Friday, December 28, 2012
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Friday, December 14, 2012
Friday, December 07, 2012
Friday, November 30, 2012
Vehicle Not Needed
The Hebrew sacrificial system was a vehicle. It was a medium through which God transmitted or expressed the Gospel message to humanity. It foreshadowed the death of Christ, and was a living parable of what His death would do for the World. The sacrifices of birds and animals made by the people and the priests, symbolized Christ. Thus, Christ became the antitype. While we say that the sacrifices were symbolic, in no way does that lessen the enormity of the penalty for the lack of corporate and individual participation. There is danger in merely viewing the sacrifices as symbolic, for the guilt and punishment of those who did not participate was real-- they were cut off. You see, the sacrifices in themselves meant nothing, unless there was true sorrow and turning toward Christ, the Saviour. The genuineness of repentance and conversion was demonstrated by penitent sinners' participatation in the sacrificial system. God required this so all could truly understand the depravity of Sin, and the depths to which it would take its victims. He further desired the Israelites to discern that "the wages of Sin is death, but the GIFT of God is eternal life ..." (Romans 6:23). This is what the the earthly sacrificial system vehicle was to teach the people.
When Christ died on the hill of Golgotha, the sanctuary vehicle used to teach the Israelites had come to rest. It was no longer needed, for type had met antitype. The whole world had reached the destination intended by the creator-- that of being justified by the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world (Romans 5:18,
Revelation 13:8). The books of the gospel record the crucifixion, and the ripping apart of the old vehicle to make way for the new. Let us look at Matthew 27, which reads:
Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land
unto the ninth hour.
Matthew 27:50 Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up
Matthew 27:51 And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to
the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;
In another Gospel Jesus is recorded saying, "It is Finished." As John the Baptist had stated, The "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," had been sacrificed for Humanity's sake. It was a complete and sufficient sacrifice, which rendered the human race reconciled with God (Romans 5:10,Ephesians 2:16). The old had gone, and the new had come. Sister White writes of the death of Christ, the ripping apart of the veil, and the new vehicle of intimacy with God in this way:
The darkness still hung like a pall over Jerusalem. At the moment in which Christ died, there were priests ministering in the temple before the vail which separated the holy from the most holy place. Suddenly they felt the earth tremble beneath them, and the veil of the temple, a strong, rich drapery that had been renewed yearly, was rent in twain from top to bottom by the same bloodless hand that wrote the words of doom upon the walls of Belshazzar's palace. The most holy place, that had been entered by human feet only once a year, was revealed to the common gaze. God had even before protected His temple in a wonderful manner; but now its sacred mysteries were exposed to curious eyes. No longer would the presence of God overshadow the earthly mercy-seat. No longer would the light of His glory flash forth upon, or the cloud of His disapproval shadow, the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest … When Christ died upon the cross of Calvary, a new and living way was opened to both Jew and Gentile. The Saviour was henceforth to officiate as Priest and Advocate in the heaven of heavens. Henceforth the blood of beasts offered for sin was valueless; for the Lamb of God had died for the sins of the world. (E. G. White Notes, page 58)
Prior to Christ dying, He initiated another symbol to serve as a vehicle foreshadowing the type of intimacy He wished us to have with one another, and with the Godhead. That intimacy is symbolized in the Service of Humility and in Holy Communion (Luke 22:19). With the foot washing, we become humble in mind and in attitude. We are reminded that all our righteousness is as a filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and that the washing and purifying of the Word, cleanses us. In the eating and drinking of unleavened bred and wine, we partake further of the mind of Christ, and are fed with the Words or scenes of His life, death and resurrection. Accepting God and others above ourselves, we become one with God, and leave self behind. The symbol of foot washing and communion is in and of itself meaningless, unless the heart is repentant. But a repentant heart often comes from or through the vehicle of participation, by the Holy Spirit. While non-participation may not harden our hearts, by the same token, it does not allow the Holy Spirit to soften our hearts either. Ultimately, if we choose not to participate in an ongoing manner in the Service of Humility & Communion, if we choose not to take the new vehicle, we probably will not arrive at our new destination. Unfortunately, that means we'll probably miss out on
that great event to which we've all been personally invited, the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. What a disappointment that will be to Jesus, and to all who love us and are there. Those who are willing, and take the vehicle to our new destination, will find when they arrive that the vehicle is no longer necessary, for it has delivered us safely. I'm looking forward to that day, how about you?
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes
Friday, November 23, 2012
There is an amusing story that says that different members of the body got together to talk one day. As normally happens when individuals get together, they start bragging about who is the best. Each member of the body spoke very highly of himself and gave reasons why he was the most important part of the body. After each member had spoken, all were at odds. (The Brain was not mentioned in this story) Through all the bragging, the colon remained silent. Appealing to the colon as to a referee, the other members of the body decided that the colon should decide who was the most important. Much to their surprise, the colon answered, "I am the most important part of the body." Stunned, they all burst into spontaneous laughter, and began deriding and humiliating the colon. "You only deal with waste," said some members. Others cried out, "You are in the darkest part of the body." Confident of his claim, the colon remained calm. After a moment or two, the other members became silent, and only then did the colon speak. Still unruffled, he said to them, "I will show you." So, for the next three days, the colon closed itself off, so that no waste would leave the body. Of course, the excrement backed up, the digested food had no place to go, and the other members started complaining that they were not getting their nutrients, so they too had to shut down. By the fourth day, all the body members clamored, "please, open up, we agree with you, you're the most important part of our body." After this, the colon opened up, and the body returned to normal in a short time.
I submit to you that this scenario could only happen if the members of the body talked only to each other, and stopped communicating with the head (the brain or mind). The members of our body seem to cooperate rather well with one another, however, upon closer inspection, it is apparent that they really work together only in cooperation with the brain. The brain is the headquarters, where each of the members sends his concerns. The mind is the one that gives instructions which, if carefully followed, alleviates the concerns. The hands do not talk to the eyes or legs. When the stomach is hungry, it signals the brain. The brain in turn tells the legs, “go to the refrigerator,” and then tells the hands, “open the door,” and so on. The stomach did not talk to the legs or any other part of the body. Not one member of the body consulted with another, instead, all concerns (and desires) go to the brain. The decision to eat is not a community decision; it is the brain's decision. The brain is the one that is in charge of the bodily system. The community (of bodily members) is not. This is the system that God has designed, and it works effectively and efficiently to carry out the tasks that He has designed.
The Apostle Paul very aptly compares the Christian Church with the body of Christ. In this metaphor, we -- the believers, are the different members of the body, while Christ is the head. Christ sends His Spirit to our minds, and in conjunction with the Godhead, He controls the mind (if we allow Him to). As a consequence of receiving the Indwelling Holy Spirit, we receive the attributes of "lowliness and meekness (humility), with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:2, 3). And the Holy Spirit gives to each of us, spiritual gifts according to His discernment. As Ephesians 4 says:
Ephesians 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Ephesians 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
You see, as long as we remain connected to the Head, the Spirit remains in us. As long as the Spirit remains in us, we have the attributes (love, peace, long-suffering, patience, meekness, humility, etc.) and the gifts. However, when we start consulting with one another as if we were a community, than we lose the attributes, which is what brings cohesion among us, and we lose (or misuse) the gifts. The attributes and the gifts come from the same source, and they are part of one package. You cannot have one without the other.
For the church to function as a body, we need to behave more like a body, by communicating with the Head (through prayer, devotions, and bible study). As long as the church acts like a community, it ignores the Head, works in its own strength, and loses the blessings of the attributes and the Gifts, and fails. For the Church to be an effective body, it must stop behaving like a community, and it starts by allowing Christ - the Head - to coordinate and order all things.
Posted originally on 11/17/2005
Friday, November 16, 2012
"Arming" for Victory
Memory text: Ephesians 6:13
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
By now we have heard a lot about the armor but very little about the victory. What is victory in Biblical terms? Victory is the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist. Who is our enemy? Some may say the Devil, and they are right. Some may say death, and they are right also. However, when Christ spoke about overcoming He mentioned the world. Jesus told His disciples,
John 16: 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
What is about the world or what does it represent that needs to be overcome? In a few verses above this chapter Christ gives us a hint,
John 16: 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
John 16: 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
John 16: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Christ said to the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes He will reprove the world of Sin, among other things. Why Sin? Because, the world – those who live in it – do not believe in Him. Why does the world do not believe in Christ? When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He said that the condemnation of the world was "that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). So, the world is condemned because they have chosen not to believe in the "Light of the world." This was the problem of Israel while in the wilderness. Paul says in Hebrews that they did not enter the rest – of Christ – because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:19; 4:6). It was still a problem among Jews in Jesus' day (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). So, as we see the word chosen for their condition is unbelief.
Unbelief is used for two Greek terms: one of them meaning no faith, and the other one apathy. But apathy is a compound word: a + pathy . Pathy comes from pathos. Pathos comes from peithos, of which the root word is pistis or faith. Paul uses apathy to refer to the Israelites in the wilderness. Now Paul refer to the apathy – lack of feeling or concern because of not believing – of the Israelites to warn the people of his day that they too could fall in the same trap (Hebrews 4:11). This is an ongoing battle going on in our hearts and minds. Ellen White also warns us about it. Ellen White says,
"In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release. . . . We are urged to prepare for this conflict. 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.' The warning is repeated, 'Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.'" -Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 328.
So, the implication is that those who put on the armor will overcome the wiles of the devil, of which one of the greatest weapons is unbelief. So, to put on the armor then is to be born of God, because they are the ones who overcome the world. And, they do so by faith – by hearing and believing the word of God. The Apostle John says,
1 John 5: 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
1 John 5: 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
So, there is no need for unbelief to be part of our lives. Christ has given us His victory.