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First Quarter 2016 (January–March)
COMMENTARY ON REBELLION AND REDEMPTION
Week 12: March 12–18
COMMENTARY ON THE CHURCH MILITANT
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.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
The Great Controversy theme is the assumed Adventist framework for understanding Jesus Christ's prophecies of the seven churches introduced in Rev. 1:9-11.
As has been shown in the commentary responses for the previous lessons for this quarter one of the primary problems is that this theory has not been established from Scripture alone without resorting to the rather creative writings of Ellen G. White. The one great fatal error which makes this belief heresy is that it limits the sovereignty of God to the level of where Jesus Christ and Satan are engaged in ongoing face-to-face combat as near equals.
It is without question that when a person is redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and is transferred out of Satan's kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of God that person becomes an enemy of Satan. Yes, there is warfare but it is between Christians and the one who formerly kept them captive as slaves to sin and their sin nature.
We will leave the understand and application of 'the seven churches' of the book of Revelation for another time. Therefore instead of responding directly to "The Church Militant" the commentary for this week will focus on establishing, through the use of Scripture alone, just what is the church and how to become a member of the church, the Body of Christ.
Jesus Christ reveals the coming New Covenant Christian church in this passage:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matt. 16:13-20)
The church is revealed by Jesus in the above passage founded upon what God the Father has revealed to Peter, that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) the Son of the living God. What Jesus is saying is that the church is an institution created by God and because of the sovereignty and power of God 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against it'. This is another Scripture reference exposing the fallacy of the Great Controversy theme. Jesus is the Rock which the gates of hell shall not prevail against.
Jesus then goes on to say this:
From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Matt. 16:21-23)
Jesus commanded Satan "to back off" and at the same time warned Peter that what he had just said was human reasoning not of the will of God. Satan's attack was against Peter yet he had no other choice but to obey Jesus the Creator of all things.
Jesus' death, burial and resurrection at Calvary for the remission of the sins of the world must and would preceded the beginning of the New Covenant church. After his resurrection Jesus said this to the disciples:
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
Note: To understand the context of John 16:7 clearly be sure study the whole chapter, or preferably, the whole Gospel of John.
And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
Pentecost, the birth of the New Covenant Christian church:
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 2:1-4)
When Jesus ascended into heaven he sat down (Luke 22:69, Heb. 1:1-4 & Heb. 10:12-14) at the right hand of God the Father which is the most holy place in heaven. It is a lie of the first magnitude to teach that Jesus didn't enter into the Most Holy Place until Oct. 22, 1844 not understanding what it means to be seated at the Father's side. From this most holy place he then kept his promise and sent the Holy Spirit to empower the church, the Body of Christ, at Pentecost.
Therefore when you study the seven churches first outlined in Rev. 1:9-11 do not fail to understand that the gates of hell have not ever at any time prevailed against the church begun by God at Pentecost.
Furthermore only those whose sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ shed at Calvary are members of the true universe church, the Body of Christ, first brought into existence at Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago.
The church is the body of Christ:
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Cor. 10:14-17)
In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul addresses the saints who are in the City of Rome with a message intended for all Christians, Rom. 1:7. In Romans chapter twelve he refers to them as 'brothers in Christ' who minister to each other as individual members of the body of Christ. The vital point to understand is that each saint of the body of Christ has an equally important role for the health of the body.
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. (Rom. 12:4-5)
How to become a member of the Body of Christ:
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (John 3:3-6)
What Jesus teaches Nicodemus, and to us also, is that our dead human spirit must be reborn through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. See also the Gospel of John chapters 15 and 16 concerning his gift of the Holy Spirit.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:16-18)
Regardless of whatever human created organization you may be a member of that has virtually nothing to do with your salvation. The only requirement for entry into the Body of Christ (the true Church) and the Kingdom of God is through the blood Jesus shed at Calvary for the remission of your sins.
In First Corinthians the Apostle Paul addresses the church, the collective members of the Body of Christ who are in the City of Corinth, those who are in the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 1:1-3. In chapter three he addresses the issue of "divisions within the church" at Corinth.
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 3:5-11)
To take 'our eyes' off of Jesus Christ, the only foundation of the Christian faith, is what pollutes the temple of the Holy Spirit, the members of the Body of Christ. Paul is not talking about 'food laws' or any other topic of 'good health' nor does he allude to the question of 'Sabbath keeping'. Virtually all of these issues are artificially and falsely imposed upon the Scripture passages in question by Seventh-day Adventist theology.
Read this passage in context by understanding what precedes it in this chapter:
Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. (1 Cor. 3:16-17)
The salvation message for each of us is the same as what the Philippian jailer was told.
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)
The gospel message is that nothing but the covering blood of Jesus Christ shed at Calvary will gain you entry into the kingdom of God.
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. (1 Cor. 15:1-5)
Therefore there is a curse placed by the Apostle Paul upon those who would teach a false gospel not found in Scripture.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9)