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Second Quarter 2016 (April–June)
COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF MATTHEW
Week 13: June 18–24
COMMENTARY ON CRUCIFIED AND RISEN
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).
Saturday – June 18
Todays lesson juxtaposes the mummification process in ancient Egypt against the resurrection of the body promised in Christ. This is a true and comforting lesson. The only thing it misses is that it ties the resurrection of the Body with living forever when they are separate events. Here are some examples:
“25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me·shall never die. Do you believe this?”·Jhn 11:25-26 ESV
Notice that Jesus proclaims in this moment that we will “NEVER” die. This means there isn’t a brief period of death but rather simply a promise that it won’t happen at all. To take it any other way is to lessen the authority of scripture.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,”·Php 1:21-25 ESV
Notice that Paul looks forward to something far greater at the moment he departs to be with Christ. This is a comforting promise.
“14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”·1 Thess 4:14 ESV
And above we have a verse that is frequently overlooked by SDA. Notice that God brings the souls of those dead in Christ with him to the resurrection. So while we also look forward to the resurrection of our bodies, we shouldn’t neglect to look forward to that which is “far greater” then the present moment. And that is being with Christ in heaven waiting for the second coming.
Sunday – June 19
This lesson is more of an exegesis of Ellen White than it is the Bible. It appears she made up a story about Barabbas life and circumstances leading to his arrest. The worst part is that when you accept this you lose the deeper meaning of the story as it played out in human history.
What you have in the Bible is a sinner who deserves death and damnation. Instead of Barabbas receiving what he deserved Christ has taken his place.
The choice of the crowd is irrelevant. The lesson focuses here as if the crowd has made the wrong choice is crucifying Christ. That is as if to say it was not the will of God for this to happen. Christ was in full control and even makes it clear he could have called angels at any time to his rescue.
Everyone wants to opine the free will of man. But what about the free will of God? What if God chose to step into human history and save us from what we deserve? You and I are Barabbas, we have sinned and are guilty before all. But praise God that Christ has taken our place! This isn’t an accident, a failure of human will, or even something to remorse about like the SDA teacher in this lesson. This is a blessing that Christ has done to save us from the curse of sin and death.
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:·For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:·And he is before all things,·and by him all things consist.·Col 1:15-17 KJV
“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the·Holy Ghost·hath made you overseers, to feed the church of·God, which·he hath purchased with his own blood.” ·Acts 20:28 KJV
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of·the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”·Rev 13:8 KJV
“For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Psa 33:9 KJV
Monday - June 20
I actually enjoyed reading today’s lesson a great deal. The writer covers the death of Christ and the weight of our sin that he bore on our behalf. The only thing that concerns me is the place he goes with it at the end in the questions:
“What is it like to feel separation from God due to sin? Why is claiming the righteousness of Christ our only way back, a claim accompanied by repentance, confession, and a resolve to forsake that sin?”
Notice that the writer speaks about an experiential feeling of separation. Emotions can be fickle things and should not be focused on when it comes to matters of faith and theology. The Bible says we are to walk by faith and not by sight.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” 2 Cor 5:7 KJV
Notice that the above question puts verbs like “claim” chronologically before faith in the ordo saludis (order of salvation). In fact, I have to assume faith is even a thing in these questions because it’s left out altogether. It gets worse though, the claim you must do to receive the righteousness of Christ must be accompanied by repentance, confession, and a personal resolve not to sin. Compare the assumptions of the question in this quarterly with the Roman Catholic Canon on Justification
“If any one shall say, that by·faith alone·the impious is·justified; so as to mean that nothing else is required to·co-operate·in order unto the obtaining the grace·of justification, and that it is not in any respect necessary that he be·prepared and disposed·by the·movement of his own will; let him be anathema.” - Council of Trent; Canon IX
Notice that Rome also puts the verbs that come as fruit from faith as Chronologically preceding the reception of faith. Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide) was pretty much the whole point of the reformation. I find it ironic that the SDA Church, which claims to be protestant, agrees with Rome on Justification and teaches such things in their quarterly.
Tuesday – June 21
Today’s lesson focuses on the events immediately following the death of Christ on the cross. He makes some good points about the typology coming to an end with the tearing of the veil. What is left out though is the fullness of antitype is in Christ himself. The writer leaves this open to accommodate for the Investigative Judgment doctrine. Instead of Antitype being Christ in SDA theology, it is the Old Testament types and shadows being performed in heaven instead of on earth. In doing this one is trying to sew the veil back together rather than accepting the fullness of Christ in the New Covenant era.
“And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone.” Deut 4:13 ESV
“16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Col 2:16-17 ESV
“For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second…. In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Heb 8:7, 13 ESV
Wednesday – June 22
The writer of Wednesday’s lesson makes some great points about Jesus Christ from an evidentialist perspective. This is actually something worth further study. It can be proven using the normal canons of history that Jesus did in fact raise from the dead. If you want a bare bones run down of this I would recommend taking a look at the word performed by William Lane Craig. While I do not personally agree with basing one’s confession of faith on an evidentialist argument as he seems to do, that doesn’t discount the veracity of his argumentation. You can find a good example of his work for free in the link below:
That said, though one can prove the resurrection that in and of itself should not be why we believe it. We can trust that these things happens because they are recorded in the Word of God. As it says in the scripture:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom 10:17 KJV
Thursday – June 23
My problem with the comments at the end of this lesson is that they base their interpretation of the great commission on the words of Ellen White. She simply declares that it is a fatal mistake for only ordained ministers to carry out the great commission. What is she basing this on?
The Bible does teach the priesthood of all believers.
“5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:5 KJV
The issue is that it is not up to the believers, it is up to God. He is the one that builds his Church. The call of God is the work of God in scripture. It is not something that man performs.
“44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:44 KJV
Notice above that it is the Father that does the drawing. If God chooses to use you in this then praise him for such an honor. But don’t for a moment delude yourself into thinking that he needs you.
“29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Rom 8:29-30 KJV
When I present the passage above to SDA they will usually tell me that “foreknown doesn’t mean foreordained”. Which is true, but I find it funny that this is their only response when I haven’t said anything. Read the passage carefully, who is performing the actions of predestining? Who is performing the action of conforming? Who is doing the calling? Who is doing the justifying? Who is doing the glorifying?
The answer is that God is the one doing it upon the believer. SDA and too many others portray God as a being that is just drowning in tears unable to do anything when the believer fails to share the faith. The fact is he is the one performing the action to begin with.
Friday – June 24
In the discussion section of today’s lesson the writer again lessens the ushering in of a new covenant to an old covenant 2.0, and once again this leaves an opening for the Investigative Judgment.
Antitype fulfillment is always clearly detailed in the New Testament. It is not appropriate to just pick and choose what you want it to be. Jesus is in fact our High Priest, but there is nothing in scripture that portrays such a thing as a replica of the Old Testament ceremonies. This is not a copy of the same thing being performed in another location.
Instead, Christ is our Passover lamb. Christ is our prophet, priest, and king. Christ is the scapegoat taking our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. Each of these things in the Old Testament points to something we see in the New. The New Covenant truly has made the old obsolete (Heb 8:13).