Sabbath, July 18, 2009
“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” Romans 3:26.
God’s righteousness promised to men
1. On what important principle are justification and life based?
Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Romans 1:16, 17 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
“When you … in the name of Jesus your Advocate come directly to God, asking for the things you need, the righteousness of Christ will be revealed as your righteousness, the virtue of Christ as your virtue. You will then understand that justification will come alone through faith in Christ; for in Jesus is revealed the perfection of the character of God…. Through the atoning blood of Christ the sinner is set free from bondage and condemnation; through the perfection of the sinless Substitute and Surety, he may run in the race of humble obedience to all God’s commandments. Without Christ he is under the condemnation of the law, always a sinner, but through faith in Christ he is made just before God.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 330.
2. What wonderful title is given to our Lord in the Old Testament? What is the meaning of this title?
Jeremiah 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jeremiah 33:16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.
“This name is put upon every follower of Christ. It is the heritage of the child of God. The family are called after the Father. The prophet Jeremiah, in the time of Israel’s sore distress and tribulation, prayed, ‘We are called by Thy name; leave us not.’ Jeremiah 14:9.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 106.
“When we submit ourselves to Christ, the heart is united with His heart, the will is merged in His will, the mind becomes one with His mind, the thoughts are brought into captivity to Him; we live His life. This is what it means to be clothed with the garment of His righteousness. Then as the Lord looks upon us He sees … not the nakedness and deformity of sin, but His own robe of righteousness, which is perfect obedience to the law of Jehovah.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 311.
3. What other texts affirm that righteousness is not a human prerogative but the gift of God?
Isaiah 46:13 I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel my glory.
Hosea 2:19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
“In word and in deed the Messiah, during His earthly ministry, was to reveal to mankind the glory of God the Father. Every act of His life, every word spoken, every miracle wrought, was to make known to fallen humanity the infinite love of God.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 696.
Justified and blessed by living faith
4. On what basis was the Lord’s righteousness credited to Abram? What action on his part demonstrated righteousness?
Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
“The faith that does not produce good works does not justify the soul. ‘Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ James 2:24. ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.’ Romans 4:3. Imputation of the righteousness of Christ comes through justifying faith, and is the justification for which Paul so earnestly contends.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 397.
5. What was the reason God chose Israel as His people and gave them the promised land?
Deuteronomy 7:7, 8 The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deuteronomy 9:4-6 Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the Lord thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, doth thou go to possess their land: for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Jeremiah 2:3 Israel was holiness unto the Lord, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the Lord.
“Although Israel had ‘mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words…’, he had still manifested Himself to them…; notwithstanding repeated rejections, His mercy had continued its pleadings. With more than a father’s pitying love for the son of his care, God had ‘sent to them by His messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place.’ When remonstrance, entreaty, and rebuke had failed, He sent to them the best gift of Heaven; nay, He poured out all Heaven in that one gift.” –The Great Controversy, p. 19.
Heirs of the righteousness that is by faith
6. What did the Lord give His people to strengthen their faith in His promises and work?
Numbers 14:11 And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
Nehemiah 9:10 And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day.
Isaiah 7:9, second part If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
“When the children of Israel were in bondage to the Egyptians, God revealed Himself as a God above all human authority, all human greatness. The signs and miracles He wrought in behalf of His people show His power over nature, and over the greatest among those who worshiped nature, who ignored the power that made nature.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1099.
7. What examples and events have been recorded to show the great importance of faith in life?
Hebrews 11:4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
Hebrews 11:24-26 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ grater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
“Our Christ was the Saviour of the ancient worthies as much as He is our Saviour. They looked forward by faith, to a Saviour to come. Adam was saved by the gospel as virtually as we are saved today. Abraham was saved by faith in Christ as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. Moses was saved by the merits of Christ, who was the angel that led the armies of Israel in all their travels through the wilderness…. All who have died in faith, from righteous Abel unto our day are saved by the merits of Jesus Christ.” –The Signs of the Times, July 18, 1878.
8. Why did the Jews in the time of the apostles not comprehend the importance of Jesus’ being their righteousness? Of what special importance is this to us today?
Romans 9:31-33 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets.
Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.
“Our faith must reach within the veil, where Jesus has entered for us…. We must have faith that will not be denied, faith that will take hold of the unseen, faith that is steadfast, immovable. Such faith will bring the blessing of heaven to our souls….
“The fact that unbelief prevails, that iniquity is increasing all around us, should not cause our faith to grow dim or our courage to waver…. If we will but seek God with all our hearts, if we will work with that same determined zeal, and believe with that unyielding faith, the light of heaven will shine upon us, even as it shone upon the devoted Enoch…. We are to live the life of faith; for ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.’ Our spiritual strength depends upon our faith.” –My Life Today, p. 8.