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Second Quarter 2018 April • May • June
COMMENTARY—PREPARATION FOR THE END TIME
Week 9: May 26–June 1
COMMENTARY ON "End-Time Deceptions"
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).
This week’s Sabbath School lesson focusses on what Ellen White identifies as the two core issues of the great controversy: “the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness.” Through these, she says (as quoted on page 588 of The Great Controversy), “Satan will bring the people under his deceptions.”
The great controversy paradigm is the framework upon which all of Adventist doctrine hangs. In fact, this week’s lesson opens with a restatement of what Satan supposedly did in heaven that triggered the great controversy and established himself as the powerful, brilliant deceiver that snatches unwary souls out of the path of salvation.
The week’s study begins with a quotation from Ellen White’s The Great Controversy (TGC) explaining Satan’s “pre-history” shenanigans in heaven: “Working with mysterious secrecy, and for a time concealing his real purpose under an appearance of reverence for God, he endeavored to excite dissatisfaction concerning the laws that governed heavenly beings, intimating that they imposed an unnecessary restraint” (TGC p. 495).
Without even addressing the specific statements the author makes about Satan, the bottom line is this: the Bible NEVER gives these details of what Satan supposedly did in heaven. It never states that Satan called any of God’s laws into question. These claims are inventions of a false prophet, and there is absolutely NO truth in them. We cannot believe the words of a prophet who makes Satan more powerful than the Bible does and who diminishes the identity and nature of the Lord Jesus.
There is no “great controversy” triggered by Lucifer/Satan, and the Ellen White scenario s utter nonsense. No one needs to be bound by her worldview that makes Jesus and Satan in a battle for souls. God is sovereign, and He is sovereign even over evil—even over Satan. He can go no farther than God allows him to go.
There is no great controversy.
Sunday’s lesson is entitled “The Grand Deception”. In short, the lesson sets up the “cause” for the end-time confusion. The author actually makes the case that the reason people disbelieve the “cosmic controversy”. The lesson states, “The problem, though, is that many people, Christians included, don’t believe in this great controversy because they don’t believe in Satan.”
The entire lesson is devoted to arguing this premise—that a disbelief in Satan is the cause of Christians’ disbelief in the great controversy.
Such a claim is utterly false. Christians believe Satan is very real. His existence does not mandate their great controversy paradigm. In fact, the Adventists (because of Ellen White’s writings) make Satan far more important and powerful than Scripture makes him.
Satan is a created being, just like every other creation. He is merely an angel, one of many, whom Jesus created. He is not a universal power with freedom to do his mischief until the watching worlds see how bad he is and how patient God is. No!
Satan is evil; as an evil angel, he is a “subset” of creation. He is not a free-ranging power doing battle with the Lord Jesus his Creator. He is subject to Jesus, and he can only do what the Lord allows him to do!
Christians do not believe in the great controversy because they know that Satan is not in a struggle with Jesus. Christians know that Jesus has already won His victory over death, and He is already exalted and glorified at the Father’s right hand. Satan is an adversary, but he is a limited adversary. The scenario of the great controversy is utterly opposed to a scriptural worldview.
Disbelieving Satan is not the “greatest deception”. The greatest deception is actually the denial of the Lord Jesus and who He IS.
Monday’s lesson identifies what Ellen White said were “the two great errors” that are the “grand deceptions” of the end times. The author sets the stage by saying, “As Christians, we need to be aware of these ploys, and we can do that only through knowing the Bible and obeying what it teaches.”
Ironically, the author goes directly from saying we need to know and obey the Bible to stating, “Ellen G. White explains what two of those grand deceptions are: “Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome” (TGC, p. 588).
The author unconsciously commended the Bible but took the reader to the prophet! The truth about Adventism’s dependence upon Ellen White cannot be concealed. No matter how hard they try to convince people that their doctrines are based upon the Bible alone, in reality, they have to have Ellen White in order to create their end-time scenario.
The Bible clearly contradicts Ellen White’s statement that “immortality of the soul” and “Sunday sacredness” are the two great deceptions.
The Bible doesn’t teach “immortality of the soul”; it teaches that the human spirit goes to be with the Father when a person dies. To be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord,” Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8.
Moreover, Sunday is not sacred, and most Christians do not believe it is. Created days are not “sacred”, and in the new covenant, all the rituals of holy days were fulfilled and ceased. In fact, the church specifically stated that gentiles were not to be required to keep the law (Acts 15).
Adventism has set up a false assumption and has built a theology upon that assumption. The Bible is very, very clear: human spirits do not disappear when people die; they go to the the Lord. In the same way, Sunday-sacredness is not an issue, and the Bible never says that there will be any conflict over the keeping of a day as the end-time conflict.
The great deception that will be perpetrated on the world is that the Lord Jesus is not the risen Christ in whom ALONE one my approach God. The great deception will be that we can choose our “way to God”. In fact, Adventism has done just that: it has defined a “plan of salvation” that requires obedience to the Ten Commandments, the keeping of the seventh day, and the belief that Jesus did not complete the atonement at the cross.
Adventism’s “plan of salvation” is a great deception.
The Bible is clear: Jesus is the great divide. People will be saved or lost solely on the basis of whether or not they believe and trust Him.
Monday’s lesson ironically reveals that Adventism itself has created a great deception that appeals to many people who resist believing salvation can be as simple as trusting in the finished work of Jesus.
Tuesday’s lesson teaches the Adventist position on “the immortality of the soul”. As expected, it focusses on the Old Testament texts that remind us the dead know nothing, and then the author turns to near death experiences to disprove consciousness after death.
Biblical Christians do not believe near death experiences are instructive, either. God did not reveal anything about the intermediate state between mortal life and our resurrected life except to say we are “present with the Lord”, a situation which is “very much better” than remaining alive here (Phil. 1:22–23). Christians believe what the Bible says without having to explain the details.
Furthermore, Paul was taken to the “third heaven” as recorded in 2 corinthians 12, and he was not permitted to tell what he saw. If God did not allow His prophets and apostles to reveal what occurs in the presence of the Lord, we cannot take the word of people who have near-death experiences. Many of them are not believers, or even if they are, they often find a way to sell their story and profit from it; they are not credible witnesses of reality.
God has revealed what He wants us to know. We cannot speculate beyond what Scripture tells us, and we cannot explain away the facts God reveals through His word.
Adventists have done both. They have added to God’s word their own Ellen White-shaped speculations and have discredited what God specifically says to us about death.
This lesson introduces the “theory of evolution”. The author states the organization’s concern with evolution in the first sentence: “As much success as Satan has had deceiving the world in regard to the immortality of the soul, he’s been just as successful, if not more so, in usurping the biblical Sabbath for Sunday…and has done so for most of Christian history.”
Adventism again reveals the core significance of the Sabbath to their identity when they create arguments against “evolution” as the paradigm that destroys their holy day. In fact, Adventism has had a large part in making a literal six-day creation significant within Christianity.
Adventists use the creation story to support the holiness of the seventh-day Sabbath. In fact, they misuse Scripture to make the Sabbath a “creation ordinance”. Genesis never commands observance of the Sabbath, nor does it describe any human honoring the seventh day as holy.
The Bible does not demand a literal six days of creation; the language actually supports the idea of each day being an undetermined length of time. It may have been literal, but the language does not demand a literal six days. The Hebrew word underlying that word “day” is “yom”, and it can mean a day, an age, an eon—any length of undetermined time.
Creation IS vitally important, but not because of the Sabbath. Rather, the fact that God created everything, that “nothing that is seen was made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3) is a crucial foundation to knowing reality. God is sovereign, all-powerful, and the creator of EVERYTHING. We are His creatures. In fact, His being our God and Creator is what gives Him the authority to save us from ourselves when we sin. He alone has the power to save, and He alone has the power to give life.
Adam and Eve were real historical people, whatever year they were created. Similarly, we are each creations of God. As His created subjects, we are helpless apart from His intervention and provision. That fact that we are His creation is what gives Him the authority to intervene and redeem us with His own Son’s blood.
Creation, therefore, is the foundational pillar supporting a biblical worldview. Creation is not important because of Sabbath, as Adventists argue. Rather its importance is in establishing and believing the truth about God and the truth about ourselves: who He is and who we are.
Once again Adventism undermines the importance of the founding principle of reality—God is sovereign and the Creator of all things—and twists it into a self-serving focus on a literal six-day creation to support the universal mandate of a holy seventh day. This argument is based on Ellen White and is not supported by Scripture.
Thursday’s lesson discusses the “counterfeit trinity” of the end times as described in Revelation 12 and 13. To be sure, there is a counterfeit trinity at the end of the age during the tribulation. The identities of these beasts, however, are not specified in Scripture, and Ellen White’s identifications of them cannot be believed.
The lesson ends with the question, “What are other end-time deceptions of which we need to be aware, and how can we help others recognize them as deceptions, as well?”
Significantly, the Teachers Comments ask the class facilitators to consider these ideas: “Identify some dangerous misconceptions that are presented as truth (for example, eating meat will give you strength; red wine is good for your heart; smoking cigarettes is cool, etc.). Why are these ideas so popular and/or mixed with error?”
Once again, the lesson seeks to solidify the indoctrination of Adventists. The questions are worded in ways that deny the actual facts about meat, wine, and cigarettes and uses the organization’s traditional intimidation-techniques. In a world in which smoking has become largely “uncool” and even illegal in public, they use the old arguments about smoking being cool. In the face of research showing that humans require more protein than once believed, they use the argument about “meat giving strength” when in fact science has shown that white meat and fish, especially, are prime sources of easily assimilated protein while also being very low in dangerous fats and cholesterol. The same type of skewed argument is applied to wine, suggesting that the studies showing its heart benefits are not true.
The lesson directly pushes Adventist indoctrination arguments about eating according to the “health message” so people can be receptive to the Holy Spirit. These arguments are not biblical; in fact, they contradict the Bible.
Once again Adventism’s “skew” is showing.
Finally, Friday’s lesson returns to the subject “of evolution in the context of last-day events, especially in regard to the role of the Sabbath.” Once again, the Adventist arguments are revealing.
First, the author claims that one of the reasons Darwin developed his theory of evolution was that he did not understand the great controversy and thus “had a difficult time reconciling evil and suffering with the idea of a benevolent and loving Creator.”
Then the author makes an astonishing claim: “Perhaps if Darwin had read and believed these few short lines from Ellen G. White, the world might have been spared one of the grandest blunder of human thought since geocentricism and spontaneous generation: ‘Although the earth was blighted with the curse, nature was still to be man’s lesson book…Where once was written only the character of God, the knowledge of good, was now written also the character of Satan, the knowledge of evil. From nature, which now revealed the knowledge of good and evil, man was continually to receive warning as to the results of sin’ (Education, p. 26).”
It’s almost unbelievable; the lesson claims that Darwin could have been prevented from his faithless theories if he had read Ellen White, a woman whose life overlapped his own!
The Bible actually explains people like Darwin in Romans 1:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them (Rom. 1:18–32).
In summary, this week’s lesson reiterates Adventism’s paradigm for the end-times, but that paradigm is firmly rooted not in Scripture but in Ellen White. It further has the audacity to demonstrate Adventism’s dependence upon Ellen White, directing the reader to her writings after stating that safety is only found in following the Bible, and making the claim that Ellen White’s writings might have been able to change the course of history is Darwin had read her and been open to believing her!
God has revealed Himself and reality in creation and in His eternal, living word. Darwin rejected the revelation of God’s eternal nature and divine power which is evident in everything that has been made. His rejection would not have been correctable by reading a modern “prophet”; it would only have been able to be corrected by submitting to the evidence in the general revelation of all creation and to the truth about God found in His word.
Scripture reveals that end-time deceptions are about Jesus: who He is, what He has done, and our proper response to Him. Adventism has created substitute deception which the Bible does not reveal. Adventists are set up to watch for what Ellen White said would deceive the world, and they will miss the reality of the crisis about Jesus because they are not expecting Him to be the focus of deceit.
Jesus, not the Sabbath and not the state of the dead, is the object of spiritual deceit. Conversely, Jesus alone can rescue us from the confusion of false beliefs and give us eternal life NOW when we believe in Him and trust His blood as the payment for our sin.
Jesus alone saves; Jesus is Lord!