Commentary on "Equipping for Evangelism and Witnessing"
Day 1: Sabbath Afternoon, May 19, 2012 - Introduction
In this week’s lesson the main idea is “we must be ‘properly equipped’ to effectively witness for our faith.”
There are two key thoughts that bind the daily lessons together to understand the “equipping”. The first is that one must have personal assurance of salvation to lead others to a personal and saving relationship with Jesus. The second is that one must truly understand the gospel message.
It is true that a (restored) relationship with Jesus is our salvation (Rom. 4-5). Our “equipping”, or “witness” is the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling us (Acts 1:8).
It is important to note that equipping is a result of our salvation. Also, we are justified by faith alone, not works (Rom. 5:1; Eph 2:8-9). I emphasis these two points because SDAs hold some confusion in regards to the “what” and “how” of salvation.
We will look briefly at the two key thoughts and the SDA teachings behind each one.
1. Salvation Assurance
The lesson begins with this statement:
“It is highly unlikely that a person who has no personal assurance of salvation will be able to lead another into an intimate saving relationship with Jesus.”
I totally agree with this statement. Our personal relationship with Jesus is the foundation for effective evangelism. Because Christ is in us, we naturally become a living witness of Christ. Salvation assurance gives us confidence in Jesus and the works He has accomplished on our behalf. This confidence, this new life (salvation) with Christ in us, and working through us, all become becomes desirable to others. They want what we have—Jesus! Here is what the Bible teaches us about salvation assurance:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. —1 John 5:13
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.—John 5:24
God wants us to KNOW that we are saved; we have passed from death to life at our moment of belief!!!!!!
So the quote from the SS Quarterly strikes me as odd since SDAs are specifically taught to not be sure of their salvation. Here are a few quotes from their prophetess, Ellen G. White:
“We are never to rest in a satisfied condition, and cease to make advancement, saying, “I am saved.” … No one is saved who is a transgressor of the law of God, which is the foundation of his government in heaven and in earth.” —Review and Herald June 17, 1890, par. 8
“We are never to rest in a satisfied condition, and cease to make advancement, saying, “I am saved.” When this idea is entertained, the motives for watchfulness, for prayers, for earnest endeavor to press onward to higher attainments, cease to exist. No sanctified tongue will be found uttering these words till Christ shall come, and we enter in through the gates into the city of God. Then, with the utmost propriety, we may give glory to God and to the Lamb for eternal deliverance. As long as man is full of weakness—for of himself he cannot save his soul—he should never dare to say, ‘I am saved.’” —Selected Messages, book 1, pg. 314 par. 2
“Those who accept the Savior, however sincere their conversion, should never be taught to say or feel that they are saved.” —Christ’s Object Lessons, pg. 155 par. 1
“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement.” —Testimonies, Vol. 5, p. 214 par. 2
These statements reveal that Adventism does indeed teach salvation by faith plus works. Obedience, commandment-keeping, perfection or sinlessness are all necessary to obtain and maintain salvation. As a result of man’s works (continued sin or disobedience), one cannot be confident in their salvation.
As shown in the quotes above, Ellen G. White states that “No one is saved who is a transgressor of the law of God’; or “Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them.”
2. The Everlasting Gospel
The lesson states, “To be a true evangelist, one must have a firm grasp and experience of “the everlasting gospel”
Seventh-day Adventism holds to a false gospel. Man is not saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (as evidenced above). Instead, man is saved by faith in Jesus plus good works (of obedience). The Adventist gospel, then, is a false gospel (Gal. 1:6-10).
Their gospel is not good news at all. Man is at least partially dependent on his/her own works, and their salvation is not secure.
A false gospel
Adventism holds Ellen G. White to a higher authority than God’s word. The Adventist “pillars” of “distinct doctrine” (ie: Sabbath as the seal of God; the Investigative Judgment/Pre-advent Judgment; etc) are to stand firm even when shown to be an incorrect interpretation and even refuted by the Word of God.
“We are not to receive the words of those who come with a message that contradicts the special points of our faith. They gather together a mass of Scripture, and pile it as proof around their asserted theories. This has been done over and over again during the past fifty years. And while the Scriptures are God’s word, and are to be respected, the application of them, if such application moves one pillar from the foundation that God has sustained these fifty years, is a great mistake. He who makes such an application knows not the wonderful demonstration of the Holy Spirit that gave power and force to the past messages that have come to the people of God.” —Selected Messages Book 1, pg. 161, par. 2
Ultimately, even God’s Word cannot discredit the “Spirit of Prophecy” that inspired Ellen G. White.
To be clear, no one has power or authority to change God's Word. In fact we are warned not to add to or take from it (Isaiah 8:20; 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Corinthians 4:1-2; Rev. 22:18). Most importantly believers are called to protect His Word (Jeremiah 23:36; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; Titus 1:9).
I would contend that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has changed some substantial parts of the Bible; and have in fact published a translation of their own, the “Clear Word”; which includes the revelations and inspiration of their prophetess, Ellen G. White. These teachings are written into Scripture and change the identity of God and the works He has accomplished on our behalf.
For example, the Adventist teaching of the Investigative Judgment (or Pre-Advent Judgment) significantly weakens Christ's atonement and undermines what occurred at the cross. SDAs believe and teach the scapegoat is Satan and that he, instead of Christ, removes the sins of God’s people. Their “Great Controversy” world-view teaches that Christ did not gain victory over sin and death at the cross and that there is still a battle to be fought and won between God and Satan. The cross yielded only partial victory. God must still vindicate His righteousness to man and most importantly to Satan. Adventists also believe that Sabbath observance (instead of Sunday) is the seal of God. This teaching is blasphemous and a direct contradiction of God's Word and the work of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13-14). I could go on, but those are a few interpretations Ellen G. White, under spiritual “inspiration” falsely applies to God’s Word.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised May 18, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and the corresponding E.G. White Notes are published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's editions are pictured above.
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