Commentary on "Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism"
Day 5: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - Evaluating for Spiritual Growth
Today’s lesson starts out with 1 Sam. 16:7, emphasizing that while man looks on the outward appearance, the Lord looks at the heart. It continues on to state that evaluating spiritual growth goes beyond merely numbers, but that the church should be filled “with people who are growing in their relationship with Jesus, who love the Lord and who express that love in obedience to His commandments.” They again emphasize the need to avoid doing what the Scribes and Pharisees did in Matt. 23:15 in making new converts “twice as much a son of hell as yourselves”. The author states there’s no real “spirituality scale” we can use to evaluate personal spirituality, so it’s “more appropriate and profitable to consider whether each believer is on a spiritual journey rather than determine at what point he or she is on that journey. Indications of a spiritual journey are the spiritual disciplines in which we become involved.” It ends by saying that when “dealing with new members, we should—in a kind and loving way—help them understand how important things such as prayer, Bible study, and obedience are to their spiritual growth.”
While some good points are mentioned in the lesson, such as the importance of prayer, Bible study and personal evaluation, there are several subtle things put in the lesson that underscore the SDA theology and the importance of works, while not coming right out with the information.
- The phrase “obedience to His commandments” comes up again in this lesson, as it does in many of their lessons. Instead of boldly telling the people they are teaching that Sabbath-keeping is a requirement for salvation (according to their doctrines), they feign “faith alone”, while it is clear in their teachings that this is not the case (The 3 Angels Message, the “Seal of God” = Sabbath-keeping [the test of true believers], their emphasis on the 4th commandment and Old Testament laws, etc.). This is talking out of both sides of their mouth and is very deceptive. Gal. 5:18 says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
- They use the word “member” instead of “believer” or “Christ-follower”. This is very telling, as they’re not out to convert people to Christianity, but to bring them into the “Seventh-day Adventist flock”. Because of their belief that they hold the only true message, by definition, they cannot work with evangelical Christians to bring others into the body of Christ, which includes Sunday-keeping. They teach a false gospel—one that contradicts many biblical fundamentals. Bringing others into a Sunday-keeping church would violate their core doctrine of The 3 Angels Message.
- The author mentions that there isn’t a “spirituality scale” and that it’s more important to know if a person is on a spiritual journey than to determine at what point he or she is on that journey. One can determine what kind of a “spiritual journey” a person is on based on their alignment to biblical principles. Any religion or cult can have people on a “spiritual journey”, but that doesn’t mean anything. The Bible is clear that if a person is a true believer, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, that they will bear spiritual fruit—The Fruit of the Spirit (Matt. 7:16-20; Col 1:10). Gal. 5:18, 22-23 says,
“But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
This will be evidenced by good works; much like a tree will bear fruit when it’s healthy. This is very different from the works-oriented perspective of law-keeping. Sabbath/law-keeping is not mentioned in this list as something that will happen when a heart is right with God and is filled with the Spirit. Having The Fruit of the Spirit is not about trying harder, it’s about Christ’s transforming work in our life. When we’re truly born again, the fruit will be there—light and darkness cannot reside together.
- The Seventh-day Adventists continue to hammer away at the “obedience to His commandments”, emphasizing the Old Testament Jewish laws and Sabbath-keeping as evidence of a true believer and a transformed heart. Gal. 5:18 says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.”
- Seventh-day Adventists are out to convert “members” to their specific denomination. Because of the belief that they hold the only true message, by definition, they cannot work with evangelical Christians to bring others into the body of Christ. Bringing others into a Sunday-keeping church would violate their core doctrine of The 3 Angels Message.
- A “spiritual journey” can mean anything. If one is a true believer, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, he/she will bear spiritual fruit. Gal. 5:18, 22-23 says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law…But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
- Sabbath/law-keeping is not mentioned in the list of the Fruit of the Spirit.
- When we’re truly born again, the fruit will be there—light and darkness cannot reside together.
GO TO DAY 6
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