Tuesday, June 24, 2014

“Christ's Kingdom and the Law”

Insights #13 June 28, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ's Kingdom and the Law"
For the week of June 28, 2014
Victor enjoyed giving gifts to those he loved! He put a lot of thought and effort into listening closely to what the other person liked, needed or wanted. Not only did he purchase the best possible gift, he also spent time writing a special note to the recipient, to accompany the gift. He even went so far as to wrap each gift uniquely and also found equally unique ways to present them. Victor was pleased as he saw his gifts received appreciatively and with gratitude. Sometimes the recipients, teary eyed, even embraced him, which made him feel all the more content and satisfied. Through giving such gifts, Victor expresses his love and affection.

When Victor courted Laura, he did the same with her.  They would go for walks or shopping together.  While they walked they often talked about many different topics. One day, during conversation, Laura shared things with Victor which he took as indications of what she would like as a gift. She, of course, loved the gift. But, not for the reasons Victor thought.

Months later, when they took premarital counseling, Laura was asked what she liked most about Victor. She answered, "I like that he does things with me, like shopping, going for walks, and other activities. And, he does it without rushing or just tolerating it, but to genuinely please me." Victor looked perplexed. The counselor asked Victor if he had something to say and Victor responded, "I thought you really liked my gifts. You always seemed so appreciative."  To which Laura replied, "I do like your gifts! They are very nice. But, they are always a reminder that you gave me a gift because you learned something about me while doing something with me." Victor replied, "But, you also give nice gifts." "I saw that you enjoyed giving nice gifts, so I just naturally thought you would appreciate nice gifts. I also feel loved when you do things with me," Victor added, "But not as much as when you give me nice gifts. It leaves me thinking, 'she gets me; I want to spend time with her.'" The counselor asked Laura, "What if Victor gave you gifts, without doing things with you?"  Laura face took on an expression of surprised disappointment, and she shook her head saying, "Oh no. Then it would feel like he is trying to make up for not spending time with me."

Unbeknownst to Victor and Laura they loved each other in their own love language; not their partner's love language. Had Victor given Laura gifts without doing activities with her, she would have felt unloved. If Laura had joined Victor in his activities and had not given gifts to him, he would have felt unloved as well. It would have been as if they both deposited in each other's emotional bank account with a currency worth nothing in that bank. When it came time to make a withdrawal, they would not have known their respective accounts were empty, thus, the account would be overdrawn. This overdrawn status is when silent treatments, sarcasm and arguments occur.

Could there also be something such as a spiritual bank account? The story of the young rich ruler provides an answer to that question. The rich young ruler asked, "Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" (Matt. 19:16). Jesus bade him keep the commandments. The ruler replied, "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" (Matt. 19:20). Looking lovingly at the young man, Jesus pointed out to him his deficiency in keeping the divine law: he did not love his neighbor as himself. His selfish love of riches was a defect, which, if not remedied, would bar him from heaven. {CS 210.3}  Jesus invited him, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me" (Matt. 19:21).  Notice that Christ told the young rich ruler, "sell what you have, give the money to the poor, and you will lay up treasures in Heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy."  The rich young ruler said he kept the law, yet, he was not laying up treasures in Heaven.  He was not depositing in heaven's spiritual bank account.

"When Christ showed the rich young ruler that he loved his riches more than his neighbor, the young man went away sorrowful. He chose that which would bring him personal satisfaction, recognition and prestige. He chose to cling to his idols. In similar fashion, the multitudes who had been fed by Christ in the desert place imagined that they loved God; but when He reproved them, charging them with caring more for the bread, which would perish, than for the bread of life, they became angry, and many turned away from him. Even Simon thought he loved Jesus, but when he found that a poor, sorrowful, repentant woman was esteemed more highly than himself, the shallowness of his love was proved." {ST, July 21, 1890 par. 2}

What did Christ ask the young man to do?  Love God and others above himself in his daily life.  The commandments involve following Jesus in service to the poor from an unselfish heart, but the young man loved his riches....The all-important question in the Judgment will be, Have we learned to love others with heavenly love? Not how many "works of the law" have we engaged in, but have we received His overflowing love and allowed it to spill over onto others daily. Jesus separates His people as sheep from goats on that one score of true love (Matt 25:31-46)... In John's magnificent chapter on agape-love it is revealed that He who loves God will also love his brother (1 John 4: 21).  The point is that those who truly love with a godly love will help the impoverished with an unselfish heart.  Many may help the poor, but with a selfish heart, expecting a reward or recognition from the Master.  But, Paul says 1 Corinthians 13:3, that even, "... if I shall dole out all my goods in food, and if I deliver up my body that I may be burned, but have not love, I profit nothing." We read in Jeremiah 17:9, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"  We may deceive ourselves into thinking that we love God. But, our neglect of our fellow human being proves differently.  Ellen White states,

"Millions of people in our world are making the choice made by the young ruler. They have intelligence, but they cannot decide to be honest stewards of their Lord's goods. Many say, "I will bless and glorify myself; I will be honored as a man above his fellows." Jesus paid the price for their redemption; for their sake he became poor that they might be rich; and yet, though wholly dependent on him for all their earthly possessions, they refuse to do his will by showing love to their fellow men. They are not willing to relieve the necessities of those around them with the means which the Lord has placed in their hands for this purpose. They refuse to appropriate the Lord's capital for the benefit of others, and hold fast to their possessions. Like the ruler, they refuse the heavenly treasure, and choose that which is agreeable to themselves. By such selfishness they prove themselves unworthy of the eternal riches. They show that they are unfit for a place in the kingdom of God; if they were allowed to enter there, they would, like the great apostate, claim everything as if they had created it, and would spoil heaven by their covetousness."  {RH, December 14, 1897 par. 7} 

The young rich ruler represents those which Christ spoke of in Matthew 7 and 25.  They thought that what they did would open the gates of the Kingdom.  But, their neglect in aiding Jesus by lovingly caring for those in need closed the doors to them.  They thought they were rich, increased in goods and in need of nothing, but they were indeed wretched, poor and naked.  Christ enjoined them and He enjoins us to repent and be converted.  May the love of God fill our hearts and overflow like a fountain of water toward others.
-Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Christ's Church and the Law"

Insights #12 June 21, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Christ's Church and the Law"
For the week of June 21, 2014
Rev. 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.


What is the church but the body of Christ? To discuss the commandments of God without giving equal prominence to the 'faith of Jesus' (the Head of the church) is like teaching about the Sabbath without giving equal time to the Lord of the Sabbath.

"The faith of Jesus has been overlooked and treated in an indifferent, careless manner. It has not occupied the prominent position in which it was revealed to John... The great subject of the righteousness of Christ connected with the law, which should be constantly kept before the sinner as his only hope of salvation." - {1888 212.1}

"While you hold the banner of truth firmly, proclaiming the law of God, let every soul remember that the faith of Jesus is connected with the commandments of God."  {SpTA01b 15.1}

"Let Jesus be our theme. Let us with pen and voice present, not only the commandments of God, but the faith of Jesus.This will promote real heart piety as nothing else can." {SpTA01b 19.1}


The cross of Jesus Christ established the principle of freedom. Because of Calvary and only because of Calvary can God now say, "choose ye this day whom ye will serve."
Freedom of conscience and choice has always been dear to the Ruler of Heaven.  As the greatest Freedom Fighter of all time declared, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:36).


Genesis 6 was an investigative judgment for the Antediluvian world. In "investigating" humanity at that time heaven's verdict was, "the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth;" (Gen. 6:5-7). The lesson writer asks if God was "unaware of what was going to happen?"  Because the faith of Jesus is bound up with this week's study (see Rev. 14:12) it is of no small consequence to note that the two passages where the faith of God is mentioned (see Mk. 11:22; Rom. 3:3) judgment (of Israel in one and of God Himself in the other) is the context.

God is justified when He is judged because He has always operated towards all people from a position of faith.  He has treated all creation with the "faith of Jesus." God knows what we might "become through redeeming love" (COL p.118) and treats us that way to the very end (Matt. 26:50).  He also knows what we will choose to become by personal choice.  If the two differ and He is forced to "let him alone" (Hosea 4:17) His great heart and hopes are dashed and He is grieved on a level that we will never imagine.


In Gen. 12:3, "...in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" God repeated the Edenic promise of a Savior for the whole world. Gen. 15:6 details Abraham's continued and ever strengthening choice, "he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness."  Man often emphasizes his law keeping as righteousness but God counts biblical faith as the "right thing" for the sinner to "do" (John 6:28, 29). Perhaps that's why Hebrews 11 reiterates "by faith" instead of "by keeping the law." A faith surrender to a living and indwelling Christ is obedience and results in a life that keeps both the letter and spirit of God's holy law.


That the church cannot save herself by wonderful performance is clear, "For... Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10).  None have "continued in all things" from cradle to grave in action, thought and motive.  We who continue to fall short need the righteousness of the Promised One; the church can only have and experience righteousness when she receives "the promise... through faith" (Gal. 3:14).


The lesson writer asks us to read Rev. 12:17 and Rev. 14:12.  The common thread between the two is the commandments of God. That we get and have remained fixated upon often to the exclusion of the second half of both texts.  The "testimony of Jesus" has repeatedly, pleadingly reminded us that "The commandments of God have been proclaimed, but the faith of Jesus Christ has not been proclaimed by Seventh-day Adventists as of equal importance, the law and the gospel going hand in hand... I cannot find language to express this subject in its fullness. 'The faith of Jesus.' It is talked of, but not understood." - (Dec. 1888, "Looking Back at Minneapolis," EGW 1888 Materials, pp. 212, 217)  May we acknowledge our "blind spot" and receive the True Witness' eye salve that we may see, experience and proclaim as a church the law and the faith of Jesus.
-William Pergerson

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

“The Apostles and the Law”

Insights #11 June 14, 2014
Second Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"The Apostles and the Law"
For the week of June 14, 2014
The Sabbath School lesson this week draws our attention to the understandings of the apostles regarding the law of God.  The lesson rightly observes that, "if (the law) were to have been nullified or modified after Christ's death, the apostles would have known something about it."  Let's spend our brief time looking at Paul's understanding of the law as he is the most prolific writer in the New Testament.

Perhaps one of the most exemplary verses that are used from Paul to attempt to prove that the importance of the law has passed away by some in Christian circles is Romans 6:12-15.  And the emphasis is given to the phrase, "ye are not under law, but under grace".  Primarily to escape the claims of the 4th commandment, many in Christian circles would understand this to mean that since "born-again" Christians are "under grace" we are no longer subject to the influence of God's law in our lives.

The 1888 messengers brought out vital truth in our understanding of what Paul is communicating regarding being under law or under grace.  Far from grace intended to give us an "out" in relation to the law, the 1888 messengers saw that the whole point of being "under grace" is to empower us to experience the freedom and joy that comes only with conformity to God's law of love.  Being "under law" isn't the circumstance of the "obeyers" of God's law, but being "under law" leads to disobedience.  Being "under grace" leads to the experience, not of disobedience to God's law, but obedience.  Said simply, under grace = obedience and under law = disobedience.  After quoting Rom. 6:12-15, notice the powerful and beautiful way that E.J.Waggoner demonstrates the beauty of the gospel in this passage.

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.  What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!"  (NKJV)

"A Parallel. -In the nineteenth verse we are exhorted to yield ourselves as servants of righteousness just as we have yielded ourselves servants to sin. This being done, we are assured in the following verses that just as surely as the fruit was sin and death when we were yielded to sin, so surely will the fruit be holiness when we yield ourselves servants to righteousness. Yea, even more sure; for 'where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.' Righteousness is stronger than sin, even as God is stronger than Satan. God can pluck out of the hands of Satan the soul that cries out for deliverance; but none can pluck God's children out of His hand.

"Not Under the Law. -Many people are fond of quoting this expression, thinking that it forever absolves them from any observance of the law of God. Strange to say, this expression is used as a cover only for non-observance of the fourth commandment. Repeat the fourth commandment to a man who objects to keeping the Sabbath of the Lord, the seventh day, and he will say, "We are not under the law." Yet that same man will quote the third commandment to a man whom he hears swearing, or the first and second against the heathen, and will acknowledge the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. Thus it appears that men do not really believe that the statement that we are not under the law means that we are at liberty to break it. Let us study the whole verse, and its different parts.

"What Is Sin? -"Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law." 1 John 3:4. "All unrighteousness is sin." 1 John 5:17. This is definite; let us hold it well in our minds.

"What Is Righteousness? -Righteousness is the opposite of sin, because "all unrighteousness is sin." But "sin is the transgression of the law." Therefore righteousness is the keeping of the law. So when we are exhorted to yield our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, it is the same as telling us to yield ourselves to obedience to the law.

"Dominion of Sin. -Sin has no dominion over those who yield themselves servants to righteousness, or to obedience to the law; because sin is the transgression of the law. Now read the whole of the fourteenth verse: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace." That is to say, transgression of the law has no place in them who are not under the law. Then those who are not under the law are those who obey the law. Those who break it, are under it. Nothing can be plainer.

"Under Grace. -"Ye are not under the law, but under grace." We have seen that those who are not under the law are the ones who are keeping the law. Those therefore who are under the law are the ones who are breaking it, and who are therefore under its condemnation. But "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." Grace delivers from sin. Distressed by the threatenings of the law which we have broken, we flee for refuge to Christ, who is "full of grace and truth." There we find freedom from sin. In Him we not only find grace to cover all our sin, but we find the righteousness of the law because He is full of truth, and the law is the truth. Ps. 119:142. Grace "reigns" through righteousness, or obedience to the law, unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." {November 8, 1894 EJW, PTUK 707}

"'Sin is the transgression of the law.' 1 John 3:4. Now the Apostle Paul writes, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.' Rom. 6:14, 15. There is no necessity for any misapprehension as to what it is to be under the law, for the apostle says that those who are not under the law do not sin; that sin has no dominion over them. That is to say, they do not transgress the law. The man, therefore, who is not under the law is the man who keeps the law. Christians are under grace, and the grace of God saves from the transgression of the law." {September 5, 1895 EJW, PTUK 563.2}

"Then comes the conclusion: 'For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' Verse 14. Notice a few facts and necessary conclusions. 1. Since 'sin is the transgression of the law,' the absence of sin must indicate obedience to the law. Therefore when the apostle says to any persons, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you,' it is an evidence that they are keeping the law. 2. Those over whom sin has no dominion are those who are not under the law. 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law.' The fact that sin has no dominion over them is an evidence that they are 'not under the law.' Therefore, to be 'not under the law' is equivalent to being free from the dominion of sin. 3. But we have already seen that to be free from the dominion of sin represents a state of obedience to the law; therefore, to say that one is 'not under the law' is equivalent to saying that he is keeping the law.

"These propositions will stand the test of any criticism, and they demonstrate that the apostle's argument is based on the fact that the law is in full force, binding upon all, and that there are but two classes of people; those who keep the law, and those who transgress it. Those who keep the law are not under it, and of course those who transgress it are under it. In other words, those over whom sin has dominion are under the law; and those over whom sin has not dominion, are not under the law." {May 6, 1886 EJW, SITI 263.6}

The 1888 message is beautiful truth.  The 1888 messengers did give the trumpet a "certain sound".  May we take this truth, and allow the goodness (grace) of God to have sway in our hearts and minds, so the world can see that to be "under grace" means to be one who obeys God's law of love.
-Bob Hunsaker

Raul Diaz