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First Quarter 2019 • January, February, March


Week 6: February 2–8
COMMENTARY ON "The Sealed People of 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.



From the lesson:

Chapter 7 is an interlude inserted parenthetically between the sixth and seventh seals. The sixth seal brings us to the second coming of Christ.

While it is true that Chapter 7 is an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals, it certainly doesn’t bring us to the second coming. The trumpet and bowl judgments are coming and they will not be happening after the second coming. All of this is the ongoing judgment on the earth and those who reject Jesus.




From the lesson:

In ancient times, the primary meaning of sealing was ownership. The meaning of the symbolic sealing in the New Testament is that “the Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim. 2:19, NKJV).

God recognizes His own people and seals them with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30). At the end-time, the seal on the forehead is given to God’s faithful people, who keep His commandments (Rev. 14:1, 12).

Here again we see the confusion resulting from using the historical view of Revelation. First, the sealing is called symbolic; then, suddenly it’s real, but happens in the seventh seal.

The worst part is the idea that the sealing by the Holy Spirit does not take place until the Tribulation. This completely ignores Scripture which says:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13, 14).


Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Cor. 1:21, 22).

All of these put the sealing in past tense, meaning something that has already happened. According to the Bible, the moment we believe, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit.

No wonder, then, that in Adventist theology there is no real hope or certainty of salvation until the second Coming.

From the lesson:

It is not a visible mark put on one’s forehead, but as Ellen G. White states, it means “settling into the truth, both intellectually and spiritually, so they [God’s people] cannot be moved” (Last Day Events, p. 220).

Actually, we have no idea what kind of mark it is, so the statement by Ellen White is just speculation. And saying that this mark is “so they cannot be moved” is once again ignoring the Bible’s statements that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit. Anything that God seals cannot be ‘unsealed’ or moved — which would be another way of saying removed from God’s hands.

It could very well be a visible seal, or at least something that can be detected. One possibility is some kind of biometric chip. Just a few years ago that would have sounded like science fiction but now it sounds quite possible if not likely. Again we don’t know so insisting that we know or don’t know what it will be based on the limited scientific knowledge of the 19th century is silly to say the least. Calling it just a “settling into the truth” devalues it and makes it something we do, not something God did when we first believed.

This makes more sense when you realize that the Adventist idea of being born again is just that of coming to a mental agreement with the gospel. Without an understanding of the condition of the human spirit—born dead until made alive by the Spirit—there is no real understanding of salvation.

From the lesson:

The opening of the seven seals shows us that every person who claims to believe in Christ will receive blessings for faithfulness or curses for unfaithfulness.

I read this several times before it occurred to me what is being said here. While we do receive blessings for trusting in Jesus, and rewards for faithfulness (1 Cor. 3:10-15), the Bible is quite clear that we are not under condemnation (curses) if we are in Christ.

Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

To say that God will curse us, or “give us curses” for any lack of faithfulness, or works, is to say that we are under condemnation if we don’t perform adequately. According to the verses in 1 Corinthians 3, while we might miss out on blessings, we are still saved. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, not under curses and nowhere does the Bible tell us that we will be cursed if we aren’t “faithful”, which, in Adventist theology, is code for our works.

These curses, or the judgments sent forth in the seals, are sent out onto the Christ-rejecting world, not those who are safe in God’s hands.

From the lesson:

There is also an interlude inserted between the sixth and seventh trumpets (Rev. 10:1–11:14). This interlude, which commences with the Second Great Awakening and the birth of the Advent movement, coincides with the same time period as the opening scenes of chapter 7 and focuses on the experience and task of God’s end-time people.

Once again, the attempt to make all of this historical, and the attempt to insert the Adventist Church into Scripture, leads to confusion. These chapters are talking about what will happen “after these things”, the Church Age, which means they take place during the Tribulation. If the lesson is correct, we have been in the tribulation since the 1800’s. God does not pour out judgment on His people but rather on the Christ-rejecting world and those who would harm Israel. Remember, we, the Church, are NOT under condemnation or judgment.

From the lesson:

God recognizes His own people and seals them with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13, 14; 4:30). At the end-time, the seal on the forehead is given to God’s faithful people, who keep His commandments (Rev. 14:1, 12).

This brings up an interesting question. If God knows His own people, which He does, (John 10:27 — “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”) then why does He need an Investigative Judgment to sort out who are His and who are not? He knows who are His and has known since before the foundation of the world:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:3, 4).


For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Rom. 8:29, 30).

He has always known, so saying that He needs to investigate each and every one to find out who are His, is to bring Him down to the level of a human with no foreknowledge.

From the lesson:

As the Sabbath has been the sign of God’s people in biblical times….

Yes, it was a test and a requirement, for the Children of Israel under the Old Covenant. But we are under the New Covenant, and our Sabbath rest is in Jesus, not a day:

For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His (Heb. 4:8-10).

They had the Sabbath day rest and still failed to enter God’s rest because they were not relying on Him by faith, but rather in their own works. They treated the ‘rest’ of the 7th day as a matter of a thing to do, not a symbol of the future rest in the Messiah. For them, it became a work and a matter of pride, but their faith was in themselves and their ability to “obey” the Law rather than the God who would save them from sin.

Now that Jesus has completed His work of salvation for us, we no longer work to be saved but rather we rely on His finished work. To insist on the “work” of observing a day in order to be saved, or even to maintain our salvation, is to rely on ourselves instead of relying by faith on Jesus.




Today’s lesson starts out with a nonsensical explanation of the meaning of the 144,000. It starts out by denying that it is a real number and then says this:

The 12 tribes listed in Revelation 7 are, obviously, not literal, because the 12 tribes of Israel, encompassing both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, are not in existence today. The 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom were taken into captivity during the Assyrian conquest (2 Kings 17:6–23), where they became integrated with other nations. Thus, the 12 tribes do not constitute Judaism today.

There are several problems with this paragraph that I will try to address.

1. “Obviously” is a word to describe something that is clearly seen and that isn’t the case here. The following sentences are pure fabrication on the part of the author.

2. The Northern and Southern Kingdoms may not be in existence as they were before the Babylonian captivity but to totally dismiss them is to deny that God knows who are His.

One of the major signs of the end times is the regathering of Israel into their land. In all of history there is no recorded instance of a national group of people who were so scattered among the rest of the nations, who then came back together as a whole. And not only are they gathered together in their land but their language, Hebrew, has been restored. There is no time in recorded history when this has happened which is a clear indication that it is of God, just as He predicted and promised.

It is flippant and astonishing that Israel is relegated to the historical trash heap by a church who claims to believe the Bible. All through the Bible Israel is promised a return to the land, a regathering, and that’s what we have seen happening since WWII.

Those who say Israel was rejected by God base it on the fact that the nation rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah. But if you read the account in Genesis 15 where God made the covenant with Abram, you will see that Abram was in a deep sleep. God Himself, represented by the burning torch, walked the line between the slain animals. It was entirely a one-sided covenant that God made which meant that Abram did not have to do anything. God based the promise on His own word and His character to guarantee it’s fulfillment.

Adventist theology (along with, sadly, that of many churches today) which replaces Israel with the Church, is the only explanation for this astounding claim by the lesson’s author. Of course, their extra-Biblical “authority” said this is so, so they can’t accept anything else.

This is followed by a long paragraph that tries to prove that this list is not Israel, followed by this sentence at the start of the next paragraph:

The list of the tribes in Revelation 7 is not historical but spiritual.

This claim might sound good, but the list of the 12 tribes, by name, emphasizes that this list is literal and exactly what it says it is. The claim that the list is not like other lists in the Bible is irrelevant. There are several lists of the tribes and there are several variations based on the circumstances.

If language means anything, and it does, if this isn’t taken literally there would be no check on imagination or speculation.

Further, the fact that these are from the 12 tribes of Israel further points out that this, the Tribulation, is the time of Jacob’s trouble, not the Church’s. And these 144,000 evangelists are literally Jewish men who are selected to take the gospel to the world during the Tribulation.




In today’s lesson we see one of the worst twisting of Scripture there could be:

John sees a “great multitude, which no one could number,” who came “ ‘out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ ” (Rev. 7:14, NKJV). That is, they are a special group of people who, despite whatever tribulation they went through, have stayed faithful to Jesus, a faithfulness symbolized by their being covered in the robes of His perfect righteousness.

The first underlined phrase “the great tribulation” is used of the last 3 1/2 years of the Tribulation and refers to a specific time and event. The second, “whatever tribulation…” refers to troubles in general, not a specific period of time. They are not even talking about the same thing, but the author just twists it to fit his theology.

The very next sentence, “The word “tribulation” is used very frequently in the Bible to refer to the things that believers suffer for their faith,” ignores the fact that the text includes the article “the” which means a specific event not just random events in history.

The long quote from The Great Controversy is an interesting study in categorizing the saved by their importance. The farther they had fallen, “those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan” get a place of greater honor than those who had always been faithful. I would like to see any Biblical text that even suggests this kind of nonsense about the hierarchy of the saved. That kind of thinking goes along with the idea that the worse the sin, the worse the punishment.




Not a bad explanation of the character of the 144,000 but this one sentence is inserted:

However, the 144,000 will remain loyal to Christ and resist the defiling relationships with Babylon and the apostate churches.

Yes, the 144,000 will be loyal to Christ, but to insert the “apostate churches” is to change the subject. The virgin status of the 144,000 does seem to indicate their refusal to commit spiritual fornication with the world system, but why insert the churches in there? In Adventist theology, the reason would be to point out that they, the Adventist Church, is the one that is true while all others are apostate. This is another bit of Ellen White’s teaching that they dare not challenge.

The quote from Selected Messages manages to sound uplifting, but it omitted an important part. First, as quoted in the lesson:

We need to be refined, cleansed from all earthliness, till we reflect the image of our Saviour, and become ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ . . .

When the conflict of life is ended, when the armor is laid off at the feet of Jesus, when the saints of God are glorified, then and then only will it be safe to claim that we are saved, and sinless.” —Ellen G. White, Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 355, 356.

First of all, the part left out of the first paragraph is this:

…having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Then we shall delight to do the will of God, and Christ can own us before the Father and before the holy angels as those who abide in Him, and He will not be ashamed to call us brethren.

In other words, EGW tells us that until we are cleansed from all earthliness and reflect the image of our Savior, Jesus cannot own us before the Father and will, by implication, be ashamed to call us brethren. That says that we have to be perfect before we can belong to Jesus!

Then, at the end of the lesson’s quote, Ellen White tells us that until we reach this state, until we are perfect, we cannot claim to be saved. She says this many times in many ways and all of it directly contradicts the Scripture which tells us that we are saved, made alive in Christ, at the moment we believe. It also assures us that we know that we have eternal life now, not at some future time (and then only if we become without sin.)

The question at the end, “How can we live a life of sanctification in active preparation for eternity and yet not suffer from the pitfalls of perfectionism and fanatical holiness?” assumes several Adventist beliefs that don’t square with the Bible.

First is the use of ‘sanctification’, which in Adventist theology means we make ourselves less sinful and better so that God will save us.

Using Strong’s Concordance, you find there are 13 uses of the word sanctification and variations of that word in the New Testament. Two of them are for us to “sanctify” or set apart our hearts for Christ. The other are all the work of the Holy Spirit, not our work.

Second, “active preparation” for eternity is just more of the same — we must become better until we are “safe to save”. It ignores the plain teaching of Scripture that we are saved, made perfect and in fact, already seated with Christ from the moment we believe (are saved). See Ephesians 2.

In Adventist theology, we have to make mental assent to Christ — their version of being born again — and then start the “upward journey” with special care to keep ourselves saved by obeying the Law. All this must be done in order to be “ready” and to fail to do so adequately will cause us to lose our salvation.

Third, the “pitfalls of perfectionism” is thrown in there to guard against the claim that we must become perfect to be saved.

Here, they are caught in an unenviable situation. On the one hand their authority (Ellen White) tells them that we won’t be sinless until we go to heaven while on the other hand, she says we must be perfect — “without spot or wrinkle” in order to be safe to save. Here are a few of those statements:

Why do you not cease from sin? You may overcome if you will co-operate with God. Christ's promise is sure....He who through His own atonement provided for man an infinite fund of moral power will not fail to employ this power in their behalf (Review and Herald, vol 4, p 232).

If you will only watch, continually watch unto prayer, if you will do everything as if you were in the immediate presence of God, you will be saved from yielding to temptation, and may hope to be kept pure, spotless, and undefiled till the last (Gospel Workers, p 128).

Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement (Testimonies, vol 5, p 214).

How hopeless is that! So much better to accept the clear words of Scripture that tell us:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13, 14).

Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge (2 Cor. 1:21, 22).

And this wonderful promise:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day (John 6:38-40).

All of these, and many, many more, promise us that the moment we believe, we are saved, and Jesus Himself promises to keep us, hold us and not lose us.

No, we won’t be perfect, but when we sin, and we will, we know from 1 John 1:9, that confession brings forgiveness and restores the broken relationship.

So to say that we will, or must, become perfect is directly contrary to the Bible. To say otherwise is fall directly into what the lesson calls “the pitfalls of perfectionism” through “fanatical holiness”.




From the lesson:

Read Revelation 14:5 along with 2 Peter 3:14 and Jude 24, 25. Revelation describes God’s end-time people as “without fault.” How is this state achievable?

Just read verse 24 in Jude for the answer:

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy

Right in that verse is the answer: He is the One who keeps us, not we ourselves. We don’t have to rely on our law-keeping or keep track of our “upward” direction. He, God, is the One who makes us stand. He saved us and He keeps us!

The paragraph about being holy comes from a twisted understanding of the word ‘holy’.

In Leviticus, Israel was told by God to be holy as He is holy. Clearly they could not be perfect, as the lesson implies, so the word holy must mean something other than sinlessness.

It does. The word also includes the meaning of being set apart. Israel was a nation chosen by God and He set them apart for Himself. All of the laws given were to set them apart from the nations and to show them how impossible it is to keep the Law.

Abraham was not sinless, but rather his faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Job was in no way sinless, but he was a good man. The first verse in Job defines blameless this way:

1 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless, upright, fearing God and turning away from evil

At least the last sentence of this lesson gets it right by saying that it is the blood of the Lamb that makes them “spotless”.




From the lesson:

The identity of the 144,000 is a hotly debated issue. What seems evident in Revelation is that the 144,000 are the last generation of God’s people in the closing days of this earth’s history.

And this:

Exactly who will be in that group is not revealed to us. Their identity is one of the secrets that God has kept for Himself

No, it is in no way “evident” that it is referring to the Church during the end times. And yes, it is revealed who is in that group. If the Lord told John to list by name all the 12 tribes, He clearly meant those 12 tribes, not some unspecified, unknown group of people.

With the exception of the futurist approach, all of the other approaches interpret the 144,000 symbolically, as representative of the church and the number 144,000 being symbolic of the totality—i.e., the complete number—of the church.

Yet when taken at face value: “Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel” (Revelation 7:4), nothing in the passage leads to interpreting the 144,000 as anything but a literal number of Jews—12,000 taken from every tribe of the “sons of Israel.” The New Testament offers no clear cut text replacing Israel with the church.

This is one of the main reasons why any approach other than the futurist is wrong—it seriously distorts the clear, plain message of the Bible, usually to fit an outside theology.

In the lengthy Ellen White quote at the end she says that we don’t know who will be in the 144,000. But in many, many places in her writings she identifies them as:

1. Those living saints at the 2nd Coming Christian Experience and Teaching P. 58 and 1 Testimonies, P. 59

2. Mrs. Hastings, in Selected Messages 2, P. 263

3. Ellen White herself: Early Writings P. 39, 40, and then, only if she is faithful to the end.

4. All end-times believers, as quoted in the first question at the end:

Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand (from SDA Commentary Vol. 9, P 970).

How much better it is to take the Bible at its word, with each word understood in its literal, plain meaning unless the context clearly indicates that it is symbolic.

And a further word of caution. The Bible, as God’s infallible and inerrant word to us, is the guide that is to shape our theology. When you reinterpret the Bible to fit your theology, you have error and confusion.

Bible commentaries and teachers are wonderful aids to study, but when you rely on them rather than the clear words of Scripture, you are at the mercy of the theology of the individual author.

How much better to use the Holy Spirit as your teacher and guide! Ask Him to teach you the truths from the Bible and He will. Put aside all other “authorities” for a time and let the Word speak for Himself.

Using a dictionary such as Strong’s Concordance is helpful as it does not suggest any theology but just gives all the possible definitions of the words of the Bible.

Having a correct understanding of the prophecies of Revelation are not a requirement for salvation; but any approach to the Bible that does not let it shape our theology leads to misunderstanding the plain meaning of Scripture.


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