Friday, August 24, 2018
A Daily Dose of Grace
In the United States, many of the States - if not all – have programs to screen newborns for some metabolic and genetic diseases. Those that show possible presence of disease are referred to specialists for further testing and treatment, should they be diagnosed. This is important because once the symptoms for these diseases appear, they cannot be reversed. For some of the most popular diseases, part of the treatment is avoiding certain kinds of foods or lifestyle practices. For example, for PKU, a condition in which the baby cannot metabolize phenylalanine; they lack the enzyme to process it, so they avoid phenylalanine. Ever seen can with artificial sweetener with a warning, "Phenylketonuerics: this product contains phenylalanine." In another popular disease, Galactosemia, the baby lacks the enzyme to metabolize the lactose in dairy products. The treatment, for the most part, is to avoid milk produced by animals, dairy products, and other foods with lactose.
One disease, Biotinidase Disease, is different. While the main reason for its existence is also the lack of an enzyme – Biotinidase, the issue is not that the baby cannot metabolize biotin, but that the baby cannot metabolize foods that will supply biotin to the body. The body needs biotin to in turn metabolize lipids and other fats. The lack of biotin can produce developmental issues (even death in rare cases). So, if the point of this disease is not the inability to metabolize foods to more basic and healthy components, what is the treatment? The body needs biotin, and when it cannot produce it, you need to supply it yourself. The treatment is an intake of a daily dose of biotin (typically shots). It should be enough biotin so that the body can function normally as if it had no lack. This daily dose will help the patient live a pretty healthy life. To equip means to supply. By supplying biotin, the patient is fit to digest food properly. And, in so doing, the patients can live healthy lives.
So, imagine someone with Biotinidase disease that will not take the biotin shots. They will develop symptoms. They will try alleviating or ridding themselves of the symptoms. In the beginning, some relief may be found, but in the long run, it will be no avail. The symptoms will fully develop. Now, imagine a Biotinidase disease patient that believes that his or her problem is another disease, such as Galactosemia. He or she avoids foods with lactose, but the body still needs biotin. Others may believe they have PKU, so they avoid anything with phenylalanine, but the body still needs biotin. Maybe they were misdiagnosed, were not diagnosed at all, or were told a lie about it. They will still suffer from Biotinidase disease. They lack biotin. The disease will progress, and the symptoms develop unless the biotin is supplied to the body.
In principle, our Sin problem is similar to Biotinidase disease. We all have it. Paul says in Romans,
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.
We do not have ways of producing inside of us what we need to rid ourselves of Sin. So, the cure must be supplied. We need a daily dose of God's grace. This is what Christ has done. We read in Romans,
Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
So, only Jesus can supply it. And He has provided grace to every man, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Ephesians 4:7). (A measure of faith is also given to every man – Romans 12:3). And, it is by faith that we accept it (Romans 5:2). You can try to ignore the problem or even misdiagnose it; you are still a sinner in need of grace.
Remember, we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). So, what is grace? The dictionary defines it as a. the free and unmerited favor of God shown towards man, and b. The divine assistance and power given to man in spiritual rebirth and sanctification. Strong's Concordance defines it as the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. Both definitions agree that beyond just unmerited favor, or undeserved mercy – which implies that it is a gift - grace is a power or influence from God given to man to transform man into His likeness. Paul elaborates on this concept in Ephesians 2: 1 – 5 and 8,
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
It is grace that provides the right "spiritual nutrients" to rid us of Sin and fill us with the Love of God. Ellen White says,
"We are naturally inclined to desire our own way and will, but when the transforming grace of Christ takes hold upon our hearts the inquiry of our souls is, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" When the Spirit of God works within us, we are led to will and to do of the Lord's good pleasure, and there is obedience in heart and action...." (That I May Know Him, p. 150).
The question is: will we by faith accept the grace of God?
Friday, August 10, 2018
A Lesson Learned From A Foreigner
In Matthew 15:21 - 28 a story is told of a Syro-Phoenician woman who pleads to Jesus for a miracle. The story reads as follows,
Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me.
Matthew 15:26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
Matthew 15:27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.
Matthew 15:28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
When we look at this account closely, this is what we see. Jesus initial silent treatment to this Canaanite woman was intentional. It was not to mistreat the woman, but, to teach the disciples and us a few lessons. It seemed the Disciples response was one of disdain. It was pretty much like, "get rid of her." After the disciples speak out to Christ, Jesus speaks to the woman. His answer to the woman can seem very rude. However, it was in line with His intention of teaching the lesson to His disciples. What things did this event show us all?
1. Jesus' love crossed gender lines. The disciples needed to learn that God did not see females as inferior to males. God created them and in Jesus God was redeeming them also. He listened to the woman and answered her prayer.
Galatians 3:28 There 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.
2. Jesus' love crossed ethnic/racial/national lines. Again, the disciples needed to learn that God does not favor one group over the other. If the disciples were to go out into the world with the gospel, they had to leave their bigotry, nationalism, prejudices and discriminative attitudes behind. Only Jesus can do this. Tolerating is not enough, you must agape others.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Colossians 3:10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:
Colossians 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
3. Faith can be found in anyone who believes regardless of their background.
Romans 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
4. God will test your Faith. It will seem to you that He is ignoring you. He will seem to pay no heed to your petition. However, those who have faith will keep asking, until God replies. That is what Paul did about his infirmity.
2 Corinthians 12:8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
5. The Canaanite woman admitted to submitting herself to Christ as a puppy to its master. Dogs have two distinct qualities about them that most owners like. They are loyal to and dependent on their master. Are we loyal to God and dependent on Him? Puppies follow their master everywhere, as sheep follow their shepherd.
John 10:3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
John 10:4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
This passage perhaps gives us the perfect image of discipleship. A disciple is as a puppy sitting at his Master's feet and feeding off the crumbs that fall from the Master's table.