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Second Quarter 2016 (April–June)


Week 10: May 28–June 3


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, May 28: Introduction



This quote from today's lesson sets the general theme for this week:

"This week’s lesson looks at some of the major events and teachings of Jesus as He came to Jerusalem, not to be crowned an earthly king, as so many people had desired and hoped, but to be made “sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21, NKJV)."



For those who understand the biblical gospel message know that verses such as 2 Cor. 5:21 declares that that entry into kingdom of God with the promise of eternal life is solely through the blood of Jesus Christ he shed at Calvary. The thief on the cross, Luke 23:39-43, was promised that he would be with Jesus in Paradise on that very day. The Philippian Jailer, Acts 16:25-34, when he asked; "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?", understood salvation was simply; "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved....".

Statements such as that found in today's lesson makes it appear that Adventist doctrine is in agreement with this orthodox teaching of "nothing but the blood of Christ" for salvation and eternal life. However, Adventism does add to and teach "a different gospel" which the Apostle Paul clearly warns us against and pronounces a curse upon those who do so in Galatians 1:6-10.

Furthermore the Apostle Paul, when writing to the saints in Corinth, reminds them and us just what is the 'Gospel of Jesus Christ'. Anything that adds to, takes away from or in any way alters the gospel is not the gospel:

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)

This gospel is "of first importance". Not only does this passage proclaim the reason Jesus Christ died at Calvary but draws attention to his resurrection which has been testified to by many eye witnesses who validate everything he teaches us about himself.

Jesus did not teach a 'health message' as defined by Adventism which certainly cannot be inserted into the above scripture passage.

The Sabbath day of rest, which is the sign of those under the Old Covenant, is not mentioned by Jesus as having any relevance to the New Covenant where the sign of this covenant is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:11-14)

Of "first importance" is when you hear the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ. It is at that moment that your sins have been covered by the shed blood of Jesus and you are sealed into the kingdom of God with with his promised indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Take note of Eph. 1:11-14 which includes the phrase; 'having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will'. Since this is in accordance with the predestined knowledge and will of God there can be no such thing as the false concept of 'investigative judgment' for God to determine and know who is in his kingdom.



Sunday, May 29: A Prophesied Coming



The lessons for this week center on the Gospel of Matthew chapters 21 & 22 which begins with a prophecy found in Zechariah:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zech. 9:9)

Today's lesson ends with this question:

"Again and again, we see how Scripture was fulfilled, and yet at the time, the people didn’t understand it. What lessons might we take away for ourselves about how preconceived notions could distort truth?"



Agreed, preconceived notions have often been known to distort truth. The danger is especially true if your preconceived notions are not centered on absolute truth. This is why our source of truth must be Scripture, all of Scripture and nothing but Scripture. Furthermore, in the words of Jesus, it is the role of the Holy Spirit to personally lead each individual in the kingdom of God into all that is truth:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16:13-15)

When you personally respond to the gospel message Jesus' promised indwelling Holy Spirit will "guide you into all truth", see John 16:7-15. If your faith is founded upon something other than the pure biblical gospel of Jesus Christ you are in mortal danger of believing a lie that cannot save you.



Monday, May 30: Jesus in the Temple



Jesus' first act upon entering the temple grounds:

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matt. 21:12-13)

The lesson says; "from the earliest days of fallen humanity, animal sacrifices were God’s chosen means to teach the world the plan of salvation...." yet the lesson fails to delve into the significance of the 'animal sacrifices'.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22)



When God placed Adam in the garden of Eden he instructed Adam that he could eat of every tree in the garden except the 'tree of the knowledge of good and evil', Gen. 2:15-17. If he did eat of this forbidden tree he would die on the day he did so. Along with Eve, Adam did eat and they both died on that very day.

One issue relevant to Adventist theology is the 'the breath of life' God gave Adam, Gen. 2:7. Since Adam and Eve still had physical life past the day they sinned, the air they breathed had nothing to do with the life that died in them on the day they first sinned. Instead Scripture teaches that life is in the blood, not the air we breath:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Lev. 17:11)

Leviticus 17:11 gives us both the symbolic meaning of the animal sacrifices and why only a sinless Messiah, one who possesses spiritual life, could die at Calvary for the sins of the world. And in the context of why Jesus 'cleansed the temple', why he said; "My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers".

It is significant that the 'animal sacrifice' that was designed to represent the Messiah's death at Calvary could only be accepted if it was 'without blemish'. In-other-words, without any sin of its own, Ex. 12:5, Lev. 22:20-25, Deut. 12:21, Deut. 17:1 & Heb. 9:12-14:

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 1:17-19)

An animal that was accepted as 'without blemish' in the temple sacrificial system was first of all born that way. It couldn't become 'without blemish' if born with a defect.

The point of the 'animal sacrifice' without blemish is that it pointed to Jesus Christ the promised redeemer, Genesis 3:14-15. Without the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ, the perfect sacrifice, there can be no remission of sin:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. (Lev. 17:11)

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22)



Tuesday, May 31: No Fruit



The lesson open with this statement and associates this with his cursing of the fig tree, Matt. 21:18-22:

"Jesus’ cleansing of the temple was an act of compassion. It was the Gentile courts where the buying and selling were taking place, and Jesus intended His house to be a place of prayer and worship for all peoples."

The lesson attempts to associate the cursing of the fig tree with the cleansing of the temple grounds along with Jesus' encounter with the temple officials. However, there are a number of assumptions in the lesson that have not been supported with Scripture.



Even though Jewish history outside of Scripture does gives us the details of the Herodian rebuilding of the temple grounds and names the outer court as the 'Court of the Gentiles' where "the buying and selling were taking place", this supporting information should have be separated from the inspired word of God in the lesson.

In Matthew's account of 'the cursing of the fig tree' along with the supporting reference found in Mark 11:12-25 there is no direct connection made with what occurs within the temple grounds as Jesus confronts the "chief priests and the elders of the people".

Instead, this is what Jesus had to say about 'The Withered Fig Tree':

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:20-25)

By making mention of "Gentile courts" along with comparing "The Withered Fig Tree" to the corrupt temple officials, the lesson appears to be building unscriptural false support for the Adventist version of replacement theology, making themselves the 'remnant' followers of God with a 'core truth' for our times.

If this was the intent of the lesson author, we need to be reminded that God has never abandoned the unconditional promise he made with Abraham:

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:7-8)

The modern rebirth and continued existence of the nation of Israel makes a lie of the claim of Adventism when the phrase 'remnant church' is used. Israel, as a nation will (soon we should pray) come to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and collectively repent of their sins.

The book of Revelation was the very words of Jesus given to the Apostle John, outlining the future of the church, his Body and Bride, which was created by God and not of human design, planning or effort. Central to the Church, of which Gentiles have been 'grafted' into, are the promises made concerning his Covenant People the Hebrew people.

The 144,000 preachers of the word of God in the book of Revelation are Jews who preach nothing more nor less than the 'everlasting gospel' (see Gal. 1:9 & 1 Cor. 15:1-5), that has always been proclaimed to a lost and dyeing world:

And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed, 12,000 from the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 from the tribe of Gad, 12,000 from the tribe of Asher, 12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 from the tribe of Levi, 12,000 from the tribe of Issachar, 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 from the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed. (Rev. 7:4-8)

Scripture means what it says. The 'sons of Israel' are Jews. Therefore any replacement theology regardless of who teaches it is a false belief.



Wednesday, June 1: The Stone



In Matt. 21:23-24 'the chief priests and the elders' challenge the authority of Jesus. Jesus responds with several parables and culminates by quoting Psalm 118:22-23:

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?..." (Matt. 21:42)

Reference to 'the stone that the builders have rejected' is also cited in Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11 & 1 Peter 2:7.



Instead of focusing on Scripture the foundation for today's quarterly lesson is centered on this Ellen G. White quote:

“But when the builders came to the laying of the corner, they searched for a long time to find a stone of sufficient size and strength, and of the proper shape, to take that particular place, and bear the great weight which would rest upon it. . . . But at last attention was called to the stone so long rejected. . . . The stone was accepted, brought to its assigned position, and found to be an exact fit.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 598.

We do not know with certainty who wrote Psalm 118 nor can we be positive about which construction or rebuilding of the temple this refers to. However it would seem to be about the rebuilding of the temple recorded in Ezra chapters one through six.

One thing we can know with certainty is that the temple wasn't built without first positioning and setting the cornerstone in place. Ellen White's statement; "found to be an exact fit” is nonsense. Before any construction could begin the cornerstone is put in place first with all other stones made to conform to the cornerstone.

While Jesus' purpose of quoting Psalm 118:22-23 was in response to the challenge of his authority, we can apply this same Psalm to our own lives by looking at what the Apostle Peter has to say. That is to say, we do not make Jesus Christ, our "cornerstone", fit our lives. Instead, as we consider our Christian lives as stones of a 'spiritual building', it is we who are being conformed to Jesus Christ our 'Cornerstone'.

Our lives are to be conformed to Jesus Christ:

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3)

The builder who conforms us to himself is Jesus Christ (see Rom. 7:21-25):

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:4-6)

Those who do not believe would include the 'chief priests and the elders' Jesus was confronting:

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Peter 2:7-8)



Ellen G. White is wrong to say the cornerstone was "found to be an exact fit" when in reality it is all the other stones of the temple that must be conformed and fitted to the cornerstone.



Thursday, June 2: The Cost of Grace



In the lesson we have been asked to focus on the meaning of the wedding garment mentioned in the parable of the Wedding Feast, Matt. 22:1-14.

The lesson then goes on to say:

"The garment represents the righteousness of Christ, a righteousness that is revealed in the life and acts of the saints. The man without the garment represented professed Christians who claim the privileges of grace and salvation but haven’t let the gospel transform their lives and characters. At a great cost, every provision had been made for those who heed the invitation. As this parable then shows, there’s more to entering the kingdom of God than merely showing up at the door."



The coming wedding feast to be given by God in the kingdom of heaven "may be compared", Matt. 22:2, to an earthly wedding celebration. One obvious major difference is that in the heavenly celebration there will be no 'gate crashers'. The heavenly wedding feast is preceded by the fall of Babylon recorded in Revelation chapter eighteen prior to the shout of "hallelujah" by the saints of God:

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Rev. 19:6-8)

Our righteousness, of which the fine linen (the wedding garments of the saints) represents, is really the work of our Savior Jesus Christ. In the sight of God, we are reckoned righteous just 'as if we had never sinned' from the very moment our sins have covered by the shed blood of Jesus:

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)

As the above biblical passage is teaching; we are viewed fully justified and righteous through faith in the completed atoning gospel message, the person and work of Jesus Christ. The lesson author is wrong. We do not "let" the gospel transform our life. Instead, this is the ongoing work of sanctification by Jesus Christ in each of our lives.

This is not about viewing our "character" as having been transformed. Instead, at the moment we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ we are declared a NEW CREATION:

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:16-17)



Friday, June 3: Further Thought



This is one of today's discussion questions:

'Dwell more on what it means to be covered in the righteousness of Jesus. How can a proper and balanced understanding of this important concept keep us from falling into either cheap grace or legalism, and why is it crucial that we avoid either extreme?'

According to Scripture what does it mean to be 'covered in the righteousness of Jesus'?



Our commentary begins with Isaiah 61 which is a wonderful promise of God's righteousness bestowed upon "those who mourn in Zion", Isa. 61:3. This is a poetic way of referring to 'the Hebrew people who turn to God in repentance':

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Isa. 61:10)

In the New Covenant Christian context we have this foundational passage:

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)

This is just some of the points to be found in this New Testament passage:

Focusing on 'faith in Jesus Christ' for God's righteousness (and salvation) lets turn to at this passage where the Philippian Jailer asks what he must do to be saved:

And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:31)

For someone well grounded in Adventist doctrine (perhaps many others also) the issue of repentance naturally comes to mind when reading Acts 16:31, especially since 'cheap grace' is mentioned in today's lesson. The issue is; Does repentance come before or after having placed your faith in Jesus Christ?

Since what Scripture teaches is infinitely more important than human reasoning we will turn to First Corinthians chapter three to illustrate the relationship of faith versus when a person kneels before God in repentance. It is important to keep in mind (1 Cor. 1:2) that the Apostle Paul is addressing "saints" those who "call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Chapter Three begins this way:

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human? (1 Cor. 3:1-4)

Paul is speaking to the saints living in the city of Corinth who need to repent of their sinful human behavior. They are "infants in Christ" who have not yet matured in 'the eating of solid spiritual food' appropriate for adult Christians. In-other-words, because they are now in the kingdom of God, they need to grow spiritually and to do so they need to repent of their old 'worldly ways'.

We know they are Christians because Paul calls them spiritual 'stones' in a building (the true church) of which Jesus Christ is the 'foundation', verses 10-11. They are warned that their works (stones in this building) will be tested in fire, verses 12-13. If your works survive there will be a reward. If not a saint will suffer loss but will be saved through the fire, verses 14-15.

Now we come to Paul's important warning that is miss-applied in Adventist teaching. To 'destroy God's temple' as outlined in First Corinthians chapter three has nothing to do with polluting a person's physical body through the food they may or may not eat:

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 warning refers to the building (temple) described throughout verses 10 through 15. Therefore it is not about what we do to our physical bodies indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore the topic of polluting ourselves as individual Christians is not mentioned in Scripture as being related to the food we put into our bodies. Of course, Scripture (see Matt. 15:10-20) does make it clear what does defile our lives but that is beyond the scope and purpose of today's commentary.

For those who are in God's kingdom, conviction and repentance of our daily sins are components of the ongoing work of Jesus Christ which in Scripture is called sanctification.

Sanctification (the problem):

So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. (Rom, 7:21-25)

Sanctification (the solution):

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. (Rom. 8:12-14)

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:16-24)




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