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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

22nd General Conference Session Special Report

Christ Is All for My Friends
Highlights from the sermon presented
Duraisamy Sureshkumar
Christ Is All for My Friends

In these precious hours, as we are acknowledging Christ’s creation and accepting His redemption, we stand at the brink of eternity. In this end time of the end time, we need to consider the beginning of our life and our experience in Christ Jesus.

A lesson from history

In the history of one of the counties in England, the experience is told of a farmer in a small village who dug a little well. As he reached water, he discovered that this water happened to have a miraculous touch of unusual healing power. He shared the good news with his neighbor. The water was sweet-tasting and indeed promoted health—and the farmer was willing to give it freely to others. Soon, the word spread around the neighborhood and gradually, as the water was shared with more people, an entire town was founded—based on this water. Many flocked to the town, and it eventually became a popular place for various business enterprises.

Several years passed, and a scholarly journalist came to interview the mayor of the town. He had heard the reports about how the town had originally been founded. So he asked the mayor where this source of water was located. Sadly, the mayor explained, they no longer knew where the fountain was! The city had now become a center for all kinds of business; it was a place where lots of money was being made in a variety of ways, and the precious water was forgotten.

Today, people have established all kinds of business commodities based on the name of Jesus Christ. Material items and mega-churches monopolize on that name. Yet we who are gathered here do not want to be looking to Jesus as some kind of money-making commodity, but rather as a source of the genuine life-giving properties that come through Him.

Remembering the Samaritan woman

When Jesus was dwelling on the earth as the Son of man, He came to a well. In this particular scenario, the opposite occurred from the story above. The people of the community were quite aware of the location of the well. You are familiar with this story in John chapter 4. Christ’s conversation with a woman of Samaria concluded with the fact that He would be the One to give the water—water that would not merely quench the thirst, but be such that the soul who would partake of it would never thirst again. If such literal water would be in existence here today, a lot of bottling companies would lose their business.

Jesus explained, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). This is not just some kind of miraculous healing water, but actually life-giving water—providing eternal life, the chance to live with God forever.

The Lord’s provision for human beings to live forever was to continue throughout history. For this, one thing is needed: To drink of the water of life.

In the conversation at the well, while Jesus was testing the woman’s understanding, He disclosed that He was aware of her life and experience. As she realized that He knew this, she declared that He must be a prophet. The reality, however, was that He was greater and much more powerful than any prophet—He’s the One that made the prophets and revealed to them the secrets that they spoke. He knows everything!

“The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he” (Verses 25, 26).

Now she put it all together in her mind. . . . She must have thought, “He knows the secrets of my past; He knows the future; He has life-giving power. . . .”

Suddenly she forgot the purpose for which she came to the well and instead ran to tell those in the city: “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?” (Verse 29). At this point, she understood the meaning of the Messiah as the Saviour, and she brought the message of Christ to the entire town.

Who is Jesus?

People find Jesus in different ways. What is Jesus to you, to me, to my friends, my family, and to my entire town? Let’s recall some other examples:

Martha acknowledged the identity of Christ at the resurrection of her brother, Lazarus. “[Martha] saith unto [Jesus], Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:27). Here Martha recognized Jesus as the Son of God just as the woman at the well had recognized Him as the Messiah, the Saviour.

In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter showed that he realized the same truth when he declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

John the beloved disciple testified, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1–3). He was the Creator Himself, the Word made flesh.

In John 20:28, Thomas acknowledged Jesus as “My Lord and my God.”

For every person, Jesus means something. The Lord declared of our relationship with Him, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

Jesus says that you are His friend—His brother—and He is not ashamed to call us brethren. A friend gives his or her life for a brother. What can we do to Jesus in turn? If we really are friends of Christ, we need to prove it. We can give to Him our broken, contrite heart. Jesus says that if we are His friends, we will do what He tells us to do, and we will reflect His character, His moral image.

Then the results will be seen in a similar way to how they were described in Acts 4:13 when the people “took knowledge of [the disciples], that they had been with Jesus.” What identified the disciples as having been with Jesus? When they spoke, it was evident. Even the one who denied Jesus was still reflecting some characteristics that he had been with Jesus.

If we are friends of Jesus, we will abide in Him and reflect His character. If we are thus doing His will, we will have a wonderful experience.

What about the woman at the well? When she found the Saviour, she ran to tell everyone in the village—her friends, family, neighbors—the gospel of good tidings.

James warns us, on the other hand, of the opposite: If we are “a friend of the world,” we are the “enemy of God” (James 4:4).

So, we need to shun those things that are of the world and think instead of those things that are above. As Christians, we need to take to our community the good news of the Saviour.

Spreading the word

In Acts chapter 16, we read the experience of how Paul and Silas were singing and telling the message of a crucified and risen Saviour. Eventually, they were invited to the house of the prison keeper and the entire family was able to enjoy the wonderful experience of having Jesus in the home.

The good things we receive are not to be kept to ourselves. We are called to be light bearers to others. This includes my friend, my neighbor, my society. We as Christ’s friends are to carry forth His love and His message, just as He has shown His love for each one of us by dying on the cross in our behalf. We are to share the good message of Christ in the life, and we should tell others of His love—and of His injunction to us all: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

We are to “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). In his prayer at the Saviour’s birth, the prophet Simeon referred to Jesus as “a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32). Christ is the light, the glory of the Father and His character. The Father was able to testify of Him, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). As His followers, His glory should likewise be reflected in our life. In fact, this wonderful Friend and Saviour should be the chief motivating factor in the life of every one of us.

At each delegation session, the forefathers of our Movement often expressed the desire that that particular delegation would be the last on earth. They cherished the hope that the Lord’s coming would be soon enough that we might be in the kingdom of heaven before the next delegation session would come. Surely, we share that hope amid the myriad struggles of daily life. Yes, we may be having all kinds of difficulties, but we must keep in mind how the apostle Paul was punished and imprisoned, yet his driving force was Christ. His zeal was not quenched by all the persecution he faced. Instead he declared, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16) that promises eternal life.

This gospel—this eternal life—should reach everyone. We need to teach an unpopular message, even if it is unwelcome to some. We may face discouragements, difficulties, and problems in our life and in the church. But God will give us power to endure. His assurance echoes down through the centuries to us here today: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

The invitation of Jesus for you and for me is wide open. The time for us to listen to His voice is now. Then we will have the wonderful experience of being able to sup with Him—and we will have the great privilege to be with Him in the new earth.

A good friend lays down his life for his brethren—a gesture He has already completed for us.

Accept His “friend request”

In our day, especially among the youth, we routinely see electronic chatting and communication. It is common to make “friend requests” and to accept a friend.

And at this time, Jesus is knocking. He is throwing us a friendly request with a signal that will not fade. Are we willing to accept His request?

The remnant people—the light-bearers—are to bear this message. We are to come to the foot of the cross, the highest place we can be. But let us not do this alone; we should bring at least one friend. We need not begin by expecting huge numbers, but let us each make it a goal to lead at least one friend to the foot of the cross.

We need to contemplate the sufferings of Jesus. He has promised that He’s not going to leave us alone. In the upper room experience, the disciples were able to multiply friends and believers—not merely in ones, but in thousands.

When Christ ascended, He did not leave us alone. He sent power; He sent the Holy Spirit. Now we need to pray to receive the Holy Spirit in the harvest experience. The success does not come because of you or me—it is solely through His power “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Those who are waiting for the Lord’s return have the message and the responsibility of teaching and leading others to Christ. Each friend won becomes a star in your crown.

In the time of the early church, everyone in the upper room had one common purpose: To receive the power of the Holy Spirit. We are to have the same experience, the same purpose. We have the name as those waiting for the advent of the Lord. Just as the disciples in Acts 1:14, we need to be of one accord and trust in His promise, seeking the power of the Holy Spirit.

In Acts 2:1, 2, we read that “when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”

This should be our experience before we leave this place. This solemn assembly is a place where we should pray for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We cannot leave this place empty-hearted. When we go from here, we can be a wonderful witness wherever we go; we can bring a friend to Jesus, that more friends can be added and that we may be able to finish the task that is before us: To take the message to all the world. We need to carry the everlasting gospel to the whole world, bringing people to fear God and give glory to Him.

The signs of the times are fulfilling, and the countdown is beginning for His soon return and for the final events to take place. We may not have the opportunity to preach in a pulpit; soon we might not have the liberty to carry the Bible. We may not have the liberty to worship on the day the Lord has given us. . . .

But we must take the opportunity to bring a friend to Jesus. Let us take hold of the opportunity before us and echo the words of Joshua, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

Connected through the cross

The time of test is just upon us. We need to stand firm at the test—and in order to do this, we need His power and His Spirit. In closing, let us consider once more the experience of Jesus with the woman at the well:

“The water to which Christ referred was the revelation of His grace in His Word. His spirit, His teaching, His love is as a satisfying fountain to every soul. Every other source to which men resort proves unsatisfying; but the Word of truth is as cool streams, represented as the waters of Lebanon, which are always satisfying. In Christ is fullness of joy forevermore. The pleasures and amusements of the world are never satisfying, or healing to the soul. But Jesus says, ‘Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life’ (John 6:54).

“Christ’s gracious presence in His Word ever speaks to the soul, representing Him as the well of living water to refresh the thirsting. It is our privilege to have a living, abiding Saviour. He is the source of spiritual power in us, and His influence will flow forth in words and actions that will refresh all within the sphere of our influence, begetting in them desires and aspirations for strength and purity, for holiness and peace, for that joy which brings no sorrow with it. Such an experience will be the result of having Christ as an indwelling Saviour.”1

Those who experience the fullness of joy in Christ will never crave the world’s attractions. They will accept His grace, His teachings, and the gift of His love.

“Without the cross, man could have no connection with the Father. On it hangs our every hope. In view of it the Christian may advance with the steps of a conqueror; for from it streams the light of the Saviour’s love. When the sinner reaches the cross, and looks up to the One who died to save him, he may rejoice with fullness of joy; for his sins are pardoned. Kneeling at the cross, he has reached the highest place to which man can attain. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God is revealed in the face of Jesus Christ; and the words of pardon are spoken: Live, O ye guilty sinners live. Your repentance is accepted; for I have found a ransom.”2

Looking at the cross, we will have that wonderful hope renewed. Let us therefore “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Introduce Him as a Friend to a friend. Let us plead for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we might have a greater experience of joy in our life. This is my prayer. Amen.

1 Reflecting Christ, p. 109.
2 The Review and Herald, April 29, 1902.