead us to find a way to come out from under the condemnation we are under when we in our fallen nature have sinned. The law is our schoolmaster to point us to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life. He is the only answer. When we make a full surrender of the evil heart that is wicked by nature, Jesus will give us a new heart and a new Spirit. The flesh remains evil, but not the heart. Take a look again at the quote Pastor Sean has shared from today's lesson: "He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace."

We do not make our hearts evil,  we come into the world separated from God with a fallen nature that is selfish and can do no good thing. How can anyone believing in the Bible believe anything else? Especially those who have been entrusted with the writings of a modern day prophet. As Pastor Sean has pointed out, we need to learn of God so we can trust Him with the whole heart. What happens when we make a full surrender to the One who has proved His love for us? We are given a "new heart". Don't let anyone decive you on this point. The new heart is a new heart that Jesus has cleansed as white as snow even though it was unholy and filthy. Even though as sins be as scarlet, Jesus will forgive us and cleanse us. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin...   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:7,9. Read again, Ezekiel 36:26. This is the new heart. What does this mean? Read Ezekiel 36:27.

It is interesting that Satan has taken positions on both sides of this truth. He cares not what we believe as long as we do not accept the truth. Look at his lies. A man does not come into the world evil by nature. His heart is not evil. He can live without sin before conversion. Amazing!!

And how about this:  A man when fully surrendered to Jesus does not have a pure heart cleansed from all sin. There are still unknown sins. Only the 144,000 will know all, so they only will have pure hearts. This includes pride. Here the lie is seen to be a lie. No one who has pride in their heart will enter heaven, thus all who are truly converted will have their hearts cleansed of all pride. It is not left hidden in the heart fully surrendered to Christ. Satan has coupled this with the fact that when an unknown sin is seen, there is then given a period of time to overcome that sin while retaining salvation (justification). This contributes greatly to the church remaining in a Laodicean condition, for those who believe such a heresy believe they are "rich and increased with goods, but know not they are miserable, and wretched, and poor, and  blind, and naked."

Jim, I appreciate your comments. There is one miracle that happens after we behold the loveliness of Jesus that is the greatest of all miracles that is very persuasive.  That Jesus can cleanse my heart as white as snow and transform my character so I can do the things I ought to do and not do the things I ought not do. The greatest battle we shall even fight is the battle with self. Thy only way we can that battle, that is a daily matter, is to make Jesus our Rock, our Sanctuary, and our Fortress!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Pastor Sean Brizendine

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2017, 06:34:00 AM »
I am so thankful for the power of the gospel to take the degree of faith that God gives each of us to help us come to the point of fully-surrendered SAVING FAITH, for His word declares, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Romans 12:3). The measure of faith God gives us needs to be brought in contact with the loveliness of Jesus, because if faith is like a car, love is like the gasoline, and prayer is the key to ignite the experience! When we are initially drawn to God, we come as we are--sinful, selfish, and with impure hearts. But when we really believe God's promises are FOR US, and allow Him to cleanse our heats from sin because we truly believe in His love unto salvation, then we have a greater blessing than just being promised heaven or a physical healing. The nobleman in John 4 wanted his son healed in order to know if Christ was the Messiah; Christ wanted him to believe because He was the Messiah, not to prove it. I am thankful that Jesus' loveliness has the power to draw selfish hearts to Him, so that we can be truly converted, and the unconverted evil heart of unbelief can be crucified with Christ, transformed by divine grace, and made pure by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who fills us with all of the fruits of God's character: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance! Not one of these fruits of the Spirit will be missing as long as we abide in Christ by saving faith!

"He who blessed the nobleman at Capernaum is just as desirous of blessing us. But like the afflicted father, we are often led to seek Jesus by the desire for some earthly good; and upon the granting of our request we rest our confidence in His love. The Saviour longs to give us a greater blessing than we ask; and He delays the answer to our request that He may show us the evil of our own hearts, and our deep need of His grace. He desires us to renounce the selfishness that leads us to seek Him. Confessing our helplessness and bitter need, we are to trust ourselves wholly to His love." {The Desire of Ages, page 200, paragraph 3}

If the reason we are seeking Jesus is from a selfish motive, that does not mean we should stay away from Christ. No! No! We can do nothing of ourselves, we must come to Christ just as we are--but as we come, we are to acknowledge His cleansing grace by surrendering our will to Him, in trusting faith asking Him to give us selfless, pure hearts renewed by divine grace. God will do this for all, for His word shows us the power of saving faith:

"And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8-9).   

Faith does purify the heart when we allow the Holy Spirit to come into us and make us new creatures in Christ Jesus. Let us praise God for the simplicity and power of the gospel to transform the selfish, unconverted heart into a selfless, converted heart! We are truly saved by grace through faith as we yield continually to Jesus! Grace is more than a word--it is to effect an experience in us as we behold Jesus in His loveliness!
"When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing." {The Desire of Ages, 676.4}

Richard Myers

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Re: The Desire of Ages--20--Except Ye See Signs and Wonders
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 07:48:49 AM »
Amen, Pastor Sean. I like your object lesson. If love fuels the faith, then we need more of that love. Where can we find this love? It surrounds us as thick as the air we breathe. It is called grace. As Pastor Sean has said, we need to behold His grace. All around us is His grace. All that He has made is for us. We do not deserve one bit of it. He provides for all of our needs.  The sun, the rain, the pure air, the food we eat. All comes from the hand of God. Angels that excel in strength are at our hand to help us, to protect us. to answer our prayers in the very best way they can. Faith is fueled by this love (grace, the highest form of love). That is why the Bible says "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." The Word is a revelation of this love. The Word was made flesh. Yes, the Word is a revelation of Christ, and God is love. So, by spending a thoughtful hour a day contemplating the life of Christ, we are obtaining that fuel that makes our faith a saving faith that produces good works.

To every person is given a degree of faith, a "measure of faith." But, this is not saving faith. Our faith must grow. It must reach the point where we trust God with all we are and all we have. Until this happens, we do not love God enough to overcome our selfishness. It is only when the whole heart is given fully to Christ that we have eternal life and can claim the promises of God which include the promise we will not be tempted beyond what we can bear. When we make a fully surrender because we have saving faith, then we become a partaker of God's divine nature because the Holy Spirit has taken possession of the heart. He purifies that carnal heart and makes it as white as snow! What a miracle!!

     Notwithstanding all the evidence that Jesus was the Christ, the petitioner had determined to make his belief in Him conditional on the granting of his own request. The Saviour contrasted this questioning unbelief with the simple faith of the Samaritans, who asked for no miracle or sign. His word, the ever-present evidence of His divinity, had a convincing power that reached their hearts. Christ was pained that His own people, to whom the Sacred Oracles had been committed, should fail to hear the voice of God speaking to them in His Son.
     Yet the nobleman had a degree of faith.


It is this "degree of faith" that is given to every man. All are without excuse for not using that small amount of faith to reach out and learn of Him who gave all that we might live. What a God we serve!!
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.