June 20, 2015 was a very special Sabbath at the Iglesias Adventista Hispana de Efeso in Miami and in heaven as Estefania gave all of herself to Jesus, because He gave all of Himself for her.
Estefania and her brother really enjoyed their first year at Tampa Adventist Academy, where they both joined my baptism classes. Estefania was also in my Bible class, where she eagerly participated in choosing to have a close, real and personal relationship with Christ.
After attending my baptism classes at Tampa Adventist Academy Estefania shared a desire to be baptized in the summer at the church in Miami that is very dear to her heart. You can see she is very dear to their hearts too.
Estefania was baptized by Pastor Samuel Diaz.
Estefania writes of her baptism:
It meant that I was a new person and that God had forgave me for all my sins. That also meant was I can be with God when he comes back to save us so we can go to heaven with him. Also I feel a new person in Jesus Christ.
Don’t let the sun set on you before you decide to give your life to the One Who gave His life for you. I would love to help you in this decision. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net
Did you know that Sunday Observance is not a Biblical memorial to the resurrection? God gave us baptism as a memorial to the resurrection.
“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” Romans 6:3-4 NKJV
In Luke 3:21 Jesus gave us the example of baptism, and in Luke 4:16 He gave us the example of continued 7th day Sabbath observance.
For more on baptism click here. For more on the Sabbath click here. For more on Sunday observance click here. To study this week’s Sabbath School lessons click here.
Ric, is our latest class member to be baptized, April 12th at the Brandon Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ric has not only attended my baptism class, but he is also in my Bible chain-referencing class I hold at TAA as well, where he has learned with the other students, how to present Bible studies about the plan of salvation, baptism, the Sabbath and several other topics, as well as ask for decisions at the end of the studies.
Ric shares with us what his baptism meant to him.
“I enjoyed the baptism class with Pastor Earnhardt. I liked the stories of the Bible character’s lives. I also liked how we got to go outside and have class in nature. Baptism to me means to start new. In God’s eyes I am a new man now.” -Ric, newly baptized student
Ric is fun loving with a sense of humor much like mine (I hope that’s a good thing!) but on the morning of his baptism he was, while being happy, also very serious, showing his sincerity and appreciation for the event, as Pastor Rex Frost, his pastor baptized him. Afterwards Ric appreciated a special prayer of dedication that I, along with his family and church family had for him.
Please continue praying fro Ric as he continues his walk with Christ, and for all of the students at Tampa Adventist Academy!
When Jesus cried out these last words, He gave up His breath, and rested in the tomb on Sabbath. Four thousand years earlier, He had finished creating the world and rested on the Sabbath. Adam and Eve rested too on that very first Sabbath, though I don’t think they were really tired. Adam and Eve did not exactly have a long week that week, and they were not in need of physical rest, but rather they were in need of a spiritual rest. I can imagine God walking them through the garden that first Sabbath and showing them all of His works. They realized on that first Sabbath,
it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Psalms 100:3
Likewise, when Jesus cried out 4,000 years later from the cross, “It is Finished” He was not only our Creator but also our Redeemer. On that Sabbath after the crucifixion it was realized, that not only had He created us not we ourselves, but He also redeemed us, and not we ourselves. Jesus is the author and finisher of our creation and re-creation. The Sabbath takes on a special meaning after the cross and makes it more dearer and special than ever before. Jesus gave us an example of resting on the Sabbath both at creation and at the cross. Jesus never gave any notion that Sunday was a sacred day. Rather when He told Mary not to touch Him because He must ascend to His Father, He was recognizing Sunday as a work day and not a day of rest. He rested on Sabbath and then rose on Sunday because He had to see His Father and get back to work! Others say we should observe Sunday as a memorial to the resurrection, yet nowhere is that mentioned in the Scriptures. Rather the Scriptures give us a memorial to the resurrection which is Baptism.
Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. Romans 6:3-6
When we follow Jesus’ example of resting on the Seventh-day Sabbath, we are recognizing that Jesus finished all the work in saving and redeeming us. We rest from our works on the Sabbath and rest our faith in Jesus. in Baptism we crucify our own works of flesh when we go down into our water grave. We come up out of the water, taking a new breath and living a new life that God has created and not we ourselves. Jesus is the author and the finisher of our creation and our re-creation.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:17-19 NKJV
Occasionally, while giving Bible studies, I will hear someone say, “Once Jesus fulfilled the commandments He did away with them. He fulfilled them so we don’t have to.” Well, let’s take a look at that. Does fulfill mean to do away with? My Websters Dictionary tells me that fulfill means to carry out. I don’t think carrying something out and abolishing it can be the same definition. My Roget’s Thesaurus tells me fulfill is the same as pleasing or sufficing. I don’t think you please of suffice something by abolishing it either.
Now that we have looked at Roget and Webster’s definition of the word “fulfill,” more importantly let’s see how the Scriptures use that word. Even more important and accurately, how Matthew himself uses that word.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. Matthew 3:13-14 NKJV
So Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism. Did He abolish it after He fulfilled it? No, of course not. We know that the command to be baptized is all over the New Testament. Matthew, the same writer who tells us Jesus fulfilled the rite of baptism also records Jesus’ command,
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… Matthew 28:19 NKJV
So Jesus did not abolish baptism when He fulfilled that rite, but rather set an example for us to follow. Likewise, Jesus did not abolish the law by fulfilling it, but rather gave us an example to follow.
Sunday’s section of this week’s Sabbath School lesson, mentions circumcision, which some people in some cultures now classify as barbaric. I have heard a few good Christians question why God chose circumcision for a sign that you belonged to Him? I have heard Christian men ask, “why the penis of all places?”
We all know circumcision is no longer a sign of a covenant between God and us – thank goodness! Still it puzzles some believers as well as unbelievers alike as to why God ever had anyone do this. My purpose here is to answer the question, “why did God ever tell us to do this” and in the process we will see the gospel where before many people only saw a painful ritual.
The Scriptures say that Abraham had two sons, one from his slave wife and one from his freeborn wife. The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born as God’s own fulfillment of his promise. These two women serve as an illustration of God’s two covenants. Galatians 4:22-24 NLT
God had made a covenant with Abraham and promised him a son. All God needed Abraham to do was believe the promise. Abraham saw that his wife was old and not even menstruating anymore, so instead of just trusting in God’s promise, he took his much younger handmaid Hagar and worked things out on his own. Together they had a son. This is the old covenant, which is man keeping the commandments in his own power, instead of just trusting God to write them on our hearts. The old covenant is legalism, or the works of the flesh. It’s a me-plus-Christ mentality instead of “Not I But Christ” (SeeGalatians 2:20), the motif Paul shared as the crux of the gospel.
So God had Abraham practice circumcision.
Then God said to Abraham, “Your responsibility is to obey the terms of the covenant. You and all your descendants have this continual responsibility. This is the covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Each male among you must be circumcised. You must cut off the flesh of your foreskin as a sign of the covenant between me and you. From generation to generation, every male child must be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. This applies not only to members of your family but also to the servants born in your household and the foreign-born servants whom you have purchased. All must be circumcised. Your bodies will bear the mark of my everlasting covenant. Any male who fails to be circumcised will be cut off from the covenant family for breaking the covenant.” Genesis 17:9-14 NLT
Abraham’s part in the covenant was to keep himself from doing those things God had promised. Abraham was trusting in his flesh to work things out, so God had Abraham circumcise the part of his flesh he was trusting in, so that he could realize the gospel is not “me plus Christ” but “Not I but Christ.”
For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort… Philippians 3:3 NLT
… like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness. –Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 98
Abraham had that part of his body circumcised because that was the part of his body he was trusting, more than he was trusting in God’s power. Now we have baptism as a sign that we are casting away self-confidence, as we go under the water washing self away, and dying to self, we rise up taking the new breath we now live, not trusting in self, but trusting in Jesus.
Satan works hard to make us miss the whole point of this lesson by coming up with his own rituals, and then making male circumcision appear to be another cultural ritual. For example, female circumcision, which has no Scriptural significance is still widely practiced. It is seriously harmful to women and its practice often has ulterior motives.
Finally, some men who were circumcised as babies, and learning that circumcision is no longer Biblical or morally necessary, have become quite bitter towards their parents for “mutilating” them. To those I would say, first of all, you have not endured anything that Jesus Himself has not endured. Jesus was circumcised too. See Luke 2:21. No matter how awkward or “embarrassing” an area of your life may be, Jesus has been there and experienced it for you. He understands everything! Second, most parents were simply doing the best they could with the information they had at the time. All parents have to make decisions about the treatment of their babies on a range of issues and most make those decisions with the best information available. And with the health benefits, your parents may have made no mistake at all.
Satan likes to make the Gospel look foolish and even crazy in human eyes, and because circumcision is a sensitive issue it is an easy target. I pray my brief attempt has helped you to see the gospel where before all you could see was a Jewish ritual.
I have had the pleasure of studying with Abel and Ely for the last several months. There home sits near a small lake, and we often enjoyed studying on the balcony overlooking the lake. They love God and His church family with all their hearts, and have already been very active in the church in many different ways, including attending my class on how to give Bible studies and lead others to Christ.
“My reconciliation with God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church
After been born and raised in an Adventist family, at the age of 17, decided to take my own path and make my own decisions as an “adult” in spite of my young age. After such strong determination, left my parent’s coverage facing a new life filled with challenges and lessons which marked me for the rest of my life. During those years away from the gospel, had intervals and a huge need to return to the ways of the Lord; but the distractions of the world kept me busy, maybe to the point of feeling “attached” which broke my first marriage and each us and our family. At that very moment, it’s when and where I’d reached bottom and realized that my life had to change once and for all.
Is in the summer of 2010 when my children were with their father for vacation when I’d found myself completely alone and broken; cried out to my God, and asked for his favor to please get me out of the abyss I was in at the time. In a conversation with a former classmate at the seventh-day Adventist Academy, mentioned a book called ‘Knowing Jesus is everything’ (author Alejandro Bullón) and I said: “Let me see, I think I have it in my mini-library” when I go and look for it effectively there it was, still a ‘practically brand new book’. This book was given to me in the year 2000 during my son’s presentation at church; also traveling to all the sites that I’ve lived; from Puerto Rico to Georgia, Georgia to Germany and Germany to Florida where I currently live. The year 2010, was the one where the total transformation in my life started, after reading the book. Afterwards, I’d started to attend a non-denominational church where I was baptized in 2011 by both the pastor of the Church and the man who became my husband. Only God knew what he was doing in my life. I had no idea that God had that gift of a man, a true man of God and also that he will forgive me for all my sins and loved me and saved me and my children.
After my baptism, one of my former classmates of the Academy says “Ely, you know the truth” and I said “I won’t return to the Seventh – Day Adventist Church, I have a relationship with God and it is all that I need ‘. Looking here and there for churches, one morning passed through the Avenue in front of this church and I saw the sign that says” Seventh Day Adventist Church”. I remember a day like it was yesterday, it was the beginning of 2012 when I decided to take the step and stop by the church. I got ready and drove to church; when I got there, Sister Isoline and the teacher Millie Mojica welcomed me and my family with such love and for the glory of God it remind me of my school days in the seventh-day Adventist Academy in Caguas, PR. At that moment, the promise of God that says: Stay faithful and I will give you the desires of your heart! Amen! I decided to establish myself in this church and told my husband “I’m not sure which church you want to belong to, but I am staying here” hoping that he was feeling the same way and to my surprise, he was. The Adventist Church is more than a church or organization, is a difference, in love and dedication all around the world. Even in Germany I found the ‘Pathfinders’ without looking for them and it brought back many memories.
My fellow brothers and sisters, the bible verse who says “Instruct the child in its way and even if it will be old will not separate of it” it became true testimony in my life. I felt as the bountiful son who was lost and returned. After trying to fill the emptiness in my life on my own, God filled me completely with the truth of the Adventism for his glory and honor. During all this process in my life my children, clearly, also were marked. To feel the voice of my son saying to me ‘Mami thanks for changing and being at home, you stopped going to clubs and now we have you here at home and in the church’. You will not know, how my son broke my heart with these words, but only it was looking at God and was giving him the glory and honor because it protected me and received me once again with open arms at home.
This is just a short part of my testimony, which I just shared with you, it’s meant for those parents who pray for their children for them not to get tired or give up on them and for them not to stop doing it. Also it’s intended for those children who have been feeling “aggravated” because of their parent’s ways of caring, to please love them and forgive them because they are not perfect in any way, and for them to understand that we enter entire perfection when we turn to the arms of our Creator. These last months with the Pastor William in our house, God’s plan refreshed our beliefs and what we learned in previous years and now comprehend as adults for our lives under the coverage of the Adventism.”
Ely also supplied me with some pictures of her baptism in the same Word document she sent with her testimony. I could not get the pictures to transfer from Word to this post, but the entire testimony in Spanish with pictures are provided by just clicking on the word “Ely” on the line below.
Several Sundays ago we had a work bee at the church and Abel and Ely faithfully participated along with several other church family members. Abel is on far right. Ely is behind the camera.
Pastor Brad, Center, prepared Ryan (on Pastor Brad’s left with his wife Erika) and Janice (on Pastor Brad’s right with her boyfriend David) to join by profession of faith.
“I would like to start by thanking the congregation. I feel blessed to become a member of the church. I’ve been searching for God’s truth and The Lord led me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Looking forward to continuance growth spiritually through the church.”
While we presented the candidates to the church family, Abel thanks the church congregation for being family, and commended the church leadership for encouraging us all to grow together in Christ.
Please don’t allow the sun to go down on you before you give your heart to the One who gave His life for you! I would love to talk to you about giving your heart to Jesus and becoming a part of His body which is His church. If you are not int he Tampa Bay area, you can still contact me and I will be happy to help you find a Grace filled Bible based church in your corner of the world. You may contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net