In this series, we have been studying about a finished work as typified in the conquest of Canaan. We have seen the challenge of a finished work [December 2005] that still lies before us today. We reviewed the method of a finished work [January 2006], and the need to explicitly follow God’s directions. We studied the march of a finished work [April 2006], and the need to march in unity if the work is going to be finished today. We have to march shoulder to shoulder.
John 4 is a very instructive passage of Scripture. In fact, Ellen White tells us that this is the most important discourse that Jesus gave. (See Testimonies, vol. 3, 217.) So this is a very important passage for us to study.
In John 4:3–6, 8, we read where Jesus had come to Jacob’s well, and He was weary. Jesus and His companions had been traveling almost all of the morning, and He was tired from the journey. Not only was He tired, but, apparently, He was also hungry, because the disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. As Jesus was resting there by the well, a woman came. This Samaritan woman, who was probably looking the other way, was just going to draw water and go on her way, but Jesus spoke to her, asking a favor of this woman. Throughout the course of the conversation, Jesus was able to turn a common, casual conversation into spiritual truth and led her to make a decision. It seems this took just a matter of five or ten minutes. The woman went away, but Jesus knew where she was going. She was going to tell the entire city that she had found the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. (Verses 7, 9–26, 28, 29.)
The disciples returned with food and urged Him to eat, but Jesus was thinking about this woman who had just made a decision. He was thinking about the people of the city that were on their way to meet Him right then, and He said, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of. . . . My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Verses 32, 34.
Jesus, by faith, saw a finished work in the example of this Samaritan woman and the Samaritan town. He said, “Even though I am tired, even though I am hungry, I have forgotten all about it by looking at a finished work.”
Is a finished work so much our desire that even if we have walked many hours, and we are weary and hungry, we will say, “You know, I do not even want to eat, because I am thinking about the work being finished”?
This was Jesus’ mindset. A finished work was His goal, and this must be the goal set before us as well. We must always remember what the goal is toward which we are marching.
By God’s Power
The children of Israel had come to the borders of the Promised Land, and God had given them the explicit direction, “March into the Jordan.” (Joshua 3.) They followed those explicit directions from the Captain of the Host.
Would they have been effectual without God’s power being displayed? Absolutely not. If God’s power had not been manifested for them as they marched into the Jordan, they would have been drowned. They would have been carried away by the torrent. But at the very moment the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant stepped into the Jordan, the Jordan stopped. By God’s power the Jordan was stopped.
The directions next given were that they were to march around Jericho. Could all of their marching have conquered that city? No, not without the power of God. Without the display of God’s power in tearing down the walls of Jericho, Canaan would have never been conquered. Following the directions of God was not enough; they had to rely solely upon the power of God.
I do not know how the walls came down. I imagine that angels tore them down, or maybe the Lord used sound waves as the people shouted, or an earthquake. Although I do not know exactly how it happened, I do believe it was a miracle that the walls came down, and that the city was surrounded and conquered without a fight.
We must always remember, in our work today, that if the work is going to be finished, it is through God’s power alone that it will be finished—just as it was God’s power alone that conquered Canaan.
We could give Bible studies to every single person in this world, but would that alone be enough? No, that alone would not be enough. We could give literature to every single person in the world, but would that alone be enough? No. We could give everyone a massage, or something recommended by the health message, but would that alone be enough? As important as this is and as much as we need to be doing that, we must realize that we are but clay. We are but dust and ashes. It does not matter what we do; without the power of God directing and supporting our efforts, the work will not be finished.
The Gospel Commission
“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:45–49.
These are the last words, recorded in the gospel of Luke, which Jesus spoke to His disciples. Were the disciples given a big work? Oh, yes! Jesus said, “This gospel of repentance and remission of sins is going to be preached in all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” He gave to them what we call the Great Commission.
Did Jesus tell them to start right then? I do not know about you, but that would be my temperament; I would want to start immediately, but Jesus said, “Tarry until you are endued with power from on high.”
How much more do we need that power from on high in our work today? Ellen White wrote: “Those who today believe in Christ, need more than Pentecostal power, inasmuch as He has given them a large, open field in which to work.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 4, 1793. The disciples needed the power of Pentecost, but today, as the challenges have grown greater and the giants have grown taller, we need more than Pentecostal power.
“The work ought to have moved forward with a hundredfold more power than it has.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 144. Ellen White said that not just do we need more than Pentecostal power, but our work should have been moving forward with a hundred times more power.
If that was true then, do you think it is true today? We might even need 200 times more power today. But in everything we can do, as important as it is, we must realize that without God’s power being displayed, not even one soul is going to be converted. There might be some that accept the message, there might be some that are baptized, but without God’s power truly working, not one soul will be converted. I do not just want baptisms; I want conversions!
God has promised that the Pentecostal power is going to come. Oh, how I look forward to that time! The Old Testament prophets are full of promises about the power that is going to accompany the work. Those prophecies were given as God desired to do the work through the nation of Israel, but because of their rejection of God’s plans and of His Son, those promises could not be fulfilled.
Ellen White gives many statements describing the power of God that is going to come in the latter rain. She states that, “There will be thousands converted to the truth in a day, who at the eleventh hour see and acknowledge the truth and the movements of the Spirit of God.” The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, vol. 2, 754.
“Let the full light of His life stream into the souls of those who are in darkness. Under the direct power of the gospel thousands have been converted in a day.” Colporteur Ministry, 153. Not only are thousands going to be converted, but thousands are going to step into the light and become eleventh hour workers!
Quoting the promise in Amos 9:13 about the harvester overtaking the planter— “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed”—Mrs. White says: “These conversions to truth will be made with a rapidity that will surprise the church, and God’s name alone will be glorified.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 16. Do you want to be surprised? I want to be surprised. I studied for a year and a half before I was baptized. I want to see conversions come with such rapidity that I am surprised at how quickly they occur.
A Greater Power
Speaking of the Day of Pentecost, Ellen White tells us, “These scenes are to be repeated, and with greater power. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the former rain, but the latter rain will be more abundant.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 121. More abundant than Pentecost! How often were believers added to the church after Pentecost? Daily! “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:47.
This is going to happen again with even more power than then. There are going to be conversions—not just every year or every few months, but daily. Ellen White says, “The power which stirred the people so mightily in the 1844 movement will again be revealed. The third angel’s message will go forth, not in whispered tones, but with a loud voice.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 252.
“During the loud cry, the church, aided by the providential interpositions of her exalted Lord, will diffuse the knowledge of salvation so abundantly that light will be communicated to every city and town. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of salvation. So abundantly will the renewing Spirit of God have crowned with success the intensely active agencies, that the light of present truth will be seen flashing everywhere.” Review and Herald, October 13, 1904.
“In the visions of the night a very impressive scene passed before me [Ellen White]. I saw an immense ball of fire fall among some beautiful mansions, causing their instant destruction. I heard someone say: ‘We knew that the judgments of God were coming upon the earth, but we did not know that they would come so soon.’ Others, with agonized voices, said: ‘You knew! Why then did you not tell us? We did not know.’ On every side I heard similar words of reproach spoken.
“In great distress I awoke. I went to sleep again, and I seemed to be in a large gathering. One of authority was addressing the company, before whom was spread out a map of the world. He said that the map pictured God’s vineyard, which must be cultivated. As light from heaven shone upon anyone, that one was to reflect the light to others. Lights were to be kindled in many places, and from these lights still other lights were to be kindled.
“The words were repeated: ‘Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden underfoot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’ Matthew 5:13–16.
“I saw jets of light shining from cities and villages, and from the high places and the low places of the earth. God’s word was obeyed, and as a result there were memorials for Him in every city and village. His truth was proclaimed throughout the world.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 28, 29.
We do not have memorials to God in every city and village today, but this is a promise. When God’s power takes hold of the church, there will be memorials to Him in every city and village.
“Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. . . .
“The message will be carried not so much by argument as by the deep conviction of the Spirit of God.” The Great Controversy, 612.
The arguments will have been presented. The people have received the literature. They have been given Bible studies. They have attended the evangelistic meetings. They have heard or experienced whatever method brought them the truth of the gospel, and when God’s power is poured out in the latter rain, they will be convicted and take their stand.
Preparation for that Day
Do you want to see that day? Oh, how I long to see that day! We must work and do everything we can right now, but we need to keep our eyes on the time when God’s power is going to be poured out. We must be preparing for that event.
“I know that a work must be done for the people, or many will not be prepared to receive the light of the angel sent down from heaven to lighten the whole earth with his glory. Do not think that you will be found as vessels unto honor in the time of the latter rain, to receive the glory of God, if you are lifting up your souls unto vanity, speaking perverse things, in secret cherishing roots of bitterness. The frown of God will certainly be upon every soul who cherishes and nurtures these roots of dissension and possesses a spirit so unlike the spirit of Christ.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 468, 469.
A work must be done for us. We are not ready for God’s power to be poured out most fully. If God’s power, His Spirit, was poured out and we still had a vestige of pride or selfishness in our hearts, we would be saying, “Look at what we are doing.”
God wants to give us His Spirit, His power, but He cannot do it until a work is done for us.
“The work that God has begun in the human heart in giving His light and knowledge must be continually going forward. Every individual must realize his own necessity. The heart must be emptied of every defilement and cleansed for the indwelling of the Spirit. It was by the confession and forsaking of sin, by earnest prayer and consecration of themselves to God, that the early disciples prepared for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. The same work, only in greater degree, must be done now. Then the human agent had only to ask for the blessing, and wait for the Lord to perfect the work concerning him. It is God who began the work, and He will finish His work, making man complete in Jesus Christ. But there must be no neglect of the grace represented by the former rain. Only those who are living up to the light they have will receive greater light. Unless we are daily advancing in the exemplification of the active Christian virtues, we shall not recognize the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the latter rain. It may be falling on hearts all around us, but we shall not discern or receive it.” Ibid., 507.
God’s power is going to be displayed again. We have a work to do, not just in this world, but also in our hearts. When we individually take hold of that work, when we individually are cleansed from every defilement, God is going to give us more and more of His power, until the third angel’s message swells into the loud cry. The knowledge of truth will then be diffused to every land and city and village.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, one family moved to a “dark area”—an area void of Seventh-day Adventist Christians. One family, not a whole team of workers, moved there, and within three or four years, I visited the church and the congregation that they had built up. A church of over 100 members had been raised up in those few years!
Now we may say, “That is Africa. They realize their need more.” This is true; it is Africa, but when this family moved to the “dark area,” they learned that the Baptist Church leaders had warned the entire community against them. There was so much prejudice that the local residents would not even look them in the eye or shake their hands.
The father of this family needed to go on a mission one day, and he enlisted the assistance of two young men to go with him. They were to carry some of his things. He later learned that the purpose they had in accompanying him was so they could throw his things by the roadside and return to the village. Those two men are converted now.
From the prejudice, God was able to do a work with just one family. And the work did not stop there, because they put up a sign beside the road that said, “Independent Seventh-day Adventist Church.” This is a major road. Perhaps five to ten vehicles go by the sign in a day, but that is a major road in this part of the country. Perhaps I should clarify that these vehicles are trucks—the equivalent of a grain truck—with about 40 people riding on the top, ten feet up off the ground! As people from the surrounding area traveled this road, they would see the sign, and some of them would stop to find out more information.
This family began to minister to the people there. One lady requested prayer, so they walked the six or eight miles to her village during the night. They prayed all night for her, then walked back to their home the next morning. Then a man was healed through their efforts, and the entire village opened to them. A church was planted there. The Baptist minister became a leader in that church.
The good news of the gospel began to spread, and when I visited there, four churches had been raised up, from one family that had moved to this “dark area.” Within five months of my visit, six more groups of worshippers were meeting every Sabbath and studying for baptism. In one village, 300 to 400 people were interested in studying the message.
God’s Power Displayed
God’s power is certainly being displayed! While visiting there, I talked to people who had been fetish priests; that is like being witch doctors. They had been converted and had given up their livelihood to accept the Lord and to follow His truth. That is the greatest power of God being displayed!
I also talked to a man who was a sorcerer. He said he had been guilty of killing people through his trade. Through this one family, he accepted Christ as his Saviour.
Many other lives are being changed, displaying evidence of the power of God. All this because one family was willing to enter into a “dark area,” and in just a few years, God was able to do a mighty work.
Used of God
God wants to use our families. Do we want to be used by Him? Do we want God’s power to be displayed through us? Do we want to be that channel? Maybe we are only one family in an area, but as we consecrate ourselves to God and as we seek for power from on high, He can do with us just as He is doing in Africa.
Are we willing to comply with the conditions? Are we willing to seek that power? Are we willing to tarry in Jerusalem? Are we willing, as were the disciples? It took them ten days of repenting and of confessing, ten days of humbling their hearts before God and seeking that their lives might be right with Him, ten days to be cleansed of every defilement before God could pour the Holy Spirit upon them.
The same work, only in a greater degree, must be done today. I want to see that time when thousands are converted in a day. I want to see that time when the knowledge of truth and of salvation is spread so abundantly that it goes to every city and village in this world. I want to see the time when there is more than Pentecostal power. I want to see the time when the message is carried not so much by argument, but by the power of His Spirit.
If we are going to see the time of the latter rain, we must individually be doing the work that the disciples did. Are you willing to do it? Pray that the Lord will make us each willing, that we might receive that power from on high.
Cody Francis is currently engaged in public evangelism for Mission Projects International. He also pastors the Remnant Church of Seventh-day Adventist Believers in Renton, Washington. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.