Friday, August 18, 2017

Adoption in Christ

Adoption in Christ

A previous lesson stated that "Both the Old Testament and the New Testament offer hope set in real life stories." It adds that in this way, "God seeks to reclaim his Children;" this shows that God uses our reality to try to teach us His truth. He does this so that we can relate to His teachings so that we can understand Him. More specifically, He does this so that we can know how He feels about and for us, and also about Sin. 

What are some examples of our reality He uses? He uses the example of a lover. One good example is Jeremiah 3: 1 – 10. Let us read parts of that passage,

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jeremiah 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

As said above, He also uses the example of a parent. Consider Jesus plea to the Jews in Matthew 23:37,

Matthew 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

When you, in fact, read Deuteronomy 30:15 – 16, the language comes across as very paternal. Let us read the passage,

Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

He wants us to listen to Him. He has our best interest at heart. He loves us. He desires to spare us from the consequences of our bad choices. Paul talks about this Hebrews 12: 5 – 11,

Hebrews 12: 5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:
Hebrews 12: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12: 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Hebrews 12: 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Hebrews 12: 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Hebrews 12: 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Hebrews 12: 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

So, He chastens those He loves, as a father or mother would when we do not listen. It is not a desire to punish, but a willingness to correct and show the right way; a way that will bring us closer to Him, the Lover of our Souls. 

Yes, God hates Sin to the point of He would rather die, than to live with it. But, He does not hate us. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Not one of us is righteous or just. We all fall short of the glory of God. However, God wants to remedy that. That is why He sent His Son. And, sending His Son - as stated in Galatians 4:1-7 - is the biggest proof that He loves us. Let us read,

Galatians 4:1-7
Galatians 4: 1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Galatians 4: 2But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Galatians 4: 3Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Galatians 4:4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Galatians 4:5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Galatians 4:6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Galatians 4:7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Through Christ, God has not disowned us but adopted us; this is what the world needs to know.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning 'against' and bios meaning 'life.'  Antibiotic is also known as antibacterial, and they are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria cause such illnesses as tuberculosis, salmonella, syphilis and some forms of meningitis.  Our immune system can usually destroy bacteria before they can multiply and cause symptoms. We have special white blood cells that attack harmful bacteria. Even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much, and our bodies need some help - from antibiotics. 

The first antibiotic was penicillin.  Penicillin-Related antibiotics are widely used today to treat a variety of infections - these antibiotics have been around for a long time. There are several different types of modern antibiotics and they are only available with a doctor's prescription in industrialized countries.

So, antibiotics target not only microorganisms such as bacteria but also fungi and parasites. However, they are not effective against viruses. Also, when antibiotics are misused there is a chance that the bacteria will become resistant - hence, the antibiotic becomes less effective. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours.  

It is important to complete the whole course of the medication to prevent the disease from coming back, even if you are feeling better. If you do not complete the course, there is a higher chance the bacteria may become resistant to future treatments - because the ones that survive when you did not complete the course have had some exposure to the antibiotic and may consequently have built up a resistance to it. 

If Sin were a bacterial infection, then Jesus would be an antibiotic, of sorts (Jesus is not against life).  Why antibiotic and not vaccine?  First, vaccines are preventive, antibiotic remedial.  We are already sick with Sin (Romans 3:10 – 12; 5:12), we need a remedy.  Second, vaccines are typically a dead or weakened specimen of the same creature making you sick.  They are injected to make us immune to the disease; which is a different way of saying they are to boost our immune system to fight the disease, should we be infected.  Although Jesus became Sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), God's intention is not to make us stronger in case we fall in Sin.  Furthermore, it is not the Jesus that came in the likeness of Sinful flesh that enters in us and dwells in us, it is the glorified Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Again, we are already infected, and God's intention is to kill the sin in us.  God does not inject weak Sin in us to make us stronger. 

Jesus is an effective antibiotic.  He stops Sin from reproducing and also kills it.  When Jesus dwells in us, He changes the way we think.  Christ transforms us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).  He writes the law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), thus getting rid of the self-centeredness of Sin; this is what He wanted to with the Israelites.  But, they refused (Exodus 19 and 20).  So, God gave them the Law, not as a way to heal them, but as a way to diagnose their illness (Exodus 20; Galatians 3:19).  The Law was akin to a list of symptoms.  When any of these symptoms are present, you need Jesus your antibiotic, to kill the bacteria of Sin or to make sure it does not keep reproducing.  It is then that either the symptoms will go away or will not bother you.  But, the Israelites thought that getting rid of the symptoms meant they were Ok.  However, the sin-bacteria were still alive in them creating havoc inside. 

The antibiotic is free to us (given by grace), we take it by faith.  It must take it for as long as we live in this world of Sin because as long as we are here, the bacteria always find a way to resurface unless the antibiotic course is completed.  The day when Christ returns (Galatians 3:23, 25; 1 Corinthians 15:52 - 54) the course will be completed, we will be healed.  Until then, we will need that diagnosis list – The Law – so it will let us know when we have a symptom (Galatians 3:23 -25).

Jesus is better than an antibiotic.  There is something cool about this Jesus antibiotic that the antibiotic does not have.  Jesus antibiotic not only kills the bacteria of sin but also gives life to the Host of the bacteria.  We read in 1 John 5:11-13

 1 John 5: 11 And this is the record: that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5: 12 He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.
1 John 5: 13 These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.

Since eternal life is in Jesus, when He dwells in us, we have eternal life.  So, Jesus not only eradicates Sin, but He also gives us life.  Praise the Lord!
 RR
Raul Diaz

Thursday, August 03, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017

INSIGHT #6 AUGUST 5, 2017
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THIRD QUARTER 2017 ADULT SABBATH SCHOOL LESSONS
"THE PRIORITY OF THE PROMISE"
AUGUST 5, 2017

Inheritance

A will is a legal instrument that permits a person, the testator, to
make decisions on how his estate will be managed and distributed after
his death. Years ago there was a distinction between a will and a
testament, but over time the distinction has disappeared in that a
will, can also be known as a "last will and testament." A will serves
a variety of important purposes. It enables a person to select his
heirs rather than allowing the state laws of descent and distribution
to choose the heirs, who, although among blood relatives, might be
people the testator deems as unfit or with whom he is unacquainted.
Therefore a will allows a person to decide which individual could best
serve as the executor of his estate, distributing the property to the
beneficiaries while protecting their interests, rather than allowing a
court to appoint a stranger to serve as administrator. In addition, a
will also safeguards a person's right to select an individual to serve
as guardian to raise his young children in the event of his death.
Thus, the testator bequeaths his property or estate to heirs of his
choosing. To the heirs, what is bequeathed to them is an inheritance.
The heirs typically receive the inheritance without having to work for
it; it is a gift.

Now, the word "covenant" today means contract, but in the Bible it can
be used in two ways. In the Greek, we have two separate words that
can be translated as the word "covenant" in English. The words are
'will' and 'contract'. As seen above, a will is made by one person but
may affect many. The word translated as covenant in relation to what
God gave to Abraham, is "will." A contract, however, is made between
two persons. For example, the giving of the law at Mount Sinai ended
up being like a contract, not because it was the Lord's intention, but
because of the response of the Hebrews. God gave the law and the
Hebrews responded with, "All that you have said we will do" (Exodus
24:3).

What we see in Genesis is that the Lord promised an inheritance to
certain individuals. The Lord did this with Noah, his sons and all
the creatures alive after the flood (Genesis 9:9-11). Neither Noah,
his sons, nor the animals responded to God with what they would do,
they just received the promise.

A few chapters later, the promise of inheritance was also given to
Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3,

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and
from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will
shew thee:

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and
make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless
them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee
shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abraham responded by hearing and believing the word of God.
The Lord appeared to Abraham in chapter 15 and reiterated the promise.
Abraham asked the Lord who should be his heir and the Lord answered, I
will give you a son "that shall come forth out of thine own bowels"
(Genesis 15:4). The Lord then told Abraham to look at the sky and
count the stars. Abraham realized he could not, to which the Lord
said, "Your seed will be as numerous as the stars in the sky" (Genesis
15:5). Then verse 6 gives us one of the most important thoughts in
the Bible: Abraham, "… believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him
for righteousness."

When Abraham asked for surety, the Lord had him prepare a sacrifice in
the way 'business deals' were confirmed in his time. Abraham slayed
the animals and laid them on the ground according to the custom. The
custom was for both parties involved in the deal to walk through the
sacrifice. However, in verse 17, we read only the Lord walked through
the sacrifice. This showed that God did not make a deal or contract
with Abraham. The Lord promised Abraham the inheritance and the Lord
would deliver it. Abraham (and his Seed) just accepted the
inheritance by faith.

Sadly, to the Jews this posed a problem. Why give the Law? What was
the purpose? (Wherefore the Law?) Paul answered, that it was added
(spoken) "because of transgression" (Galatians 3:19). The law was
added because of unbelief. Why did Moses permit divorce? Moses
allowed divorce, because of the hardness of their hearts (Matthew
19:7-8). The law was spoken to show the children of Israel, and the
world, how sinful they were and how incapable they were of keeping the
law. It was spoken to make sin exceedingly sinful (Romans 7:13). It
was spoken to make justification by faith desirable and was never
meant to be used as an instrument to achieve righteousness or to be a
method for salvation. The law is not an alternate. Therefore, it has
not disannulled justification by faith.

In Paul's time a Will or Testament could not be changed (by taking
away or adding anything) or disannulled after it was confirmed
(Galatians 3:15). Thus Paul is saying that the promises made to
Abraham and his Seed cannot be modified or disannulled, either
(Galatians 3:17). Just so, the giving of the Law did not change the
covenant, nor "make the promise of none effect" (Galatians 3:17).
Paul adds in verse 18, "For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no
more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise." And, Abraham
believed God. For this reason, the law was not spoken to Abraham
because he believed the promises of the inheritance. Had the children
of Israel believed as Abraham believed, there would have been no need
for the law and no need to write it on tablets of stone. The Lord
would have written the law in their hearts.

So what about today? Are we repeating the same mistake by
misperceiving the Promises of God as well as the law? Are we demanding
the Lord to be in a contract with us in regards to the law, and the
inheritance, in order to earn His favor? Or will we allow Him to write
the law in our hearts and minds, so that when He (the Lord) makes
promises, we'll respond with a heartfelt, "I believe, help Thou my
unbelief?"

~Raul Diaz


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Raul Diaz
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Friday, July 28, 2017

Christ our Substitute

Christ our Substitute

The dictionary defines the noun substitute as one that takes the place of another or replacement.  This definition implies the existence of particular requirements.   For example,

1.       The substitute should come from the same pool of person substituted.
2.       The Substitute should have similar if not equal training (same could be said of properties or characteristics).
3.      The substitute must be available to do substitute when necessary.
4.      The substitute should identify with the person being substituted.

A substitute teacher replaces the regular teacher if the latter is unavailable.  In some regions, the qualifications for substitute teaching may not be as strict as those for a regular teacher.  However, at a minimum, for mosts districts, a college degree is required.  Some districts require the successful completion of competency tests.   Other districts insist on full teaching qualifications.  Implied in these requirements is that the substitute teacher must be an adult.   In summation, schools are looking for people with similar academic preparation and work experience.  

In the game of basketball a substitute player is a member of the team, that plays as well or almost as well as the one substituted.  Also, as a member of the same team, the substitute has the same interest and goal as the player being substituted.  So, there is identification.  

When we say that Christ was our substitute, this must mean that He must have fulfilled the above requirements.  As God incarnate, He became one of us, so He came from our pool.  He grew up as we grew up.  He was trained as we were (or as we could be) trained.  He was touched with our infirmities and tempted in all things as we are (yet without Sin; Hebrews 4:15).  Many times the Bible says, that Christ was moved with compassion to serve others.  So, He identified with us.  Evidently, if He was doing the job, He was available. 

All of the above would qualify Jesus to be a substitute, but not our Savior.  To save us Jesus identification went beyond a mere sympathy.  Jesus became us.  The idea is that when Jesus came to this earth, we were all in Him, just as Levi was in Abraham when Levi paid tithes to Melchisedec.  We see this idea echoing in Romans 5 and 6 when Paul contrasts the two Adams.  In the following verses, Paul reveals the premise,

Rom5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Rom5:17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
Rom5:18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
Rom6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

When Adam sinned, we all sinned.  We were all in Adam.  But, when Christ conquered Sin in the flesh, so did we.  We were in Christ, which is why we die and are buried with Him.  So, we have resurrected with Him also; which is why Paul says that in Christ we are in Heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).  The above explains why Paul says in Galatians 3:13 that, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: 'Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.'"  Jesus can do this because He is us.  Paul repeats the same concept in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Christ did not merely replace us.  He did not merely die our death.  His identity with us was complete.  He carried our Sin and us in Him.  So, He suffered the curse that we should suffer, but we suffered it with Him. And, since He was victorious, His victory is our victory.  But, do we believe it? 

Raul Diaz