Saturday, August 30, 2014

Insight: What is the Gospel?

What is the Gospel?

Our Memory Text this week says: " 'And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come' " (Matthew 24:14, NKJV).   What does the verse mean?   The following outline borrowed from Come And Reason Ministries gives us an idea:

 What gospel?

o the good news about God – His character and methods

 What kingdom?

o The kingdom of love, which means the law of love, the way love operates, functions, the design for life

 What witness?

o To witness truth, love, freedom, helping others, not retaliating, loving enemies, giving to those who mistreat

 What end?

o The end of selfishness, lies, pain, suffering, death

So, what about the good news about God, His character and methods?  Why is that good news?  Why is that the gospel?  Ellen white says that, "The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts" (Ed. 190).  In that light let us go to scripture to see how the Bible defines the Gospel.

First we should note that the Mark introduces his book as the Gospel of Christ.  Approximately, a dozen times Paul identifies the Gospel with God or Christ.  So we know that the Gospel refers to Christ.  Paul declares in Romans 1: 16,

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Paul is not saying here that the salvation if only for believers, but that it is only effective on believers. So, it is the power of God that saves.  In 1 Corinthians 1: 17 – 18 Paul says,

1Co 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.


This text associates the preaching of the Gospel with the preaching of the cross.  Furthermore, it equates them by calling them: the power of God.  Why is the cross so important?  We read in Philippians 2: 8,


Phi 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


The death of the cross was considered by the Jews as hanging from a tree, which Paul says,


 Gal 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:


But, it is through this death that we were reconciled to God.  We read in Romans,


Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.


It was because He loves us that He sent Jesus to die for us.  We read in Romans 5: 8,


Rom 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.


It was not that Christ takes our place cutting us loose.  We read in Romans 6,


Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Rom 6:8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:


It is clear then that we die in or with Christ, therefore we are resurrected in Him.  Christ did this for the whole world.  We read in 1 John,


1Jo 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

1Jo 4:14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.


We do not have to be afraid of God.  We do not have to run away and hide and He calls our name as He comes to see us.  We can trust Him.  We can depend on Him.  Paul says in Romans 8,


Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?


Do we believe it?  Should we not let others know?

Raul Diaz

Friday, August 15, 2014

Living like Christ

Living like Christ

The first question that comes to mind is how did Christ live?  The following quote from Ellen White gives us the answer,

Christ alone was able to represent the Deity. He who had been in the presence of the Father from the beginning, He who was the express image of the invisible God, was alone sufficient to accomplish this work. No verbal description could reveal God to the world. Through a life of purity, a life of perfect trust and submission to the will of God, a life of humiliation such as even the highest seraph in heaven would have shrunk from, God Himself must be revealed to humanity. In order to do this, our Saviour clothed His divinity with humanity. He employed the human faculties, for only by adopting these could He be comprehended by humanity. Only humanity could reach humanity. He lived out the character of God through the human body which God had prepared for Him. He blessed the world by living out in human flesh the life of God, thus showing that He had the power to unite humanity to divinity.  {1SM 264.2}

Christ lived in submission to His Father.  A fact seldom presented.  Paul said of Christ in Philippians 2,

Phi 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Phi 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Phi 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:

Phi 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.


Chris said of Himself in different occasions that he did nor spoke nothing of Himself self, but as his Father said (John 8:28, 38; 12: 49 – 50; 14: 10). More directly he said in the following verses,


John 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

John 6:38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.


This is how we should live.  Following is a commentary, originally, written in 2005, that still applies today. 

The Christian Life: Not Just Ethics

In the last few years the term "ethics" has become very popular. The concern however, is not for the philosophical study of right versus wrong; no, that dear friends is not the focus of our current societal emphasis. To the contrary, ethical conduct has become the popular focus precisely because it proscribes how people should behave. In a very real sense, the concept of ethical conduct has arisen from our societal attempt to rid ourselves from the very idea of right and wrong. So instead of viewing an official as a wrong doer because he utilized his position for personal gain, we refer to what he did as unethical. As a consequence, there has been an outcry from the masses, with a clear, clarion call for a code of ethics consisting of a list of rules and regulations for ethical conduct. Furthermore, "the masses" want this code to be instituted now, with grave legal penalties for those who abuse it. How sad that fallen human beings usually insist on an external list of do's and don'ts to control behavior. How much better it would be, if we were controlled by the principle of love dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit.

The selfish grasping mentality of those in leadership positions should not surprise us. For we all bear the same human nature which yields the same fruit -- and without a vital abiding union with God, we will do no less. According to Sister White, the nature of the Pharisee --which is self-righteous and self-exalting, is the nature of all human beings. The Pharisee like the Romans utilized external means of force or coercion to maintain control of self, as well as control of the masses. Unfortunately, when we are not under the influence of the Holy Spirit, even though we are Christians --we too tend to rely on external means of self-control. In this state as we read Ephesians 5, we are likely to think that Paul has written a sort of Christian code of ethics. And while Paul did write a list of behaviors that we should not engage in as Christians, that was not his primary purpose in drafting this letter to the Ephesians. On the contrary, Ephesians 5 is a word picture of how the life of Christ would look, if we allowed the Holy Spirit to make the mind of Christ, a reality in us. Ephesians 5 portrays in a written manner the final product of restoration and renewal of our hearts by the Indwelling Spirit of God (Titus 3:5).

Unfortunately, many of us are still tempted to believe that by striving to follow Paul's list to the best of our ability, we avoid eternal death, and gain life forever. This assumption is not only incorrect, but if followed, will lead to boasting and self-exaltation (Romans 3:27). Even the idea of "with the Holy Spirit's help, I can do it," is a fallacy. Because the focus is not about you doing something -- for instance, behaving ethically, rather, the heavenly focus is on you having the mind of Christ-- the mind of unconditional love, through union or oneness with Him.

Apostle Paul encourages us to walk in the Spirit. But what does this mean? Well, when the Spirit dwells within, He prompts us to listen and yield to His leading. As we hear and follow, moving at His prompting, we are enabled to walk in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit, we walk in Love, for the scripture says, that God is love. Not that one of His characteristics is love, but that He is love. An hereby we know that we have the love of God, we keep His commandments, and they are not grievous, we bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of love; and we love our neighbors as He has loved us. Folks, to walk in the Spirit, is to walk in Love (John 13:35), and to be prompted from within as to Christ like-behavior. Ethics does not conquer greed, it merely sets outward limits as to it's _expression. Only the love of Christ, abiding in the soul vanquishes greed and desire for personal gain at the expense of others.

Good behavior only comes from a heart that is good. Jesus Himself stated this point when He said to the young ruler, "why callest Me Good, knowest thou not that only God is good?" Ultimately, only those persons in whom the Spirit dwells will manifest Good behavior. Motivated through Agape, these persons will follow the Spirit's leading that the character of Christ and His Father may be vindicated in the controversy. For such persons, a Christian code of ethics would merely be a prescription to alleviate the symptoms of Sinful desires manifested in greed, selfishness, lustful satisfaction, and self-exaltation. Actually, the only thing a code of ethics could be 'good' for, would be to let its adherents know the way in which society finds it acceptable to quench the thirst and satisfy the need to glorify self. Walking in the Spirit is so much more satisfying to that for which your soul yearn. Which one would you rather be, satiated, controlled and walking in the Spirit, or hungry, lustful and lean, walking in the flesh controlled by the changing standards of human ethics?

Raul Diaz

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Growing in Christ

Growth and Change

Typically we look at the word growth as positive.  But, there are times when growth is negative.  Consider our current economic status.  Many people say that the national debt is growing and also the deficit.  That is typically not good news.  In terms of health, cancer tumors grow in the body.  That is not good growth.  So, when we apply this to the church setting, does it correspond?  Church growth is not always good, especially if the new members are not willing to abide by the doctrinal views of the organization.  That could have adverse consequences.  Another word that is typically seen as positive is change.  But, change can be negative, too. 

Some say that a church that resists change will not grow and therefore die.  Anything that grow changes, but so does anything that dies.  Consider a plant that is dying.  It may be resisting growth, in terms of expanding the space it occupies and increase its strength.  The moment this happens changes occur that will reveal that it is dying. The color of the leaves changes, they shrivel up and fall.  The stem will most likely bend.  The plant grows when it has water, nutrients and sunlight.  When one of these is missing the plant dies.  All three of these ingredients have a spiritual equivalent in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Without them we die.  Hence, it is important to be connected to where we can receive the resources. 

The question is can a church seem to be alive- it is expanding in numbers and strength - but still dying?  Many churches are like gangrenes and cancers.  They grow but it is nothing more than death taking over the body.  Tumors are often extirpated, and gangrened body parts are severed.  The same will happen with those churches. 

In Matthew 7: 21 Jesus said that "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven…"  They will beg to get in the Kingdom.  Let us read verses 22 and 23,

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

They will say to Christ but we did many things in your name.  Christ will probably answer, "You used my name in vain.  Your works were not mine."  But, we went to church together, we sat in the same pews, we sang from the same hymnals, and read from the same Bible."  Christ will will probable say, "You sure it was me?"  They will answer, "Yes, it was."  Then they will claim the fact that they gave tithes and offerings, served in the Church in different capacities.  Christ will answer, "That money never came to me. And, I do not recall you ever serving.  As, I said, I do not know you."  They have been severed from the body.

So, whatever these people did was not pleasing to Christ.  Since, without faith it is impossible to please Him(Hebrews 11:6), these church members had no faith, so all they did was Sin; since, whatever is not of faith is Sin (Romans 14: 23).  This means that there will be church administrators, pastors, evangelists, and laity that were hard working and successful in this group.  You can imagine how it will feel to these people to find out that all they did amounted to nothing.  What they thought was a sign of God's favor, was actually a sign of their rebellion. 

So, those who resist change and those who embrace it can be wrong.  Resisting the right change and embracing the wrong one will have the same dire consequences: eternal death.  I can just imagine the complaints.  "I can see why this one is out.  He was a sinner/legalist.  But, why me? This is not fair!" 

So, who will enter the kingdom?  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, "… he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."  We could say that those that did His will pleased Him; this means they lived by faith (Hebrews 11: 6).  Which means that they are just; since the just shall live by faith (Romans 1: 17).  So, a just person is a righteous person.  The word for just in the Greek is the root word for righteousness.  A righteous person is one that performs the law (Romans 2: 13).  But, notice that Abraham believed and he was accounted righteous (Genesis 15: 6).  So, this kind of righteousness – performing the law - comes through believing the word of God.  To believe we must first hear what is said.  And, faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of God (Romans 10: 17). 

This is more than giving ascent to God's existence.  This kind of faith is dependence on God's word.  "Man shall live out of every word that comes out God's mouth" (Matthew 4: 4).  Paul says inGalatians 5: 6 that in Jesus, works avail nothing, but faith which works by love does.  Works of love – self-sacrificing other-centered love – show true faith.  This is what God wants to produce in us.  This is what would please Him.  Will we allow Him to do this in us?
The following article from one of my favorite authors elaborates on the word and its im[poratnce in our Christian walk.

"In the book of Colossians occurs this exhortation: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16). This text, rightly understood, solves the problem of Christian growth and living. Let us, therefore, spend a few moments to see how much is involved in it.

"There is a power in the word of God, far above that of any other book, which cannot be doubted. Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord rebukes the false prophets, who speak their own words instead of the words of God, and says: "What is the chaff to the wheat?" says the Lord. "Is not My word like a fire?" says the Lord, "And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" (Jer. 23:28, 29). And the same prophet thus relates his experience when he was reproached because of the word of the Lord: "Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not" (Jer. 20:9).

"The word hidden in the heart protects against sin. "Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11). And of the righteous we read that "The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide" (Psalm 37:31). Jesus, also, in his memorable prayer for his disciples, said, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17).

"The word of the Lord is the seed by which the sinner is born again. We read of our heavenly Father, that "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of His creatures" (James 1:18). And the Apostle Peter says: "Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in ... having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1 Peter 1:22, 23). So we learn that, while those who are Christ's are born of the Spirit, the word of God is the seed from which they are developed into new creatures in Christ. The word, then, has power to give life. "For the word of God is living and powerful" (Heb. 4:12), and the psalmist prays to be made alive according to the word, and then says: "Your word has given me life" (Psalm 119:25, 50).

"This is stated very plainly by Jesus himself in John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." This shows that the power of the Spirit of God dwells in the word of God.

"With the knowledge that the word of God is the seed by which men are born to a new life, and that the hiding of the word in the heart keeps one from sin, we may more easily understand 1 John 3:9: "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." How simple! There is in the word the divine energy, which can transform the mind, and make a new man: "put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph. 4:24). Of course the word can do this only for those who receive it in simple faith. If the soul that is born again retains the sacred and powerful word, it will keep him a new creature. The word is as powerful to preserve, as it is to create.

"Jesus gave us an illustration of this. When tempted on every point by the devil, His sole reply was, "It is written," followed by a text of Scripture that met the case exactly. The Christian who would stand fast must do the same thing. There is no other way. This is an illustration of David's words, "By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer" (Psalm 17:4).

"It is this of which we read in Revelation 12:11, where, in speaking of the casting down of the "accuser of our brethren," the heavenly voice says: "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." This does not mean, as some have carelessly assumed, the word of their testimony in meeting, but the word of the testimony in which the psalmist found so great delight. They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of God.

"But this cannot be done except by those who have the word of God abiding in them. The Spirit is given to bring truth to remembrance, in time of trial; but that which one has not learned he cannot remember. But if he has hidden the word in his heart, the Spirit will, in the hour of temptation, bring to his remembrance just that portion which will foil the tempter.

"Every Christian can testify as to the power of the word at such times. When inclined to congratulate himself on some real or fancied superior attainment, what a powerful check are the words, "For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" (1 Cor. 4:7). Or when harsh and bitter thoughts are struggling within for control, the power to quell those turbulent emotions lies in the words, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil" (1 Cor. 13:4, 5). Or when provoked almost beyond endurance, how the gentle rebuke, "a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all" (2 Tim. 2:24), helps one to be calm. Add to this the many "exceeding great and precious promises" which bring victory to every soul that grasps them by faith. Thousands of aged Christians can testify to the miraculous power resting in a few simple words of the Scriptures.

"Now where does this power come from? The answer is found in the words of Christ: "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63). What spirit are they? The apostle Peter, speaking of the prophets, says that it was the Spirit of Christ that was in them. So, the power of the Spirit dwells in the word; yes, Christ Himself dwells in the word, for He is the Word.

"Who can understand the mystery of inspiration? He who understands the mystery of the incarnation, for both are the same. "The Word became flesh." We cannot understand how Christ could be all the fullness of the Godhead, and at the same time be in the form of a servant, subject to all the infirmities of mortal flesh. Nor can we understand how fallible mortals could write the Bible, and yet it is the pure unadulterated word of God. But it is certainly true that the power that was in the Word that was made flesh is the power that is in the word that the apostles and prophets have written for us.

"Now we can begin to appreciate more the power residing in the word. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6). Christ, by whom the worlds were made, upholds them "by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:3). The power that resides in the words of revelation is the power that could speak the worlds into existence, and can keep them in their appointed places.

"It is by so doing that we bring Christ Himself into our hearts. In the fifteenth chapter of John, the Lord exhorts us to: "Abide in Me, and I in you" and then a few verses later He says, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you" (John 15:4, 7). It is by His word that Christ does abide in the heart; for Paul says that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph. 3:17); and "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

"Many people earnestly long for Christ to come and dwell in their hearts, and they imagine that the reason why He does not do so is because they are not good enough, and they vainly set about trying to get so good that He can condescend to come in. They forget that Christ comes into the heart, not because it is free from sin, but in order to free it from sin; and they possibly never realized that Christ is in the word, (for He is the Word), and that he who makes it a constant companion and yields himself to its influence, will have Christ dwelling within. He who has hidden the word in his heart, who meditates in it day and night, and who believes it with the simple faith of childhood,--such a one has Christ dwelling in his heart by faith, and will experience His mighty, creative power.

"Is there not something inspiring in this thought? When we come to God in secret prayer, and the Spirit brings to our remembrance some precious promise or needed reproof, is it not encouraging to know that as we accept them, Christ is coming into the heart with the same power that brought the worlds from nothing? Does it not clothe the word with new dignity? No wonder David ever sounded its praises. May the thought that God is in the word be a fresh incentive for us to gain time and strength to feed upon the source of divine strength--it is thus that we live and grow in Christ."

[From "The Indwelling Word," The Signs of the Times, July 14, 1890.]

Raul Diaz

Saturday, August 2, 2014

How to be saved

The Following commentary or insight, originally published Thursday, October 13, 2005, I believe answers the main concern of our lesson this week.  I hope it is useful.

What God Has Done

Robert and Gina were siblings who were destined to bounce from home to home. You see, they didn't want to be adopted, they wanted their mommy and daddy back. But mommy and daddy had forfeited not only their right to have Robert and Gina in their custody, but were not even allowed to see them. Their rights as parents had been terminated, and it was permanent. But how Robert and Gina missed them. Yet, there was no going back. Well, you may ask, "did the parents really deserve not even being allowed to see their children?" Sadly, Robert and Gina's parents received exactly what they wanted, for neither parent desired the best for the children. Neither parent called or wrote or attempted to visit the children. They not only never remembered Robert's or Gina's birthday, but they never attempted to financially support them, did not send them to school or feed them. To the parents, Robert and Gina were unwanted burdens and so they left them to fend for themselves. In a heightened state of anxiety and anticipation, Robert and Gina waited and waited for their parents to return, but they never did. Instead someone called the local child and family agency, and the workers came out and rescued them. Robert and Gina were so sure their parents would return, that they did not want to leave. Angry, sullen and reluctant, they were taken out of the home and placed in foster care, as no relatives existed. Still angry at being taken, and hopeful that their parents would return, they refused to cooperate. Young as they were, they thought that if they were bad enough, no one would keep them, and then they could go home; until then, they had decided they could take care of themselves. The day finally came when the workers thought they were old enough to be told that their parents' rights had been terminated by the state. They were so angry that they determined to behave worse than before. 

But this foster home was different. The foster parents were gentle, but firm and kind and loving. Furthermore they had determined that they would adopt Robert and Gina. The foster care workers spoke at length with the foster parents, the court and finally with the children, and drew up the papers. All was made in readiness, but still the children resisted. What more could be done for them? It was out of the question for Robert and Gina to return to the place where their parents had left them, for the drug and rodent infested apartment buildings had been razed. There were no other foster homes that wanted them, and they were too young for group home living or emancipation. What could be done? Finally, the foster parents requested Robert and Gina to come into the living room together. There they spoke with the children at length. They told them, "we know that both of you have been waiting for your mom and dad to return." "We also know that you have been angry that their rights have been terminated, and that you don't know where they are or even if they're alive." "We want you to know that we don't want to take your parent's love away from you, and that we will never try." "We just want to adopt both of you and give you the benefits and privileges to which you'd be entitled if you'd been born to us." "We love you and we hope you'll eventually come to love us, but it's your choice." If you were Robert or Gina, what would you choose? Would you choose to be adopted or would you choose otherwise? I'm happy to be able to tell you that both Robert and Gina chose adoption, and came to love their adoptive parents. 

Our lesson this week is focuses on 'what God has done.' If someone were to ask you what has God done, what would you say? Would you be able to tell them that every human being that had ever lived, is living or would live (the whole human race) was placed into Christ -- the 2nd Adam -- and that when He lived -- we lived and when He died -- we died in Him and when He was resurrected -- we were resurrected, and that through His blood we have the forgiveness of sins, redemption and have been accepted in the beloved by the Father (I Cor. 15:45,Rom. 5:12 -21Eph.1:6)? Would you say that by Christ's redeeming blood, He has given every human being the gift of choice, and that who ever would like to be adopted into God's family now has the privilege to do so? The apostle Paul certainly would say these things if he were alive and were asked. How do we know? Because He has said so, in his writings.

In Ephesians 1:4, Paul says that the Father chose us 'in Christ' before the earth had a foundation. Brothers and sisters, this was prior to sin even entering our world, as our world wasn't yet created. How could we be chosen before earth's foundation when we weren't even alive? Well, scripture says that God foreknew us (see Ps. 139 the whole chapter and in particular, vs.14-16). Not only did He choose us, but He placed us 'in Christ.' By the way who is the 'us' He placed in Christ? Why it's the whole world -- not just believers, for by the offence of one -- Adam the 1st -- sin entered the world, and the wages of sin is the second death. In contrast, by the abundant unmerited favor of the Father, the gift of the righteousness of Christ came upon all men so that all were justified and received the gift of life. Just as by the disobedience of one, the many (all) were made sinners -- by the obedience of One, the many were made righteous, and we judge thus, "if one died for all, then were all dead (Romans 5:10-192 Cor. 5:14)." So, in Christ, we -- the human race -- were made right with God. Going back to our true story in which the names where changed, the papers were prepared without the children's consent. They had no say in the preparation, or rectifying of the wrong their parents had done. Just so, we had no say in what the 1st Adam did, which was to plunge us into sin and no say in what the 2nd Adam -- Christ -- did which was to rectify the wrong which our first parent had done.

In our story, did Robert and Gina have a say so as to whether they were adopted or not? Sure they did, and so do we. If Robert and Gina refused to be adopted, no court of law would dishonor their wishes and proceed with the adoption. By the same token, the court of heaven will not dishonor our choice regarding heavenly adoption, it is ours alone to make. Yet, as the prospective adoptive parents attempted to persuade the children to accept the adoption as in their best interest, so the Holy Spirit attempts to persuade us that the Father loves us and would be delighted to adopt us as His sons and daughters. According toGalatians 3:5, Paul says that Christ was sent to redeem all of us who were under the condemnation of the second death (the law), that we might receive (if we so desire) the adoption of sons. (Vs. 6) And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Holy spirit into our hearts that we may cry, 'Abba -- Father.'" Galatians 3:26says "For ye are all the children of God by faith 'in Christ Jesus'." Who are referred to here as the children of God? Those who choose by faith. 

Romans 8:15,16 also reiterates the same message. Let's look at verse 15, "For ye've not received the Spirit of bondage (to sin / Satan) again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby ye cry Abba, Father." Verses 16 and 17 add valuable information too. They say, "The Spirit Himself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the Children of God: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and Joint-heirs with Christ..." Wow, what a wonderful gift has been given to us, and sadly how little we think of it. Many of us are often wondering if the Father truly loves us. Some of us even question whether or not we're really saved. How sad that we think God is far away from us, and has forgotten us. How could a parent who is in his right mind, forget his children? Sometimes human parents do when they're preoccupied, but for the most part, parents do not forget their children. If a loving parent thinks about his or her children and plans for them, wouldn't a perfect God? How could He forget when He does not suffer from the effects of sin? 

It seems as if one of the reasons we forget that God loves us is that we resist being led by Him. Somehow, we're still convinced that we can go it alone -- that as long as we live Politically Correct lives, as long as we're nice to people and live a social gospel, we'll be all right. But Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the (Holy) Spirit of God, they are the sons (and daughters) of God. Could it be that we're still under the dominion of our first parent (Adam the 1st) -- and that we're trying to obey the law so we won't be condemned? What a waste of perfectly good energy. For there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are 'in Christ Jesus,' who walk not after the flesh, but after the Holy Spirit. For it is only the law of the Spirit of life 'in Christ Jesus' that has made us free (already) of the law of sin and death. Brothers and sisters, we've been freed from the condemnation of the second death, by dying 'in Christ' and being raised with Him to sit in heavenly places. The Father has chosen us to be a part of His family 'in Christ,' and our adoption papers have been prepared and signed in His blood. Freely He has given us this wonderful gift, hoping against hope that we will choose to receive and share it with others. He is waiting for our smile of recognition and understanding, anticipating and hoping that we'll choose to love Him in return. The Holy Spirit is prompting us, let us not resist -- for as many as are led by the Holy Spirit -- they are the sons of God.

Raul Diaz