Friday, August 28, 2009

Testimony of the Word

Testimony of the Word                                     


The noun testimony means evidence based on observation or knowledge.  To testify is to make a statement based on personal knowledge or belief: to bear witness.  A witness is the one testifying or giving testimony.  A witness knows, has been there or has gone through it.   Sister White says that the Word testifies of Jesus.  The Holy Spirit inspired it*.  He knew Jesus very well.  In talking about our attraction to Jesus, Sister White emphasizes the importance of the Word's testimony.  Let us read, 


"Only the beauty of heavenly truth must draw those who would follow Him. The character of the Messiah had long been foretold in prophecy, and He desired men to accept Him upon the testimony of the Word of God."—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 43.


John says in Revelation that "…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10).  The term spirit could also be translated as essence.  So the essence of Prophecy is to bear witness of Jesus. 


One good example prophecy bearing witness of Jesus is in the book of Daniel.  In fact, Jesus refers to Daniel at least twice as someone to read.  In Matthew 24 Jesus is talking about the end times and states that, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand …" (Mat24:15).  You could also say that indirectly he was referring to Daniel when He told Peter how many times you should forgive your brother, "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven" (Mat 18:22).  This seventy times seven is quoted in Daniel 9: 24 – 27 as seventy weeks. Let us read the passage,


Dan9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Dan9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

Dan9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

Dan9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.


This passage ties in to 1 John 5: 6 – 8 mention of witness of water and blood.  Let us read it,


1Jn5:6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

1Jn5:7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

1Jn5:8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.


Jesus' baptism, the event that was foretold by Daniel's prophecy in Daniel 9:24–26 as the coming of the Anointed, proclaimed the beginning of Christ's ministry on earth. This could be called "the testimony of water."  Daniel's prophecy also spoke of when the Anointed One would be cut off (murdered on the cross) in the middle of the week, "the testimony of blood."  We see that Jesus was right when He said, "the scriptures … testify of me" John 5:39.  Therefore we should "search the scriptures."  Are we searching?

Raul Diaz

Friday, August 14, 2009

Walking with Gratitude

Walking with Gratitude


Matthew, Luke and John tell the story of the anointing of Jesus.  Apparently, a Pharisee called Simon wanted Jesus to have dinner at his house.  Jesus obliged him and went with His disciples.  Jesus had healed this Pharisee of leprosy.  So, the dinner was a token of gratitude.  A woman if ill repute – whose name was Mary - walks in the house uninvited.  She brought with her an alabaster box filled with spikenard ointment.  She broke the box and poured the ointment over JesusShe also washed Jesus' feet and dried them with her hair. Jesus had healed this woman of demon possession seven times.  This was a demonstration of heartfelt appreciation.  This incident was considered scandalous by most in the house, including the host.  With disdain and indignation he thought to himself, "This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner" (Luke 7:39).  By the way, Sister White says it was Simon who drew this woman – his niece- to sin.  Luke then relates how Jesus responded to Simon.  Let us read from Luke 7:40 – 47,


Luke7:40 And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on.

Luke7:41 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.

Luke7:42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?

Luke7:43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

Luke7:44 And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.

Luke7:45 Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.

Luke7:46 My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.


Because of the fall, we are all deserving of death.  But, John 3:16 says that,


John3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.


Because God loves us, instead of what we deserve God gives us a gift.  1 John 3:1 says that, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God …" The author of our lesson says that this verse stresses that in Jesus we are already God's children. God has taken the initiative to do this for us. The new birth is His work, not ours. We can bring about neither our own birth nor our adoption as God's children.  Given the size of the universe in contrast to our planet, much less to each of us individually, how can we not be astonished that the God who created all this loves us and has made us His children? What a wonderful perspective this should give us on what our lives mean! What hope, what assurance, what confidence we should have for the future, regardless of whatever difficult circumstances we now face? God, the Creator of all that is, loves us, cares for us, and calls us His children.  Have you ever dwelt on the implications of the notion that not only does God exist but He loves us, cares for us, and even died for us. How should this reality impact how we live?


If we are like Simon, we will host a little get together pot-lock to honor Jesus.  We would do it after church.  One dinner should be sufficient to thank he who loves us so much He died the death we deserved.  If, in contrast, we are like Mary we will give everything we have in order to continually thank Him.  Our gratitude shows how much we love, which in turn shows how much we believe we are forgiven.  Do we live grateful lives?  How grateful are we that God has in Jesus restored us as His children?  Will we gratefully let Him - through the work of His indwelling Spirit - transform us into the likeness of His Son? 


Raul Diaz

Friday, August 07, 2009

Fwd: The Good Shepherd.doc

Christ: Our Only Protection

When I was a child I use to love fairy tales.   Often in these tales wolves were portrayed as cunning and ravenous villains.  But are they really that bad?  In the movie "Never Cry Wolf", based on a non-fiction book of the same name, a young scientist discovers that wolves are creatures that are striving to survive just like any other.  This is not to say that wolves are not a threat to shepherds and sheep.

Wolves are cunning hunters.   Although, they tend to be loners, they hunt in packs.  They are also nocturnal.  They prefer to hunt after dusk under the cover of night.  Wolves test herds for signs of weakness, taking advantage of the very sick and old.  They sniff the air for wounds or the smell of infection.  Once the prey is picked, the wolves travel in the opposite direction from which the wind blows to prevent the prey from catching their scent.  Wolves also observe ravens to find prey.  Ravens circle in the air above sick animals.  Circling birds mean that food is close by.  The wolf pack quietly will close in on their target, often in a single line. They seize their prey by the rump or the sides, preferring to attack from behind. 

In the case of sheep, as the wolves try to catch the sheep they are targeting, the rst of the flock is scattered.  Now, the shepherd has not only lost the one sheep to the wolves, they also have to find the other sheep.  This can take hours or days.  The wolf will also attack the shepherd if he tries to defend his flock.  However, the only defense the sheep have against the wolf is the shepherd.  As we can see, Paul didn't compare the enemy to wolves for nothing.

Referring to false prophets, Jesus says the wolves that attack us many times will come "to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Mat7:15).  Their disguise is very deceiving, which is why Christ says in Matthew 24:24,

Matthew 24:24  For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

The deception is so great that even the elect could be deceived.  This is perhaps why John was impressed back then to warn about the perils of "the last hour."  He says on 1 John 2: 18 – 19,

1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

1Johnn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

What kinds of dangerous teachings could these be?  Are we today confronted with anything, both within and without the church, that if accepted would lead us astray? How can we protect ourselves from these deceptions?

John gives us an idea about the deception. John describes antichrist as one who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:221), and that He is God incarnate (1 John 4:32, 2 John 73)

Very few professed Christians deny Jesus as God and as coming in the flesh.  Could it be that there is more to this than meets the eye?  Could we - in this last hour – profess to believe that Christ is God and came in the flesh, but truly do not?  This is the essence of deception: it is so close to the truth we cannot tell them apart.   It is like a forgery or counterfeit.  How can we tell the counterfeit from the true one?  We study the true one to get to know it so well, so that when we see the counterfeit we can say, "It is a fake."  The "Truth" is our only safeguard against the deception.

Our only defense against the wolves is the Shepherd.  Christ says so Himself in John 10:11 – 15,

John10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

John10:12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

John10:13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

John10:14 I am the good shepherd …

John10:15 … and I lay down my life for the sheep.

Our best defense is staying within the shepherd's eyesight and where you can hear Him.  Because, His sheep, "hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out … and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice" (John 10: 3, 4).  Any strange voice the sheep will not follow (John 10:5), even if it is a sheep in wolves clothing. 

John says, essentially, that our only protection is to abide in Christ and let Him abide in you (1 John 2: 24 – 28).  Are you?


1 1 John 2:22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

21 John 4:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

32 John 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Raul Diaz