Message for July 2018 – 8

Dear Youth:
I greet you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and ask that His blessings, love, and guidance be with you in abundance.

Separation of light from darkness

On this occasion we will meditate on the text of John 12:36, “While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

Light is a form of energy that illuminates things, makes them visible, and spreads through particles called photons, in other words, light allows us to see what surrounds us. There are different kinds of light: natural and artificial. The light that comes from the Sun is the main natural source for the Earth, while the light of a light bulb, or any form of electrical light, are artificial. It is impossible to conceive modern life without electricity. Since the invention of the light bulb, the habits and customs of people have changed completely.

At a spiritual level, light is of vital importance because God is light and dwells in the light, (1 Timothy 6:16) “and the light with Him” (Daniel 2:22). David recognized this truth when he said: “For thou art my lamp, O Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.” 2 Samuel 22:29. Jesus is presented as the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5), and for this reason He became flesh, that  hosoever
believes in Him not remain in darkness (John 12:46). Light and darkness have no fellowship (2 Corinthians 6:14). In eternity, when Satan and the ungodly have been destroyed, there will be no more darkness, nor will we need to shine with artificial or sunlight, because the Lord God will be a light to us (Revelation 22:5). Darkness is a symbol of mystery, chaos, disorientation, negativity, injustice, difficulty, and even pain and death. Just as light comes from God (Genesis 1:3), darkness comes from the enemy (Colossians 1:13). Light is a symbol of life, love, truth, justice, security, stability, and triumph.

The light of the word of God

The Bible speaks of light from the first verses of Genesis, and as a rule, it is related to the saving work of God. A person who lives in the light, is someone who knows the truth and lives that truth, because the truth comes from God and the truth is contained in the Bible, which is the Word of God: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105. The emotional stability, security, and happiness of each human being depends on the use he makes of that light. It means, dear youth, that if the revelation of the Scriptures is rejected and we are not guided by them, we walk in darkness and we will surely suffer spiritual illnesses.

When we deprive ourselves of sunlight we suffer from lack of vitamin D, which is very necessary for the organism. It is absorbed through the skin and synthesized better than the one we receive through food and supplements. A lack of it exposes us to suffer chronic diseases of the bones, heart, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and even prostate cancer. In the same way, when we do not
allow ourselves to be reached by the rays of light of the Word of God, we can only expect that our soul languish.

Jesus also taught that the Word of God is the bread of life and that physical  and spiritual bread is sorely lacking (Matthew 4:4). So, we imperatively need light and good food to be physically healthy and the light and bread that flows from the Word of God to nourish our soul, our psyche, and our mind, because the Creator has determined it. Unfortunately, many people, including Christians, do not comprehend it because they neglect their Bible and are not familiar with its contents. This is not a pleasant thing. It should bring us sadness and disappointment to know that the enemy has gotten away with having them— those who call themselves children of God and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—set the things of this world before the things of God, which are eternal.

Risking life for light

In our days, having a Bible in a Western country is the most normal thing in the world; nobody is censored, persecuted, or taken to prison for having it or reading it. More and more, the Bible reaches many parts of the world in greater numbers, even in those countries where Christianity is forbidden. If we are not familiar with our Bible it is because we do not want to be, because it is extremely easy to get a copy, even for free.

Of the approximately 6,900 living languages that exist in the world, the Bible has been translated fully into more than 550 of these languages, and the  New Testament into more than 1,400 languages. I have had the opportunity to get the Bible in Valencian, which is the language of my hometown in Spain, to name an example. I have been given Bibles in many European languages and even in Arabic. Traveling through Latin America, Asia, and Africa, I have had Bibles in my hands of different languages and local dialects, some of them very old. Although many languages still lack to be translated into, the effort that has been made is admirable, and millions of people can read in their own language, or at least one they understand, the revelation of God to humanity.

But this was not always the case; we are privileged. In times past war was declared on those who owned a Bible or a fraction of it. In Europe many died for loving the light contained in the Word of God. The value of Tyndale, Luther, Louis Segond, Jerome, Valera, Reina, Erasmus, Wycliffe, and hundreds more, was that they endeavored so the sacred pages of the Bible would shine in the  language  of their people and nation. These translations put at the disposal of ordinary people the most beautiful and transcendental message that has ever been given to this world. Many of them risked their life and even lost it, but they left a legacy of inestimable value. Do we truly give importance to this?

Embracing the light

Dear youth, the introductory text invites us to believe in the light now that we possess it, that we may be “children of light” and not of darkness. What a blessing we modern Christians have today that we can have the Bible and study it whenever we want! You can buy it in many places, even in supermarkets. And to think that there was a time not so long ago, in which people died to possess a Bible and read it. Julián Hernández comes to mind. Born in Castilla (Spain), he became one of the martyrs of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century.

He was known by the nickname Julianillo because he was short. He worked in Germany and the Netherlands and there learned the trade of the printing press. This was a great blessing for Julianillo because he came to know the Reformation through the writings of Luther and other reformers, and even collaborated in the printing of the first Bibles translated into German.

Julianillo wanted to share with his compatriots the good news of salvation at a time when obscurantism had taken over the Iberian Peninsula. To get out of this dark and deep hole, it was necessary to place in the hands of the people the writings that contained the truth of Jesus. This is how he devised the plan to introduce copies of the New Testament in Spanish, writings of the reformers, and others. This was very risky, because the Inquisition persecuted and burned at the stake those who transported or possessed the writings containing the rays of light. Julianillo adopted the trade of a cloth vendor so that his true mission be not discovered. This was how he fulfilled his high calling to enlighten the minds of the Spaniards who had embraced the truth. He sought out groups of hidden Protestants and brought them the bread of life, as well as news of the brotherhood. A Catholic writer wrote in his book, History of the Society of Jesus in Seville, alluding to Julianillo: “With incredible skill he found secret entrances and exits, and the poison of the new heresy spread with great speed throughout Castile and Andalusia.”

One of the people to whom he gave a New Testament betrayed him to the authorities, but he managed to escape. Later, a woman to whom Julianillo preached to denounced him to the inquisitors. Although he fled he was caught and locked up in a prison in Seville. Those who claimed to be the people of God and protectors of the legacy of the Word of love cruelly tortured Julianillo. The
historical account tells us that most of his limbs were dismembered by “rack” and subsequently burned alive. It happened in December of 1560.

It would seem that the terrible torturers had gotten away with it and that the voice of the humble Julianillo had been silenced forever. But it was not to be so; the seed that he had sown gave its fruit. It turns out that Julianillo left some copies of the New Testament hidden in a convent. Some monks found and read them, this happened in the Monastery of San Isidoro del Campo, Seville. The light of the sacred pages pierced the heart of the monks Cipriano de Valera, Cassiodoro de Reina, and others. They had to flee from Spain to seek refuge in safe lands. Casiodoro de Reina translated the Bible into Spanish and was later  edited by Cipriano de Valera. This Bible is the one I used at the time of writing these lines. This version is known as La Biblia Reina-Valera, and has brought thousands upon thousands of believers of the Hispanic world to the feet of Jesus Christ. We see that the work, the sacrifice, and the death of Julianillo was not in vain. How wonderful is the light of the Gospel! Thousands were willing to die to bathe in even one of its rays.

Dear youth, I encourage you to extend your hand of faith to freely receive the powerful light of truth. Make it yours, walk in it, enjoy the message of Jesus, share it. There will be nothing that satisfies you more in this world than living in the light. I suggest you speak in your meeting about the effort that so many people have made to carry the message of the cross to other souls and what you are willing to do each one of you with the light that heaven has given you. May the Lord bless you. Amen.

José Vicente Giner
Pastor and Director of the Youth Department
General Conference