The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's edition is shown above.
Official Adventist Resources for week 8:
Support this project
If you would like to support this website, please click on the following link to donate online or you may mail your check to: Life Assurance Ministries, PO Box 905, Redlands, CA 92373. Mark your check "Bible Studies."
First Quarter 2016 (January–March)
COMMENTARY ON REBELLION AND REDEMPTION
Week 8: February 13–19
COMMENTARY ON COMRADES IN ARMS
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).
Sabbath Afternoon, Feb. 13: Introduction
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32)
This week's Quarterly lessons are founded upon the assumption that the Great Controversy theme is true with statements such as this:
"Thus, as the great controversy raged around Him, we can see it rage around the disciples, as well. Until the bitter end, when Jesus cried, “It is finished,” Satan found it impossible to make Jesus stumble and fall. Christ’s followers, however, were much easier prey. Their character flaws gave him inroads into them that were readily exploited."
The purpose of this commentary is to challenge that assumption.
Even though the quarter title is 'Rebellion and Redemption' any moderately informed Adventist understands that this is another name for 'The Great Controversy' and refers to the book:
The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan
"The Conflict of the Ages in the Christian Dispensation"
Today's introduction begins well enough by quoting Luke 24:32 where Jesus taught by turning to the Scriptures. Even the Apostle Paul's preaching was proven to be true to the existing Scriptures as the Berean example shows us in Acts 17:11. Neither Paul nor any of the other authors of the inspired word of God would contradict existing Scripture.
Since the entire lessons for this quarter assumes the Adventist concept of The Great Controversy to be true without defining from Scripture the origin of this foundational Adventist doctrine it is appropriate to do so at this time.
Scripture simply records, Rev. 12:7-12, that there was war in heaven resulting in The Dragon and his angels being cast out down to earth by Michael and his angels. The following Ellen G. White quote is an example of her writings that go beyond what has been recorded in Scripture:
"We are all to understand that there is a fallen angel who was once next to Christ in honor among the heavenly host. His work of deception was done in so great secrecy that the angels in less exalted positions supposed that he was the Ruler of heaven. Satan made the representation that all wrong insinuations existing in heaven originated among the angels, while he himself had made suggestions which would never have been entertained by the angels, had he not created them. He artfully presented these things to God, as having come from the angels, while they all originated with Satan himself....
Because he was not able to insinuate his deceptions upon Christ, he determined to undermine Him by false statements and reports. War in heaven was the result, and Satan was expelled. He became Christ's most deadly foe. His constant effort was to counteract, in every possible way, His great work of saving souls.
Christ had worked in the heavenly courts to convince Satan of his terrible error, till at last the evil one and his sympathizers were found in open rebellion against God Himself. Then he claimed a right to take a position above Christ as covering cherub. Expelled from heaven, he came to this earth, determined to work against Christ. He is in no danger of losing the angels that he deceived. He has them under his banner, enlisted to fight against the Son of God.
When Christ came to this world, Satan was constantly on His track, striving to make His work of no avail. When Christ was healing the sick and afflicted, Satan was on the ground, making His work of saving souls as hard as possible.... " (Ellen G. White, This Day With God, page 256)
Nothing can be hidden from God. It is not possible that Satan (The Dragon, Lucifer) could do anything without the knowledge of God, Psalm 139, Luke 8:17, Heb. 4:13. Obviously what Ellen claims to know and record in this quote is a lie.
Ellen also claims that Satan was once "next to Christ in honor among the heavenly host". This is another lie. Jesus is and always was from beyond eternity the Son of God. Jesus was not and never was "among the heavenly host" who serve and worship God. While there are a number of biblical passages such as Isa. 14:13 that describe Satan's jealousy none of these passages reveal to us Satan's reason for becoming jealous.
Furthermore, Jesus the Son of God was the Creator of all things. This would certainly have included Satan and all the other original heavenly hosts before his was cast out of heaven, John 1:1-5. The mystery is; Why would he be jealous of his Creator?
Satan forever lost the war in heaven. His personal fate was determined the instant he was cast out of heaven. He, along with all the other evil demons, will be cast into the Lake of Fire.
As was promised in Genesis 3:15, Satan lost his claim on the fallen human race when Jesus shed his blood at Calvary and arose three days later. Those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ are transferred out of Satan's kingdom of darkness and join with Jesus Christ eternally in the kingdom of God. Satan's attacks are against Christians since he has already lost his fight with God. Since Satan has no power to attack God he has no power over the armor of God. There is no cosmic one-on-one ongoing battle between Satan and Jesus.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
Sunday, Feb. 14: The Call of Peter
Assumptions continue with this statement:
"When one considers the incredible issue at stake in the great controversy, it’s amazing that Jesus would use human beings to aid Him in ministry, especially those as flawed as the ones He chose."
The entire human race has been "flawed" since Adam sinned, not just the twelve Jesus chose to be his closest disciples. Judas betrayed him and the other eleven abandoned him, yet none of us are without sin. Without any assistance from the fallen human race, Jesus went to Calvary alone. This included Peter who is the subject of today's lesson.
In Romans 3:10 the Apostle Paul teaches that none are righteous because we are all "under sin", that is, we still sin even after our sins are covered by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then we come to this passage:
...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:23-26)
Justification is a gift. It is not something we earn or the result of something we do. When Jesus chose Peter he knew full well Peter was just as much a failure as any other sinner. When Jesus chose Peter to be one of his disciples he knew full well what he would tell Peter on the night Peter claimed he would never deny him:
Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. (Matt. 26:34-35)
All the while knowing Peter would soon deny him and that he would never become perfect in this lifetime Jesus had already given Peter an important leadership role in the beginning of the early church:
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. (Matt. 16:15-18)
Even as Peter was the leader of the apostolic church the Apostle Paul found the need to confront him with his less-than-perfect hypocritical conduct:
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. (Gal. 2:11-12)
God's success in the redemption of mankind at Calvary was totally through the will and power of God. Our sovereign all powerful righteous God answers only to himself. While it is a mystery as to why God chooses to bring any sinner into his kingdom the fact is that God does so because he loves us, John 3:16. Our abilities, or more to the point, our lack of any ability of our own plays no part in the success of God's plans.
Monday, Feb. 15: "With Him"
The focus today is on the what it means to be an apostle, or as it is defined in the Greek; "to send out", Luke 6:12.
Jesus sends out the twelve apostles with this authority:
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:1-2)
It is important to notice that Jesus gave the twelve apostles authority over all the demons. What it means 'to be an apostle' of Jesus Christ acting under the authority he gave the apostles is that The Great Controversy is a lie because Satan and his demons cannot defy the authority of God given to an apostle of God by Jesus the Son of God.
Shortly later Jesus sent out another seventy-two evangelist with similar authority. Upon their return they also said; "even the demons are subject to us in your name". Fantastic as that was, Jesus gave them something else even greater to rejoice about:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
Jesus is telling these returning evangelist to rejoice in that their names are written in heaven. How many Adventist know their names are written in heaven and that they will never be separated from the love of God?
As for Satan and his demonic associates, Jesus Christ the Son of God is in total control and they must obey him. The power Jesus bestows upon these seventy-two evangelist illustrates God's absolute sovereign authority and power. There is no such thing as an ongoing Great Controversy.
Tuesday, Feb. 16: Jesus' Dominion Over Nature
Today we are asked to "see the reality of the great controversy revealed" in Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41 & Luke 8:22-25.
The assumption is made that this illustrates The Great Controversy theme in the natural world. Actually, the very opposite is true:
And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” (Matt. 8:26-27)
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Rom. 1:18-20)
When Jesus speaks even the natural things he has created must obey him. The natural world around us reveals God's 'eternal power and divine nature'. This certainly is another example that exposes The Great Controversy as a fraud.
Wednesday, Feb. 17: Who Is the Greatest?
The lesson cites the words and authority of Jesus Christ to show that the greatest in the kingdom of God come before him humbly 'as a little child would' and that anyone who would be great are to do so as servants to those under their leadership.
The lesson then introduces Isaiah 14:14 as the primary proof text to show that his desire was to be "like the Most High" and was Lucifer's root sin which led to rebellion in heaven.
Issues that may seem secondary but shouldn't be condoned concerns the practice of 'proof texting' by ignoring inconvenient details such as when the lesson references Matt. 20:18-19 concerning what the mother of the sons of Zebedee requested of Jesus. The lesson says this:
"As soon as He finished saying all this, the question of who was greatest came up again. They did not even hear what Jesus had said. It was obvious that they were not listening. Interested in their own small-minded ambitions, they missed the large issues at stake, focusing on false concepts of an earthly kingdom that would never come and missing out on what Jesus was telling them about the eternal one that He was offering them through His own upcoming death."
In Matt. 20:17-19 Jesus took the twelve apostles aside to tell them what was about to happen in Jerusalem. The lesson lied because the mother hadn't heard what Jesus had just told the apostles in private.
This lesson quote is also wrong about an "earthly kingdom" because God will keep the promise he made to King David:
And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (2 Sam. 7:10-13)
Jesus Christ is that Offspring of King David who will rule from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 14:14 is a favorite proof text used to support The Great Controversy concept of Adventism. This verse is part of a prophecy concerning Israel's future that has never, as yet, been fully fulfilled, verses 1 and 2. Verses 3 through 23 of this chapter concerns Babylon and the king of Babylon which has had a literal fulfillment. While it certainly seems likely verses 12 through 15 is a reference to what happened to Lucifer it is also what has happened to the king of Babylon. What is true of the one must also be true of the other because the word of God is true in the very details.
As for Lucifer, his desire to "make myself like the Most High" seems to be the root sin that resulted in him and his evil angelic hosts being cast out of heaven. To say more is dangerous speculation. As has been pointed out earlier this week the problem is that Ellen G. White goes far beyond what Scripture does teach us with details that contradict who God is. God is sovereign. To say anything that limits God's sovereignty is heresy.
Thursday, Feb. 18: Divine Encounter With the Word
The lesson almost gets a grasp on an important truth with this statement:
"Notice that Jesus’ whole emphasis was on the Scriptures. Just as He resorted to Scripture in His battle with Satan in the wilderness, He goes to the Scriptures here in order to push back the darkness that these two were in."
In the lesson for today the question is asked:
"Here, again, as all through the Gospels, we see Jesus keeping the Bible front and center. How, then, can we guard ourselves against any type of thinking that would cause us to question the authority of Scripture?"
For a non-Adventist who believes the Scriptures to be the only source that reveals to mankind 'the mind of God' the understanding is that the Holy Bible is the recorded very 'words from God' he placed 'in the mouth' of his prophets, Jeremiah 1:9. Therefore:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Since The Great Controversy doctrine is full of unsupportable beliefs which alter God's total sovereignty it is clear that the writings of Ellen G. White are not the very words from the mind of God.
If you maintain belief in the writings of Ellen G. White then it is hypocritical to maintain that your faith is founded solely upon the authority of Scripture.
Friday, Feb. 19: Further Thought
One of the fundamental flaws of Adventist is revealed in this discussion question for today:
"As we saw this week, Jesus chose some flawed people to work with Him. What hope does that give you in regard to how Jesus can use you, despite your own weaknesses?"
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom. 3:21-26)
Contrary to Adventist teaching, righteousness in the sight of God is solely through faith in God manifested through the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus. While we are certainly to obey God this has nothing to do with obedience to the so-called 'eternal moral law' of God found within the Old Covenant Mosaic law.
Faith in Jesus is our only source of righteousness because all our own works are as filthy rags in the sight of God, Isaiah 64:6.
Jesus didn't pick people to "work with him" because of their merit. We are all born sinners and have all sinned, meaning we all fall short of the glory of God. Jesus went to the cross at Calvary alone because only the shed blood of a righteous sacrifice could make atonement for sin, 1 Peter 1:18-19.
In the words of Jesus:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
The branch that bears much fruit does so only because of the vine. Jesus is the vine and those who have been redeemed by the blood he shed at Calvary are the branches.
Towards the end of his life the Apostle Paul had this to say:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:12-17)