02/20/2010: To the Law and to the Testimony

To the Law and to the Testimony

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word,

it is because there is no light in them.” Isaiah 8:20

February 20, 2010

In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Law-giver. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. By misrepresenting the attributes of God, Satan leads men to conceive of Him in a false character. With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah; while the living God, as He is revealed in His word, in Christ, and in the works of creation, is worshiped by but few. Thousands deify nature while they deny the God of nature. Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The god of many professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists—the god of polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some theological institutions—is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phoenicia.” Great Controversy, 583.

The above Bible verse and inspired paragraph from Great Controversy relates closely to the experience of Brother Lino Esteliory of Batikwal Bible Sabbath Church at Davao Oriental, Mindanao, Philippines. I had the opportunity to interview him regarding his experience in coming to the Lord. His personal testimony follows.

Brother Lino’s Testimony

I was formerly a member of the so-called Remnant Family of God (RFG) sect, and very loyal. It is still in existence today, with more than 200 churches around the country. We acknowledged the founder of the church by calling him Papa. Our local leaders were called by the term Father. We referred to Jesus as Yashua de Messiah. We had graven images in our churches and homes until our founder, Papa Dodong Balongga, began to study the Bible. He searched Exodus 20, Acts 17:30 and other Bible texts that clearly taught us to avoid these things that are abominations in the sight of the Creator. Then we forsook all of our graven images, and our founder hid most of those images inside caves, away from our sight.

The founder died many years ago. Apparently he had planned to teach us about the truth of the Seventh-day Sabbath of creation and the other laws of the great Law-giver, but death took him before he was able to do so.

As I already said, I was a loyal member of the Remnant Family of God group; but my mother, who was also a member, did not seem so loyal; for I noticed that she did not fully accept what we believed in our group. She never called Jesus Yashua de Messiah in her prayers—instead she called Him Christ Jesus. When we shared our faith, she was very different. She even taught us that it was safer for her to call the Savior Lord God than to call Him Yashua. Also, I noticed that she opposed the practice of keeping the Mass in our churches. She went to worship with her friends in the independent Seventh-day Adventist group. She learned many spiritual things that were strange to us. She happily shared each truth with us, but she did not decide to be baptized and become a Seventh-day Adventist. She continued to visit our church with us, although she opposed some of our teachings.

As the years passed, it seemed that God was blessing me in temporal things. I had been a fisherman for a long time, but not a brilliant one. But it became very easy for me to catch more and bigger fish. Not only was I a fisherman, but I became a businessman in the fish-selling business. I caught fish myself and also bought them from my co-fishermen and sold them at a higher price. I built three houses as a result of my prosperity and had a four-wheel vehicle, which we called a fishcar. I began to boast. Seldom did I pray, and seldom did I praise the God of heaven. I praised myself, and I loved money. I realized this when God called me back to Him.

I had a very unforgettable experience one day as we were on our journey to deliver one fishcar load of fish to Gensan early in the morning. We saw a single motorcycle ahead of us. Suddenly the driver of that motorcycle, by his careless actions, caused us to have an accident. He was hit by our fishcar and died on the spot. My fishcar driver tried his best to avoid the accident; so our fishcar, after it hit the motorcycle, fell into a deep creek in the area. I saw everything happening and shouted, “Lord God, please save me from this accident.” I closed my eyes, not knowing what would happen next. Afterward, I heard voices above us asking if there were any among us that are not dead. The place was a common accident area, and no one among those who had fallen there had survived. My driver and I were very surprised that we were the first ones to survive an accident in that place. The rest of the people, especially the workers from the funeral home, who had never seen anyone come out alive, were full of amazement.

This experience reminded me of the God of life in heaven and the Savior to whom my mother prayed. After that I returned to God; but more than that, I longed that someday I might serve God with a clear mind and conscience, that someday someone would guide me to a clear understanding of serving God with the hope of eternal salvation. After the accident, I recognized myself as one of those who serve the idol of the world, be they professedly Christians or pagans. Not only false doctrines and theories, not only graven images of stone, silver and gold, but money was the idol that I worshipped.

The God of heaven did not forget me, although many times I forgot Him. First, He answered my long-standing desire of serving God with a clear conscience. He sent to our area Pastor Artemio Aque and his family. They stayed here, and we developed plans to build a church. We brought to the Lord God all of our plans, and He granted us guidance. We erected a church. Before it happened though, most nights I kept dreaming that I was building an extraordinary house but could not finish it by myself and needed companions to help. When I awoke, I asked the Lord about it; then I went back to sleep and the same dream continued. These dreams only stopped when we started to build the church. I understood that this was really God’s plan, for when I asked my wife to give an amount for the church project, she happily responded.

God blessed me even more in a spiritual way, for a man by the name of Brother Nanding came to our place, being introduced to us through Brother “Oca” Barnido of Jamboree. He taught us many things before having a crusade right inside our unfinished church structure. He answered all of our questions from the Bible, exalting, not himself, but the God of Heaven and Jesus our Advocate. When we finished the Bible Prophecy Seminar, thirteen of us happily buried our old sinful life through water baptism. We now experienced how to live in newness of life with the presence of the Holy Spirit each day. I am so happy that I am now walking under the light of heaven according to the words of God in His law and in His testimony, that by the grace of Jesus I may say that I no longer serve the god of this world but with the clearness of mind and heart I am now serving the God of the universe according to Bible truth—to the law and to the testimony of Christ Jesus. 
Testimony of Brother Lino of Batikwal Bible Sabbath Church.

By Nanding Cabahug. Philippines. Support for the work of Ting and Ding can be sent to Mission Projects International, PO Box 59656, Renton, WA 98058.