Chapter 18: “He Must Increase”

February 8, 2007

“If he [John the Baptist] had announced himself as the Messiah, and raised a revolt against Rome, priest and people would have flocked to his standard.” DA173

Quotes like this may be troubling for those who don’t believe Ellen White had inside knowledge. I’m not bothered by that idea, so I love “if… then…” statements like the one above.  My favorite “if… then…” statements by Ellen White regards the rejection of righteousness by faith that was more deeply discovered at the 1888 general conference session. I’ll have to track down the quote, but it says that Jesus would have come soon after 1888 if the message of righteousness by faith had been fully accepted. How disappointing! We may have been out of here by now! But truly the message is still in the Bible as it was in 1888–even if it hasn’t been fully tapped. And that is exciting. It is through the truth about righteousness and faith that I was reborn. I may have never come upon it if it were not for the 1888 session, but God would have let me there by another route. God uses what ever works and is in keeping with His character.

But Ellen White is right in saying, that people turn to the messenger for validation. A similar thing happened with 1888 as did with John’s followers. They focused on the first message bearer rather than the message and it’s true origin. Our focus should not be on Johns and Waggoner, Robert Weiland, or even John the Baptist. The messages they gave is no less important today than it was before these men were born.

“But, like John’s disciples, many feel that the success of the work depends on the first laborer. Attention is fixed upon the human instead of the divine, jealousy comes in, and the work of God is marred. The one thus unduly honored is tempted to cherish self-confidence. He does not realized his dependance on God. The people are taught to rely on man for guidance, and thus they fall into error, and are led away from God.” DA176.

Focusing on the messenger is no less a problem today then it was in John’s day or Ellen White’s day. Do you think it’s even worse today because of media penetration?

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6 Responses to “Chapter 18: “He Must Increase””

  1. Carla said

    “He does not realize his dependence on God.” This a profound truth. I must remember that “success of the work” cannot depend “on the first laborer.” That initial leader may be challenged by God to do a good thing but others will continue the work.

    When I read this chapter, I was troubled by how I get sucked into the idea that success of a certain thing depends on me, if I am the leader. I put a big squiggly line under the line “He does not realize his dependence on God” because it is something I have to keep at the forefront of my mind. When I try to do things alone under my own power instead of God’s, I am giving Satan a stronghold in my life to separate me from God. I can only do what I do because of God!

  2. wallygoots said

    It is a good reminder, Carla, that Christians do not become stronger, just more dependent on Christ.

    But I see how it happens; God involves us in bigger things when we hope or even dream up ourselves, and by His investment of love in us, we assume our worth. And that worth is not misplaced because He has caused us to be precious due to the price He paid. But it is easy to forget that all this goodness is a function of our being in Him.

    Praise God that being in Him is even possible, and He can deal with me if I forget it!

  3. Jan said

    I was in a SS class this last week, and they were studying about John the Baptist. An older man was bothered by the fact that John suffered…I am tired of people questioning God’s love in relation to suffering..I think Satan’s reason for attacking John was to get at Jesus. MAYBE, just MAYBE he could get Jesus to doubt God’s love. After all, humans forever have wondered about God not stopping all the suffering….it is the biggest place of doubt; in my experience. Maybe it would work on Jesus? So, let’s get at John, and maybe Jesus will wonder why God didn’t intervene; and begin to question; and lose faith. We can claim His victory when faced with doubts of our own.

    I am so enjoying reading these with you; I look forward to it everyday; today I was reading while holding my new little granddaughter; thank God for the sacrifice of Christ that makes eternal life for this precious one available.

    J

  4. Renee said

    “The people are taught to rely on man for guidance, and thus they fall into error, AND ARE LED AWAY FROM GOD.” !!! That last statement is a very strong one. At first I was not sure I agreed with it, but the more I ponder, the more it rings true. It is a good reminder that the ONLY authority is God. But I think it’s hard to separate God from His “messengers” at times, because the messengers are who we can actually see and relate to on a human, personal level. But then we become so disappointed if/when that person errs or falls, because we placed them in too high a position in our thinking. Or, like EW says, we have the potential of following a false way.

    ….I have lots of thoughts about this topic. I may need to read the chapter now!

  5. wallygoots said

    I have many thoughts on this topic, and more because of this chapter.

    Do you think even a Godly person can lead others away from God? I think it is hard for a spiritually popular person to glorify God always in the hearts of those who want to uplift people. It strikes right at the root of the problem. We are born with a nature that wants to be uplifted; we treat others as we want to be treated, and so we all have people we would uplift. And it feels so good to be so admired. It is because the whole culture admires power in every form, so spiritual power is no exception. The money floating around is the garb of power in America, but which has more power in our Christian culture–money power or spiritual power? That’s a tough call.

    It was very interesting to me that Jesus pulled out of the area so as not to cause continued jealousy between His disciples and John’s disciples. Essentially, Jesus relocated His ministry to minimize this conflict. Truly self-sacrificing love and Godly insight.

  6. Carla said

    Yes, Seth,
    I think a person can be lead away from God by a Godly person if the lead away one is depending on the Godly person for guidance rather than God. The Godly person has to be clear about what he or she is leading others to and remove the temptation to have others focus on him or her.

    I think the relocation of Jesus has to act as a model for us today. Sometimes the best way to minimize conflict is to minimze contact. It isn’t always possible but when it can be done, I would do it.

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