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Luis Ivan Martinez Toledo, PhD Candidate, AIIAS, Philippines.

Theme: Spiritual life Text: "And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. (Joh 17:3 NAS). Purpose: a) To show that there are two different ways of reading the Bible: to gain knowledge, or to have a relationship with the God of the Bible. B) To invite the congregation to go beyond of the knowledge of Christ to the relationship with Him.

Scriptures are the living word of God, because All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; (2Ti 3:16 NAS). These were the words of the preacher one Sabbath morning on 1995, but Alexander, who was sat there, could not understand what they really mean. He was a drunk man before he knew the Adventist church, and by the knowledge of the truth he learned that alcohol and many other things were not the will of God for His children. After training his own will power and receiving professional treatment he was able to stop doing those things he now know were not for good Christians. His relatives could notice the changes in his life and they praise Lord for that. His behavior was according to the standards of that small church. Nevertheless He knew the truth. He confessed sometime later: the situation was worst then because I desired to do what I could not. I became a slave of that limitation. I enjoyed thinking in those things I could not do anymore as if I was just doing them. Alex lost his happiness and started to live one life in his mind and another in his body. I remember he told me that when he saw an advertisement of drinks he just let his mind fly remembering with pleasure old times. The worst

was when he passed by a place on the street, where drinks were sold. His nose forces his saliva to come out. He really liked to drink! He expend a lot of time requesting God for a change and reading Bible. Looking for answers he became a recognized Bible teacher in the Sabbath School, but nothing happened inside of his heart. If that was the only change he can expect, what is the difference between being changed by the power of Christ and being changed by the mutual aid movement of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)? What it happened? Was the time he spend reading Bible not strong (or long) enough to change his heart? There should be no expectation of change on that grade as some of his friend told him? What the words: that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Ti 3:17) really mean? I think Alex was not alone in that struggle. Many people recognize today the dichotomy between doing and knowing. It has been in that way since ancient times.

Still saved but immature

Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Co 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? (1Co 3:3) Paul did not say that they have lost their salvation, we cannot say that. If we parallel works with salvation then we are saved only when we do well, this is salvation by works, and Paul have spoken against this very clear and strongly enough. But he speaks here about one of the results of salvation, the new life in Christ empowered by Jesus who lives in us. The Corinthian were not unsaved people. They were saved. A few chapters later, after a detailed list of what wicked people do, and after concluding that they shall not inherit the kingdom of God, Paul contrast them with Corinthians saying: And such were some of you; but you (the Corinthians) were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. (1Co 6:11).

Therefore, these people who had divisions, (1Co 1:10) jealousy and strife (1Co 3:3) among them, who go to law brother with brother, and that before unbelievers! (1Co 6:6), who despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing (1Co 11:22) and who has remaining matters that Paul shall arrange when I (He) come. (1Co 11:34), are the same people who will be confirmed to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Co 1:8); who despise of temptation will be provided of a way of escape also, that they may be able to endure it (1Co 10:13), the same people who have received the gospel which Paul preached to them, in which also they stand, (1Co 15:1), and by which also they ARE SAVED. (1Co 15:2). By the way, the verb translated here are saved is an indicative present passive, which means that salvation is something worked in them NOW by an external agent not by themselves. Then, the Corinthians, the receivers of the letter, as we saw in 6:11 were WASHED, SANCTIFIED and JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul does not doubt of their salvation although they still have to hold fast the word which Paul preached to them, unless they believed in vain (1Co 15:2), but Paul speaks about matureness in Christian life. Paul uses the image of nourishment to referring to the source of development of the Christian life. In 3:1 Paul contrasts the spiritual ones with the flesh ones. And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. (1Co 3:1) He uses the image of a babe contrasting with Spiritual men. And Paul uses also the same image in 13:11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. (1Co 13:11) We can see this difference in matureness between the spiritual men referring to mature Christians and men of flesh or child for those who are still immature.

A matter of Food
Now there is a question, can a child be blamed of being just a child? We cannot expect children acting as adults; it will be unnatural. But they will act just as they are, children. Thats why Paul did not blame them for being children. His concern is about the nourishment they are taken.

Paul uses here the contrast between milk and solid food, GALAKTOS ( ) versus BROMA () I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, (1Co 3:2) We must give milk to a babe for nourishment, but we cannot give him solid food or he will be sick. Milk is indispensable for the development of a child. But milk is just the beginning of the process. If We continue giving him only milk without solid food, through the years, he will not grow up, he will be an anemic child unable of doing the things of older children. As a Christian grows up he has to eat a different kind of food otherwise he will not grow up, but even he can die. Then, we have to know what solid food is and where can we get it, so we can also assure our development as Christians. Here, Paul uses this images of MILK and SOLID FOOD after he argued about a kind of wisdom which comes directly from the Spirit of God, which is for mature Christians Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. 14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1Co 2:12-14) Now, Paul summarizes the thought as we already saw, And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it (1Co 3:1-2). Then, we can see that Solid Food is the things taught directly by the Spirit of God. And Milk are teachings for immature Christians. Paul elaborates better this difference of nourishment on the letter to Hebrews. Lets take a look of it. Go to Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb 5:12-14) Again Paul uses the images of milk and solid food. Now, milk here is the elementary principles of the oracles of God and the immature one is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. Please notice the emphasis on the

word ONLY. By contrast also we can see that the immature one, because of lack of practice doesnt have his senses trained to discern good and evil. In other words; He cannot distinguish what is good and what is wrong. He doesnt know the doctrine, the truth, the law, elementary principles of the oracles of God. In 6:1-2 Paul explains what the elementary principles of the oracles of God are: Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (Heb 6:1-2) Then, milk is the beginning in our approaching to Jesus. It includes doctrines and principles; theology; the knowledge of what is good and what is wrong. No matter how deep this knowledge of the principles or the content of the word of God can be it is just that, knowledge. Of course this knowledge will makes us wise for salvation, but still it is just an intellectual content. Have you ever noticed that some of the greatest theologians of the past two centuries where not interested in Christian life? Julius Wellhausen, a German Biblical Scholar who promoted what we called the high criticism of the OT wrote in his resignation from the theological faculty: I became a theologian because the scientific treatment of the Bible interested me; only gradually did I come to understand that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing the students for service in the Protestant Church, and that I am not adequate to this practical task, but that instead despite all caution on my own part I make my hearers unfit for their office.1 (Julius Wellhausen) What office? Service in the Church Unfit for practical Christian life! I have a friend who has the complete 28 Seventh Day Adventists fundamental beliefs in his mind and also most of the writings of Ellen White about health. And, believe me; he can use them very well still now. But he was not transformed from inside. One day he just left the Adventist church to live the wicked life he was already living in his mind when he

Cited in Robert J. Oden Jr.,"The Bible Without Theology", Harper and Row, 1987,

was still in the church. Now he says if there are no earthly pleasures on heaven, I rather will stay here. That was also the risk for my friend Alexander which experience I used at the beginning of this message. But, Paul says that there are Better Things (6:9) which, as he explains, are related with the Promise of a new mediator. Now if matureness was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? (Heb 7:11). Now let us see closer what Paul is talking about. The letter to Hebrews is an introduction of Jesus as the one who fulfill the promises of the Old Testament and the only One capable of exercising the real expiatory sacrifice and intermediary ministry. Paul introduces Jesus as High Priest on 5:1 and 5:10 says that he has being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Then the argumentation follows fluently in 7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God (Heb 7:1) Paul continues speaking about Melchizedek. Between this argumentation Paul inserts this parenthesis from 5:11 to 6:20 to speak about a shift from good to perfection or matureness. Here uses the images of milk and food showing the necessity of shift from one kind of nourishment to another which is better than the first, coming from the knowledge of doctrine to a relationship and acceptance of this new mediator Jesus Christ; an improvement from knowledge to personal relationship.

Summarizing, milk means the knowledge about salvation while Solid food means to enter in a salvific relationship with Jesus through the Spirit of God. Both, milk and Solid food though our study of the Bible. Perhaps that was the reason why Jesus rebuked the Jews who tried to kill him. Jesus say to them search the Scriptures, because you thought that in them you have eternal life But Jews did not notice that are the Scriptures which bear testimony of Jesus (John 5:39).

At the end what eternal life is if not that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.? (Joh 17:3). We can spend time searching the Bible to find truth, the real doctrine, and learning what are the first principles of the oracles of God so that, because of practice we may have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:14 KJV). This is important for repentance, for preaching the present truth. This is our mission as Adventists. For that we have been called. But still, we are drinking just milk, and it is possible that by comparing our personal experiences with the expectations of that present truth we became either disappointed or conforming to this age. The plain knowledge of truth doesnt change anybodys heart. It doesnt transform the inward lives. It is just the beginning, a beginning which in many cases has to occur every day. Nevertheless if we have to be transform by Jesus, we have to search for Jesus himself through the Scriptures. We have to enter in a salvific relationship with Him, our savior. Let me illustrate it. Do you remember Alexander the guy from the beginning of this message? He told me: Pastor, I learned about the leprosy condition in bible times and the rejection from the community it caused. I learned what the law was for a leprous man who has healed on the OT. But one day, while I was reading the story of the 10 leprous men on Luke 17, and after asking God to change my life, I found this text. And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed. (Luk 17:14) Then, Alex continued with his experience, I felt as if Jesus was telling me directly: do not ask me again on this matter, just act as if you were already cleansed, believe it, even if you do not see the evidences now, and as you are doing it, you will see the change. Then, Alex said, I changed my prayer and started praising God for the cleansing I was now sure to have. The prayer next morning was not asking a change of heart, but thanking God for that change he already did in my life. Then I have to ask, Alex, how you knew that change was already done? What you felt? And he answered: nothing, I didnt know it, I just believed it because God told me that in Luke 17, that was a word for me in that moment! Not many days passed when he was again exposed to the same visual temptation and the same smelling of drink which has provoked his desires again and again before. But now things were different. He felt repulsion for that smelling, his

stomach was not able to resist that situation and he understood that indeed he was changed by the power of Jesus; Whit whom he now had a special relationship through the Bible. I do not know what your situation is now, but if you also are expecting something more, something better, I invite you: let us study the Bible, but lets go beyond of the plain knowledge of salvation, to a living relationship with Christ himself. He is the only one who can put His laws into our minds, and write them upon our hearts, and be our God, (Heb 8:10) Let me finish with this quotation from Messages to Young People of Ellen white: If we would permit our minds to dwell more upon Christ and the heavenly world, we should find a powerful stimulus and support in fighting the battles of the Lord. Pride and love of the world will lose their power as we contemplate the glories of that better land so soon to be our home. Beside the loveliness of Christ, all earthly attractions will seem of little worth. {MYP 113.2} May God bless us to have a real relationship with Christ himself through our reading of the Bible!