Saturday, August 24, 2013

Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival

Due to extenuating circumstances there will be no audio review this week.  However, the script is blow.

Discernment: The Safeguard of Revival
“Consider how I love Your precepts; revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness. The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever” (Psalm 119:159, 160, NKJV).
How can we discern between true revival and a counterfeit revival?  The answer to that is to study the true revival.  Learn it so well that anything out of place is glaringly evident.    Now, revivals are spiritual, and spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2: 14).  False revivals will look real, except to those who are truly spiritual.  Our enemy is a clever foe.  His schemes are so subtle and sophisticated, that even the very elect would be deceived if it were possible (Matthew 24: 24).  So, it is only the Holy Spirit that keeps us from being deceived.   He is the true safeguard of revival.
One of the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives to converted people is discernment, which in simple language means the ability to recognize the truth in difficult situations. A detective can recognize an incriminating clue in a murder case. That’s discernment, something most of us don’t have.
The apostle John gives us a clue to recognize the difference between a false prophet and a true one, between a false christ and the true Christ: He says, “test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). In other words, don’t let yourself get fooled! You don’t want to end up taking the mark of the beast!  John’s clue? “Every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist” (vs. 3).
Two Christs are clearly distinguished in Revelation 13:8—the power behind the Beast, and the Lamb. The latter is the term Inspiration uses to designate Christ as the Crucified One, “the Lamb slain.” Thus the true Christ is the Christ of the cross; the christ of Babylon the one who spurned the cross. It follows that the true Christ is the One who will draw men if He is lifted up as the Crucified One (John 34, 33; Gal. 3:1). The false christ is the “radiant,” winsome, lovable, kindly one who draws all men literally (except those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life) when he is lifted up, but not signifying what death he should die. In other words, the power of this “christ” to appeal is in his winsome lovable ways to make people happy, relaxed, integrated, and to give them an “abundant life,” apart from the appeal of the cross. The false christ will have absolutely everything the true Christ has, power to heal the sick, cast out demons, cleanse lepers, set people free from anxieties, worries, etc., feed thousands, smile (constantly), a radiant personality, everything absolutely except the nail prints of the cross.
In the Epistle to the Philippians, Paul describes how low Christ went in order to save us. 
Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Paul states this not only to uplift Christ, but to encourage us to be like Christ,

Philippians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Phillipians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Paul says in verse 3 how this would look like, “…in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”  John agrees with Paul.  He states in 1 John 3: 16,

1John 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.

Christ said He came not to be served, but to serve others.  A revival in which men glorify themselves is not a true revival.  This echoes Ellen White’s thought on this subject.  She says,

“In many of the revivals which have occurred during the last half century, the same influences have been at work, to a greater or less degree, that will be manifest in the more extensive movements of the future. There is an emotional excitement, a mingling of the true with the false, that is well adapted to mislead. Yet none need be deceived. In the light of God’s word it is not difficult to determine the nature of these movements. Wherever men neglect the testimony of the Bible, turning away from those plain, soul-testing truths which require self-denial and renunciation of the world, there we may be sure that God’s blessing is not bestowed.”—Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 464.

The key is “self-denial and renunciation of the world.”  When asked, “What is justification by faith,” Ellen White answered, "What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself" (TM 456.3).  In true revival man will uplift Christ, abhor himself and repent in dust in ashes (Job 42: 6). 

Where do miracles fit?  Can we just ignore them?  Someone said that miracles are for the non- believer and prophecy is for the believer.  Then why did Jesus use miracles?  Our Lesson states,

“The healing miracles of Jesus testified to the fact that He was the Messiah. As our compassionate Redeemer, the Savior was concerned with alleviating human suffering. But He was even more concerned with the salvation of everyone whom He touched with His healing grace. The purpose of Jesus’ redemptive ministry was to “seek and save” lost humankind (Luke 19:10). Speaking to the religious leaders regarding the paralytic, Jesus declared, “ ‘But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ ”—then He said to the paralytic, “ ‘Arise, take up your bed and go to your house’ ” (Matt. 9:6, NKJV). The crowd’s response to this miracle was to glorify God (Matt. 9:8).
Miracles were an outgrowth of Jesus’ redemptive ministry, but they were not the main reason He came to earth.”

This statement while accurate still ignores certain historical context of the Jewish life.  Indulge me while I set this up.  You will recall when Jesus was speaking to the young rich ruler (Luke 18: 18 – 30).  After the young man left, Christ indicated that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom.  The disciples responded, “Who then can be saved?”  The disciples thought that riches – and what came along with them - were an indication of God’s favor.  Consider another anecdote: When Jesus heals a blind man who is sitting by the wayside, the disciples asked, “Who sinned: this man or his parents?”  In other words, to the disciples this man’s misfortune was punishment for Sin (John 9: 1 – 41). 

If, the disciples were a microcosm of the people, then we can tell that the Jews had an erroneous picture – schema – of God.  If a widow lost her son, she thought God was punishing her (Luke 7: 11 – 16).  She felt God had cursed her.  Remember, in her society, the loss of the son meant she had no one to look after her.  She would be alone and destitute.  Why would God do this to her?   Christ resurrected her Son.  Not only to show that He was the Messiah, not only to relieve the woman of her suffering; but, to reveal the true character of God.  God loved her and cared for her.  She left the scene thinking and feeling differently about God.  She was grateful to Him.  Yes, she gave God glory.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Unity: The Bond of Revival

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Below is the script:

Unity: The Bond of Revival
Memory Text: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV).
The title of our lesson seems to be saying that there is a bond that is created between those who go through revival.  Like the bond that exists between people who go through similar experiences or were part of a group for many years.  Is this what the Bible is talking about?  Or is the concept that the Bible is presenting a lot deeper and far reaching than this?
The author of our lesson states that, “The “oneness,” or unity, of the disciples prepared their hearts for the reception of the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s power.”  In other words, the requirement for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is “Oneness” or unity.  This is pretty much what is taught in our denomination.  But, is it accurate?  (Remember that the builders of the tower of Babel were united in purpose and mission.)  Let us read the verse used in our lesson to support this thought,
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:32, 33, NKJV).
The author states about this passage, “This passage links the disciples having ‘one heart and one soul’ with their ‘great power’ in witnessing.”  Notice that what is linking the two sentences in the passage is the conjunction “and”; not “so”.  The word “and” establishes correlation; not causality.  This means that while the “Oneness” and the “Power” are associated, one does not cause the other.  What this is implying is that where you see “Oneness” you will see “Power”, and vice versa.  Where you see dissension you will not see power; and vice versa.   In fact, where there is dissension self is exalted, which by implication means: no agape.  Since, the Holy Spirit is Whom sheds abroad the love of God (Romans 5: 5), that means where there is dissension and no power there is no HoIy Spirit.  Could it be then that what causes the oneness is the Holy Spirit?  Are there any conditions for HE to do this?  John 17: 20 – 24 may give us an answer.  Let us read it, 
John 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
John 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
John 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Notice how Christ describes the oneness.  Jesus states that the oneness between He and the Father is abiding: I in You, and You in Me.  In John 15, Christ told the disciples to abide in Him, so they would bare fruit.  We know that it is by the Holy Spirit that Christ abides or dwells in us.  So, the fruit we bare is the Spirit’s.  The Holy Spirit begins to abide in us when we give Him permission.  That is revival.  What happens in revival?  Repentance!  A change of mind and heart brought about by the Holy Spirit when we hear and believe God’s Word. 
How was this displayed with the disciples?  There was a definite change in them.  Before the crucifixion they were fighting for supremacy.  That ceased after the 10 days in the upper chamber.  Ellen White describes the events in the following quote,
“After Christ's ascension, His disciples--men of varied talents and capabilities--assembled in an upper chamber to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit. In this room 'all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.' They made thorough work of repentance by confessing their own sins. Upon them was laid no burden to confess one another's sins. Settling all differences and alienations, they were of one accord, and prayed with unity of purpose for ten days, at the end of which time 'they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.'  {7MR 94.4} 

The disciples laid aside all their personal ambitions.  Now instead of fighting, they were convicted by the Holy Spirit to die to self.  The words of Paul became a reality in them: “…be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” and to not think more highly than he ought to think of himself (Romans 12: 2 – 3).  What causes the oneness is also what causes the power: the Holy Spirit abiding in a heart completely surrendered to Christ.  Christ is waiting to do the same with us.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Obedience: Fruit of Revival

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz

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Below is the script:Obedience: The Fruit of Revival
Memory text:
2 Corinthians 10:4-5
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down
5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the
knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The reason this verse was chosen is because of the reference to obedience.  Let’s look at the context.  Paul is writing to the Corinthians.  There had been complains that Paul was harsh in his letters, but soft in presence.  Paul says that he’d rather have it that way, because it means that they had heeded the warning in his letter.  The boldness comes when they need reproof.  When there is no need of reproof he can be soft.  However, there are some with whom he has to be bold when he is present: those who rejected his ministry.  These did not discern spiritual things.  They were focusing on what they saw.  All they saw was a man: flesh.  Paul says, “but our war is not after the flesh.”  The real war is in our hearts and minds.  So, the weapons of this war are spiritual.  The weapon of choice then was the sword, which Paul calls elsewhere the Word of God.   What does God’s Word do?  It eradicates every sinful thought.  Our minds are naturally programmed to think sinfully, but when we hear and hearken to God’s Word our minds are reprogrammed to think in Christ-like way.  Our minds are programmed to listen and hearken to Christ.  To listen and to hearken is the Greek, and Hebrew, definition of the word obedience.
We tend to define obedience as performance or behavior.   So, when we see someone following the rules we say they are obedient.  But, nothing is said of what is going on in their hearts.  This is something Ellen G. White wrote about,
“The man who attempts to keep the commandments of God from a sense of obligation merely—because he is required to do so—will never enter into the joy of obedience. He does not obey. When the requirements of God are accounted a burden because they cut across human inclination, we may know that the life is not a Christian life. True obedience is the outworking of a principle within. It springs from the love of righteousness, the love of the law of God. The essence of all righteousness is loyalty to our Redeemer. This will lead us to do right because it is right—because right doing is pleasing to God.” – {COL 97.3}
If it pleases God it is by faith (Hebrews 11: 6).  This implies, if we add these two thoughts together, that right doing, what we would call obedience, is by faith.  One of my favorite authors wrote,
“There are no obedient ones. But there is nevertheless hope for all, because the righteousness of the law is put within and upon all who believe in Christ, so that a man is made a doer of the law by faith. One God justifies all alike through faith. Faith is not a substitute for obedience to the law, but insures the doing of it.”
Remember, Abraham believed and it was counted to him for righteousness.  Abraham became a doer of the law, when he believed the Word of God.  In the book Education p. 25, Ellen White states that the first couple stopped believing Him.  That’s what caused the problem.  Let us read,
So, to convert from transgressors to right doers we need to trust God’s goodness, believe His word, and accept His authority.  The change must come first from our hearts and minds.  Our hearts and mind must yield to God first, then outward performance will follow.  One great author elaborates on this concept of righteousness by faith,
“Justification has to do with the law. The term means making just. In Rom. 2:13 we are told who the just ones are: ‘For not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified.’ To be just means to be righteous. Therefore since the just man is the one who does the law, it follows that to justify a man is to make him a doer of the law. Being justified by faith is simply being made a doer of the law by faith.
“It is impossible for any man by nature to be subject to the law of God. He cannot do what the law requires. “How is the man justified, or made righteous?—’Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ (Rom. 3:24). Remember that to justify means to make one a doer of the law, and then read the passage again: ‘Being made a doer of the law freely, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.’ The redemption that is in Christ Jesus is the worthiness or the purchasing power of Christ. He gives himself to the sinner; his righteousness is given to the one who has sinned, and who believes. That does not mean that Christ’s righteousness, which he did eighteen hundred years ago, is laid up for the sinner, to be simply credited to his account, but it means that his present, active righteousness is given to that man. Christ comes to live in that man who believes, for he dwells in the heart by faith. So the man who was a sinner is transformed into a new man, having the very righteousness of God.
“It will be seen, therefore, that there can be no higher state than that of justification.”
Our lesson gives us examples of men who were obedient. They were obedient in the sense that they heard the Word of God and hearkened to it.   And, also because their performance revealed that they had heard and hearkened.  The words of the quote above were a reality in them.  Their performance proved it.  What will our performance prove?