Thursday, December 25, 2008

Reward versus Gift

Reward versus Gift

There is a difference between a gift and reward. A gift is something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation. A gift is given because the giver feels like giving it whether the recipient deserves it or not. A reward is something given or received in recompense for worthy behavior or in retribution for evil acts. For example, a reward can be Money offered or given for some special service, such as the return of a lost article or the capture of a criminal. In psychology a reward is the return for performance of a desired behavior; positive reinforcement.

Upon reading the below verses we can think that the promises in these verses are rewards. Let us read the verses.

1Cor15:51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
1Cor15:52 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.
1Cor15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1Cor15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Heb9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

When God gives us something it is important. God is not trivial. When God gives promises they are important. They are not just things to fantasize about. His promises are not dreams that will never be accomplished. When God promises you should consider it done. This is true of the promises given in the two verses above. However, we are not to confuse promises with rewards. While God’s fulfillment of promises may be conditional, they are not rewards for good performance, but rather gifts of love. If you earn it is not a gift, it is a purchase. Salvation is after all a gift; it is by grace through faith (Romans 5:15-18; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8).

The author of the lesson derives four gifts out of the promises given in the above verses. Summarized they are: first, bodies (and mind) will be transformed, and, will not die again. Second, we will no longer Sin nor suffer its consequences. Thirdly, we will See Jesus eye to eye forever. Lastly, there will be social implications - we will not mistreat or abuse one another.

These are very encouraging gifts to look forward to. But, perhaps with the exception of number three, all are selfish reasons to want to be saved if we see them as rewards. They are part of the main reason to be saved. The main reason to be saved is to be united with the One, “Who loved our souls” so much He’d rather die than to live without us. The main reason to be saved should be that we are so grateful to Him for what He did for us, that we love Him so much we’d rather die than to live without Him. And, even this love is a gift. Are we receiving it?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Adoption in Christ

Adoption in Christ

The lesson says 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 understand 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 wants 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 a fterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

So, He chastens those He loves. When we do not listen He chastens us, as a father or mother would. It is not a desire to punish, but a desire 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 is the biggest proof that He loves us. This is evident in Galatians 4:1-7,

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.

Because of Christ, we can be adopted. God has not disowned us. This is what the world needs to know.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Watching Versus Waiting

Watching Versus Waiting

There is a difference between waiting and watching. Waiting is to remain or rest in expectation or to be in readiness. Watching is to look and wait expectantly or in anticipation. To wait can be done while doing something else. To watch requires full attention from the watcher. In waiting, we can miss what or whom we are waiting for; not in watching. This story illustrates the difference.

A girl once asked her grandmother to watch for her the day she came to visit. Grandmother promised she would. This petition was repeated several times, and several times the grandmother promised she would watch for her granddaughter. The day the granddaughter would arrive Grandmother thought she had time to do a few chores before her granddaughter showed up. She thought that just before they arrived she would go outside the door. Grandmother got busy and lost track of time, and her granddaughter showed up while she was still inside. She heard the bell, ran to the door, and with excitement opened it up to greet her granddaughter. But, her granddaughter was very sad. Grandmother asked why the sad semblance. Granddaughter answered, “Grandma, you did not watch for me like I asked you.” “Honey, I was preparing things for you, while I waited for you,” answered Grandma. Granddaughter replied, “Grandma I did not want you to wait for me, I wanted you to watch for me.” Granddaughter wanted Grandma to be outside expectantly looking for her.

(Bear with me as I develop the point I am trying to make.) In Christ, and through His death, resurrection and ascension, God permanently united the world to Himself. But, only those who believe this will benefit from this fact. Only those who put their faith in His sacrificial death will benefit from this truth. This is a truth that is evident in Hebrews 9:28. Let us read,
Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

In the Bible the many refers to the world. Christ was offered to bear the Sin the world. As it is says in 1 John 2: 2

1 John 2:2 And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world

When He died He paid for the World’s penalty of Sin, in other words He paid the wages of Sin that that mankind owed (Roman 6:23). With His resurrection and ascension His death guarantees that death is not our final destination in this life. But, it does not guarantee that eternal life is our final destination. This is guaranteed only to those, who as said above, put their faith in His sacrificial death that will benefit from this truth. This is also evident in Hebrews 9:28.

There are two clauses on this verse, separated by a punctuation mark (A semi-colon in the KJV). The punctuation mark makes a distinction between the two groups: the many and the few who look up. The first statement talks about what Christ did for the many on the cross. The second clause stated that although all men are saved from the penalty of Sin only to “them that look for Him shall He appear.” These are those who are looking up. It is those who believe He will return a “second time without sin unto salvation.” These are those who put their faith in His sacrificial death. These are the ones watching for Jesus. Are we waiting for Jesus or are we watching for Him?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christ’s Sorrow

Christ’s Sorrow

The lesson asks the question, “Have you ever been so overcome with sorrow that you felt you would not survive?” I would have to answer that I know of I have never been so overcome with sorrow that I felt I would not survive. I am pretty sure that in the midst of it I may have felt that way. But, after that I cannot recall it. How about you?

Two things come out of this. One, it is as pregnant women delivering. In the moment it is painful. After labor they forget. Let us read John 16:21

John 16:21 A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.

Two, in reality, objectively, no sorrow we go through will ever be so much we cannot survive. God will not let us go through what we cannot handle. This is what Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:13

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

So we could safely say that Christ was allowed to go as far as He did, because He could bear it. Not, necessarily because He was God, but because He surrendered Himself completely to the will of His Father. This is not to say that if we surrender ourselves completely to the will of the Father we could do what He did, in terms of being sin-bearers.
Sister White says it best,

“Man has not been made a sin-bearer, and he will never know the horror of the curse of sin which the Saviour bore. No sorrow can bear any comparison with the sorrow of Him upon whom the wrath of God fell with overwhelming force. Human nature can endure but a limited amount of test and trial. The finite can only endure the finite measure, and human nature succumbs; but the nature of Christ had a greater capacity for suffering; for the human existed in the divine nature, and created a capacity for suffering to endure that which resulted from the sins of a lost world. The agony which Christ endured, broadens, deepens, and gives a more extended conception of the character of sin, and the character of the retribution which God will bring upon those who continue in sin. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ to the repenting, believing sinner.”—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1103.

Many claim that others suffer more than Christ, because He did not suffer as long as others. There is a problem with this thinking. They typically are talking about Christ’s physical suffering. Christ physical suffering was bad, but has noting to do with our salvation. Christ torment started in Gethsemane - at least it was evident by then - before the physical torture to which the devil put Him through. To say that this physical torture has anything to do with our salvation is to say that the devil had a role in our salvation, which we know is not true. When the Father “spared not His own Son” (Romans 8:32) and made Him a curse for us, He poured His cup of wrath without mercy on Christ (Galatians 3:13; Revelation 14:10). This meant a complete separation between Christ and the Father. Goodbye to life forever. This is what caused the sorrow of Christ, and what eventually killed Him.

While physically we could suffer longer than Christ, even to the point where we think or feel that we cannot survive, it will never be more that what Christ ever suffered. And, this is good news. While this does not mean that we will never suffer or bear any sorrow. To think this goes against scripture. Matthew 5:10 and John 15:20 is two examples,

Matthew 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

It does mean that Christ enables us to bear any sorrow because He bore His and ours on the Cross. Are we not grateful to Him?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Emotional Overdraft

Emotional Overdraft

Steven Covey, author of the Book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, used the analogy of a bank account to explain why some people feel emotionally depleted and react in very negative ways. Bank accounts have a certain amount of money. When you put money in that is called a deposit. When you take money out that is called a withdrawal. You withdraw too much money and you end up with very little money or none at all. In fact, sometimes you withdraw so much you take more than what you have. When this happens you have over drafted your bank account. Banks typically charge fees when this happen, so you end up owing more than what you took.

Covey says our emotions work similarly. Covey says that when you do something good to someone it is akin to a deposit, but when you do something wrong is akin to a withdrawal. If you do enough wrong things you can end with an emotional over-draft.

Rejecting a gift can be considered the wrong thing to do. This is a withdrawal to the giver’s emotional bank account. Depending on the gift and what it means to the giver, you could end up with an emotional overdraft. As banks, you may end up with higher “fees”, so you have to deposit a lot of the right things, to cover what you did wrong and the fees attached to it.

When we reject God’s gift, we not only make a withdrawal, we also create an overdraft situation that can never be repaid. What is God’s gift to us? In Ephesians 2:8 it refers to our salvation,

Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

In Romans 6:23 it refers to the eternal life we receive in and through Christ,

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Romans 5:15 – 18 it refers to Christ and all that we are given in and through Him: grace, justification, righteousness, and eternal life,

Romans 5:15But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Romans 5:16And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
Romans 5: 17For 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.)
Romans 5:18Therefore 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.

In John 4:10 Jesus tells the woman at the Well in Samaria that it is Living water,

John 4: 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

What is living water? The answer to that is in John 7: 38 -39

John 7: 38He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
John 7: 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The apostle Peter is very direct in calling the Holy Spirit a gift,

Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with
Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Reject any of these and you reject them all. It is a packaged deal. You cannot choose one of them. Rejecting them grieves God. He gave them to you because He loves you. Rejecting the gift of God is so great an emotional withdrawal to Him it creates an overdraft situation in His emotional bank account. You are precious to Him and so is His gift to you. Will you appreciate His gift? Will you accept it? Will you take it?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Overshadowed By God

Overshadowed By God

A shadow is a region of darkness where light is blocked. It occupies all of the space behind an opaque object with light in front of it. What shape and size the shadow will have depends on the angle between the source of light, the object creating the shadow and the surface where the shadow is projected. Also, the wider the light source, the more blurred the shadow. The opposite is also true. Lastly, the brighter the light the darker is the shadow.

One of the most famous references of a shadow is found in Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Allegedly it is a literal place where many shepherd and sheep died. The place was probably considered cursed or forsaken of God. David was saying that walking in this place with God is safer than the top of the mountain alone. Not only was it safer, David felt safer also. This was so, because, even in the darkest times, God’s presence was comforting to David. Not all that happens in darkness is bad; babies are conceived in a dark cavern of the female’s body. In this cavern they develop until they are ready to leave.

The verb to Overshadow means, to cast a shadow over; darken or obscure. It may be that in your darkest moment the Spirit is overshadowing you. Someone said that when it seems to be the darkest for you, it is not that God has left you, but that He is the closest to you, blessing you. Because, His light can consume you in such proximity, He covers Himself from you; which is why it seems very dark to you. When the Lord overshadows you miracles happen. In the case of Mary, Christ was conceived. We read this in Luke 1:34-35,

Luke1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Luke1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

You may not conceive a baby when God overshadows you. However, a new you in Jesus may be born (John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17). If the darkness is from God, the clue is to stay still and to trust God to do His work. We tend to run from the darkness because fear kicks in. But, there is no fear in Faith. When in our darkest times of tribulation and trials we learn to trust and depend totally on God. God will miraculously carry us through the trial, and we glorify His name. We may not understand how He did what He did. But, that’s just the point, it is not to understand and prove what God has done, it to trust and believe that it was God who did it, does it and will do it. And, we just stand in awe, with nothing more that a thankful and praiseful heart. We are not to understand God’s purpose, but to trust it.

Just like it is not for us to understand the incarnation or the Cross, but to believe and trust that it did happen and it impacts our lives now and forever. After all, as Sister White says, “God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the theme into which ‘angels desire to look,’ and it will be their study throughout endless ages. Both the redeemed and the unfallen beings will find in the cross of Christ their science and their song.” The Desire of Ages, pp. 19, 20. Only those who trust God's purpose until the end will have the privilege to study it through out eternity.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Meaning of the Cross

In the late 1990’s Nina was asked to cat and house sit in a Chicago suburban home. Nina enjoyed her stay their. She said it was a lovely home. However, nothing is perfect; there was a disturbing fixture in their living room that she could not figure out. It was a bronze cross with an incomplete bronze figure of a man. Years later she found out that the bronze on the cross was to cover a wooden cross. The man was added by the artist who had covered the cross with bronze to make the cross into a sculpture. The man depicted on the cross was African American.

The cross was originally used by the KKK, a white supremacist group in the USA, as a way of intimidation. They had planted the cross in the grounds of a mostly African American university and burnt it. The KKK said that the burning cross represents Christ as light. The same symbol had different meanings. We will see that it is the same in the Bible.

The sanctuary, its furnishing and the sacrifices all point to Christ and how He would die for us.. The Cross was the instrument used to kill Christ. But, to all groups the cross does not mean the same thing. To the Romans it was an instrument of death and torture for common criminals, run away slaves or seditionists. To the Jews it was a tree, and the crucified hung from the tree; which meant they were accursed of God according to Deuteronomy 21:22-23,

22"If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,

23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance. “

So, to the Jews the crucified Jesus hung from a tree accursed of God. As is says in Acts5:30,

Acts 5: 30" The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross”

Christ was accursed of God, but not for the reasons the Jews gave, but to fulfill Galatians 3: 13.

Galatians 3:13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us--for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE"—

This changes the meaning of the cross: from an instrument of torture and death to an instrument of atonement and redemption. What does the cross say in turn of God? God would rather die for us than to live with out us. This is how much God loves us. How much does He love us?

Let us read the answer in John 3:16

John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

How far did God go? Romans 5: 6-8

Romans 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

Romans 5:8 But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

To which group do you belong? 1 Corinthians 1:18 summarizes the two groups well. It says, For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” The question still is, to which group do your belong?

Friday, November 07, 2008


Anyone familiar with sporting events is familiar with the verb, to intercept. The word means: "To stop, deflect, or interrupt the progress or intended course of…" Another definition is, "To block the progress of and force to change direction: cut off, head off; to obstruct (someone or something) so as to prevent them from continuing to a destination." When used in sports it means to stop the player with the ball from going toward the goal or stopping the ball itself from going toward the goal. The word is also used in telecommunications with the following definition, "The acquisition of a transmitted signal with the intent of delaying or eliminating receipt of that signal by the intended destination user; to interrupt."

The verb, used in the latter context, is a key term in the following quote from Sister White,

"Since the announcement to the serpent in Eden, 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed' (Gen. 3:15), Satan had known that he did not hold absolute sway over the world. . . . With intense interest he watched the sacrifices offered by Adam and his sons. In these ceremonies he discerned a symbol of communion between earth and heaven. He set himself to intercept this communion. He misrepresented God, and misinterpreted the rites that pointed to the Saviour. Men were led to fear God as one who delighted in their destruction. The sacrifices that should have revealed His love were offered only to appease His wrath."—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 115.

The author of the lesson says that according to this Ellen White quote above, Satan perverted the meaning of the sacrifice. The author then asks, "In what ways could we be in danger of perverting the meaning of Christ's sacrifice? What views of the Cross distort its meaning?"

Any view that is not the truth distorts our view of the cross. Among many points, two things come to mind, one is that Christ death was a corporate death. In Romans 5:12 – 21 the apostle Paul contrasts Adam with Jesus and the effects of their works on humanity. Romans 5:12 says because Adam's fall all men sinned therefore all must die.

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:

But, because we are in Christ, with his death and resurrection we all die and live eternally.

Rom5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.
Rom5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Rom5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

1Cor15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1Cor15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The second thing is that Christ death was eternal. The book of Revelation talks about a second death,

Rev2:11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
Rev21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Christ talks of the ruler's daughter death as sleep (Matthew 9:24) and says the same of Lazarus (John 11:11). Christ did not die the sleep death. The death He died was the second death – God's wrath poured without mercy. This second death is goodbye to life forever. This is the death that pays the wages of Sin. This is the death we all die in Christ.

Any view that is not in agreement with these two points perverts the meaning of Christ sacrifice and distorts the meaning of the Cross. Anything that leads to believe anything different than these things also distorts or perverts them meaning of Christ sacrifice and the cross; for example, the doctrine of immortality of the soul.

When we let the devil intercept God's communication with us, we allow him to distort the meaning of the Cross. This leads to unbelief – choosing not to, rejecting even, God's gift of mercy and grace to and for us – Salvation. This means that we also reject the Holy Spirit. Rejecting one is rejecting the other. The question is: do we see God as loving and merciful or as a tyrant wanting appeasement? The answer to that question determines your destiny.
Raul Diaz>

Friday, September 26, 2008

Why are Prophets not Popular

The mention of prophet or prophecy brings chills in anyone’s spine. This is nothing new for in Biblical times prophets were not popular. Consider What Jesus said to the Jews of His time.

Matthew 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee,

Even Stephen before His death said to those who would martyred him,

Acts7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:

The list of prophets killed is extensive. The author of Hebrews makes mention of what they did to these messengers of God in Chapter 11.

Heb11:35 … others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
Heb11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
Heb11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
Heb11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

All his from the people that professed to serve the God that send the prophets to them. NO wonder Christ said to their descendants,

Mat23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
Mat23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
Mat23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

So, why are God’s prophets not popular? Christ Himself that “A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house” (Mat10:41; Mat13:57; Mark6:4) I think is because most people do not want to know the truth. No one wants to be reminded or called about their sin. Most people are afraid that others will know what they keep in secret. Since, they see God as a restricting punisher. They think of prophets as those who wants to restrict them from doing as they please. To them, Prophets are always bringing news of doom. They think silencing the prophet will keep judgment away.

But, the reason why God sends prophets to rebuke our sin is so that in rebuking we may feel convicted. In feeling convicted we may confess, ask for forgiveness and repent. God wants to be close to us, but, while we are in Sin, He cannot do this. This hurts Him. He sends His prophets to let us know His desire. It is mercy at work. The question, how will we respond? Will we heed God’s calling or will we reject Him? Rejecting God’s prophet and prophecy is rejecting God. He that receives the prophet and heeds the prophecy receives God. What will you do?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The FAQ’s of Spiritual Gifts

The FAQ’s of Spiritual Gifts

1. What are spiritual gifts?
They are special abilities, dispositions and or qualities.

2. What are they?

Rom12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Rom12:7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Rom12:8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

1Cor12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
1Cor12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
1Cor12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

1Cor12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

3. Who gives them?
The Holy Spirit (1Corinthians 12:11; Hebrews 2:4)

4. To whom are they given?
To Christians

5. What are they for?

1Cor12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
1Cor14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

6. What is the criterion that the Holy Spirit uses give what to whom?

1Cor12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Heb2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

7. What gifts did Philip have?
The gift of helps, preaching, and teaching.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

His Permanent Address

A Synonym is one of two or more words in the same language which have the same or very nearly the same meaning. The meanings are so similar the words are often used interchangeably. The challenge is to know which of these words to use when you are translating. For example, there is no word in Spanish for righteousness. Many use the Spanish word for Justice: Justicia. But, justice and righteousness do not have the same definition, they are not synonyms.

A similar thing happens with the word dwell in the Bible. Sometimes it means to live permanently and sometime it means temporarily. The latter is the case of John 1:14. The word used in the Greek is Skenoo, which means: to have or fix one's tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle; to dwell. Let us read John 1:14,

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Christ dwelling with us as the Son of Man was temporary. When Christ was on earth He “pitched His tent” among us. Tents are for temporary dwellings. In contrast, other words are used regarding His dwelling in us. The first one is Enoikeo which means to dwell in; to dwell metaphorically in one and influence him (for good). Because is for good, it gives an impression of permanency. Two verses use this example,

2Ti 1:14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
2Co 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

The second one is Katoikeo, which means to dwell in, inhabit as in, God is said to dwell in the temple, i.e. to be always present for worshippers. Also to dwell, settle; used metaphorically to refer to when divine powers, influences, etc., are said to dwell in his soul, to pervade, prompt, govern it. Examples of this use are found in

Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

The word kaitokeo gives an implication of something more lasting than just pitching a tent. The third word is oikeo which simply means to dwell in. However, there is no sign of short term stay or pitching a tent. Again there is a sense of permanence in the use of this verse. Let us read

Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
Rom 8:10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.

The last word is naos {nah-os'} – (our word for “IN”) which is derived from naio which also means to dwell. It was used when referring to the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies. This word is the one used for referring to Jesus in the Sanctuary. Let us read,

1Co 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

No reference in this verse of anything temporary. Our bodies are supposed to be Jesus’ permanent address. As we can see all these words were translated as dwelling. However, skenoo is temporary dwelling.

In conclusion, when the Bible talks about Christ dwelling among us as a man, it is temporary living. However, when it talks about Christ dwelling in us it is permanent living. Both dwellings are because God loves us. God wants to permanently dwell in us. He does not want to temporarily dwell among us. His incarnation limited the how and amount of time He could dwell with us. But, through the Holy Spirit he can dwell in us forever. Yes, we can evict Him and foreclose our property, in which case the devil will repurchase it, and it will be destroyed when the devil is destroyed. Or we can let God abide in us, and eventually live eternally with Him.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Being More Deliberate

Years ago I had an encounter with some people that said that our work for the church had to have intentionality. This word, I learned later, was a buzz word used in certain Christian circles that espouse the ideas of the Church Growth Movement. One of their claims is that to reach people where they are, you must become more like them; hence, the intentionality. You choose to make a deliberate effort – you force yourself - to show yourself like them to have something in common. In this way they feel comfortable being around you and they join your church because they seem to like you, not because they love Jesus. When they stop liking you they leave to where they like other people. This style is a backlash of our former style of telling people seemingly irrelevant information about prophecy, theology, or Bible history. Many left our churches with this system, also.

Being more deliberate will not help your witnessing (or discipleship). Only submitting more to the Holy Spirit will. Consider the disciples. It was not until the disciples submitted to the Holy Spirit that they became effective in their ministry. They became bold after receiving the “early rain” (Acts 2). Just before this they confessed their sin and repented, the prayed and studied. If anything they became more deliberate in their submission to Christ.

Before the early rain fell on them the disciples were not quite effective workers. Even when Jesus gave the disciples power they could not free the one demon possessed. Let’s read the story in Matthew 17: 14 – 21,

Mat17:14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,

Mat17:15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatic, and sore vexed: for oft times he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.

Mat17:16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.

Mat17:17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.

Mat17:18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.

Mat17:19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Mat17:20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Mat17:21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Contrast this with the man healed of demon possession at Gadarene. Let’s read in mark 5:18 – 20,

Mark5:18 And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.

Mark5:19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.

Mark5:20 And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

Christ never said to the man “be more deliberate.” He said to him, “Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” We also have the story of the woman by the well. Let us read in John 4:28 – 29

John4:28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

John4:29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

He never told her to be more deliberate, in fact she went on her own, to share about Christ. She just went. Her witness was very effective, the whole town converted. The other thing Christ told people was to “Show yourself to the Priests,” as we read in Luke 17:14.

Luke17:14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.

They were to witness to the priests about their miraculous healing. This would have been a great witness to the priests who were bent on rejecting Christ. Christ knew this, so he sent the people where He would not be effective. Christ instead would go where the Spirit sent Him. Christ was deliberate on following what the Spirit prompted Him to do. And, He wants us to follow His example.


Click on link To Download as PDF file: On_Being_More_Deliberate

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jesus was no Hero

A Hero is a mythological, or legendary, figure, of great strength, or ability; the chief male character in a literary or dramatic work; a man admired for his achievements and qualities. In the teachers section of our quarterly an objective is proposed, “To feel an admiration and attachment to Jesus as the only Savior of humanity and as a true Hero to be emulated.” The question to ask is if Jesus is a Hero. If we are to use the above definitions then He was not.

For starters Jesus was neither mythological nor legendary. He was and is real. While Jesus is the chief male character of the story in the Bible, the Bible is not fictional work. The Bible also does not describe Jesus as a man of great strength and ability. This is not to say that He was a weakling, after all He was a carpenter for most of his life, but He was no Samson. The Bible did not talk of Jesus possessing great ability as, for example, David had. David wrote poetry and songs, played the harp, sang, and fought beasts and giants. (Although, it should be said that it was Jesus as God who gave to Samson his strength and to David his ability.) Jesus after all “…hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isa53:2).

Some will point to the miracles Jesus performed. But remember what He told the disciples when Phillip asked Him to show the Father, let read in John 14:8 12,

John14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.

John14:9 Jesus 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, Shew us the Father?

John14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

John14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

John14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Jesus told His disciples that because He was leaving He would pray to the Father so the Father would send another Comforter (walking partner). This walking partner is the Holy Spirit which dwells in all who believe (John 14: 16 – 17). The Holy Spirit would give us the power to do greater things than even Jesus did.

There is one thing, however, that Jesus did that we will not ever be able to do. That is to die to save the world(John 3:16). Only Jesus could do that. The Law required a “Spotless lamb” and only Jesus can say that He was spotless. Not that His flesh was spotless, He came in the likeness of Sinful flesh, was tempted in all things as we are, but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15; Romans 8:3). This is great distinction between heroes and Jesus: heroes cannot die to save you from the wages of Sin. So, Jesus is our Savior, and He is also our Master and Lord.

No one submits and depends on Superman or Spiderman for all things as we do in Christ. Heroes show up when we need them and after we no longer need them they leave. We always need Jesus and He never leaves us, He is with us always (Matthew 28:20).


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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or Possess. In other words, Insincerity by pretending to have qualities or beliefs not really held. Other words for it are deceitfulness, pretense, pharisaism, phoniness, sanctimoniousness, sanctimony, tartuffery, two-facedness, and dishonesty. This shows in inconsistent behavior, which shows their lack of integrity. Because of this, hypocrisy is also the act of condemning or calling for the condemnation of another person when the critic is guilty of the act for which he demands that the accused be condemned. The word originates the Greek word for acting or playing a part. Some psychologists explain hypocrisy by saying that individuals are more likely to explain their own actions by their environment, yet they attribute the actions of others to 'innate characteristics', thus leading towards judging others while justifying ones' own actions. In other words hypocrites judge themselves by their motives and others by their actions. The issue is that hypocrites try to hide in themselves the things they dislike in others. When caught they excuse themselves, when others are caught they are fast to judge and condemn.

This was the issue with the Pharisees. They seemed very strict in their public practice, but in private they were worse then public offenders. In many ways, John was as strict as a Pharisee, but not a hypocrite. John practiced what he preached. The Pharisees did not. They told the people that they did one thing and that the people should follow suit, but hid to do other things. They claimed to love and follow God, but mistreated those whom God loved. It is no wonder John spoke so strongly against them. When they and the Sadducees went to see John in the wilderness, he said to them,

Mat3:7 …O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Mat3:8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Mat3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Mat3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Christ had also harsh words for the Pharisees. In Luke 11:37 one of them invited Jesus to dine. After observing that Jesus did not wash His hands before eating the disciple pointed out that Jesus was breaking or defiling the tradition of the elders. Jesus replied to Him that what defiles a body – wickedness and ravening - is already inside. In other words, what is on the outside shows what is in the inside. The Pharisees tithed on everything, but refuse to give care to their elderly parents, thus violating the commandment of giving honor to your parents (Mark 7: 8 – 11). So Christ proceeds to proclaim His famous woe to the Pharisees in Luke 11: 42 – 44,

Luke11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke11:43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Luke11:44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

In contrast, Christ words for the John the Baptist, were praiseworthy. Jesus said of John, that he was more than a prophet, and “…Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist (Matthew11:11). Was John inherently better than the Pharisees? No. John just made better choices. He chose to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in him, and lived a life of total dependence on the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleansed Him of the wickedness and ravening in his heart.

The difference between John and the Pharisees was that the John allowed the Holy Spirit to do in him, what the Pharisees professed they could do on their own. The Pharisees represent those will be lost and John represents those who will be saved. Which one are you?


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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Different Words for the Same Covenant

The Lesson quotes 1 Corinthians 9:22 which reads,

1 Corinthians 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

The author interprets this verse to say that Paul modified the message specifically for his audience. This is nothing new. God, for example, reworded His covenant, to fit the circumstance of the person He was speaking to. Something Paul, as an avid reader of the Old Testament, should have known.

God worded the covenant to his servants in different times in different ways. But, it has been in principle the same covenant. It is always something that God promises that the person cannot do for themselves, at least the way God can do it. And, it is always tied up with the promise of salvation and the promise of rewards through salvation.

We have several examples of this.

  1. The promise to Adam and Eve is found in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Her child would provide the salvation against the serpent.
  2. The promise to Noah is found in Genesis 9: 8 – 13,

Genesis 9:8 - 13 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you … neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, this is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.”

The rainbow was to be a sign of the covenant. So every time we see a covenant we should remember God’s covenant to Noah.

  1. In the case of Abraham the promise is found in Genesis 15:18, “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” The Lord repeats and expands the covenant with Abraham in Genesis 17. The sign of this covenant was to be circumcision. Again, God making promises that Abraham could not fulfill himself.
  2. This covenant to Abraham was to be established with Isaac and also Jacob.
  3. It was this covenant that God remembered to save the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 2:24). So He called on Moses to establish the covenant with the people of Israel. This was something Moses could not do by himself.
  4. Years after God establish the same covenant with Naomi and Ruth in the form of a spouse for Ruth, who would as a kinsman redeem the land for Naomi and Ruth. God did for them through Boaz what they could not do on their own.
  5. God then spoke to David, Boaz and Ruth’s great grandson, and promised him a kingly lineage (2 Samuel 7:13; 1Kings 2:4), a dynasty of sorts, from which the King of Kings would be born. The Lord kept the promise to David: Jesus was born out of David’s lineage.

Paul adjusted the message to his audience by following the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Jesus had said that when we are submitted to the Holy Spirit, He would give us the words to say. Perhaps that is why Paul was able to so aptly modify his preaching. In other words, this gift can be ours too, if we are submitted to the Holy Spirit.


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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Paul Means The Little One

What do we know of Paul before His conversion? Paul says of himself in Acts 22:3, “I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.” He proceeds in Philipians 3:5, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee.” He was born a Roman citizen according to Acts 22:25 – 28. According to Galatians 1:14 He “…profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.” He was Present at Stephen’s death and consenting of it according to Acts 7:58 and 8:1.

After this He persecuted the church as we read in Acts 8:3 and 22:4 and 5:

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

Act 22:4 And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.

Act 22:5 As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished.

Paul’s original name was Saul (Acts 13:9). His parents gave him this name because they hoped he would be as great as King Saul (Saul means desired). After Paul conversion (Acts 9) Saul changed his name to Paul, which means little one. This was to contrast his name in his life without Christ. After Christ he no longer pursued greatness, but was content to consider Christ as the great One and he, Paul, was a small one compared to Christ. Indeed, He called himself the least of the Apostles and all saints (1Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8), the chief of sinners (1Timothy 1:15), and a wretched man (Romans 7:24).

This is very paradoxical, as the things of God often are. The little one and least of all of the Apostles can be considered from our human our perspective as the greatest apostle of all. He was the evangelist. He was also a very successful church planter. Also, Paul was the most prolific letter writer.

How did Paul do it? We could argue that technically he did not. It was the Holy Spirit through him that accomplished all these things. Paul completely gave himself to the Holy Spirit’s control. He was a man of prayer. There are 32 references of prayer in Paul’s epistles. The Bible says Paul was full of the Spirit (Acts 13:9). Elsewhere Paul talks about following the directions of the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6).

Many want to be like Paul, but are unwilling to yield as Paul. Many want to plant churches, but are unwilling follow the Holy Spirit’s direction. Many want to preach and baptize, but are unwilling to let the Spirit speak through them. Many complain that the tithes and offerings are low; Paul became a tent maker to not burden the brethren (Acts 18:3). The question is which group do we belong to? Is it the group that as Paul lives by faith or the other that lives by works?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

What moved the Millerites

What moved the Millerites

In 1844, William Miller and his followers eagerly awaited for the emergence of the Heavenly High Priest. Because of their misunderstanding of what the sanctuary was, they expected this emergence in the second coming of Christ. We know Christ did not return. We know of their disappointment. We also now what truly happened that day. What moved this group to go through with their plan to prepare for Christ’s return? What helped them endure the ridicule of others before and after the disappointment?

One answer would be hope. The kind of hope of Hebrews 11:1. To them there was a certainty and an assurance that Christ would return for them on October 22, 1844.

Another answer is trust. They trusted God’s word to be true. They did not need external evidence to believe Christ return. They believed that anything the Word of God said would happen because God said so.

The story of Noah shows this type of trust. We read in Genesis 6:8 that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” God wanted to spare Noah of the impending destruction. We read in Genesis 6:11 – 13,

Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Genesis 6:12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.
Genesis 6:13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
Genesis 6:14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood …

God told Noah what He was about to do. So He ordered Noah to build an ark. In verse 22 we read that, “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.” Noah listened to God. Noah believed God and trusted God. Noah did not need evidence that it would rain, nor that the ark could float. God’s word was sufficient to him.

Another example is the Roman centurion. Let us read in Matthew 8:5 – 13,

Matthew 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
Matthew 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
Matthew 8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
Matthew 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
Matthew 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
Matthew 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

The Centurion needed no evidence that Jesus, at His word, could heal the servant. He trusted God’s word to be enough.

Another answer to what moved the Millerites to follow through on their quest is Love. They loved Him above all else so they loved His return above all else. Those who love the things of this world above God will not love His return either.

Some people ask the question, “Would you love God even if there was no tomorrow?” In other words, would you love God even if there was no Second Advent and eternal life? The basis for the question is that you should not love Jesus because you want a reward. However, I do not think this is the right question. Let us use the example of marriage to explain. Why did you marry your spouse? Did you marry him/her because you wanted the rewards of married life? Or was it because you love him/her so much you wanted to be as one with him/her for the rest of your life? Let’s apply the same question to God. Do you love God so much now that you would like to spend the rest of your life with Him? The Millerites did. And, those who love Him like that in the end will be saved.

Friday, June 20, 2008

All things point to Jesus.

I was traveling back to Chicago, when I saw a sign that said, “Chicago 300 miles.” This sign said to me that Chicago was 300 miles away, and that I was going in the right direction. As I got closer to Chicago I saw more signs, with less distance. The signs told me I was closer to Chicago and am going in the right direction. None of the signs said, “I was in Chicago, yet.” All the signs did was point me to Chicago. Of course, when you arrived to Chicago you no longer need signs to point you there.

The earthly sanctuary is similar. As all things inside were symbols representing Jesus, they were mere signs, pointing to Jesus. When Jesus came to earth, type met antitype. The real thing had arrived. No longer do we need symbols pointing us to Him. As the quarterly says, “Jesus and His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary replaced the earthly
tabernacle, the earthly priesthood, the animal sacrifices, and the daily and yearly ceremonies.”

It all pointed to Jesus. For example, it points to his earthly ministry: His birth, life, death and resurrection. God offered His Son as a lamb that takes away the Sin of the World, as the Israelites offered a lamb as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of their Sins. Every utensil in the building represented something about Jesus. With the candles, it pointed to Jesus as Light of the world (John 8:12). With the shewbread, it shows Jesus as the bread of life (John 6:35).

Not only the sanctuary itself pointed to Jesus, but the ministration of the priests, was to "serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things." Hebrews 8:5. Thus it was of great importance; and the Lord, through Moses, gave the most definite and explicit instruction concerning every point of this typical service. The ministration of the sanctuary consisted of two divisions, a daily and a yearly service. The daily service was performed at the altar of burnt offering in the court of the tabernacle and in the holy place; while the yearly service was in the most holy. Every morning and evening a lamb of a year old was burned upon the altar, with its appropriate meat offering, thus symbolizing the daily consecration of the nation to Jehovah, and their constant dependence upon the atoning blood of Christ. God expressly directed that every offering presented for the service of the sanctuary should be "without blemish." Exodus 12:5. The Passover sacrifice pointed to Jesus on the cross.

The Priest clothes had a specific meaning. Over the ephod was the breastplate, the most sacred of the priestly vestments. This was of the same material as the ephod. It was in the form of a square, measuring a span, and was suspended from the shoulders by a cord of blue from golden rings. The border was formed of a variety of precious stones, the same that form the twelve foundations of the City of God. Within the border were twelve stones set in gold, arranged in rows of four, and, like those in the shoulder pieces, engraved with the names of the tribes. The Lord's direction was, "Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually." Exodus 28:29. So Christ, the great High Priest, pleading His blood before the Father in the sinner's behalf, bears upon His heart the name of every repentant, believing soul. Says the psalmist, "I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me." Psalm 40:17.

At the right and left of the breastplate were two large stones of great brilliancy. These were known as the Urim and Thummim. By them the will of God was made known through the high priest. When questions were brought for decision before the Lord, a halo of light encircling the precious stone at the right was a token of the divine consent or approval, while a cloud shadowing the stone at the left was an evidence of denial or disapprobation. The miter of the high priest consisted of the white linen turban, having attached to it by a lace of blue, a gold plate bearing the inscription, "Holiness to Jehovah." Everything connected with the apparel and deportment of the priests was to be such as to impress the beholder with a sense of the holiness of God, the sacredness of His worship, and the purity required of those who came into His presence.

The Priests represented Christ as intercessor. The Day of Atonement pointed to Jesus heavenly ministry in the holiest of Holies chamber of the sanctuary on Heaven. The High Priest not only interceding for people, but as the sanctuary was cleansed from the yearly Sins of the people. This cleansing takes even more significance when Jesus passes from the Holy Place to the Holiest of Holies. Christ cleanses His sanctuary from Sin. However, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;” 1 Corinthians 6:19. . As He cleanses the heavenly Sanctuary from Sin, so are our hearts are cleansed from Sin, if we let Him abide in us.

Thursday, June 05, 2008


The teachers comments of this week’s lesson asks this question, “What barriers do we raise to our own insight into God’s truth, and that of those with whom we should be sharing the gospel because of our own misconception of God’s plans? What would it take for us to be more open to the truth?” We could reword this question as “what objection or excuses do we have in rejecting or avoid making a choice for the truth? The Bible has several examples of people giving excuses. In the Parable of soils is cares of the world, tribulation and persecution, or lack of understanding (Matthew 13). Those who refuse to go to the wedding banquet: Marriage, land, and other. The man that gets kicked out refuses to wear the apparel provided by the King (Matthew 22: 1-14).

This reminds me of the message to the Laodicean Church. Let us read in Revelation 3: 14, where John writes,

Revelation 3: 14 22

Rev3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;

Rev3:15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

Rev3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

Rev3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

Rev3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

Rev3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

Rev3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

Rev3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Rev3:22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Since we love the stupor and comfort of our spiritual lukewarmness, we resist and reject anything that will take us away from it. We raise barriers that will prevent us from both leaving our spiritual lukewarmness and anything external from removing us. In other words we find ways to deceive ourselves about our true condition. As Nebuchadnezzer we praise ourselves for our accomplishments. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Or as Adam and Eve we find reasons to blame others.

God tells us the real problem and offers a solution. Buy – acquire - from Him eye salve that we may see things as He sees them. We are sinners – and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked - in need of redemption. Christ is our Redeemer. His life , death and resurrection accomplishes our salvation from the punishment and penalty of Sin, from the power of Sin and finally from the presence of Sin. Our righteousness’ is as filthy rags. But, Christ offers us His righteousness - “white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.” He also offers us “Gold tried in the fire,” a faith that is unmovable no matter what trials beset us. In other words, we can have His Faith (Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 2:12; Revelation 14:12). We therefore have no excuse. Everything has been provided. We just have to accept it, take it and keep it. What keeps us from doing this? It is our love for our self-righteousness. Jesus’ invitation is that we should let go of ours and take His.

Friday, May 30, 2008

About agape

Just a few thought on Agape this week. Some one said that "... the beauty of agape is that it takes something that ordinarily would be worth nothing and makes it priceless. It creates value in the object of its affection and attention."

I thought this was a deep statement. Why? because, it explains why God is capable of loving us. For you see it says in Romans 5:6-10:
Verse 6 says, “When we were still without strength ... Christ died for the ungodly.”
Verse 8 says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” and finally,
verse 10 says, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son ...”

God can do this because, "Agape is selfless, self-emptying, self-sacrificing, self-renouncing, a love that 'seeks not her own' " (1 Corinthians 13). Besides, God is agape.

“went about doing good” including the ultimate good, which was His death on the cross for all mankind. As He hung on the cross His heart toward His enemies cried out, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”BUt, here is the challenge, Christ said that we should agape our enemies. Matthew 5:44. 45 says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be the sons of your Father in heaven ...” This is what He did, even when we was spitefully persecuted He So He asks us to do the same. This means that we should, love those who hate you or can care the less about you. It means that even of when they are against you, you are not against them. It means you have their best interest in mind, even when they do not have your best interest in mind, and even if it means harm toward you (Including death). How are we suppose to do this? By letting the Holy Spirit dwell in us by faith, and let Him do His will in us. This is the only method that works.

Friday, May 16, 2008

He did His Father’s will

Here in the United States of America we are in the midst of the campaign season for the presidential election. Regretfully, as most campaign runs, they are very negative. The opponent finds negative things from the past to smear the reputation of the other one. Such was the recent case of one such presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama. His former pastor in Chicago was caught on video saying things that were negative about the USA. Most people have gone back and forth about whether Reverend Wright is patriotic or not. And, how does it implicate Senator Obama, since he was a member of that Church? Does he agree with the views expressed by Reverend Wright? Can we elect a president that thinks that way?

However, I have not heard anyone asking perhaps the most important question. Was Reverend Wright in his right to express views that are perhaps personal and not necessarily the views of God? As a pastor he, and all pastors, represents God. Thus, pastors, and all preachers for that matter, must restrain themselves to speak the Word of God, only. Reverend Wright may have said the truth, but unless it was from God, he, as Christ’s minister, was wrong in saying what he said. If it was God’s will, then it would have behooved Reverend Wright to say it. If it was God’s will – which I am not saying it was – the reverend was following example of Jesus. You see, Jesus did as the Father told Him to do. As He said on a couple of occasions,

John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

He listened to His Father and acted on every Word the Father said to Him. This means that when Jesus sent the demons to the swine, He was doing His Father’s will (Matthew 8: 31, 32). This was no whim or last minute resort decision. The Father had a purpose in letting Jesus do this. Ellen G. White says that "it was in mercy to the owners of the swine that this loss had been permitted to come upon them. They were absorbed in earthly things, and cared not for the great interests of spiritual life. Jesus desired to break the spell of selfish indifference, that they might accept His grace." (The Desire of Ages, p. 338).

When Christ cursed the fig tree, he was doing the Father’s will (Matthew 21:18-19). Again there was a purpose behind this. There was a lesson to be taught. Nothing was done trivially or capriciously. God does not work that way. This event was a living parable. Jesus showed the disciples the danger of professing to believe and not having the fruits of your profession.

You may not be a preacher, teacher, etc. You may ask yourselves, does this apply to me? Is Christ our example? Are we not His followers? We’ve established that He did only as the Father willed for Him. This should be true for us also. Id we are to walk as He walked, and be perfect as He was, then we are to yield our own prerogative, to the Holy Spirit. We are to let Him take over our minds, as He did the mind of Christ. Only then will we do as Jesus did. Only then we will do our Heavenly Father’s will.