Sabbath, September 23, 2006
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.
1. Why was it absolutely necessary for God to send His Son to be the propitiation before He could forgive the sins of the past?
Romans 3: 24-26 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
“In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. When men broke the law of God, and defied His will, Satan exulted. It was proved, he declared, that the law could not be obeyed; man could not be forgiven.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 761.
FAITH CONFIRMS THE LAW
2. What does this show about our own efforts to be righteous? Through what is man justified before God?
Romans 3:27-30 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
“The law requires righteousness,–a righteous life, a perfect character; and this man has not to give. He cannot meet the claims of God’s holy law. But Christ, coming to the earth as man, lived a holy life, and developed a perfect character. These He offers as a free gift to all who will receive them. His life stands for the life of men. Thus they have remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. More than this, Christ imbues men with the attributes of God. He builds up the human character after the similitude of the divine character, a goodly fabric of spiritual strength and beauty. Thus the very righteousness of the law is fulfilled in the believer in Christ. God can ‘be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’ Rom. 3:26.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 762.
3. Does the gospel strengthen or weaken the claims of the law?
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
“The great standard of righteousness presented in the Old Testament is not lowered in the New. It is not the work of the gospel to weaken the claims of God’s holy law but to bring men up where they can keep its precepts.” –Faith and Works, p. 52.
FAITH IN GOD’S PROMISE
4. What prominent Old Testament personage experienced justification by faith?
Romans 4:1-3 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
5. In what promise did Abraham believe? How did the Lord respond to this faith?
Genesis 15:1-6 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
EXTENT OF THE DIVINE PROMISE
6. How far did this promise reach? Did it merely concern Isaac’s birth, or was it to be something even more significant?
Genesis 12:1-3 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
“There was given to Abraham the promise, especially dear to the people of that age, of a numerous posterity and of national greatness: ‘I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing.’ And to this was added the assurance, precious above every other to the inheritor of faith, that of his line the Redeemer of the world should come: ‘In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.’” –Patriarchs
and Prophets, p. 125.
7. What did Jesus say about this patriarch, who lived on earth almost nineteen hundred years before He did?
John 8:56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
“The command came to him, ‘Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, . . . and offer him . . . for a burnt offering.’ Gen. 22:2. Upon the altar of sacrifice he laid the son of promise, the son in whom his hopes were centered. Then as he waited beside the altar with knife upraised to obey God, he heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.’ Gen. 22:12.
This terrible ordeal was imposed upon Abraham that he might see the day of Christ, and realize the great love of God for the world, so great that to raise it from its degradation, He gave His only-begotten Son to a most shameful death.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 468, 469.
REWARD BY GRACE
8. Through what means was Abraham justified?
Romans 4:2, 4, 5 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God…. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
“When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then, according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin, and justifies him freely.” –Selected Messages, vol. 1, p. 367.
• Do I believe in God’s promises?
• To what extent do I depend upon His promises, although reality may seem different?
• Is outward appearance valuable to me, as circumcision was to the Jews?
• How am I a child of Abraham?
• What experiences of faith have I had that are similar to Abraham’s?