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.

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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.

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 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.