In the Bible we have the terms “way of salvation,” “day of salvation,” “the gospel of your salvation,” “day of redemption,” “hope of salvation,” “to obtain salvation,” “heirs of salvation,” and “the salvation of your souls.” Acts 16:17; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:8, 9; Hebrews 1:14; 1 Peter 1:9; etc. These phrases have come to be summarized under the terms “plan of salvation,” or “plan of redemption.” The Spirit of prophecy often uses these phrases. But what do they mean? To put it simply, they refer to God’s plan to save fallen man and put an end to the great controversy between good and evil. The depth, height, and breadth of the plan, however, are unfathomable and immeasurable to human understanding. The servant of the Lord writes: “It will take the whole of eternity for man to understand the plan of redemption. It will open to him line upon line; here a little and there a little.” –(MS 21, 1895) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1115.

Nevertheless, it is our privilege to understand as much about this as is revealed to us. Our faith will be more firmly established as we learn about how the law, the gospel, and every present truth are connected with the plan of salvation.

Besides the Scriptures, God gave the writings of the Spirit of prophecy as a special gift to mankind. The Scriptures lack nothing, but at the end of time God is doing everything possible to protect His people from the attacks of Satan.

The plan of salvation reveals to the entire universe God’s character, wisdom, and love through the church. “From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.

The mission of His church is not an easy one. We know that “… the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17. The great adversary is doing everything possible to fight against the remnant of the woman’s seed. If that is the case, should not that remnant be armed with spiritual weapons? In fact, for that purpose God presents the plan of salvation in greater detail through the Spirit of prophecy writings. As we devote ourselves to its study, we will be shielded from many of Satan’s deceptions.

When Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, His disciples approached Him and asked about the signs of the last times. “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?” Matthew 24:3. Jesus gave repeated warnings to be careful not to be deceived. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.” Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24, 25.

In Matthew 24, the warning was repeated three times. Indeed, false prophets and false christs pose the greatest danger and deception at the end of time. Today many people wander spiritually from place to place because of false churches and errors. How can we walk in the straight path through all of the confusion surrounding us?

Partial truths and erroneous teachings are misleading and will hinder us from becoming like Christ. Unless we study and know the plan of salvation, we will not be able to distinguish truth from error and will not be safe from the deceptions of Satan.

We are informed that “As we near the end of time, falsehood will be so mingled with truth, that only those who have the guidance of the Holy Spirit will be able to distinguish truth from error. We need to make every effort to keep the way of the Lord. We must in no case turn from His guidance to put our trust in man. The Lord’s angels are appointed to keep strict watch over those who put their faith in the Lord, and these angels are to be our special help in every time of need. Every day we are to come to the Lord with full assurance of faith, and to look to Him for wisdom…. Those who are guided by the Word of the Lord will discern with certainty between falsehood and truth, between sin and righteousness.” –(MS 43, 1907) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 907.

Let us stand on the Rock Christ Jesus and earnestly study the plan of salvation, trusting completely in the Lord. Let us appreciate the light that He has given in His word and in the gift of prophecy for the last generation, so that as part of the remnant we will properly represent the character of Christ. May God’s rich blessing be with all who study these lessons.

–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference

Sabbath, July 7, 2012

Memory verse

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16.

God’s character

1. How did God reveal the glory of His character?

Exodus 34:6, 7 And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.

Psalm 89:14 Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

“The Lord is full of compassion for His suffering ones. What sins are too great for His pardon? He is merciful, and as such is infinitely more ready and more pleased to pardon than to condemn. He is gracious, not looking for wrong in us; He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are but dust. In His boundless compassion and mercy He heals all our backslidings, loving us freely while we are yet sinners, withdrawing not His light, but shining on us for Christ’s sake.” –Selected Messages, book, 2, p. 231.

“In all the dealings of God with His people there is, mingled with His love and mercy, the most striking evidence of His strict and impartial justice. This is exemplified in the history of the Hebrew people…. ‘As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him.’ And yet what swift and severe retribution was visited upon them for their transgressions!” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 469.

2. In what awesome way does God reveal His character?

Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork.

Romans 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

“The things of nature speak to man of his Creator’s love. He has linked us to Himself by unnumbered tokens in heaven and in earth. This world is not all sorrow and misery. ‘God is love,’ is written upon every opening bud, upon the petals of every flower, and upon every spire of grass…. His prohibitions and injunctions are not intended merely to display His authority, but in all that He does He has the well-being of His children in view.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 599, 600.

“The first lesson that children are to be taught is that God is their Father. This lesson should be given them in their earliest years. Parents are to realize that they are responsible before God for making their children acquainted with their heavenly Father…. That God is love is to be taught by every lesson.” –(Review and Herald, June 6, 1899) Child Guidance, p. 487.

3. What does the apostle James say about His love? What can we witness in the controversy between good and evil throughout history?

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

“The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is also a demonstration of God’s unchanging love.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 33.

“After the transgression of Adam, God might have destroyed every opening bud and blooming flower, or He might have taken away their fragrance, so grateful to the senses. In the earth seared and marred by the curse, in the briers, the thistles, the thorns, the tares, we may read the law of condemnation; but in the delicate color and perfume of the flowers, we may learn that God still loves us, that His mercy is not wholly withdrawn from the earth.” –(Review and Herald, November 8, 1898) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1085.

Evidence of His great love

4. What is the ultimate and clearest evidence of God’s love?

1 John 4:9, 10 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

John 3:16 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.

“The plan of salvation, making manifest the justice and love of God, provides an eternal safeguard against defection in unfallen worlds, as well as among those who shall be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Our only hope is perfect trust in the blood of Him who can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is our only hope in this world, and it will be our theme in the world to come…. The gift of God in His beloved Son was the expression of an incomprehensible love.” –(The Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1132.

“Love is a heavenly attribute. The natural heart cannot originate it. This heavenly plant only flourishes where Christ reigns supreme. Where love exists, there is power and truth in the life. Love does good and nothing but good. Those who have love bear fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life.” –(The Youth’s Instructor, January 13, 1898) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 952.

5. What will be eradicated forever by the love of God revealed on the cross?

John 3:18 For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 Timothy 1:10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.

“The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 1132.

Other revelations of God’s love

6. Where are the attributes of God’s character transcribed?

Exodus 13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the Lord brought thee out of Egypt.

Exodus 24:12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.

Psalm 19:7, 8 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

“God’s law is the transcript of His character. It embodies the principles of His kingdom. He who refuses to accept these principles is placing himself outside the channel where God’s blessings flow.” –Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 305.

“The law of love being the foundation of the government of God, the happiness of all intelligent beings depends upon their perfect accord with its great principles of righteousness. God desires from all His creatures the service of love–service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34.

7. Whose character did Jesus’ life on earth manifest perfectly?

John 5:19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

“The glory of the Father was revealed in the Son; Christ made manifest the character of the Father. He was so perfectly connected with God, so completely embraced in His encircling light, that He who had seen the Son, had seen the Father. His voice was as the voice of God….

“The work of Jesus was to reveal the character of the Father, and to unfold the truth which He Himself had spoken through prophets and apostles; but there was found no place for the truth in those wise and prudent men. Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, had to pass by the self-righteous Pharisees, and take His disciples from unlearned fishers and men of humble rank.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, pp. 1142, 1088.

8. According to God’s plan, what was to be revealed through the church on earth?

Ephesians 3:10, 11 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

“From the beginning it has been God’s plan that through His church shall be reflected to the world His fullness and His sufficiency. The members of the church, those whom He has called out of darkness into His marvelous light, are to show forth His glory. The church is the repository of the riches of the grace of Christ; and through the church will eventually be made manifest, even to ‘the principalities and powers in heavenly places,’ the final and full display of the love of God. Ephesians 3:10.” –The Acts of the Apostles, p. 9.

For review and meditation

• How and through what agencies has God revealed His character?
• To whom do the attributes of love belong?
• What is God’s purpose in establishing His church?