Commentary on "Thessalonica in Paul's Day"
Day 7: Friday, July 20, 2012 - Further Study
Finally Jon Paulien brings Ellen White to speak in order to enhance the study. From his final questions, one particular statement made by Ellen White in Desire of Ages appears to have special importance:
“Outside of the Jewish nation there were men who foretold the appearance of a divine instructor. These men were seeking for truth, and to them the Spirit of Inspiration was imparted. One after another, like stars in the darkened heavens, such teachers had arisen. Their words of prophecy had kindled hope in the hearts of thousands of the Gentile world" , The Desire of Ages, p. 33
Jon Paulien asks:
What do you think Ellen White meant when she wrote (above) that the “Spirit of Inspiration” was imparted to Gentile teachers? To what degree is God at work in the world of ideas outside the Christian context? Can a person be saved if they have never heard the name of Jesus? If so, on what basis?
It becomes clear that for Jon Paulien, even the Greek philosophers (teachers) shared in the spirit of inspiration and the content of that kind of inspiration had saving power. His questions are rhetorical, expecting a certain answer.
As it was already discussed on Wednesday, those Greek philosophers taught a morality opposed to the gospel. How could a morality that stands against the gospel lead to salvation? It leads in the opposite direction in the same way the morality of the Jews constitute the first motivation in rejecting Jesus's righteousness:
For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. (Romans 10:3 ESV)
Even Jon Paulien noticed that those philosophers had no supernatural element involved in their teachings, all was pure human achievement. Still, the objector may say, Ellen White doesn't affirm that the teacher's moral ideas or their methods were inspired, only their prediction that a future "divine instructor" will come. This distinction needs to receive attention.
Even if they were possessed by the spirit of inspiration only in regard with a coming of a future "divine instructor", this alleged “inspiration” is still flawed. God took flesh and became man not in order to teach us a better way of life (even if He made clear how high are God's perfect standards), not to teach us a better way of achieving this divine moral standard, but He came first and foremost to be our Savior, to live, die, and rise in our place, to do for us what we were unable to do for ourselves even if we were to live 1000 years. Yes, Jesus was a great teacher, but His teaching was a secondary aspect of His mission of salvation. Belief in His teachings regarding living a higher moral life, believing only that He's a divine teacher, has no salvific power; believing that He saved us through His life, death and resurrection leads to salvation.
In conclusion, the alleged “inspiration” of the gentile teachers didn't lead people to salvation. First, their moral training was defective, pushing people into a self-righteousness program, and second, a future teacher, even divine, cannot save. The solution proposed by the Greek philosophers is a tricky solution. Even God Himself, apart from the death of God-man Jesus Christ, could only be a Teacher, a perfect Teacher, but not a Savior. Sinners need first a Savior, and only second a Teacher. Until this lesson is understood, God's grace and the power of salvation will elude understanding and people will entertain a false hope which is no hope at all.
Copyright 2012 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised July 19, 2012. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Camp Verde, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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