Friday, June 30, 2006

The Paradox Of Size

The Paradox Of Size
Anthony had a problem that only two companies could help him solve.  He calls them both and set up meetings with each of them.  Company A was a renowned multinational corporation.  They sent a staff of marketers and salespeople to the meeting.  They talked about how great and big the company was, and bragged about whom their clients were – renowned companies from all over the world, and how many years they had been in business, all with an impeccable reputation.  This Company A staff even mentioned how well their stock did in the market.  They assured Anthony if they would be the best to do this project, because of the resources they had.  They sounded very patronizing.  Anthony thanked them for coming, and told them he would think about it, and get back to them. 
Company B sent one representative.  Company was a fairly new company.  Being how they were so new, they only had one office, where Anthony lived.  The representative explained to Anthony with details the possible reasons for his problem and how he would address each respective problem.  Anthony was impressed by this representative’s presentation.  However, when asked about follow up service or maintenance they could only do it during normal business hours.  Anthony was also disappointed that Company B would not be able to serve other offices of his business in parts of the country.  They were too local.  However representative B was very down to earth and personable. 
Anthony wished that there we a big company, such as A, with the personable touch of Company B.  Anthony understood at that moment the paradox of size.  The bigger and more global your company is, the smaller and more local it needs to appear; the opposite is also true. 
When we read the about Sin in the Bible we may get the impression that it is a problem out there and has nothing to do with us.  Sin starts with Satan in Heaven (Revelation 12: 7; Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 28:15); who knows when.  Somehow he ends up here on Earth causing the fall of Adam and Eve – that was six thousand years ago (Genesis 3: 1-7).  We also read about the plan of redemption, the prophetic time to establish it, and how God plans to work out this plan.  This all may seem distant and not in our time.  We thus ask the question, "What does this have to do with me?"  All  this  may be too global – in fact too universal - for us. 
Sin is indeed a cosmological problem.  If Satan proved God wrong, the whole Universe would be implicated, because God and His principle of Selfless Love drives and controls the Universe.  Proving God wrong would have said to all inhabitants of the Cosmos that all they believed in was lies.  The Devil could have held claim of the Universe as his own, as He did this earth.  Redemption would have been useless and futile, since the Son of God was not the innocent Lamb He proclaimed to be, but instead a fraud. 
However, Sin is not only universal problem; it is a local (personal) problem.  And, it is very personal, because it is in us.  We feel it and deal with it every day.  So, if Sin is both universal and personal so should the Gospel.  Indeed, to be effective the Gospel necessitates being paradoxical by nature.  It has to be universal and personal.  How thankful we need to be that God has been vindicated in the redemption plan?  Christ’s victory spares the Universe of an overturn of God’s Government, and vindicated God’s name and character for ever (Psalms 51:4; Romans 3:25,26; Revelation 19:2).
The Gospel needs to personal as well as universal because Sin has affected the universe and us.  The Gospel needs to personal because it is the only way it will resolve the Sin problem in us.  It insures our Salvation.  And, indeed the Gospel is very personal.  The Gospel enables the presence of the Indwelling Spirit of God in us, which is very personal and individual.  It effectively eradicates the Sin problem in us, if we allow it.  I pray that we do.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The essence of Prophecy

The essence of Prophecy
Victoria went to the store to buy cologne.  She was looking for a specific brand.  It was a very exclusive perfume, very hard to get.  The clerk gave her the news, “The good news is there is one bottle left.  The next news may be good or bad, it depends on you.  We only have the extract.”  Victoria asked the clerk, “Excuse my ignorance, but what is the extract?”  The clerk replied, “The extract is the most concentrated form of perfume sold.  Because it is more concentrated the scent is more intense and lasts longer.”  Victoria’s curiosity was piqued, “You mean to tell me that perfume is eluted?  The clerk graciously replied, “Well yes.  The essence of the scent is eluted in ethanol and water.  The more concentrated it is the better and of course the more expensive.  That is why they say the best perfume comes in smaller bottles.  They are more concentrated.  Which also means you can put on less amount, and still smell as well as when you put a lot of cologne, which is the more diluted.”  Victoria than asked the clerk, “So it is like concentrated juice or something similar?  The clerk laughed at her ingenuity, but realized she got the picture, and then said, “Yes.  The concentrated juice would be the essence that we dissolve in water.”  
Besides perfume, many of the things we buy or eat have essential ingredients.  For example: bread has flour, omelets’ have eggs, and prescriptions normally have an active ingredient.  The word essence comes from Latin word that means “To be.”  Essence may be defined as the intrinsic or indispensable properties that serve to characterize or identify something; the most important ingredient; the crucial element; an extract that has the fundamental properties of a substance in concentrated form (An extract in a solution of alcohol, such as perfume or scent); or something that exists, especially a spiritual or incorporeal entity.  Without the essential extract perfume is nothing but alcohol. 
With this in mind let us read Revelation 19:10,
Revelation 19:10 “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” 
What does essence have to do with this verse?  It is interesting that in the Biblical Greek the word “spirit” used in this verse can be translated as essence.  Prophecy is an utterance said by a person who is inspired by the Holy Spirit to reveal to us our Sin and God’s solution for Sin in the person of Jesus.  The essence of prophecy according to Revelation 19:10 is the Testimony of Jesus.  All prophecy that comes from God is essentially giving a witness of Jesus as the Savior of the world. 
This has an interesting connotation for those chosen at the end to be the recipients of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as the latter rain.  Revelation 19:10 and 12:17 says that they have the Testimony of Jesus.  They will be entrusted with the Loud Cry of Revelation 18.  This outpouring of power will come with prophetic gifts as we read in Joel 2: 28, 29:
Joel 2: 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
Joel 2: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
This special group -that Revelation calls the 144,000 - will all be prophets, just as Elijah (Malachi 4:5).  However, just as Elijah, their main mission will not be the destruction and slaughter of Baal worshipers.  No, it will be to “turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6).  This will only happen if those who hear this loud cry message: listen and heed the message to turn their hearts to God. 
Ellen White says that we should all strive to be a part of this special group.  However, many of us will not be part of this group.  We will sleep before the latter rain is poured.  But, just as David was not given the privilege of building the Temple, and was however, given the privilege of training the one who would, we too are given the privilege of training - in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6) - those who will receive this special and powerful outpouring of the Spirit.  We are to make sure they receive the former rain, which will prepare them to grow to the fullness, stature and perfection of Christ.  When they forsake all Sin and reflect the perfect character of Christ’s righteousness than the latter rain will be poured on them.  This will enable this group to finish the work of spreading the loud cry – the Gospel - to all parts of the World.  It will also prepare them for the special privilege of seeing Christ return, and to be translated to Heaven as described in (1 Corinthians 15: 51 – 55).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Heinous "Act" That God Does Not Forgive

Bill and Mike decided to try out for the basketball team. They found out when the try-out practice was, and showed up early that day. At first, they did every thing the coach told them. They ran all the laps, did all the work out exercises, and all the different type of things he asked to do. Bill, however, became disenchanted with all the working out, and the fact that, for a whole week they had not touched the ball. Then the coach asked them all the try-out players to get up early Saturday (they were not Adventists) to come practice at school. Bill complained to Mike, "This is ridiculous; I am not missing my Saturday morning sleep for this." Bill decided to quit, partly hoping Mike would quit also. But, Mike decided to come and practice Saturday morning. At first nothing seemed to change. Bill and Mike still saw each other and did things together. A few weeks later the couched announced the final cut of the team, and Mike's efforts paid off, he made the final cut. Bill and Mike saw each other less, but it was not bad. However, Mike's game improved so much; a large university offered him a scholarship. Bill continued to sleep his Saturday mornings. And, he only heard from Mike on the few occasions he was visiting home. Four years later, Mike graduated from college and was drafted by a professional team. Bill, although in college, continued sleeping his Saturday mornings. After graduating he refused many job offers because they asked him to work early Saturday mornings. Bill only heard of Mike when he was mentioned in the sport news. Ten years after that try-out week many considered Mike a success and Bill a failure.

What was the difference between Mike and Bill? Mike submitted himself to the process of becoming successful and Bill resisted this process. No one would think that Bill's path to failure started 10 years ago when he decided to stay home sleeping. Bill did not wake up that fateful Saturday morning deciding he was going to be a failure. For that matter, neither did Mike get up that morning and decided he would be a basketball star; his thought went as far as making the team. There was no real defining moment in Mikes life, just little decisions that lead to success. The same went for Bill; there were just little decisions that lead to failure.

This issue of the 'unpardonable sin' is similar. Many believe that there is this one heinous act that God dislikes so much that after one does it God turns His face from us, to never look on our favor again. This deception has lead many to believe that they are beyond the reach of God's grace when they commit this Sinful deed. If you were to ask anyone what this action is, no one would know. The Bible never speaks of such wicked act, either. Not to say we could not commit heinous actions, but the action would not be the unpardonable Sin; it would, however, be a result of the unpardonable sin.

The unpardonable Sin, or blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31), is nothing more than refusing to listen to the Holy Spirit. This is the heinous act, the Bible talks about. It is, in other words refusing to believe Jesus, His Gospel, His messengers and message, or the Holy Spirit's ministry. It is, in a short word, nothing more than unbelief. God considers unbelief a worse Sin than the most horrendous actions you can ever commit. Perhaps it is because, unbelief causes unbelievers to commit the worst and lowest actions possible.

Unbelief is the opposite of faith. The Bible says that Faith - "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) - "cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). We also know that it is by this type of hearing that we receive the Holy Spirit (Galatians 3: 2, 5). When we refuse to hear the Word of God, we reject the Holy Spirit. Now we also know that the Holy Spirit speaks of Jesus (John 15:26), so when we reject the Holy Spirit we reject Jesus.

The hearing of faith is embedded with a willingness to do without understanding or making sense of what we are told by the Holy Spirit. Trust is essential in Faith. The wise man said in Proverbs 3:5, "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." The Word of the Spirit may sound illogical and beyond reason, nonetheless those with Faith follow it. The Word of God may lack scientific evidence and sound proof, but those with Faith still follow it. Those who wait for evidence or understanding do not have Faith. In fact they may never take any action, beacuse they never understand. The wise man counsels us to trust, because "Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him" and when we put our trust in Him we are safe (Proverbs 30:5; 29:25). Isaiah counsels "Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength" (Isaiah 26:4). I pray that you and I do not resist the Spirit's prompting, lest we blaspheme against the indwelling Holy Spirit. I pray that we hear, trust, and follow the Word of God.

Raul Diaz

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Friday, June 02, 2006

The Godhead Theorem

The Godhead Theorem
A theorem is a proposition that has been or is to be proved on the basis of explicit assumptions.  (Is the central activity of mathematicians.)  In other words there are things that we assume are true.  However, when we put some of those together, we derive other truths that are based on the assumptions being true.  The following is an example.  Let us assume that there is only one value “c.”  Now, if we assume that a + b=c, and d + e=c, then a + b =d + e.  Is it too abstract for you?  Maybe if we try numbers.  If 3+1=4, and 2+2=4, then 3+1=2+2.  Pretty simple.  You may even say, “Common sense should tell you that.”  However, as a friend says,” Common sense is not common.” 
Sometimes we are tempted to think that the Father is distant from us.  He is most times in Heaven, sternly looking down at us, waiting for us to make a mistake so He can make us a pillar of salt or sap us with a lightning.  But, that is very far from the truth.  We can use the principles of the theorem used in the above paragraph to show this to you. 
Let us look at John 14: 7- 10
 John 14: 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
 John 14: 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
 John 14: 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
 John 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?…
Our first assumption is that although different persons, the Son and the Father are virtually equal.  Wherever the Son is, you also have the Father. 
Farther down on John 14 Jesus says:
John 14: 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
 John 14: 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 14: 8 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 
How can Jesus say, that He will come to His disciples, if HE just said He is leaving, and that is why He is sending the Comforter?  We see this repeated in the great commission in Matthew 28:20, “…and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world…” 
How can Jesus be with us until the end of the world and be in Heaven at the same time?  The answer to that is that, since His Spirit is one with Him, it may as well be Jesus.  So, when the Spirit indwells us, at may as well be the Father.  That is our second assumption.
Put the two assumptions together, and you get a theorem that states that if the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Spirit, then it must be that the Father is in the Spirit as HE, the Spirit, indwells us.  By having this connection to the Spirit we are not only connected to the Son, but also to the Father.  So, the Father is not that far away after all, He is in us as the Spirit is in us.  What a marvelous truth!  The Spirit is not our nanny.  The Father loves us so He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell in us, so that through the Holy Spirit he can also indwell us.  What an awesome privilege we have, to be the abode of the King of the Universe.  Friends, let us not throw this away.