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Second Quarter 2016 (April–June)


Week 6: April 30–MAY 6


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 Afternoon: April 30th


Today’s lesson emphasizes Christ as an example for us to live in accordance with the law. In Adventist Christology this motif is their chief distinctive. We see that Ellen White taught on this a lot, and unfortunately the lesson only glossed over her teachings on this so I am going to present more of them.

“Satan had asserted that men could not keep the commandments of God. To prove that they could, Christ became a man, and lived a life of perfect obedience, an evidence to sinful human beings, to the worlds unfallen, and to the heavenly angels, that man could keep God’s law through the divine power that is abundantly provided for all that believe.”  EGW, Signs of the Times, May 10, 1899.

God’s law is given to men as a hedge, a shield.…To the obedient it is the pledge of eternal life, for it expresses the principles that endure forever. Christ came to demonstrate the value of the divine principles by revealing their power for the regeneration of humanity. He came to teach how these principles are to be developed and applied.” EGW, Education, pp. 76-77.

“By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed. Satan’s charges were refuted.” EGW, Desire of Ages pg 762

“In making His infinite sacrifice Christ would exalt and honor the law.” EGW, ibid., July 12, 1899.

“When Christ gave His life for you, it was that He might place you on vantage ground and impart to you moral power.” EGW, Manuscript Releases, vol. 14, p. 74.

“The glory of Christ is his character, and his character is an expression of the law of God. He fulfilled the law in its every specification, and gave to the world in his life a perfect pattern of what it is possible for humanity to attain unto by cooperation with divinity.” EGW, Signs of the Times, Dec. 12, 1895.

In summary,  Ellen White is teaching in the above quotes  that Jesus died on the cross so that we can know how to be perfect and sinless by following his example.  And in doing so, we vindicate the character of God.

Above we see that Ellen White is teaching that Christ came to give us an object lesson by which we are to look to for perfect living. Is this what the Bible teaches? What do we see as the purpose for God coming in the flesh?

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” 1 Tim 1:15 KJV

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.;  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:5-6 KJV

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” 1 Cor 15:3 KJV

“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Heb 9:28 KJV

“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” Rom 4:25 KJV

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor 5:21 KJV

 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” Php 3:9-10 KJV

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.;  But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.;  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.;  For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Gal 3:24-27 KJV

Scripture goes out of its way to reveal that Christ fulfilled the law because we cannot. Though he does call us to new obedience, there is no expectation that we will achieve perfection in this life. Even the Apostle Paul was still a sinner (see Romans 7). The scripture is clear that all are sinners and none are righteous.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.; They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Rom 3:10-12 KJV

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23 KJV



Sunday – May 1


Today’s lesson plays a common slight of hand with context that the reader should watch out for, and not just from any particular denomination. It is a pitfall many fall into. Simply because a writer addresses the reader to the context doesn’t mean their interpretation is in line with the teachings of the text. Context clarifies meaning it doesn’t reverse it.

Essentially the writers argument is the following. Because Matt 11:20-27 contains a rebuke of a people condemned by the law, that means the “resting” he speaks of in Matt 11:29 is the rest one has in keeping the law. The scripture is clear that none keep the law (Rom 3:10-12)(Rom 3:23). So by that logic this means that the rebuke of Christ falls on everyone and the “rest” of Christ on no-one. Every verse in the Bible is true, at the same time. A hermeneutic (Biblical teaching) has to be in keeping with all of them simultaneously.

The rest Christ speaks of is salvation from the rebuke that he just gave to Chorazin and Bethsaida. Those who are in Christ do not receive this rebuke. Instead we are in Christ and have true rest, an eternal peace with God.

All of the Sabbaths in scripture, not just the weekly, were type and shadow pointing to this peace in Christ. To embrace the shadow is in effect to say the work of Christ is not truly finished. Rather than quoting a few proof-texts on this I am going to walk the reader through the first few chapters of Hebrews to demonstrate antitype fulfillment in the Rest we find in Christ, or true New Covenant Sabbath.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Heb 1:1-2 ESV

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Heb 3:1-6 ESV

Notice above the juxtaposition between Moses the servant and Jesus the Son. This shows the superiority of Christ over Moses. To a Jew this would be a very big deal indeed. This is important in establishing other truths later pointed out in Hebrews.

Read this next piece of the same chapter carefully. You will see that the Jews were forbidden the Sabbath rest due to disobedience. He also warns us not to neglect our call to rest in Christ today.

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,  do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,  where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.  Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’   As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”  Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to SHARE IN CHRIST, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”  For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” Heb 3:7-19 ESV

And now the punchline….

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.”  Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Heb 4:1-7 ESV

Today is our Sabbath rest in the finished work of Christ. This juxtaposition rings clear in Hebrews.

Logically two things juxtaposed so strongly against each other are not the same exact thing.  But rather in this case one was a prefigure for the other.  Lest there be any confusion in Hebrews 8 and 9 the writer clearly spells out the disposition of the Old Covenant.  Specifically in Heb 8:6-12 he  quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 noting that he is speaking of this prophecy as being fulfilled.  Then in Heb 8:13 we see the following:

“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 8:13 ESV

Lest there be any confusion the writer continues right on into chapter 9 and details what is included in the “obsolete” old covenant:

“Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.” Heb 9:1-5 ESV

Notice in verse 1 he restates that we are speaking of the old covenant.  Then he continues to list the various items associated with it, to include the ten commandments in verse 4 and then a general statement with which to cover everything else not mentioned in verse 5.  I would argue that this covers the entirety of the Torah rather than listing it out in detail.  Ultimately this shows the error that Sabbatarians fall into, they argue that the Ten Commandments carry the Sabbath into the new covenant but that cannot be if the Ten Commandments are made obsolete along with the rest of the Torah as stated here in Hebrews.



Monday – May 2


This lesson opens with a curious question.

“If, as so much of the Christian world argues, the seventh-day Sabbath was abolished, replaced, superseded, fulfilled (whatever), then why did Jesus spend so much time dealing with how to keep the Sabbath?”

The obvious answer is that Jesus kept all of the ceremonial law, taught it, and fulfilled it. All three are true, neither abrogates the other.

Furthermore, the answer to that is this was before the old covenant was rendered obsolete on the cross (Luke 22:20(Heb 8:13). If the writer of this lesson were consistent with his argument then we still need to keep all ceremonial laws.

An important way of understanding the New Testament is that the New Covenant itself doesn’t really kick off until the book of Acts. In the gospels you are seeing the fulfillment play out, so a lot of old covenant ceremonial laws are still in practice, this includes all Sabbaths.

The lesson moves on to catalog the “Tradition of the Elders” (Mark 7:5) with regards to the Sabbath. The premise is a good one to bring up, essentially they are asking the reader where the line should be drawn on what constitutes a proper Sabbath Day rest and what does not. I remember similar discussions growing up about the use of a VCR on the Sabbath to record TV shows. Some said the VCR is a man-servant some say it is not. Some say wading in the water is okay but swimming is not. My only comment on this is that if you are going to start drawing these lines you better be correct.

Ellen White is clear that you have to be completely perfect at the close of probation. If one follows SDA theology to its logical conclusion, the result is that one side on either of these lines are going to fail probation and burn in the lake of fire. Now multiply that by how many lines have to be drawn every time something new is invented and in the end everyone is going to hell.

“Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God’s people upon earth.”  The Great Controversy, Pg. 425 Ellen White



Tuesday - May 3


Today’s lesson frames a moralistic perspective on Sabbath keeping. If the reader has been current this week they will notice I have already covered the topic of the Sabbath, so instead I am going to comment on moralism in general.

Moralism is a problem in Christian teaching today in all denominations. It is a broad and pervasive false doctrine that teaches a law you can achieve if you just try hard enough. The worst part is, since the ultimate standard of reaching this is how one sets the bar for themselves all you have to do is drop the bar when you are consistently failing in an area of your life. It doesn’t have to be the Sabbath, this can be anything.

What many miss is that Jesus sets the bar for us, we don’t get to pick where it is.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matt 5:48 KJV

Notice the standard is total perfection. I have seen some try to appeal to the context to transform this verse into a limited categorical application of perfection. It is important to remember that context does not reverse teaching it amplifies and clarifies it.

Matt 5:48 is a sufficient pericope of teaching as it serves as a thesis of the preceding and following teachings. And in this verse Jesus defines the word “perfect” as the perfection of the Father. That is the perfection required to be saved. This is the bar, you don’t get to pick where it is. That means an eternal perfection in word thought and deed. Even if you become perfect now, the sins of your past will still keep you below the mark.

The Bible is clear that none have done this:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.; They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Rom 3:10-12 KJV

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Rom 3:23 KJV

This is why the only way to be “perfect” is for the perfection of Christ to count in your stead:

 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” Php 3:9-10 KJV

Does this mean we should live like devils? Of course not, one should be motivated by the Gospel to do good works out of love and kindness. It does mean you cannot earn salvation though.



Wednesday – May 4


In this lesson the writer repeats his arguments about Christ teaching Sabbath keeping and then juxtaposes them against the moralistic arguments from the past two days. The intent I am understanding is the writers effort to build a structural argument. Since I have already addressed these claims on the merits in which the author presents them I am instead going to provide some Biblical commentary and present a hermeneutic of why the Sabbath day is considered ceremonial, along with other such laws. How can this be if it is one of the Ten Commandments?

The answer is that the Bible teaches the Ten Commandments, and all of the Torah, is obsolete.


Ten Commandments are on Tables of Stone:

 “…And the Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice. So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone…” Deut 4:10-14 NKJV


The Tables of Stone = Old Covenant

“Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a  covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And there I have made a place for the ark, in which is  the covenant of the Lord which He made with our fathers, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt.” I Kings 8:9, 21 NKJV

 “Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were  the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; “ Heb 9:1, 4 NKJV


The Old Covenant = Obsolete

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. In that He says, “A new covenant ,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” Heb 8:7, 13 NKJV

This is why Christians believe that the Torah is obsolete, the writer of Hebrews makes it very clear. Lest there be any confusion that perhaps the Ten Commandments may be exempt from this, context clarifies the teaching and specifically identifies the ten commandments as part of the old covenant which was just declared obsolete. To see this simply read the verses again and juxtapose Heb 8:13 with Heb 9:4.

Add this to the fact that the ten commandments are defined in part and whole as the Old Covenant with a hermeneutical cross reference and the case is closed. You either accept it as true, reject scripture, or lie about what it says, there is no other option.

Though the ten commandments cannot be salvaged with a Biblicist approach to scripture, if one identifies the prescriptive moral teachings of the apostles after the cross you can assemble 9 of them. This is why the Sabbath day is ultimately regarded as ceremonial.

The true Biblical way to discern moral vs ceremonial when making theological distinctions is to contrast what the Apostles teach as moral after the cross. It is the only dry objective means of doing so. Some choose to instead assert based on no scripture that the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 are the eternal moral law. This is an assertion that is proven false by passages that declare them to be obsolete. I challenge the reader to accept said obsolescence and then reconstruct moral teaches after the cross to determine what is right and wrong.

If one instead chooses to place Church tradition over scripture then they have ultimately made the same mistake as Roman Catholics, for that was among the chief disputes of the reformation.



Thursday – May 5


The only new argument that the author presents in today’s study is one from Church history. I would caution the reader from relying too much on Church history. Believe it or not, Christians have been disagreeing about a great many things for a very long time. And all have had a vested interest in the way Church history is interpreted. Let me assure the reader that if you ignore what doesn’t work for you and emphasis what does you can make almost any argument you want from history, especially on doctrinal issues. I am not saying don’t study, I am only saying we should be discerning and not accept what everyone says at face value.

That said, I will make my own historical argument and I ask the reader to double Check it.

First, Ellen White claimed the following:

“I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for he never changes. But the pope had changed it from the seventh day to the first day of the week” Early Writings page 33.

Roman Catholics teach that they changed the Sabbath through the apostolic authority of Peter, whom they say was the first Pope. Though it is possible Peter was the first Bishop of Rome there is no documented evidence that Peter historically possessed either the Power or Primacy of the modern Pope in Roman Catholic teaching.

Obviously SDA would reject the notion of the Apostle Peter changing the Sabbath. So if not him then who? Like most protestants SDA place the first Bishop of Rome that one would call a Pope within 1 to 2 centuries after the council of Nicea (AD 325). Nobody is consistent on this which is why I am drawing a wide line. Constantine, the one credited by some for forcing Christians to keep Sunday, died in 337 AD.

If an SDA is going to believe Ellen White that the Pope changed the Sabbath, and that Constatine was an accomplice in this then the first Bishop of Rome we are going to call a Pope would have had to exist on this planet at 336 AD at the very latest. That is earlier than any protestant I have ever read is comfortable with drawing the line, but for the sake of the argument let’s roll with it.

Logically then you would not see any “Sunday Keeping” before 336 AD. If there were then we could not say the Pope or Constantine were conspirators at all, for they would just be confirming an established apostolic practice.

Look carefully at the dates on the quotes below:

The Epistle of Barnabas, 70-120 AD: Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven. – "The Epistle of Barnabas," section 15, 100 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 147

Justin Martyr, 150 AD: But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly, because it is the first day of the week and Jesus our saviour on the same day rose from the dead. – First apology of Justin, Ch 68

Ignatius of Antioch, 107 AD: let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. – "Epistle to the Magnesians," chp 9. Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, pg. 62-63.

Notice above that in the first century they were calling Sunday the “Lord’s Day”. The book of Revelation was written just a few years before 107 AD and it refers to the Lord’s Day, a term only used once in scripture.

“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet” Rev 1:10 ESV

That last point is just an interesting aside. To be clear, the Bible doesn’t replace Saturday with Sunday, it abrogates the Sabbath day as a thing. Sunday is a day that Christians have historically chosen to worship on in Christian freedom. It is gospel not law.

If the Pope and Constantine had truly changed the Sabbath as some claim, then we would expect a material change. But instead we see a first century practice passing into the present. To claim that the Pope and Constantine ordered a change to a pre-existing practice is a call for special pleading.



Friday – May 6


The writer gives us a note of reflection on the place of Good Works in the Christian life. Good works are very important; I would go so far as to say they are necessary. It is when one asserts what they are necessary for that we must be discerning. So to that I would say that Good works are necessary for Christians.

“God doesn’t need your good works, but your neighbor does” - Martin Luther




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