Friday, July 13, 2018

The Gospel of Nitrogen

The Gospel of Nitrogen

Everything is made of molecules. Some are small and others bigger.
Some are simple and others complex. Proteins are very large and
complex molecules. Proteins are made out of smaller molecules called
amino acids, and Nitrogen is an essential part of all amino acids.
However, nitrogen as a part of an amino acid is an atom. All
molecules are made out of atoms. Other molecules that contain nitrogen
are all nucleic acids (which provide energy and genetic information),
and most plant pigments involved in photosynthesis. Which implies
that plants need lots of nitrogen. The most common component of
plant fertilizers is, in fact, one of two forms of nitrogen - nitrate
(NO3-) or ammonium (NH4+) ions—both usable forms of nitrogen for

With a concentration of about 78 percent, nitrogen gas comprises the
largest component of earth's atmosphere. It has at least a million
times more nitrogen than found in all living systems combined. The bad
news is that all of this atmospheric nitrogen consists of molecules of
N2 — that is, two atoms of nitrogen bound tightly together by, what
chemists call, three strong covalent bonds. Unfortunately, it takes a
great deal of energy to break the triple bond. Because plants can't
use molecular nitrogen (N2), nitrogen has to transform into one of the
two absorbable ions. When you break the bonds between the molecular
nitrogen, each nitrogen ion is open to attract and attach other atoms
and form different molecules. So, before the nitrogen can bond with
other elements like oxygen or hydrogen it has to become an ion itself.
Let us try to reiterate: the two nitrogen atoms are attracted to each
other, very strongly. Once bonded the nitrogen atoms cannot bond with
anything else unless that bond is broken. When the bond is broken,
the nitrogen will have open spaces to bond with other ions. Now,
notice that the symbol for nitrate has a negative sign and the
ammonium has a positive sign, this is why they are called ions and not
molecules. Both nitrate and ammonium have open spaces to bond as

Back to nitrogen: it requires a lot of energy to break nitrogen's
triple bond. In His wisdom, the Creator provided several ways to
convert atmospheric molecular nitrogen into usable forms that will
dissolve in water so that plant roots can absorb it. The immense
energy of lightning easily breaks triple nitrogen bond, turning it
into nitrates and washing it down in the rain of a good thunderstorm.
Have you noticed how green your lawn is after a lightning strikes?
Even more critical, many types of bacteria convert nitrogen from one
form to another. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert atmospheric nitrogen
to the more plant-friendly ammonium ion (though it is toxic in large
concentrations). Other bacteria, called ammonifying bacteria, also
create the ammonium ion, but they do it by decomposition of plant and
animal matter. Check out the smell of your compost pile. It reeks of
ammonia. Fortunately, another family of bacteria called nitrifying
bacteria transforms the ammonium ion to the safer nitrates. (As you
might guess, the cycles are more complicated than what I am

It is not uncommon for atoms in a "multi-atom" molecule to behave
differently than when they were a mono-atom molecule. As previously
mentioned, the bonds in molecules of compounds are very strong. The
atoms that compose the molecules now yield to one another. They work
as one. Whether, in ammonium or nitrate, nitrogen no longer behaves
as nitrogen. For example, water is not flammable. But, the two
elements that compose water – hydrogen, and oxygen - on their own are
very flammable.

This has a spiritual application. Let us go step by step. Before
conversion, the disciples could not bond. Before the crucifixion,
they were fighting for supremacy. That ceased after the ten days in
the upper chamber. Luke described what happened then, "And when the
day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one
place" (acts 2: 1). Ellen White describes the events in the following
"After Christ's ascension, His disciples--men of varied talents and
capabilities--assembled in an upper chamber to pray for the gift of
the Holy Spirit. In this room 'all continued with one accord in prayer
and supplication.' They made thorough work of repentance by confessing
their own sins. Upon them was laid no burden to confess one another's
sins. Settling all differences and alienations, they were of one
accord, and prayed with unity of purpose for ten days, at the end of
which time 'they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to
speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.' {7MR

There was a definite change in them. This change was reflected in all
their followers: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one
heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he
possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with
great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord
Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:32, 33, NKJV).

What happened? When the Holy Spirit began working in them, He broke
their bond to Sin or self. It takes the mighty grace of God to do
this. Now, they have open space to bond with Christ and with each
other. Christ could not use the disciples in their natural state.
They had to become spiritual ions to be able to bond with other
spiritual atoms.

So, the disciples laid aside all their ambitions. Now instead of
fighting, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to die to self. The
words of Paul became a reality in them: "…be not conformed to this
world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," and do not
think more highly than he ought to think of himself (Romans 12: 2 –
3). God is waiting for us to let the Holy Spirit do the same work in

Raul Diaz

Endnote: Portions of this commentary were taken from David A. Steen's
book "God of Wonders" page 235.


Raul Diaz
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