Why did Jesus Allow Lazarus to Suffer?

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Friday’s section of this week’s lesson asks, if God is in charge why do innocent people suffer?

The question reminded me of the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead that I recently read about in John 11:1-44. Let’s take a look at some of the points in this story that may help us answer this question.

When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4 NKJV

The good news for all of us is that even though Lazarus dies that is not how the story ends! Lazarus is resurrected. Dear friend if you have recently laid a loved one to rest be assured that is not how the story ends. Death is not the final chapter. The resurrection is. still, Jesus allowed one of his best friends to get sick and die. Why? Verse 4 tells us so that God would be glorified. Are you willing to get sick and even face death if it will give God glory? This reminds me of a sermon I heard a long time ago on Hebrews 11:35-38 which mentions people who were killed for their faith. The preacher said many say they have enough faith to be healed but do we have enough faith not to be healed? What if more people became converted through our death than our life? What if our sickness glorified God more than our health? This new year I realized God does not need me to make goals and plans. He needs me to make a total surrender. This new year I rededicated my life to Jesus and told Him I was totally surrendered to Him. He can take me and do with me as He pleases in 2021. He can promote me if that will glorify His name. He can also let me get sick and die if that will glorify his name. After all, by giving my life to Jesus I am only giving what I was not going to be able to keep anyways.

So Jesus allows Lazarus to get sick and die so it would glorify God. How so? Well this is why it was so important for Jesus to let him actually die and then not show up to the home till four days afterwards. Had Jesus forsaken Lazarus and his sisters by seeming so distant? Not at all! It was all part of a magnificent plan that would bring glory to God with a happy ending for all. Remember when Jesus healed the little girl in Mark 5:21-43? He said the girl was not dead but only asleep. Everyone laughed at Him. Of course Jesus calls death sleep since the dead person is going to be resurrected. However the Sadducees and Pharisees both loved to twist the words of Jesus. The Sadducees who did not believe in the resurrection especially had something at stake in the miracle Jesus performed for this little girl. Jesus’ statement that the girl was not dead but asleep could have given the Sadducees opportunity to say that even Jesus admitted Himself that the girl was only asleep and had never actually died. Thus Jesus did not actually resurrect her. I believe this is very possible because even today people love twisting the words of prophecy and Scripture to their own destruction. I believe the Sadducees very well could have used that as an opportunity to twist Jesus’ words when He said she was not dead but only asleep.

If the Pharisees and Sadducees were able to twist Jesus’ own words (Incidentally I think this is why a colleague years ago told me to use as few words as possible when talking thus reducing the opportunity for my enemies to twist my words.) to discredit His miracle of raising the girl to life, thus making many people lose faith in God this could explain why Jesus allowed Lazarus to get sick and die. Not only die but by waiting four days there is no way anyone could say he was not actually dead but just literally sleeping as they insinuated with the girl. Obviously Jesus’ plan worked because the story says,

Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.  John 11:45 NKJV

By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions who have faced death have been comforted with the hope of the resurrection. By allowing Lazarus to suffer and die millions have believed in Jesus as their Savior from sin and death. God wants us to prosper in heath and strength as we love and serve God with all of our health and strength. But if God could win more people to His kingdom by letting you suffer and die would you be okay with that?

The one who stands nearest to Christ will be he who has drunk most deeply of His spirit of self-sacrificing love,–love that “vaunteth not itself, . . . seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil,”–love that moves the disciple, as it moved our Lord, to give all, to live and labor and sacrifice even unto death, for the saving of humanity. –Ellen White, Conflict and Courage, Page 314.

Helli’s Profession of Faith Picture and Story

Today Helli was presented with her Profession of Faith certificate as she rejoined the Homosassa Seventh-day Adventist Church. When someone who has already been baptized by immersion becomes a Seventh-day Adventist member they have the choice of being re-baptized or joining on profession of faith.

Helli was born in Finland in the 1930’s. She had 7 brothers, one of whom was a Seventh-day Adventist. When Helli was 16 she studied to become a Seventh-day Adventist and was baptized and attended an Adventist academy in Finland.

In 1957 Helli came to the United States to study nursing at Washington Missionary College. In nursing school Helli made a life long Adventist friend named Sue. Over the years Helli drifted away from the church and what she had learned in the Bible. Now in her golden years she has moved near her lifelong Adventist friend Sue in Homosassa Florida. Helli lives in an assisted living center and visited the Homosassa Adventist Church before the quarantine. Helli became convicted of her need to practice the Bible teachings she discovered in the Bible so long ago. I studied with Helli through a screen window at her living center as we reviewed the Bible teachings she studied decades ago on another continent. Helli is once again an avid Bible student and also loves reading books from the Spirit of Prophecy like “Great Controversy” and “The Desire of Ages.” Helli once sold these books in Finland as a student Literature Evangelist. Today she is falling in love all over again with the books and the truth she knew so long ago.

Today As we presented Helli with her certificate she told us how happy and excited she is to be back home with Jesus in the Seventh-day Adventist family.

Helli did not let the sun set on her life before coming back to the One who gave His life for her. Please do not let the sun set on your life before you make the most important decision of your life. To give yourself to Jesus who gave all of Himself for you. I would love to help you with this decision and I would be happy to study with you no matter where in the world you are. You can contact me at racerthree@gmail.com.

Thank you for considering contributing to my ministry so I can continue leading people to Jesus!

Could you be an Anti-Christ?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay Area.

As Adventists we understand from the book of Revelation that the anti-Christ is the papacy putting itself in the place of God. Of course any system putting itself in the place of God is an anti-Christ. I was surprised a while back to learn that John the Revelator wrote his epistles after writing Revelation. in 1 John 2:18, John writes, “even now are there many anti-Christs; whereby we know that it is the last time.” So was John implying their were more anti-Christs besides just the papacy? If so could you or I have anti-Christ characteristics?

To answer this question, let’s back up a little. In studying the Three Angels Message, we see that a so-called religious system, Babylon, falls. Again we know from studying Revelation that this is a specific system. However, we also see that this system has an attitude. That attitude is legalism. Man-made laws and a man-made day of worship combine to make a man-made way of salvation, outside of trusting in the merits of Jesus. While Revelation pinpoints this system, it is clear that this attitude can be found in other systems as well, and history has demonstrated it. Were not the Sadducees and Pharisees making their own laws and trusting their own works for salvation? Yet they were not Babylon. So could it be that if I am not careful to crucify self and die daily, that this same attitude of Babylon could be found in my heart too?

So, if it is possible for me to have the attitude of Babylon, would it also be possible for me to have the same attitude as the anti-Christ, thus making me one of many anti-Christs? An anti-Christ is someone who sets himself up as Christ, just as the man of sin mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” Here we see that the man of sin, or anti-Christ sits in the place of God. So how could I possibly be an anti-Christ, sitting in the place of God? Isaiah 33:22 tells us; “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver.” Our Lord God is our lawgiver and judge. So, when I set myself up as judge of other people’s motives, or think that I can interpret the law for everybody, I am usurping the seat of God and setting myself up as God, and thus becoming an anti-Christ!

Like Babylon, Anti-Christ is more than a system. It is an attitude. Ellen White explains, that while the pilgrims came to the new world, to escape the anti-Christ, that they carried the attitude of anti-Christ with them to the New World:

“It was the desire for liberty of conscience that inspired the Pilgrims to brave the perils of the long journey across the sea, to endure the hardships and dangers of the wilderness, and with God’s blessing to lay, on the shores of America, the foundation of a mighty nation. Yet honest and God-fearing as they were, the Pilgrims did not yet comprehend the great principle of religious liberty. The freedom which they sacrificed so much to secure for themselves, they were not equally ready to grant to others. “Very few, even of the foremost thinkers and moralists of the seventeenth century, had any just conception of that grand principle, the outgrowth of the New Testament, which acknowledges God as the sole judge of human faith.” (W. Carlos Martyn, The Life and Times of Luther, Vol. 5, p. 297.) The doctrine that God has committed to the church the right to control the conscience and to define and punish heresy, is one of the most deeply rooted of papal errors.-Ellen White, The Great Controversy, pp. 292-3

2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that the Scriptures are profitable for doctrine and correction. I can only define God’s law by what is in the Scriptures , but not by my personal opinions or traditions, like the Pharisees in Christ’s time and religious leaders in the Dark Ages did. I am not the interpreter of the Law for the whole world, nor, can I think to change times and laws to meet with my own opinions or inclinations. Since I am not the Lawgiver, I cannot judge people by my own standards.

While open sin must be dealt with by the community of believers, according to 1 Corinthians 6, I as an individual cannot judge inward motives. In judging outward actions we must still be careful. Joseph almost put poor Mary away thinking he had all the evidence of an affair. Even with his overwhelming evidence, he was wrong! Even with all his evidence, he tried to put her away privately, without any public embarrassment. What a great example for us to imitate. Even with his incontrovertible evidence, Joseph was not going to judge Mary’s heart.

In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul teaches that churches, not individuals, to judge open and outward actions very carefully. He teaches no one to judge the heart and inward motives. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God and the Scriptures alone tell us what is right and wrong. I am not the Lawgiver or the interpreter of the law for the rest of the world.

Only the Lord our God is our Lawgiver and Judge, and when we judge people according to our own standards, opinions and understanding, we usurp the throne of God and become an anti-Christ.

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson at ssnet.org.

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Tithing on Your Increase

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Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. Deuteronomy 14:22 KJV

Tithing on your “increase” is different than tithing on your “gross” or “net” as an employee. This affects people who are self-employed and/or invest in their business. An illustration I use when giving a Bible study on tithing is, that if you get paid $50.00 for mowing your neighbors lawn, and you paid $5.00 for the gas, then you actually made $45.00. $45.00 is your increase or profit. You would tithe on the $45.00 since that is what you actually made. By the way the $45.00 is what you would also pay taxes on, so both God and “Caesar” realize you made $45.00, and not $50.00.

Of course there could be other expenses too, like the cost of the lawn mower, but I think you get the gist of the illustration. Of course the cost of the lemonade you bought from the stand across the street would not count as a business expense because even though it quenched your thirst, it was not a direct business expense. Tithing on your “increase” is different than tithing on your “gross” or “net” as an employee.

I’ll give several other examples, as I see them, and I encourage our readers to contribute their examples.

Now “Caesar” realizes if you work in an office or campus, that driving to work and back is not a direct investment to your business. You do not write off travel expenses to work and back. However you do write off travel expenses while working. For example if I’m a courier doing deliveries, I would deduct travel expenses from what I am paid to find my actual profit, and then tithe and pay taxes on the actual profit. By the way your gross income would be considered your actual profit. Let’s say I pick up a kayak in Sydney and drive 170 kilometers to deliver the kayak in Newcastle, for $525. To find my profit I would subtract 66 cents a km, which would be $112, leaving me with a profit of $413. I would tithe on the $413, which would be $42 (rounded up). Of course I can round that up to $45.00 or even $50.00!

Now if I drove 10 kilometers to make the pickup in Sydney I would not count that against my profit because that was just getting to work. It was not an expense of the actual work itself. The way I see it, only things that you invested directly to making your profit would be deducted from your profit. Now if I traveled from my home to a courier training workshop in Melbourne, that would be a travel expense relating directly to my business and profit. Everyone needs to decide between themselves and God if something is a direct business expense.

Again, your profit is counted as your gross income which you would be taxed on and would tithe on. Sometimes when I am giving this study, people will ask me if they can deduct their home electric bill from their gross income and then tithe after that. The answer is “no.” Your home electric bill is not a part of your business or an investment in your profit. “Caesar” does not let you write off your home electric bill as it has nothing to do with your profit if you are not working at home.

You need to follow your own conscience and Bible principles on determining what your increase is, but as a general rule, if “Caesar’ sees an item as a business expense then it is reasonable to count it as a business expense regarding your increase (profit) and tithe.

I hope this conversation has been helpful, and we can discuss it further in the comment section.