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Second Quarter 2017 (March 25–June 23)
COMMENTARY ON "FEED MY SHEEP": FIRST AND SECOND PETER
Week 5: April 22–28
COMMENTARY ON "LIVING FOR GOD"
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).
April 22, Saturday
I really liked todays lesson, it was balanced for the most part. He does emphasize the believer’s new obedience in Christ which is Biblically accurate. It’s also true that you can expect others to notice a change in you. Many will hang here and not mention the Cross and how Jesus bled and died for our sins. But the author of today’s lesson doesn’t leave that out and to be honest I’m glad to see this.
It’s important to mention that even though God does change you, sin is still going to be a thing. In fact, though others may notice a change it’s likely you will not. As the believer grows closer to Christ they are only going to be increasingly convicted of their sins.
You will never stop sinning altogether. It’s still gonna happen. Even the apostle Paul was a sinner during his ministry.
“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.” 1 Tim 1:15 ESV
This is why we should always look to Jesus and what he has done for us. In your greatest triumphs over sin praise God. In your greatest failures repent of the sin and praise God all the same. Jesus is our refuge and solution.
April 23, Sunday
The author presents a problem of disunity in the Church as evidenced by people disagreeing with each other. The solution that he offers, and I understand, is that we all need to be nice to each other. He then finishes with a quote from Ellen White where she says we glorify God by setting a good example.
There are a number of problems with this, first unity is more than a disposition. It involves doctrinal agreement.
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV
Read that passage in it’s context, you will see that the Corinthians were arguing for favoring the teachings of one apostle over another rather than accept them all as teaching Christ. The Bible does call for us to be united in doctrine. Something that we haven’t been able to do in a very long time, and it would be arrogant of me to start offering up pithy solutions. The only true answer to this is going to be Jesus coming back.
Being nice to each other is a good thing, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not going to achieve doctrinal unity in the Body of Christ. I can be nice to Atheists and they can be nice to me but it will never make us agree doctrinally.
As far as Ellen White’s directive for us to set an example to glorify God…
Let’s just say this is a very high view on the sovereignty and glory of Man that Ellen White and I do not share. I do not glorify God, he embodies the term. He glorifies himself by saving one so wretched as myself without my help at all. If anyone is to marvel at God’s act with me, let them marvel that he would bother to save someone as sinful as I. Let them marvel that he has the power and Glory to do it. If they look at my example all they will see is the sin that made his Glory necessary.
April 24, Monday
Pardon the analogy but I believe it is a good one. A pastor once told me that false teaching is like baking a tiny piece of dog poop into a cake. A little bit might not be noticed at all, but if you try to squeeze too much in you will end up sick.
Today’s addition to the cake shows it’s face in the final paragraph, I will highlight it for the reader.
“In Romans 6:1–11, Paul says that at baptism Christians are united with Jesus in His death and resurrection. At baptism, we have died to sin. We need now to make that death to sin real in our lives. Paul’s words, “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:11), give the secret of the Christian’s life.”
Let’s get at least one thing very clear. The believer does not actualize the Cross. The way the sentence in red reads, to me appears to be saying that it is our actions that act as a catalyst which makes our death to sin real. Maybe that wasn’t the authors intent, but if that’s the case then it’s poorly worded just the same.
Notice in the verse he quotes as justification for the claim Paul says we are to “reckon” (or consider) ourselves dead to sin. This is a very different statement than saying we need to make it real. The cross is the solution, not a motivational trope.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ESV
Most use the word “sanctification” to describe the new life of the believer. What I want the reader to see in the verse above is that this is something God does to them. He doesn’t need your help with this. Of course you can, and for the sake of your neighbor probably should try to do better. But sanctifying yourself is not something you do, it is something God does to you. So as Paul says, reckon yourself dead to sin. Jesus did it for you, it’s a done deal.
April 25, Tuesday
Today’s lesson is pretty good and worthy of study. There are only two statements that I want to examine a bit. First one is in the third paragraph.
“A godly Christian life can be more of a witness than all the sermons in the world”
A correct understanding of scripture is that a sinner hates Jesus (Col 1:21) and is in rebellion to God (Eph 2:3). They were born this way (Psa 51:5) and will remain as such without faith received as a gift from God (Rom 10:17)(Eph 2:8-9). Your personal actions and disposition may be a conversation starter but that’s about it. It can also work against you just as well because you’re still gonna sin too.
Placing the unbeliever in a place of judging God to try to convert them is ill conceived at best. They need to know that they are sinners and will be judged by a righteous God. They also need to hear the Gospel in that Jesus bled and died to save them from their sins.
My second issue is with a statement in the final paragraph. This is less significant to me but I think it’s worth a mention.
“For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.” 1 Peter 4:6 ESV
The author of the lesson says that this is about people who lived long ago and heard the gospel, but are now dead. I think that is forcing a premise on the text that just isn’t there. It would be more accurate in my estimation to compare this text to Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones (Ezk 37:1-14), the parable of the sower (Matt 13:10-17), and (Rom 10:17).
As I presented above humans are born spiritually dead in their sin. When the gospel is preached we can expect to be resurrected in the newness of life, or born again. For some though as seen in Matt 13 the seed takes no root, or is eaten by birds, or whatever. The point is they are dead still. So it can be rightly said about them that the gospel was preached to those who are dead.
I think that makes more sense Biblically than what the author of the lesson is presenting but I’ll let the reader discern from there.
April 26, Wednesday
This is a good lesson, the writer condemns sexual sins and offers the Gospel as the solution. He also advises the reader to be sensitive to people’s circumstances. Highly relevant to the times we live in as well.
April 27, Thursday
The beginning of this lesson inserts the concept of the SDA teaching on “soul sleep”. Specifically, they do not believe what the Bible teaches about the soul separating from the body at death and going to be with the Lord. The error here is that they don’t take the entire canon of scripture as being true. Below are the three passages that convinced me, I’ll share them with you.
“Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
“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 as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." Matthew 22:31-32 ESV
I had heard the standard responses to “Sunday keeper” proof texts that SDA prepare you to twist from a tender age. But those three stood out to me, SDA had not had me memorize responses to them. In the first Jesus says flat out that believers will never die, this doesn’t have to be forced into someone’s theology. We should just accept it as it reads.
In the second verse it says that Jesus is brining those who passed in this lift with him to the resurrection. Well… this is immediately preceding the resurrection, so if they don’t exist how is he bringing them with him?
In the third verse Jesus interprets “I am” in the present tense. I simply believe we should agree with his interpretation. So no I don’t believe in SDA soul sleep anymore.
Lastly I do want to commend the author in distinguishing between the love of God and the love of man in 1 Peter 4:8. Love does certainly cover a multitude of sins. God has expressed this in the cross to be the propitiation and likewise we are to love each other to cover the temporal consequences. He distinguishes between both of these leaving no ambiguity to the reader. Well done.
Friday, April 28
I find it ironic that though the author of Thursdays lesson was able to carefully distinguish between the love of God and the love of man, when he quotes Ellen White today that distinction disappears. I’ll say this, these lessons are more Biblically accurate when there is more Bible and less Ellen White being quoted!
She states “If the right course is followed, the apparently obdurate heart may be won to Christ”
So first off we have a denial of original sin because she is stating that the unbelievers heart is only “apparently obdurate”. Secondly, the catalyst necessary for converting them is that you must follow the “right course” in “forbearance and consideration”.
I don’t know where Christ hung on a cross for your sins factors into “forbearance and consideration”. Those sound like law statements not gospel ones. But at the very least she is placing the love as man as that which covers the multitude of sins. Which contradicts the author of the prior days lesson, and scripture.
With regards to their wrap up we don’t actually know what Jesus wrote in the ground in John 8. Ellen White says it was the sins of those holding the stones but she isn’t scripture. Because of that I find the point he makes off of this moot.
We should confront sin accurately and Biblically, calling the sinner to repentance just as Jesus and the Apostles did. The cross should be presented as the solution to that sin. Pure and simple, Jesus died for you to save you from your sins.