The Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is published by Pacific Press Publishing Association, which is owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist church. The current quarter's edition is shown above.
Official Adventist Resources:
Support this project
If you would like to support this website, please click on the following link to donate online or you may mail your check to: Life Assurance Ministries, PO Box 905, Redlands, CA 92373. Mark your check "Bible Studies."
Third Quarter 2018 • July, August, September
COMMENTARY—THE BOOK OF ACTS
Week 1: June 30–July 6
COMMENTARY ON "You Will Be My Witnesses"
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 lesson's for this week begin a study of the book of Acts with this verse setting the theme:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
The book of Acts is sometimes call The Acts of the Apostles but a better title could have been: The Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Early Church.
In a general sort of way the lessons for this week don't reveal any great problem. However there are several points to take issue with including Friday's Ellen G. White quote, where she says; "All to whom the heavenly inspiration has come are put in trust with the gospel." The intent of this commentary is to make clear just what is the gospel that brings salvation to fallen mankind and to do so within the role of Jesus' gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit in the lives of all Christians who have been born-again through the shed blood of Jesus into the kingdom of God.
We will search Scripture to see what must have happened to the apostles before the baptism of the Holy Spirit could have come upon them. Since the apostles have been given a command (a command given to all who are in the kingdom of God) to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to 'all the world', we need to be very clear just what this gospel message is.
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF ACTS
From Calvary to his resurrection Jesus spent 3 days in the grave. After the resurrection Jesus was with the apostles for 40 days speaking of 'the kingdom of God' then they were to wait in Jerusalem to be 'baptized with the promised Holy Spirit', Acts 1:1-5, which would occur on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1.
Looking past chapter one to what happened when the baptism of the Holy Spirit does come upon the apostles, Peter preached a sermon centered on the gospel message of Jesus Christ, Acts 2:14-41:
"...And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it"....And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit". (Acts 2:21-24 & 38)
THE GOSPEL MESSAGE THAT IS TO BE PREACHED TO ALL THE WORLD
The root problem of sinners is that we are born sinners into the kingdom of darkness because of the fall of Adam. God warned Adam that on the very day he ate of the forbidden tree he would die. He did eat and he did die yet Adventism has no explanation of just what happen because of the denial of the existence of the human spirit we were created with 'in the image of God'. Jesus clearly states that a sinner must be "born again" of his/her human spirit before entry into the kingdom of God can occur, John 3:1-14.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “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.” (Gen. 2:15-17)
"...That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’..." (John 3:6-7)
God was not caught unprepared when Adam sinned. When God announced his solution for Adam's disobedience his plan was already in place (Rom. 8:28-30) when he said this:
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14-15)
Before time began, God knew of the Serpent's temporary victory over Adam's race in the Garden of Eden. Furthermore Jesus, the eternal righteous Son of the Father, was born into this world "of woman" as the perfect spotless lamb because he is just that...eternally holy and righteous, spotless without sin. Jesus never surrendered who he is. More to the point, he didn't come into this world to prove we could do the same as he did at Calvary for the practical reason that a spiritually dead sinner cannot bring life where there is no life. Only God in the person of the Son of God is able to do this. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to vindicate it nor does Scripture teach that sinners in their sin contaminated flesh could do the same as him.
At Calvary Jesus took our place of guilt and died for our sins. Jesus shed his spotless blood at Calvary 'for the sins of the world' whereupon he died and descended into the grave (a place unknown to those 'living under the sun") as our Scapegoat and then arose victoriously three days later. This is the full complete gospel message that brings salvation to the sinners of the world. This is why, when he ascended into heaven, he sat down forever at the side of the Father. Atonement and salvation is complete. Since there is no holier place to be in heaven Jesus has been in the holiest of holies long before 1844, revealing a fatal flaw in the Adventist Investigative/Sanctuary doctrine.
Things added to the gospel produce a false gospel that is not the gospel as the Apostle Paul warned in Gal. 1:9, which he outlined in 1 Cor.15:1-5. The thief on the cross at Jesus' side was told; “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43) showing that there is no Investigative Judgment and that neither Jesus nor the thief that was on the cross ever ceased to exist. The atonement for the sins of the world was completed as Jesus descended in the grave. His resurrection proclaims a completed gospel to his apostles who would soon take this "good news" to all the world through the power of the Holy Spirit that is about to come upon them.
As for what Adventist have added to the gospel:
Search the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments and you will find that the Weekly Sabbath was simply a day of rest commemorating Israel's freedom from slavery in Egypt. It is not and never was a commanded day of worship. Therefore worship on any other day could not possibly be related to the Mark of the Beast as claimed by Ellen G. White. Furthermore the Adventist 'health message' referred to as "the right hand of the gospel" only perverts the true gospel. What you eat cannot polluted your body spiritually, Matt. 15:10-20:
And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Matt. 15:10-11)
Instead of focusing on the Adventist proof-text use of 1 Cor. 3:16 & 17 in support of the "health message" study all of 1 Corinthians chapter three starting at verse 1 and work your way forward to these verses. You will learn that the Apostle Paul does clearly address what is defiling the Corinthian Church. What was coming out of their mouths, not food going in, is the source of what was defiling the temple of the Holy Spirit.
This is something to consider before you castigate Christians for rejecting Adventist false add-ons to the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.
PENTECOST THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH
Another problem in this Week's lessons is to be found in the opening statement which is quoted in part:
"Jesus’ mission on earth was finished....Not only did His incarnation impose upon Him a physical limitation in the context of a worldwide mission, but His ascension and exaltation in heaven were necessary in order for the Spirit to come."
The author of these lessons does not understand the significance of God's Sovereignty. Jesus is not limited. Instead it is his sovereign choice to spread the good news of his atonement for the sins of the world through the very saints who receive the Good New of his gospel. Through the creation of the church begun at Pentecost via the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit he is here everywhere active, alive and present.
Our visible witness to the world of our Savior's gospel message is in response to Jesus' New Commandment:
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)
Before Pentecost the apostles have already accepted Jesus as their Savior. This means their human spirits have been born again through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and therefore they are in the kingdom of God. What they are to wait for is far more than their salvation. Jesus Christ's promise is that God through the Holy Spirit is about to do something that the world has never seen before:
When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4)
The day of Pentecost marks the birth of the Church, the living Body of Christ. Shortly before Calvary, when Jesus told Peter about "My church" and gave him the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" neither Peter nor any of the other apostles had any idea what would very soon happen to and through them:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:15-19)