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Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Day One, Sabbath Afternoon, August 23: Introduction
Today’s theme verse:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14)
The biblical mission of any Body of Christians is to bring ‘the lost and perishing’ into the kingdom of God by preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20)
Since the original eleven disciples were commanded to make disciples of all nations by proclaiming the ‘gospel of the kingdom’ just what is this gospel? We learn in Gal. 1:6-9 that there can only be one gospel and that those who dare to preach anything else are accursed.
When Jesus announced that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” we are to understand that all New Testament era inspiration, God’s finally message to this fallen world, would only come through the direct inspiration of himself which he delivered directly to his chosen apostles:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,·but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.·He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,·having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Heb. 1:1-4)
In ‘these last days’ all inspiration came only come directly from Jesus Christ with his revelation to the Apostle John being his finally message, Rev. 22:18-21. Jesus Christ’s final message was given directly to the original eleven disciples and the Apostle Paul. There can be no modern day addition to the canon of the New Testament. With this in mind we are to understand that the New Testament of the Bible, inspired by the direct revelation of Jesus Christ, is our only source for understanding Christian doctrine including what is the ‘gospel of the kingdom’?
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,·and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Cor. 15:1-11)
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,·if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,·let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. ·And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12)
Day Two, Sunday, August 24: To Be the Light of the World
Today’s theme passage:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.· Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.·In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)
The lesson makes good biblically sound statements about how Christians are to be ‘the light of the world’. The world is perishing through sin, disease, hatred, hunger, war, natural disaster and every other form of evil with the consequences of sin and rebellion against God being the cause. Only the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary addresses the root cause of all that is evil in this world.
In the words of the Apostle Paul who speaks of his own needs:
I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity.·Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.·I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.·I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:10-13)
The problem about the Adventist unique ‘light to the world’ is that it is man-centered works added to what Christ completed on the Cross of Calvary not understanding that unless you are born-again of the Holy Spirit you are not able to share the light Jesus was speaking of in Matt. 5:14-16. The Adventist additions to the gospel, as outlined yesterday, make the gospel a non-gospel, Gal. 1:9.
Day Three, Monday, August 25: To Be Witnesses
This passage sets the theme for today:
Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”·Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,·and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,·and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.·And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:44-49)
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.·For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.·For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:12-14)
If our witness of Jesus Christ is to be of any value it must focus on the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary for the complete atonement of our sins. When we accept the gospel of Jesus Christ we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who brings our sin deadened spirit to life. At this point I would like to give my own testimony of the works of Jesus Christ in my life.
My grandparents were Adventist and dedicated followers of both the word of God and the teachings of Ellen G. White. As such their own testimony was a mixture of both sources of what they believed to be God’s truth. My grandmother’s witness was of special importance to many of those who knew her because she had known ‘the prophet’ personally.
When I was a six-year-old my younger brother was dying of leukemia. Grandmother saw the urgent need to share the gospel message that Jesus died for our sins and that we would forever be with him when we died. My brother died knowing he was safe in the arms of Jesus and I had joy knowing I would again see my brother. A conference official, a personal friend of my grandparents, preached a very depressing message that held no joy in this time of obvious pain and sadness. Why didn’t he know of the peace you can have even when terrible pain is part of your life because you are have the knowledge that both you and the one whose earthly body lays in the casket are secure in the Savior’s salvation?
Ten years later a visiting preacher at the Adventist church I was a member of preached a message where he said “ninety percent of you are going to hell”. Since I knew only defeat in my attempt to live victoriously according to Adventist standards I decided to give up and simply attempt to be ‘a happy sinner’ which of course is not possible. Moving forward in time by another ten years a very simple follower of Jesus Christ shared with me what Scripture really teaches starting with the pure simple gospel. It was a great struggle for me to unlearn Adventist doctrine centered on the Investigative Judgment and the need to become perfect and simply accept what the Apostle Paul wrote from the direct revelation of Jesus Christ:
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?·Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. ·Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?·As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Romans 8:31-36)
Salvation is totally a work of God and does not include the results of our own efforts. The above passage in Scripture and the teachings of Adventism cannot be both true. My witness is that there is a choice you must make. When you make the right choice you can have peace and joy even while hurting knowing nothing can separate you from the love of God.
Day Four, Tuesday, August 26: So Send I You
This is the Quarterly lesson introduction:
‘According to John, in what way did Jesus define the mission of the believers? See John 20:21.’
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21)
For the context of this verse be sure to read at least verses 19 through 29.
When we read the context of this verse we see the disciples were in seclusion behind a locked door in fear for their safety when Jesus suddenly appears amongst them. Jesus calms their fears by greeting them with “Peace be with you”. Then he announces that he is sending them out in the same way the Father sent him. When we compare how the ministry of Jesus officially began with what he says next to them it is clear he is speaking of their being indwelt by the Holy Spirit before they can evangelize the world with the gospel message concerning his death, burial and resurrection for the ‘lost and perishing’.
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.·I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’·And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
While the lesson makes many ‘right sounding’ statements concerning the work of the Holy Spirit what is said in the lesson must be compared against official SDA teaching. For that we have the recent clearly stated words of Ted Wilson. In the August 5, 2014 online issue of the Adventist Review the Adventist Church President Ted Wilson who was speaking at the health conference recently held in Geneva, Switzerland is quoted as making the following statement:
“Nancy and I have been vegetarians all of our lives,” he said, referring to his wife, who was in the hall. “That doesn’t mean I’m any closer to the kingdom of than the person who is eating meat,” he said. “It simply means that I am trying to follow God’s health laws so that the frontal lobes and the delicate nerve endings can receive the impressions of the Holy Spirit in a wonderful way.”
Concerning the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a spiritually born again Christian there are at least two non-biblical statements in what Ted Wilson said in this Quote. The first is that Ted Wilson does not seem to understand that we are either in the kingdom of God or we are not. We are never just “closer to the kingdom of God”. When Jesus becomes our Savior we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, ‘born gain’ as it says in Scripture, and join the kingdom of God, John 3:1-18.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:13-14)
The message Christians have to proclaim to the world is that when you accept the gospel message of Jesus Christ and have been redeemed from the penalty of sin his gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit places you in the kingdom of God. Before that all unredeemed sinners are in the ‘domain (kingdom) of darkness’. It is never almost in or almost out of either.
Speculating on “frontal lobes and the delicate nerve endings” as it relates to the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of Christians is not a documented observation of science and it certainly isn’t biblical. Instead, Romans 8:16 teaches us that the Holy Spirit ‘bears witness with our spirit’ which was dead before it was brought to life by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It should be rather obvious that all of our physical brain cells have the same life before and after we become a Christian. If Ted Wilson’s heresy were to be true it would be as if Jesus had said “you must be born with living frontal lobes and delicate nerve endings” before you can join the kingdom of God.
What Jesus was simply saying to his disciples is that they would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit before they could embark upon evangelization of the world. When Jesus said “so I am sending you” it wasn’t so much about the content of why he was sending his disciples out to the world as it was the manner in which they would be empowered to do so. They would evangelize the world through the power of the Holy Spirit.
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”·He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.·And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.·And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.·And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 1:6-8 & 2:1-4)
Day Five, Wednesday, August 27: To Make Disciples
In the ‘Great Commission’, Matt. 28:16-20, all authority has been given to Jesus. With this authority Jesus commands the original eleven disciples to “go into all the world” with the mission of making disciples of all nations.
1. Making disciples means bringing sinners in the kingdom of God by preaching nothing but the biblical gospel message since there is no other gospel, Gal. 1:9. This is the total and only gospel that will convey you into the kingdom of God:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,·that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,·and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Cor. 15:3-5)
2. While our so called ‘natural talents’ may be useful, qualification for the mission of evangelism has nothing with them. Rather, the gifts of the Holy Spirit under the authority of our Savior is what equips us for this mission.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.·You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led.·Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.·Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit;·and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord;·and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.·For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit,·to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,·to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.·All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. (1 Cor. 12:1-11)
In the following passage the Apostle Paul candidly outlines his own natural talents. However he considers them nothing more than “rubbish” when compared to simply knowing the Savior:
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.·For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.·But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.·Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ·and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,·that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:2-11)
3. Water baptism certainly is a command for all Christians to obey. However this is not what brings a sinner into the kingdom of God nor does this baptism have anything to do with joining any certain denomination. Rather, water baptism is a public display of the inward regeneration of a sinner’s dead human spirit through our Savior’s gift of the Holy Spirit. The following passage from the book of Romans defines both physical baptism and the internal indwelling of the Holy Spirit that it portrays:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?·By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?·Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?·We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.·For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:1-5)
Day Six, Thursday, August 28: The Early Explosion
The lesson makes the following claim:
‘The eleven alone could never announce the gospel to the entire world, much less to every creature living in it. A task of such worldwide dimension requires the participation of the entire church. It is entrusted to all the believers in Jesus in all ages. This includes you and me.’
Oddly enough the title of today’s lesson is not really the subject addressed in the Quarterly lesson.
Thousands were added daily to the kingdom of God through the preaching of the gospel empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Acts chapter two. This is the reason there was such a phenomenal explosion in early church evangelism.
The lesson references Rev. 14:6-12 which is known as the “three angels’ message” in Adventism. The main point that needs addressing is; what is the ‘eternal (or everlasting) gospel mentioned in verse six?
The only possible answer has already been covered this week. It is all about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Calvary for the remission of the sin for all who would come to Jesus in faith. The Bible makes no mention of ‘Sabbath keeping’ as being a test of your faith. The Adventist health message is not part of the gospel. Preaching the simple biblical gospel, as asked in the lesson, is the worldwide mission of the church.
So now, what is the Universal biblical Church?
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:13)
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,·so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5)
The church, the ‘one body’ is all those who have been indwelt and baptized by the Holy Spirit since the day of Pentecost. While Christians are to obey God through water baptism this is not what brings you into the ‘one body’ known as the church or ‘assembly’ of believers. In-other-words, the one and only requirement is that you must be born again of the Saviors gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit to become a member of the true universal church.
‘The Early Explosion’ of those joining God’s kingdom was the direct result of the working of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the original disciples.
Day Seven, Friday, August 29: Further Study
The commentary for today focuses on the content of the three lesson discussion questions.
Third Quarter 2014 (July–September)
COMMENTARY ON THE TEACHINGS OF JESUS
Week 9: August 23–29
COMMENTARY ON OUR MISSION
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.