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Commentary on "Confidence"



Day 2: Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lesson Summary

Sunday's lesson presents the following points:

"Their confidence is not in themselves, or what they have done or could ever do. This confidence rests, instead, entirely on Jesus."

"How does the reality of your own foibles bring home the need to make sure that your confidence rests in Jesus and not in yourself?"

"Christians can draw near to the throne of God…because Jesus shed His blood for them on the cross…and has ascended to heaven to serve there as High Priest on their behalf."


The comments from Ellen White include these from Signs of the Times, October 3, 1892 and The Bible Echo, April 15, 1892:

"We may confess our sins, and right there, while asking, know that he pardons our transgressions, because He has promised to forgive." ST

"The sum and substance of the whole matter of Christian grace and experience is comprised in believing on Christ – in knowing God, and his Son, whom he hath sent." BE

"They should be encouraged to ask largely, and expect without a doubt the riches of his grace; for through Jesus we can come into the audience chamber of the Most High." ST


Commentary on the Lesson

This sounds like grounded, evangelical Christianity. What it says harmonizes with the message of the Bible. But it also carries with it a great sadness since it provides camouflage for the far more prominent messages in this lesson. Words like those above give people the idea that there is nothing wrong with the premise of the Adventist message. It sounds right, truthful and Christian in tenor. It gives members the idea that they are in a church that believes the gospel wholeheartedly while the undermining uncertainty lies hidden just below the surface. There is a split in the message of assurance or confidence which creates dissonance that defies resolution.

If the statements above constituted the central message coming from the SDA Church, one would be hard-pressed to take exception with them. Sadly, they do not represent the core. With careful picking and choosing it would be possible to present a picture that is consonant with evangelical Christianity. However, that would be deceptive. An accurate picture cannot be painted without including the voluminous statements such as the ones below from both leaders and the woman accepted as an authoritative voice in doctrinal determination.

"Here is the life-insurance policy for every soul that shall strive in the right way and upon the right principles. They shall never fall, but shall have their eternal life insurance papers in the sign given in Exodus 31:12-18, in the observance of the Lord's Sabbath. This means obedience to all His commandments, for the keeping of the Sabbath, which God has sanctified and blessed at Creation, ‘is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations' ‘for ever,' ‘that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.' (Verses 13, 17.)" {5 Manuscript Release 88.3}

It is the Sabbath, in this statement, that is felt to be the insurance policy for the soul, not the cross, not Jesus, not faith in the Savior. It is "the observance of the Lord's Sabbath," not salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that determines a sinner's final outcome.

" … I saw that the holy Sabbath is, and will be, the separating wall between the true Israel of God and unbelievers; and that the Sabbath is the great question, to unite the hearts of God's dear waiting saints. And if one believed, and kept the Sabbath, and received the blessing attending it, and then gave it up, and broke the holy commandment, they would shut the gates of the Holy City against themselves, as sure as there was a God that rules in heaven above…And at the commencement of the time of trouble, …God's chosen, all saw clearly that we had the truth, and they came out and endured the persecution with us…" Word to the Little Flock, p. 19

Notice, it is the Sabbath that is the dividing wall and without which, the gates of Heaven will be shut against the one guilty of infraction. Confidence in salvation is not based on Jesus and His cross as the statements at the beginning of this section would suggest.

"We shun the perception of being arrogant, and we don't want to come across as being overly exclusive, but at the same time we believe that being Seventh-day Adventists has direct bearing on our salvation; that while a believer can be saved as a Catholic, I would risk my whole spiritual life and salvation were I to leave what I am now and join any other community." Jan Paulsen, Adventist Review, June 13, 2002.

Being an Adventist is a salvation issue in the estimation of the President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Clearly, it is not faith in Christ alone that determines salvation in Adventism.





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