Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marriage: A Gift from Eden

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Marriage: A Gift from Eden”
For the week of Mar. 2, 2013
Marriage: A Gift from Eden

The poem "Footprints in the Sand" paints a vivid picture of how our Christian walk should be; a walk in which Christ carries us instead of Him just strolling along with us.  In the poem, a man dreams that he is walking along a beach with Christ. Looking back, he noticed there were two sets of footprints in the sand corresponding to his life. As he did so, he discovered that throughout the darkest moments of his life, there was only one set of footprints in the sand. Assuming the set of prints were his, he commented to Jesus about his startling discovery. “Jesus, You promised me that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed during the most trying periods of my life, there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most, haven’t you been there for me?"  Then the Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, it was I carrying you."  

This man felt forsaken during his most difficult times.  Jesus, however, pointed out that He had never left.  He had fulfilled his promise quoted in Hebrews 13:5 - 6, which says,  “… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper,”

You do not have to feel alone, because the Lord is always with you to help you.  The word for help in the Greek is boethos.  Boēthos is a compound noun composed of two root words which mean (i) “cry out” or “intense exclamation” and (ii) “run”.   The verb form, boētheō, means “come to the rescue” or “supply urgently needed help”. Some scholars give the meaning of boētheō as “to run to the aid of those who cry out for help.   In Matthew 15:25 and Mark 9:22-24 the noun form, boethos was used to demonstrate the urgency with which people cried to Jesus for help. In Acts 16:9, 21:28, 27:17 and Revelation 12:16, the authors used this term to indicate that strong help and support were required. Incidentally, Apostle Paul uses this term in one other context -- that of receiving divine help. (See: 2 Corinthians 6:2, Hebrews 2:18, 4:16 and 13:6).

God said in Genesis 2, “for Adam there was not found a help meet for him,” and that “It is not good that the man should be alone;” He continued, “I will make him an help meet for him…” In Hebrew, the term ‘help meet’ is used as one word and is often translated as ‘suitable help’.  In the Septuagint – the Greek version of the Old Testament - the words are separated; the word “meet,” is translated as “corresponding” in verse 18 and “similar” in verse 20.  Help is translated as boethos.  This means that although in a state of purity and perfection, Adam was crying out for help and God, therefore, brought Eve to his side to comfort him.  Therefore, Eve was Adam’s parakletos – the word used in Greek for the Holy Spirit that is translated as Comforter.  A parakletos is called to one's side, especially called to one's aid, as a helper, or succourer.  Ellen White expounds on this subject,

“Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved … God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided "an help meet for him"--a helper corresponding to him--one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy.” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 46

So, it is evident that before Eve, Adam was lacking something and God provided for that lack through Eve.  Which brings us to an important point: Adam in his state of perfection, innocence and purity lacked something and needed help.  Which begs the question: are we less perfect because we need help?  If in his perfect state, Adam lacked something, how much more do we lack in our fallen state?

This is perhaps better seen through the story of the rich young ruler.  The story is found in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18.  In all three renditions, a young man came to Jesus and asked him a question - in Mark and Luke the question is similar, “…what should I do to inherit eternal life?”  Now an inheritance typically implies a gift which is bestowed upon an heir, and not a reward. Unfortunately, it seems that this young man did not consider himself a son (or heir), or at least not a favorable one.  Christ told the man to do the things which the law said to do, to which the ruler replied, “I have since my youth.”  This man was searching for something, because after doing all the things he did, he still was not certain about his eternal fate.  Christ went on to say – giving the man confirmation – “you do lack one thing.  “Sell all that you have, give it to the poor, so you may have treasure in Heaven, and pick up your cross and follow me” (Mark 10: 21).  In response, the young man left sorrowful because he was unwilling to lay down self.  This story makes evident the point that it does not matter what you do or own, in this life, you will always have something lacking.  

We may think, “I am not rich, therefore this does not apply to me.”  We may not be rich, but according to Christ, we do consider ourselves rich.  This young man represents our condition, which is also symbolized by the church of Laodicea.  Let’s read Revelation 3: 15 – 17.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 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.”

Notice, God is saying to us, that we lack something which only He can supply.  His counsel in verse 18 is, “…buy of Me …” “exchange your worthless goods for Mine.” “Give me your sin, your selfishness, your neediness, and let me supply your lack. Through Christ, I have already made provision. By faith, receive of me. Cry out to me, I will succour you. I will comfort you, uphold and carry you.” But, if like the young rich ruler, we do not acknowledge our need, or if we continue to hold onto what we consider precious, we cannot ever receive what He desires and has planned to give to us.  Friends, He knows the great and awesome plans He has for us – plans for a hope and a future! Let Him give it to us without delay, amen.
-Raul Diaz

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

“Jesus, Provider and Sustainer”

Insights #8 Feb. 23, 2013
First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Jesus, Provider and Sustainer”
For the week of Feb. 23, 2013
Because Jesus is our Creator and Redeemer He provides for and sustains us. Not only does He do this for believers, He is actively involved in providing and sustaining even those who reject Him. Although most people will not acknowledge Christ as Creator or Redeemer, every person on earth (and in the universe) is totally dependent upon Him. Every morsel of food, every drop of water, every breath taken into our bodies come stamped with the cross of Christ. Man’s mental and spiritual powers as well as our physical powers are imprinted with Calvary. All the blessings of life are given to mankind, because of Calvary. Everything has been purchased for mankind by the blood of Christ.
Our lesson this week is about Christ as our Creator, Christ the Crucified, Christ the Sustainer. He sustains us, the world, and the universe.
Belshazzar, mentioned in Sunday’s lesson, was the recipient of God’s blessings. Daniel told him that it was “God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways” (Dan 5:23). Just before this, Daniel presented a history lesson to Belshazzar. The lesson was about Nebuchadnezzar, his grandfather, who was humbled in the dust. Belshazzar “knew all this” and yet refused to humble his own heart (v 22). Nevertheless  God sustained Belshazzar until that last fateful night of his life when he willfully and persistently grieved the Spirit of God. His conscience was seared beyond repair. Is not this happening today, as prophesied by Paul (1 Tim 4:2)
Paul, in Acts 17:28, presented the “In Christ Motif” to the pagan teachers of Athens in words not unlike those spoken by Daniel to Belshazzar: “in Him we live and move and have our being.” Not only does Jesus give everyone on earth everything, but His sustaining power is exerted not only for believers and nonbelievers, but for the entire cosmos, or universe, as outlined in Col 1:14-17 especially v 17: “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist (or hold together).” Here the equality and identity of Christ as God is clearly stated, for it is by nothing short of the fullness of God by which Jesus holds the universe together. No wonder His disciples “worshipped Him” (Luke 24:52). That worship would have been idolatry if Christ were not God. And it is because He is God that He holds the cosmos together.
The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declares of Christ that “all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16,17, R.V., margin. The hand that sustains the worlds in space, the hand that holds in their orderly arrangement and tireless activity all things throughout the universe of God, is the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.[1]
To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry, “It is finished,” had a deep significance. It was for them as well as for us that the great work of redemption had been accomplished. They with us share the fruits of Christ's victory.[2]
Sunday’s lesson concentrates on Christ as our Sustainer. He upholds all things by the power of His word (Heb. 1:3). Col 1:14-17 presents to us Christ as Creator, Christ crucified for our redemption, and Christ as the One who holds the universe together. So, two questions are in order here:
(a)   Could Christ have sinned?
(b)  If Christ had sinned, would He have lost His eternal existence?
The answer to both questions is yes. Christ risked His own existence for us. Not only He would have perished, but the universe along with Him, because by His power all things exists. All of cosmos creation is dependent upon Christ both as Creator and as Redeemer. Had He failed as Redeemer, the universe would have gone into chaos, because “all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” or hold together (Col 1:17).
It is by Christ’s superhuman mediation, because of  His victory on the cross, that holds everything together. Think of the consequences not only for us, but for the entire universe if Christ had failed in His mission to redeem us. If He had failed He would have lost His existence. Heaven itself was risked. The following quotations are from Ellen White (emphasis supplied):
Look upon that wounded head, the pierced side, the marred feet. Remember that Christ risked all; “tempted like as we are,” he staked even his own eternal existence upon the issue of the conflict.Heaven itself was imperiled for our redemption. At the foot of the cross, remembering that for one sinner Jesus would have yielded up his life, we may estimate the value of a soul. [3]
Though Christ humbled Himself to become man, the Godhead was still His own. His Deity could not be lost while He stood faithful and true to His loyalty.[4]
“To the honor and glory of God, His beloved Son -- the Surety, the Substitute -- was delivered up and descended into the prison house of the grave. The new tomb enclosed Him in its rocky chambers. If one single sin had tainted His character the stone would never have been rolled away from the door of His rocky chamber, and the world with its burden of guilt would have perished.” [5]
Not only this world, but the entire universe would have collapsed and would have gone onto chaos. Based on Col 1:17, E. J. Waggoner had this keen insight regarding the risk issue:
It is the word of God in Christ that upholds the universe, and keeps the innumerable stars in their places. “In Him all things consist.” If He should fail, the universe would collapse. But God is no more sure than His word, for His word is backed by His oath. He has pledged His own existence to the performance of His word. If His word should be broken to the humblest soul in the world, He Himself would be disgraced, dishonored, and dethroned. The universe would go to chaos and annihilation.[6]

Thank God Christ succeeded. He continues to uphold “all things by the word of His power”(Heb. 1:3). This includes you and me. His sustaining power is enough to uphold us and hold us together both now and forever. We shall praise His name throughout eternity!                                                                                                                                                   
-Jerry Finneman

[1] EGW Education, p. 132
[2] Desire of Ages, p. 758
[3] E.G. White, General Conference Bulletin, December 1, 1895
[4] EGW, Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899
[5]Ms. 81, 1893, p. 11, Diary entry for Sunday, July 2, 1893, Wellington, New Zealand)
[6] E. J. Waggoner, The Everlasting Covenant (1900), 113.

Seminar Invitation

Seminar Invitation

Now on Internet Radio (24/7)

Appreciating the
Through the 1888 Message Perspective (part 5)
(Chapter 4:17, continued)

FEBRUARY 23, 2013
Sabbath afternoon (beginning 2:15 p.m. CT, USA)
An 1888 message oriented sermon will be delivered during
the regular church service.

(Off Interstate 40 westbound from Nashville, exit 192–turn right, then left on
Hwy 70, 1-1/2 miles to Cave Springs Road, two rights and follow the signs.)

Speaker & Bible Study Leader
Chaplain Craig Barnes

Sabbath Dinner and Light Supper
Plant-based meals will be served at Cave Springs Home
on a donation basis. Please E-mail or call (leave a message)
to reserve a meal ticket.

BOOK SALE (After Sunset)

• Available on site
• Commercial lodging available in the nearby town of Belleview

FOR RESERVATIONS: Phone: (615) 646-6962  E-mail:

Note: Internet radio live coverage starts between 11:15 and 11:30 a.m. every Sabbath; at 2:15 p.m. on seminar days (central time, USA).
Stay tuned all day for additional sermons and programming.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Through a Glass, Darkly

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Through a Glass, Darkly
For the week of Feb. 16, 2013
Through a Glass, Darkly
            The Bible calls for our Worship of God, not only due to salvation, but due to the fact that He as Creator has demonstrated His love for His creation.  We may see in every leaf, every creature, every aspect of nature the love and intelligence of the Creator's hand.  Certainly sin has greatly influenced and degraded God's creation, and the themes of death and decay are everywhere, but the themes of resurrection and restoration are also seen in the cycle of life, in the birth of new creatures, in the miracle of the seed, and the scientific properties that keep seas in their boundaries, etc. we see the miracle of the Hand of God. 

            What does nature reveal, and not reveal, about the character of God?  We obviously have the reality that organic matter did not originate from nothing, implying the reality of,  and necessity for a creator.  As He is the creator, He is the owner of all, and responsible for the care and vigilant watch over all creation.  We are told to worship Him who created the earth and all that is in it, and the Sabbath, in one of its many functions, reminds us of the act of Creation and the fact that God made all things good. 

            Because the earth, in its unfallen state, was created good, the truth of our dependence on God for all things leads inevitably to the truth that such dependence leads to being treated good.  "Come Taste and See that the Lord is good."  "It is the goodness of God that leads thee to repentance."  We are Christ's by Creation and Redemption, and both acts are incredible demonstrations of a Father's love.  The earth bears evidence of the curse from sin, from decay and death, conflict, warfare, immorality, selfishness, and many other aspects of this troubled world, yet God maintains this world, continues to "rain on the just and unjust", and provides for basic human needs.  We see the work of righteousness and love as well as sin all around us. 

            The evidences of the warfare in the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan are ever before us.  The effects of sin are on the psyche of every human being, and the world is broken, groaning, and slowly dying, waiting for the day that God will remake the heavens and the earth in holiness.  Satan does have the ability to cause great destruction and suffering.  We must be careful in the conclusions we draw about God and His creation, but there is evidence of the laws of nature, the healing power inherent in the human body, the resilience of nature, the miraculous properties we find in the processes of biology and other sciences, and many other miracles of the power of God. 

            I once knew a psychologist who was also a pathologist, and he spoke of his experience in doing a study of the human brain, central nervous system, and the human eye.  He spoke in awe at his growing respect for God's creative power and his surrender to the truth that creation was not the random act of biological forces, but the work of intelligence and love. 

            Theodore Roosevelt used to stand on the portico at the White House with one of his aides, and as they looked up into the heavens, and recited the statistics of the vast universe, the number of galaxies then known, the number of stars in each galaxy, etc. Roosevelt would laugh and smile his toothy grin and say, "We can go to sleep now.  Now I feel small enough."  As Psalm 4:4 says, "Stand in awe, and sin not."  The creation truly speaks of God's care, and the concept that an intelligent being could oversee this vast expanse of the universe speaks of a love and intelligence that is totally beyond our comprehension.  Yet this testimony and witness is incomplete, and we will someday see God and comprehend Him in a way we are not fully capable of now.                                                                                                                                                                                                    
-Thomas Cusack

Raul Diaz

Thursday, February 07, 2013

“Creation and the Fall”

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Creation and the Fall”
For the week of Feb. 9, 2013
Creation and the Fall
Our study this week begins with Adam and Eve and their fall into sin. Eve, deceived, fell through the evidences of her senses. She listened, looked, desired and ate. She listened to enticing words uttered by Satan. Then when she “saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Gen 3:6). What she needed to learn, as we all must, is that faith – “the faith of Jesus” – means believing the promises of God not only in the absence of feeling, but against them.

Consider the devil’s method that caused Eve to doubt God’s word. Notice the expression with which he opens the conversation: “Has God indeed said…” This is an expression insinuating doubt and suspicion. Commenting on this phrase, A. T. Jones wrote:
[N]o translation can give it exactly. It cannot be exactly expressed in letters so as to form a word that would give it truly. Yet everybody in the world is familiar with the expression. It is that sneering grunt (expressed only through the nose) – c-ugh! – which conveys query, doubt, suspicion, and contempt, all at once.   “C-ugh! hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” And everybody knows that to this day among men there is nothing equal to this sneering grunt, to create doubt and suspicion; and no other expression is used so much by mankind for that purpose. And this is the origin of it.[1]
Immediately following the doubts planted in Eve’s mind the devil told three lies to her,  which remain with us to this day. And they will be the leading lies received by the majority of mankind in these last days of earth’s history. These three are, 1) you don’t have to obey God (implied); 2) “you will not surely die;” and 3) “you will be like God.”

While in heaven Lucifer did not verbally utter these lies, but they were very much on    his mind. In his heart and mind he exalted himself thinking “I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). And it was out of the depths of his heart that his lips expressed, to Eve, his ambition to be God. She was caught in this deception. He inspired her with his own self-deceived mind – to be equal with God.

Satan used the influence of mind upon mind with Eve. She, in turn, used the same influence on Adam. He was not deceived, however (1 Tim 2:14). He willfully chose to follow her into sin. Rather than obey God, he chose to die with her. This reveals the power of influence of mind on mind for evil.
Through the medium of influence, taking advantage of the action of mind on mind, he [Satan] prevailed on Adam to sin. Thus at its very source human nature was corrupted. And ever since then sin has continued its hateful work, reaching from mind to mind. Every sin committed awakens the echoes of the original sin.[2] 
Satan “uses the same power that he used in heaven--the influence of mind on mind. Men become tempters of their fellow men. The strong, corrupting sentiments of Satan are cherished, and they exert a masterly, compelling power. Under the influence of these sentiments, men bind up with one another in confederacies, in trades unions, and in secret societies. There are at work in the world agencies that God will not much longer tolerate. [3]
Eve ate and imagined that she felt the sensations of a new and more exalted life. She bore the fruit to her husband, and that which had an overpowering influence upon him was her experience. The serpent had said that she should not die, and she felt no ill effects from the fruit, nothing which could be interpreted to mean death, but, just as the serpent had said, a pleasurable sensation which she imagined was as the angels felt. Her experience stood arrayed against the positive command of Jehovah, and Adam permitted himself to be seduced by the experience of his wife.[4]

The Investigative Judgment

After Adam and Eve sinned they went into hiding. God took the initiative find them. He went looking for them and found them in the bushes. He did not condemn them. Instead He asked them a series of questions. Beginning the investigation with Adam, three questions were asked of him: 1) “Where are you?” “Who told you that you were naked?” “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” (Gen 3:9, 11). Adam would not take responsibility for his actions. He blamed Eve, the one he should have loved more than himself. God then turned to her with one investigative question: “What is this you have done?” Eve, like Adam, refused to take responsibility for what she did. She claimed that it was the serpent led her to do it.

Grace and Judgment

When they sinned, Adam and Eve came under the curse of sin. Why, then, were not they condemned to death as God stated: “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen 2:17). The reason they did not die, that day as they should have, was because of God’s grace. While lying under that curse, the Lord extended mercy to Adam and Eve. Grace immediately surrounded them in the very first moment of their sin. While is true that Adam deliberately chose Eve over than God, the devil’s deception was involved in their sin. Because Eve was deceived God put His plan of redemption into motion in order to give her, and Adam, another chance to choose whom they will serve.
Grace was here manifested for the first time in the history of the universe. It had not been needed before Adam and Eve sinned. “Grace is unmerited favor.”[5] Grace surrounded Adam and Eve. As soon as they sinned, there was a Savior.[6]
They did not perish that day because of God’s grace given to them. They were not left without hope. “A ransom was found. Christ became their substitute and surety.”[7] He was then and continues to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8). “The iniquities of us all” were laid upon Him (Isa 53:6). Jesus “gathered to His own pure, sinless soul the penalty resting upon the sinful race, and offered Himself as a sacrifice.”[8] “By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon.”[9]

Two pronouncements in Eden: Grace to Adam and Eve; condemnation to the serpent (Gen 3:14, 15). And of course, the real serpent is the enemy of God and man – “that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan” (Rev 12:9). The gospel promise of Gen 3:15 gave hope to the fallen pair, while at the same time declaring the devil’s doom. Here too is the first promise to send Jesus to be “Savior of the world” (1 John 4:13).

To Adam and Eve the promise of salvation came first, followed by the divine sentence of temporal judgment. If there is no gospel, judgment means eternal condemnation. But in Christ Jesus the fallen race was acquitted from condemnation (John 3:17). “As through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom 5:18).

It was as the second Adam that Jesus defeated the devil. That serpent slithered into the presence of Jesus during His fast in the wilderness. With the words “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (Matt 4:3), it was the devil’s design to raise doubts in Christ’s mind. Although He was severely tempted to use His inherent power as God, Jesus answered: “Man shall not live by bread alone” (v 4). Jesus answered as the Representative of the fallen human race. In answering the devil Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3. The devil very well knew the meaning of that verse, for in the original language the passage literally says, “Adam shall not live by bread alone; but Adam lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” It was by faith in the word of God alone that the second Adam defeated the devil in the wilderness temptations at that time and ever after – all the way to the cross, where Jesus made a public spectacle of Satan and his hosts of hell, “triumphing over them in it” At the cross, Jesus “disarmed” the devil (Col. 2:15). In the original language, the word disarmed is a double compound meaning “to put off completely, to undress completely and thus render powerless.” At the cross, Christ stripped off the covering Satan used to hide his deceptions. Fig leaves were now useless for him to cover himself.

In the garden of Eden it was only after the promise of redemption was given that the Lord pronounced temporal judgment on Adam and Eve (See Gen 3:16-17). Not only in Genesis is found the redemption theme regarding the gospel followed by judgment. The same order of procedure is in the last book of the Bible (Rev 14:6,7). More than this, the gospel message of grace beginning in Genesis and ending in Revelation is central to every book of the Bible. All messages of redemption in the Bible are the outgrowth of the first gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. We are reminded that “The enmity put between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman was supernatural.”[10] That promised enmity is for you and me today. It is the gift of God’s free grace. While it is true God’s grace is free, it is not cheap. It cost Jesus His life. So now we can give “Thanks … to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 2:14).

[1] A.T. Jones, Ecclesiastical Empire, p. 590
[2] E.G. White, RH, April 16, 1901
[3] Manuscript Release No 4, p. 85  
[4] Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 72
[5] Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 331
[6] The Desire of Ages, p. 210
[7] Signs of the Times, December 14, 1904
[8] Signs of the Times, Dec 14, 1904
[9] Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 340
[10] Manuscript Releases, vol. 16, p. 118