Saturday, December 29, 2012

When all things become new

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

This week's Script:

When all things become new

 Memory Text: “ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ ” (Revelation 21:4, NKJV).

The lesson focuses on the events from the second advent forward.  The lesson’s main objective seems to be to distance Adventists from the beliefs of other Christian denominations.  As the lesson states on Friday, other denomination have a preterist (in the past; between the first and second advent of Christ) or futurist (in the future – before the second advent) understanding of the Millennium, ours is historist; that the millennium happens after Christ’s second Advent.  The language used by our lesson is a little disturbing: The millennium happens in heaven as oppose to earth.  Yet, in my experience, Adventists teach the millennium based on what happens here on earth and heavern: the Devil held captive on this planet, and the judgment in Heaven.  So, truthfully, the millennium happens both on heaven and earth. 

Now, as Adventists we believe that at least the part of what happens to the Devil is represented in the Day of Atonement activities.  Ellen White says,

In the typical service the high priest, having made the atonement for Israel, came forth and blessed the congregation. So Christ, at the close of His work as mediator, will appear, "without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28), to bless His waiting people with eternal life. As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so Christ will place all these sins upon Satan, the originator and instigator of sin. The scapegoat, bearing the sins of Israel, was sent away "unto a land not inhabited" (Leviticus 16:22); so Satan, bearing the guilt of all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit, will be for a thousand years confined to the earth, which will then be desolate, without inhabitant, and he will at last suffer the full penalty of sin in the fires that shall destroy all the wicked. Thus the great plan of redemption will reach its accomplishment in the final eradication of sin and the deliverance of all who have been willing to renounce evil.  {GC 485 - 486} 

This is pretty straight forward.  Why is more judgment needed? 

“During the millennium the saints participate in a deliberative judgment that reviews the cases of the lost of this earth and the fallen angels. This judgment is evidently necessary in view of the cosmic nature of the sin problem. The course of the rebellion of sin has been the object of concern and interest on the part of other worlds (Job 1;2;Eph. 3:10). The whole interlude of sin must be handled in such a way that hearts and minds throughout God’s universe are satisfied with its treatment and conclusion, with particular reference to God’s character. It is especially important for the redeemed from earth to understand God’s dealings with those who called for the rocks to fall on them and deliver them from the ‘face of him who is seated on the throne’ (Rev. 6:16). They must be totally satisfied that God was just in His decision regarding the lost.”—Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (HagerstownMd.: Review and Herald® Pub. Assn., 2000), p. 932.

Among the group that will be burning, are many who the redeemed held in high esteem.  The opening up of the books to the redeemed and there study of these books help them grieve and heal from the eternal loss of those they loved and admired.  This helps them see that what will happen after the Millennium – the burning of the wicked - is a strange act of Love. 

In the book of Early Writings pages 292 and 293 there is a full narrative of the events that will happen between the end of the Millennium and the final destruction of the wicked.  It is too long for this space.  But it is worth reading.  Suffice it to say that what is revealed during this time is that the wicked’s heart has not changed.  Even when they admit that Christ is the Lamb worthy of praise, they still want to kill Christ and the redeemed.  This is the final proof that their destruction is necessary.  There hearts have not changed. 

The fire that destroys the wicked and the earth purifies the earth. Sin and its consequences are forever banished.  As the John the Revelator says,

Rev 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Rev 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them,and be their God.
Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

They are beautiful indeed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Last Things: Christ and the Saints

Extenuating circumstances prevented a regular audio overview.  But, I wanted to drop a few thoughts.  

The Reason for Foretelling Prophecy

Typically we interpret prophecies very literally: this is what will happen when.  This is important.  When we give a wrong date as fulfillment we can end up with horrible heresies.  And, they give us a sign of the times we live in; like a road sign on our way somewhere.  The signs let you know, among other things, what direction you are going, what towns or cities you are approaching, any landmarks and/or facilities you should be aware of, even what speed you should go.

But, prophecies are more than road signs.  Prophecies are an assurance from the prophecy giver that He is leading and guiding.  He knows the road.  And, we are not travelling on our own.  God is not just on the side lines cheering us on.  God is not just on the end line waiting with a towel and bottled water so we can refresh when we are done.  God is running with us.  In prophecy God tells us that things will be bad before they get good.  But, we are not alone.  If we allow God, He will take us through the hardship victoriously. 

He has promised us that He be with us.  And, below there are a few verses to remind us,

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Several times in the book of John Christ spoke of not leaving us alone because He would send us a Comforter (the word in Greek – parakletos – means walking companion):

Joh 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

Joh 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:

Joh 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

Joh 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

Speaking of comfort: He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear,

1Co 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Lastly, Christ told us not to worry about what to say in times of hardship,

Mat 10:19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
Mat 10:20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.

Luk 12:11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
Luk 12:12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Luk 21:14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer:
Luk 21:15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.

All this said, God still needs our permission to accomplish this in us.  Those that give God permission are His saints. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Christian Life

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

The Christian Life

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16, NKJV).

The title of this week’s lesson is The Christian life.  The picture on Sabbath’s entry is portraying what seems to be the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Is there a relationship between these two?  Studying this parable, albeit briefly, may give us answer.  If we recall Jesus was answering a question about, “who is my neighbor?”  A man is lying on the ground by the side of a road beaten badly.  A Priest on his way to serve in the temple crosses the street, away from this man, and continues on His way.  After this a Levite also passes by and does the same as the Priest.  Remember, working in the Temple was considered God’s work.  And, caring for the beaten man would have made them not only late but ceremoniously unclean, therefore unfit for serving.  A Samaritan – considered a sinner of the worst kind - who passed by, stopped to help the man, took him to a safe place cared for him, and made sure the man was cared for after the Samaritan left.  We do not know how much of a sacrifice this effort was for the Samaritan.  So, Christ asked the question, “who was a true neighbor,” in other words, “who truly did God’s work:  Those who worked in the temple or the one who stopped to help?”  Pharisees and Priests answered, “He who helped the needy.”  They would not say, “The Samaritan.”  The Priest and the Levite did the temple’s work, but not God’s work. 

Our lesson calls this social responsibility.  The point they try to make is that it is not enough to know and believe the right doctrine; you must also help others in need.  What this implies is that somehow there is a conscious choice to help others.  To make their point they used Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goat in Matthew 25.  This parable, however, seems to contradict what they are saying.  Let us take a close look.  We start reading on verse 34,

Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

The sheep seem not to know what Jesus is talking about.  They reply,

Mat 25:37 …Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  To which the Lord replied,
Mat 25:40 …, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

So, several things come out of this narrative.  1. There is no mention in the story of whether the sheep knew or did not know correct and enough doctrine.  2. What the sheep did was not a result of a conscious choice.  If that were the case they would have remembered.  3. Jesus is pleased with them.  4. The fact that doing unto others is as doing unto Jesus.  The sheep were sensitive, albeit unknowingly, about how Jesus felt, and they proceeded to relieve some of His pain and suffering. 

As we move on in the story, the goat’s reward was the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  They did not know about helping others is helping Jesus.  It seems as if they were expecting something different.  Many tie in this group with the group in Matthew 7, Let us read the passage,

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The fact that Jesus says on both references, “Depart from me…” seems to make them, if not the same, in the same condition.  Notice, that the account in Matthew 7 Jesus call them, “ye workers of iniquity,” and on Matthew 25 he calls them “ye cursed.”  Are not the workers of iniquity cursed of God?  Remember, these were church going people, who performed miracles and prophesied in Jesus name.  Jesus was not pleased with them.

With who, then, is Jesus pleased?  He is pleased with those who have faith (Hebrew 11:6).  We know that faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10: 17).  They heard the word and believed it and it was counted to them as righteousness (Romans 4: 3; Galatians 3: 6; James 2: 23); this means they were righteous.  Righteous is another word for just.  Just are the doers of the law (Romans 2: 13).  The law is summarized into to commandments: love God above all else, and your neighbor above yourself (Matthew 22: 40).  No surprise then that love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13: 8, 10; Galatians 5: 14).  But, love is also manifested in laying down your life (1 John 3: 16).  This is not just dying, it is living for Jesus and others (2 Corinthians 5: 14 - 16).  What the sheep did was an outgrowth of love. 

What the goat did was sin.  Yes, they may have tithed and go to church faithfully, participate in church programs, sing praises, preach and teach, give Bible studies, etc.  But the fact that Christ was not pleased with them, shows that all they did was out of faith, for anything outside of faith is Sin (Romans 14:23).  And, sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3: 4).  Which means that there was no faith in what they did, they did not lay down there lives for others, they lived for themselves, in the guise of living for Christ.  (So, for those who tithe not in faith, they are sinning.)

This then gives a different understanding to stewardship and marriage.  The steward does not live for himself, but for his Master.  He takes care of whatever the Master has given the steward to care for.  So, having “dominion” over something means you are its caretaker.  In marriage you learn to live for the other person.  It teaches us to become one, as Christ and the Father are one, and Jesus and we are one.  The reason for so many divorces is truly a lack of Godly, unconditional, self denying, other centered love.  A love we do not have naturally.  But we can acquire from God, if only we accept it.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Law and the Gospel

Due to extenuating circumstances there will be no audio version this week:

Here is the script, however:

The Law and the Gospel

 Memory Text: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3, 4, NKJV).

This verse presents a dilemma because depending on how you read it the emphasis could be on knowing Christ- (which would make keeping the law a fruit of knowing Him) or on keeping the law (which would make knowing Him a fruit of keeping the law).  Which one is it? 

We could try looking at the verse closer and see where it leads us.  Let us start within the expression, “that we know Him.”  In John 17:3, Christ stated that knowing Him (and His Father) is eternal life.  In John 6, Christ says that eating His flesh and drinking His blood gives life.  When we eat and drink we assimilate the food and drink; it becomes part of us.  So, although we do not think about it in this manner, there is an intimate relation between food and us.  What we eat and how we eat will eventually be revealed.  This is akin to knowing someone, the more time you spend with them the more the two assimilate each other.  In time it will be evident that the two spend a lot of time together.  To those around Peter it became evident that Peter was with Jesus; Peter now spoke like a Galilean (Matthew 26:73).  Peter in many ways acted like Jesus.  So, Peter’s speech was evidence that he was with Jesus.  Peter did not go around speaking like Jesus to prove that he was one of them.  It just came out.  When the disciples preached many said that it was evident that they had been with Jesus.  There was a transformation. 

The next expression is “Keeping the commandments.”  Who are these that keep them? Paul identifies the just as those who keep the commandments (Romans 2: 13).  The words just and righteous are the same word in Greek.  Abraham was just.  How was Abraham just?  He believed God’s words and it was counted to Him for righteousness (Romans 4:3).  Now, if Abraham’s faith made him just, and the just keep the commandments, it follows that only those who hear God’s words and believe them (since faith comes through Hearing and hearing through the word) keep the commandments (Romans 10:17).  The best way to know someone is to hear what they say and seek to understand them. 

What are the commandments?  We could argue that they are the Ten Commandments.  We typically also call it the Law.  The Ten Commandments speak of things we would do for others, not ourselves.  Not one of the commandments says anything about how you are to treat yourself, but how you are to treat God and others.  Christ stated in Matthew 22: 37 - 40,

Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Mat 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Mat 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

This is a summary of the commandments.  It says in essence, put God and others first.  This is what Jesus did, he put His Father and others first.  So much that He went to die on the cross so others may live.  That is why the Father sent Him (Romans 5:8).  So, John puts it this way,

1Jo 3:16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

In the Gospel according to John 15: 10 – 17, Jesus is quoted saying that this is the commandment He gives to us,

Joh 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love…
Joh 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Joh 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Joh 15:17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.

And we see in this passage how laying down your life is related to abiding in Christ’s love.  So, is love related to the commandments?  Paul gives the answer,

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

How do we relate faith to all of these?  Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).  Anything outside of faith is Sin (Romans 14:23).   So, anything outside of faith transgresses the Law.  We have concluded that the law in essence says to love God and others above yourself,  So, not loving God and others above yourself or loving yourself above others – is transgressing the law, and it is not of faith, therefore it is a Sin.  So, if love fulfills the law and does not transgress it, love is not Sin therefore love is of faith.  This means that since loving God and others above yourself is laying down your life, then it follows that only those who lay down their life for others, as Christ laid His life down for us, are just or righteous; they keep the law.  So, how do we know you know Christ?  Because you willingly lay down your life for others as He laid His down for you. 

So, the question remains, why was the law given?    Romans says it was given to make sin, sinful; so that Sin may abound (Romans 5: 20).   Galatians says that it was given because of transgression (Galatians 3:19).  What transgression is it referring to?  Based on this verse in Galatians and what Paul says in Hebrews, the transgression was the unbelief of the Israelites in the wilderness (Hebrews 3).  What Paul is really saying is that the law was written on tablets because the Israelites refused to let God write the law in their hearts.  So, the written tablets would be a reminder of what of what is righteousness and in contrast to the Israelites what is Sin.  Paul says in 1 Tim 1: 8,

1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
1Ti 1:11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

So, for who is the written law, moral law, 10 Commandments? It is for the wicked, the sinner, the trespasser.  Why?  For who is the MRI? Is it not for those who are sick? Why? It is to diagnose; for what purpose? To condemn so we can punish? No.  It is to convict so the person will go to the doctor for healing.

The commandments were given to expose sin and lead us to a Savior, to convince us of how terrible our condition is, and how we can do nothing to fix it ourselves, so we will stop trying and surrender to the One who has the remedy!  They were given to make Sin unattractive and grace attractive.  Had man been obedient there would have been no need for the law to be given.  Ellen White says,

If man had kept the law of God, as given to Adam after his fall, preserved by Noah, and observed by Abraham, there would have been no necessity for the ordinance of circumcision. And if the descendants of Abraham had kept the covenant, of which circumcision was a sign, they
would never have been seduced into idolatry, nor would it have been necessary for them to suffer a life of bondage in Egypt; they would have kept God's law in mind, and there would have been no necessity for it to be proclaimed from Sinai or engraved upon the tables of stone. And had the people practiced the principles of the Ten Commandments, there would have been no need of
the additional directions given to Moses. {PP 364.2}

Thus, the Gospel can be defined as the good news that through Jesus the law can be written in our heart and mind if only we allow the indwelling Spirit of God to do it.  This is God’s desire.  Nothing will please Him more.  Will we allow Him?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Church: Rites and Rituals

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

The Church: Rites and Rituals

Memory Text: “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38, NKJV).

The lesson brings up three key words: rites, sacraments, and ordinances.  Historically they have been used interchangeably.  But they have different meanings.  We will not discuss that here.  Suffice it to say that neither rite nor sacrament appear in the King James Version.  The word ordinance appears twice in the NT, but never associated with baptism, foot washing or communion.  Ellen White uses ordinance for them.
These practices had no merit within themselves.  Lesson Sunday 1

However much importance we place on the “ordinances,” we must always remember that these are not conduits of grace or acts by which we earn salvation or gain merit before God. Sin, and what it has done to us, is way too serious a matter for rituals, even those instituted by Christ Himself, to be able to redeem us. Only the death of Jesus on the cross was sufficient to accomplish the salvation of beings as deeply fallen as we are. As we understand them, the ordinances are outward symbols of our acknowledgment of what Christ has done for us and of our union with Him (and all that this union entails), and they serve their purpose well. They are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves.

baptism (Friday 1)

“Baptism is a most sacred and important ordinance, and there should be a thorough understanding as to its meaning. It means repentance for sin, and the entrance upon a new life in Christ Jesus. There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance. Let both parents and children count the cost.”-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 93.
Baptism is death unto Christ.  Recognition of your death in Christ. You died with Him.  It implies that whatever life you have you lived before was not right.  Your life is not your it is His.  It is out of gratitude.  All I left behind is dung.

Our lesson says

The New Testament uses several images to describe what baptism means. First, baptism symbolizes a spiritual union with Christ (Rom. 6:3-8), involving participation in His suffering, death, and resurrection, as well as the renunciation of one’s former lifestyle. In this way, baptism is linked with repentance and the forgiveness of sin (Acts 2:38); the new birth and reception of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13); and, consequently, entrance into the church (Acts 2:41, 47).

Foot wash
Both Peter and Judas participate. This means that Although each may participate it does not mean that each is repented and clean; it is a matter of choice. 

We call it the ordinance of humility.  But, it is Not only humbling for washing someone else’s feet.  Consider Peter interaction with Jesus in John 13.  Jesus says unless I wash your feet you have not part with me (John 13: 8).  So, it is called the ordnance of humility not only because you act as a servant in washing someone else’s feet, but also because it is a recognition that only Christ can truly cleanse us.

Lord’s supper

The Lord’s Supper replaces the Passover festival. So there is a lot of parallels. The Passover met its fulfillment when Christ, the Paschal Lamb, gave His life. Before His death, Christ Himself instituted the replacement, the great festival of the New Testament church under the new covenant. Just as the Passover festival commemorated Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt.   (Passover is symbolic of coming out of Sin, Egypt is Sin).  Putting in a converted mind in an old nature body (new wine in old bag).  The Lord’s Supper also commemorates the deliverance from Sin.  The blood, grape juice, and the water represent Jesus blood.  Bread represents His body.  Not only broken for us but that we take it in. 

The Passover lamb’s blood applied to the lintel and doorposts protected the inhabitants from death; the nourishment that its flesh provided gave them the strength to escape from Egypt (Exod. 12:3-8). So, Christ's sacrifice brings liberation from death; believers are saved through the partaking of both His body and blood (John 6:54) - John 6:54

New International Version (NIV)
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.

Those who partake Jesus’ blood and flesh bring eternal life.  What is sternal life?  In John 17: 3 it says that it is knowing Christ and the Father.  Knowing Christ and the Father is eating the flesh and drinking the blood.  It is through the Word that we know Jesus and the Father the best, and the hearing of the Word yields faith (faith come though hearing and hearing through the Word.)

Going back to John 6.  There we find that many were offended at Jesus’ words in verse 54 and stopped following Him.  Eating flesh and drinking blood was offensive to many so they stop following.  Ellen White says they fought conviction.  Conviction that what they desired is not what Christ was working toward.  They wanted national prominence.  They knew Christ was going away from that.  Remember, He had no place to lay His head. 

Ellen White says of the Passover,

“The Passover pointed backward to the deliverance of the children of Israel, and was also typical, pointing forward to Christ, the Lamb of God, slain for the redemption of fallen man. The blood sprinkled upon the door-posts prefigured the atoning blood of Christ, and also the continual dependence of sinful man upon the merits of that blood for safety from the power of Satan, and for final redemption.”-Ellen G. White, The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 201. 

So, communion also prefigures our continual dependence upon the merits of the blood of Christ.  Also, in communion we look to remember the cross and look forward to the time of His return.

1 Corinthians 11:26
New International Version (NIV)
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

With these words we see how closely entwined the Second Coming and the Communion service are. That makes so much sense, too, because the Second Coming is, really, the culmination of what happened at the cross. One could argue that the biggest reason for the First Coming-which included His body being broken and His blood shed for us-was the Second Coming. The First Coming is what paved the way for the Second.

Each time we partake of communion, we dwell on the Cross and what it accomplished for us. Yet, what it accomplished for us cannot be separated from the Second Coming. In fact, what Jesus did on the cross for us doesn’t reach its ultimate culmination until the Second Coming.

Matthew 26:29
New International Version (NIV)
29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”

He is waiting to drink from the fruit of the vine with us.  Will we not haste the day when this happens. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Arming for Victory

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

“Arming” for Victory Memory text: Ephesians 6:13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. By now we have heard a lot about the armor but very little about the victory. What is victory in Biblical terms? Victory is the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist. Who is our enemy? Some may say the Devil, and they are right. Some may say death, and they are right also. However, when Christ spoke about overcoming He mentioned the world. Jesus told His disciples, John 16: 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. What is about the world or what does it represent that needs to be overcome? In a few verses above this chapter Christ gives us a hint, John 16: 7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. John 16: 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: John 16: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; Christ said to the disciples that when the Holy Spirit comes He will reprove the world of Sin, among other things. Why Sin? Because, the world – those who live in it – do not believe in Him. Why does the world do not believe in Christ? When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus He said that the condemnation of the world was “that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). So, the world is condemned because they have chosen not to believe in the “Light of the world.” This was the problem of Israel while in the wilderness. Paul says in Hebrews that they did not enter the rest – of Christ – because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:19; 4:6). It was still a problem among Jews in Jesus’ day (Matthew 13:58; Mark 6:6). So, as we see the word chosen for their condition is unbelief. Unbelief is used for two Greek terms: one of them meaning no faith, and the other one apathy. But apathy is a compound word: a + pathy . Pathy comes from pathos. Pathos comes from peithos, of which the root word is pistis or faith. Paul uses apathy to refer to the Israelites in the wilderness. Now Paul refer to the apathy – lack of feeling or concern because of not believing – of the Israelites to warn the people of his day that they too could fall in the same trap (Hebrews 4:11). This is an ongoing battle going on in our hearts and minds. Ellen White also warns us about it. Ellen White says, “In every soul two powers are struggling earnestly for the victory. Unbelief marshals its forces, led by Satan, to cut us off from the Source of our strength. Faith marshals its forces, led by Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Hour by hour, in the sight of the heavenly universe, the conflict goes forward. This is a hand-to-hand fight, and the great question is, Which shall obtain the mastery? This question each must decide for himself. In this warfare all must take a part, fighting on one side or the other. From the conflict there is no release. . . . We are urged to prepare for this conflict. ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ The warning is repeated, ‘Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.’” -Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 328. So, the implication is that those who put on the armor will overcome the wiles of the devil, of which one of the greatest weapons is unbelief. So, to put on the armor then is to be born of God, because they are the ones who overcome the world. And, they do so by faith – by hearing and believing the word of God. The Apostle John says, 1 John 5: 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 1 John 5: 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? So, there is no need for unbelief to be part of our lives. Christ has given us His victory.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Victory Over Evil Forces

Due to extenuating there will be no audio version of the review this week.  For those interested here is the script:

Victory Over Evil Forces

Romans 8:37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

We read the verse for this week’s lesson and we have to ask ourselves several questions.  One of them is what does Paul means by “in all these things?”  To answer this question we have to go to the context of the passage.  Romans 8 is telling us that because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross Sin no longer has to defeat us.  We are not reading the whole of chapter 8, for lack of space and time. Yes, we will suffer and we will be afflicted.  None of that means that God does not love us.  All is been given for us to succeed as Christians.  We just have to receive it.  Paul seems to be telling us that we have no need to fear or doubt.  God loves us and He is in control.  We just have to trust Him. 

Why would Paul emphasize this? Because, in chapter 7 Paul spoke about how Sin worked internally.  When we are living by faith, Sin is still within us, striving for the mastery and control.  And, this battle continues and intensifies for as long as we live and grow in faith.  It will not stop until we die, or are translated.  So, Paul is saying that Sin attacks us from within and without, and that our greatest struggle is inside; sin after all is iniquity – a bent toward self. Paul is saying that in spite of all that we should never doubt that God loves us.  This is perhaps better said in Romans 8: 35 – 39,

Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, The Word Victory, from the title, means the overcoming of an enemy or antagonist.  So, the one that defeats or overcomes an enemy or opponent is called a victor.  This word victor comes from the Latin word vincere which means to win or to conquer – the word used in verse 37.  What do we conquer? Sin’s mastery over us.  We are no longer captive or enslaved by Sin, whether external or internal, through Christ who loved us.  Here our Victory is tied to God’s love for us.  So, just as His love is certain and constant, so is our victory in Christ. 

Let us read a couple of quoted of Ellen White in this subject,

“Jesus gained the victory through submission and faith in God, and by the apostle He says to us, ‘Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.’ James 4:7, 8. We cannot save ourselves from the tempter’s power; he has conquered humanity, and when we try to stand in our own strength, we shall become a prey to his devices; but ‘the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.’ Prov. 18:10. Satan trembles and flees before the weakest soul who finds refuge in that mighty name.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 130, 131.
“The omnipotent power of the Holy Spirit is the defense of every contrite soul. Not one that in penitence and faith has claimed His pro­tection will Christ permit to pass under the enemy’s power. The Saviour is by the side of His tempted and tried ones. With Him there can be no such thing as failure, loss, impossibility, or defeat; we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. When temptations and trials come, do not wait to adjust all the difficulties, but look to Jesus, your helper. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 490, 493.

Now, what about victory over demons?  You will notice that Ellen White does not talk about victory in terms of casting out demons.  Not all victors in the faith will be called to do that.  The fact that we do not follow their prompting is victory in itself.  Casting out demons is powerful and given by God.  However Christ tells the disciples, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Ellen White elaborates on those whose names are written in heaven,

From age to age, all who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon written against their names in the books of Heaven, and in the closing work of Judgment their sins are blotted out, and they themselves are accounted worthy of eternal life.  {Volume 4, Spirit of Prophecy 309}

Included in this list are those mentioned in Hebrews 11 (This list is called “the hall of fame of the faithful.”)  Not one of the names of people mentioned there made the list because demons were subject to them.  They were there because they believed the promise of God, and it was counted to them as righteousness.  Their victory came from believing that God loved them.  And, they died believing the promise that had not been fulfilled.  They died with the hope that one day God would fulfill this promise and they would be there to enjoy it.  They died with the joy and certainty that their names were written in Heaven.  They died with the certainty of God’s love for them.  Do we have this certainty of God’s love for us?  Do we have the victory that is ours in Christ?  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Growing in Christ

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

 Click here for Stream or Download 

 Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:
Growing in Christ Memory Text: Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (Colossians 2:15, NKJV). While the title of the lesson is growing in Christ’ the lesson itself seems to deal more with an overarching theme that answers the question what did Christ accomplished at the Cross or with His death. In Thursday Colossians 2: 15 is quoted, “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” Our lesson states, Christ “spoiled” (KJV) or “disarmed” (NASB, NKJV) the “powers.” The Greek word is apekduomai, which literally means “to strip off one’s clothes.” Here it may mean that the powers were stripped of their weapons. What weapons? “Christ’s life of victory, culminating in Calvary, spelled the doom of the devil. Satan’s disguise was torn away. His methods of operation were laid open before the angels and the entire heavenly universe. He had exposed his true colors. . . . By His cross Jesus Christ stripped from the principalities and powers of darkness both their robe of office and authority as princes of this world, and their armor of strength in their warfare against right.”—The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 205. Ellen White says in Desire of Ages, “Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christ’s brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 761. So, Christ exposed the Devil as a murderer and liar (john 8: 44). Christ has also exposed the devil as the one behind all the persecution and killing of believers. God says through John the revelator, Revelation 2:10 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, … Also, in Revelation 20: 10 God reveals that those in the lake of fire were deceived by the devil (or allowed themselves to be deceived by him). And, In John 8: 44 God reveals that those that murder and lie are sons of the devil. And, Paul us tells who is the one we really battle. Not men. We read in Ephesians 6: 12, Ephesians 6: 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. The Cross also revealed Sin as a power that enslaves, and keeps us in bondage. John 8: 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. Galatians 4: 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. Paul also talks about sin as a dominating power. We read in Romans, Romans 6: 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, 17 … you were slaves of sin, 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. In verse 23 Paul identifies Sin as the cause of Death: For the wages of sin is death, we could say that this is all bad. But, God did not have Christ die to just show the bad side. Christ came to fix things. We read in the following verses, 1 John 3: 8 … For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Galatians 4:4-5 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Titus 2: 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. In Christ we have eternal life (Romans 6: 23). Verse 6 tells us, 6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. In Romans 5, Paul writes that, Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. It is Christ ‘s death that reconciles us to God. And, in this fact we should rejoice.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Due to extenuating circumstances there will be no audio this week.  However, here is the script, for your convenience.

   Salvation: The Only Solution

 ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’ ” (John 3:16, NKJV).

The Title of our lesson implies that there is a problem that requires a solution.  As we know that problem is Sin.  Now, if the solution is Salvation, then that means that we are enslaved, kidnapped, dying, and/or lost.  Something established in our previous lesson.

Our memory verse is at the heart of a discourse that Jesus spoke to one Nicodemus, who came to Jesus to inquire more about Jesus’ teachings.  This is the passage were Jesus starts speaking about being born again, what it means and how it is possible.  Jesus tells Nicodemus that yes there is a problem, and to solve it men must radically change.  Here is another problem: man cannot do it by himself.  So, God sent His Son, Jesus to do it.  This is what our verse indicates.  But, let’s read the verse in context.  Christ in this passage reveals the dynamics of Salvation.  We will start as John 3: 14,

Joh 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
Joh 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Elsewhere Jesus said that Scriptures give testimony of Him.  So, that at some event described in the Old Testament give us an insight into the character and way in which God works, in fact into the life of Christ.  The children of Israel are being attacked and killed by serpents.  Moses implores for mercy.  God tells Moses to build a brazen artifact: a serpent on a pole.  It will be that when men are bitten, if they look art the serpent they will live.  Some say this is do and live.  But when we ask, how did they know to look.  We realize that they must have heard and believed.  This is what Jesus is referring to in verses 14 and 15.  With this illustration Jesus was referring to His crucifixion.  We know this because in another occasion Jesus spoke of being lifted up and it clarified that it referred to how Jesus would die. 

Christ saved the world, which means all men are saved in Christ.  It is final.  But, not all men believe it.  God in Christ has given to men the solution – the cure – but many men reject it.  This is what Paul says in Romans 5 and Ephesians.  Let us read a few key verses,

Romans 5:6-10
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

Romans 5:16
16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.

Romans 5:18
8 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Ephesians 1:7
7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace

Ephesians 2:4-5
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Ephesians 2:8
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

Our salvation is in, through and with Christ.  Salvation is gift to man.  It is complete and sufficient.  And, whosoever continually believes with heartfelt appreciation and a contrite humbled heart shall not die eternally but have eternal life.  This is what Abraham believed, and it was counted to Him for righteousness.  Will you believe?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Man: God's Handiwork

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

Man: God’s Handiwork
Memory Text: “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3).
Our lesson seems to be making three main points; 1.  God made man in His image; 2. God made man with a purpose; 3.  There is a connection between the image and the purpose. 
Let’s study point number 1.  We know that God made man in His image because that is what Genesis 1: 27 says,
Genesis 1:27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
But, what does that mean? Ellen White sheds light on that.  She says that, ““In the beginning, man was created in the image of God. He was in perfect harmony with the nature and the law of God; the principles of righteousness were written upon his heart” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 467).  Righteousness is the condition of being righteous.   The righteous are just.  The just are doers of the law.  The Law is a transcript of love; love is the fulfilling of the law.  This means Adam’s heart was full of agape.  He loved God above all things and even Eve more than Himself. 
Point number #2, God made man with a purpose.  We read in verse 26,
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.
Adam was to be a steward.  He would look after the rest of creation.  And, he would treat the lesser creatures, and the rest of nature, with respect and care.  Kind of what God had for Adam.  Perhaps, Adam was to represent God to the world. 
Point number #3, there is a connection between the image and the purpose.  Our lesson states,
God creates man in His image and then commands him to do something. Being created in God’s image appears to be necessary for a certain function; in this case, to have “dominion” over the rest of what God had created. Therefore, “the image of God” points to physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual endowments needed in order for humanity to fulfill God’s purpose for it.
As long as God’s image remained in man, man could be the “ruler” of this planet.  Adam’s actions would reflect whose image He bore.   The moment God’s image in man was defiled; man could no longer have dominion over anything in this planet.    He lacked the self-denying and other-centered love to do so.  Man was now self-asserting and self-centered.   Ellen White says that, “But sin alienated him from his Maker. He no longer reflected the divine image. His heart was at war with the principles of God’s law. ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ Romans 8:7. (GC 467).  Ellen White also says in PP 595, But the Fall and its effects have perverted these gifts. Sin has marred and well-nigh obliterated the image of God in man.
 So, Christ comes to restore God’s image in man. 
Our lesson states,
The Bible clearly holds up the hope for us to be remade in God’s image. The renewal of the image of God in humanity is accompanied by a reduction of the effects that sin has had on us and our relationships. None of this, however, is the result of man’s own achievement. The Bible points to Christ as being the basis of hope for man’s renewal; … whatever changes are wrought in our lives, our hope of salvation …  rest(s) always on what Christ has accomplished for us and the … salvation based on His righteousness, not our own.  Ellen White says that, “It was to restore this that the plan of salvation was devised, and a life of probation was granted to man.”- Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 595.  She says in the Great Controversy page 467,
‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son,’ that man might be reconciled to God. Through the merits of Christ he can be restored to harmony with his Maker. His heart must be renewed by divine grace; he must have a new life from above. This change is the new birth, without which, says Jesus, ‘he cannot see the kingdom of God.’”-Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 467.
By Christ’s redemption of the lost race also comes the restoration of the image of God in man – also known as Sanctification.  It is the process in which we become more like Christ, whose image we bear.  Just as a coin bears the image of Caesar, therefore we know it is Caesar’s, we will bear the image of God, and all will know that we belong to Him.
Ps.  The image we have of God determines whether we will allow Him to restore His image in us.  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Great Controversy: The Foundation

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

 Below is the Audio Script:

The Great Controversy: The Foundation
Memory Text: “ ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel’ ” (Gen. 3:15, NKJV).
What does the expression (proverb) “necessity is the mother of invention” mean?  When people really need to do something, they will figure out a way to do it.  The following sentence is example of this proverb:  “When the fan belt on Linda's car broke in the middle of the desert, Linda used her stockings as a replacement. Necessity is the mother of invention.”  Here, mother means driving force, reason or motivator. 

The lesson tries to make an analogy by stating that a driving force, reason or motivator is a foundation.  A foundation is the lowest load-bearing part of a building, typically below ground level; or a body or ground on which other parts rest or are overlaid.  This analogy does not work because clearly what motivates you to do something is not bearing anything.  So, the analogy to use the illustration of clean air as a motivator to find better fuel sources, where clean air is the foundation does not work. 

Now, when we are talking about belief system we also need to define what we are talking about.  It is possible that a belief system was created out of need.  For example, Buddhism was created out of a need of one man to explain aggression and violence.  The lesson seems to hint that Seventh day Adventists have a belief system, and that this belief system is explained in the 28 fundamental beliefs.  So, we should ask ourselves what motivated the Adventist belief system and what its foundation is.  Also, what need was there to create or what motivated the creation of this creed or doctrine we call the 28 fundamental beliefs; and what its foundation is.  We may not be able to answer those questions now.  But, I wonder what ever happened to “The Bible is our creed.”  While many may try to discount the 28 Fundamental beliefs as a creed, that is exactly what it is.  Because, all the points have been officially accepted the Corporate Body.  These 28 Fundamental Beliefs held by Adventists are a statement of our faith declaring and informing who we are and what we believe as a people.  But, to whom?  Virtually no non-adventists are going to buy this book.  So, the book of these Fundamental Beliefs was published so that members know what the organization officially believes. 
The lesson says that the foundation of the 28 fundamental beliefs is the great controversy between Christ and Satan.  So, most of the week’s study is spent explaining the great controversy.  If the great controversy is “foundational” to our beliefs, what is the issue of conflict between Christ and Satan? It is agape versus self-love.
The Bible focuses the dynamic of truth on the divine-love of God (1 John 4:8). “The love of Christ constraineth us” because “one died for all, then were all dead” (2 Cor. 5:14). In other words, if One hadn’t died for all, then all would be dead. So those who live simply cannot live for themselves “but unto Him which died for them” (vs. 15).
It is in the Word of God that we find what we need to endure this controversy.  Ellen White comments about this,
“The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts. He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme, of God’s original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of redemption. He should understand the nature of the two principles that are contend­ing for supremacy, and should learn to trace their working through the records of history and prophecy, to the great consummation. He should see how this controversy enters into every phase of human experience; how in every act of life he himself reveals the one or the other of the two antagonistic motives; and how, whether he will or not, he is even now deciding upon which side of the controversy he will be found.”—Ellen G. White, Education, p. 190.
The last few statements are crucial.  There is a war waging in our hearts and minds.  And every thought is either for God or the devil.  Therefore every action is also for God or the Devil.  There is nothing trivial or miscellaneous.  The smallest indiscretion can foster the greatest fall.  With every thought you choose which side you are in.  Thankfully, we have Christ on our side.  We can yield all to Him.  He in turn gives us His victory.  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Keeping the Church Faithful

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

Keeping the Church faithful

In the beginning the word faithful meant full of faith.  But at some point it switched to loyal.  Someone loyal is steadfast in affection or allegiance.  This implies a firm resistance to any temptation to desert or betray.   So, now, FAITHFUL implies unswerving adherence to a person or thing or to the oath or promise by which a tie was contracted.  But other definitions give a different nuance.  For example, firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty or CONSCIENTIOUS.  Also, given with strong assurance, an example of this would be *a faithful promise*.  Another definition is true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original, for example  *a faithful copy.*  While all these words and definitions do describe someone that is full of faith, these are just attributes of someone that is full of faith. 

The Word used in the Greek for faithful – in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 - is pistos.  The closest definition in English is trustworthy or reliable.  It makes better sense in the context.  Let us read it,

But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep [you] from evil.

In other words, He who will establish you and keep you from evil is trustworthy.  Paul had been warning the Thessalonians about the dangers of living a life of faith.  Then he tells them that God has made promises He will keep. You can trust God.  He will establish you and keep you from evil.  And Paul seems to continue saying in what other things can God be trusted in verses 4 and 5.

2Th 3:4 And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you.
2Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.

It is God who would do all these things in the Thessalonians; should they allow it.  If they do all else written in the chapter will be taken care of: no disorderly behavior, no busybodies, no free loading, and no problems dealing with those who need to be chastised or even removed from the group.  By the way, at the end in chapter two Paul had given the Thessalonians a list of things God would do for and to them.  So, what is in chapter three is a reminder.  Let us read it some higlights from the passage on chapter two,

13 … brethren beloved by the Lord, … God from the beginning chose you for salvation vthrough sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
14 to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. …
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

As we can see, chapter 3 follows Paul’s way of writing letters.  At the end of the letter, Paul gives the Thessalonians tips and reminders that were important but not urgent enough to be the bulk of the letter.  The word “Finally” – in the beginning of the chapter is a clue.  It is as if Paul is saying, “These are the last things I am saying.”  Interestingly enough the chapter begins with Paul asking for prayer.  Let us read,

2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
2Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.

Paul is saying to them, “we can identify with you; we also go through trials.  We are also persecuted.  The opposition is great.  We need of God’s grace to endure and prevail.  So, pray for us.  And, pray for those who we are working with.  That they may respond as you did and have.”  How many Pastor’s or church leaders will admit to their struggles?  And, how many of our laity sees pastor’s and church leaders as not struggling as we do or they should know better.  But, Paul says to pray for the leaders.  They are not above us.  They are mere mortals in need of grace, like us.  We should pray for them too. 
Ps.  The word tradition is paradosis; which is a compound word: para and dosis.  The prefix para means from, of at, by, besides, near.  The suffix dosis – from which we derive the word dose; as in prescription or medicine - means the act of giving, a gift.  Putting both together it means “giving over.”  Paul was telling them to hold on to the teachings he had given over to them.