Tuesday, March 26, 2013

No Audio Commentary

Due to travel there will be no audio commentary for the next two weeks.  I expect to resume after that.  thanks for understanding.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Creation and Gospel

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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The Script:

 Gospel and Creation

 Gospel and Creation

For a whole quarter we have been studying Creation.  Is there any relation between the Gospel and Creation?  To answer this let us start defining the gospel. 

The word gospel is an English translation from the Latin the word evangelium, from which we get the word evangelism.  It literally means a good message or good tidings.  So, what was the good message or what is the Gospel?  Paul gives us a definition in Romans 1: 16 and 17,

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.
Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

From this passage we derive that the Gospel is the power of God and the righteousness of God.  Since our emphasis is creation we will focus on the power of God.  You will see why.  
  The preaching of the cross – Christ crucified - is the proclamation of the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1: 30,1823,24). This power is the power of redemption which is the power of creation. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor 5:17). The power of God’s Gospel is seen in His work of creation.  Paul in writing to the Romans connected redeeming power and creative power: “The gospel of Christ…is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes… For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Rom 1:16,20). The power is the same in redemption as in creation. It takes nothing less than creative energy, as demonstrated in nature and in the cross, to save and to change us.

      Paul again joined the power of redemption to creation inCol 1:14 – 16 where he wrote, “in [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins….For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.” And John, also, in the first angel’s message ofRev 14:6 – 7 links redemption and creation. In the preaching of “the everlasting gospel” heaven’s call to worship the creator is clear: “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Both the first promise of redemption in Genesis and the last message proclaimed to the world before Jesus returns place creation and the gospel together.

Let us consider that the first thing that Moses wrote, through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, was the story of creation. That, therefore, is one of the things through which we are to receive hope and comfort. Why is it that we can receive hope and comfort through the story of the creation? Because that story contains the Gospel.  How so?  It is in creation that the power of God is readily manifested and is to be seen by everybody. But, the power of God in the line of salvation is the Gospel. Therefore the works of creation teach the Gospel. When we consider the works of creation, and think of the power manifested in them, we are contemplating the power of redemption.   We can conclude thus, that The Gospel, then, is simply the creative power of God applied to men. Any gospel that leaves creation out, or which does not preach the creative power of God, as seen in the things that He has made, and which does not comfort men by that power, calling upon them ever to keep it in mind as their only source of strength, is 'another gospel,' which is simply no gospel at all, since there can be no other.

How did God make use of His power in Creation?  Let us go to Psalms 33: 6 and 9 for an answer,

Psalms 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalms 33:9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

Paul agrees with the Psalmist.  Paul says in Hebrews 11: 3, “that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.”  Peter says in 2 Peter 3:5 that “…by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water.”  Yet, we are born again by the word of God, which lives and abides forever in us (1 Peter 1: 23).  This living word abiding in us gives us certainty that the love of God is perfected in us, and gives us strength to overcome the wicked one (1 John 2: 5, 14).  It is the word of God which sanctifies us (John 17:17).  Ellen White says that the truth - Word of God - “… is the power of God unto salvation to all who receive it, and it sheds a flood of light into the heart, and exerts a convincing influence upon the mind…” (Signs of the Times, ST, March 8, 1899); thus transforming the mind and heart. 

As it was in Creation so it is in redemption.  He healed the sick; He cast out devils; He stilled the tempest; He cleansed the lepers; He raised the dead; He forgave sins--all by His word. In all this, also, "He spake and it was."  Let us then receive His word.  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sabbath: Gift of God

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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No Audio Script today. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stewardship and the Environment

Due to extenuating circumstances no audio version today.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  Following is the audio script.  

Stewardship and the Environment 

Memory Text: “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth’ “(Genesis 1:28, NKJV).

This week we continue with the more intangible things that God created during the fall, but continue to this day.  This week we study Stewardship.  The term steward is defines as the manager of household or of household affairs 1a) esp. a steward, manager, superintendent (whether free-born or as was usually the case, a freed-man or a slave) to whom the head of the house or proprietor has entrusted the management of his affairs, the care of receipts and expenditures, and the duty of dealing out the proper portion to every servant and even to the children not yet of age.  Other uses of the word include: 1. the manager of a farm or landed estate, an overseer; 2. A treasurer; and 3, as a metaphor referring to the apostles and other Christian teachers and bishops and overseers. 

As we can see the steward works for the owner.  They work to do the owners will.  What we get from our study is that whether good or bad, faithful or unfaithful, wise or wicked, all men are stewards.  The reason for this is that we do not own anything.  The Lord says that, “all the earth is mine” (Exodus 19: 5).  Being that we are part of the earth, we do not own ourselves.  Something Paul echoes in,

1 Corinthians 6:19-20
19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Ellen G. White expounds on this in Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 326-327.

“All men have been bought with this infinite price. By pouring the whole treasury of heaven into this world, by giving us in Christ all heaven, God has purchased the will, the affections, the mind, the soul, of every human being. Whether believers or unbelievers, all men are the Lord's property. All are called to do service for Him, and for the manner in which they have met this claim, all will be required to render an account at the great judgment day.”

This has implications for our health.  We read Again from Ellen White two quotes regarding the importance of health and stewardship.  Let us read them,

“Let none who profess godliness regard with indifference the health of the body, and flatter themselves that intemperance is no sin, and will not affect their spirituality. A close sympathy exists between the physical and the moral nature. The standard of virtue is elevated or degraded by the physical habits. Excessive eating of the best of food will produce a morbid condition of the moral feelings. And if the food is not the most healthful, the effects will be still more injurious. Any habit which does not promote healthful action in the human system degrades the higher and nobler faculties. Wrong habits of eating and drinking lead to errors in thought and action. Indulgence of appetite strengthens the animal propensities, giving them the ascendency over the mental and spiritual powers.” COL p. 326 - 327
“Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul,” is the language of the apostle Peter. Many regard this warning as applicable only to the licentious; but is has a broader meaning. It guards against every injurious gratification of appetite or passion. It is a most forcible warning against the use of such stimulants and narcotics as tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and morphine. These indulgences may well be classed among the lusts that exert a pernicious influence upon moral character. The earlier these hurtful habits are formed, the more firmly will they hold their victim in slavery to lust, and the more certainly will they lower the standard of spirituality. “ Ellen G. White, The Review and Herald, Jan. 25, 1881

So, our health is so much dependent on what we eat, drink and breathe, the taking care of those resources – air, food, and water - is important.  Animals are also implicated, since they also use those aforementioned resources, and furthermore, many assist in making those resources useful to us.  Many animals are useful to us also.  According to Ellen White, abusing animals is not only immoral and criminal, it is a sin.  Let us read,

“It is because of man's sin that "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22). Suffering and death were thus entailed, not only upon the human race, but upon the animals. Surely, then, it becomes man to seek to lighten, instead of increasing, the weight of suffering which his transgression has brought upon God's creatures. He who will abuse animals because he has them in his power is both a coward and a tyrant.
A disposition to cause pain, whether to our fellowmen or to the brute creation, is satanic. Many do not realize that their cruelty will ever be known, because the poor dumb animals cannot reveal it. But could the eyes of these men be opened, as were those of Balaam, they would see an angel of God standing as a witness to testify against them in the courts above. A record goes up to heaven, and a day is coming when judgment will be pronounced against those who abuse God's creatures.”--PP 443 (1890). {2MCP 514}

Continuing with the topic of abuse: we see in the parable of the wise and the wicked servant, that the latter abuses his fellow servants.  It is not so with the wise one.  Taking care of others is a primordial goal of a good steward.  In fact, those who did so in Matthew 25: 31 - 46, were commended for helping others in need.  For which Christ said that relieving others of their suffering is relieving Him of His suffering.  Ellen White says,

“Christ's followers have been redeemed for service. Our Lord teaches that the true object of life is ministry. Christ Himself was a worker, and to all His followers He gives the law of service--service to God and to their fellow men. Here Christ has presented to the world a higher conception of life than they had ever known. By living to minister for others, man is brought into connection with Christ. The law of service becomes the connecting link which binds us to God and to our fellow men.”
To His servants Christ commits "His goods"--something to be put to use for Him. He gives "to every man his work." Each has his place in the eternal plan of heaven. Each is to work in co-operation with Christ for the salvation of souls. Not more surely is the place prepared for us in the heavenly mansions than is the special place designated on earth where we are to work for God.  (COL 326 – 327). 

As we can see stewardship is much more than finances.  In fact, it so much more than the focus of our lesson.  But, this lesson gives us a glimpse.  

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Marriage: A Gift of Heaven

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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The Script:

Marriage: A Gift From Eden

 “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him’ ” (Genesis 2:18).

 In the previous 8 lessons we studied different aspects of Creation and the Fall. It is clear that all was affected. Before the fall all was perfect and pure, and after the fall all became tainted with Sin and its consequences. In the next three lessons we study more intangible things of creation: marriage, stewardship and the Sabbath. These were instituted before the fall, and therefore were affected by the fall also; at least our relationship to them. So, like all the tangible things, there is also a contrast with the intangible things, and these also need redeeming.

 This week we study marriage. Let us start with Ellen G. White's quote from Sabbath,

 “God celebrated the first marriage. Thus the institution has for its originator the Creator of the universe. ‘Marriage is honorable’ (Hebrews 13:4); it was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is one of the two institutions that, after the Fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. When the divine principles are recog­nized and obeyed in this relation, marriage is a blessing; it guards the purity and happiness of the race, it provides for man’s social needs, it elevates the physical, the intellectual, and the moral nature.”—Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46.

 So, out of a primeval abyss God created our world through the supernat­ural power of His Word. All through the Creation account, everything was “good” until the work was completed, at which point everything the Lord had created was pronounced “very good” (Gen. 1:31). In the midst of all this, however, one thing was lo tov, “not good.” We Read in Genesis 2:18, 20 “…for Adam there was not found an help meet for him,” so “… the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” This was by no means an accident. God designed it that way to make sure Adam desired a companion and was grateful to get one. It was through marriage that Adam would understand agape: self-denying; other centered love. You have heard the expression: love is not love until you give it away. Adam could not agape unless he had someone to whom give love. Before the existence of Eve, Adam was the only human. Although he was made in the image of God, in his aloneness he could not reflect the full image of God, who exists in relationship with other parts of the Godhead. The Godhead, of course, is composed of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, Adam needed someone like himself with whom he could form a relationship of mutual love and cooperation, reflecting the loving relationship exemplified within the Godhead.

 What about after the fall? What does marriage represent? We read from Ephesians 5: 22 - 25
 Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
 Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

 We see two messages in this text. The first one is about how spouses should love each other. The husband is not called to rule his wife but to love her as Christ loves the church. Christ loves the church with self-emptying, self-sacrificial love. Instead of using His divinity to lord His authority over the church, He “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7, ESV). For Paul, Philippians 2 is a code of ethics for Christian behavior. In marriage, then, just as Christ emptied Himself of His divine rights and privileges to self-sacrificially serve us, so the husband is called to do the same with his wife. Her needs and well-being should be more important to him than his own privileges and conveniences. This is the kind of husband to whom a wife can safely submit! God’s ideal is that both parties submit to each other but in differing ways. When properly practiced, this post-Fall ordinance makes marriage a blessing to both.

 With that said, we come to the second message. We let Ellen White explain this point to us. She says,

 “In both the Old and the New Testament, the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people. To the mind of Jesus the gladness of the wedding festivities pointed forward to the rejoicing of that day when He shall bring home His bride to the Father’s house, and the redeemed with the Redeemer shall sit down to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 151.

 God invites His people to join with Him in an intimate relationship. This is an amaz­ing picture of God’s interest in His people and His desire to bring us into His fellowship. Will we accept His invitation?