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Second Quarter 2015 (April–June)


Week 10: May 30–June 5


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.



Day 1: Saturday, May 30, 2015—Introduction

“In doing this, He also created a redeemed community, a community of those who, having been saved by His death, have chosen to model His life and teachings.” (Standard Edition Page 80)



This week's lesson asks very important questions regarding how to live the Christian life. These questions demand an answer.

However, the answers needed cannot be based on incorrect premises. The paragraph quoted above is one of several posited in the lesson, and it is one of the most damaging.

We are NOT saved by the death of Jesus. His death on the cross demonstrated his once-for-all victory over sin, but victory over sin is not salvation.

Life, the eternal, indwelling Holy Spirit, is salvation. This indwelling would not be possible if Jesus merely died for our sins. He had to be resurrected. I invite you to read 1 Corinthians 15. Without the resurrected Christ we are to be pitied above all people and are still in our sins.

If you look up the word “life” in a New American Standard Bible concordance you will find 39 examples of it in John's gospel. The vast majority of these are definitions given by Jesus himself and refer to the life that is found in him.

We simply cannot have faith in the dead Jesus, because there is no salvation upon which to base our faith in the dead Jesus.

The disciples' exclamation, “Increase our faith!” in Luke 17 came after Jesus explained, for the umpteenth time, the futility of trying to keep the law for salvation. Woe to the one who causes anyone to stumble, woe especially to anyone who causes a child to stumble; and forgive, without reservation or limit, everyone. In response to their fear and grief, he said, “Oh, by the way, faith no larger than a mustard seed will be infinitely powerful.”

To a person who relies on the death of Jesus for salvation Jesus' words are an invitation to disaster. They are damning. Such is the utter powerlessness of the Law.

This is why Jesus fulfilled the Law. It also is why once it has driven us to him, the law is done with us and steps aside, never to define our lives again (see Galatians 3:23-29).



  1. This week's lesson asks important questions, but starts off with a flawed premise.
  2. We are not saved by the death of Jesus, but by the resurrected life of Jesus.
  3. The Law is not our friend. The indwelling Spirit is, and his power is more than sufficient to transform us into the kind of people he wants us to be.



Sunday, May 31, 2015—Flee Pharisaism



“If you want to follow Jesus fully, what changes do you have to make in life—spiritually, socially, physically, mentally?” (Teachers Edition Page 132)



I find it ironic that a belief system so thoroughly rooted in behaviorism, that teaches salvation is based on law-keeping and that judges all other belief systems would be able to write about Jesus' woes on the Pharisees without even a hint of self consciousness.

How many times, as I was growing up, did I hear statements like this: “Oh, she would make such a fine Adventist if she would just keep the Sabbath.” I once said things like this myself, and I believed I was correct. These same kinds of people send poison pen letters to Richard and Colleen Tinker for the things we who help provide these commentaries write.

Here is the dirty little secret regarding Christianity. ALL belief systems judge all other belief systems and write poison pen letters to their adherents.

Every one of us, left to our own logic and reason, is a Pharisee. Every human being is a natural born legalist. These woes are for all of us, and they should drive us to our knees in thankfulness for the forgiveness that is ours in Christ.



  1. These terrible curses spoken by Jesus to the Pharisees are for us as much as for them.
  2. No amount of wishful thinking will prevent us from doing these things to others.
  3. Only the indwelling Jesus, who renews our minds and conforms us to himself, is able to teach us a different way to live.



Monday, June 1, 2015—Fear God



“'Fear God and give glory to Him’ (Rev. 14:7, NKJV) is the first of the three angels’ messages, so central to Seventh-day Adventists’ life and faith. Fearing God is not being afraid, as it is often thought to be. It is realizing just who God is and what His claims on us are. God becomes the sole definer and arbiter of our life—our thoughts, actions, relationships, and destiny. Discipleship based on that kind of 'fear' stands on unshakable ground.” (Standard Edition Page 82)



If I realize “just who God is and what His claims on [me] are,” will that stand me on unshakable ground?

I submit the answer is No. Instead, this kind of thinking leads directly to the negative kind of fear described above.

Here are two passages to which I refer quite often, in my life and in my counseling.

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:12, 13 NASB) [Emphasis added]

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Whatever claims God has on me are based in his overwhelmingly powerful salvation. Remember, there is no salvation in death, only in life, and Jesus' life is more than sufficient to the task.

The Godhead initiates salvation to us, and then the Godhead ensures that this salvation completes what was started.

How much of the Christian life must I live on my own in my own strength? None of it! How much of the Christian life can I live on my own in my own strength? None of it!

Whom shall I fear? No one.

Then to what fear does Paul refer. It is not the fear of realizing God has claims on my life. Rather, it is the fear of realizing that very God has chosen to live in me, and his doing so has not turned my flesh to dust.

What a privilege we have to fall on our faces before our God, joining the four living creatures, the twenty-four elders, the angels and every created thing as we cry out,

Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.

To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever. (Revelation 5:9, 10, 12, 13 NASB)

Only the living Jesus, who was dead, but is now alive forever, can make this kind of joyful, reverent, anthem-filled fear possible.



  1. You cannot remove fear in law.
  2. You can remove fear only with perfect love (see 1 John 4:18)
  3. Only then can all-powerful love be expressed in joy and reverence.



Tuesday, June 2, 2015—Be Prepared and Watchful



“‘For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more’ (Luke 12:48, NKJV). What should this text mean to us as Seventh-day Adventists?” (Standard Edition Page 83)



There are two very important issues in Tuesday's lesson. This is the first. Notice the presumption. Seventh-day Adventists, above all other belief systems, have been given much. How could this not be so when they have Ellen G. White and when they are the only church to keep the entire Law?

Let's talk about the Law first. I have friends who once were members of the Worldwide Church of God. They put SDA law-keeping to shame. Not only did they keep the Ten Commandment, including the Sabbath, they kept everything in the Mosaic Covenant. The only thing they did not do was kill lambs and turtle doves, because Jesus represented these sacrifices.

SDAs sneer at this as legalism of the worst kind, conveniently ignoring that they truly believe law-keeping saves you. This is the pot calling the kettle black. “I'm better than you because I'm not as legalistic,” is hardly a statement of faith.

Here's the second issue, and it is related to what I wrote in Saturday's Introduction section: “Paul explains the Christian life as one of spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12). The focal point is that every Christian is involved in the cosmic conflict between Christ and Satan, and the Cross draws a clear line between the two. Only by continual faith in the Christ of the cross can one win the final victory.” (Standard Edition Page 83)

The Christian life is one of spiritual warfare. However, the cross of Jesus is not the source of victory in this warfare. There is no life in the cross, so there can be no victory.

Again, the cross's victory is over sin. It provided reconciliation, but it did not provide salvation.

Only the resurrected Jesus can provide life, a life defined by the indwelling Holy Spirit. But there is no viable Holy Spirit within Adventism. The Spirit's role is completely subsumed within Ellen White. Therefore, one of the Adventist distinctives, one of the things they believe they have been given and for which they will be held accountable, is nothing more than pitiful idolatry.

Adventists spend all their time staring at the cross and expect Ellen to save them.

Yes, I know no Adventist would ever put it this starkly, but this is their de facto practice. Yes, Adventists talk about Jesus, but they deny everything he accomplished for them in his death and resurrection. How else can I explain it when they deny the assurance of salvation, complete forgiveness, being absent from the body and present with the Lord, and most of the other great themes of the New Covenant.

In addition, while Paul does describe the Christian life as spiritual warfare, what does he say is the end goal of our battle? To stand! Nothing more. We are not called to do battle with Satan's minions. We are not called to take the world for Jesus. Every piece of spiritual armor is given to us IN THE SPIRIT, and we get to stand in that armor, completely safe, completely immovable as Satan's biggest, most powerful weapons arrive as so many cotton balls.

Our battle is wholly defined as learning how to walk by faith instead of running off half-cocked with our supposed law-keeping to engage an enemy who can wipe the floor with us without breaking a sweat.

Jesus is victorious, or there is no victory. His victory is my victory, or I have no victory. His life is my life, or I am utterly dead.

Remember, there is no controversy between Christ and Satan. Satan is a created being who was defeated by the cross and resurrection. Satan does make accusations, but he's just whining. Jesus is God Almighty! He is holy, loving and just. He is all-powerful.

Perhaps the best indication of the nature of this supposed controversy is found in Revelation 20:1, 2 (NASB) – “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years...”

Jesus is so not bothered by Satan that he dispatches a regular angel to bind this pathetic, weak, defeated enemy and throw him into the abyss.

There is no controversy. Never was.



  1. Adventists have been offered exactly the same things as everyone else: Complete forgiveness because of Jesus' victory over sin on the cross and total assurance of salvation because of his victory over death in the resurrection.
  2. Forgiveness is ours in Christ. (See Ephesians 1:7 and Colossians 1:13, 14.)
  3. The indwelling Holy Spirit guarantees our salvation. (See Ephesians 1: 13, 14.)
  4. There are no special gifts given to Adventists alone. In particular, Ellen G. White is not such a gift.
  5. By contrast, every believer has been given every spiritual blessing in Christ. (See Ephesians 1:3, 4 and 2 Peter 1:2, 3.)
  6. Trusting the indwelling Spirit to complete the work he started (Philippians 1:6 and Titus 2:11-14) is the only way to defeat our natural lethargy.



Wednesday, June 3, 2015—Be a Fruitful Witness



“In each of these texts, and others, the dangers, the responsibilities, and the rewards of witnessing and faith are revealed. We have been charged with a solemn responsibility; but considering what we have been given, how little is really asked of us?” (Standard Edition Page 84)



Today's focus is witnessing, and, in particular, witnessing regarding the cross. Once again, the lesson's flawed premise creates confusion and defeat.

I still remember the hand-out I received in church back in the 1970's, but I remember only one thing on that piece of paper: “Their blood is on your hands.”

In other words, if I didn't witness or bring an unbeliever (that is, a non-Adventist) to the evangelistic series, then, if they were lost, it would be my fault.

And this is what passed for motivational messaging.

Now I understand why I reacted so negatively. It was not because Adventists, including me, had no empathy for the lost or sensed no urgency to reach them for Jesus, but because there is no Jesus in Adventist evangelism.

“The plan is rooted in the cross, and the good news of the cross must be told to everyone in the world. The responsibility of that witness is placed on every Christian.”

Why is there no Jesus in Adventist witness? Because Jesus is not on the cross! If we don't move past the cross to the empty tomb we have nothing to say.

Thankfully, the lesson's author quotes Acts 1:8. Did Jesus say this before his crucifixion? Absolutely not! This was the last thing the resurrected Jesus said to the disciples before he was taken up before them. These were his very last words.

Sadly, the lesson's author quotes only the second part of the verse. He left out, “... but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you...”

Witnessing for Jesus depends on two things. First, I must have a relationship with him. Second, everything I say and do must be motivated and empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

In other words, I cannot witness regarding someone I don't know, and, because this is first and foremost a spiritual issue, my witness must come from the Holy Spirit within.

Also note that Jesus did not say to “do” witnessing; he said we would “be” witnesses. As we experience more of Jesus' ongoing miracle within us and others, as we become ever more aware of his love and grace, we cannot help but talk about it. We don't need tracts. We don't need a how-to guide. It just pours out of us.

But all this depends on the risen Jesus. When we are witnesses for the risen Christ, we get to talk about both the cross (forgiveness) and the resurrection (life). When we focus only on the cross, we have nothing.



  1. Witnessing is not a task to be performed for which we are judged.
  2. Witnessing is the unbelievable privilege of talking about the Jesus we know better than our spouses or closest friends.



Thursday, June 4, 2015—Be a Servant Leader



“In so defining servanthood and self-denial as the core principles of His way and His leadership, Jesus introduced a new dynamic to human relations: fulfillment comes not from power but from service; leadership derives its authority not from position but from servanthood; transformation begins not with the throne but with the cross. To live is to die (John 12:24).” (Standard Edition Page 85)



The cross, the cross, the cross...

Please know that I am thankful beyond words for the cross, but the cross is not the final proof of Jesus' servanthood.

This paragraph may be the single most powerful statement made in this week's lesson. Jesus did introduce a new dynamic to human relations. What he demonstrated throughout his ministry was so different from what the people were accustomed to seeing they were regularly befuddled. Regardless, they could sense his power.

What I was looking for in this paragraph is this: To live is to die, and then live again. Is this not what Jesus said in the very next verse? Is this not how Paul described the Christian life in Romans 6:4-7?

Here is the final proof of Jesus' servanthood. Rather than simply overwhelming the world with his power and majesty he dares to work through the likes of you and me. The King of kings chooses to put himself in these jars of clay to accomplish miracles beyond comprehension.

You never will understand this awesome, awful power until you look at the empty tomb, and then turn around to walk boldly into the very throne room of heaven to meet the risen Christ and receive his life as your own.



  1. Thursday's lesson is the best of the entire week.
  2. However, the author's continued focus on Jesus' death robs servant leadership of its power.



Friday, June 5, 2015—Further Study



The usual Ellen G. White quotes. (Standard Edition Page 86)



As usual, and as further proof of Adventism's idolatry, Ellen White gets the last word.

Actually, these are good references. Notice that neither of them are focused on the cross, and the second one actually quotes Colossians 1:27.

But as I've written before, if these quotations contain truth it is because truth is stated. It is not because Mrs. White wrote them. She does not hold a holy monopoly on truth.

Any one of us can know and share truth, but only if we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who reveals the truth of God's word to us. We do not need to go to our churches, theologians or so-called prophets to be told what to think and do.

This brings us back to the week's theme: How do we live the Christian life?

By faith!

We live this life by faith in the risen Jesus. We live this life by resting in him. We live this life by allowing the indwelling Spirit to renew our minds, reveal scripture and replace our pitiful attempts at behavior modification with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.

No list of rules, no false identity can accomplish this for us. But if we allow the Spirit to do his work we WILL see life change. We will see victory. We will be witnesses. We will serve.

Because this is how Jesus designed it. Let him do what only he can do, and then rejoice as he works through you in ways you never could have imagined!



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