Friday, July 20, 2018

1888 Message Study : Life in the Early Church

THIRD QUARTER 2018

SABBATH SCHOOL INSIGHT #3

JULY 21, 2018

"LIFE IN THE EARLY CHURCH"

 

As we look back at the early church, there are many valuable lessons for God's last day church today as we look forward to Christ's second coming.

First, we need to recall that, following Christ's death on the cross, the disciples were in hiding, afraid for their lives and in despair because their Saviour had been put to death.  Despite 3½ years with Jesus, they had not understood His mission on earth or His plan of salvation for mankind.  Jesus had to come back following His resurrection and spend 40 days with them to show them from the Scriptures why He had come, and the depth of God's infinite love and sacrifice as embodied in His birth, life, death on the cross, and resurrection fulfilling God's plan of salvation for the human race.  With this true everlasting gospel in their hearts and minds, they were changed men with a burning desire to share this gospel message to the world.  They were on fire for Christ and through His strength, filled with the Holy Spirit, they were fearless and unstoppable in their mission.

Only then, were the disciples able to fulfil the commission Jesus gave them (Mark 16:15): "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."

As God's last day church, this responsibility continues today for as Matthew 24:14 states: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come."

But God saw that His remnant church needed to see His complete gospel message in order to share it with the world and so in 1888:

"The Lord in His great mercy sent a most precious message to His people through Elders Waggoner and Jones. This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world.  It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus.  They needed to have their eyes directed to His divine person, His merits, and His changeless love for the human family.  All power is given into His hands, that He may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of His own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure."

With this true everlasting gospel in our hearts and minds, God's last day church will also be changed and will also have the same burning desire as the disciples and the early church had to share this gospel message to the world. With our focus on Christ and Him crucified, relying on His strength, and filled with the Holy Spirit, it will indeed be time for Christ to take us home.

Let's now take a look at some of the characteristics of the early church, as guidelines for God's remnant church in these final days of earth's history.

Let's look at EGW's description of the disciples and the early church following Christ's sharing with them from the Scriptures concerning Himself and His mission:

"Under the training of Christ the disciples had been led to feel their need of the Spirit.  Under the Spirit's teaching they received the final qualification, and went forth to their lifework.  No longer were they ignorant and uncultured.  No longer were they a collection of independent units or discordant, conflicting elements.  No longer were their hopes set on worldly greatness.  They were of "one accord", "of one heart and soul." Acts 2:46; 4:32. Christ filled their thoughts; the advancement of His kingdom was their aim.  In mind and character, they had become like their Master, and men "took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13." (AA pg. 45).

AT Jones addresses this same issue of being "of one mind" and its importance for God's last day church as well in the following comments:

"LET this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus." In the verses previous to this Paul exhorts us to likemindedness. It is not in this epistle alone, but in several others that he presents this subject. Indeed, it is the chief duty of Christians to be of one mind. In 1 Cor. 1:10 it is written: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." In Rom. 15:5, 6 we read: "Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus; that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." And in Phil. 2:2 Paul says: "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. . . . Let each esteem others better than themselves." {April 23, 1885 ATJ, SITI 262.1}

In that last prayer of Jesus, before he went over the brook Cedron into Gethsemane, this was His one great request, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in Me, and I in thee, that they also may be one, even as We are one; I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me." John 17:21-23. Here three times in quick succession the prayer is that all who believe on Him may be one; and twice is expressed the consequence of such unity, "That the world may believe" that He is the Son of God. The great heart of Him who gave his life for the world, yearns for the belief of those for whom He died. A few then believed in Him, and through these is He to be made known to the world, and that the world may believe their testimony they must be united. Burdened with this great argument, He prays with an earnestness only second to that in Gethsemane, that all His followers may be one, that so the world may believe that He was sent of God, and so believing be saved. {April 23, 1885 ATJ, SITI 262.2}

Christ not only prayed thus but He made ample provision for the fulfillment of His prayer. "I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one." "If ye love Ne, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him; but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." "If a man love Me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and We will come unto Him, and make our abode with Him." John 14:15-17, 23. Thus "our fellowship is "formed "with the Father, and with His son Jesus Christ." And this is the only possible way in which we can have true fellowship one with another. For if this man has, by the Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Father and with the Son; and if that man has, by the Holy Spirit, fellowship with the Father and with the Son, they must have fellowship one with another, for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one; and those who have fellowship with these must be one likewise. {April 23, 1885 ATJ, SITI 262.3}

Similarly, EJ Waggoner in the following quote, stresses the importance of God's true church being of one mind, as well as being humble and loyal to the word of God. Once again, the power source is Christ and Him crucified:

The true church is the body of Christ, "the fullness of Him that filleth all in all." Eph. 1:22, 23. Therefore we find this exhortation: "If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye My joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant." Phil. ii. 2-7. {December 14, 1893 EJW, PTUK 579.11}

It was the mind that Christ had when He was in heaven, that led Him to do that. In heaven He had the spirit to serve, and it only needed that He should take the form of a servant, for men could not look upon Him in His glory. In Him we see in what His church must be. He "went about doing good," living among men as one that served. So, it is said to us, "By love serve one another." Gal. 5:13. This mind can be in men only as they yield themselves to the Word of God, for the word is spirit and life. The prophecy concerning Christ was, "I will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him." Deut. 18:18. And when He came, He took as the rule of His life, "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Accordingly, we find that the characteristics of the church at the time when the Spirit of God dwelt in it were humility and loyalty to the word of God. "They were all with one accord in one place." Acts 2:1. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul." Acts 4:32. Their prayer was that with boldness they might speak the word. Verse 29. When they were dispersed from Jerusalem, they "went everywhere preaching the word.' Acts 8:4. {December 14, 1893 EJW, PTUK 579.12}

As we look at the deteriorating situation in the world around us, these are indeed perilous times for God's last day church but we can derive encouragement from the experience of the early church and their source of strength, Jesus Christ, as we can see in this quote from AT Jones:

"Jesus is as willing to impart courage and grace to His followers today as He was to the disciples of the early church…..

The disciples and apostles of Christ had a deep sense of their own inefficiency, and with humiliation and prayer they joined their weakness to His strength, their ignorance to His wisdom, their unworthiness to His righteousness, their poverty to His inexhaustible wealth. Thus, strengthened and equipped, they hesitated not in the service of their Master." {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 166.15}

What an equipment that is, though! Think of that equipment! Strength, wisdom, righteousness, wealth! Those are the very things that we need in the face of the things that are against us, for we cannot make any calculations upon any power of earth nor reputation that men will give nor upon any wealth that this world might furnish or any considerations of it or of life. So here are almost the very things enumerated that we considered in a previous lesson. {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 166.16}

But how was it that they obtained strength? By acknowledging their weakness, confessing their weakness. How did they get wisdom? By confessing their ignorance. How did they get righteousness? By confessing their unworthiness. How did they get wealth, inexhaustible wealth? By confessing their poverty. {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.1}

Now then that is the situation in which we are to be: inefficient, ignorant, poor, unworthy, and blind. Is not that just what the Laodicean message tells us--that we are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked and do not know it? Someone was reading that the other day and he touched upon that word "blindness," and immediately my mind ran to the ninth chapter of John and the last verse. All turn to that, if you will. John 9:41. It is at the end of the account of that man's healing from the blindness and restoration of sight to the man that had been born blind. What does that verse say? {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.2}

"Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remaineth." {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.3}

When Jesus tells you and me we are blind, the thing for us to do is to say, "Lord, we are blind." He told those folks they were blind and they were blind, but they said it was not so. It was so. If they had confessed their blindness they would have seen God in that man's healing from his blindness. Well, then, brethren, the thing for us to do is to come square up to that Laodicean message and say that every word He says is so. When He says you and I are wretched, tell Him, "It is so, I am wretched; miserable; it is so, I am miserable; poor, it is so; I am poor, a perfect beggar, I shall never be anything else in the world; blind, I am blind, and shall never be anything else; naked, that is so; and I do not know it; that is so, too. I do not know it at all, as I ought to know it." And then I will say to him every day and every hour, "Lord, that is all so. But, oh, instead of my wretchedness, give me thine own satisfaction. Instead of my misery, give me thine own comfort. Instead of my poverty, supply all thine own riches. Instead of my blindness, be thou my sight. Instead of my nakedness, oh, do thou clothe me with thine own righteousness. And what I know not, Lord, teach thou me." [Congregation: "Amen."] {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.4}

Brethren, when we come with one heart and one mind to that place, we shall have no difficulty at all in repenting. It will not be difficult to repent and there will be no lack of repentance. That next verse will be fulfilled: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Be zealous therefore and repent." {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.5}

The difficulty about our not being able to repent is that we have not confessed that what the Lord has told us is the truth. When I know that I am wretched then I know that I need something that will satisfy me. And I know that nothing but the Lord can give that, and I depend upon nothing but Him to give it. And if I have not Him, why it is only wretchedness. Any moment that I have not Him it is only wretchedness, and any moment that I have not His comfort it is only misery. Any moment that I have not absolute dependence upon His unsearchable riches--the unsearchable riches of Christ--I am utterly poor, a complete beggar. And every moment that I do not see and confess that I am blind and have Him as my sight, I am in sin. He says so." {February 6, 1893 ATJ, GCDB 167.6}

So, we can see clearly from this statement that the early church had the solution for our Laodicean condition.  This is indeed good news for God's last day church. As EGW says in Acts of the Apostles (pg. 57):

"The disciples of Christ had a deep sense of their own inefficiency, and with humiliation and prayer they joined their weakness to His strength, their ignorance to His wisdom, their unworthiness to His righteousness, their poverty to His exhaustless wealth.  Thus, strengthened and equipped, they hesitated not to press forward in the service of the Master."

Similarly, in Acts of the Apostles (pg.77), we read as follows: "It was the cross, that instrument of shame and torture, which brought hope and salvation to the world.  The disciples were but humble men, without wealth, and with no weapon but the word of God, yet in Christ's strength they went forth to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross, and to triumph over all opposition.  Without earthly honor or recognition, they were heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence that shook the world."

And so, in closing, may it be our prayer, that through His strength, God may use us to share to the world this most precious message, His true everlasting gospel, that will once again shake the world so that Christ may soon come to claim His bride and take us home!

Blessings, John and Monica.


https://www.1888msc.org/resources/ssi/2018-q3/life-in-the-early-church

Zero-sum

Zero-sum

The concept of zero-sum is generally from game theory and economic theory. Zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant's gain or loss is precisely balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant(s). When we subtract the total profits of the participants from the total losses it will equal zero. A situation where the benefits and losses to all players sum to the same value of money (or utility) are zero-sum. In contrast, non-zero-sum describes a case in which the interacting parties' aggregate gains and losses are either less than or more than zero. Non-zero-sum is a Situation where participants can all gain or suffer together. An example of non-zero-sum will be when a country with an excess of bananas is trading with another country for their surplus of apples, since both benefit from the transaction, is in a non-zero-sum situation. An example of zero-sum is Cutting a cake. It is zero-sum because taking a larger piece reduces the amount of cake available for others.

In political terms, socialists consider national economies as a zero-sum game (if A grows $5,000 richer, it is because B is $5,000 poorer). Whereas, capitalists consider economies a non-zero-sum game (human enterprise creates new wealth far out of proportion to any transfers or resource depletion, and voluntary transactions address the preferential desires of both parties).

Considering our current economic woes, we need to rethink the capitalist premise. As wealth increases, inflation increases also driving the present value of money down. It ends up being mere perception. We have also seen that the wealth created is in the hands of fewer and fewer, and an increasing majority is falling below the poverty line. This fact leads us to understand that the wealth created is at the backs of those who are poor or become poor. We have seen this pattern happen throughout the six thousand years of earth history.

In the days before the flood, this kind of evil was rampant. Ellen White spoke of this. Let us read,

Instead of doing justice to their neighbors, they carried out their own unlawful wishes. They had a plurality of wives, which was contrary to God's wise arrangement. In the beginning, God gave to Adam one wife--showing to all who should live upon the earth, his order and law in that respect. The transgression and fall of Adam and Eve brought sin and wretchedness upon the human race, and man followed his own carnal desires, and changed God's order. The more men multiplied wives to themselves, the more they increased in wickedness and unhappiness. If anyone chose to take the wives, or cattle, or anything belonging to his neighbor, he did not regard justice or right, but if he could prevail over his neighbor by reason of strength, or by putting him to death, he did so and exulted in his deeds of violence. They loved to destroy the lives of animals. They used them for food, and this increased their ferocity and violence, and caused them to look upon the blood of human beings with astonishing indifference. (1 Spirit of Prophecy, page 68).

Many antediluvians in their greed took more than what they needed depriving others of their needs. They abused nature and people to get what they wanted. Could it be that what we witness today is a fulfillment of Christ's prediction, "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matthew 24:37)?

Doctor Luke writes about how it was among the church members in apostolic time. It is quite the contrast. He says in Acts 2: 44-45,

Acts2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Acts2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

The church members were together, having all things in common. No private property. Agape, selfless and other-interested love, was the motivator; not self-love. There was no "equal and fair" division. None took what they wanted, only what they needed. Those who needed less took less, and those who needed more took more. They all seem satisfied. Neither socialism nor capitalism could have worked it out. Only God's self-denying love can do that.

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
plants.

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
well.

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
describing.)

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
quote,
"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
94.4}

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
us.

Raul Diaz


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


--



Raul Diaz
[image: https://]about.me/raul.diaz
<https://about.me/raul.diaz?promo=email_sig&utm_source=email_sig&utm_medium=email_sig&utm_campaign=external_links>

Friday, July 6, 2018

Witnessing

Witnessing

Matthew 12:41-44 related a story we've probably all heard. It says,

Matt. 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the
people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
Matt. 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two
mites, which make a farthing.
Matt. 12:43 And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them,
Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all
they which have cast into the treasury:
Matt. 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her
want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

What a lesson for us about witnessing. The poor widow's humble witness
still carries until this day the message of the Gospel. She loved God
supremely, and her neighbor as Christ loved her, and that is why she gave
all she had to the treasury. She gave quietly. Not one word was said. No
announcement was given. No press conference held. In fact, had it not been
for Christ pointing out her action, it would have been dismissed. She gave
witness to those who heard the story then, and to those who hear it now.

So is it our actions which give witness, or is it our words? Is it possible
to really give an accurate witness of what we've seen, heard and
understood, without both? Our fast paced and driven world loves the doers.
Yet, if you are an accurate witness, would you not be able (or enabled as
we shall see) to relay your experience in such a manner that others too
will see, hear and sense it? After all, what is the use of a witness
without a judicial system to utilize the testimony given?

Christ calls on all His sheep to give witness, a testimony as it were, to
His benevolence, and goodness, as well as to His character of Love-- to the
Universe. As well we know, the Godhead is the "One" on trial. If you were
in His cosmic shoes, would you not desire the truth to be told about you?
Of course, the master strategist, and "accuser of the brethren" desires a
false witness to corroborate his view of things, and so the battle ensues.
In order
not to be deceived into testifying to a lie, the believer--the true
witness-- needs power, for he is no match for the adversary. Hence Christ
advises His disciples (and us) in Acts 1:8:

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and
ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Notice how the author worded the sentence. It does not say that we are to
do witnessing activities, such as hand out tracts, knock on doors or
ingather. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these particular
activities. Instead, notice how the scripture stipulates that it is with
the Holy Spirit's power coming upon us that we shall be witnesses. Notice,
in the following verses, that the disciples were to wait together, in
prayer, for the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence, and power.

You know, there is a big difference between the concept of being - which is
an inside job - and that of doing which merely implies taking action. Today
there is such an emphasis on methods, techniques and numbers that we may
have forgotten how Christ won people to Himself. According to Sister White
as
quoted in our Sabbath School lesson recently, Christ mingled with men as
One who desired their good. It was not His method to make them feel good,
which is what is often interpreted from the quote, but instead desired that
they might be with Him eternally (John 14:1-6, John 3:16).

When we try to witness to others with our activity, most of the time they
will feel something is missing. Unless we demonstrate unconditional,
self-denying love for them -not to be confused with acceptance of their
ungodly attitudes and behavior- we shall be branded phony, insincere and
hypocritical. Haven't you ever met someone whom you sensed had an agenda,
and whose motives
were ulterior? Didn't you just want to get away from that person as quickly
as possible?

As much as we'd like to view Apostle Paul as the driven, go-getter
disciple, outside of John the beloved, it is he who discusses in depth the
love the follower of Christ will have through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
He not only describes it, but he also implores us to allow the Spirit to
give it to us by faith. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that
Paul was enabled to be all things to all people, and win them to Christ.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23:
1 Cor. 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself
servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
1 Cor. 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the
Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain
them that are under the law;
1 Cor. 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not
without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them
that are without law.
1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am
made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1 Cor. 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker
thereof with you.

He did not mean by this that he was an Oscar-winning actor. Ellen White
says that he shaped His message to the person and the particular
circumstance, just as Christ did. The Spirit enabled Paul to be aware of
each person's needs, and prompted him with the content of the message
(gospel) as well as when and how to deliver it. Sister White adds that we
should be many-sided men (and women), not just having one approach for
everyone we meet. Being filled with the Spirit does not mean negating the
study of various
methods and techniques to win souls. On the contrary, it means being led by
the Spirit as to our target audience as well as what sources and timing to
use.

The Holy Spirit coming upon, and abiding in us bears fruit. Then we become
witnesses of what we have seen and heard, rather than a group of
individuals merely engaged in "doing" witnessing activity. While this does
not guarantee conversion, the truth about the character of the Godhead - as
that of
unconditional love, mercy, justice, and grace - will have been told by
those of us who love Him. The scripture says, " and they will know we are
His disciples because we embody His love." The question now is, will you
let the Spirit come upon you so you can become a witness?



--



Raul Diaz
[image: https://]about.me/raul.diaz
<
https://about.me/raul.diaz?promo=email_sig&utm_source=email_sig&utm_medium=email_sig&utm_campaign=external_links
>

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Watching Versus Waiting

Watching Versus Waiting

People use the words 'watch' and 'wait' synonymously. However, there is a
subtle difference between the two. To wait means to be in readiness or to
remain at rest in expectation. To watch is to look and wait expectantly or
in anticipation. You can wait while doing other activities. Watching
encompasses the concept of waiting and requires full attention from the
watcher. A person may be waiting and still miss the thing they are waiting
for, but this is unlikely to happen if they are watching. The following
story illustrates the difference.

Gina, a young girl, asked her grandmother to watch for her as she was
coming to visit that day for the weekend. And naturally, Grandma Lisa
promised she would. Wanting to stress the importance of her request, Gina
repeated it several times to her grandma, asking, "You'll watch, won't you?
You'll watch for me grandma, right?" Lisa, who was now becoming
exasperated, responded several times that she would. On the day that Gina
was due to arrive, Grandma Lisa thought, "I still have time to complete a
few chores before Lisa visits, so I'll just do them and then go outside and
wait for Gina and her parents." However, despite Grandma's best intentions,
she became engrossed in her tasks and lost track of time. Suddenly, Grandma
Lisa heard the bell. "Oh no, she thought, that can't be Gina already."
Running to the door, Lisa opened it expecting to see an excited Gina. But
instead, Gina was sorrowful. "Why the sad face Gina, aren't you happy to
see your Grandmother?" Grandma Lisa asked. To which her granddaughter
responded, "Grandma, you did not watch for me like I asked you." "Honey,"
said Grandma, "I was preparing things for you, while I waited for you."
"But Grandma," replied Gina, "I did not want you to wait for me; I wanted
you to watch for me." She wanted her grandma to be outside expectantly
looking for her.

This story reminded me of the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25).
Christ portrayed them as standing or sitting expectantly awaiting the groom
who could appear at any time. As the night grew old, the bridesmaids fell
asleep. While asleep a loud cry woke them in the middle of the night, "The
Bridegroom cometh, go ye forth to meet him." As they opened their eyes,
the night was dark, and they could barely see, so they rushed to light
their lamps. We know the rest of the story; some could light their lamps
because they had extra oil. Others, unprepared with extra oil, could
neither light their lamps to herald his coming nor enter in with the
Bridegroom. What is represented by the oil? Ellen White is quoted in the
devotional, "That I May Know Him," with an answer to this question.

In the parable, the foolish virgins are represented as begging for oil and
failing to receive it at their request. This is symbolic of those who have
not prepared themselves by developing a character to stand in a time of
crisis. It is as if they should go to their neighbors and say, 'Give me
your character or I shall be lost.' Those that were wise could not impart
their oil to the flickering lamps of the foolish virgins. Character is not
transferable. It is not to be bought or sold; it is to be acquired (That I
May Know Him, p. 350).

In contrast to the foolish virgins, the wise virgins had righteous
characters. So, although the wise virgins appeared to be as indolent as
the foolish ones - none of them were watching for the Groom - the wise
virgins had retained oil, and therefore were prepared for the wait. Living
by faith, they were enabled to receive the groom. With that said, what
would have pleased the Bridegroom more: if the virgins had been waiting or
watching? Or both?

As the Groom approached the bridesmaids, he must have noticed that they had
been sleeping and that five were missing. We can only imagine his
perplexity and disappointment, as he questioned, "Weren't they supposed to
stay awake and light the way to the banquet hall? How is it they all fell
asleep? And why were only five prepared for the delay?" "They all knew I
could come at any time. …" It did not look good.
Was this a sign of things to come? This incident revealed that the
bridesmaids became weary after the long delay. And that while they
anticipated a delay, they did not expect an extended wait period.

There are things hidden deep within the recesses of each of our minds,
things which only the Holy Spirit through time and circumstances can reveal
to us, that we may through repentance and forgiveness, receive its blotting
out. Whenever the Lord gives a promise, a period of waiting ensues before
He fulfills His promise to us. His goal is neither to drive us to
distraction nor to frustrate us. Instead, He desires us to wait patiently,
expectantly, watching, enduring and persevering until its fulfillment.

Waiting is not a natural human tendency. We want whatever it is right now.
And our selfish natures find many ways of attaining our desires. Often
subconsciously we present our thinking or behavior in the most moral or
rational light, as we attempt to conceal our true purpose, for self to gain
the promised blessing now.

Jesus implied that in the Christian's life, waiting patiently would be an
issue; that's why He went so far as to say, "When I come, will I find faith
on the earth?" The delay which He is using for our good, to reveal our true
hidden state to us while there is time to repent, is instead used by many
to fulfill self's goals, which is to avoid true self-knowledge.

By remaining in union with the source of renewing energy or power, the Holy
Spirit, we are enabled by faith to 'be renewed in the Spirit of our minds'
(John 15, Romans 12:1). The battle, after all, is for our minds as well as
our affections. Watching and waiting patiently are not inactive pursuits;
they require vigilance, as well as resting and reposing in the Father.

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God
must believe that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek (inquire
of) Him." "You therefore beloved, seeing you know these things before,
beware lest you also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from
your own stedfastness" (Hebrews 11:6; 2 Peter 3:17).

-Raul Diaz

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Elijah Solution

The Elijah Solution

 

In the days of Elijah, the people of Israel had turned their hearts from God. They were worshiping another god, instead of Jehovah. Evil reigned in Israel and broke Elijah's heart. Determined to stop the national evil of idol worship, the Lord weighted Elijah's heart with a message of repentance designed to turn the hearts of the people back to God. In allowing these wicked traits of character to go unchecked, King Ahab was directly responsible, for he set the example for which his people were following. Thus, the people had turned their hearts and minds away from God while assuming that they were still following Him. You see, Baal worship was similar to the worship of the true God, Jehovah. After all, Baal only meant 'lord,' or 'husband.' So, the people thought they were calling on God the way they had always done. In reality, they had switched allegiances unaware. They could have known but by choice they did not. In the days of John the Baptist, evil also reigned in Judah in the form of greed, selfishness, sensual pleasures, and nationalistic pride. 

 

At present -- the last days to be exact -- the Lord has said that people would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power." We were further admonished to 'have nothing to do with them' (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV). Isn't this precisely the case both with professed Christians in various churches, as well as with the unbelievers and the unchurched? Sadly, God's evaluation of the condition of the last church as stated in Revelation 3:15 -17 (NIV) is accurate --

 

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!

Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of My mouth.

Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 

 

Professed Christians think themselves 'good,' because they do not behave in the wicked ways that 'bad' people do. Our problems, however, are deeper and greater than our behavior indicates. At issue is our human nature which, naturally bent towards evil, is manifested in evil imagination, attitudes, and thoughts, continually. Human nature is filled with iniquity which naturally pulls us as a riptide pulls its victim downward and outward to the sea. As this is true of all human beings, the only possible difference between the 'good' and 'bad' people is the supernatural power which controls them. Not one of us in and of himself or herself is righteous, for as the Lord stated through Apostle Paul, good people are as bent toward evil as bad people are. "Good" people have learned to hide their evil ways. Living in denial the people are deceived as to their actual condition. Furthermore, they disbelieve any evaluation that is contrary to their opinion of themselves. 

 

In the days of the prophet Elijah, God sent him to spare the people from suffering a three-year drought. God's solution was Elijah's message, and that is what Elijah preached. "Repent for judgment is near," was his constant cry; yet it was to turn the hearts and minds of the people back to the true worship of God. In the days of Jesus, God sent John the Baptist to "prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him" (Luke 3:4 NIV). John the Baptist was given the privilege of preaching the message of repentance ("Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near," Matthew 3:2 NIV) just as Elijah was sanctioned to preach to his generation. Both messages were not only proclaimed with authority, but the power to transform - human hearts and minds - was inherent within the Word itself. So potent was this message that hard hearts melted, while lukewarm ones were heated up to white hot. Folks, the hearts and minds of those who genuinely accepted the message "were turned" to one another, "the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts and minds of the children to their parents." Thus, the people were prepared to receive Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah. Those who rejected the message rejected not only Jesus as Messiah but His Father whom they professed to serve. As the scripture says, to be without Jesus is to be without the light and life. Thus, the majority of Jews, indeed the Jewish nation itself, sealed their personal and national eternal condemnation. 

 

In our day, the last great message to go out into the world is the message of the righteous character of God's agape - love. Bound up in the good news of the righteousness of Christ is the three angels' message of Revelation 14: 6-12 in verity (EGW). The Lord gave this message to the Elijah's of this time. And as in the days of old, inherent in the message is the power to change the hearts and minds of the people to Christ, to one another, from children to parents and vice versa. This is the power that is lacking in our Laodicean churches. The solution is therefore not more and better programming; it is not more dollars thrown at the various outreach ministries, nor is it greater local, national or global recognition. The solution is in the message. The Agape – love of Christ transforms hearts and minds who willingly, eagerly and attentively listen. False worship is put aside, and the genuine article of faith comes to reside in the souls of the people, causing them to light up the globe with the splendor of Christ's character (His glory) as they go from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

 

My friends, the Elijah solution has been given to all. Just how many years do we have to go on in barrenness, weary and wilting? If we are willing to receive the message as God desires us to, it will do the work He has designated, for He has said, "So shall My Word be that goeth forth of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). 


Friday, June 15, 2018

Just Rest

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

 

Whose Seventh Day was it: God's or Adam's?  Adam was created on 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 on the sixth day.  So, again, Sabbath was Adam and Eve's 1st 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 between 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 then 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 1: 31 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 - an 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 4: 1Therefore, 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 4: 2 For 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 4: 3 Now 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 4: 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: "And on the seventh day God rested from all his work."

 Hebrews 4: 5And again in the passage above he says, "They shall never enter my rest."

 Hebrews 4: 6 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 4: 7 Therefore 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 4: 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

 Hebrews 4: 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;

 Hebrews 4: 10 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 4:3 confirms 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.