From the perspective of Bible prophecy, on one hand are people, including believers, who would like to know what the future holds and how their lives might be affected. This is why the disciples, having heard Jesus state certain prophecies, had questions about the future. Therefore, one day they asked Him: “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.
On the other hand is the Lord Himself, who informs His servants about what is going to happen to this world and its inhabitants. God’s prophet says: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7. This is not to satisfy curiosity but to help man, to give him a light for his path through the darkness. The Lord has given wonderful prophecies in His word.
What are we to do, then, with the great prophetic revelations concerning the final scenes before Jesus’ second coming? The apostle Peter states that we should take them seriously for our own good and for the good of all who want to heed God’s word: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:19.
To have such light is not something common; it is a sacred privilege and blessing. “As we have followed down the chain of prophecy, revealed truth for our time has been clearly seen and explained. We are accountable for the privileges that we enjoy and for the light that shines upon our pathway. Those who lived in past generations were accountable for the light which was permitted to shine upon them. Their minds were exercised in regard to different points of Scripture which tested them. But they did not understand the truths which we do. They were not responsible for the light which they did not have. They had the Bible, as we have; but the time for the unfolding of special truth in relation to the closing scenes of this earth’s history is during the last generations that shall live upon the earth.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, pp. 692, 693.
Major catastrophic events are happening rapidly around the world. Almost every week there is a report of an earthquake here, a flood there, and difficulties and grief facing individuals and governments. Brothers and sisters, these things tell us that we need to prepare and be ready to meet the Saviour with joy, just as children wait eagerly to see family members who have been gone for a long time. Our Saviour urges us: “So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” Luke 21:31; 12:40.
“Brethren, to whom the truths of God’s word have been opened, what part will you act in the closing scenes of this world’s history? Are you awake to these solemn realities? Do you realize the grand work of preparation that is going on in heaven and on earth? Let all who have received the light, who have had the opportunity of reading and hearing the prophecy, take heed to those things that are written therein; ‘for the time is at hand.’ Let none now tamper with sin, the source of every misery in our world. No longer remain in lethargy and stupid indifference. Let not the destiny of your soul hang upon an uncertainty. Know that you are fully on the Lord’s side. Let the inquiry go forth from sincere hearts and trembling lips, ‘Who shall be able to stand?’ Have you, in these last precious hours of probation, been putting the very best material into your character building? Have you been purifying your souls from every stain? Have you followed the light? Have you works corresponding to your profession of faith?” –Counsels for the Church, p. 342.
The Sabbath School Lessons for this half year, “Revelation of the Great Final Scenes,” have been prepared to arouse and encourage every brother and sister to consider his and her own preparation and mission. We desire every member, everyone who is interested in the truth of salvation, and every reader to consider these themes earnestly and pray to receive the great blessing and preparation necessary to pass through the final scenes and joyfully greet Jesus in His glory.
–The brethren of the General Conference Ministerial Department
Sabbath, January 4, 2014
“Righteousness is holiness, likeness to God, and ‘God is love.’ 1 John 4:16. It is conformity to the law of God, for ‘all Thy commandments are righteousness’ (Psalm 119:172), and ‘love is the fulfilling of the law.’ Romans 13:10. Righteousness is love, and love is the light and the life of God. The righteousness of God is embodied in Christ. We receive righteousness by receiving Him.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 18.
Characteristics of God’s law
1. What are some of the most essential characteristics of God’s law? How deeply do its principles reach?
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.
Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.
Matthew 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
Romans 7:7, last part … I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.
“The law of God, as presented in the Scriptures, is broad in its requirements. Every principle is holy, just, and good. The law lays men under obligation to God; it reaches to the thoughts and feelings; and it will produce conviction of sin in every one who is sensible of having transgressed its requirements. If the law extended to the outward conduct only, men would not be guilty in their wrong thoughts, desires, and designs. But the law requires that the soul itself be pure and the mind holy, that the thoughts and feelings may be in accordance with the standard of love and righteousness.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 212.
2. What other significant elements characterize the law?
Psalm 111:7, 8 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.
“The Lord requires at this time just what He required of Adam in Eden–perfect obedience to the law of God. We must have righteousness without a flaw, without a blemish. God gave His Son to die for the world, but He did not die to repeal the law which was holy and just and good. The sacrifice of Christ on Calvary is an unanswerable argument showing the immutability of the law. Its penalty was felt by the Son of God in behalf of guilty man, that through His merits the sinner might obtain the virtue of His spotless character by faith in His name.” –Faith and Works, pp. 89, 90.
“That which God required of Adam before his fall was perfect obedience to His law. God requires now what He required of Adam, perfect obedience, righteousness without a flaw, without shortcoming in His sight. God help us to render to Him all His law requires. We cannot do this without that faith that brings Christ’s righteousness into daily practice.” –Selected Messages, book 2, pp. 380, 381.
Jesus Christ obeys the law fully
3. Who fulfilled the righteousness of the law perfectly, being obedient unto death?
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
“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.’ Romans 3:26.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 762
Faith and the gift of righteousness
4. What gives one faith in Christ’s perfect obedience, as demonstrated in His humanity?
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Romans 3:21, 22 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.
“Not by painful struggles or wearisome toil, not by gift or sacrifice, is righteousness obtained; but it is freely given to every soul who hungers and thirsts to receive it. ‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat,… without money and without price.’ ‘Their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord,’ and, ‘This is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness.’ Isaiah 55:1; 54:17; Jeremiah 23:6.
“No human agent can supply that which will satisfy the hunger and thirst of the soul. But Jesus says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst.’ Revelation 3:20; John 6:35.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 18, 19.
5. When does one receive the gift of His righteousness?
Revelation 3:19, 20 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
John 1:12, 13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
“As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory.” –Faith and Works, p. 103.
“Christ died a shameful death that He might bring us unto God. When the soul is persuaded that Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him, when it resigns itself entirely to Him as an all-sufficient Saviour, when it clings to the promises made and believes fully in Jesus, it is pronounced by God
Christ, our only hope
6. Therefore, who is our only security?
1 Peter 1:18, 19 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Hebrews 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.
“The only safety for the Israelites was blood upon the doorposts. God said, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ Exodus 12:13. All other devices for safety would be without avail. Nothing but the blood on the doorposts would bar the way that the angel of death should not enter. There is salvation for the sinner in the blood of Jesus Christ alone, which cleanseth us from all sin. The man with a cultivated intellect may have vast stores of knowledge, he may engage in theological speculations, he may be great and honored of men and be considered the repository of knowledge, but unless he has a saving knowledge of Christ crucified for him, and by faith lays hold of the righteousness of Christ, he is lost. Christ ‘was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.’ Isaiah 53:5. ‘Saved by the blood of Jesus Christ,’ will be our only hope for time and our song throughout eternity.” –Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 172, 173.
God’s desires for His people
7. Being saved in Christ, what is the Lord’s desire for His children?
1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
1 Peter 1:15, 16 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
“Before the world, God is developing us as living witnesses to what men and women may become through the grace of Christ. We are enjoined to strive for perfection of character. The divine Teacher says, ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ Matthew 5:48. Would Christ tantalize us by requiring of us an impossibility? Never, never! What an honor He confers upon us in urging us to be holy in our sphere, as the Father is holy in His sphere! He can enable us to do this, for He declares, ‘All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.’ Matthew 28:18. This unlimited power it is our privilege to claim.” –That I May Know Him, p. 131.
“While we are to be in harmony with God’s law, we are not saved by the works of the law, yet we cannot be saved without obedience. The law is the standard by which character is measured. But we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God without the regenerating grace of Christ. Jesus alone can cleanse us from all sin. He does not save us by law, neither will He save us in disobedience to law.” –Faith and Works, pp. 95, 96.
Genesis 15:5, 6; 36:10; Psalms 85:10, 11, 13; 119:142, 172.
“The character of Christ is the one perfect pattern which we are to copy. Repentance and faith, the surrender of the will, and the consecration of the affections to God are the means appointed for the accomplishment of this work.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 49.
“As the weary traveler seeks the spring in the desert and, finding it, quenches his burning thirst, so will the Christian thirst for and obtain the pure water of life, of which Christ is the fountain.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 19.