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.

Elia, Amalia, Yessiana, Antonio and Lilly’s Baptism Pictures and stories.

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When I first came to the Plant City SDA Church, Pastor James and Elder Jerry Hill, had a game night/Bible study group for the youth in our community, none of which were members of the church. We would have games and snacks followed up with a Bible study. Occasionally we would go go cart racing or to a restaurant in the area. I noticed with no design of Pastor James or myself, that the game time became shorter and the Bible study time longer. The youth had a lot of questions and we enjoyed helping them find the answers in their Bibles.

Sabbath School PC

I soon began a baptism class with the youth on Sabbath mornings, which transitioned into a New Believer’s class with Pastor James and myself as the co-teachers.

Adult Bible Study

While we had the youth Bible study groups going on Wednesday nights, the parents would invite me to their home to study with them. After a couple years, the parents started meeting at the church to study with me, while the kids studied with Pastor James, and our youth night became a family night. It was during these studies that Elia, the grandmother, and Amalia, the mother decided they both wanted to be baptized with their children and grandchildren.

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Lilly was the first to be baptized, so she could lead the way for her family. In our new believer’s Sabbath School class, Lilly asked if we might one day be put in prison for being faithful to God. I told her that was possible, but one way to make sure it never happens is to not be faithful to God. Lilly did not even consider that as a possible scenario. She could see herself in prison but she could never imagine being unfaithful to Jesus!

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Long before being baptized, Antonio has been one of our most faithful ushers, taking up the offerings every Sabbath in church. Anytime he sees anyone setting up tables or chairs, or doing any kind of work around the church during the week, he pitches in to help before anyone has a chance to ask him. Long before baptism, Antonio had a strong sense of belong to the Plant City SDA Church, and the church belonging to him. Antonio loves Jesus and His church!

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Yessiana was the first to express and interest in baptism, and has been a positive role model for her younger brother and sister, and for anyone wanting to know Jesus.  She is active in our Pathfinder club, especially when it comes to missions. She is earning her Bible marking badge in the Patfinders Bible marking class, and eagerly participates in all our community mission projects.

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Every time I visit the home of Elia’s son and daughter-in-law Jose and Adella, and she is there, she loves to open the Word of God and have a Bible study. When we began the adult Bible study on Wednesdays at the church, she was the first to join. She also loves helping out with pathfinders, and is always helping out with fellowship lunches making sure everyone gets enough to eat and has a good time. She is the Abuela of everybody’s dreams.

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Amalia loves to study God’s Word, and it was her idea for us to study the book of Revelation in our Wednesday Bible study. She wanted to follow the Bible exactly instead of tradition. When friends asked why she was making certain lifestyle changes, they asked if it had to do with the new church she was attending. She said, “No. It has to do with the Bible.” Amalia loves Jesus and wants to follow His example!

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At the end of our service today, Pastor James welcomed our new members into the church, and gave them plants for each family. Pastor James explained that as plants need to be watered in order to grow and stay alive, so our relationship needs continual care, like personal Bible study, prayer and church fellowship, in order to thrive.

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Don’t let the sun set on your life before giving yourself to the One who gave His life for you! If you are interested in baptism and following Jesus I would love to help you. I can be reached at Bibleworker@TampaAdventist.net

As always thank your for your much needed contributions to keep me sharing Jesus with others.

Extending Grace to Others

Is there someone to whom you need to show mercy, who perhaps doesn’t deserve it? Why not show this person that mercy, no matter how hard that might be to do? Isn’t that what Jesus has done for us?

After running from God, Jonah had given up on life, and told the men on the boat in the storm to throw him overboard. However God’s grace provided a fish to save his life! God’s grace never gives up on us, even when we give up on ourselves.

On December 2, 1979 Elvita Adams woke up in the Bronx, and decided she had given up on life. She went to the Empire State Building, and went to the 86th floor observation deck and jumped! She was in midair and had nothing to hold on to, but God’s grace was holding on to her! A gust of wind came and threw her inside the 85th floor. She had a full and complete physical and emotional recovery.

When God’s grace miraculously saves us, it usually creates in us a graceful attitude towards others, but not for Jonah. Instead of praising God for His amazing grace Jonah is angry that God is graceful.

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Jonah 4:1-2 NKJV

Apparently Jonah did not appreciate the fact that the same grace that saved Nineveh was the same grace that provided a fish to save him. Jonah was given grace, but he did not extend that grace on to others, like Paul, who wrote,

But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:16 NLT

Jonah had a wonderful opportunity to go to Nineveh and use himself as an example of what God’s grace can do for the worst of sinners, so they could believe and have eternal life too. Thankfully God’s amazing grace worked in spite of Jonah to save Nineveh instead of because of Jonah.

I heard an old-time Adventist preacher once say that God will finish His work in spite of the church, not because of the church. Let’s not be stingy with God’s grace and force Him to finish the work in spite of us. Let’s extend the grace we have received to others, so God can save others through us instead of in spite of us.

Donnalee Jackson’s Conversion Story

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Donnalee Jackson and I at outdoor church in Plant City last Sabbath.

As a Bible Worker, I love hearing how people have come to know and accept Jesus as their Savior. I enjoy hearing older people talk about how they came to know Jesus “back in the day” as I find it interesting how methods of evangelism change over the years and how they stay the same. Below is a testimony from Donnalee Jackson, a very good friend of mine from the Plant City, Florida Seventh-day Adventist Church. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.

MY TESTIMONY
9/21/2015
Donnalee C. Jackson
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As I look back, to reflect on how I became an Adventist, I see how I was led by the gentle, loving hand of Jesus. It has been a quiet progress that never seemed earth-shattering, however, my desire to find the truth, would take years of experiences, volumes of learning, and a growing longing, to find the right, narrow path.

The people that have influenced me were not pushey or wishy-washy, but people that I respected and cared about. They shared with me things that made me think and wonder by saying one word, and just by their actions. As my years are fading away, having lived a long time, I am filled with an urgency to be a living example that will help everyone I meet and those that I have been so blessed to associate with, including, and so importantly, my family.

Usually I am filled with meekness, patience, and loving thoughts to get a point over, and sometimes I feel that I need to share something unexpected to shake who-ever, to face their problems, pray about it, and find the real answers, usually by looking in the mirror. Now, to get back to how I got to this point—My Story!

As a child, in Los Angeles, California, and my parents introduced me to Sunday school. We always walked to the little church that was down the street, across Temple Street and up to Union St. to the Union Methodist Church. It was comforting to learn about God and His love. On Temple St., we passed the little country grocery store, owned by the partnership of a Japanese family and a Chinese family. I’ll never forget the day when the government hauled the Japanese family away to a camp. It didn’t make any sense to me then, and still doesn’t. They were such wonderful, kind people.

Next door to the grocery store was a small church that housed a group of people called “The Holy Rollers”. They were so filled with the love of
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Jesus, that when they sang hymns, you could hear them almost from my house. When I peeked inside at them, they were all on their feet, waving their arms and singing at the top of their lungs. I wanted to join them, but I was pulled away and off to the one up the hill to the white church.

Everyone knew what a stubborn child I was, and I was troubled between wanting to stay and hear these happy people, or obey my parents. I have refined my stubbornness now, with diplomacy and lots of love. Honesty was so important to me, that if someone would ask me If I liked something or not, I would tell them—it wasn’t always what they wanted to hear—and that got me into more trouble. I really hope that I have learned to control this part of my character. However, as a child, I was so small, that something coming out of my mouth was unforgivable. I heard that a child should be seen and not heard, and that made me wonder if honesty was only for children?

Sometimes, my grandmother, who lived with us, took me to church. We went down the hill, through Echo Park to Aimee Semple McPherson’s Four Square church on Glendale Ave. In the front of the church, there were huge bins filled with wooden wheel chairs, crutches and other appliances. People had thrown them away when they were healed in this place. Amee was previously an actress that knew how to dramatize a production. There was a stairway from the balcony down to the stage that she used when she made her entrance to be the preacher. She wore long white, flowing gowns belted with gold ropes, and came flowing down those stairs as if she were flying like an angel. The only thing that I remember her saying was when she took up the offering. She said that wanted us to be able to pin it on the drapes, and she didn’t want to hear any jingling in the plate. So I put my nickels back in my pocket, if that was how she felt. A few years later, when we moved to Glendale, CA, my Dad took us to Forest Lawn cemetery to visit my grandfather’s grave site. Aimee has a really big, white monument for her resting place. It looked to me like the place where Abraham Lincoln’s place was.

From these experiences, I was filled with the desire to find what religion was all about. Living on Cedar St., in Glendale, CA., down the street
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two blocks was a Methodist church, and my grandmother took me there.
Sunday school for teens was of some interest, and I met others my age that have become life-long friends. Fran was one of them that I was closet with. She is gone now, and remembering her fills me with laughter, fun and growing to adulthood with her. Now, since her children are like my children, I am reminded of the fun we had at the Methodist church. It’s an SDA church now.

On the way to church, we stopped and got the Herald Examiner Paper. Fran and I would sit in the far back, near the exit, and quietly read the funny pages with each other. Again, I am reminded of the emphasis on collecting the offering. A lot of time was taken up on the needs of the church, and it was mentioned several times during the sermons. I began to wonder if all churches were so money hungry. I never had very much money to do anything with. My Mother made most of my clothes, my Dad worked hard all the time. He even sold his blood to supplement our income. Everything was planned and saved for. There was no such things as credit cards. We used cardboard in our shoes, and wore hand-me-downs. I was glad I had an older brother, because I never had to wear any of his old clothes. We had to share bath-tub water with each other; and were told to eat everything on our plate, because there are starving children everywhere. We had our garden and chickens to supply us with a lot of food.

My grandfather had built our house on Belmont St., Los Angeles, CA. He made his own nails out of wood. So I have always been impressed with how to do with what you got. One man’s junk was another man’s treasure. To this day, my son has made a science of this virtue, and saved his family a lot of money.

After I got married and became a mother, I started looking around for a church to go to with my children. I went to several different denominations. When I went to the Presbyterian church, I went in with a stroller for my son and held on to my daughter’s hand. I had read about the mark of the beast and his number, and was searching for a church that followed and taught from the Bible.

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As I glanced at the altar where the preacher was, right next to it was a
set of two foot square blocks. They had been having a building fund drive for repairs on the church and every Sunday they announced the current amount that was collected and, they put it on the blocks. I took a second look, and on the blocks was 666. I couldn’t pack up and get out of there fast enough. Besides, the lady sitting in front of me was glaring at me when my son slurped at his bottle.

So far, none of several churches met my needs. I got a job at the Orthopedic Appliance Center that was two blocks from my home. I knew the people pretty well since they had made my son’s special brace–the Dennis Browne Splint, attached to shoes that he wore at night. This corrected his feet to go straight ahead instead of outward. The Spillers knew I could sew, so they asked me if I could make special back braces and bras.

Now, Mom watched the kids for me, and I finally made some dollars. It was quite an experience making those awful, torturous garments. When the office was slow, I did the accounting and receptionist jobs. Sometimes when everything was done, I told Mr. Spillers that I had to do something, not just sit there and twiddle my thumbs. Mr. & Mrs. Spillers were Seven-day Adventists, and she brought me a whole set of Bible lesson studies. I thought, wow, a church that refers to the Bible for all the answers.

After finishing the series of studies, and receiving the answers from their Bible worker, I wanted more. So I called Betty, the Bible teacher, and she set up a time for me to have lessons every week. This is what I had been looking for. It made sense. She invited me to join them on Saturday for Sabbath school and church service. My husband studied with Betty too, and I was baptized in 1968 and he was in 1970.

Little by little, the Lord has pointed out something that I needed to correct in myself. I am thankful that He didn’t show all of them to me at once, it was hard enough to face one at a time. I was so filled with learning the truth, that I couldn’t wait to teach Fran and her family, another friend,
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Betty and her family, and Diane, so to shut me up, they consented to take
lessons from me as the lessons that Mrs. Spillers had provided.

My journey to find the truth, has led me to the happiest, loving people on earth. My three friends, after studying with me, were soon baptized, and we all went to church together. I am still tempted and sometimes I trip, but Jesus still loves me, as He picks me up, dusts me off, and leads me on the right narrow path. My children have been baptized and occasionally we worshiped together. Growing up, I never had family worship at Sundown on Fridays and still feel envious of those who do study together. I wonder what my life would have been like to have done that.

What is your story?
The beginning of the end

Discipling the Nations, or Being Discipled by the Nations?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In the Old Testament God wanted to be Israel’s king, but in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 Israel rejected God as their king and said they wanted to have a king like all the other nations have. Centuries later, Pilate asks the Israelites,

Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.  John 19:15

So for centuries God’s own people were basically saying, “Give us any king but God!”  Instead of discipling the nations, they were discipled by the nations.

God’s own people wanted to be like the other nations so much so that they were willing to deny their Savior so they could fit in with the world. Much of their compromise with the world was to avoid being persecuted or even just laughed at. In John 11:50, Caiaphas suggests getting rid of Jesus so that the whole nation does not perish. What He was suggesting was, getting rid of Jesus’ teachings which, if not done away with would bring down the wrath of Rome. What Caiaphas was forgetting was, if they did away with Jesus then the nation had no reason to exist! What is the point of preserving something if it no longer serves a purpose? Why exist just to exist?

Do we find the same mentality in our day? For example–

Let’s water down our teachings lest someone ridicule us. No reason to invite persecution, we can preserve ourselves by making our teachings look as much like all the other churches as possible.

If we do that, we have defeated our entire purpose of existing as a church! After the reformation, during a religious awakening, God did not bring the Seventh-day Adventist Church forth to blend in and look like all the other churches. Think about it. There were already churches, even Sabbath-keeping churches, that looked like all the other churches. Why would God bring forth a church if it would be like what was already there?

Other churches have a gospel that will prepare you to die, and that is all well and good, but God has brought forth the Seventh-day Adventist Church with a sanctuary message and a gospel that will prepare you to never die! See Malachi 3:1-3. Should we be ashamed of this gospel? Should we try to water it down to look like all the other gospels out there?

Even now Rome is extending her hand to the Protestant churches, saying we all understand salvation by grace instead of works. We all get what Luther was saying now, so let’s all come together. However, you cannot say you understand salvation by grace while observing a man-made day of worship, one that man worked out on his own! When you understand salvation by grace, you rest from your works and man-made religion by resting your faith in the Creator on the day that He made holy.

Years ago I met with another Adventist family in my neighborhood for a Neighborhood Youth Bible Study on Sabbath afternoons. One Sabbath our church was having a “revival” with some Christian rock music. Someone from the church invited me and my youth study group to come. I thought, why not? Instead of a Bible study for this week, let’s just show the kids that we also have fun. After the concert, I asked a teenager in my group how they liked the concert. I was hoping they thought it was really cool. Instead, they looked at me disappointed, and said, “I wish we would have just had the Bible study instead.” Their statement hit me like a two-by-four right between the eyes! I realized then, what was being offered they could find anywhere, but we have a special message that is not just found anywhere.

Instead of blending in we need to stand out. In Samuel’s day Israel had a special message that would have saved the world, but instead of discipling the nations they were discipled by the nations. Likewise, we are told by Jesus to go and make disciples of other nations, not become disciples of other nations.  Caiaphas thought the best way to preserve the church of his day was to get rid of Jesus and His gospel.

The Lord directed Ezekiel in giving His message. And I believe it is still valid today:

“You must give them my messages whether they listen or not. But they won’t listen, for they are completely rebellious!” Ezekiel 2:7 NLT

Today, companies will sometimes change their products to meet consumer demand, but we cannot do that, because the product (the message) is the Lord’s. However, we can learn something else from modern companies. More often they change the packaging of a product to make it more appealing to customers, and that’s what we can and should do in our culture. We need to communicate the same age-old truth in a way that our culture can understand.

I pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to present His unchanging truth in a way that this generation can understand.

You can study this week’s SS lesson here.

Baptism In Light Of The Cross -With New Living Translation

Linda

You may download a printable copy of the In Light of the Cross Study Guides with the NLT  here.

Baptism 

 

Brief overview: By baptism we confess our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and testify of our death to sin and of our purpose to walk in newness of life. Thus we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Saviour, become His people, and are received as members by His church. Baptism is a symbol of our union with Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, and our reception of the Holy Spirit. It is by immersion in water and is contingent on an affirmation of faith in Jesus and evidence of repentance of sin. It follows instruction in the Holy Scriptures and acceptance of their teachings. (Rom. 6:1-6Col. 2:1213Acts 16:30-3322:162:38Matt. 28:1920.)

Why it is important to understand the truth about baptism: 

The Bible only teaches one form of baptism. See Ephesians 4:5. We get the word “baptism” from the Greek word, “baptizo” which means, to immerse. To be immersed you must go into the water all the way.

Why it is important to understand baptism in light of the cross:

Romans 6 tells us the reason there is only one form of baptism. Baptism is where we are crucified with Christ and die to self. In Baptism we are giving all of ourselves to Jesus because He loved and gave all of Himself for us. When we go under the water we stop breathing for a moment. That is symbolic of our death to self. When we come up out of the water we take a new breath and that new breath represents the new life that we are now living for Jesus.

Further Study on Baptism

 

 How essential is baptism?

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.  John 3:5 NLT

How many types of baptism does God recognize?

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism Ephesians 4:5 NLT

How was Jesus baptized?

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”Matthew 3:13-17 NLT

Why did John baptize there?

At this time John the Baptist was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim, because there was plenty of water there; and people kept coming to him for baptism.  John 3:23 NLT

How did Philip baptize the Ethiopian?

He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. Acts 8:38 NLT

What must precede baptism?

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  Matthew 28:19-20 NLT

Note: Disciplining or mentoring and teaching takes place before and after baptism.

What else must take place?

 Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.  Mark 16:16 NLT

 

What must follow belief?                                                                                                 

   Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”  Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Acts 2:37-38 NLT

What does baptism symbolize?                                                                                    

Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  Romans 6:3-6 NLT

Who now lives in us?

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 NLT

What are we declared to be?

For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.  Galatians 3:26-29 NLT

For what reason might one be re-baptized?

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior regions until he reached Ephesus, on the coast, where he found several believers “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” he asked them.“No,” they replied, “we haven’t even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”  “Then what baptism did you experience?” he asked. And they replied, “The baptism of John.” Paul said, “John’s baptism called for repentance from sin. But John himself told the people to believe in the one who would come later, meaning Jesus.” As soon as they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:1-5 NLT

Why wait?

What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16 NLT

The Great Controversy and the sin of Unbelief

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

In order to have victory over sin, we must properly define sin. I believe the sin defined in John 16:9 is the cause of the sin in 1 John 3:4. Thus we must deal with the sin of unbelief in John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin.

As we take a look at this week’s SS lesson on victory over sin, I have a question.  For years we as Adventists have used 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin which is transgression of the law. How would things change if John 16:9 was the primary definition of sin, which is unbelief?

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition we have God kicking Adam and Eve out of the garden and giving them death because they ate one piece of fruit they were told not to.  That is not unbiblical but it is only half the picture of the story and more importantly half the picture of God’s character. With John 16:9 as our primary definition of sin we have Adam and Eve placing their trust in Satan’s lies and not believing in God’s word. Thus they themselves turn their backs on God and forfeit their home through unbelief in breaking their relationship with God in lieu of the really cool serpent and fancy lies.

With 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we struggle with John 3:16 and wonder where works come in.  With John 16:9 as our primary definition we see that God gave His son to die for us and show us the truth about God’s love. Thus as we believe in Him, we now turn our backs on Satan’s lies, our relationship is restored and we have the eternal life that was originally granted in the Garden of Eden. We are now free to obey God, and the secondary definition of sin in 1 John 3:4 is fulfilled because we now trust God and therefore we trust His commandments.

Paul’s book of Hebrews is on the sanctuary and even the cleansing of the sanctuary.  In Hebrews 10:26 Paul writes, “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Now if we use 1 John 3:4 as the primary definition of sin we have people going to hell because they made one mistake after knowing the truth. It is important to note that the entire book of Hebrews is explaining why Jesus has not returned yet and what He is doing in the sanctuary before His return. Paul admonishes the early believers not to give up their faith and stop assembling together, Christ will return. So I am sure the primary definition of sin in Hebrews 10:26 is the sin of unbelief. Paul is not saying that if you break the law after knowing the truth there is no more forgiveness. He is saying that if we sin in not believing in Jesus as the Son of God there will be no other sacrifice or Savior.

Now as we look at the cleansing of the Sanctuary in Daniel 8:14, we see that while God can and does give complete victory over the sin defined in 1 John 3:4, that still is not the main focus or goal of the cleansing of the sanctuary. “Our characters are not to be weighed by smooth words and fair speeches manufactured for set times and occasions; but by the spirit and trend of the whole life.” Review and Herald August 16, 1892. “The character is revealed, not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds, but by the tendency of the habitual words and acts.“ {Steps to Christ 57.2}  If we take John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin in the cleansing of the sanctuary it changes things.  In the cleansing of the Sanctuary our minds and hearts (where the real sanctuary is) are cleansed from the lies mankind started believing in the Garden of Eden. We see the true character of God revealed on the Cross and we believe in Him. When our minds are cleansed of Satan’s lies we can make intelligent choices and choose the One who has already accepted and chosen us all along.

This changes how we look at a popular passage in the Spirit of Prophecy. “Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”  {Christ Object Lessons 69.1}  Traditionally  we have taken this passage to mean that once we get our act together and show the world God’s Word can perfectly be obeyed without making one single mistake, then God will come back to take us home. It is true by God’s grace we can have complete victory over every single sin. However that is not what the great controversy is all about. The great question in the great controversy is whether God is love or not. When God’s church perfectly reflects the character of God’s love, then the world can make an intelligent decision as to if they will believe in God’s love or not.  God does not want us to be perfect so we can go to heaven. He wants to perfect our love so that we give Him proper representation in the judgment, where His character is on trial. When the church perfectly appreciates God’s love then the chasm that we ourselves created by believing Satan’s lies will be healed.

I believe that if we keep 1 John 3:4 as our primary definition of sin then we will always be legalists and never be able to deal with the sin problem defined in John  16:9. I believe if we use John 16:9 as the primary definition of sin, we lose the legalism, grasp the big picture of what sin really is and what the great controversy is all about, and we allow grace to do its work in healing the sin problem defined in both John 16:9 and 1 John 3:4.

I will be the first to tell you that this is a huge topic and I don’t pretend to know it all or have all the answers. Please comment and let me know why you agree or why you disagree. Thank you! You can leave a comment below on this blog or contact me privately at laypastor@TampaAdventist.net