Friday, January 13, 2017

True Freedom is not Independence

The following commentary illustrates how the Holy Spirit works as wind.  Let us read it.

 True Freedom is not Independence
To illustrate how freedom works in the Biblical sense a script - of sorts - was included in our Teacher's section of our lesson.  I believe it is a powerful illustration.   It is a dialogue between a hand rag puppet and the wind. 
In summary, the puppet is a hand puppet that will only work when someone fills it with his hand.  The puppet insisted that the hand filling it so far was grubby.  So, it did not feel right.  It saw another kind of puppet, the kind that is held up with strings – and thought that this was a better option.  But, once it saw the strings, it realized the other puppet was not better off than itself.  It also noticed that "Whenever I get up and get noticed, it means he's (grubby hands) in charge of my every move. It's nice hearing kids laugh, but deep inside I know I'm just getting dirty inside.  Otherwise I live like this, a total flop." 
The Wind offered to come inside to live, cleanse the dirt inside from the grubby hands, and hold it up without the need for grubby hands to fill it or strings attached.  It was a very expensive procedure, but it would be free to the puppet.  And, it had to be with the puppet's permission.  The puppet had to choose to let the Wind do it.  The Puppet flew away yelling out excitedly, ". . . I'm soaring . . . I'm free!"   The puppet was still not on control, per se, after all the wind lived in Him.  The wind was in charge of every move.  The puppet was not independent, although the puppet felt free.  What was the difference? 
There were probably several factors.  One of which was the cleansing.  Another was the fact that it could soar and not be carried around for the needs and wants of Mr. Grubby Hands.  Also, there is an implication that it was permanent.  The Puppet would no longer be lying down, as long as the wind could live in it, which would be as long as the puppet allowed it to stay.
Based on John 3:8 we could equate the Wind with the Holy Spirit,
John 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit follows Jesus mode of operating.  Jesus says to us in Revelation 3:
Revelation 3:20 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.
So, Christ, via the Holy Spirit, always asks for permission to come in.  We can tell God always asks for permission by Paul's use of the verb, "To Let."  It implies permission.  One example of this word is Philippians 2:5, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:" 
When we open our door the Holy Spirit comes in and begins His work of sanctifying; in other words: cleansing us (Ephesians 5: 25 -27; 1 Thessalonians 5:23).  Then we start experiencing freedom from the power of Sin.  Thus, we also experience freedom from the shame, burden, and guilt that results from Sin.  But, this freedom is only experienced if we are continually letting the Holy Spirit dwell in us.  (Ironically, this will only happen if and as we are looking at the Cross.)  As we become completely and continually dependent on Him, we experience more freedom from the shackles of Sin.  This frees us to serve God.   Thus, if by faith we are dependent on God, then we soar. 

Raul Diaz
Originally Posted by Ulee on 4/09/2010

Friday, January 06, 2017

Go and Ask The One Who Wrote It

Go and Ask The One Who Wrote It

A man wrote a note expressing his views on a subject. He sent this note to some of the people he knew. He wanted their opinion and their input. The people that received it read the note, and afterward started to discuss the content of the note. Many thought he meant one thing, while others thought he meant another. Days passed by and no one got back to the author of the note, but they continued to argue amongst themselves over what they thought the writer meant on the note. Finally, they gave the note to a man known for his practical wisdom. He read the note as the people waited in expectation of what this man would say. The reader nodded when he finished reading. The people asked the man,  "Well, what do you think?" He answered, "I think it is worth pondering. It could be interpreted in many ways. So I do not know…" They all waited to see if he said something else. Then suddenly the man spoke, "Well you all know me to be a very practical man." "We know that is why we are asking you,' said the crowd. "And, I think this needs a practical solution." "And that is?" asked the impatient crowd. The man said very matter-of-factly, "Well, I am going to find the person who wrote this note and ask him personally, what he meant by this." The man left the premises to locate the author of the note. Meanwhile, the crowd stood in place quietly mumbling, "Why did we not think of that?" I believe the Bible presents a similar situation. God inspires men to write it. We read it. We do not readily understand it. So, we discuss and philosophize amongst ourselves what we think God meant. But, we do not ask God Himself what He meant in His Word. 

This week's scripture reading makes a bold statement: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16).  In the Biblical Greek, the word inspired is translated from the word "theopnuestos." Literally, this term mean, "God breathed out." In other words, God exhaled the writings of the Bible on the authors. God did this, not by giving the authors of the Biblical books inspired words, but by inspiring the writers. One of my favorite writers elaborated on this, 

The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, in rhetoric, on trial in the Bible. The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. Look at the different writers. It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts. But the words receive the impress of the individual mind. The divine mind is diffused. The divine mind and will is combined with the human mind and will; thus the utterances of the man are the word of God. (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 21)

So when God exhaled on these Holy men they "spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" 2 Peter 1: 21. The same power that God used to give life to Adam, when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7), is the same power God used to inspire the authors of the Bible. The power that gave life to man also gave life to the Words written in the Holy Writ. 

Since the Bible belongs to the Spirit of God, it follows that The Bible is a Spiritual thing. And, Spiritual things are "spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14). Only those who have received that Spirit of God understand the things of the Spirit. Only those who receive the Spirit can discern spiritual things. To understand the Bible in its purest and simplest form –as the Truth as it is in Jesus - we need the same breath that God gave to those who wrote it. If the Holy Spirit is the author, and He dwells in us, then He should be able to tell us exactly what He meant when then men He inspired wrote as moved by Him. 

The Bible says that "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him" (James 1:5). Jesus Himself says to all, 

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 
Matthew 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 

To the above quote the Apostle James may have added, "Ye have not, because ye ask not" (James 4:2). Jesus also said that the Father is more than willing to give us the Holy Spirit if only we ask for Him (Luke 11:13). Will we continue to discuss amongst ourselves? Or, will we go back to the One that wrote it and let Him breathe His heavenly wisdom upon us? 

Posted by Ulee at 4/13/2007 12:50:00 PM   
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Insight:Discipling the Outcast

After the way, Job's friends treated him he must have felt like an outcast.  The following commentary, previously published,  reveals that the Lord has a place in His heart for outcasts, also.  

Discipling the Outcast

As we did last week, we will review the Biblical definition of a disciple, expand on it, and tie it to the kind of people our lesson is focusing on.  Let us, then, review again the Biblical definition of disciple.  We read in Luke 14: 27, 33 that it is someone who bears their cross and forsakes all and follows Him.  We also have read in John 15: 5 - 8 that a disciple is someone that abides in Christ and bears much fruit.  Three weeks ago we added that since a disciple is a follower of Christ they have responded to Christ invitation come unto Him, take His yoke, learned of Him to be humble and meek and found rest (Matthew 11: 28 – 30).  Two weeks ago we added that discipleship is based solely on devotion to Jesus Christ, not on following after a particular belief, doctrine or cause.  Love and service toward others are the natural outcome of obedience to the Jesus.  Last week we added that a disciple is drawn to Jesus; which means that a disciple is attracted to Christ's love and the Cross (Jeremiah 31: 3; John 12: 32 – 33).  This attraction produces in the disciple an attraction to the cross and follows its path.  The disciple lays down his life for others as Christ did for us (1 John 3: 16).  As Paul says in Ephesians,

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour (Ephesians 5:1, 2).

Ellen White states,

We are to follow the example set by Christ, and make Him our pattern, until we shall have the same love for others as He has manifested for us. He seeks to impress us with this profound lesson of love. . . . If your hearts have been given to selfishness, let Christ imbue you with His love.  He has made love the badge of our discipleship. . . . This is the measurement to which you are to reach,—"Love one another; as I have loved you." What height, what depth and breadth of love! This love is not simply to embrace a few favorites, it is to reach to the lowliest and humblest of God's creatures. Jesus says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." . . . {OFC 27.4}

So, will a disciple love the outcasts?  But, who are the outcasts?  And, since the lesson is called discipling the outcast, then how do you make these outcasts followers of Christ?  An outcast is someone rejected by their society or social group.  By rejected we mean ostracized or marginalized.  They are treated like waste or refuse.  Our lesson points out some of those who were outcast in Jesus time: harlots, publicans (tax collectors), adulterous women, and demoniacs.  The privileged classes, like the Pharisees, thought themselves better.  But, Jesus showed them that God loved all men.  Let us read what Ellen G. White said about the Pharisees concerning the publicans,

'The Pharisees beheld Christ sitting and eating with publicans and sinners. He was calm and self-possessed, kind, courteous, and friendly; and while they could not but admire the picture presented, it was so unlike their own course of action, they could not endure the sight. The haughty Pharisees exalted themselves, and disparaged those who had not been blessed with such privileges and light as they themselves had had. They hated and despised the publicans and sinners. Yet in the sight of God their guilt was the greater. Heaven's light was flashing across their pathway, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it"; but they had spurned the gift" (The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1,088.).

Is it that to God some sin is greater than other?  Again from Ellen White,

God does not regard all sins as of equal magnitude; there are degrees of guilt in His estimation,  as well as in that of man; but however trifling this or that wrong act may seem in the eyes of men, no sin is small in the sight of God. Man's judgment is partial, imperfect; but God estimates all things as they really are. The drunkard is despised and is told that his sin will exclude him from heaven; while pride, selfishness, and covetousness too often go unrebuked.  But these are sins that are especially offensive to God; for they are contrary to the benevolence of His character, to that unselfish love which is the very atmosphere of the unfallen universe. He who falls into some of the grosser sins may feel a sense of his shame and poverty and his need of the grace of Christ; but pride feels no need, and so it closes the heart against Christ and the infinite blessings He came to give.  {SC 30.1} 

Because of what Ellen White has stated, to God, pride is the worst of all Sin.  We look at how Christ treated the adulterous woman.  He did not overlook her Sin, but rather forgave her.  He did not intend to condemn her, but to restore her.  Ellen White says,

"In His act of pardoning this woman and encouraging her to live a better life, the character of Jesus shines forth in the beauty of perfect righteousness. While He does not palliate sin, nor lessen the sense of guilt, He seeks not to condemn, but to save. The world had for this erring woman only contempt and scorn; but Jesus speaks words of comfort and hope. The Sinless One pities the weakness of the sinner, and reaches to her a helping hand. While the hypocritical Pharisees denounce, Jesus bids her, "Go, and sin no more." (The Desire of Ages, pp. 460-462).

In being treated with love the former demoniac and the woman at the well became disciples immediately.  They gave witness about the great things Christ had done for them.  As a result of this others believed.  Another quote from Ellen White gives us more insight in this,

"We are saved by hope." Romans 8:24. The fallen must be led to feel that it is not too late for them to be men. Christ honored man with His confidence and thus placed him on his honor. Even those who had fallen the lowest He treated with respect. It was a continual pain to Christ to be brought into contact with enmity, depravity, and impurity; but never did He utter one expression to show that His sensibilities were shocked or His refined tastes offended. Whatever the evil habits, the strong prejudices, or the overbearing passions of human beings, He met them all with pitying tenderness. As we partake of His Spirit, we shall regard all men as brethren, with similar temptations and trials, often falling and struggling to rise again, battling with discouragements and difficulties, craving sympathy and help. Then we shall meet them in such a way as not to discourage or repel them, but to awaken hope in their hearts. (The Ministry of Healing, pp. 164-165).

As we partake of the His Spirit, His love will flow to others.  You will recognize yourself in them.  After all, who has not ever felt rejected, worthless and despondent?  In spite of how you felt, and whether it was warranted or not,  Christ was merciful and loving toward you.  He let you know how much you are worth to Him.  You were bought with a price.  You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6: 19, 20).  He owns you. Deliver yourself to Him.
Raul Diaz

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Character of Job

If Job was "blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil" of what and why did he repent?  As we read the book, we realize that Job used the pronoun "I" a lot.  Job's experience revealed Job lacked something.  The experience in Job revealed hidden self-righteousness.  Job was willing to let God reprove him and cleanse him of this Sin.  The humility exhibited by Job is what made him, "blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil."  The following commentary shows that throughout the Bible God's people have displayed the same humility.  

With the Rich and Famous

Last week I made the mistake of giving a title of the lesson that it did not have.  I called it discipling the outcasts.  The real title was "Jesus and the outcasts."  This week's lesson does not use the verb discipling either.  It is entitled "With the rich and famous."  Omitting the verb discipling is not, I believe, a trivial matter.  Most of the other lessons that talk about categories of people talk about how to make them disciples.  We have covered in the previous weeks the Biblical definition of a disciple, and what it implies.  Can this definition apply to the outcasts, the rich and the famous?  The chosen titles for the lesson seem to be giving an incorrect understanding that these categories of people will not be disciples. 

The woman at the well told everyone about Jesus, so did the man freed from demons (John 4: 28 – 30; Mark 5: 19 – 20).  Then we have Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.  Ellen White says about Nicodemus,

When at last Jesus was lifted up on the cross, Nicodemus remembered the teaching upon Olivet: "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." The light from that secret interview illumined the cross upon Calvary, and Nicodemus saw in Jesus the world's Redeemer.  …  After the Lord's ascension, when the disciples were scattered by persecution, Nicodemus came boldly to the front. He employed his wealth in sustaining the infant church that the Jews had expected to be blotted out at the death of Christ. In the time of peril he who had been so cautious and questioning was firm as a rock, encouraging the faith of the disciples, and furnishing means to carry forward the work of the gospel. He was scorned and persecuted by those who had paid him reverence in other days. He became poor in this world's goods; yet he faltered not in the faith which had its beginning in that night conference with Jesus.  {DA 177}

Nicodemus became a disciple of Christ in all the sense of the word.  Now, we need to make sure we understand that although the words of Christ to the woman at the well were different from the words to Nicodemus, they are in essence the same concept.  Christ used words that each of His listeners would understand.  The woman at the well understood the Gospel from the perspective of Living water.  Nicodemus understood the Gospel from the perspective of being born again and light versus darkness.  These two metaphors are not that non-relatable.  Fetuses are in darkness in the womb: once born they are exposed to the light. 

Once born, the fetus cannot go back in.  Imagine a fetus that could rationally think about setting goals and planning for the tenth month in the womb.  Then all of the sudden this baby is born.  Whatever goals and plans the baby had will never be.  It is a new world.  It is a new life.  New goals and plans must be set and made for the new life.  Such is the new birth experience.  The life in the womb represents, in this metaphor, the life of the flesh.  The life outside the womb is the life in the Spirit. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The problem with many of us is that we refuse to leave the womb.  It is warm, cozy, and comfortable – like the Shunamite's room when her lover comes knocking (Songs 5: 1 – 3).  We like its darkness.  Consider what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3,

John 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
John 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. 

The problem of Nicodemus is the problem with Laodicea.  It prefers to live in deception. It prefers its spiritual blindness.  "If I cannot see it, I do not have to deal with it.  I do not know. Therefore, I should not be held accountable."  If a man is diagnosed with cancer and refuses to know what he has, the disease with still kill him.  Choosing to hear the diagnosis, and undergo the treatment of the condition could prevent the man's death.  What is the problem with Laodicea?

Revelation 3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
Revelation 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Like Nicodemus, Laodicea is living comfortably in its delusion, unaware of its true condition and how it makes God feels.  God wants so much to heal Laodicea. We read God's plea on the following verses,  

 Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Revelation 3:20 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.

This message is akin to the young rich ruler.  "You think you have all that, but you lack one thing.  Therefore sell all you have, and give it to the poor, and follow me."  It is a call to discipleship.  We are Nicodemus.  We are the young rich ruler.  Christ's plea to them is His plea to us.  

Raul Diaz