Friday, September 30, 2011

No Condemnation From God

No Condemnation From God

 A  woman is caught in adultery.  She is dragged to Jesus so Jesus could pass judgment on her.  We know this was to trap Him, because they did not recognize Jesus authority.  Jesus knew this also.  Jesus did not answer there question, but instead He stooped down started scribbling on the dirt with His finger.  The mob anxious for an answer demanded Jesus for an answer.  Jesus silently looked up and told them, "He who is without Sin, cast the first stone."  Slowly every single one of them men accusing the woman caught in adultery left the scene.  Christ then looked at the woman and asked her, "Woman, where are those accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more" (John 8:10 – 11).  Christ did not condemn her.  Let's be clear, Christ did not excuse what she did, otherwise He would not said to her, "…go and Sin no more." Christ gave her grace. 


We see a similar attitude and behavior from God to Adam and Eve.  After they ate the fruit they realized they were naked.  They sowed some fig leaves together.  So, when they heard God walking through the garden, they ran and hid. (Probably thinking God was coming to kill them.) God called Adam and asked him, "Where are you?"  Let's read the rest form the text,


Ge3:10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

Ge3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?


Let us take another look at God's answer.  He asked Adam, "Who told you?"  In other words, "I did not tell you.  It did not come from me."  God then asked Adam, "What did you do?"  God did not tell Adam, "You bad boy, do you not know how to follow simple orders?" God simply explain to them what would the consequences of their actions, and gave them a promise of a Savior.  God gave them grace.


Saul's encounter with Christ was similar.  We recall from Acts 9 Saul was on his way to Damascus.  Let us read the account from the text,


Acts9:3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

Acts9:4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

Acts9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

Acts9:6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.


Although Christ asked the question, "Why persecutest thou me?" there is no accusation or condemnation.  Christ did not dwell in the past.  Christ told Saul about future plans to use him to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles.  Let us read from the Scripture.  Christ said to Saul,


Acts 26: 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

 Acts 26: 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,

 Acts 26: 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.


Again this does not mean that Christ just excused Saul's past.  Saul lived in darkness, and Christ wanted to show Saul his erring ways and what Saul could become if let Jesus do the healing Saul needed.  The Holy Spirit always convicts to lift up.  The Devil convicts to discourage.  Satan is "the accuser of our brethren … which accused them before our God day and night" (Revelation 12: 10).  Although, the Holy Sprit's job is to "… reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8), you could say He does it by guiding us "into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you" (John 16: 13 – 14). So, "…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).  Saul was given grace, and later the Holy Spirit (Acts 9: 17).  The same is given to us, but, as Paul, we must accept and receive it.  

Raul Diaz

Friday, September 23, 2011



A fallacy is a deceptive, misleading, false notion, or belief, etc.  John Dewey said, "I should venture to assert that the most pervasive fallacy of philosophic thinking goes back to neglect of context."  So, the origin of a fallacy is not doing due diligence.  Fallacies are the wrong conclusions based on incorrect or incomplete information.  In informal logic and rhetoric, a fallacy is usually incorrect argumentation in reasoning resulting in a misconception or presumption.  Fallacious arguments are often structured using rhetorical patterns that obscure any logical argument.  By accident or design, fallacies may – and can be used to - exploit emotional triggers in the listener or interlocutor (e.g. appeal to emotion), or take advantage of social relationships between people (e.g. argument from authority).   

At one time one popular example of a fallacy was that the world is flat.  It was widely accepted without any evidence.  It was not until great sailors like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan proved otherwise.  Columbus was said to observe how ships not only became smaller in the distant water but eventually disappear.  (Some believe Columbus read Isaiah 40:22, "It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.")  Magellan's crew completed a trip around the globe, proving the planet indeed is round.  

When we study the concept of worship in Revelation it shows us the many fallacies that exist in Christianity.  The lesson asks us to consider various texts in Revelation and the reasons cited for worship.  We will see that every reason for worship has been attacked by the Devil by creating fallacies that most professed Christians believe.  As we will see these wrong beliefs rob the believer of the peace and healing that God so much wants to give them.  Space will not allow us to cover all instances of worship.  We will only do a few.


The first citation of worship in our lesson is from Revelation 4: 8 – 11.  The first reason to worship God is because the Lord almighty was, is, and is to come.  God was, is and will be.  He is eternal.  Yet, many believe that Christ was created.  This invalidates John 1: 1 – 2 that the Word was with God the Word is God.  On the other hand many believe that Christ will not return, they say, "We have been hearing that for years, He is not here yet." 


The other reason given to worship God in this text is because "… you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."  In 2006 a news report said that Nearly 450 Christian churches in the United States celebrated the 197th birthday of Charles Darwin. The churches say Darwin`s theory of biological evolution is compatible with faith and that Christians have no need to choose between religion and science.  What has been done is to accommodate what the Bible says to what worldly science says about the creation of the Universe and World.  This poses a problem.  If creation is an allegory so are the Gospels.  You see, the power that Christ used to create the world is the same power He used to perform His miracles.  If Christ cannot create the World in six days by speaking them into existence, He cannot change water into wine, heal lepers or resurrect the dead.  This would make Christ either a lunatic or a charlatan.  His dying on the Cross was in vain, and we are no better off for it. 


The next text used in our lesson is from Revelation 5: 8 – 14.  The reason given there to worship is because, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing" (verse 12).  (The Book of Revelation has 28 allusions to Christ as the Lamb of God.)  Is Christ really worthy to receive power, and riches, etc?  Can He be trusted?  The Devil has attacked this belief by twisting the meaning of the Cross away from a revelation of God's character and achievement of a purified humanity, to pay a legal penalty. That God must inflict penalties and therefore executed His Son, and God will use His power to inflict pain and suffering on all those who don't accept the legal penalty paid.  While incarnate and walking among men on earth, did Christ behave in any fashion that would lead us to believe that He exacted revenge and inflicts pain on those who wrong Him?  Has the Father ever acted that way?  The answer to both questions is "No!" 


The next reference to worship is Revelation 7:9-12.  Here the reason for worship is salvation.  It is clear from scripture that Christ saved the world (John 3:16; John 4:42; 2 Corinthians 5:19).  But, somehow there is a fallacy that God only saves those who believe.  And, those who do not believe God will destroy.  This is a very popular view, even among non-Christian religions.  Most religious leaders saw "9-11" attacks as punishment from God.  Reverend Billy Graham's daughter was asked, "Why would God allow the attacks?"   In a nutshell she answered, "God could not protect us from the attacks because we asked Him to depart from us."  God had to let go, and we suffered the consequences of our own choices.  Let me ask you this? Who was in control of the attackers?  Was it God?  So, from who was the punishment?  The truth is that the devil has convinced us that God's motto is:  "love me or I will kill you."  That is not God's motto is it the devil's. 


The last reference of worship we will look at is Revelation19:1-5.  In this verse God is to be praised because, "…true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants" (verse 2).  God is right, His ways and methods have been proved true. The false system has been exposed and an end to sin and sinners has been experienced! How has this been corrupted and distorted as we approach the end of time?  There are certain circles that say that The Great Controversy doesn't exist.  God was not accused by Satan.  Therefore, God has no need to prove His character or trustworthiness.  Sin is a willful choice to rebel against God without Satan deceiving.  God merely must pay the legal penalty and punish those who remain in rebellion.  This fallacy leads to continued sinning and a rejection of God's healing of our hearts. 


It is not only important that we believe, but what we believe is also important.  Believing the truth about God will lead to eternal life.  Believing the lies that Satan says about God will lead to eternal death. It is as if God is like a Doctor saying "you are terminally ill, let me heal you."  But, Satan says, "You are not that bad.  You can live with your disease.  You do not need the medicine.  Who cares, you have to die of something.  He – the doctor – is saying that to make more money.  He is not a real specialist.  What if He misdiagnosed you?  He is trying to kill everyone that has that disease.  He is in cahoots with the pharmacists.  Just take something for the symptoms."  But, God does note hate you. He hates Sin.  But, those who cling to Sin will be destroyed with Sin. As previously mentioned Ellen White says, "In all who submit to His power the Spirit of God will consume sin. But if men cling to sin, they become identified with it. Then the glory of God, which destroys sin, must destroy them" (Desire of the Ages 107).  I pray we let the Spirit destroy Sin in us.  

Raul Diaz

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worship in the Book of Revelation by Pastor Paul Penno (notes)

I counted them—Jesus is identified in the Book of Revelation as “the Lamb” no less than 28 times! “Christ and Him crucified” is the Hero of that last Book of the Bible. None of the 66 books of the Bible so lifts up Christ and Him crucified as this last one! When Jesus explained to John the Baptist that He was “the Lamb of God” who must bear the sins of the world, and then the Baptist baptized Him, young John the disciple must have listened. All of his subsequent writings were imbued with that solemn, holy sense of wonder and appreciation for the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God.
At the beginning of his last book John marvels because He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (1:5). He cries his heart out in chapter 5 as he sees there is no one in the vast universe of God who can “open the [mysterious] book, and to loose the seals thereof. . . . I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (you can’t understand Revelation without tears, for it was written with tears!). Then one of the 24 elders (humans in heaven!) tried to comfort him: “Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
John strains to see the grand entrance on the stage of this “Lion,” but he sees instead a “Lamb as it had been slain.” He hears the 24 elders and the hosts of the redeemed sing unto Him who has “redeemed us to God by Thy blood. . . . Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (5:3-12). He sees a great multitude at last who “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14). They stand with the Lamb at last on Mt. Zion “and they sing a new sing before the throne” for “they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (14:1-4). Their souls are captured for eternity by a heart-appreciation for a love “that passeth knowledge.”
You may not be musically minded; but this is a song of experience, a heart-song of identity of self crucified with Christ on His cross, and it’s time for us to begin to “learn” that song now.
“And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:3).
Rev. 1:13: “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.”
Rev. 1:14: “His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;
Rev. 1:15: “And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Rev. 1:16: “And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
Do you like to fight battles? Or do you like to run away from them? I meet many wonderful Christian people, members of the church, who want peace so much that they refuse to get down in the arena where battles for the Lord must be fought. To tell the truth, they’d rather watch TV than study for themselves to know the truth about the issues in the great controversy between Christ and Satan. But Paul says in 1 Tim. 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith,” and Jude says (vs. 3) that we “should contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” for there are “certain men crept in unawares” who seek to corrupt that faith. And Jesus tells us quite clearly, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Mt. 10:34-36).
Wow! Is this what it means to follow Christ? “But,” says someone, “surely this doesn’t apply to conflicts WITHIN the church!?? The world is full of controversy; I go to church so I can find a place of rest and peace!” Well, I must tell the truth. Revelation 12:17 says that the dragon, the devil, in these last days, is “wroth” with the true church, and has gone to make war with the remnant church, where his most fearful strategy is to make war within the church against the pure, true gospel of Jesus. If Satan can corrupt THAT, he hopes yet to win the war against Christ. So Peter’s advice is exactly what we need today: “Be sober, be vigilant.” “Resist” him “steadfast in the faith” (1 Pet. 5:8). But please be sure that you have your wits about you; that word “sober” means to think carefully lest you end up “resisting” the true work of the Holy Spirit! If you do THAT, you’ve crossed that line beyond which repentance is impossible. The stakes in the great controversy are high; the only place where you can avoid the battle is the grave. And please don’t choose to go there! Get on your knees; study; learn; stay awake; “watch”; and stand “for the right though the heavens fall,” says one wise writer.
Rev. 1:17: “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
Rev. 1:18: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
Revelation 4:8: “And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”
It seems obvious that his vision was not of materialistic “glory” like watching a video of Queen Elizabeth’s royal grandeur; it was a vision of the character of the Lord, a heart-humbling appreciation of His glorious self-sacrificing love. The cry of “holy, holy, holy” was a revelation of the cross. The young Isaiah was overwhelmed with a humbling sense of his own sinful selfishness in contrast.
Revelation 4:9: “And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to Him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever,”
Revelation 4:10: “The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Revelation 5:8: “And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints.”
I was mistaken—I thought Jesus is identified in the Book of Revelation as “the Lamb” only 24 times; but I counted them last night—no less than 28 times! “Christ and Him crucified” is the Hero of that last Book of the Bible. None of the 66 books of the Bible so lifts up Christ and Him crucified as this last one! When Jesus explained to John the Baptist that He was “the Lamb of God” who must bear the sins of the world, and then the Baptist baptized Him, young John the disciple must have listened. All of his subsequent writings were imbued with that solemn, holy sense of wonder and appreciation for the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God. At the beginning of his last book John marvels because He “loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” (1:5). He cries his heart out in chapter 5 as he sees there is no one in the vast universe of God who can “open the [mysterious] book, and to loose the seals thereof. . . . I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon” (you can’t understand Revelation without tears, for it was written with tears!). Then one of the 24 elders (humans in heaven!) tried to comfort him: “Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book and to loose the seven seals thereof.” John strains to see the grand entrance on the stage of this “Lion,” but he sees instead a “Lamb as it had been slain.” He hears the 24 elders and the hosts of the redeemed sing unto Him who has “redeemed us to God by Thy blood. . . . Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (5:3-12). He sees a great multitude at last who “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (7:14). They stand with the Lamb at last on Mt. Zion “and they sing a new sing before the throne” for “they follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth” (14:1-4). Their souls are captured for eternity by a heart-appreciation for a love “that passeth knowledge.” You may not be musically minded; but this is a song of experience, a heart-song of identity of self crucified with Christ on His cross, and it’s time for us to begin to “learn” that song now.
Revelation 5:9: “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
The world has sometimes heard lovely music, but none so glorious as that song of praise to the Lamb who had been slain. His love went to the farthest boundary of hell itself to search for human souls that were lost. That love has conquered. The lost has been found.
Not one of the countless multitude who sings this chorus sings from fear every heart is bursting with wonder and praise, genuine adoration for Him who emptied Himself in a sacrifice so complete that it has unveiled to the gaze of all created intelligences for all eternity the depths of the infinite love of God. We can sense in our hearts that beginning pulse of eternal life if we long to join in that song.
That which inspires this glorious song, we can even today begin to study—the cross of Christ. In Christ glorified, the redeemed will ever behold Christ crucified.
Revelation 5:10: “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 5:11: “And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;”
Revelation 5:12: “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.”
Revelation 5:13: “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
Revelation 5:14: “And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.”
At last there will be no trace of rebellion or enmity left in God’s great universe. Every creature will join in this worship of the Father and of the Lamb. Since Satan and those who serve him will never agree to join in such a song of praise to Christ, it is clear that these verses look forward to the time when sin and those who have stubbornly clung to it will have come to their end in the lake of fire.
Is God worthy of such endless devotion? If all we knew of Him were the evidences of the greatness that we see in His creation, we would gladly say yes. But far beyond His majesty and power evident in the things that He has made stands that cross with its amazing disclosure of His self-sacrificing character.
The Book of Revelation surpasses all other earthly books in that it recognizes this ultimate reality—this that no earthly science or philosophy can approach.
Revelation 7:9: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”
There’s a fascinating link between the Book of Revelation and the Gospel of John that intrigues many people. The former tells of God’s final “Voice from heaven” that will sound in the heart of a vast number around the world to “come out of Babylon, My people.” They will respond in that last hour, symbolized as “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and tongues,” who hear the Voice because in some way they already “follow the Lamb [the crucified Christ] wherever He goes” (18:3; 7:9; 14:4). They are already responsive in their confusion to each nuance of divine leading they can sense. They love truth.
The link with John’s Gospel is in 10:1-16 where Jesus lets us in on His secret: He has people everywhere who are His hidden “sheep” who “know His voice” and respond whenever He can find a human agent to proclaim the truth so clearly that honest people recognize that “Voice.” To borrow Luther’s rude phrase, these who proclaim the gospel don’t “taste of the dish” (would you serve your guests from a dish that still has the remnants of its former cooking sticking to it?). When our preaching is marred by “self,” we repulse rather than attract these “sheep.”
The presence of self-love seen in the agent constitutes the “messenger” “a thief and a robber” “climbing up some other way” into the Christ’s “sheepfold.” His true sheep run as fast as they can the other way (they “flee from a stranger”). And possibly the church wonders why they are not winning more souls, and why their efforts to “lighten the earth with glory” seem so stymied.
The picture in the Bible is clear: God has faithful people buried in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, yes, maybe all the “isms” of the world, including (it must be!) atheism who are not heart-satisfied where they are; they hunger for something they haven’t yet found. When truth and that truth-seeker meet, nothing in earth or heaven will keep them apart forever after.
The challenge to God’s “remnant church” of these last days is: clear away the self-confusion that muffles the sound of that “Voice from heaven.” What’s on God’s agenda for His church is thrilling.
Revelation 7:10: “And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
Revelation 7:11: “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,”
Revelation 7:12: “Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”
Revelation 11:16: “And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,”
Revelation 11:17: “Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
Revelation 11:18: “And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Revelation 11:15: “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”
There’s an often-overlooked aspect of the great third angel’s message that creates a vacuum in our heart experience. Its absence nurtures lukewarmness—that vague sense of spiritual futility.
What’s missing: the third angel’s message is a Day of Atonement idea—something new in 6000 years of human history. It’s the Good News of justification by faith in the light of the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary—glorious truth beyond what our dear brother Martin Luther (in all his godly sincerity) could grasp in his day.
One clear-thinking writer said that as the third angel pronounces his fearful warning in Rev. 14:9-12, he is pointing to the Most Holy Apartment of the heavenly sanctuary: “Here [is where there is] the perseverance of the saints; here are [found] they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” They have “followed the Lamb” in His final ministry! And the Bible supports that profound insight, because the whole of Revelation chapters 12 onwards is built upon the awe-inspiring change in the heavenly administration when the seventh angel blows his trumpet in ch. 11:15: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ . . . . And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in His temple the ark of His testament”—clearly, the opening of the final phase of Christ’s high priestly ministry in the Most Holy Apartment.
In past ages, Christ’s ministry was preparing people to die. What’s He doing now? Preparing a people for translation at His second coming. Life now is serious business; let’s cooperate with Him. Let’s stop “resisting Him in His office work.”
Revelation 15:1: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”
Revelation 15:2: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.”
Revelation 15:3: “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
Revelation 15:4: “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
Revelation 19:1: “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God:”
It may be that you seem to be the only follower of Christ in your family or neighborhood. Here is encouragement. Although it may seem that God’s people on earth are only a minority, there is “a great multitude” in the universe of God, a far greater majority, who are loyal to Him. A nation sends its ambassadors to another nation’s capital. He and his staff are a minority there; yet he can never forget the mighty nation which he represents and which stands behind him. As a follow of Christ, we are ambassadors to this world.
The word “alleluia” in Hebrew word means, “Praise the Lord.” It is not because He has conquered by force of arms that the “great multitude” of heaven praise the Lamb for His victory. He has conquered only through truth and righteousness. This glorious victory was won when Jesus died on His cross and rose again. Therefore, this song of praise is not offered in the way that weak, selfish sycophants would praise an earthly ruler or tyrant in order to obtain favors, but in wholehearted sincerity. Glory and honor belong to the One whose unselfish love for sinners is the most amazing sacrifice of eternity.
Revelation 19:2: “For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.
Why is it that since Jesus died for the sins of the world, the world has not become better but has become worse? Why is it that the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants have not been changed by Christ?
The whole world would indeed have been saved by the religion of Christ had it not been for the work of a clever enemy who interposed himself and hindered His work. This enemy is spoken of in the Bible as the “Antichrist,” one who fights against Christ in the most wicked and deceptive way possible, that is, by pretending to take the place of Christ (see 1 John 4:1, 3). There is no way that an enemy could do one greater harm than to impersonate him and write damaging letters in his name. Even one’s best friends might find it hard to keep their faith in him!
The “great harlot,” Babylon, has done that very thing. Satan has spoken through her in the name of Christ, and countless millions of uninformed people have been deceived. Many have openly despised Christ because Babylon has misrepresented Him, and millions of others have supposed that they are following Christ when in reality they are being led to fight against Him on the side of the Antichrist. This is why Babylon has “corrupted the earth with her fornication.”
Revelation 19:3: “And again they said, Alleluia And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
Revelation 19:4: “And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.
Revelation 19:5: “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.
From the introduction onward, we have seen how the final end-time crisis will center around the question of worship. The issue of worship is not a small matter. The eternal destiny of souls hangs on it. This crucial truth becomes more apparent in what unfolds in Revelation 13 and 14.
“And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:11).
“And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Rev. 22:8, 9).
An angel is a wonderful being, but he has no desire to be worshiped. King Herod proudly accepted the worship of the multitude when they shouted, It is “the voice of a god and not of a man!” knowing full well he did not deserve it (see Acts 12:21-23). The angel immediately sets John on his feet and assures him that he is only “your fellow servant.”
The angel knows no pride such as Herod yielded to. What a pity when a man or ruler wants to be worshiped by his fellow men! Few are as humble as this angel who directs the glory to God. No one who wants to be worshiped or praised can long enjoy the respect of others.
All who “keep the words of this book” share in the rewards to be enjoyed by John and his fellow prophets. God is generous in giving out rewards. Even “he who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward” (Matt. 10:41). To “receive” the messages of the Spirit of prophecy is simply to welcome them into the heart.
Revelation 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Although angels are glorious beings, we must not worship them. Neither should we worship or even praise any human being. The angel declares himself to be a “fellow servant” with us, in captivity to the love of Christ. The angel is happy that he has the privilege of belonging to the same group to which John belongs, those who have the “testimony of Jesus.” You know how happy you are if you are on speaking terms with the prime minister or president of your country. Those who have the “testimony of Jesus” are those to whom He speaks.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Commentary: Eros versus Agape

Eros versus Agape

Thousands of years ago, in the land we now call Greece lived a man called Admetus.  Admetus was a young man, who was a fairly good citizen, a good man.  But he was accused falsely, as the story goes, and was sentenced to death falsely.  His friends knew that Admetus was innocent, so they asked each other if anyone would die for Admetus, after much deliberation they concluded that as much as they loved their friend they would not die for him.  But, the thought of Admetus dying still haunted them, so they said, "let us go to Admetus parents, certainly they would die for him."  When the friends asked Admetus parents they were disappointed to find out that although Admetus parents loved him very much they were unwilling to die for him.  The friends went to Alcestis.  Alcestis was Admetus' girlfriend.  She knew Admetus, she knew that he was a good man.  She knew that he was innocent.  She knew that he did not deserve to die.  But she also knew, according to the law of the country, that she could not reverse the verdict.  So, the friends appealed to her, and she accepted.  So, she went to the Judge and she said, "Look, I can't convince you, because you have already made the judgment, that Admetus is a good man, he does not deserve to die.  I would like to offer myself in his place." 

When the Greeks heard the story and concluded that the kind of love that Alcestis had was the best kind of love.  Now, there are four words for love in greek: eros, storge, phileos, and agape.  The story tests three.  The friend's love is phileo -, that one failed.  The parents love is storge – which also failed.  But, in this story Alcestis love – eros - won.  Agape was not tested.  Yet, agape was the Greek word chosen for God's kind of love – unconditional, self-denying, self-emptying love.   

Simply put, Eros is Love between opposite sexes or sexual love.  Alcestis died for a man that loved her.  The Greek philosopher Plato gave this word a dual meaning: Vulgar Eros, meaning sexual love; and Heavenly Eros, meaning love towards a god.  According to Plato, this was the highest form of love:  man seeking after god. 

Now, the Word eros does not appear in the New Testament.   Other words for love appear, including agape.  The word agape especially appears in 1 Corinthians 13.  As humans we tend to reflect ourselves in others.  We attribute or own understanding to others.  We tend to make God in our own image.  We believe that He loves as we do.  But, the Bible denies that.  In our sinful view God would only die for those that love Him.  Yet, we did not love God when He died for us.  Paul says in Romans 5: 6 - 10,

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 commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5: 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.

Romans 5: 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.


We were ungodly when God died for us.  We were yet sinners when He commended his love for us and died for us.  We were enemies when He reconciled us in His Son.  So why would God do this?  Paul tells Titus that it was because of God's mercy for us (Titus 3:5).  Paul told the Ephesians that it was "because of his great love for us" (Ephesians 2:4).  Not, because we deserve it.  Not because we have pursued God and begged Him to do it.  No, according to Jesus, God so loved the world that He sent His son to die for us.  We did not ask for it.  To reiterate, as Paul says in Romans 5 God's Son died for us while we hated Him. 


No wonder Paul told the Corinthians, "I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2).  The Cross is the greatest revelation of agape.   And Agape is the summation or fulfilling of the Law (Romans 13:10).  That would make the Cross the greatest revelation of the Law.  This means that those who are truly obedient will die for their brethren (or enemies) as Christ died for us (1 John 3:16).  Agape produces the most miraculous change in human heart.  It is no longer about me, but about others even if they hate us or do not know who we are. 


What we are talking about is Justification by faith, which brings the gift of heavenly agape-love "shed abroad in the heart" by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). That means a deliverance from all kinds of fear because "perfect agape casts out fear" (1 John 4:18). Fear ceases to be a motive in following Christ, for "the agape of Christ constrains us" to live not for self, but "for Him who died for us" (2 Cor. 5:14, 15).  And, our concern for Christ is revealed in our concern for others (Micah 6:8; Matthew 25: 31 – 46).  "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen" (John 4:20)? 

Raul Diaz

Friday, September 09, 2011

Commentary: Prerequisite


Recently I was at a store to buy a couple of products.  While there I decided to browse on my way out of the store.  I had mixed thought s about it.  I thought I was wasting time.  However, as I browsed near the exit of the store I heard someone call my name.  The voice sounded familiar, so I turned around to look.  It was a married couple I had not seen in years.  We talked and caught up on our lives.  Part of our conversation was to update the wife on the phone number of a mutual friend, whose number she had deleted by accident previously that day.  What I thought was a waste of time, ended up being necessary for us to meet. 

I thought of what would be required for us to meet.  If it was not an accident or a coincidence, then it was providential.  And, if God engineered it, then what did He have to do to ensure that we were at the same place at the same time?  What were the prerequisites for our meeting?  The first thing that obviously comes to mind is that I had to decide to stay in the store longer than I planned to stay.  But, so many variables were at stake.  Indeed, there were many prerequisites for our encounter to happen.  Just in case, a prerequisite is something that is required in advance for an event to happen.  The term is typically used regarding tuition: Which classes you need to take before you can take the one you really need?  For this couple and I to meet, the store had to be there.  We all needed to have a reason to be there, and of course, we had to be there also. 

The meeting of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well also had prerequisites (John 4).  For starters, Jacob had to exist both as the digger of the well and as one of the father's of the Israelite nation (John 4:11).  Jesus had to leave at a certain time, to be at the well at the time when the woman would be there to draw water.   This means that there had to be in Jesus a willingness to do His Father's will; which He did have (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:28-29; 12:49-50; 14:30-31).  This implies a willingness, on Jesus part, to walk through the land of Samaria, which most Jews would not do.  It also implied a willingness, on Jesus part, to talk not only to a Samaritan, but to a Samaritan woman (John 4:9).  God most likely took into account the fact that this woman preferred to go to the well to draw water around noon – perhaps the hottest part of the day in the desert.  Of course at this time of the day, it meant that Jesus could talk to her alone, without onlookers interfering with the conversation. 

Many say, "This is not a big deal, since God is sovereign and omnipotent.  Nothing is impossible to Him."  Well, there are things that are not possible for God:  It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrew 6:18).  It is impossible for God to force His will on man.  This would go against His nature.  When it comes to man's will, God begs and pleads, and we must concede.   God made a big fish go to Jonah, but basically had to beg with Jonah to go to Nineveh. 

How much does God have to plead with us?  Do we see that there are no accidents or coincidences?  Do we see that God has a plan?  Are we willing to follow along His plan?  Are we willing to follow God's will at all times?  Does He have to reengineer His plans with and for us, because we fail to do His will?  Next time you find yourself asking the question, "why am I here?"  I pray that we can say as Jesus, "I do what I hear from my Father."  

Raul Diaz

Friday, September 02, 2011

Commentary: The Reason for Captivity

The Reason for Captivity


David was once driving his car.  He started to switch the dial of his car radio.  When he heard his favorite rock song he stopped switching stations.  As he typically did, he started singing the song a long with the recording.  But, unlike previous time, after a few seconds he smelled fire.  He looked down at the dash board, and he saw flames coming from the radio.  He stopped the car and tried to put out the fire, but to no avail.  Interestingly, only the radio burned.  The rest of the dashboard was intact.  When He got home he immediately told his wife.   Her reaction surprised him.  Calmly she said to him, "I am glad you are OK."   He looked puzzled; he asked her, "why are you so calm?"   She smiled and replied, "I was concerned that your interest in that worldly music would drive you away from God, so I prayed to Him that He would burn the radio."  Surprised he asked, "Why would you do that?" She replied, "I love you honey, I want you to be saved."  David never fixed the radio.  He understood that God was more important than that.  God allow the radio to burn in order to save David.


Has God done anything like that for you?  Do we see in the Bible how God has done that to the Jews?  We could argue that that was a reason for the Babylonian captivity.  Just like a parent chastens a child who misbehaves, God chastens those whom He loves.  God used the captivity to teach the Jews a lesson on humility; and, to teach them to be dependent on Him. 


The Jews had been warned about being unfaithful.  Through Moses the Lord declared in Deuteronomy 28,


Deuroronomy 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day…

Deuroronomy 28:36 The LORD shall bring thee, and thy king which thou shalt set over thee, unto a nation which neither thou nor thy fathers have known; and there shalt thou serve other gods, wood and stone….

Deuroronomy 28:64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone…


Those who were faithful to God saw this as a rebuke from God.  Not necessarily as punishment, cut, as the chastening of a beloved child.  Paul says in Hebrews,


Hebrews  12:5 And 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  12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Hebrews  12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

Hebrews  12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.


In the story above, the Lord allowed David's radio to burn, because the Lord loved David.  The Lord allowed the Babylonian captivity because He loved the Jews.  Had this not been the case He would not have told Jeremiah,


Jeremiah 29:10 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Jeremiah 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

Jeremiah 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:14 And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.


These words can apply to us.  Let us not resist the Lord's chastening.  He has a purpose for it.  And, it is for our good.  

Raul Diaz