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Fourth Quarter 2014 (October–December)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF JAMES
Week 2: October 4–10
COMMENTARY ON THE PERFECTING OF OUR FAITH
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.
In lesson 2 of the Sabbath School the Memory Text for Lesson 2 is:
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2, NIV).
According to Fundamental belief no. 24 this text is not the accurate; in Adventist belief, Christ at His ascension entered into the first apartment of what they believe is the real sanctuary in Heaven. The 28 Fundamental Beliefs are their cardinal points of belief. Because these Fundamental Beliefs endorse the investigative judgment, they cannot teach that Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father when He ascended. This lack of teaching Jesus’ finished atonement makes their doctrine a contradiction to the Bible, in particular it contradicts this lesson’s memory text above. The Lord Jesus had in fact “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God,” as the memory verse says—in contradiction to this lesson’s memory verse.
The question from page 24 reads: “What kind of feeling(s) do you experience when you know that you are right with God?” From the material in the lesson it’s reasonable to assume that one would have the feeling of dread and doubt. The writer tries to assure the readers that “Likewise, as Christians, we need not get all worked up over whether or not our characters will be good enough in the end” (p. 17). This reassurance doesn’t corroborate with what Adventist say in their core beliefs. Note the following statements from their prophet, Ellen G. White, who they claim still is a “continuing and authoritative source of truth” (Fundamental Belief #18):
“Let no one say, I cannot remedy my defects of character. If you come to this decision, you will certainly fail of obtaining everlasting life. The impossibility lies in your own will. If you will not, then you cannot overcome. The real difficulty arises from the corruption of an unsanctified heart, and an unwillingness to submit to the control of God” (COL 331).
“Not even by a thought did He [Jesus] yield to temptation. So it may be with us. . . . So long as we are united to Him by faith, sin has no more dominion over us. God reaches for the hand of faith in us to direct it to lay fast hold upon the divinity of Christ, that we may attain to perfection of character” (Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 123; from p. 27 of the quarterly).
Not even by a thought? Seriously?
“God would have his servants become acquainted with their own hearts. In order to bring to them a true knowledge of their condition, he permits the fire of affliction to assail them, so that they may be purified. The trials of life are God’s workmen to remove the impurities, infirmities, and roughness from our characters, and fit them for the society of pure, heavenly angels in glory. Then as we pass through trial, as the fire of affliction kindles upon us, shall we not keep our eyes fixed upon the things that are unseen, on the eternal inheritance, the immortal life, the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory? [A]nd while we do this, the fire will not consume us, but only remove the dross, and we shall come forth seven times purified, bearing the impress of the Divine” (Ellen G. White, The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, April 10, 1894. From p. 20).
What a confounding contradiction to justification by faith! Note Galatians 3:
3 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
So, as Ellen White puts it, it’s the trials of life that ‘fits’ us for Heaven. My question is where does Jesus fit here? We have a Savior, not merely a “sacrifice” and an “example” as Adventists would have us believe. Note the following:
Philippians 1:6: And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Who does the making ‘fit’ for Heaven? The Adventist teaching is that their investigative judgment and heavenly sanctuary construct is needed to see if we are “safe to save”.
Again, from page 24, “What kind of feeling(s) do you experience when you know that you are right with God?” This question reminds me of a saying, that “the definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. If one’s doctrines keep one insecure and always worried about whether or not one is acceptable to God, I would strongly urge any reader of this lesson to be like the Bereans in the Bible and “search the Scriptures” to see whether these things are so.