Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Counterfeit Gospel

A counterfeit is something which imitates the genuine article -- with the
intent to defraud or deceive. Such is the case with forged documents,
jewelry, leather goods, and many renown works art. Counterfeiters, in the
form of talented artists, have adeptly reproduced genuine articles, in the
hope of profiting from their deception. Counterfeiting has reached such epic
proportions, that global policing and investigative agencies have united to
protect their countries from the flow of stolen goods and services.

While the motive of the counterfeiter is evident with those who traffic in goods
and services, it not so with those who propagate a spuriously false gospel.
Profiting from deception is not merely the domain of earthly counterfeiters,
but is the specialty of the evil one who is at war with the God of the universe.
You see, profit is not always gained in the form of material goods. Sometimes,
what is acquired is a soul.

Human organizations put great effort into catching counterfeiters, should
God and those who love Him do any less. By no means am I suggesting that
we should be on the offensive toward counterfeiters. No, instead, we should
become so familiar with the original, that the imitation is recognized immediately.

Matthew 24:24 says that in the last days the deception would be so clever
that if it were possible the very elect would be deceived. So here we are studying the book of Daniel, becoming knowledgeable concerning the gospel, and the power of our Judge and Advocate, that we might not be deceived. Daniel 8:11 says regarding the earthly power that shall attempt to deceive the whole world,

Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the
daily*…was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down.

This verse presents to us a master plan to keep us from learning the true
Gospel. By introducing a counterfeit gospel, the Papacy has taken away
the daily ministration of Christ, and has cast down the sanctuary. It is a deception
so great, that the majority of the world follows it as if it was the true gospel. Not only has the Papacy, under the power of Satan, effectively convinced the world that the Roman Catholic Church has authority to forgive and atone for sins, but that there is no heavenly sanctuary at all. Through the doctrines of the Papacy, even we have come to believe in a diminished atonement, and that Christ was unlike ourselves.
The result of this is that many of us believe that we have a saviour who came to save
us from the second death, but that we have no earthly example of how to overcome
sin. Consequently, we believe we can be expected to continue in our sins--till He

Many of us understand the big picture of the role the Papacy has played in the past.
Some of us believe that this role will expand in the future till it is global in scope and power. However, many of us do not rightly understand the framework of Papal beliefs, and how these doctrines have effected us. Underestimating the power and determined plan of Satan to oppose God's kingdom through us, we often think that our personal trials demonstrate the force of evil. But Satan's plans are more far reaching and sinister than that. How wise to remember that only one of his intents is to deceive us into being defrauded from everlasting life. The other is to defraud many through our influence, and ultimately to defraud God of the pleasure of our company throughout eternity. It's true, human beings, through confessing the secrets of their hearts to the priests, have elevated the priests to a position only Christ should have. The priests, claiming tobe representatives of Christ have taught that they can absolve those who trust them, of their sins. So far they have carried the deception that they claim that in their communion service Christ dies all over again, and the bread and wine are truly the flesh and blood of Christ. In essence, the Roman Catholic Church has convinced the world that the remission of Sin needs no shedding of blood, countering the essential biblical truth found in Hebrews 10:18:

Now where remission of these (sins, iniquities and transgressions) is, there is no more offering for sin.

Sister White adds,

They were taught not only to look to the pope as their mediator but to trust to works of their own to atone for sin. Long pilgrimages, acts of penance, the worship of relics, the erection of churches, shrines, and altars, the payment of large sums to the church--these and many similar acts were enjoined to appease the wrath of God or to secure his favor; as if God were like men, to be angered at trifles, or pacified by gifts or acts of penance (E. G. White Notes, p.63-4)!

By perpetuating the painful physical beating and bruising aspect of Christ's Crucifixion, in contrast to His broken heart of love, and His ultimate separation from His Father's face (2nd death), they have blocked the world from the knowledge and experience of His self-denying love. Therefore, the people are unable to enter boldly into the Most Holy place to receive the ultimate benefits of Christ's intercession on their behalf (that they overcome as He overcame). This is where Christ is -- ministering at this very moment (Hebrews 4:16). By blocking the knowledge of the sanctuary, the entrance is blocked, and the world does not pass in to transfer their sins to the sanctuary. Since, they do not defile the Sanctuary with the Blood of Jesus to take away their sins, they keep their Sin. When the sanctuary is cleansed in the Great Cosmic Age of Atonement, which we believe is now,
they are not cleansed. Through this great deception of the counterfeit Gospel, the Devil has secured the eternal condemnation of the World (all those who will not believe).

How can we keep from falling in this trap? Christ has said He is able to keep us from falling, and present us faultless (without a blemished, stained character) before the Father with exceeding joy. (Jude 24). You know, the best way to spot a counterfeit, is still to know the original. Brothers and sisters, let us become one with God--in Christ. Let's go on to know Him so well, that the mere sound of His voice woos us to follow Him. Christ said that His sheep know His voice (John 10: 1-30). It is in this type of relationship that we are safe from the trap, for we cannot be safe alone. Only the indwelling Holy Spirit protects us with His power of discernment from this great deception. Oh, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us not be enemies of the cross, despising the shame. Let's choose instead to trust Him.

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dressed For The Judgment

We live in a society that judges individuals according to their attire, ascribing
values based on socio-economical status to people. We then proceed to treat
the person according to our evaluation of them, based in part, on their attire.
The better the dress for the occasion or event, the better treatment they receive. The worse the dress for the occasion, well, you get the picture. The point is that how we dress matters. Yes, we live in a very casual society, and we've all heard the come as you are mantra. But you would be as unlikely to attend a wedding in shorts, as you would be to picnic, wearing -- a tuxedo. True? Yes, dress matters, not only to human beings, but even to God.

How we dress spiritually, will determine whether we will be part of the group who will be vindicated and shall possess the eternal kingdom. According to Daniel 7: 22, 26-27:

Dan 7:22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Dan 7:26-27 But the judgment shall sit, … And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the
people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The investigative judgment will determine whether we are properly dressed or not.

Consider the Parable of the wedding banquet in Matthews 22:1-14. A king
calls for his guests to come to his son’s wedding. Most of the guests, who
had already been invited, decline to attend, although preparations had been
made for their attendance. Many declined for personal reasons. Others, became irritated and eventually angry at those reminding them of the upcoming wedding. Annoyed, they verbally abuse, and push the King's messengers away. Snatching the invitation, they tear it into shreds, and with contempt, throw it to the ground, and step on it. This they feel will finally settle the matter of their attendance. But no, other messengers are sent, requesting the presence of these subjects to the King's son's wedding. Angry beyond measure, the invitees quarrel with the messengers. As their contempt and rage climb, the crowd grows, till with mob mentality, the invitees kill the King's messengers, and burn the invitations. The King himself, is insulted and outraged at the behavior of his subjects and friends. Justice requires that he quell the insurrection, so he sends his army to avenge the death of his servants. But everything is still ready. The wedding cake is dressed
and stands in the middle of the ballroom floor, the flowers adorn each table. The orchestra awaits the command to strike the first cord. The singers await the first note. The five course meal is reheating, and even the bride and groom to be await the guests. Frustrated, the Prince asks his Father the King, "How long Father, how much longer shall we wait?" "Doesn't anyone want to attend this joyous occasion?" "Didn't they say they were coming?" "What has happened?" "Don't they know you could command their attendance, yet you have invited them, and they-- have refused." "What more could we do?"

Saddened that his friends have rejected the royal invitation, but determined to celebrate his son's wedding with others, the King sends additional servants. Quickly, into the outer regions of the kingdom they go, bidding people to the wedding. Anxious that the wedding banquet be filled, they tell the potential guests, "all is now ready, make haste and come." Responding with amazement, the people, flattered that the King has invited them, come, and at last, the wedding is furnished with guests. Pleased, the King -- as host,
greets his guests. One by one they are presented to him, and oh how beautifully they are attired. Thoughtfully, the King has spared no expense to clothe each, that none might feel ashamed. As one of guests approaches the king, a murmur is heard from the servants and the other guests-- "what is he wearing?" "Did he not receive the invitation and the royal wedding attire?" Noting that the guest is inappropriately attired, the king kindly asks, "why didn't you wear the attire I sent for you?" Ashamed, and embarrassed, the man could give no reason for his ‘oversight.’ Angered, the King ordered his servants to tie the man and throw him into the darkness.

Sister White says that the inspection of the guests symbolizes the investigative segment of the judgment. Furthermore, she states that the people invited to the banquet represent those professing Christ. But, only those who are worthy are allowed to stay at the banquet. The man who was not dressed for the occasion suffers the same consequence as the first group of unworthy guests-- subjects, who outright rejected the King's invitation. These represent the
wicked. Those who remain in the banquet are the righteous. What is the difference between them? Who are the wicked and who are the righteous?

The wicked are those who reject the character of Christ, symbolized as the robe of Righteousness given to us by Christ. Many of these individuals are pillars in their community. They are “nice” people, well mannered and cultured. We may even “like” them. They are people who are well respected in our churches, neighborhoods, businesses, and government. In contrast, the worthy do not only profess to abide in Christ, they actually do. They have accepted the robe of righteousness given by Christ. The worthies love God supremely and their neighbors as He has loved them. Although loving and kind, they are not necessarily deemed as nice. While they may not be easily liked, they are
capable, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, of loving you while at the same time hating what you do.

The investigative judgment is happening now-- Christ is evaluating our wedding attire. Concerning this, Sister White says,

It is while men are still dwelling upon the earth that the work of the investigative judgment takes place in the courts of heaven. The lives of all His professed followers pass in review before God. All are examined according to the record of the books of heaven, and according to his deeds the destiny of each is forever fixed. (E.G. White Notes page 55)

Those who accept and wear the robe of Christ's Righteousness have nothing to fear. The investigative judgment vindicates them against the accusations of Satan before the watching universe. By their name in the Lamb's Book of Life is written, forgiven and their sins are blotted out that they may receive the
refreshing rain of the Spirit. When your name is presented to the King, will you be found dressed?
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Assurance of Salvation

A reading of Daniel chapter 7 can cause wonder and fear. At a glance it seems dreadful. To a certain degree these feelings are understandable. Daniel, who actually saw these beasts, was so disturbed that he was grieved (Daniel 7:15). So distressed was he about this dream, especially the fourth beast, that he confessed that even his countenance changed. We naturally fear beasts. They are bigger, faster, and fiercer than we are. It always seems as if they want to devour us. This is a consequence of sin – a natural enmity between man and animal. So, as we read this chapter, our natural fear of beasts and of the unknown (i.e. - prophecy) takes over.

But wait, who is giving the prophetic vision? Who wins in the end? Upon careful reading, the answer is provided to us. God wins and those who by faith believe He has given them the victory, win also. This prophecy demonstrates -- as does all prophecy -- that God knows what is happening on this planet. Because, He cares, God lets us know what has happened, is happening, and what will happen. We are thus warned. Having already made provision for us, He remains involved in our world. He assures us victory, if only we believe in His Son as our Savior.

You see there is a difference in knowing that God is capable of saving us, and being assured of that salvation. Paul talks about assurance, not capacity. We are not waiting to see if Christ is capable of being victorious. Christ is victorious! He lived a perfect life in our sinful flesh. He died the second death. He was resurrected and taken to Heaven in glory. Christ endured all that we will experience, and He has given us that which made His victory possible: the Holy Spirit and His power. Christ has assured salvation for us all, that is, the whole world, on the cross. His resurrection is the proof of this. Are we still at war? A look at Daniel 7 will remind us that we still are. But do not fear. There is provision for this too. Salvation is in three stages. Have you noticed the verb in the verses dealing with salvation or deliverance is in three different tenses: Past, present, future? That is because salvation is in three stages. On the cross Christ paid the world’s penalty for sin. As the scripture states, “the wages of Sin is death.” But thanks be to God, we can be assured that Christ’s blood paid the price. Titus 3: 5-6 says,

Titus 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Titus 3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

We are thus justified. In other words the cross allows for the Righteousness of Christ to be imputed to us. We are declared Righteous through the merits of Christ (Romans 5:1). The next stage is in the present tense. We are currently being saved. 1 Corinthians 1:18 is a good example,

1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

This stage of salvation imparts His righteousness to us. It sanctifies us. It saves us from the power of sin. That is why 2 Peter 2:9 says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations…” We are thus assured that not only will we not die eternally, but that in our sinful flesh we can have perfect and sinless characters, as Christ did. The last stage of salvation is in the future tense. We will be saved. Matthew 10:22 states, “…he that endureth shall be saved.” Other examples are Mark 16:16, John 10:9, and Acts 15:11. This is glorification. This shall happen at Christ’s second coming. When “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1Co 15:52). And we shall be saved from the presence of Sin. Christ went through these three stages and was victorious. He assures those who believe by faith, that His grace is sufficient and complete, and that they too, are being, and will be victorious.

Daniel 7 may seem to be a dreadful passage, but it is actually good news, because, we see God’s hand saving His own throughout this world’s terrible history. If we trust God He gives us His perfect love – agape. His perfect love casts away all fear (1 John 4:18).

Raul Diaz

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

What is a Classic?

This question arises ever so often, and everyone has an answer. While most people would agree on the definition, few would actually agree on what should be considered a classic. Simply put, a classic is something that has passed the test of time. In other words, although it is old, it is still relevant, still in style. Furthermore, when we say that it is old, we mean that while the object although created in the past, is still as good or better than anything created today. For example, the Salsa music I grew up listening to is now called classic Salsa. (I think it is another way of calling those in my generation old). Believe it or not, there are arguments about what should be considered a classic. I wonder just who it is that decides what is in style and what is not -- and what criteria do they use? Alas, I'll probably never know.

What I do know is that the story of Daniel in the Lion's Den is a classic. Its truths, based on eternal principles, have never gone out of style. These principles are still as relevant today as they were several thousand years ago, and continue to encourage us on our journey to the kingdom . What is it about Daniel that stands out in each story? According to Daniel 6:3,4-- " ... an excellent Spirit was in him." The scripture indirectly describes Daniel as temperament, full of faith, without fault or error, humble, dependent on God, truthful, honorable, trustworthy, uncorrupted, filled with spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom "of the gods." He was filled with the fruit of the Spirit--Gal. 5:22,23.

Does this mean that he was sinless? No, like you and me, he was a sinful human being, with temptations from within and without to sin. According to Romans 3:10, 12-- "there is none righteous, no not one," and "They are all gone out of the way (like sheep) ...there is none that doeth good, no not one." So, Daniel had the sinful human nature bequeathed from Adam after the fall. Yet in character, he was righteous--as Daniel 5:14; 6:3 says, he was "filled with an excellent Spirit," and therein lay his righteousness. In Daniel, there was no separation between who he was in his professional (social) and spiritual life. This kind of cohesion in the follower of Christ never goes out of style in the eyes of God.

For the Christian, faith is always in vogue, because without it no man can please God or see Him and live. Daniel understood that talking with God was never out of style. He knew that without it he would fail. He understood that he was not justified because he obeyed the Law of God, and was God's workman, but because he trusted and believed God. As with Abraham, his faith was accounted as righteousness. Was it Daniel's righteousness? No, it was God's righteousness given him because he believed, trusted, had confidence in and listened attentively with the willingness to do (this is the true definition of obedience). This is classic righteousness which never goes out of style.

Just what is it in the Christian life that eventually will go out of style? Serving God out of fear--fear of reprisal, fear of His wrath, fear of being wrong, fear of failure. These kinds of things will cease, eventually--particularly for those who learn to love the Lord with all their hearts, minds and yes, bodies. What else will go out of vogue--at some point? Thinking of God as a despot. God too has destroyed rebellious individuals with their families (Korath, Dathan and Abiram--Num. 16:1-33), because they too shared in stubborn attitudes and actions of unwillingness. In the case of Achan who coveted the "goodly Babylonian garment," all Israel shared in the responsibility for his sin, and had to punish him by stoning, as prescribed by the Lord. When we are truly convinced, and convicted of the Lord's great self-denying love, we will be converted to Him, and covetousness, rebelliousness, acquisitiveness will no longer be found in us. These garments of self-righteousness will seem like the rags they are, for His loving kindness will be seen in its true splendor. There's nothing like a classic garment, which, never going out of style, fits as if it is tailored just for you.

The story of Daniel is a classic, because the principles of God's character which he demonstrated, never go out of style. Through the Holy Spirit, Daniel possessed ageless eternal qualities. This is why Daniel was relevant in his day as well as ours. Well, should we vow to be like Daniel? I think not, for our promises are like proverbial ropes of sand. Instead, let's yield our wills to God--continually / daily, as we talk with and listen to Him. Let's resist the temptations of covetousness, jealousy, envy, malice and
pride. In so doing, we are more than conquerors -- victorious over sin, satan and ultimately over death. I'm asking Christ for this classic kind of character exemplified by Daniel. How about you, are you asking too?

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz

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