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Second Quarter 2017 (March 25–June 23)
COMMENTARY ON "FEED MY SHEEP": FIRST AND SECOND PETER
Week 11: June 3–9
COMMENTARY ON "FALSE TEACHERS"
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, June 3: Introduction
The lesson establishes that internally the greatest threat to the church is false prophets and those who teach their heresies by asking us what are some of the warning signs Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 2:18.
For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (2 Peter 2:18)
The greatest sign of false prophets is that they teach some form of a 'another gospel' which is the topic that will be covered in tomorrows commentary.
Sunday, June 4: False Prophets and Teachers
The primary text for this week's lesson is 2 Peter 2:1-22 where Peter warns of false prophets and teachers.
The lesson opens with this statement:
"It’s sometimes easy to idealize the early church, to think of it as a time of great peace and harmony among the earliest believers in Jesus."
The opening verse of 2 Peter 2:1-22:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)
Since this verse begins with the word 'but' we should review what preceded it:
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)
To be 'carried along by the Holy Spirit' is the biblically identified way a true prophet of God received and recorded a message from God. In-other-words what has been recorded as Scripture was received in the same way the prophet Jeremiah received and recorded it:
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth." (Jer. 1:9)
The words of a true prophet are the very (exact) words God puts into the prophet by God.
Peter's theme is a warning to watch out for false prophets and teachers who introduce heresies. Since Peter closes by affirming the inspiration of the writings of the Apostles Paul (2 Peter 3:14-18) it is appropriate to review what Paul has to say about the mortal danger of false prophets who would alter the gospel message of Jesus Christ:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (Gal. 1:6-9)
The gospel of Jesus Christ which fully and eternally atones the sins of a sinner, such as the thief on the cross (Luke 23:32-43) that Jesus said; “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”, is the complete and only gospel described here:
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. 1-5)
If anyone comes to you claiming to have a gospel message from God about anything other than the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the atonement of your sins and the salvation of your soul then that is a person who Paul has placed a curse upon and is either a false prophet or teacher teaching the heresy Peter is warning you about.
Monday, June 5: Freedom in Christ?
With reference to 2 Peter 2:18 the lesson says this:
"What is Peter warning about in this verse? What does he say in 2 Peter 2:19 that helps explain his concern? What is the importance of the word freedom (NIV) or liberty (NKJV) in verse 19?"
They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:19)
As has been pointed out in yesterday's commentary, false prophets and false teachers teach another gospel. Therefore what Peter is warning us about is to know and respond to the pure simple gospel message of Jesus Christ for the complete atonement that covers all your sins and receive Jesus' promised gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit whose initial act is to bring life to your dead human spirit. In John 3:1-21 Jesus teaches that sinners are born with a dead human spirit which must be brought to life by the Holy Spirit in order for a sinner to enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus' "promise of my Father upon you" mentioned in Luke 23:49 and John 14:15-17 is the indwelling Holy Spirit. At the moment you confess your faith in Jesus Christ for the full atonement of your sins this happens:
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:9-14)
Peter's warning is that if your faith has been placed upon false teachings, meaning a false gospel, your faith is in vain and you are not in the kingdom of God.
The good news however is that when you a sinner have been transferred into the kingdom of God nothing can separate you from the God's love, Rom. 8:31-39:
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37-39)
Tuesday, June 6: A Dog Returns to Its Vomit
Today's lesson says this:
Peter was particularly concerned about the fate of those whom the false teachers entice back into their former sins (2 Pet. 2:18).
For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. (2 Peter 2:18)
It should be noted that the lesson title is a phrase which comes at the end of this chapter where Peter includes a quote from Proverbs 26:11. As the lesson indicates, the theme of this chapter is critically important for all Christians to understand.
What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22)
Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly. (Prov. 26:11)
Peter in 2 Peter 2:18 identifies two groups of people. The first are those "speaking loud boasts of folly" which has been identified as false prophets and false teachers. The other are those "who are barely escaping" from those who are still unsaved sinners. Peter calls them are "fools" therefore both groups could be those who return to eat their own vomit or wallow in the mire of sin regardless of how saintly they make themselves appear to be.
Since we are all vulnerable to believing outward appearances and what 'sounds right' Jesus has given the one thing that identifies a believer eternally covered by the blood of Jesus Christ to all other Christians:
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35)
Wednesday, June 7: Peter and Jude
In this lesson 2 Peter 2:1-3:7 is compared with Jude 4-19 and then makes the claim this repetition shows "that God means business in dealing with sin".
Yes there are similarities between these two passages of Scripture and it is worthwhile to take note that both contain a warning from God. However it is only an assumption "that God means business in dealing with sin" because the warning has been repeated. For instance, there are four gospel books included in the New Testament of the Bible. However you could possibly only read and understand one of the four to learn and respond to the message that Jesus died to atone for your sins.
As far as we know from what is recorded in Scripture (Gen. 2:15-17) God only told Adam once and meant when he said; “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Adventist fail to question and learn how Adam and Eve died on the very day they sinned, yet God only needed to say it once to know God means what he says. Adventist theology fails to understand and know that when he created Adam in his image mankind was created with a human spirit and that our spirit is what died on the very day Adam and Eve sinned.
Jesus only needed to tell Nicodemus one time (John 3:1-21); “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and have eternal life. Jesus is talking about the rebirth of a sinner's dead human spirit they have at physical birth (born of the water) before entry into the kingdom of God can occur. Furthermore no matter how many truly good works you may or may not have to your credit, none of that can bring your spirit to life. Only the shed blood of Jesus at Calvary and his gift of the Holy Spirit can cause that to happen.
The lesson makes it appear that Adventist are among those who need to be told over and over before they believe God means business in all that he says. When God repeats a message this simply reveals his love, forbearance and patience with sinners.
Thursday, June 8: More Old Testament Lessons
Today's lesson is commentary on 2 Peter 2:6-16.
On a whole the lesson gives a factual summery but does appear to go beyond what Peter says as shown in this quote where it accuses Balaam of adultery:
"Peter used Balaam as an example of those enticed by adultery and greed (2 Pet. 2:14, 15)."
They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness. (2 Peter 2:14-16)
If you turn to the original account (Numbers chapters 22-24) you will find that Peter accurately cites the original. Balaam's guilt was that of 'loving gain from wrongdoing'. This is not the same as the sin of adultery.
Friday, June 9: Further Thought
Today's lesson engages in a bit of Ellen G. White double talk when it says; "So often we hear Christians talk about 'freedom in Christ.' And, of course, this is a valid concept" but goes wrong by introducing an Ellen G. White quote in an attempt to show that 'something more' is required for our salvation.
This is her quote (underlined for emphasis):
“The great truth of our entire dependence upon Christ for salvation lies close to the error of presumption. Freedom in Christ is by thousands mistaken for lawlessness; and because Christ came to release us from the condemnation of the law, many declare that the law itself is done away, and that those who keep it are fallen from grace. And thus, as truth and error appear so near akin, minds that are not guided by the Holy Spirit will be led to accept the error and, in so doing, place themselves under the power of Satan’s deceptions. In thus leading people to receive error for truth, Satan is working to secure the homage of the Protestant world.”—Ellen G. White, Christ Triumphant, p. 324.
It is entirely correct to say “The great truth of our entire dependence upon Christ for salvation...." but what she's says next 'in the same breath' is nonsense. Our salvation is totally a work of Jesus Christ. Anything we could possibly add to this message cannot be the biblical salvation message. It is Ellen G. White herself who is guilty of both presumption and heresy.
An issue not understood or simply ignored by Adventist is that Jesus clearly said your spirit must be born again via the indwelling Holy Spirit which is freely giving to all those who come to Jesus in faith for the atoning blood he shed at Calvary. At that point you are no longer in the kingdom of darkness (the kingdom of lawlessness) because you are eternally secure in the kingdom of God.
Jesus brought in and replaced the Old Covenant with a New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah which was to include another form of God's commands that would replace the Old Covenant law:
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31:31-34)
Ellen G. White is wrong to claim that only the "moral law" (a non-biblical concept) was done away with by Jesus' death at Calvary. No, according to Jeremiah the whole Old Covenant with all the law contained within it would be done away with and replaced with something else. It is the whole Old Covenant, not certain parts of it that is gone. Furthermore, those who are born again and in the kingdom of God, are not preaching lawlessness.
Study Romans and understand when you come to chapter seven the Apostle Paul identifies the Old Covenant law as the 'law of sin and death'. Then understand that the law prophesied by Jeremiah is this New Covenant law, meaning orthodox Christians are not preaching lawlessness:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1-2)