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First Quarter 2018 December 30–March 30)
COMMENTARY—STEWARDSHIP: MOTIVES OF THE HEART
Week 5: January 27–February 2
COMMENTARY ON "STEWARDS AFTER EDEN"
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).
The word “stewardship” is Adventism’s code word for “giving to the church”. For decades stewardship has been the word that captured Adventism’s idea of members managing their finances by paying their tithes and offerings first, giving their money to God before doing anything else, including buying food or clothing.
Now, this week’s lesson is attempting to make the readers believe that their responsibility is to dedicate their time, their knowledge of Adventism, and their money to furthering “God’s mission”. In the Teachers Comments on pages 68–69, the Application step identifies the lesson’s objective this way:
God has placed us in an incomparable position of trust. The destinies of lost souls hang in the balance. Every choice we make either furthers God’s mission or slows it down. Who is sufficient for these things! Christ might have entrusted His treasure to angels. He might have called upon the sinless bings of other worlds. He might have destroyed the human race and started all over again. Instead, He sacrificed His life, and He is depending on us to be faithful stewards of His grace in a fallen world.
This statement is simply unbiblical. First, we humans are not responsible for God completing His mission. Adventism teaches that God is waiting for Adventists to finish the work of telling Adventism to the world before He can come back. The Bible, however, tells us that Christ’s return is already set, and a day is fixed when He will return. We can neither hurry that day nor delay it.
Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:29–31).
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come” (Mk. 13:32–33).
The quote from the lesson speculates about all the ways God MIGHT have handled His mission and human sin, but these things are imaginary scenarios that have nothing at all to do with truth or reality. What God did in sending Jesus and in asking us to believe is not a Plan B when He saw that Adam and Eve sinned. Rather, it was His only, eternal plan all along.
Adventism attempts to guilt its members into feeling obligated to give to God both monetarily and in their time and service to the “church”.
Who are stewards?
True stewards in a biblical sense are God’s people to whom He has entrusted His treasure…His completed work of salvation. His entrustment, however, is not related to Adventism or to a list of obligations.
In the first place, Adventism cannot legitimately call its members “stewards” of the gospel or of spiritual truth. Adventism teaches an unbiblical “gospel” and a weak Jesus who could have failed and who might not have avoided every.single.sin.
True stewards are those who have trusted and believed in the Lord Jesus and have repented of their sin, casting all of their concerns and cares onto Him. They have allowed His word to speak truth to them, and they have repented of loyalty to a false prophet and to an unfinished atonement and eternal insecurity.
Stewards are those who have believed and have been born again of the Holy Spirit, who have passed from death to life (Jn. 5:24) and have been transferred out of the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of the Beloved Son (Col 1:13). Stewards are citizens of the Kingdom of the Beloved Son, not natural children under condemnation (Jn. 3:18). True stewards understand that they and everything they have and are belongs to God, and they willingly, from their new spirits and living hearts, trust God to make them faithful to Him.
Stewards want to help others know the truth gospel; in fact, Adventists need to be ministered to by true stewards! True believers have no trouble prioritizing their giving and obligations. They know all things belong to God, and they also know that they must feed their children and keep a roof over their heads as well.
The Lord teaches each person how to submit to Him, and honoring the Lord Jesus is the prime desire of a true believers’ heart.
The idea that we can delay Christ’s return by failing to take seriously how we give our money or do missionary work is unbiblical. We are true stewards of Jesus when we actually Believe Him and trust Him. The Lord has His own return and His own mission firmly held in His own hand, and we cannot change His mind or hustle Him along.
When we trust Jesus, He brings us into His story; He does not enter our lives. He, not we, are the center of existence. He is not our “servant” but our Lord. We are His servants and stewards; we honor Him and handle His gospel honestly and biblically.
True stewardship is a living, honest heart indwelled by the Holy Spirit and beating with the love of Jesus. He teaches us how to serve Him; we do not white-knuckle ourselves guiltily into deprivation for the sake of doing “God’s work”.
Finally, God’s work is living for Him and embracing the biblical gospel. It is never spreading Adventism and putting others into the bondage of that religion.
Stewardship is being the Lord’s son or daughter and holding the gospel as a treasure that He has given us to share with the world…including with Adventists!