Friday, December 26, 2014

Insight: What happens when we reject the Lord’s messenger?

Originally published on January 23, 2009

What happens when we reject the Lord's messenger?

What happens when we reject the Lord's messenger?

What happens when we reject, ignore or misinterpret the message from the Lord? Consider Sarah and Abraham? Ishmael is the answer. Consider Lot's wife – a pillar a salt is the answer. Consider Jonah – He did not heed in the beginning. He suffered through a terrible storm, thrown in the sea, and swallowed by a big fish. What if the word comes from a prophet? Is there any difference? Consider Jezebel and Ahab. He repented so he did not die the horrible death predicted he would die. Jezebel did not repent, she died as was predicted. What happens when we listen and heed? The people Jonah spoke to repented and they were spared from earthly destruction and possibly eternal death. 

What happens when we emphasize part of a prophecy and not the other? We do that with the first 'leg' of the 1st Angel's Message. Apostle John tells us about the first Angel,

Revelation 14:6And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Revelation 14:7Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

When talking about what the angel has to say, many focus on verse 7. Thus, they emphasize the judgment and the law – specifically the Sabbath. But, they ignore verse six. What does verse six say? It says that the angel has the everlasting Gospel to preach to the entire world. The Gospel is the good news of Salvation. This is the news that salvation is by faith through grace. This is the news that the righteousness of Christ save us, not our own. In other words, it is the good works of that Christ save us, not our own faulty works. This is why Sister White says that 3rd Angels Message is Righteousness by Faith in verity. Let us read the quote,

Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel's message, and I have answered, "It is the third angel's message, in verity." The Review and Herald, April 1, 1890. {1SM 372.2}

Many claim that the message of Justification by faith makes the law void. However, Sister White has this to say,

Some of our brethren have expressed fears that we shall dwell too much upon the subject of justification by faith, but I hope and pray that none will be needlessly alarmed; for there is no danger in presenting this doctrine as it is set forth in the Scriptures. If there had not been a remissness in the past to properly instruct the people of God, there would not now be a necessity of calling a special attention to it.... The exceeding great and precious promises given us in the Holy Scriptures have been lost sight of to a great extent, just as the enemy of all righteousness designed that they should be. He has cast his own dark shadow between us and our God, that we may not see the true character of God. The Lord has proclaimed Himself to be "merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth." {1SM 372.1}

She echoes the Apostle Paul. In Romans 3: 19 – 31 Paul expounds on this topic. Let us read the passage,

Romans 3: 19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.
Romans 3: 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3: 21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Romans 3: 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Romans 3: 23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 3: 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Romans 3: 25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Romans 3: 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 3: 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Romans 3: 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Romans 3: 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:
Romans 3: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
Romans 3: 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

So it is the good news of salvation by grace through faith on the Righteousness of Christ that the 1st Angel preaches unto the whole world. The keeping of the law and the knowledge of the judgment will come as a result of that faith. As we live by faith, the Holy Spirit will renew our minds into the likeness, perfection, maturity and stature of Christ. Trying to live by the law so we can stand the judgment will not help us. We will be found wanting. By letting the Spirit fill us with the fullness of Christ that will transform us into holy and selfless beings, we will meet God's and the Law's approval. Will you let the Spirit do this work in you?


Friday, December 19, 2014

Insight: The Elijah Solution

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Elijah Solution

In the days of Elijah the people of Israel had turned their hearts from God. They were worshiping other god's, instead of Jehovah. Evil reigned in Israel, and broke Elijah's heart. Determined to stop the national evil of idol worship, the Lord weighted Elijah's heart with a message of repentance designed to turn the hearts of the people back to God. In allowing these wicked traits of character to go unchecked, King Ahab was directly responsible, for he himself set the example which his people were following. Thus the people had turned their hearts and minds away from God, while assuming that they were still following Him. You see, Baal worship was similar to the worship of the true God, Jehovah. After all, Baal only meant 'lord,' or 'husband.' So the people thought they were calling on God the way they had always done. Yet in reality, they had switched allegiances unaware. They could have known but by choice they did not. In the days of John the Baptist, evil also reigned in Judah in the form of greed, selfishness, sensual pleasures, and nationalistic pride.

At present -- the last days to be exact -- the Lord has said that people would be "lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power." We were further admonished to 'have nothing to do with them' (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV). Isn't this precisely the case both with professed Christians in various churches, as well as with the unbelievers and the unchurched? Sadly, God's evaluation of the condition of the last church as stated in Revelation 3:15 -17 (NIV) is accurate --

Revelation 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I
wish you were either one or the other!
Revelation 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold --
I am about to spit you out of My mouth.
Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not
need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are
wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.

Professed Christians think themselves 'good,' because they do not behave in the obviously wicked ways that 'bad' people do. Our problems however, are deeper and greater than our behavior indicates. At issue is our human nature which, naturally bent towards evil, is manifested in evil imagination, attitudes and thoughts, continually. Human nature is filled with iniquity which naturally pulls us as a riptide pulls its victim downward and outward to the sea. As this is true of all human beings, the only possible difference between the 'good' and 'bad' people is the supernatural power which controls them. Not one of us in and of himself or herself is righteous, for as the Lord stated through Apostle Paul, good people are as bent toward evil as bad people are. "Good" people have learned to hide their evil ways. Living in denial they are deceived as to their true condition. Furthermore, they disbelieve any evaluation that is contrary to their opinion of themselves.

In the days of the prophet Elijah, God sent him to spare the people from suffering a three-year drought. God's solution was Elijah's message, and that is what Elijah preached. "Repent for judgment is near," was his constant cry; yet it was to turn the hearts and minds of the people back to the true worship of God. In the days of Jesus, John the Baptist was sent to "prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him" (Luke 3:4 NIV). John the Baptist was given the privilege of preaching the message of repentance ("Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near," Matthew 3:2 NIV) just as Elijah was sanctioned to preach to his generation. Both messages were not only proclaimed with authority, but the power to transform human hearts and minds was inherent within the Word itself. So potent was this message that hard hearts were melted, while lukewarm ones were heated up to white hot. Folks, the hearts and minds of those who genuinely accepted the message were turned to one another, "the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts and minds of the children to their parents." Thus the people were prepared to receive Jesus as their long awaited Messiah. Those who rejected the message ultimately rejected not only Jesus, but His Father whom they professed to serve. As the scripture says, to be without Jesus is to be without the light and life. Thus the majority of Jews, indeed the Jewish nation itself, sealed their personal and national eternal condemnation.

In our day, the last great message to go out to the world is the message of the righteous character of God's agape - love. Bound up in the good news of the righteousness of Christ is the three angels' message of Revelation 14: 6-12 in verity (EGW). This message has of necessity been given to the Elijah's of this time. And as in the days of old, inherent in the message is the power to change the hearts and minds of the people to Christ, to one another, from children to parents and vice versa. This is the power that is lacking in our Laodicean churches. The solution is therefore not more and better programming; it is not more dollars thrown at the various outreach ministries, nor is it greater local, national or global recognition. The solution is in the message. Hearts and minds who willingly, eagerly and attentively listen are transformed by the Agape - love of Christ. False worship is put aside, and the genuine article of faith comes to reside in the souls of the people, causing them to light up the globe with the splendor of Christ's character (His glory) as they go from place to place sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

My friends, the Elijah solution has been given to all. Just how many years do we have to go on in barrenness, weary and wilting? If we are willing to receive the message as God desires us to, it will do the work He has designated, for He has said, "So shall My Word be that goeth forth of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing where to I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).

Raul Diaz

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sowing and Reaping

This commentary was originally published on Friday, December 23, 2011.  

Commentary: Sowing and Reaping

Sowing and Reaping 

What is sowing?  It is to plant seed for growing, especially by scattering.  What is reaping?  It is to cut or clear with a scythe, sickle, or machine; to gather by or as if by cutting the harvest.  Another definition is reward.  What is a harvest?  As a noun it can be the mature crop of what was sown.  It can also be the act of gathering the crop.  It is also the season in which the crop is ready to be gathered. Also, it is the product or reward of effort.  As a verb it is to gather in a crop; a synonym of reaping.  How do the concepts relate?  One is the cause the other the effect.  The harvest is the product of what is sown.  So you reap or harvest what you have previously sowed.  If you sow wheat you will harvest or reap wheat.  If you sow orange seeds, you will harvest oranges.  Less we take it for granted: you cannot sow cherries and expect mangoes. 

Another thing is that there is a process for the seed to grow into what will be harvested.  This means that time has to pass by.  This implies then that there is a season to sow and a season to reap.  Sow outside of that season and your harvest will be affected.  There are other considerations: type of soil, climate, moon phase, etc.  All of these will affect the harvest you get from what you sow. 


The following illustration (found in our lesson study) reveals the relationship between sowing and reaping. Some potato farmers decided to save the biggest potatoes for themselves and to plant the smaller potatoes as seed. After a few disappointing harvests, they discovered that nature had reduced their potato crops to the size of marbles. Through this disaster, those farmers learned an important law of life.  They could not have the best things of life for themselves and use the leftovers for seed. The law of life decreed that the harvest would reflect the planting (sowing). Small potatoes will yield small (or even smaller) potatoes.  They reaped what they sowed.


There is an application to life.  "In another sense, planting small potatoes is still common practice. We take the big things of life for ourselves and plant the leftovers. We expect that by some crazy twist of spiritual laws, our selfishness will be rewarded with unselfishness."—International Student Fellowship Newsletter, March 2007.

So let's consider this: whenever believers' lives are dominated by secular media—television, radio, Internet, and so on—how can they expect signifi­cant spiritual progress?  What if on the other hand the believer spent time praying and studying the word of God?  There are higher chances of spiritual progress.


Paul seems to understand this.  It is probably why he applies this principle in Galatians 6:1–10.  Spiritual attainments are proportionate with spiritual investments. Those who desire greater spiritual strength must engage in spiritual exercise and avoid spiritual fast food. Little investment equals little advancement. Spiritual profitability arises from investing time with spiritual things. Now Paul's metaphor about sowing and reaping is not unique. It is a fact of life that appears in many ancient proverbial sayings. What is significant, however, is how Paul uses it to highlight his previous comments about the flesh and the Spirit.  Let us read Galatians 6:  7 - 9


Galatians 6: 6-9 (NKJV)

7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he       will also reap.

8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.

9 And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.


A modern colloquialism that is based on this concept is, "no pain, no gain."  Another similar one is, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."  James D. G. Dunn notes, "A modern equivalent is that we are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our choice."—Galatians, p. 330.  

Ellen White comments on this,


"The Spirit of God keeps evil under the control of con­science. When man exalts himself above the influence of the Spirit, he reaps a harvest of iniquity. Over such a man the Spirit has less and less influence to restrain him from sowing seeds of disobedience. Warnings have less and less power over him. He gradually loses his fear of God. He sows to the flesh; he will reap corruption. The harvest of the seed that he himself has sown, is ripening. He has a contempt for God's holy commandments. His heart of flesh becomes a heart of stone. Resistance to truth confirms him in iniquity. It is because men sowed seeds of evil, that lawlessness, crime, and violence prevailed in the antediluvian world.

"All should be intelligent in regard to the agency by which the soul is destroyed. It is not because of any decree that God has sent out against man. He does not make man spiritually blind. God gives sufficient light and evidence to enable man to distinguish truth from error. But He does not force man to receive truth. He leaves him free to choose the good or to choose the evil. If man resists evidence that is sufficient to guide his judgment in the right direction, and chooses evil once, he will do this more readily the second time. The third time he will still more eagerly withdraw himself from God and choose to stand on the side of Satan. And in this course he will continue until he is confirmed in evil, and believes the lie he has cherished as truth. His resistance has produced its harvest (MS 126, 1901)."—Ellen G. White Comments, The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1112.


So, as Paul says in Romans 1: 18 – 32 that God has to let those who

refuse His grace go.  Not as punishment, but because they chose to

leave.  So, in making their choice they also chose the consequence.  It

is not God who punishes them; they are suffering the unfortunate

consequences of their own choices.  Our eternal destiny will reveal the

choice we made.  It will reveal what we sowed.  In the end no one will

be deceived. 


Saturday, December 6, 2014

“Weep and Howl!”

"Weep and Howl!"

We read in the Bible that Abraham believed and it was accounted to him for righteousness. In this verse we see the power of faith to produce righteousness.  Thus, the message preached by Paul was not a message that promoted faith alone, or that promoted righteousness alone, but a message that demonstrated to the world and the on-looking universe that faith actually does work through love.  Righteousness by faith is actually righteousness in the life, not merely righteousness "applied" to the life, or righteousness "covering" the life, but actual righteousness in the life.  Righteousness – the thoughts and feelings and behavior that are motivated by self-sacrificing love – is the goal of the gospel.
Ellen White was once asked if the message of righteousness by faith was the 3rd Angel's message. She repleied that it was in verity.  She added elswhere that,

"... This message was to bring more prominently before the world the uplifted Saviour, the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It presented justification through faith in the Surety; it invited the people to receive the righteousness of Christ, which is made manifest in obedience to all the commandments of God. Many had lost sight of Jesus. They needed to have their eyes directed to his divine person, his merits, and his changeless love for the human family. All power is given into his hands, that he may dispense rich gifts unto men, imparting the priceless gift of his own righteousness to the helpless human agent. This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel's message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of his Spirit in a large measure."  {TM 91.2}

Did you see it?  It presented "justification by faith," that reveals itself in righteousness.  Faith isn't merely a fiduciary exchange whereby we purchase salvation with faith.  Faith isn't to accomplish a book-keeping hurdle that God has in the books of heaven.  Faith is a productive reality.  Faith is a causative agent.  Faith causes, it produces, righteousness – heavenly thoughts, feelings, and behavior.

Our lesson this week talks about righteousness as it applies to financial matters.  How we acquire money, and how we use money.  Acquiring and using money in "right" ways are practical aspects of "doing" righteousness.  How we acquire and use our dollars and cents, reveal righteousness or selfishness.  It reveals love or evil.  It reveals compassion and wisdom, or ego and delusion.

And as we've already seen, the path that produces right use of money (righteousness) is the path of faith.  The path that produces Godly spending and giving of money (righteousness) is the path of a heart appreciation of the love of God as manifested in the life and death of Christ (faith).  Money, in and of itself, produces no value, but is a measure of how we value things.  If we value others, and if we value the sacrifice of Jesus, it will be manifested in the use we make of our money (righteousness) for His cause and His kingdom.  Ellen White wrote,

""Riches bring with them great responsibilities. To obtain wealth by unjust dealing, by overreaching in trade, by oppressing the widow and the fatherless, or by hoarding up riches and neglecting the wants of the needy, will eventually bring the just retribution described by the inspired apostle: 'Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.' "—Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 682."

The Lord impressed James to write a scathing rebuke to "rich" people especially in "the last days" where in we live: "Come now, you rich weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! ... You have heaped up treasure in the last days" (James 5:1, 3). Writes Ellen White: "I saw that these fearful words apply particularly to the wealthy who profess to believe the present truth." [1]  Again, it is not that money in and of itself is evil, bbut how we relate to money reveal what is in our heart.  Christ did not say that mney is the root of all evil, but the love of money is ... We read again from Ellen White,

"Money has great value, because it can do great good. In the hands of God's children it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, and clothing for the naked. It is a defense for the oppressed, and a means of help to the sick. But money is of no more value than sand, only as it is put to use in providing for the necessities of life, in blessing others, and advancing the cause of Christ.
"Hoarded wealth is not merely useless, it is a curse. In this life it is a snare to the soul, drawing the affections away from the heavenly treasure. . . .
He who realizes that his money is a talent from God will use it economically, and will feel it a duty to save that he may give.-Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 351, 352.

Many feel safe in the accumaulation of wealth, But, one who discerns at least something of the economic significance of the cross of Christ discerns a deeper recognition: we don't deserve any of what we have--not even our next breath.  Is God telling us and the world something? Yes! If you have $26 million to spend a year, to do what you like, and you live in a palace, and you ride in the safest car in the world, you are not secure. You have nothing that you can call your own; your next breath is only by the grace of God.  Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was the icon of the world, his name on everyone's tongue. God told him in Daniel 4:25, "The Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will." Nebuchadnezzar, you are nothing.  All of Nebechadnezzer's wealth could not prevent him from living as a beast for 7 years. 

You may say, "I am not wealthy."  Well, the little you have is also a gift of God.  It belongs to God.  It is to be used for His glory.  The offertory response says,

We give Thee but Thine own,
What-e'er the gift may be;
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

May others see Jesus in us, even, on how we acquire and spend money. 

Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz

Saturday, November 29, 2014

“The Eschatological Day of Atonement”

"The Eschatological Day of Atonement"

The law sets the standard by which we are judged.  The judgment reveals how we do not meet that standard.  It is beyond an issue of performance, it an issue of condition.  Let us say that a play or movie requires a woman to play a role.  The only way a man can play it is if this man is transformed into a woman.  In the make believe world of acting they can give the illusion that that is done.  But, outside of that setting - and inside - the male actor remains a male.  The sinner can pretend he is righteous, but inside he is still a sinner.  For the sinner to be righteous, he must be transformed - born again.  The sinner must consent t be transformed by God.  Before he consents he must accept his condition, which means that he is revealed his condition.  God exposes the sinner to the Law, showing the sinner how the sinner fails to meet the standard of the law.  Then with the sinners consent God works in the sinner, to transform the sinner.  The follwoing commentary - Originally published Saturday, December 07, 2013 - elaborates on this subject.

"The Eschatological Day of Atonement"

Eschatology is that branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world and the final destiny of mankind. This involves beliefs concerning death, the end of the world and the ultimate destiny of mankind. This includes the doctrines concerning the Second Coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the Judgment.  In our lesson for this week the vision of the 2300 days is referred to as being fulfilled "many days in the future" (Dan 8:26) from the time of Daniel. The vision was sealed until the distant future.
So, the title of our lesson is referring to a day of atonement in the final days of earth's history.   Since, atonement is the process of becoming one or reconciliation, it means that something is happening to remove what separated man from God?  What separates man from God?   What separated Eve from God?  Ellen White states,

"Eve believed the words of Satan, and the belief of that falsehood in regard to God's  character, changed the condition and character of both herself and husband. They were changed from good and obedient children into transgressors..." (RH, January 5, 1886 par. 8).

Ellen White elaborates on the danger of believing lies about God,

In rejecting the truth, men reject its Author. In trampling upon the law of God, they deny the authority of the Law-giver. It is as easy to make an idol of false doctrines and theories as to fashion an idol of wood or stone. By misrepresenting the attributes of God, Satan leads men to conceive of Him in a false character. With many, a philosophical idol is enthroned in the place of Jehovah; while the living God, as He is revealed in His word, in Christ, and in the works of creation, is worshiped by but few. Thousands deify nature while they deny the God of nature. Though in a different form, idolatry exists in the Christian world today as verily as it existed among ancient Israel in the days of Elijah. The god of many professedly wise men, of philosophers, poets, politicians, journalists--the god of polished fashionable circles, of many colleges and universities, even of some theological institutions--is little better than Baal, the sun-god of Phoenicia. {GC 583.1}

Here is one more quote from Ellen White where she again talk about lies about God,

In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven. Because he, after his rebellion, had been banished from heaven, Satan claimed that the human race must be forever shut out from God's favor. God could not be just, he urged, and yet show mercy to the sinner. {DA 761.4}
You will notice that Satan's claim is part of the creed of many Christian denominations.  So, these lies have infected Christianity.  Therefore, these lies have to be removed out of Christians, primarily.  How do these lies translate into our lives?  We believe we must be afraid of God or we see God as a sort of Santa Claus.  This then translates on how we treat each other.

For the most part we are unaware of how much we distrust God.  The judgment is to show us what is truly in our hearts.  As God told Laodicea,

Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:

The judgment is to reveal it as a patient is revealed his condition, and once the patient knows his condition the doctor can prescribe a form of intervention.  Spiritually, the intervention is,

"Jer 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
"Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."

Ezekiel 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:

Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

It is the indwelling Holy Spirit which reveals Sin to us and at the same time impresses Jesus in our minds (john 14: 16 -17; 15: 26; 16: 8, 14).   Because He indwells us, we are His sanctuary (1 Corinthian 16: 9).  In the Day of Atonement the cleansing of Sin from the Sanctuary was complete.  In the eschatological day of atonement the cleansing of Sin in us, must be complete also.  How clean should it be?

Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.  {COL 69.1}

If the records in Heaven are a perfect reflection of us, then when we are cleansed so are the records in Heaven.  According to Daniel 8, when does the cleansing start?  It has to be after all those empires spoken of in the prophecies either no longer exist or no longer have the power they held before.  This would take us to the year 1798.

The little horn of Daniel 7, which is also the beast in Revelation 13, is in power for 1260 years.  This is based on the time prophecy, in which the beast persecutes for 1260 days:  "time, times, half a time", or 42 months, which all prophetically are interpreted to mean 1260 years.  The time frame for this is historically said to be from 538 AD, when Justinian's general, Belisarius defeated the last of the Arian nations, the Ostrogoths, drove them out of Rome and turned over the city to the Bishop of Rome.  1260 years later, would be 1798, and that year, the French general Berthier, enters Rome, declares it a Republic, takes the pope captive, exiles him to France where the pope dies a prisoner.

With the Pope removed and the papacy no longer exerting the influence it once had, men felt at liberty to study and preach the Word of God without any adverse repercussions: it was no longer illegal.  The book of Daniel was opened to the mind of many men, including William Miller.  William Miller's message was the cleansing of the Sanctuary.  Although, the right interpretation escaped Miller, it set the foundation for further understanding: The cleansing of the sanctuary in Heaven is dependent on the cleansing of Sin from us.

Raul Diaz

Saturday, November 22, 2014


The following two commentaries, previously published, are on the subject of wisdom.  Hopefuly they can shed more light on the topic of Godly widom.

Friday, March 09, 2007



There was a man called Raymond. Raymond was a self professed atheist. Everywhere he went he found a way to argue that God did not exist. Raymond was pretty good at it. His logic seemed flawless. He could always find a weakness in the arguments of those who dared to argue against him. After which he would pounce them. Once he had out argued and humiliated his opponents, he would proceed to gloat and brag about his victories.

One day he decided to pick on this young lady – Rose -, who unaware of Raymond's operating mode, lovingly mentioned the name of Christ. Raymond approached her as he approached the rest, with a smile, and speaking softly, words carefully chosen to arouse. This is where he thrived. As she heard his voice and the words coming from his mouth, she realized it fit the profile of the man she had been warned about. She looked at him and said, "So, you're the one that claims he's an atheist." He replied indignantly, "Excuse me, what do you mean by 'claim to be an atheist?" Rose replied calmly, "Well, my grandfather always told me, that there is no real atheist. I believed him." Raymond answered with a mocking tone, "Ha! Your grandfather? What can that old man know? What reasons does he give for his assertion?" Rose looked at Raymond compassionately and said, "He told me, 'the Bible says that the fool says in his heart that there is no God." But, let that fool feel like he is dying, and immediately he calls on the God he said did not exist.'" Raymond laughed loud and sarcastically, and then said to her, "That will never happen to me." She said softly, "Never say, 'never.'"

You have an idea of what happened next. Raymond wakes up in the middle of the night, gasping for air. He felt his esophagus burning. Before, he could think about it, he muttered the words, "Oh, God help me!" Immediately, Raymond's throat cleared up, and he was able to breath. The next day Raymond decided to go to the Doctor's office to make sure all is well. No one in the office would dare speak, afraid of one of Raymond's outburst. However, Raymond waited patiently for his turn and he started no arguments. This concerned every one in the office, but they were all afraid to ask.

Raymond's name was called, but he still had to wait for the doctor. Finally, a dignified and distinguished old man, with a white beard and a pleasant disposition walked in. They exchanged the usual pleasantries. After this the old Doctor asked Raymond, "So Raymond, What can this old fool do for you?" Raymond remembered Rose. He remained silent for a few seconds. Raymond did not know what to do; He put his thoughts together and answered the Doctor. Raymond said shyly, "When I met your granddaughter she told about your thoughts on how atheists call on God when they feel they are dying. Well, it happened to me. I called on God. In fact, I even think He answered." The old man listened attentively and then answered, "What happened?" Raymond told him with vivid details what had happened the night before. "Well, Raymond, you were wise to call on Him. You were wise to come here for a checkup. However, in a few days you memory of what happened will start to fade, and you will go back to your old foolish ways. It happens all the time. You will forget about the wisdom you have heard now. And, soon enough you may even despise it." Raymond just listened silently, as the Doctor checked him.

The story reminds me of the one Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9:13-16, let us read,

Ecclesiastes 9:13This wisdom have I seen also under the sun, and it seemed great unto me:
Ecclesiastes 9:14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it:
Ecclesiastes 9:15 Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.
Ecclesiastes 9:16 Then said I, Wisdom is better than strength: nevertheless the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heard.

Like the Raymond and the people in the little city many only remember God only in times of crisis. And, soon after the crisis is over, and life goes back to the same old routine they forget Him. You see, very likely the reason there was a crisis is because they ignored and despised His wisdom. So, they plead with God, and God bails them out. But, God's wisdom not only bails out, it also may spare us from the impending crisis by giving us discernment to avoid it. God's wisdom may also give us the strength and insight to go through with the crisis. But, for this we must be imbued with His wisdom before, through, and after any crisis. It is easy to do this when we realize the extent of our sinfulness and are grateful about the extent of His sacrifice for us. It is easy when we learn to listen to and trust the voice of His indwelling Holy Spirit. He is the source of God's wisdom in us. Will you let Him dwell in you? He will make you wise.

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Posted by Ulee at 3/09/2007 11:29:00 AM Links to this post  
Thursday, December 23, 2004

Who are the Wise?

Growing up in a Catholic country in the Caribbean, Santa Claus and Christmas were not
as celebrated as the Three Kings Day which occurs in January. This Holiday is better
known in some countries as Epiphany, and the 3 kings as the Magi or wise men. Many
have asked "who are these men?" however the scripture is not clear concerning them. Matthew 2:1 merely says, "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem." The scripture does not say why they were wise. I have heard that they were astrologers who saw something in the night sky that was unusual. While observing the star, they studied the prophesies (of Daniel), understood them, and therefore knew it was time for the King to be born. There was wisdom in finding this baby, just as today, there is wisdom in finding the Cross.

According to Proverbs 1:20 & 9:10-- "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction...(not realizing that) the knowledge of the holy is understanding." The wise men were wise, because having access to the prophesies concerning the Messiah, they studied them. Scripture says, that the wise have an understanding of the times, and that they hear the word and build upon its foundational principles (Matt. 7:24, 25). In Matthew 16:1-4, Jesus tells the Sadducees and Pharisees that they are not only foolish, but wicked and adulterous because they can discern the signs of approaching weather, but are blind and deaf to the signs of the times. Thus we can reason that the Wise Men of the East were wise in that they were able to discern the signs of the times from the scripture. Not only that, but they prepared themselves and went to welcome and worship the King. If we are undiscerning of the times, with the word of prophecy
all around us, are we wise?

Who are the wise? According to John 8:32 -- "... you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." So the wise have knowledge of the truth, and hearing His voice (John 18:37, 10:27 & 8:47), they worship in Spirit and in truth, as did the Magi (John 4:23, 24 & Rev. 14:7). Having access to the prophecies concerning King Jesus, they were led to come and worship Him. You know, we not only have access to the same prophecies which we are studying now, but we also have access to and understanding of Revelation, which is a complimentary book to Daniel. Yet do we really know what time it is? Do we have understanding as well as knowledge of the great event now taking place in the Most Holy of Holies, where God is judging the living? We shall be very foolish indeed if we ignore the prophecies till the time is more pleasing or convenient. According to Daniel 12:10, "the wicked shall not understand (that the time has come to be purified in character, and made clean
and white through the righteousness of Christ's indwelling Holy Spirit). Continuing to do wickedly, they shall not understand, but the wise shall understand--" and that's a promise.

Another definition of the wise is found in Daniel 12:3, and in Proverbs 11:30. Daniel 12:3 states, "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever." Proverbs 11:30 states, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise. From these two texts we see that the wise person is the one, who through possessing the indwelling Holy Spirit, has the character of Christ shinning brightly, and thus wins souls.

Often we don't view wisdom this way. Instead we think that the person who gets the best grades in the class is the smartest, or the wisest. We think that the person who is most frequently chosen for work projects is the wisest or most talented. We tend to think that those who are effective at multi-tasking are the wisest, and we wish we could be like them. Unfortunately, our human tendency is to see things not as Christ sees them, but as the world does. In Luke 16:14, Jesus says that the Pharisees who heard all these things were covetous. And in verse 15, He "said unto them, You are they which justify yourselves before men: but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." He further said, that we are to "look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal (passing away); but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18).

Sadly it seems that the wise are often not honored until they have passed away. Then we build monuments to them, repeat their stories, and if possible, show their works. Through Ellen G. White, Christ has said that every worker for Him receives a reward. Although it may not be visible here, the work, if done in simple faith, shall not fail to receive a wonderful reward. We shall not be disappointed. To everyone who is seeking to win souls for Christ, in the sight of heaven your work is a success and
you are ranked as one of God's noblemen (E.G.W. Notes, pp 86).

The wise then are those who seeking to win souls to Christ through the Cross. They study the prophecies, worship God in Spirit and truth, and like Daniel and the pioneers of old (i.e... William Miller, Ellen White, James White...) wrestle with God in prayer for enlightenment. The ultimate meaning of the visions was sealed for Daniel, but it began to open for the pioneers through Revelation. And, it can open for us too, if we choose to yield our preconceptions and bow humbly at the foot of the cross. Wisdom is the application of discernment, knowledge and understanding. Friends, let's take the instruction of the scripture seriously, and "study to show ourselves approved, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth." And if we lack wisdom, let's "in faith, ask God, that
giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (2 Tim. 2:15 & James 1:5, 6)."

The Cross of Christ is the science of all sciences. Let's choose today to view the prophecies concerning the "Time of the End" in the light of the Cross. We can be assured we'll become wise as we do so.

Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

Raul Diaz

Friday, November 14, 2014

Taming the tongue

Taming the tongue

The following Commentary tells the story which illustrates how the tongue can be harmful.  The tongue can only speak what is in our hearts.  The tongue - just as the rudder and the bits -  can only respond to the will of the one controlling it.  I hope the commentary is helpful.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Once Words Leave…

John had been going through a big crisis. An untrue rumor had been spread about him, which put him in a very delicate position with many in his company. He had been accused of "befriending" female clients. This was against company policy. Although John denied the rumor, no one believed him. Just prior to going to lunch, John had been meeting with the review board. They indicated that they would be deciding his case that afternoon. Weary, and in despair, John walked through the main door of the building. He was going to lunch, where he could quietly mull over his anger and despair. Steve, a colleague, saw John as he was leaving. Upon approaching him, Steve said, "John, I want to talk to you."

Unfortunately, John was so sure that he would be fired when he returned from lunch, that he didn't want to talk with anyone, and said so. "Steve, if you want to reassure me, please don't; I just want to be alone." But Steve insisted by saying, "hey buddy, it is very important that I talk with you; there's something I think you should know." With that, John quit protesting Steve's company. Walking silently to a nearby restaurant, both men went in and sat down. Once seated, Steve told John, "this morning I talked to the boss, and asked him to consider your case in view of some pertinent information I think he lacked." Surprised, John looked up at Steve and asked, "Why would you do that? And, what's this information you know about?" Sheepishly Steve turned to face the window and said, "I know you did not have an affair with your client." Puzzled at Steve's definitive knowledge, John looked at him, and waited for him to continue. Steve, whose face was turned toward the window, said nothing. Sighing, John said, "Steve I get the distinct feeling that there's more to this than you're telling me." Nodding, Steve said, "I know you're gonna wanna kill me when you hear this, but I need to tell you anyway." Taking a deep breath, Steve continued, "I know the rumor isn't true and that you didn't have an affair with your client because I'm the one who started the rumor." Stunned, John silently looked at Steve in disbelief. "You started the rumor -- why, and just what did you tell the boss? Guiltily, Steve answered quietly, "I told him what I've just told you."

After what seemed an eternity, Steve said tearfully, "John, what I did was stupid; I have been envious of you and so I said what I did, but I didn't expect it to go this far." "I didn't think the board would get involved and try to fire you, and yes, I did tell the boss, and he's going to tell the board." "I know there will be negative repercussions for me, but well, I know I have it coming." "I mean, I not only hurt your reputation, but your client's too-- I'm really sorry man." After pondering the information just relayed by Steve, John looked at him again, and said simply, "Steve, the rumor you started was hurtful, and I have been feeling bad about being fired, but I'm glad you told me -- I know it was hard for you to tell me this, but, if there is just one thing you hear from me this afternoon, I just want you to know that I forgive you." After a moment of thoughtful silence, John added, "hey Steve, If you're willing, maybe we can get together with our boss and brainstorm a way to come up with something to protect the client -- I don't know what that is yet, but I'm sure we can rectify this if we try -- together."

It would be really difficult to be as forgiving as John was to Steve wouldn't it? Its hard to be wronged by someone and then forgive and forget what they've said or done. According to the scripture, our words and actions are to be seasoned with the salt of the unconditional love of God. Yet, how many times do we allow pride, envy or jealousy to erupt from within. By not abiding with the Saviour --not keeping in union with Him, busy-ness or preoccupation take over, and when we least expect it, whatever is within comes out--and we are embarrassed and feel guilty. Christ has said that it is not what is external that defiles a human being, but that which comes from within (Matt. 15:11). For from out of the abundance of the heart do we speak, and from within come slanders, evil speaking, evil surmising, bitterness, rage and the like (paraphrased from Matt. 12:34; Eph. 4:25, 29, 31).

You know, even psychoanalyst, Freud, agreed with this biblical principle, for he has said, there are no accidents; for out of our subconscious mind, we do and say the things we intend to. Here's a little illustration: At a recent social gathering, a young woman, not having seen a friend for some time greeted him thusly, "how horrible to see you." The friend, being gracious and understanding said, "*Lisa (not her real name), why are you angry with me?" To which Lisa stated, "Oh, I'm not angry with you-- how silly; I really meant to say 'how nice to see you -- I don't know why I said what I did.'" According to Lisa, upon private reflection at a later date, "I realized that I was indeed angry with my friend." How many times have you or I said or done something which would be called a "Freudian slip," and never stopped to ponder what prompted our words or actions. Well friends, the Holy Spirit is in the process of revealing all kinds of little (and not so little) nasty things about us that are hidden from view. Christ wants us to see how we really are, so that we may gratefully receive His gift of repentance and be free. He wants to blot out all of our sin (self-love), and not merely the symptoms of sin.

Although we can and should ask for forgiveness for mean and thoughtless comments that we make, asking forgiveness is not enough. You're not sure what I mean? Let's look at the story above, and see if there is something which will help us on this point. In our story, Steve apologized for making untrue statements which hurt both John and the client's reputation, right? Now, do you think that apology alone will stop Steve from making other hurtful comments? Say no, and you'd be right. Why?Because the problem isn't just that Steve is making hurtful comments, but that he is thinking thoughts and feeling sentiments which allow him to try to hurt others. He needs to be changed from the inside out.

Some folks say, "well, I'm careful and I try not to hurt others like Steve did." But how many of us inadvertently hurt others by the snide or sarcastic comments we make? Then we say, "I was only joking, can't you take a joke?" Friends, not only do words hurt (unlike that adage that says, 'words can't hurt me like sticks and stones can), but they may cause damage which can never be undone. As a matter of fact, our words will go before us, and greet us in the judgment -- "... for by our words we will be justified or condemned (Matt. 12:37).

So far we've been talking about hurtful words, but what about flattery? Where does this fit into our picture? Are flattering words all right for Christ's followers to speak? Well, this is what Psalms chapter 12 and verses 3 and 4 have to say, "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is Lord over us?" According to Sister White, many a soul is caught in the snare of flattery which satan has set (through a well-meaning brother or sister --parenthetical comments are those of the authors').

Once words leave our mouths, they are no longer ours, for they have a life of their own, and go where they will. They are like ripples upon the water, or birds in flight. Following is a little known poem penned by an unknown author which illustrates the power of words, it is entitled "Flying Words".

"Flying Words"

Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds.
You can't do that when you're flying words.
'Careful with fire' is good advice, we know;
'Careful with words' is ten times doubly so.
Thoughts unexpressed, may sometimes fall back dead;
But God, Himself can't kill them when they're said.

Friends let us be prayerful about our words. Scripture has within it many wonderful prayers, but here is one that is especially powerful, it says, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew the Holy Spirit within me; and Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord my Strength and my Redeemer." (Psalms 51:10 & 19:14). Let's ask the Lord daily to fulfill this promise in us and then let's watch Him work. I think we'll be more than satisfied, and so will He.
Maria Greaves-Barnes &
Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Works of Faith

Works of Faith

The Apostle Paul says that "faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the word of God."  Now, Christ compared the Word with a seed.  Seeds bring forth a plant or tree that will yield a fruit.  So, in a parable Christ said that if we were good soil, the Word of God would bear fruit.  The fruit typically appears on a branch.  Christ said we are the branch and he is the Vine.  If we dwell in Him, we will bear much fruit.   So, what is the fruit?  All would agree that it is the fruit of the Spirit: ""But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law" (Galatians 5: 22 – 23).  Could it be that this is what James speaks about?  Following is an old commentary that hopefully sheds light to that question.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Degrees Of Faith

Comments on Lesson: A Devoted Soul and an Impending Cross

This lesson presents some of most popular stories of all time. The raising of Lazarus and Mary's anointing of Jesus are definitely two stories that are repeated time and again. We could be tempted to talk about these stories and not go any further. However, these two chapters bring forth examples and illustrations of what faith is and how it is shown. We see three categories of individuals with three different degrees of faith: a. those of no faith, b. those of little faith, c. those of great faith. But, first let define faith, then we will see how each group demonstrates their degrees of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 says "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  This is more so a description of faith.   Faith is hope, trust and belief that the Word will do what it says, and waiting for the Word to do it.  But how do show faith? What evidence do you have to show me you have faith? At first glance you say, "works." That is what James seems to say,

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works…But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2: 17-18, 20.

I submit to you that James is giving us the end result and that there is a middle step. "What is the middle step?" I am glad you asked. I submit to you that the middle step is the Fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5 Paul makes a distinction between those who fulfill the lusts of the flesh and those who walk in the Spirit. The only way to walk in the Spirit is by faith. Then in verses 22 and 23 it says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." You can have works without faith. But those who have faith will have works that are wrought from the Fruit of the Spirit. What changes here is the motivation of the work. The one without faith has a selfish reason. The one with faith is self-less and does it for God's glory. Many will confuse them. Some may even misinterpret works that come from faith. But, God always knows.

Those without faith, are under the law and follow the lusts of the flesh which are:

… Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…Gal 5:19-21

In this category we find Caiaphas and Pharisees in John 11 and12. You also have: those who told the Pharisees about Lazarus resurrection, and Judas. Even in the face of the evidence they chose not to believe in Christ as the Messiah, they chose not to have faith. They allowed their pride to tarnish their convicted hearts. They envied and hated Christ. In a seditious manner they plotted to murder Him. We who have no faith are no different. We kill God in our hearts.

Those of little faith include: Thomas, Mary and Martha in Chapter 11. Thomas had enough faith to follow Jesus, but thought that they would die on their way back to Jerusalem. They not only survived, but Jesus gave life to someone who had died. Martha and Mary believed in Christ as Lord and Savior. They believed the presence of Christ would have prevented Lazarus death. But, they lacked faith to believe that the power to prevent the death of Lazarus could also bring him from the dead. Those of us of little faith also lack faith to believe that that power is still at work today. We believe God can or will do certain things but not others. And, thus we miss out on the blessings God is willing to give us if only we believed and asked.

Those of great faith include: Those who moved the stone, those who spread the word about the raising of Lazarus, Philip, Andrew and the Greeks. Of course we cannot forget Mary in chapter 12. Those who removed the stone removed it without questions asked. They could have refused, like Martha did. But they did not. Do we do God's will without questioning or are we like Martha? Those who spread the word about the raising of Lazarus were witnesses to others that were seeking regarding Christ's famous miracle. Are we experiencing the miracles the Spirit works in us? Are we spreading the word? Philip and Andrew were always taking people to Jesus. Where do we take people we encounter? What do we tell them when they ask us about Jesus? Come to Church or Sabbath School? Come to the Bible study? There is nothing wrong with those answers, except that they may not find Jesus there. Philip and Andrew knew where Jesus was, do you? The Greeks traveled miles to see Jesus. How far would you have gone? You think your church is too far? What about a nice walk from Greece to Palestine?

We save the best for last: Mary's scandalous act of outpouring of love toward her Lord and Savior. I say scandalous because even in this day, what Mary did would be talked about and criticized. After seeing how Jesus resurrected her brother, Mary's faith deepened and grew to a point that she considered  it not a waste to pour over Jesus an ointment so expensive it would take a year's salary to purchase it. Mary did not care if others saw her act as foolishness or scandalous. Mary's was an act of faith. Mary's was an act of love. Would you give to God a year's salary, let alone 10%? Or would you consider it a waste, like Judas? Would you wash his feet with your tears and dry it with your hair? Do you care more about, what others will say, then what God may think of you? "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Works without faith are to God like filthy rags. Works that are from faith are filled with the Fruit of the Spirit. And, its aroma is like a "burnt offering unto the LORD… a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD." Exodus 29:18.


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Love and the law

Love and the law


Jam 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

Jam 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.


The Greek Word for love in the above passage is agapao: Godly love.  The scripture says that if we agape our neighbor we are fulfilling the Law.  What does fulfill mean?  I hope an old commentary can shed light on that. 


Friday, December 09, 2011

Commentary: A List of Requirements

A List of Requirements

One day while in college I was perusing my school bulletin.  I saw that beside the description for some classes it had the word prerequisite.  Then it listed other class numbers.  I figured that it meant that I should take the listed classes before I take the class in question.  So, it seemed it was telling me what I had to do prior to taking the class in question.  But, that is not the definition of the word prerequisite.  Of course, the prefix pre- means before.  Requisite means requirement.  A requirement is something – as a condition or quality – needed.  I understood that what the bulletin was actually telling me is that I needed the knowledge and or skill set that I got from the previous classes to take the one.   But, requirements are not always about something I can achieve or acquire. 

Typically we talk about requirements in terms of fulfilling not doing.  To fulfill means to satisfy.  To satisfy is to meet the requirements.  If I wanted to join the army, I would have to be a certain weight in relation to my height.  So, to join the army I would have to meet that requirement.  But, if I wanted to be a horse jockey, I would have to be small: short and thin.  Now, let's say I am overweight, I could lose the weight.  Let's say I am more than 6 feet tall (1.8 meters) then I probably cannot be a jockey.  The average weight for a jockey is around 115 lb (52 kg).  The average height is about 5 feet and 3 inches (1.6 meters).  In this case I cannot meet the requirement not because of something I cannot acquire or achieve; I cannot meet the requirement because of something I am not. 

Out of the twenty pilots selected to fly Vosotk 1 (the first spaceship to orbit the earth), the eventual choices for the first launch were Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov because of their performance in training, as well as their physical characteristics — space was at a premium in the small Vostok cockpit and both men were rather short.  Gagarin, the ultimate choice, was 1.57 meters (5 ft 2 in) tall, which was an advantage in the small Vostok cockpit.  Gagarin's met the size requirement.  Not something he could acquire or achieve, but something he was by genetic inheritance. 

When it comes to the Law and the Commandments, Paul as well as Jesus, seem to refer to them as requirements.  Time and time again they speak of them as something to be fulfilled.  Here are some examples,

Romans 8:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

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

Romans 13:8 Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.

Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.

 So, to Paul there is a difference between the doing of the Law and the fulfilling of the law.  Paul intentionally uses each phrase to make an important distinction between two different ways of defining Christian behavior in relation to the law. For example, it is significant that when Paul refers positively to Christian observance of the law he never describes it as "doing the law." He reserves that phrase to refer solely to the misguided behavior of those who are living under the law and are trying to earn God's approval by "doing" what the law commands.

This is not to imply that those who have found salvation in Christ do not obey. Nothing could be further from the truth. Paul says they "fulfill" the law. He means that true Christian behavior is much more than the outward obedience of just "doing" the law; it "fulfills" the law. Paul uses the word fulfill because it goes far beyond just "doing." This type of obedience is rooted in Jesus (seeMatt. 5:17). It is not an abandonment of the law, nor is a reduction of the law only to love, but it is the way through which the believer could experience the true intent and meaning of the whole law!

Ellen White also sees the Law as a requirement.  And, she is clear on how we can fulfill that requirement. She says,

"Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness" (Romans 4:3-5). Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands righteousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner's account. Christ's righteousness is accepted in place of man's failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. This is how faith is accounted righteousness; and the pardoned soul goes on from grace to grace, from light to a greater light. He can say with rejoicing, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:5-7). {1SM 367.1}

The inheritance is given to the heirs.  The heirs are sons and daughters of God.  Paul says in Galatians 3

Galatians 3: 26For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3: 27For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Galatians 3:  28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:  29And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.


Those who live by faith attain the righteousness required to become children who become heirs of God.  It is not something they can achieve or acquire on our own.  It is not something they are given by genetic inheritance.  It is something they are given by grace, and they receive it by faith.  

Raul Diaz


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Being and Doing

If we follow the context we realize that this week's verse follows last week's ending verse.  Let us read both verses together:

Jam 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
Jam 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

The only way we become doers of the Word is for the Word to be engrafted in our hearts and minds, and transform them.  As our lesson states, "...we can become doers [of the Word] only through the work of the Holy Spirit writing the Law (Loving God and others above ourselves) on our hearts."  Following is an old commentary elaborating on this subject on becoming and doing.  

Being or Doing: That Is The Question

Matthew 12:41-44 related a story we've probably all heard. It says, 

Matt. 12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the 
people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 
Matt. 12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 
Matt. 12:43 And He called unto Him His disciples, and saith unto them, 
Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all 
they which have cast into the treasury: 
Matt. 12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. 

What a lesson for us about witnessing. The poor widow's humble witness still carries until this day the message of the Gospel. She loved God supremely, and her neighbor as Christ loved her, and that is why she gave all she had to the treasury. She gave quietly. Not one word was said. No announcement was given. No press conference held. In fact, had it not been for Christ pointing out her action, it would have been dismissed. She gave witness to those who heard the story then, and to those who hear it now. 

So is it our actions which give witness, or is it our words? Is it possible to really give an accurate witness of what we've seen, heard and understood, without both? Our fast paced and driven world loves the doers. Yet, if you are an accurate witness, would you not be able (or enabled as we shall see) to relay your experience in such a manner that others too will see, hear and sense it? After all, what is the use of a witness without a judicial system to utilize the testimony given? 

Christ calls on all His sheep to give witness, a testimony as it were, to His benevolence, and goodness, as well as to His character of Love-- to the Universe. As well we know, the Godhead is the "One" on trial. If you were in His cosmic shoes, would you not desire the truth to be told about you? Of course, the master strategist, and "accuser of the brethren" desires a false witness to corroborate his view of things, and so the battle ensues. In order 
not to be deceived into testifying to a lie, the believer--the true witness-- needs power, for he is no match for the adversary. Hence Christ advises His disciples (and us) in Acts 1:8: 

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 

Notice the phrase as it is written. It does not say that we are to do witnessing activities, such as hand out tracts, knock on doors or ingather. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these particular activities. Instead, notice how the scripture stipulates that it is with the Holy Spirit's power coming upon us that we shall be witnesses. Notice, in the following verses, that the disciples were to wait together, in prayer, for the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence, and power. 

You know, there is a big difference between the concept of being -which is an inside job, and that of doing which merely implies taking action. Today there is such an emphasis on methods, techniques and numbers that we may have forgotten how Christ won people to Himself. According to Sister White as quoted in our Sabbath School lesson recently, Christ mingled with men as One who desired their good. It was not His method to make them feel good, which is what is often interpreted from the quote, but instead desired that they might be with Him eternally (John 14:1-6, John 3:16). 

When we try to witness to others with our activity, most of the time they will feel something is missing. Unless we demonstrate unconditional, self-denying love for them -not to be confused with acceptance of their ungodly attitudes and behavior- we shall be branded phony, insincere and hypocrititical. Haven't you ever met someone whom you sensed had an agenda, and whose motives were ulterior? Didn't you just want to get away from that person as quickly as possible? 

As much as we'd like to view Apostle Paul as the driven, go-getter disciple, outside of John the beloved, it is he who discusses in depth the love the follower of Christ will have through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He not only describes it, he implores us to allow the Spirit to give it to us by faith. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that Paul was enabled to be all things to all people, and win them to Christ. 

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: 
1 Cor. 9:19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 
1 Cor. 9:20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 
1 Cor. 9:21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ) that I might gain them that are without law. 
1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 
1 Cor. 9:23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker 
thereof with you. 

He did not mean by this that he was an Oscar winning actor. Ellen White 
says that he shaped His message to the person and the particular circumstance, just as Christ did. The Spirit enabled Paul to be aware of each person's needs, and prompted him with the content of the message (gospel) as well as when and how to deliver it. Sister White adds that we should be many-sided men (and women), not just having one approach for everyone we meet. Being filled with the Spirit does not mean negating the study of various methods and techniques to win souls. On the contrary, it means being led by the Spirit as to our target audience as well as what sources and timing to use. 

The Holy Spirit coming upon, and abiding in us bears fruit. Then we become witnesses of what we have seen and heard, rather than a group of individuals merely engaged in "doing" witnessing activity. While this does not guarantee conversion, the truth about the character of the Godhead as that of unconditional love, mercy, justice and grace will have been told by those of us who love Him. The scripture says, " and they will know we are His disciples because we embody His love." The question now is, will you let the Spirit come upon you so you can become a witness?

Raul Diaz

Friday, October 17, 2014

Removing Filthiness

Jam 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.


Our lesson states that this verse concludes all that has been said so far about faith and salvation. It is an appeal to put away all impurity and separate ourselves from wickedness. The command put away (RSV) is used seven out of nine times in the New Testament for detaching oneself from the evil habits that have no place in a life submitted to Christ (Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, 25; Col. 3:8; Heb. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:1). It can also refer to the taking off of clothing (Acts 7:58), so that the taking off of our filthy rags of sin (compare Isa. 64:6) may also be implied. Indeed, the word filthiness (RSV) occurs in James for the filthy clothes of the poor in contrast to the sparkling clean clothing of the rich (James 2:2, NKJV).

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word filthy (ryparos) is used in only one passage: Zechariah 3:3-4, where Joshua, the high priest, represents sinful Israel. God takes away the high priest's filthy garments and clothes him with a clean robe, symbolizing Israel's forgiveness and cleansing.

This scene is very different from the popular Christian image we sometimes see of Jesus putting a clean white robe over the sinner's dingy, soiled garments. Who would do this in real life? Nobody puts clean clothes over dirty ones. Likewise in Zechariah, the filthy garments are removed before the clean robe is put on.

The following commentary - originally published on May 27, 2011 – elaborates on this subject of removal of filthy clothes and putting on new ones.  I hope it is helpful.

Is Christ an enabler?

Enabling is a term with a double meaning.  As a positive term, it references patterns of interaction which allow individuals to develop and grow. These may be on any scale, for example within the family, or in wider society as "Enabling acts" designed to empower some group, or create a new authority for a (usually governmental) body.  In a negative sense, enabling is also used in the context of problematic behavior, to signify dysfunctional approaches that are intended to help but in fact may perpetuate a problem.  A common theme of enabling in this latter sense is that third parties take responsibility, blame, or make accommodations for a person's harmful conduct (often with the best of intentions, or from fear or insecurity which inhibits action). The practical effect is that the person themselves does not have to do so, and is shielded from awareness of the harm it may do, and the need or pressure to change. It is a major environmental cause of addiction.

A common example of enabling can be observed in the relationship between the alcoholic/addict and a codependent spouse. The spouse believes incorrectly that he or she is helping the alcoholic by calling into work for them, making excuses that prevent others from holding them accountable, and generally cleaning up the mess that occurs in the wake of their impaired judgment.  In reality what the spouse is doing is hurting, not helping. Enabling prevents psychological growth in the person being enabled and can contribute to negative symptoms in the enabler.  Generally, individuals who enable others have weak boundaries, low self-esteem, and have difficulty being assertive when they communicate with others. (Please bear with me as I tie this concept with our lesson)

The cover of our lesson shows a man – presumably Jesus – putting on a robe over another man's old dirty clothes.  To an outsider, after the new clothes are on, the old clothes under the new ones will probably not be visible.  However, you may be able so smell them after a while.  Since these garments are about character, it would mean that Jesus is just covering the surface.  The old, ugly, dirty character still exists.  The man just looks righteous.  However the "smell" of the old character will be evident after a while.  This concept – which also recurs throughout our lesson – runs contrary to what we read in Zechariah 3.  Let us read,

             Zechariah 3

1 Then he showed me Joshua[a] the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.

 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

 3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel.

4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."  Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you."

 5 Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.


 It is evident in this passage that that the old character is removed to put on the new one.  That is the Father's plan.  It is Jesus' work through the Holy Spirit.  All three persons of the Trinity are involved.  The Father is not looking to be appeased.  He is looking to appease us with Him.  Paul says in 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."  The Father's wrath is not against us, but against Sin. Many believe the opposite.  They believe that the Father has not poured His wrath – to them the ultimate consequence of Sin of which we are all guilty - because Jesus intercedes.  If the Father's wrath is the ultimate consequence of Sin, and if Christ is a covering shield that prevents the Father's wrath - the consequence of Sin - then Christ is an enabler.  In this view Christ takes our responsibility, guilt or blame for our Sin and hides it from the Father to spare us from the Father's anger.  Sadly, in this view we remain shielded from awareness of the harm we may do, and the need or pressure to change.  In other words, we remain in Sin. 


But, if death is the ultimate consequence of Sin (Romans 6:23) - a harmful condition that will kill us and others unless it is treated - and the Father sends Christ to be that treatment, then Christ is not an enabler.  This paints a different picture of the Father since the Father sent the Son (1 john 4:14).  The idea of covering us with the cloak of righteousness is not to hide our Sin but to take it away, to remove it.  And, this shows that the forgiveness of sins is something more than a mere form, something more than a mere entry in the books of record in heaven, to the effect that the sin has been canceled.  The forgiveness of sins is a reality; it is something tangible, something that vitally affects the individual. It actually clears him from the fault that makes him guilty.  Thus the sinner is cleared from the guilt, and if he is cleared from guilt, is justified, made righteous, he has certainly undergone a radical change.  He is, indeed, another person, for he obtained this righteousness for the remission of sins, in Christ. 


If Christ is to be an enabler, then let Him be in a positive sense.  Christ enables us to repent and be converted.  Jesus enables us to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Raul Diaz

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Why does God permit trials?

Why does God permit trials?

Sister Grant was distraught and frustrated. She could not understand why her life seemed to be a never ending drama. It seemed like one crisis engendered another. She asked herself, "Why would God do this to me?" Her Pastor said that, "those who are faithful to God will not see so many trials in their life. In fact," he added, "trials are a sign that God is not favoring you; which means that you are living in Sin." She met with some co-workers for support and prayer, and told them about her dilemma. Surprisingly, most of them agreed to be in a similar situation. However, not one of them could find what was wrong. They did all the things that their pastor's said they should do. They were faithful attending church. They tithed and gave offering. And, they were active in church programs. Why was God not rewarding them?

The youngest in the group, Ms. Bradley, waited until all the other ladies finished talking. She asked them a question, "What do Job, most prophets, John the Baptist, Jesus, and most Apostles have in common?" They all were silent looking at Ms. Bradley, suspecting she had an answer. Sister Bradley understood their silence so she continued, "Were they not faithful?" They all looked in toward each other murmuring possible answers to the question. After, a few moments, they all agreed and said, "Yes they were faithful." Sister Bradley, then said, "Then, why did God allow them to suffer? And, many of them died horrendous deaths. Could it be that we have it all wrong? Why would God treat us any differently?"  What does James 1: 2 – 4 tell us about trials,

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and com­plete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2–4, NKJV).

The word patience here is from the Greek hupomone, which means, endurance, steadfastness, and fortitude of every affliction that one confronts on one's spiri­tual journey.  The word Paul uses in Galatians 5:22 is macrothumia – translated as longsuffering - which essentially means "long tempered" as opposed to short tempered.

Although, hupomone is not part of the fruit of the Spirit, it is nevertheless very important in our walk of Faith.  According to James, it is through trials that we develop the endurance to continually overcome unbelief and remain faithful to God.  A past lesson stated about this,

'The Greek word for "trials," sometimes translated "temptations," is the word peirazo, which has the broader significance of "proving" or "testing." The devil tries us or tempts us to do evil. The tests and trials that God allows to come into our lives are for the purpose of developing our characters.'  

Ellen G. White talks about this,

"The trials of life are God's workmen, to remove the impurities and roughness from our character. Their hewing, squaring, and chiseling, their burnishing and polishing, is a painful process; it is hard to be pressed down to the grinding wheel. But the stone is brought forth prepared to fill its place in the heavenly temple. Upon no useless material does the Master bestow such careful, thorough work. Only His precious stones are polished after the similitude of a palace."—Ellen G. White, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 10.

This doesn't mean, however, that every trial is in God's providence. Often we bring suffering upon ourselves through disobedience; often, too, trials and suffering are just the results of what it means to live in a fallen, sinful world where we have an enemy who hates us (1 Pet. 5:8). What this does mean, however, is that through a complete sur­render of ourselves to the Lord, to grasping hold of Him in faith and obedience, no matter what we go through, we can come out better or more refined if we allow God to work in us. No one said it will be fun. Life here often isn't fun, but we are given this wonderful promise: "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).

Job never understood why he suffered. His cry to God was, "Why?" However, Job never stopped trusting God. In the middle of his crisis, Job cried out, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" Job13:15. Daniel's friends were faithful in all things, yet under threat of being burned they declared, "… our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." Dan3:1718

In contrast we have the people of Israel. God was with the people of Israel. The people of Israel saw how God delivered them from the Egyptians. God accompanied them in the day with a cloud, and at night with a pillar of fire. The pillar probably gave them not only light, but also warmth. With all this the people disbelieved that God would have them drink the waters of Marah. But, did God not sweeten the water when Moses put a tree in the well (Exodus 15: 22-27). 

After all this when they reached Rephidim they disbelieved God again. In Exodus 17:1-7 we read how they threatened Moses life accusing him of bringing them out of Egypt to die in the desert. How soon they forgot about God being able to provide for them any and every need they had, including water to quench their thirst. The cried out, "Is the Lord among us or not?" Sister White says of this experience,

It was by the express command of God that the children of Israel encamped at Rephidim. He knew of its lack of water, and he brought his people hither to test their faith. But how poorly they proved themselves to be a people whom he could trust! Again and again he had manifested himself to them. With a high hand he had brought them out of the land of their captivity, slaying the first-born of all the families of Egypt to accomplish the deliverance of his people. He had fed them with angels' food, and had covenanted to bring them into the Promised Land. Now, when brought into difficulty, they broke into rebellion, distrusted God, and complained that Moses had brought them and their children out of Egypt only that they might die of thirst in the wilderness. 

The lesson is for us. Many think that in the Christian life they will find freedom from all difficulty. But everyone who takes up the cross to follow Jesus comes to a Rephidim in his experience. Life is not all made up of pleasant pastures and cooling streams. Trial and disappointment overtake us; privation comes; we are brought into trying places. Conscience-stricken, we reason that we must have walked far away from God, that if we had walked with him, we should not have suffered so. Doubt and despondency crowd into our hearts, and we say, The Lord has failed us, and we are ill-used. Why does he permit us to suffer thus? He cannot love us; if he did, he would remove the difficulties from our path. Is the Lord with us, or not? {RH, April 7, 1903 par. 2 - 3}

Perhaps this is why Peter admonishes us 1 Peter 1:6-7,

1 Peter 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

This verse tells us that trials are neither random nor chaotic. Trials have a purpose. One of them is to produce genuine faith in those who will persevere through all kinds of trials. In other words, trials teach us to depend on God to overcome temptation and to endure the pain and suffering that Sin brings to us, until we either die or are translated. We can trust that God's promises to us will be fulfilled. We may not see it now. Only in retrospect, God may allow us to see a glimpse of the purpose of trials. For many of us, it will be until we reach eternity before we see clearly God's purpose in letting us suffer. We will also see that God was in it with us all the way. We were not alone. And, in fact, our faith grew stronger and our character became more Christ like because of the suffering God put us through.

Raul Diaz