Friday, November 17, 2017

Even Grace Has Limits

Even Grace Has Limits 

In Numbers 21, the people of Israel murmured against God, and God sent serpents to bite them. 

Num21:5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.
Num21:6 And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
Num21:7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Num21:8 And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
Num21:9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

God had given the people manna, a gift to them from heaven.  This gift they did not appreciate, but despised it.  So the Lord allowed serpents to come in the camp and bite the people.  Of course, the people were dying of the serpent bites.  Somehow they made a connection between the serpents and their Sin.  So, they asked Moses to pray to God for delivery.  Thus, God tells Moses to build a brazen serpent and put it on a pole, those who looked at the serpent on the pole would not die.  

God did not get rid of the serpents, or even stopped the serpents from biting.  God wanted the people to exercise faith.  The issue was: would they believe that in looking at the brazen serpent the poison would not be effective?   If they looked, they would live.  (There is no mention of what would happen with the bite marks.  It is possible that the bite marks would remain.) 

The brazen serpent was for all the people in the camp.  But, only those who looked when bitten would be delivered.  Did they deserve it?  No, not one person in the camp deserved to be delivered (Romans 3: 10 – 12).  God did this because He loved the people.  This gesture toward them displayed God's grace.  He gave all of them this gift of life, even when they did not deserve it.  But, just because God gave this gift to all, it did not mean that all would spare all of the effects of the poison in their bodies.  Those who chose not to believe would not look therefore they would die.  In this case, God's grace could not deliver those bitten from dying.   There was no cure for rejecting the remedy.  Suddenly grace has limits.  Those who refuse the grace that can save them will find that there is no grace for dismissing the grace.  

We may get the impression from Romans 5:20 to 6:2 that grace covers all sin.  But that is not the case.  Let us read it the passage,

 Rom5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

Those who are of the belief that the more they sin, the more grace abounds - if they continue on that path - forget that at some point they will commit the Unpardonable Sin.  Jesus talks about this Matthew 12: 31 -32,

Matthew 12:31-32 (King James Version)
31Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

The Unpardonable Sin is the point where you have gone beyond repentance.  You no longer will respond the Holy Spirit's invitation for you to open the door to Him.   Christ did not die for that Sin.  And, while the law may expose that Sin, grace will not abound as far.  This Sin is rejecting the grace that can save you.  Put in different words: there is no remedy for rejecting the remedy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sewed from Jesus

Sewed from Jesus 
 
A woman went to buy a new dress.  She went first to a high-end store.  She saw a dress she liked.  She tried on the dress, and it fit her very well, but it cost more than what she wanted to pay.  So she went into a store with more affordable prices.  She saw what seemed to be the exact dress; in fact, it was the same brand.  But it was not quite as attractive as the first one nor did it fit as well.  "How can this be? She asked herself.   Was it all in her mind?

She was puzzled by this so she decided that before buying anything that she would investigate.  She contacted the company.  They told her that on the label, there is a number; the lower the number, the better the quality of the dress.  Some details went into the production of the lower number dresses that the manufacturer did not consider in the higher number dresses.  Sometimes it was the kind and color of thread used or the kind of stitch.  Other times it was how they cut the fabric, etc.  Two things that seem identical were not.

I find a similarity in our works. Works by faith and works from your effort may seem similar. But works of faith are different from works done in our strength. Let's consider Abraham as an example.  We know Paul opens Romans 5 with this declaration.

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

The word "therefore" tells us that this statement is referring to what was said before in chapter 4.  Paul says of Abraham in chapter 4 verse 3,

Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Paul used the Greek word episteusen, which comes from the word pistis for faith or belief. In essence, it is saying that Abraham had faith. We know that faith comes through hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Abraham heard God's Word and believed it. When we replace "believe" with other definitions of faith, we get a better feel of what this means. Abraham heard God's word and felt appreciation in his heart. He heard God's word and trusted the word to do what it said it would; he waited and depended on the Word alone. God's word to Abraham was the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. As a result of his belief in God's Word, Abraham was one of the elders that obtained a good report, and he pleased God (Hebrews 11:1, 2, 6).

 The second part of Romans 4:3 says that His belief was counted unto him for righteousness. What is righteousness? Ellen White defines it as obedience to the law (1 Selected Messages, p. 367). We replace the word righteousness with the definition Ellen White provides and it reads, "Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for obedience to the law."  In believing God's word, Abraham obeyed the law.  Abraham's righteousness (obedience to the law) came from exercising faith in God's word.

The previous thought gives context to Romans 5:1, where Paul reiterates what he explained in chapter 4.  Translators have interpreted it as "Therefore being justified by faith."  But, the transliterated Greek rendering of Romans 5: 1 seems to say, "Being-justified then out of-belief."  We know that the word justified means made righteous.  So we could interpret it as, "Being made righteous out of faith" -- thus there is a kind of faith that makes us righteous or obedient to the law.  Ellen White expresses the same thought in the following quote,

 Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinners account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of mans failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. (Ellen G. White, 1 Selected Messages, p. 367)

The prophet Isaiah tells us that, "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). Our righteousness falls short of the law's requirement.  We need a righteousness that is perfect since the law requires perfection.  Ellen White states that Christ's righteousness is what we are given to satisfy the laws demand of perfection. We have stated thus far that the only way to get this righteousness is by faith. Can our filthy faith produce a perfect righteousness?  The answer is obviously, "No, it cannot." Therefore we must obtain a faith that is perfect. That faith is the faith of Jesus. When we accept His faith, it produces in us His righteousness. This faith of Jesus is what characterized Abraham. It is the faith that those who overcome and endure until the end will have (Revelation 14:12).

Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul says that "…whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23).  Only works wrought from faith are righteous.  So, just like the difference in the dresses, the works of those who have the faith of Jesus may look similar to those who do not, but there is a difference.  The former is built and sewed from Jesus, the latter from sinful flesh.  Furthermore, the character of those who have the faith of Jesus will be transformed into the likeness of Jesus. The question is which dress do we want to be?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Commentary: Elusive Righteousness

Elusive Righteousness
 
The Word elusive means: difficult to find, catch, or achieve; difficult to remember or recall; to elude capture, perception, comprehension, or memory; difficult to define or describe; be difficult to detect or grasp by the mind.  We use this word to describe something that may seem within grasp, but yet we can never reach it.  It could be used for that promotion or raise you never get.  In some organizations, a specific landmark amount of members is never reached.  It can be used for a fugitive or criminal that is hard to catch.  It is also used for a particular animal that is hard to hunt or fish.
 
There is a metaphor used in an old Spanish love song that I think illustrates this point well.  To tell the lover his or her love will always be unrequited, the singer makes this statement,
 
"The sea and the sky look equally blue
and in the distance, they seem to meet and unite,
better remember that the sky is always sky
that never, never will the sea reach."
 
The point is obvious, "As the sky is elusive to the sea, so am I to you."
 
God's ways are higher than ours.  God says through Isaiah "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9).  In the above metaphor, we are the sea, and the Lord is the sky.  We will never reach God.  That is why God sent His Son to reach us.  So anything from God is unattainable for us unless it is through Jesus.  That is why Paul says that "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).  The word justified means to be made righteous; this means that man is made righteous by faith and not by attempting to obey the law in his strength.  Paul is saying that your effort to obey the law on your own will be futile and therefore you will never be righteous.  Righteousness will be elusive in your strength.  The more you try, the harder it gets to reach it. 
 
But, Paul makes it clear that being justified by faith does not make the law void, on the contrary, it exalts the law (Romans 3:31).  Then He uses Abraham as an example of how justification by faith works.  Paul says of Abraham,
 
Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found?
Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
 
Abraham was no exception in regards to how to become righteous.  It was not on his strength, but by faith.  He believed God's Word and this believing the Word was counted to Him as righteousness.  Ellen White says that Righteousness is obedience to the law (Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367); this means that when Abraham believed God's word, it was counted unto Him as obedience to the law.  It was faith that made Abraham a doer of the Law.  And, so it is with us. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Justification by Faith

Justification by Faith

Imagine with me: a man was suffering with cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy. Things seemed to progress as testing showed his tumor had decreased in size. Before the tumor had definitively disappeared, his oncologist ended his chemo treatments. Puzzled and bewildered, the man asked himself several questions, "Did I miss something?" "Why would my doctor do such a thing?" "Is this regular protocol?" "Did things get worse all of a sudden?" "If this is the case, how long do I have to live?"
 
Confused, the man asked to speak to his doctor for an explanation as to why he stopped the treatments. The man could not believe the doctor's response, "You do not require any more chemotherapy because I have declared your cancer (to be) in remission.  As far as I am concerned you have no more tumors. I declare you, 'healed.'"  As the doctor completed his explanation, the man, who was initially curious, turned disbelieving and then progressively angry. He yelled, "Are you insane? If the tumors aren't gone, how can you declare me anything?" I daresay, most of us would have a similar response. This scenario begs the question, would you rather be declared healed or would you prefer to actually be healed?
 
The popular interpretation of justification by faith is that we are declared righteous, not made righteous. How does God really work this -- is the thing really true because He declares it so, or does He declare it because it is true? Does God declare something without it being true? Unlike our Doctor from the story above, God is not insane. God does not declare things unless they already are. One example of this is in Genesis 1 (for another example cf father Abraham). At almost every stage of Creation God saw that what He did was good. At the end, in Genesis 1:31, He declared it again,
 
            God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
 
This concept of only declaring could be in part from the definition of righteous. According to a previous Sabbath School lesson, 
 
What is this idea of "justifying," as found in the text? The Greek word dikaioo, translated justify, may mean "make righteous," "declare righteous" or "consider righteous." The word is built on the same root as dikaiosune, "righteousness," and the word dikaioma, "righteous requirement." Hence, there is a close connection between "justification" and "righteousness," a connection that doesn't always come through in various translations. We are justified when we are "declared righteous" by God.
 
Before this justification, a person is unrighteous, and thus unacceptable to God; after justification, he or she is regarded as righteous, and thus acceptable to Him.
 
You will notice that the author(s) of the lesson chose "declare righteous" instead of "make righteous."  The question again is, would you rather be declared righteous or made righteous? (Which is more accurate?) Especially, since God is fully capable of making us righteous. Ellen White makes reference to this issue in the following quote,
 
"Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son."—Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 1, p. 367. 
 
"...Everything was lost by sin; man forfeited his title to every blessing. It is only by divine grace, through the infinite sacrifice of Christ that we could be reinstated in the favor of God, and be permitted to enjoy His gifts. We are not our own. Christ has bought us with His precious blood, and we belong to Him."
RH Dec. 14, 1886 par. 8.
 
Being that God is able to make us righteous we can interpret the text from Romans chapter 3 as, "Therefore we conclude that a man is made righteous by faith without the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).  The question is will we let Him?
 
~Raul Diaz

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Gospel is the Cure

The Gospel is the Cure
 
At the writing of this commentary my cousin, Justin Graves (not real name), died.  He was young; in his mid-thirties. He died because his body stopped working.  His body deteriorated to the point where it could no longer function. 
 
It was not a bullet wound, a car accident, substance abuse, etc.  It was not consequences of choices he made.  Justin was born with a rare congenital disease - Behr's Syndrome - that dystrophies the muscles, crippling anyone that has it.  Justin's only fault regarding that condition was to be conceived out of parents that carried the recessive genes of the disease.  Justin's fault was to live.  Can Justin be held responsible for being born with the syndrome?  Evidently, no.  Still, he bore a condition that if left untreated could, and did harm him.  There is yet no cure for this rare syndrome.
 
But, what if there was a cure?  What if the person with a treatment walked into Justin's room and gave it to him free?  What if Justin declines to take it and eventually dies?  Could Justin be held responsible for his untimely death?  Yes, he can be held accountable.  For now, his death is not due to the disease, but for declining the cure. 
 
As Justin was born with this disease, we are all born with Sin (Justin included).  As the psalmist said, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me" (Psalms 51:5).  Paul expresses the same point in Romans 3: 10 – 12,
 
Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Romans 3:11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Romans 3:12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
 
 Which is why Paul concludes in verse 23 - almost repeating the psalmist - "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).  As Justin could not be held responsible for his disease, neither can we be held accountable for being born in Sin.  We did not choose to be born this way.  But, if there was a cure for Sin, given to us freely and we reject it, then we are held responsible for refusing the cure. 
 
Is there a cure for Sin?  That is the greatest news ever to come into this world.  Yes, there is a cure for Sin, and that cure is Jesus Christ.  Paul gives us a glimpse of what this means in Romans 3: 24 – 26,
 
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
 
The cure will not do us any good unless we take it.  By faith we take Jesus, and He cures us of the Sin disease.  We must continually take Him as if it was a prescription, for it to be effective.  It is a lifelong treatment.  But, we will be glad we did it in the life to come.

Friday, October 6, 2017

God's will

God's will

Paul had intentioned to visit Rome on his way to Spain where he hoped to preach the Gospel and establish a church there.  We read about this Romans 15:20-27 (King James Version)

20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation:
21 But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand.
22 For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you.
23 But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you;
24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your
company.
25 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints.
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

Paul made plans, but in the end, the Lord changed them.  Man proposes, but God disposes.  As we read in Acts 28:16 God led Paul to Rome in a different fashion.  Let us read,

 "But when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard; but Paul was permitted to dwell by himself with the soldier who guarded him" (Acts 28:16, NKJV).

 What does this text tell us about how Paul finally got to Rome? What lesson can we draw from this for ourselves about the unexpected and unwanted things that so often come our way?  Life can take some bizarre turns and usually God is behind it. How often our plans, even the ones formulated in the best of intentions, don't come out as we anticipated and hoped. The apostle Paul did, indeed, get to Rome, but it wasn't as he had expected. 

When Paul reached Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey with his offering for the poor, which he collected from the congregations of Europe and Asia Minor, unexpected events awaited him. He was arrested and fettered. After being held a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar. Some three years after his arrest, he arrived in Rome, and (we can assume) not in the manner that he intended to when he first wrote to the Roman church years before about his intention to visit them.

We know that Paul "strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation" (Romans 15:20).    But, God saw fit that Paul did build a foundation in Rome.  As mentioned above, Paul did reach Rome but not in the way he thought.  The Romans paid for Paul's trip. 

Paul's work also took a different turn.  Paul humbly accepted his fate.  He called himself a prisoner of Christ (Ephesians 3:1).  Following are two Ellen White quotes that show how Paul's work was more effective now than before. 

 "While apparently cut off from active labor, Paul exerted a wider and more lasting influence than if he had been free to travel among the churches as in former years. As a prisoner of the Lord, he had a firmer hold upon the affections of his brethren; and his words, written by one under bonds for the sake of Christ, commanded greater attention and respect than they did when he was personally with them."—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 454.

"Not by Paul's sermon[s], but by his bonds, was the attention of the court attracted to Christianity. It was as a captive that he broke from so many souls the bonds that held them in the slavery of sin. Nor was this all. He declared: 'Many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.' Philippians 1:14."—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 464.

Seemingly, Paul made it to Rome in God's timing and way.  As we read from Ellen White's quotes, God's way was more effective than in the way Paul first planned it.  Are we as willing as Paul to do God's will in His timing and way?
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 29, 2017

When Adding leads to Replacing

When Adding leads to Replacing

For a special trip, a man was given a piece of luggage full of everything he would need for the journey.  The luggage had no extra space for anything else.  The truth is he needed nothing else that was not already in the luggage. He would not have any lack or leftovers.  But, the man decided he wanted to take additional things.  These were other things he wanted.  Being that he had no space for them, he decided to go through the luggage, see what he could leave behind, to put in what he wanted.  So, addition now became a replacement. 

 Needless to say, though the trip the man regretted taking things out and replacing them.  What he left behind was valuable, and he realized he did not have enough.  What he replaced them with would not work for replacement.  These were inappropriate. 

 For our journey of faith, Christ has given us a complete package full of what we need.  But, some decide they want to add things.  They may not think the original package is enough or is fully appropriate.  But, soon they realize that the only way they can add things is by leaving things out from the original package.  So, what they have left from the original package plus all of the additions, was either not enough or inappropriate.  The journey is not completed, seemingly because of lack or wrong supplies.  But the truth is they did not trust Jesus, who gave them the original package.  

 When we believe that salvation is faith plus works, we have to leave elements of grace and faith out; this means God's grace and faith become incomplete and ineffective.  And, the works with which we replaced parts of grace and faith is not enough and or inappropriate to do the work.  This combination leaves us unprepared; with it, we cannot endure nor overcome.  This kind of Gospel is not "complete" good news; it becomes partial good news, which means it is not good news.  The implication is that salvation – Christ's work - is not completed.  This message leaves us no better off than what we started.  We are still completely lost.

This is what happened when the Judaizers and Galatians added circumcision as a means of salvation.  It left them no better off than the pagans (Galatians 4: 8 – 9).  In fact, many traits that the pagans have had started to show (Galatians 5:15).  Paul asserts that salvation in Christ is complete; that it is by grace a gift to man and man receives it by faith.  There is nothing to add or change.  An idea that Paul echoes when he says that in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything (Galatians 6:15).  In other words, circumcision nor uncircumcision are worth anything; they are meaningless.  It does not produce anything nor is it a proof of anything.  It is nothing for which to boast.  In contrast, Paul says,

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Why does Paul say that we should boast on the Cross (Galatians 6:14)?  Because through the cross Paul is dead to the world and the world is dead to him; the Cross is what seals our salvation.  In the Cross, there is a power that transforms us into new men and woman.  It is the Cross that achieves a new creation (Galatians 6:15).  So, it is the Cross that should be praised. 

 Ellen White says of the cross. 

"The cross of Calvary challenges, and will finally vanquish every earthly and hellish power. In the cross all influence centers, and from it all influence goes forth. It is the great center of attraction; for on it Christ gave up His life for the human race. This sacrifice was offered for the purpose of restoring man to his original perfection. Yea, more, it was offered to give him an entire transformation of character, making him more than a conqueror.
"Those who in the strength of Christ overcome the great enemy of God and man, will occupy a position in the heavenly courts above angels who have never fallen.
Christ declares, 'I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.' If the cross does not find an influence in its favor, it creates an influence. Through generation succeeding generation, the truth for this time is revealed as present truth. Christ on the cross was the medium whereby mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other. This is the means that is to move the world (MS 56, 1899)."—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1113.

Going back to our analogy, this implies that what faith plus works leave out of the package is the Cross. This means that the only thing in the package that God gives us for our journey of faith is the Cross; trying to fit anything else in the package requires taking out the cross.  But, the Cross is all we need.  Anything else will not be enough or inappropriate.
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 22, 2017

Commentary: Sowing and Reaping

Commentary: Sowing and Reaping

What is sowing?  It is to plant seeds for growing, especially by scattering.  What is reaping?  It is to cut or clear with a scythe, sickle, or machine; to gather by or as if by cutting the harvest.  Another definition is a reward.  What is a harvest?  As a noun, it can be the mature crop or fruit of what was sown.  It can also be the act of gathering the crop.  It is also the season in which the crop is ready to be gathered. Also, it is the product or reward of effort.  As a verb, it is to gather in a crop, a synonym of reaping.  How do the concepts relate?  One is the cause and the other the effect.  The harvest is the product of what is sown.  So you reap or harvest what you have previously sowed.  If you plant wheat, you will harvest or reap wheat.  If you sow orange seeds, you will reap oranges.  Less we take it for granted: you cannot sow cherries and expect mangoes. 

Another thing is that there is a process for the seed to grow into what will be harvested; This implies that it needs time.  There is a season to sow and a season to reap.  Sow outside of that season, and your crop will be affected.  There are other considerations: type of soil, climate, moon phase, etc.  All of these will affect the harvest you get from what you sow. 

 The following illustration (found in our lesson study) reveals the relationship between sowing and reaping. Some potato farmers decided to save the biggest potatoes for themselves and to plant the smaller potatoes as seed. After a few disappointing harvests, they discovered that nature had reduced their potato crops to the size of marbles. Through this disaster, those farmers learned an important law of life.  They could not have the best things of life for themselves and use the leftovers for seed. The law of life decreed that the harvest would reflect the planting (sowing). Small potatoes will yield small (or even smaller) potatoes.  They reaped what they sowed.

There is an application to our life.  "In another sense, planting small potatoes is still common practice. We take the big things of life for ourselves and plant the leftovers. We expect that by some crazy twist of spiritual laws, our selfishness will be rewarded with unselfishness."—International Student Fellowship Newsletter, March 2007.

So let's consider this: whenever believers' lives are dominated by secular media—television, radio, Internet, and so on—how can they expect signifi­cant spiritual progress?  What if on the other hand, the believer spent time praying and studying the word of God?  There are higher chances of spiritual growth.

 Paul seems to understand this, and probably it is why he applies this principle in Galatians 6:1–10.  Spiritual attainments are proportionate with spiritual investments. Those who desire greater spiritual strength must engage in spiritual "exercise" and avoid spiritual "fast food." Little investment equals little advancement. Spiritual profitability arises from investing time in spiritual things. Now Paul's metaphor about sowing and reaping is not unique. It is a fact of life that appears in many ancient proverbial sayings. What is significant, however, is how Paul uses it to highlight his previous comments about the flesh and the Spirit.  Let us read Galatians 6:  7 - 9

 Galatians 6: 6-9 (NKJV)
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

 A modern colloquialism based on this concept is, "no pain, no gain."  Another similar one is, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."  James D. G. Dunn notes, "A modern equivalent is that we are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choice."—Galatians, p. 330.  

Ellen White comments on this,

 "The Spirit of God keeps evil under the control of con­science. When man exalts himself above the influence of the Spirit, he reaps a harvest of iniquity. Over such a man the Spirit has less and less influence to restrain him from sowing seeds of disobedience. Warnings have less and less power over him. He gradually loses his fear of God. He sows to the flesh; he will reap corruption. The harvest of the seed that he himself has sown, is ripening. He has a contempt for God's holy commandments. His heart of flesh becomes a heart of stone. Resistance to truth confirms him in iniquity. It is because men sowed seeds of evil, that lawlessness, crime, and violence prevailed in the antediluvian world.

"All should be intelligent in regard to the agency by which the soul is destroyed. It is not because of any decree that God has sent out against man. He does not make man spiritually blind. God gives sufficient light and evidence to enable man to distinguish truth from error. But He does not force man to receive truth. He leaves him free to choose the good or to choose the evil. If man resists evidence that is sufficient to guide his judgment in the right direction, and chooses evil once, he will do this more readily the second time. The third time he will still more eagerly withdraw himself from God and choose to stand on the side of Satan. And in this course he will continue until he is confirmed in evil, and believes the lie he has cherished as truth. His resistance has produced its harvest (MS 126, 1901)."—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1112.

 So, as Paul says in Romans 1: 18 – 32 that God has to let those who refuse His grace go.  Not as punishment, but because they chose to leave.  So, in making their choice, they also choose the consequence.  It is not God who punishes them; they are suffering the unfortunate consequences of their own decisions.  Our eternal destiny will reveal the choice we made.  It will reveal what we sowed.  In the end, no one will be deceived.  

-- 
Raul Diaz
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 15, 2017

Light Bulbs



 
Light Bulbs
 
The light bulb is nothing without electricity. It was designed for illumination, but cannot, without energy, displace darkness. The light from a light bulb is a combination of three things: an incandescent filament that is part of an unbroken and uninterrupted electric circuit and of course, electricity. To ignite the light bulb several simple things must occur. The bulb must be properly connected to an electrical source (thus closing the circuit). The power switch must be turned on. And the filaments within the incandescent bulb or the gases within the fluorescent tube must be intact. Similarly, whenever Christians shine forth, there must be spiritual equivalents to the light bulb and spiritual equivalents to what makes the bulb work. 
 
Our spiritual filaments are broken beyond repair. The Holy Spirit brings a new filament to each believer and then also makes new electrical wiring and connections within them; our old circuitry is inadequate for His electrical system and therefore, needs replacing. Once the new equipment is in place, and the Christian is properly wired to the spiritual energy source (God), he or she shines.
 
We can see it may take the Holy Spirit some time to set everything in place. In reality, we limit how He can work through how much space we give Him. Once all is in place, it should work continually, unless we find ways to interrupt it. Interruptions (for example, switches) can stop the electric flow, meaning that the hearing of faith and the believing of the Word is interrupted. The smallest cracks in the fluorescent tube or the tiniest breaks of an incandescent filament can destroy the bulb's capacity for lighting. So can a break in the wiring. We should clarify that unlike our earthly electrical sources, The Holy Spirit never has an outage. Therefore, when our spiritual bulb ceases to shine, it is not His fault it is ours. 
 
In principle, this metaphor is very similar to the one Jesus used in John 15. Which we refer to as the Parable of the Vine and the Branches. Christ told His disciples,
 
"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love."
 
What is the fruit? It is found in Galatians 5:22 – 23,
 
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,  peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
 
In the same chapter, Paul contrasted the fruit of the Spirit with the works of the flesh. These works of the flesh are the fruit that those refusing to be part of the Holy Spirit circuitry or, in other words, refusing to abide in Christ will produce. Let us read what they are from verses 19-21,
 
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
 
If we were to see this passage in the light of the Parable of the vine and branches these branches produce no fruit, and the works of the flesh are evident. The Father, who is the husbandman, cuts these branches away to make sure the vine or tree does not waste resources that the good branches could be using (John 15:1). These fruitless branches refer to those of which Christ says, "depart from me you workers of iniquity, I know you not" (Matthew 7: 23); Christ is speaking here to professed believers. They attended church; they participated in church activities and programs. They sang hymns, taught Sabbath School, returned tithes, even did evangelism. They were Sabbath School leaders, elders, deacons, etc. Christ says to them "I do not know you. Go away." They did not allow the daily indwelling of the Holy Spirit to enable them to live a God-honoring life. Only the infusion to the vine allows the Holy Spirit to produce fruit in them. Only being supernaturally wired to the "electric circuit" enables the Spirit to shine the Light. How do we stay fused so the Holy Spirit can work through us? Through the hearing of faith (Galatians 3:1). 
 
~Raul Diaz
 RR
Raul Diaz

Monday, September 4, 2017

A List of Requirements

A List of Requirements

One day while in college I was perusing my school bulletin.  I saw that beside the description for some classes it had the word prerequisite.  Then it listed other class numbers.  I figured that it meant that I should take the listed classes before I take the class in question.  So, it seemed it was telling me what I had to do before taking the class in question.  But, that is not the definition of the word prerequisite.  Of course, the prefix pre- means before.  Requisite means requirement.  A requirement is something – as a condition or quality – needed.  I understood that what the bulletin was telling me is that I needed the knowledge and or skill set that I got from the previous classes to take the one.   But, requirements are not always about something I can achieve or acquire. 

Typically we talk about requirements in terms of fulfilling not doing.  To fulfill means to satisfy.  To satisfy is to meet the requirements.  If I wanted to join the army, I would have to be a certain weight in relation to my height.  So, to join the army, I would have to meet that requirement.  But, if I wanted to be a horse jockey, I would have to be small: short and thin.  Now, let's say I am overweight, I could lose the weight.  Let's say I am more than 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) then I probably cannot be a jockey.  The average weight for a jockey is around 115 lb (52 kg).  The average height is about 5 feet and 3 inches (1.6 meters).  In this case, I cannot meet the requirement, not because of something I cannot acquire or achieve; I cannot meet the requirement because of something I am not. 

Out of the twenty pilots selected to fly Vostok 1 (the first spaceship to orbit the earth), the final choices for the first launch were Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov.  Why?  Because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit, and both men were rather short.  Gagarin, the ultimate choice, was 1.57 meters (5 ft 2 in) tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit.  Gagarin's met the size requirement.  Not something he could acquire or achieve, but something he was by genetic inheritance. 

When it comes to the Law and the Commandments, Paul as well as Jesus, seem to refer to them as requirements.  Time and time again they speak of them as something to be fulfilled.  Here are some examples,

Romans 8:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Romans 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

 So, to Paul, there is a difference between the doing of the Law and the fulfilling of the law.  Paul intentionally uses each phrase to make an important distinction between two different ways of defining Christian behavior in relation to the law.  For example, it is significant that when Paul refers positively to Christian observance of the law, he never describes it as "doing the law." He reserves that phrase to refer solely to the misguided behavior of those who are living under the law and are trying to earn God's approval by "doing" what the law commands.

Paul's view is not to imply that those who have found salvation in Christ do not obey.  Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul says they "fulfill" the law.  He means that true Christian behavior is much more than the outward obedience of just "doing" the law; it "fulfills" the law.  Paul uses the word fulfill because it goes far beyond just "doing." This type of obedience is rooted in Jesus (see Matt. 5:17). It is not an abandonment of the law, nor is a reduction of the law only to love, but it is the way through which the believer could experience the real intent and meaning of the whole law!

Ellen White also sees the Law as a requirement.  And, she is clear on how we can fulfill that requirement. She says,

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7). {1SM 367.1}

The inheritance is given to the heirs.  The heirs are sons and daughters of God.  Paul says in Galatians 3, 

Galatians 3: 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3: 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Galatians 3:  28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 3:  29And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Those who live by faith attain the righteousness required to become children who become heirs of God.  It is not something they can achieve or acquire on our own.  It is not something they receive by genetic inheritance.  It is something God gives to them by grace, and they receive it by faith. 
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, September 1, 2017

Two Covenants: A Fork in the Road

Two Covenants: A Fork in the Road

Driving Eastbound on I-94 in Chicago (it is southbound in Chicago) the road splits.  It is what some call a fork in the road.   I-94 continues to the left (eastbound), and I-57 continues to the South.  Signs are warning of a split in the road a mile or two ahead.   They also suggest possible destinations for each route will take.  Depending on where you are going you will go right or left.  There is no reason why anyone should go in the wrong direction.  But, some manage just that.  Taking one route means not taking the other.   The implication is that if you take the wrong route, you will gradually go farther off your intended destination.  The farther you go on the wrong road, it will probably be longer and harder to get back on track. 

At Sinai, the Israelites came to a spiritual fork in the road (Exodus 19 and 20).  They had had to choose which spiritual road to take.  Their issue was not that they did not want to go where God intended to take them.  They thought they could get there by going on the road of their choosing and not God's intended way.  They sincerely thought their chosen road could take them there.  So, they deviated from God's way and took the other.

Abraham had a similar experience of a spiritual fork in the road.  Like the Israelites later, it was not that Abraham did not want what God promised him.  Abraham thought he could get there following a path of his choosing.  Abraham believed that he could fulfill God's promise to him, by performing methods not suggested nor approved by God.  Thus, Abraham conceived a child with Hagar (Genesis 16: 4).  Once Abraham went down that road, it would take years of hardship to get back on track.  God's idea and intention were that Abraham conceived with Sarah (Genesis 17: 16, 19). 

According to Paul, this event was symbolic of the Old covenant.  When Abraham finally conceived with Sarah, it was the new covenant.  Let us read Galatians 4:22-26,

Galatians 4: 22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
Galatians 4: 23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
Galatians 4: 24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
Galatians 4: 25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
Galatians 4: 26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

In this verse, Paul ties Hagar with Sinai.  In other words, the Old Covenant that Abraham followed by conceiving with Hagar is what the Israelites followed in Sinai. A covenant the Jews continued to support even on to the day of Paul.  While, Abraham eventually, after years of hardship found God's road again, the majority of Israelites and Jews never found God's way again. 

What road have we taken: The Old Covenant or the New Covenant?  It is important to know that a misunderstanding of the Covenants can lead you to the wrong road.  Many Christians have what is called a dispensational view of the Covenants.  To them, the Old Covenant is a road that failed to take them to their destination, so then they tried another way, which is the new Covenant.  The Covenants to them is a matter of time, not a heart relationship with God.  To them from Sinai to Jesus people were saved by keeping the Law and the ceremonies of the Sanctuary.  According to this view, this method failed, so God then instituted the new method which is saved by grace.  Paul has argued successfully in Galatians that this is not true.  Paul's example of Abraham being under both covenants at different times in his life shows us that dispensation is wrong.  This is evident when we know what Abraham was going through at each of these stages.  Abraham's unbelief led to the Old Covenant.  When Abraham finally believed He was under the new covenant. 

Paul's argument also stands against Mainline Adventism view in the Covenants.  Adventists are not quite dispensational.  They believe that it is only one Covenant.  To them, the Covenant is one road, which at different points has different scenery and even a different name, but it is the same road, nonetheless.  From Sinai to Jesus the covenant was to be understood and practiced through the types, forms, and symbols of the ceremonial law; this is the old covenant.  The ceremonial law pointed to Jesus, so when He came, type met antitype, and thus Christ fulfills the ceremonial law.  The Old Covenant fulfilled its purpose of showing us the new Covenant, so it is no longer needed.  But, how can the Old Covenant be the Sanctuary and its services, if according to Paul 430 years before God enacted the sanctuary service Abraham was under the Old Covenant?  

Now, although the Adventist view is different from the dispensational, it is similar in that they both believe the Old Covenant is passed.  We need to reiterate, they are two different covenants.  And, each covenant is a different method of salvation.  Each covenant is a different attitude toward God and the Gospel.  As the author of the Lesson tells us, "The two covenants are not matters of time; instead, they are reflective of human attitudes."  One of my favorite authors states, "These two covenants exist today. The two covenants are not matters of time, but of condition. Let no one flatter himself that he cannot be bound under the old covenant, thinking that its time has passed"

These Covenants are based on a heart relationship with God.  The New Covenant is for God to fulfill His promises to us; we are just to receive them humbly and gratefully.  In the New Covenant God dwells in our hearts and writes His law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33).  In the New Covenant, we abide in Christ and Christ in us (John 5).  In the New Covenant, He becomes our God, and we become His people (Ezekiel 37: 23, 27).  In the New Covenant, we become His royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9).  In the New Covenant God bestows on us His inheritance:  eternal life in the new earth.   "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1)!
 RR
Raul Diaz

Friday, August 18, 2017

Adoption in Christ

Adoption in Christ

A previous lesson stated that "Both the Old Testament and the New Testament offer hope set in real life stories." It adds that in this way, "God seeks to reclaim his Children;" this shows that God uses our reality to try to teach us His truth. He does this so that we can relate to His teachings so that we can understand Him. More specifically, He does this so that we can know how He feels about and for us, and also about Sin. 

What are some examples of our reality He uses? He uses the example of a lover. One good example is Jeremiah 3: 1 – 10. Let us read parts of that passage,

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 3:7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
Jeremiah 3:9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.
Jeremiah 3:10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD.

As said above, He also uses the example of a parent. Consider Jesus plea to the Jews in Matthew 23:37,

Matthew 23:37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!"

When you, in fact, read Deuteronomy 30:15 – 16, the language comes across as very paternal. Let us read the passage,

Deuteronomy 30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Deuteronomy 30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

He wants us to listen to Him. He has our best interest at heart. He loves us. He desires to spare us from the consequences of our bad choices. Paul talks about this Hebrews 12: 5 – 11,

Hebrews 12: 5And 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: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Hebrews 12: 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Hebrews 12: 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Hebrews 12: 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
Hebrews 12: 10For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
Hebrews 12: 11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

So, He chastens those He loves, as a father or mother would when we do not listen. It is not a desire to punish, but a willingness to correct and show the right way; a way that will bring us closer to Him, the Lover of our Souls. 

Yes, God hates Sin to the point of He would rather die, than to live with it. But, He does not hate us. We all have sinned (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Not one of us is righteous or just. We all fall short of the glory of God. However, God wants to remedy that. That is why He sent His Son. And, sending His Son - as stated in Galatians 4:1-7 - is the biggest proof that He loves us. Let us read,

Galatians 4:1-7
Galatians 4: 1Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
Galatians 4: 2But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
Galatians 4: 3Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
Galatians 4:4But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Galatians 4:5To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Galatians 4:6And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Galatians 4:7Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Through Christ, God has not disowned us but adopted us; this is what the world needs to know.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

Jesus Christ: Our Antibiotic

The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning 'against' and bios meaning 'life.'  Antibiotic is also known as antibacterial, and they are drugs used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Bacteria cause such illnesses as tuberculosis, salmonella, syphilis and some forms of meningitis.  Our immune system can usually destroy bacteria before they can multiply and cause symptoms. We have special white blood cells that attack harmful bacteria. Even if symptoms do occur, our immune system can usually cope and fight off the infection. There are occasions, however, when it is all too much, and our bodies need some help - from antibiotics. 

The first antibiotic was penicillin.  Penicillin-Related antibiotics are widely used today to treat a variety of infections - these antibiotics have been around for a long time. There are several different types of modern antibiotics and they are only available with a doctor's prescription in industrialized countries.

So, antibiotics target not only microorganisms such as bacteria but also fungi and parasites. However, they are not effective against viruses. Also, when antibiotics are misused there is a chance that the bacteria will become resistant - hence, the antibiotic becomes less effective. Most antibiotics start having an effect on an infection within a few hours.  

It is important to complete the whole course of the medication to prevent the disease from coming back, even if you are feeling better. If you do not complete the course, there is a higher chance the bacteria may become resistant to future treatments - because the ones that survive when you did not complete the course have had some exposure to the antibiotic and may consequently have built up a resistance to it. 

If Sin were a bacterial infection, then Jesus would be an antibiotic, of sorts (Jesus is not against life).  Why antibiotic and not vaccine?  First, vaccines are preventive, antibiotic remedial.  We are already sick with Sin (Romans 3:10 – 12; 5:12), we need a remedy.  Second, vaccines are typically a dead or weakened specimen of the same creature making you sick.  They are injected to make us immune to the disease; which is a different way of saying they are to boost our immune system to fight the disease, should we be infected.  Although Jesus became Sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), God's intention is not to make us stronger in case we fall in Sin.  Furthermore, it is not the Jesus that came in the likeness of Sinful flesh that enters in us and dwells in us, it is the glorified Jesus through the Holy Spirit.  Again, we are already infected, and God's intention is to kill the sin in us.  God does not inject weak Sin in us to make us stronger. 

Jesus is an effective antibiotic.  He stops Sin from reproducing and also kills it.  When Jesus dwells in us, He changes the way we think.  Christ transforms us by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).  He writes the law in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), thus getting rid of the self-centeredness of Sin; this is what He wanted to with the Israelites.  But, they refused (Exodus 19 and 20).  So, God gave them the Law, not as a way to heal them, but as a way to diagnose their illness (Exodus 20; Galatians 3:19).  The Law was akin to a list of symptoms.  When any of these symptoms are present, you need Jesus your antibiotic, to kill the bacteria of Sin or to make sure it does not keep reproducing.  It is then that either the symptoms will go away or will not bother you.  But, the Israelites thought that getting rid of the symptoms meant they were Ok.  However, the sin-bacteria were still alive in them creating havoc inside. 

The antibiotic is free to us (given by grace), we take it by faith.  It must take it for as long as we live in this world of Sin because as long as we are here, the bacteria always find a way to resurface unless the antibiotic course is completed.  The day when Christ returns (Galatians 3:23, 25; 1 Corinthians 15:52 - 54) the course will be completed, we will be healed.  Until then, we will need that diagnosis list – The Law – so it will let us know when we have a symptom (Galatians 3:23 -25).

Jesus is better than an antibiotic.  There is something cool about this Jesus antibiotic that the antibiotic does not have.  Jesus antibiotic not only kills the bacteria of sin but also gives life to the Host of the bacteria.  We read in 1 John 5:11-13

 1 John 5: 11 And this is the record: that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
1 John 5: 12 He that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life.
1 John 5: 13 These things I have written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God.

Since eternal life is in Jesus, when He dwells in us, we have eternal life.  So, Jesus not only eradicates Sin, but He also gives us life.  Praise the Lord!
 RR
Raul Diaz