Friday, June 24, 2011

Commentary: Is the Holy Spirit God’s Gamma Radiation?

Is the Holy Spirit God's Gamma Radiation?


Many males like electronic devices, I am no exception.   I was at a shopping center once.  I saw one of those stores that specialized in electronic devices so I went in to browse.  A few feet from the entrance they were featuring a new Home Theatre sound system.  The sound system was connected to a high definition flat screen showing a movie in high definition.  The image was incredibly real.  The movie they were showing was "The Incredible Hulk." 


In this story, set in 2005, General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross meets with Dr. Bruce Banner the colleague and lover of his daughter Betty.  Ross wants Banner to revive a World War II-era military super soldier, but tells Banner the goal of the experiment is to make human beings immune to gamma radiation.  The experiment fails, transforming Banner into the Hulk.   After this, whenever Banner becomes angry he transforms into the Hulk.


One of the salesmen and I started talking about the plot.  And, I heard myself saying that "the premise of the movie is one man transforming into another."  The gamma radiation affected something in Dr. Banner's molecular structure to make this happen.  So, a highly intelligent normal size Caucasian male turns into a highly muscular green giant brute.  They are virtually two different men.  I thought this is similar to what God intends for our Christian walk to be:  One man transforming into another.  But, instead of gamma radiation being the changing agent, it is the Holy Spirit.  And, instead of normal transforming into giant brute, it is sinners transforming into the likeness of Christ. 


Paul tells us where we start in 2 Timothy 3: 1 – 7,


2Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

2Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

2Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

2Timothy 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

2Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

2Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

2Timothy 3:7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.


Paul rewords it in Galatians 5: 19 - 21


Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

Galatians 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

Galatians 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.


But, when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us we then become as Galatians 5: 22 – 23,


Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

Galatians 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.


Paul says in Ephesians 4: 22 – 24 how it works,


Ephesians 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

Ephesians 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.


If we allow Him, the Holy Spirit renews our mind and heart.  He turns our hard heart into flesh (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26).  He writes the law into our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).  Without gamma radiation He transforms us into the new man.  

Raul Diaz

Friday, June 17, 2011

Commentary: A Common Thread

A Common Thread


The lesson this week is a collection of stories that seem not to be closely related, with the exception that they are about Jesus and they all have to deal with garment, most of them Jesus' garment.  But, there is another common thread going through them.  (Used as an idiom the expression "a common thread…" is figurative language for denoting a similar idea or pattern to a series of events.)  The other common thread is that in all the stories there is a touching of clothes.  This is significant.  Because, how the touch is done reveals more about the character involved. 


In the first story (Mark 5:24 – 34; Luke 43 – 48), the lady touches the hem of the Jesus garment.  As we know from the story, she decided to do this as covertly as possible.  According to Mosaic Law the fact that she had a hemorrhage made her ceremonially unclean.  She could not be seen with anyone.  She could not touch anyone and vice versa.  She had to stay away from people.  But, she knew Jesus was her only hope.  It was a touch of faith. 


In the next story Jesus touches His clothes in order to take them off to wash His disciples' feet.  In doing this action several things happen.  One, He teaches His disciples about humility.  Slaves wore very little clothes; Christ looked like one without His garments.  This act showed how low Christ went to save us.  And, it is to be an example to us.  Paul says in Philippians,


Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Philippians 2:7 But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


Two, in removing His clothes, Christ revealed to His disciples what covered His divinity: flesh as theirs.  Flesh as Adam's after the fall with no light covering.  Hebrews 1 portrays Jesus as the divine Son of God, one with His Father.  Chapter 2 portrays Him as the Son of Man, with our fallen mortal nature.  He accomplished our salvation through total dependence on His Father.  He said, "I can of myself do nothing" (John 5:30).  So it is with us.  In laying His garments aside, He revealed the hiding of His power.   He laid aside His divine prerogatives that He might experience what we experience. He lived with our temptations, trials, and rejection, that we might experience His victory and joy (Heb. 12:1, 2).  The followers of Jesus will claim the Father's power as Christ did.

The third story is about the High priest touching his garment in order to tear them.  This was against the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 10:6; 21:10), because his garments symbolized the perfection of God's character.  The High Priest should have known this.  To tear those robes would be to profane God's character, to mar its perfection.  Thus, the irony was that Caiaphas was guilty of breaking the very law he professed to defend.  Furthermore, it was done under false pretenses: in order to show off a false piety.  There is more: the penalty for tearing his garments was death.  The great irony in all this was that Jesus, who had done nothing wrong, was to be put to death at the instigation of the very priest who, through his actions, deserved death himself. 


The fourth story is set when Jesus was taken to a common hall by the Roman soldiers to be punished (Matthew 27:27-29).  Again, someone touches His clothes, but this time is to strip Jesus off His clothes to put on Him a scarlet robe so the soldiers could mock Him.  With no spiritual discernment, the soldiers saw Jesus only as a deluded fanatic.  How many under ignorance mistreat and insult God?  Jesus does not react to their ill treatment.  Jesus allowed the soldiers to mock and humiliate Him.  He did not fight for His rights.  Jesus did not defend Himself. 


The last story in this lesson takes place after Jesus is crucified and the soldiers have stripped Jesus again but this time to crucify Him.  They touched the robe to take His garments when they stripped Him naked.    So, as he hung on the cross, His last earthly possessions -the clothes on His back - were stripped from Him and divided among the clueless soldiers.  The seamless garment, symbol of His righteousness, became an object of gambling.  Even so, it was evidence of His Lordship (Psalms 22:18). The garment was seamless representing the wholeness integrity) of God's character.  God is good all the way through.  The soldiers, albeit unknowingly, had more respect for that than the high priest. 

Each respective touch reveals what the person touching had purposed in their heart and their character.  Each touch reveals virtue or Sin.  Each touch revealed either faith or unbelief.  What would our touch reveal?


Raul Diaz

Friday, June 10, 2011




Growing up my athlete friends use to tell me that there were two types of running: speed and endurance.   The issue was to find out which kind of running was best for the athlete.  The speed race requires a sudden burst of energy.  The runs last from a few seconds to a few minutes depending of the length of the run.  These are typically used for track and field races.  The endurance race is a longer race.  The energy is used along the race, not suddenly.  The marathon – the longest endurance race – is approximately 26 miles long (42 kilometers).  The fastest runners finish in approximately 2 hours.  This race is so gruesome and challenging that just finishing – even if you are last - is considered a victory. 


The story of the race between the hare and the tortoise is an extreme example of this.  The hare – a fast animal – thought that it could take its time because the tortoise was very slow.  The hare underestimated the tortoise determination and endurance.  Something else the hare might have not known is the fact that its speed is in short distances, not long distances.  The tortoise could crawl long distances slowly. 


If we apply this story to our lesson this week the Jews are the hare.  Those that came from the street, fields, highways and byways are the tortoise.   Not because they came in late, but because when they came in they endured the distance to get to the finish line.  The Jews looked at the competition and thought that victory was sure thing.  They thought they had a fast track to heaven.  To the others there was no competition.  In fact, they knew they could not arrive unless they had Christ's help.  All were running to arrive, and they would rather not arrive if by their missing the finish line others would finish.  This is why Christ told the Jews, "… Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you" (Matthew 21:31).  Christ told the Jews that in rejecting Him they had rejected the rock that was the foundation of the temple.  Therefore the rock would fall on them and grind them to powder.  So, Jesus told them, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" (Matthew 21:43).


Jesus illustrated this concept to them with the parable of the wedding feast.  Let us read it,


Mat22:1 And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

Mat22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

Mat22:3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

Mat22:4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

Mat22:5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

Mat22:6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

Mat22:7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

Mat22:8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

Mat22:9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

Mat22:10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

Mat22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

Mat22:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Mat22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mat22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.


The first two calls to the feast is the giving of the Gospel to the Jews.  Which as we said above they rejected it.  Ellen White says about the parable,


The third call to the feast represents the giving of the gospel to the Gentiles. The king said, "The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage."

The king's servants who went out into the highways "gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good." It was a mixed company. Some of them had no more real regard for the giver of the feast than had the ones who rejected the call. The class first bidden could not afford, they thought, to sacrifice any worldly advantage for the sake of attending the king's banquet. And of those who accepted the invitation, there were some who thought only of benefiting themselves. They came to share the provisions of the feast, but had no desire to honor the king.

When the king came in to view the guests, the real character of all was revealed. For every guest at the feast there had been provided a wedding garment. This garment was a gift from the king. By wearing it the guests showed their respect for the giver of the feast. But one man was clothed in his common citizen dress. He had refused to make the preparation required by the king. The garment provided for him at great cost he disdained to wear. Thus he insulted his lord. To the king's demand, "How camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?" he could answer nothing. He was self-condemned. Then the king said, "Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness."  COL 309


As the parable continues we realize that not all that accepted the third call invitation were worthy either.   One man was not dressed appropriately.   Ellen White says the man did not wear the garment provided for him by the King.  This was an affront to the King.  The King had no choice but to send the man away.  True worth in this parable was measured in accepting the invitation the King gave and the garment He gave them to wear.  True worth in our lives comes from accepting Christ's righteousness as yours.   Only then we will endure.  And, "… he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).

Raul Diaz

Friday, June 03, 2011

Commentary: What We Do Not Know Will Hurt Us

What we do not know will hurt us
In most languages there are sayings that people adopt or create to express truth with a few words.  Some call them proverbs, maxims or adage's.  One such case is "You don't know what you have until you lose it."  It proves to be true all the time.  We take things for granted.  Another phrase gives us a perfect example, "You never miss the water till the well runs dry."  Unless we come from countries were water is scarce, we take water for granted.  We do not realize how much we need it until we have none or have no access to it.  This meant no drinking, no showers, limited cooking, no cleaning, etc.  We learned to be grateful for water.
In the parable of the prodigal son neither of the children are grateful to their father. They take him for granted.  They are more interested in what he gives to them, than they are on him.  Both of them misunderstand the father; which means neither of them knew the father well.  They both saw as a source of means and wealth.  Not as a loving caring father who loved them. 
It is evident in the youngest one when he asked for his part of the inheritance and parts to afar away country.  There is no thought about how would this action affect others, including his father.  It was totally selfish. 
In the eldest brother it is evident when he chastised his father for wasting a fatted calf on a brother who did not deserve to be celebrated.  In the eldest brother's mind, the father should have rewarded him for all the hard work and loyalty.  He too was selfish.  He thought the basis of his father love should have been his performance not the fact that he was a son.  He was bargaining like a hireling.  Most commentators agree that this brother was concerned about the inheritance.  This brother's thought was, "when Dad dies it will all be mine."    The focus was on the things and in the future, not the father in present time. 
After his misfortune the younger brother began to miss his father.  He realized how much he needed his father.  Now working as someone's servant, he realized his father's generosity toward his servants.  Even the servants had better than he.  Not feeling worthy of being called a son anymore, he thought he could bargain with his father to become a servant.  Not feeling worthy to sit at the table and eat of the bread, he thought he could eat from the crumbs that fell on the ground, and be better off than his present condition (Matthew 15:27).  (This showed repentance). 
Oh, what a surprise for him, when his father received him and restored him to his previous position.  Now, he began to understand his father: full of grace and mercy, forgiving.  The son was now grateful for his dad, not what the dad gave him.  This son now knew that: You do not know how far or low you can go until you get there.  When he hit rock bottom he reached out to his father who was waiting with stretched out arms for him.  This was something the eldest son never knew of his father.  (it is possible to be in the house and still be lost – as the lost coin).  Did He need to go out and sin to know this? 
Do we need to experience the world to see how sinful we are?  Do we need to hit rock bottom to realize how much we need the Lord?   I say that blessed is he who believes the Lord about his condition and need for grace before he hits rock bottom.  Blessed is he who believes God when God tells them you are man, nothing human is foreign to you.  Blessed is he believes God when God tells them, there go you, but for my grace.  Blessed is he who realizes that they need as much grace as the one in death row and receive it before they get to death row.  How different would the parable have been had the two sons taken time to really know their father?  Some say what you do not know will not hurt you, but in this case it did.  Not knowing the father hurt them. 
Same it is with Paul.  He says in Philippians that to know Christ is above all things.  Let us read Phillipians 3: 7 – 10,
Phi3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
Phi3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
Phi3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
Phi3:10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
We could argue that Paul was saying that not knowing Christ was hurting more than all the injuries he suffered for following Christ.  If Knowing Christ is eternal life (John 17:3) then not knowing Him is eternal death.  So, not knowing Christ will not only hurt you, it will kill you.  Notice what He tells those whom He is forced to reject, "I know you not" (Matthew 25:12; Luke 13:25, 27).   Christ does not want you to die.  So He invites us all, "Give me a chance, get to know me." 

Raul Diaz