Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Due to travel there will be no commentary for the next two weeks.  I expect to resume after that.  Thanks for understanding.

Raul Diaz

Friday, March 22, 2013

Gospel and Creation

 Gospel and Creation

For a whole quarter we have been studying Creation.  Is there any relation between the Gospel and Creation?  To answer this let us start defining the gospel. 

The word gospel is an English translation from the Latin the word evangelium, from which we get the word evangelism.  It literally means a good message or good tidings.  So, what was the good message or what is the Gospel?  Paul gives us a definition in Romans 1: 16 and 17,

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

From this passage we derive that the Gospel is the power of God and the righteousness of God.  Since our emphasis is creation we will focus on the power of God.  You will see why.  
  The preaching of the cross – Christ crucified - is the proclamation of the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1: 30,18, 23,24). This power is the power of redemption which is the power of creation. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). The power of God’s Gospel is seen in His work of creation.  Paul in writing to the Romans connected redeeming power and creative power: “The gospel of Christ…is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom 1:16, 20). The power is the same in redemption as in creation. It takes nothing less than creative energy, as demonstrated in nature and in the cross, to save and to change us.

      Paul again joined the power of redemption to creation in Col 1:14 – 16 where he wrote, “in [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins….For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” And John, also, in the first angel’s message of Rev 14:6 – 7 links redemption and creation. In the preaching of “the everlasting gospel” heaven’s call to worship the creator is clear: “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Both the first promise of redemption in Genesis and the last message proclaimed to the world before Jesus returns place creation and the gospel together.

Let us consider that the first thing that Moses wrote, through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, was the story of creation. That, therefore, is one of the things through which we are to receive hope and comfort. Why is it that we can receive hope and comfort through the story of the creation? Because that story contains the Gospel.  How so?  It is in creation that the power of God is readily manifested and is to be seen by everybody. But, the power of God in the line of salvation is the Gospel. Therefore the works of creation teach the Gospel. When we consider the works of creation, and think of the power manifested in them, we are contemplating the power of redemption.   We can conclude thus, that The Gospel, then, is simply the creative power of God applied to men. Any gospel that leaves creation out, or which does not preach the creative power of God, as seen in the things that He has made, and which does not comfort men by that power, calling upon them ever to keep it in mind as their only source of strength, is 'another gospel,' which is simply no gospel at all, since there can be no other.

How did God make use of His power in Creation?  Let us go to Psalms 33: 6 and 9 for an answer,

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalms 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Paul agrees with the Psalmist.  Paul says in Hebrews 11: 3, “that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  Peter says in 2 Peter 3:5 that “…by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”  Yet, we are born again by the word of God, which lives and abides forever in us (1 Peter 1: 23).  This living word abiding in us gives us certainty that the love of God is perfected in us, and gives us strength to overcome the wicked one (1 John 2: 5, 14).  It is the word of God which sanctifies us (John 17:17).  Ellen White says that the truth - Word of God - “… is the power of God unto salvation to all who receive it, and it sheds a flood of light into the heart, and exerts a convincing influence upon the mind…” (Signs of the Times, ST, March 8, 1899); thus transforming the mind and heart. 

As it was in Creation so it is in redemption.  He healed the sick; He cast out devils; He stilled the tempest; He cleansed the lepers; He raised the dead; He forgave sins--all by His word. In all this, also, "He spake and it was."  Let us then receive His word.  

Friday, March 15, 2013

Commentary: Just Rest

Just Rest (Originally Published on 10/19/2006)


Whose Seventh Day was it: God's or Adam's?  Adam was created the sixth day.  Some believe he was created in the afternoon, and that Eve was created maybe a little after that.   So they spent Sabbath together.  Sabbath was their first day.  Sabbath was God's seventh day.   God was around for the whole week – all seven days.  Adam and Eve appeared in the scene just before the sunset of the sixth day.  So, again, Sabbath was Adam and Eve's 1 st day. 


What are the implications of this?  For starters, time should always be measured from God's perspective not ours.   This is true for all reality.  We are at best subjective creatures.  We always see things from where we stand and filter all that we perceive through our own experience and autobiography.   One event always has different accounts and explanations as to what happened, how it happened, and why it happened.  But, God being the all knowing, all powerful, and Supreme Being that He is, can see things as they truly are.  


Another implication is the relationship of work and rest.  By this I mean when should we rest, before or after we work?   Many will say that it should be after we work, because it is when we would be tired.  What could have Adam and Eve been resting from on the Seventh day?   They had existed only a few hours.  God wanted them to share His rest with them, even if they had not done anything to finish or desist from exertion.   So, God works first then He rests.  And, man rests first than he works.  Spiritually this is true for all men.   When we come to Christ we find rest in Him; then as we rest in Him, the works of love - agape - flow out of us.  During the creation week God's work of agape came first than He rested.   So, God rests because He's done.  We rest because we start in Him.


When God finished His work there was nothing else to add. Genesis 131 says, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day."  So God celebrated by resting the Seventh Day.   Adam and Eve celebrated with God.  So, the Sabbath was a reward for God, but a gift to Adam and Eve.  All that God gives to us is a gift - the Sabbath included.  Salvation is by grace - unmerited favor, or an undeserved gift.  Responding with gratitude for all things God gives us, including the Sabbath, is Faith.   Without Faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). 


If it is God's seventh day, then keep it as He wants it kept.  After all we cannot enter the Sabbath rest until we enter the rest in Christ.   We read about this in Hebrews 4: 1-10:


Hebrews 41Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.

Hebrews 4For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.

Hebrews 4Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, "So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "  And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.

Hebrews 4For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."

Hebrews 45And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."

Hebrews 4: It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.

Hebrews 4Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

Hebrews 4For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

Hebrews 4There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

Hebrews 410 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.


Resting on the Sabbath, without entering first Christ's rest is not only worthless, it is impossible.   However, we have then no excuse to not enter Christ's rest before we attempt to enter the Sabbath rest.   Christ gives us His invitation in Matthew 11:28,"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."   Has God not finish His work of legal, corporate and objective redemption already.  Revelation 13: 8 says that the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  Hebrews 4:3confirms it, "his work has been finished since the creation of the world."   Did Jesus not say the Words just before he died on the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30)?  What else can we add?   For if His creation was "very good", then so should have been His redemption work.  For it was done through the same love and power.   There is nothing for us to add.  Give to Jesus your fears and burdens, then take His rest with you.  Only then will you be able to rest on His Seventh Day.     

Raul Diaz

Friday, March 08, 2013

Caring for Others

Caring for Others (From Commentary published 6/29/ 2013)

Ecology is a field of science I enjoyed studying in school. It is defined as a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their environments, and/or the totality or pattern of relations between organisms and their environment. It studies Ecosystems which is the complex of a community of organisms and its environment functioning as an ecological unit. 

The principle behind this is that nature organisms and elements coexist interdependently. Patterns and cycles have been identified which keep nature in balance. Anything that obstructs these cycles and patterns can have devastating consequences eventually. As long as these cycles are not interrupted they continue “perpetually” and all parties involved benefit. We understand perpetual to mean continuing forever or occurring continually; also always existent or present. If what has always been existent or present ceases to be all else surrounding will also cease to be. This is perhaps what is behind the “green” or eco-friendly movement. It is the thought that we need to protect and maintain nature in order for nature to sustain us.

The parable of the mustard seed (Luke 13: 18 – 19) reveals this principle. Notice, that a man sows a mustard seed in his garden. Eventually it yields a tree, which man and other parts of nature benefit. We know that the seeds of the tree can be used as condiment, and its leaves serve as highly nutritious food. Furthermore, the tree contributes to the air cycle of exchanging Oxygen for Carbon dioxide. The tree will also give shade to any one placed underneath it. Lastly, birds can use the tree as their dwelling place. Yes, the tree does use resources of nature, but is does not hoard these, it returns other resources to nature. Why should we know this?

According to Ellen White this system is God ordained. Consider the following quote, 

The law of God is as sacred as God Himself. It is a revelation of His will, a transcript of His character, the expression of divine love and wisdom. The harmony of creation depends upon the perfect conformity of all beings, of everything, animate and inanimate, to the law of the Creator. God has ordained laws for the government, not only of living beings, but of all the operations of nature. Everything is under fixed laws, which cannot be disregarded…everything in nature is governed by natural laws…{PP 52.3} 

God cares about nature. He gave it to man to be its steward. Man has abused nature. God does not take that lightly. When Christ returns, then He will destroy those who destroy the earth (
Revelation 11:18). Recall the Lord’s rebuke of Jonah for caring for himself more than the people of Nineveh and their cattle (Jonah 4: 10 – 11). God finds the destruction of earth morally reprehensive. To God is to be in non-compliance with His laws. Ellen White expounds on this subject; let us read,
It is because of man's sin that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22). Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God's creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant.
A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellowmen or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God's creatures.--PP 443 (1890). {2MCP 514}

This also applies to humans.  To God acting with fellow humans in an abusive or non-caring fashion it is as if we are doing it to Him (Matthew 25: 31 – 46). James says to those who profess to live by Faith but have no works to prove it,

James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Let us read from Ellen White about this subject,

“Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service--service to God and to their fellow men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men.” (COL 326 – 327). 

You as a follower of Christ serve others and others followers of Christ serve you.  So. it is evident that interdependence among men is God’s desire. So, how can we humans become truly interdependent? How can we minister or serve one another? The only way is by being wholly dependent on God. Only then we give to others what we receive from Him. What do we receive from Him? The Holy Spirit - whom is to us an ever flowing spring of living water that fills us with His presence. His presence overflows – it grows into a fountain or stream of water that flows toward everyone else (John 7: 37 – 39). Ellen White says,

We are to be channels through which the Lord can send light and grace to the world… Floods of spiritual power are to be poured forth upon those prepared to receive it. {8T 46}

How we treat others and nature will reveal whether the Holy Spirit dwells in you or not. Without Him dwelling in us we will abuse ourselves and all else around us. 

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Marriage: A Gift From Eden

Marriage: A Gift From Eden

 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’ ” (Genesis 2:18).

In the previous 8 lessons we studied different aspects of Creation and the Fall.  It is clear that all was affected.  Before the fall all was perfect and pure, and after the fall all became tainted with Sin and its consequences.  In the next three lessons we study more intangible things of creation: marriage, stewardship and the Sabbath.  These were instituted before the fall, and therefore were affected by the fall also; at least our relationship to them.  So, like all the tangible things, there is also a contrast with the intangible things, and these also need redeeming.

This week we study marriage.  Let us start with Ellen G. White's quote from Sabbath,

 “God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recog­nized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.

So, out of a primeval abyss God created our world through the supernat­ural power of His Word. All through the Creation account, everything was “good” until the work was completed, at which point everything the Lord had created was pronounced “very good” (Gen. 1:31).  In the midst of all this, however, one thing was lo tov, “not good.”  We Read in Genesis 2:18, 20 “…for Adam there was not found an help meet for him,” so “… the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”   This was by no means an accident.  God designed it that way to make sure Adam desired a companion and was grateful to get one.  It was through marriage that Adam would understand agape: self-denying; other centered love.  You have heard the expression: love is not love until you give it away.  Adam could not agape unless he had someone to whom give love.  Before the existence of Eve, Adam was the only human. Although he was made in the image of God, in his aloneness he could not reflect the full image of God, who exists in relationship with other parts of the Godhead. The Godhead, of course, is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, Adam needed someone like himself with whom he could form a relationship of mutual love and cooperation, reflecting the loving relationship exemplified within the Godhead.  

What about after the fall?  What does marriage represent?  We read from Ephesians 5: 22 - 25

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

We see two messages in this text.  The first one is about how spouses should love each other.  The husband is not called to rule his wife but to love her as Christ loves the church. Christ loves the church with self-emptying, self-sacrificial love. Instead of using His divinity to lord His authority over the church, He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7, ESV). For Paul, Philippians 2 is a code of ethics for Christian behavior. In marriage, then, just as Christ emptied Himself of His divine rights and privileges to self-sacrificially serve us, so the husband is called to do the same with his wife. Her needs and well-being should be more important to him than his own privileges and conveniences.  This is the kind of husband to whom a wife can safely submit! God’s ideal is that both parties submit to each other but in differing ways. When properly practiced, this post-Fall ordinance makes marriage a blessing to both.   

With that said, we come to the second message.  We let Ellen White explain this point to us.  She says,

“In both the Old and the New Testament, the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people. To the mind of Jesus the gladness of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He shall bring home His bride to the Father’s house, and the redeemed with the Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151.

God invites His people to join with Him in an intimate relationship. This is an amaz­ing picture of God’s interest in His people and His desire to bring us into His fellowship.  Will we accept His invitation?