“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
This was the theme of the Canadian Field conference 2016 (July 29–31, 2016). Each of the messages presented gave a view and progression on how we can overcome and continue to walk in the paths of light.
Brother Morris Lowe opened the conference by giving us a message regarding “The Greatest Battle” that we have to face. Although this battle may seem severe at times, we have to remember that “Greater is He that is in you.” As long as we are alive we are engaged in this battle. No one is exempted; all are involved, from the day of birth to the day of death. There is no release from this battle.
The battle originally began with a terrible war in heaven (Revelation 12:7–9). Satan and his followers lost this battle completely and were cast out. Their homes are now vacant. The wicked angels take this battle personally as the saints will one day dwell in their homes which they vacated. Today, Satan is very angry as he knows he only has a short time. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. War is not for cowards. In this battle supernatural power is needed as we are all weak and fragile. Our only hope is through the Holy Spirit, the indwelling of Christ (1 John 4:4). This is the only way we can gain the victory. The power of God is greater and is infinite. Although the battle against the powers of darkness is a severe battle, the greatest battle is the warfare against self. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23. Although the condition of man appears seemingly hopeless, with God all things are possible. We can live a victorious Christian life. “Higher than the highest human thought can reach is God’s ideal for His children. Godliness—godlikeness—is the goal to be reached.” –Messages to Young People, p. 40
The subject “The Snares of Satan” was shared with us by Elder Hernandez. He told of the story of Cortez in the 16th century who came to Central America. When he came, there were people who emerged from the jungle. The indigenous people were friendly and took him to meet their king. Cortez killed the king and overcame the people and took their gold. Why were they overcome so easily? They believed that the gods would come in ships and shining armor to save them. Their own ideas misled them. We can only wonder how some could be misled so easily.
Today, Satan has many snares for the believers in Christ. Many are seemingly misled so easily by their own ideas. Satan has lasted for 6,000 years on this earth and he knows his time is short; so his activity has intensified and become more subtle. He sets many snares for God’s people. Today, one of his most common snares is that it does not matter what people believe; as long as they believe in Jesus they will be in heaven. However, “the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19), and they will not be in heaven. We must believe and practice all of the words of Jesus in the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Satan will tell half truths as he told Eve. Truth is only relative, not absolute, he says. We can see that the state of society today has declined with all its “acceptable” beliefs such as life after death, remarriage, homosexuality and so on, which are all considered acceptable beliefs for Christians. Satan has other snares, such as keeping people very busy so that they have no time for prayer, Bible study and church attendance. The unconverted heart does not see the true importance of church fellowship and has a general distrust of God. When trials come, these people doubt God’s leading. They lack sincere faith. Satan has many more subtle snares that he is using to his utmost to draw the people of God away from a true commitment. We must place our hearts in the hands of Jesus to be free from these snares.
On Sabbath morning, Brother Pablo Hunger, from the General Conference, gave us a message of “Victory Through the Indwelling Christ.” The Lord gives His people power against all the difficulties in life. He showed in His ministry how victory is possible. We read in the story of the demonic in the Bible (Mark 5:1–8), that only Jesus could set him free. No chains could hold him any more. Jesus was not afraid to meet this man as were the disciples because He knew that His power was greater. This power is available for us also.
We have all been born under the bondage of sin and only Jesus can set us free. He is greater than all our problems. The Lord wants to transform us and give us power. The things that were temptations for us in the past can no longer be temptations, in Christ. The Apostle Paul came to this conclusion when he wrote, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. We may think that today we are strong, but when the storm comes, we will see the reality. It was during a storm that Martin Luther gave himself to the Lord. The Lord wants to give us His power and blessing. And this power is for the purpose of transforming our characters, to give us victory over sin; this is only possible through the indwelling of Christ in our lives.
The transformation of character is also described as “being born again.” Brother Oscar Oviedo shared this subject in the afternoon. “The new birth is a rare experience in this age of the world. This is the reason why there are so many perplexities in the churches. Many, so many, who assume the name of Christ are unsanctified and unholy. They have been baptized, but they were buried alive. Self did not die, and therefore they did not rise to newness of life in Christ.” –Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 51. The Lord has given us all things that are needed to be born again. God is calling us to reach the high standard of perfection. Satan loves to make you doubt, but even when surrounded by difficulties and temptations, we can have victory in Christ. Once we have gained the victory, we are born again. It is a daily experience.
For Sabbath closing, Brother George Gowie, visiting from Jamaica, shared with us the subject of “Guarding the Avenues of the Soul.” Man was created perfect in the image of God. But man fell when Eve saw something she loved. She took it and ate and gave to Adam, who also ate. Why? She started to see the fruit as something to be desired. She looked, and lost her senses. We cannot play with the devil. We have the example of Joseph who was faithful in the face of great temptation. He saw a beautiful woman and did not fall. David, on the other hand, looked, and fell. There is seeing, and then there is seeing. There is evil all around us and it all depends on how we look at it. Two men can be walking down the street and see a beautiful woman dressed promiscuously—one will look away in disgust and put it out of his mind, while the other looks with longing and desire. The two men see her differently.
We cannot do good unless good is inside of us. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7. We are all sick with sin; when we tell God honestly who we are then we are on the way to heaven. We must die and then we can guard who we are. Satan has made many inventions today to
keep people looking at evil—from the TV to the iPad to the smart phone. These can all be used as tools of the devil to keep people looking at evil whenever they want during the day. These tools can also be used for good; however, more often than not, they are used for selfish purposes only, to distract people’s minds from the reality of the evils in this world and the time in which we live. There are many distractions that have been created by the prince of evil, such as evil music, which is also destroying many people.
We are to guard carefully so that the things of this world do not attract us. We were made in the image of God, to live forever; and when man sinned, Jesus came to save us. We are to look to Him daily so we can become like Him. Jesus encourages the youth to keep the fires burning. As we read the stories in the Bible of the crossing of the Red Sea and the Hebrew worthies in the fiery furnace we should remember that this same God is with us today. May God help us to walk the other way when we see sin and guard all the avenues of our soul.
On Sunday morning seven dear souls made their covenant with God in baptism. The gates of heaven were rejoicing as these souls turned their backs on the world and decided to go forward with Jesus.
Following the baptism, Brother Nicholas Anca, shared with us the subject of “Faith is the Victory.” “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8. This indicates that true faith is scarce. Although we read, “God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Romans 12:3), it should ever be our prayer to increase our faith. Faith is as a plant. It must be watered in order to grow. And how can it grow? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17. Studying the Word of God must be a priority in our lives. But it is not enough just to familiarize ourselves with key Bible verses; it must be put into practice. Some people listen and then lose what they have heard because they do not mingle what they read with faith. Faith is not only praying for personal things, but it is praying for others. That faith must be exercised daily and kept—do not let anyone take it away from you. Share what Jesus has done for you and the Lord will open up opportunities for you. Faith is the key to victory. Believe that the Lord will do as He said He will. Never doubt.
Once we have received the light and been born again, we must not stand still. We must walk. Brother Renzo Suarez shared with us the importance of walking in the light. There are two essential items in this subject. We must have the light, and we must walk in the light. And this light is found in, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. We have light and we have a path. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12. When the light is in us, we will be a light to the world. We are not to give our own light as we have none to give, but to share the light we have been given. You are a precious pearl, you are His child. The power of light is more powerful than the power of darkness. Satan has deceived many in the world to think that the powers of darkness are stronger. Through the many movies that have been created, evil often seems to triumph.
Darkness, in reality, is disorder. Everyone has their own rules. Sometimes this sentiment can enter God’s church. For example: some questionable foods, “This food is ok for me, but not for you.” “This dress is ok for me, but not for you.” And so on. There can be a variety of standards, but this is not as it should be. God wants to bring light and order. No amount of darkness can turn off a candle. The smallest candle can dispel the greatest darkness. Any light that we can bring will cause the darkness to flee. God can show us the path, but we are the ones who have to walk in it and follow the light. And light is to continue to grow. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Proverbs 4:18. The purpose of the light is to destroy the darkness. It is designed to reach others, our families and friends. Light also produces heat. The Laodicean Christian is seen to be in a lukewarm state and needs heat to become hot. When the truth comes it burns. The men on the way to Emmaus ++stated, “Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures?” Luke 24:32. The light of a radiant Christian heats the hearts of those that are listening. There is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God.
All too soon it came time for the closing address by Brother Pablo Hunger. We may be departing, but we have something that unites. We are all one family. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Ephesians 1:5. We are adopted and Jesus promised to receive us as His children. We have a Father that cares for us. The love of God is not a mere sentiment, but it is power. The man who does the will of God shows love.
We all have responsibilities in this life and we begin with our family with our parents. Even if we are adults, we are to love and respect our parents. If the love of Christ is in us, we will do practical things. Help your parents, not just by giving them a flower in the cemetery, but take time for them today. In marriage, husbands are to protect the home and the wife; the wife is to support the husband. Some families are such in name only. The centre of every family is to be God. It is not enough to just go to church but to bring God into the home. When love disappears in some families and there is a separation, God has promised to be our husband and father. We were encouraged never to miss an opportunity to go to a conference. Sometimes we may think it is too much money, but later you will suffer greater when your children go to the world. Make your children your priority. We must be decided in our purpose to follow the Lord and walk in the light. This is the only way we can have true love in our home, in the church, and to those around us.
Although we may face many trials as we make a firm decision to follow the Lord in every aspect of our lives; however, if we invite the Lord into our hearts, we will gain the victory over every sin, temptation, and snare that Satan puts in our way, by the indwelling of Christ, by faith. Remember that, “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4.