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Commentary on "Keeping the Church Faithful (2 Thess. 2:13–3:18)"



Day 2: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - Faithful by God’s Choice (2 Thess. 2:13–17)


In this day’s lesson, the Investigative Judgment concept is alluded to by inserting a claim that is not in these Thessalonians verses. Paul only says that they had been chosen from the beginning for salvation; he says nothing regarding seeing evidence of this in the lives of the Thessalonians – yet that addition reinforces the SDA view that a believer’s life has to provide proof they are safe to save. Further, the lesson inserts a qualifier after saying salvation is a gift: even though it’s a gift, it is experienced “through sanctification of the Spirit and belief in the truth.” Salvation is a gift (period) and the only salvific truth is Jesus. By making salvation about sanctification and believing all the right doctrines, assurance of salvation is effectively made unknowable or something to strive hard to maintain. In contrast, the Bible teaches we are saved at the moment of belief in Jesus’ finished work for us (John 5:24, Romans 10:9), all we need to know is Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2), and God Himself begins and finishes our faith (Hebrews 12:2) not letting anyone or anything snatch us out of His hand (John 10:27-29). There’s a big difference between knowing Jesus (faith) and knowledge of doctrines. Only the first saves; while sound doctrine is important it doesn’t provide or maintain salvation.

The lesson importantly states the truth that the written word (Bible) “provides a secure and unchangeable norm by which one can test the oral messages that come through preaching.” What does testing against Scripture actually mean, rather than reinterpreting Scripture to mesh with “new light?” Testing against Scripture means to understand what the Bible teaches regarding Jesus and throwing out any teaching that contradicts, especially if it contradicts the plain, simple, central truth of the Gospel: Jesus saves and it is a gift.

In the ending questions for Sunday’s lesson, it asks how you have changed over time and does this reveal a settling into the truth or movement away from it? This question comes out of the false idea that doctrines instead of Jesus alone are what saves us, and that salvation is gradually achieved over a lifetime instead of the new birth happening simultaneously with trusting in Jesus. Satan does try to tempt believers to quit trusting in Jesus, but that’s completely different from prying us away from “the truth” as SDA’s understand “the truth.” When we are “in Jesus” once we place our faith solely in Him, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit – how much more saved can one get? It’s a done deal at that moment, and no need to worry about passing a theological exam now or at any other point in life.




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