Thursday, March 31, 2005

Staying The Course

Out recently is a film entitled, "Simon Birch." It is about a 12 year old boy who was very small and deformed at birth. In fact, he never grew taller than 3 feet, the size of, well a young boy. Because of his physical and emotional peculiarities, he was disliked and rejected by many. Even his parents hardly paid any attention to him
at all. In the town, only a few liked Simon, and sadly, he killed one of them by accident. To make matters worse, it was the mother of his best friend, Jake. What made Simon different, is that he dared to ask questions and to expect answers, even from adults. He was unafraid. Above this, Simon believed that all human beings had a purpose in being alive, a purpose that God designed them to fill. Simon not only believed this about others, he believed it about himself, and would share it whenever he felt the conversation prompted it. Simon wanted to please God. So to say that Simon was an unusual fellow, is definitely an understatement.

For most of his short life, Simon searched for his purpose. Waiting and watching, he spoke of it constantly. When Simon discovered that Jake was attending church with his mom, Simon asked to attend with them. Enjoying church fellowship, and being close to God, Simon was unafraid to rebuke the Reverend out loud when he was wrong-- even in the middle of the service. Naturally the Reverend was embarrassed and humiliated, and therefore didn't like Simon for this. And so Simon got into trouble for the childish pranks his classmates pulled.

Simon and Jake used to go swimming together where they would practice holding their breaths and of course they competed with one another to see who could hold his breath the longest. Simon had the uncanny ability to hold his breath for a long time under water. Each time they went swimming, Simon tried to hold his breath longer than he did the last time. This ability proved to be an asset, for one day, it saved lives. While on an outing with 4 and 5 year olds, the bus they were in riding swerved to avoid hitting a deer. Out of control, the bus careened off the road, down the
embankment, and into the river. The force of the current drove the back door open, and the bus began to sink. Panic-stricken, children began rocking themselves out of fright, banging on the windows, and crying. Some were even screaming. Pandemonium reigned, as the bus driver opened the front door and escaped underwater. All thought they would drown. Only Simon remained calm. Standing on a seat, he shouted to the children "shut-up, and listen!" And they did. Because Simon had been kind to them, and was about their height, they trusted him. Stronger than they were, Simon was able to force open a window, get under them, and push them out one by one. At last one boy whose foot was caught between the seat was left. Holding his breath, Simon finally freed the boy, but began to sink with the bus in the icy cold winter waters of the river. Adults arriving on the scene, were told what happened and that Simon was still in the bus. Swiftly they took action, rescued him and took him to the hospital. Simon did revive, and was able to talk, but was far too weak. One by one his classmates, and best friend Jake visited. Simon told them that he was ok and ready to die, that he was at peace, because he had fulfilled his purpose and could now go. Trying to reassure them, Simon told them not to be afraid and sad, because God had a purpose for each of them too, and that when it was time, each one would know it. Bidding them good-night because he was tired, he died.

The moral of the film is that God prepared Simon, and that Simon could be used
because he was willing. Like Simon, John the Baptist, although awkward, was willing. Being a Nazarite, John abided by strict lifestyle principles. According to Mark 1:6, "And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey." Unfashionable, John did not partake in the trendy styles of consumption. "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" Mark 1:4. This meant of course that John lived in the wilderness, and was not frequently seen in the towns or cities. He seemed like what we would refer to as a cave man. He may have been unpolished and unmannerly, and was probably dusty and sweaty to say the least. According to
the book of Mark, John the Baptist was unafraid to preach the truth to whomever would listen, and that included the wealthy and the powerful. Needless to say, straight truth is usually uhm, well-- shall we say-- unappreciated. So perhaps like our film character Simon, he was tolerated by the religious types.

Both John and Simon were forthright, but not only was John forthright, according to Mark 1:7, he was humble. He preached: " cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose... ." He understood that Christ's mission would supersede his, and responded by saying, "... I indeed have baptized you with water: but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost" Mark 1: 8. Known through out Judea as one who defied the authorities with a message of righteousness and truth, John called Sin by its name and was unafraid. Obviously he was politically incorrect, not that there existed such a thing at that time, but just the same had we heard him, we might have found him offensive.

From his birth, John the Baptist was filled with the Spirit. John was the one of whom it was said, "As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight" Mark 1: 2, 3. Simon Birch, although a film character, epitomized a life filled by the Spirit. Like John the Baptist, his mission was to prepare the way that others might see God, and have life eternal. Like John the Baptist, he was not deterred by challenges or difficulties. They both kept the faith, enduring till the end.

We all know life is not fair, and it certainly is not kind. Yet depending on the choices we make, we can stay the course, and be found victorious in Him. God has provided each one of us with the gift of Himself, and life in Him. So, whatever He has gifted you with, whatever purpose to which He has brought you, stay the course, for others are depending on you.

Maria Greaves-Barnes & Raul Diaz

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Cross For Vision Correction

Many of us are visually impaired. While we are not exactly blind, we do not see things as they really are. Instead we see objects in a blurry haze. Some of
us, being nearsighted, have astigmatism, while others are farsighted. Whatever the case, in order to compensate for our lack of visual acuity, we squint, move closer or farther to the object or to the light. How frustrating it is not to see clearly. To
alleviate our misery, many of us go to professionals who will diagnose our impairment, and either prescribe corrective lenses or surgery. Even though we may not always see things as we want to see them, it is still great to really see--clearly.

Spiritually, we are all visually impaired. The principle and power of Sin has marred the way we see things. According to the apostle Paul, even at our very best, we "see through a glass, darkly" (1 Corinthians 13:12). What are the shadows and mists
of Sin which prevent us from seeing clearly? Well, what veils our eyes is a preoccupation with self. We see ourselves, others and the world, by nature,
through our own interests, pleasures, desires and pains (selfishness) and are self-centered. So, we need corrective work to help us see things as they
truly are. The prescription, is the eye-salve of the cross.

The Cross helps us see God as He truly is. John 3:16, and 17 says, "For God so unconditionally loved the human race-- whoever lived or would ever live, that
He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever lived, if he or she believed in Him, would not die the second death, but have life everlasting. For God sent His Son into the midst of the human race, not to condemn its inhabitants, but that everyone through Him, might be saved." The scripture says that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8,16). And in 1 John 4:10 it says, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He
loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." In other words, whatever thoughts we have of God being unfair, of judging everything we do, and
waiting for us to fail -- all of these fade away when we see Him through the eye-salve of the cross. For through the cross of Christ, the Godhead displayed
their unconditional, self-denying love that would rather die the horrors of the second death than let us go.

The cross demonstrates to us and to the universe the nature of sinful human beings, and just what we are capable of. When we look at ourselves through the Cross, we see ourselves clearly. According to 2 Timothy--

2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2 Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2 Timothy 3:4 Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:

This is the lifestyle that human beings lead who have not chosen Christ. However, the letter to Galatians, was written to "Carnal Christians" who had forgotten that the Law of the Spirit of Christ had set them free from the Law of Sin and Death (Romans 3:2), and they were trying in the flesh to keep the law of God. They were ignorant of the fact that the Law of the Flesh lusted against the Law of The Spirit. By the way, where there is carnality, there is enmity or hatred against the law and the giver of the law. Christ has said, he who keeps or cherishes hatred in his heart is a murderer. So, Paul in the Galatian letter appeals to the Galatian followers of Christ, telling them, "you've professed Christ, these things should not be found in you:

Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication,uncleanness, lasciviousness,
Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

What did Paul say was the solution? For himself, he said that "I determined not to know anything ... save Jesus Christ, and Him CRUCIFIED" (1 Cor. 2:2). To the
Galatian Christians he said, we "that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts..." (Galatians 5:24). By being crucified with Christ, Paul says, we live in Him and walk in His spirit. Therefore we demonstrate the power of the
Holy Spirit in us and thus bear His fruit (see Galatians 5:22, 23).

You see, the Cross demonstrated to the watching universe and to us more than one thing. First, it demonstrated the ultimate goal of Sin -- to live eternally for
self, and Secondly it demonstrated the unconditional, self-denying love of Christ for
mankind. The only way for Satan-- the father of sin--to accomplish his goal, was to murder God. This, Satan attempted to do to Christ by seducing the Jews and the Romans to condemn Him to death on the Cross. Furthermore, He incited the mob to chant "crucify Him, crucify Him." And since Satan has more than one plan and method, he actively encouraged Christ to come down off the cross and save Himself. By doing this, the plan of salvation would have been dashed to pieces, the human race would have turned upon itself, and Satan would be the victor. The Cross of Christ
illuminated Satan's character as the hideous vector of evil that it was. It simultaneously demonstrated his venomous hatred and anger toward God. Of this Sister White says,

Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the
sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ's brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken (E. G. White Notes p. 160).

As human beings, we really don't see clearly, because the miasma of sin clouds our vision. In order to see as He sees, we need the eye-salve which He has so willingly prescribed for us. Just as Moses, urged the people to look to the cross and live, so today Christ, the great ophthalmologist is urging us to do the same. According to the corrective measures He's prescribed, looking is the cure. Hey, let's apply the eye-salve today. Its worth clear vision, don't you think?

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Friday, March 18, 2005

Catchy, Clever and Cute

Have you ever thought you heard something someone said, and got it wrong? For instance maybe the person said, "Denise is here," and you heard "the niece is here." Most of the statement you heard is what the person said, but the meaning is entirely different. This often happens to us when we're not really listening, or when there is background noise, and when we get older. Unfortunately, it doesn't really matter why it happens, the effect is the same-- miscommunication.

I had a friend who once thought the caption "Do unto others then spit" was cute. Having read it in a cartoon strip, he laughingly thought it a harmless adage. On occasion he even repeated the joke to others. Slowly, without realizing it, he subconsciously took it up as his own axiom. Because he believed it, he began to act on it. Wow, what a shock it was to him one day, to learn that he'd replaced a biblical principle with one of his own. As his was catchy, clever and cute, he hadn't realized that he'd substituted it for "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" (Matt. 7:12).

My friend said it was difficult for him to replace his axiom with the biblical one. But that in order to do so, he asked the Lord, "please remind me to immediately repeat the biblical principle every time the cute one comes up." He said, "I have had to do this to permanently evict the other adage from my mind, and although it was a struggle, thank God, the victory is mine!"

You know I wonder about us, I wonder if there are catchy, clever and cute ideas out there that we've unknowingly substituted for the real thing. How about the old adage, "God helps those who help themselves."? Many people quote this as if its biblical, but it isn't. Or what about the saying, " pull yourself up by your bootstraps... ." While the saying is metaphorical, the implication is that one is actually wearing boots that have straps which will withstand you pulling them. And you know what's usually implied by the person making the statement don't you, its "I did." Hmmm smacks of self-righteousness doesn't it? There's a scripture yet to be located somewhere, I just know it, where Christ admonishes His followers to take care of their own situation themselves, don't you think? Maybe if we look hard enough, we'll find it. Seriously
though, if we're not careful, those of us with wills of steel will make ourselves and our environment just the way we want it--right, and woe be to the little guy with a will of wilted lettuce.

Speaking of wilted lettuce, the reason we can make some of the statements we make, and think some of the things we do, is that we actually take credit for what Christ has done for us on the cross, and what the Holy Spirit is making manifest in us personally, by faith. Friends, without a Saviour, there is nothing that we would not do. Nothing (John 15:5). He's said that unless we abide in Him, we'll wither (wilt) and will be good for nothing except the burning trash heap. For all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and there is none that doeth good, no not one (Ps. 14:1-3, Romans 3:9-12). Without a Saviour, we all stood guilty and condemned under God's law (Romans 3:19) not wilting, but dead in trespasses and
sins (Eph. 2:1, Col. 2:13). But thanks be to God for the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ (I Cor. 15:54).

Justification, or "being made right" isn't just a clever little legal term, it means being drawn back to God in heart. And sure it involves being set apart for good deeds. But before we can be set apart, we must be cleansed, purified of every unclean motive / thought, word, and action. You might set apart a jug for the use of serving water at your dinner, but if that jug remains empty and uncovered for very long, it will be filthy. If left to itself it will become filled with dirt, dust and maybe a few other undesirable things too (like bugs). You won't want to use it, and we wouldn't want you to without
washing it first. So, being set apart doesn't make you holy, the presence of Christ residing and abiding in you, through the word does. Christ through the Psalmist David, has said, "thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You"
(Ps. 119:11). It is His Word, which the Holy Spirit communicates to us and teaches us how to apply, that cleanses us; for we live by every Word... (Deut. 8:3, Matt. 4:4). Living by the Word, means feeding on Christ, hungering for the nourishment, and feasting at the banquet that is in Himself.

In other words, while justification means being made at one with God (while we were enemies mind you--Rom. 5: 6-11), sanctification means that we grow up into Him. It is more than mental assent that what He says is true, it is the gospel being made evident in the life of the believer, day by day. It means being willing, and choosing to come out of unbiblical Babylonish thoughts or ideas (i.e. "do unto others then split), into union with Christ, and having His mind (I Cor. 2:16, Phil. 2:5) in ourselves. Knowing that it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do... (Phil. 2:13). When we're truly hungry, cute little snacks won't do, oh they may hold us for a while, but what we really want to do is to sink our teeth into something solid and juicy (like a vegetarian lentil loaf-- just kidding).

Friends, let's not be deceived by catchy, clever and cute packaging while we substitute it for the real thing. Ideas and thoughts which are unbiblical undermine union with Christ. They will ultimately leave us with a sickeningly sweet saccharine
after taste in our mouths. Let's take the time to read the ingredients on the label and determine to understand them for ourselves. Let's make sure that we're really hearing and believing the truth as it is in Jesus, for our spiritual health and well-being hangs in the balance.

Maria Greaves-Barnes
The Special Insights web page resides at:

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The Gift

The Gift

Have you ever received a gift from someone you didn't know well, or gotten a gift that you didn't know what to do with? Wasn't it disappointing? Well, recently my friend, Julia, received not one but three gifts from three separate persons. Now this is rather amusing, because according to Julia, she is "not into gifts." The first gift was an outfit that was too large, although rather attractive. The second gift was a scarf of dubious color, and the third was a set of Christmas dishes --- in March. To say that Julia was quite perplexed upon the reception of these "gifts" is quite an understatement. She just couldn't figure out why she was receiving gifts, and why these gifts from these persons? Isn't it funny how most adults think that gift giving / receiving should be relegated to Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, while children eagerly give and receive.

Most children love receiving gifts-- especially if the gift is from someone they like, who likes them. Watching a child receive a gift is priceless. Ever note the excitement and eagerness that fills the child's face as he tears open his gift? He can't wait -- to see, play with, and show (not necessarily share) it with others. If the gift is something he likes, and has been hoping for, he is ecstatically happy. Funny how as we get older, many of us loose that anticipation around gift giving and receiving. I wonder what's happened to us? When did we start thinking that gifts are just for kids or special occasions?

Throughout scripture we note salvation described (justification, sanctification and glorification) as a gift. It is not something we can earn. Yet it is of great value. It took Saul the Pharisee a long time to learn this. Indeed he did not come to see it
until he was on the Damascus road, where Christ revealed Himself to him. Suddenly all his trying to keep the law perfectly was seen in its true form, as dung. Instead, Paul came to see, and from the Holy Spirit enlightening his mind as he studied with others, to understand just what the incarnation, life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ meant not only to him, but to the whole world.

In I Corinthians 15 (vs. 45-48, and 21, 22) Paul introduces us to the concept of the first (earthly) Adam and compares him with Christ as the second Adam. Romans chapter 5 connects with I Corinthians chapter 15 and carries the concept further. In verse 12, Paul reminds us that "sin and death entered the world through one man (Adam 1st), and came upon all men to death, for all have sinned." Developing the concept still further, Paul states that as the offence came upon all through one man (Adam 1st),
the gift of grace and life has come upon all men through the second Adam (Christ). Accordingly as by disobedience, judgment to condemnation and death came upon all men, so by the obedience of one man (Christ), justification and righteousness came upon all men as a free gift (Romans 5:11-19). In other words, due to our status in Adam, as both sinners and sinful, we were condemned to die the 2nd death. But God, through the unspeakably good and gracious gift of the life, death and resurrection of His son, has reversed our condemnation and instead we've been justified to life. Just as we (the human race) didn't have a say in Adam's sin and condemnation, we did not have a say in the reversal process. Instead of God giving us what we deserved, He has given us the gift of love, of life and of joy. Wow, what a gift!

Yes, some of you will say, "but if Christ justified the human race as a whole, then everyone should be saved." Yes, you are right, everyone should be saved, but not every one will be, because they will not allow the knowledge of that gift to be mixed
with faith. They will not, and choose not to believe (Hebrews 4:2). Others may state that "Christ's sacrifice justifies believers only-- you first have to accept Him." Yes, scripture teaches that Christ justifies believers-- as Abraham was justified by
belief, and righteousness was reckoned to him. Yet, scripture also teaches that Christ bore the sins of all of humanity that He might put away sin, and reconcile us to the Father, He became sin and condemned sin on the cross. According to Paul, in Him we (the corporate human race) died, and were resurrected to life in Him. So, yes, He has rescued the whole world, is rescuing us, and will at last save those who have not resisted and rejected His gift of salvation, and they will make up His kingdom.

You know, some of us negate the gift of salvation by thinking, "God helps those who help themselves." How many of us love to quote this, but it is not scriptural. No, while we were sinners, Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6, 9). What awesome
love He has for us. Friends when we share with others (and I hope we do) the gospel, lets share it from the perspective of a great, magnificent and wonderful gift--a priceless gift. When presented like this, its almost impossible to resist. Yes, some will not think highly of this gift, and some will not even think highly of the giver, and will scoff and reject it. Nevertheless, it is still a gift. Its true that in presenting the gift, people need to know they are sinners first, yes they need to know that they can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps to heaven-- that all their efforts to do good are filled with self. Yes, they even need to know that Jesus paid the penalty for their sin and that they are forgiven. To this great news, add that they are loved beyond measure, and that nothing will separate them from this love. Then share with them how this unspeakable gift has changed your life. I'm sure if you do, it'll awaken in both of you, joy unknown. According to James 1:17, "Every good and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father... ." "Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!" (2 Cor. 9:15).
Maria Greaves Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at:

Friday, March 04, 2005

Writing What is Meant

As a writer of poetry, I can appreciate this story, and I hope you will too. My friend, Mario ( not his real name), once told me that he attended a tribute given in honor of the late Argentinean poet, Jorge Luis Borges. Well, Mario says he had really been looking forward to a reading of the Argentinean's work, and that all was going as well as expected, until the emcee began to interpret the poems. Naturally, everyone became uncomfortable, and looking over at Borges, it was apparent (to everyone but the emcee) that he was uncomfortable too. As the night progressed, the emcee continued interpreting Borges' poetry, saying, "when you wrote this, you must have meant this or that... ." Borges became increasingly agitated, until in his frustration he shouted, "I wrote what I meant!"

I sometimes wonder if God sometimes feels this way as well. He authored the Bible through the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and what He meant to be written has been written. Yes its true that the bible was not written in any current language, but in an older tongue. Still, it is not our job to reinterpret any teaching that is there. Christ said that if anyone changes even a dot or a tittle he or she would be cursed. That’s why it is imperative that we go to the original language of the scripture when we have questions and are studying. The Holy Spirit Himself is the teacher and as part of the Godhead, He is the Originator. It is His work to bring all things to our remembrance we've studied, and to connect scriptural concepts one upon the other, "line upon line, precept upon precept, a little here a little there" (Isaiah 28:10, 13).

Let's consider the passage of 2 Corinthians 5:14-- which says, “one died for all, therefore all died” (NIV). The statement seems relatively clear does it not? Well, the word which we want to pay close attention to is the word "for." You would think that a little word like "for" would not cause any trouble. It is only a preposition.
Well, the problem is this: in the English language the preposition 'FOR" has at least
20 different meanings. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon is not very helpful either. Yes, it reduces the number of definitions from 20 to 3, but which one of the three do we choose? Should it matter? Yes, it does, because the wrong definition
can lead to heresy.

One of the definitions offered in the Lexicon regarding "for," is "in behalf of." This definition by itself can have three connotations such as, "in the name of all'', One died in All's place, and the last is "for the sake of." These three connotations offer various meanings to the text. The first one is that Christ died
"in the name of 'all' "(which upon reading the second portion of the text makes no sense, as all have no name, but Christ does, and it points to His character). The second is that "One" died in the place of all (although how could this be true, because the text continues by saying, therefore all died), and the last is that Christ died "for the sake of all." In a sense this is true. Christ died for our sake that we might have deliverance from sin. But what is more accurate, is that Christ by the incarnation of our corporate humanity in Himself-- took on our nature that He came to save, and crucified it with the lusts thereof upon the cross. In the first Adam we received the sentence of death, because that is all he could pass on to us. In the second Adam (Christ) we receive the sentence of life (See Romans 5:12-21, I Cor. 15:19-23; 45-49) as a free gift.

The difficulty we have with the text comes through the Catholic and Reformationist scholars who have misinterpreted the text. The Catholic scholars' believed that before God could declare a person righteous He first had to make them righteous, and this they believed happened through an "infused grace." They rejected the Reformist solution of ascribing righteousness to an unrighteous person as illegal, unethical and immoral. The Reformist scholars rejected the Catholic solution of "infused grace," and stated that the life, death and resurrection of Christ was accepted
"instead of" the believer's unrighteousness. Both groups of scholars were right, and
both were wrong. The Catholic scholars were right, to declare an unrighteous person righteous, is illegal and unethical (see Deut. 24:16, 2 Kings 14:6, Eze. 18:1-20); and the Reformists were right that the life, death and resurrection of Christ's became the believer's. However, Christ justifying individual believers did not happen by an 'infused grace,' or by His doing and dying accepted "instead of" ours. Christ was able to justify sinners because as all sinned in one man Adam (Its), all humanity corporately obeyed the law in Adam 2 (Christ), and when He died, and was resurrected, we died and were resurrected.

Despite this good news, many are unwilling to accept that God can pardon all Humanity. “Why would God forgive the wicked? They are not worthy or deserving of any privileges. Only those who are good are deserving of God’s pardon”, they think. But such is the nature of God’s unselfish Agape Love. Such is the nature of God’s perfect mercy. Many suffer from the Elder Brother’s syndrome. If you recall the parable of the Prodigal Son, the Elder Brother did not join in celebrating
the arrival of his younger brother. He thought that he was the one deserving of honor and celebration. Why? Because, he thought that he had worked hard behaving himself. Therefore he felt he deserved recognition for his self-lessness. But in reality he was unlike his father (who was truly self-less). Instead, he was selfish and self-centered. The Father told the Elder Brother that all he possessed was his for the asking. However the Elder Brother was also self-sufficient and thought that asking would reflect a need, which he considered weakness.

Believing in the corporate aspect of Christ's sacrifice is accepting our own condition as sinners, and our solidarity with Him. It is also accepting God’s unconditional love for us. He is not an angry God waiting to be appeased. He is a loving God who wants to save His beloved. He has gifted us with a perfect and complete plan to restore us to His kingdom, just as the Father in the parable restored and gifted His prodigal son. The prodigal son did not get away with anything. He died, in essence when he fed and lived with pigs. Remember, to a Jew, it was better to die, then to have any contact with pigs. This was death to the prodigal son; because there was repentance in his heart, going back to His Father, was resurrection. To this younger brother's surprise, the Father was waiting and watching for his return. Just so is our heavenly Father watching, waiting and seeking us. He will again send His Son to the earth to gather up for eternal life those who accepted the Righteousness of Christ as their only way of Salvation. I pray not one of us disappoints our Heavenly Father. He wants us there--with Him.
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

The Special Insights web page resides at: