Lesson 17 | Sabbath, 26 October 2019
“Here the truth is laid out in plain lines. This mercy and goodness is wholly undeserved. The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.” –Our Father Cares, p. 290.
“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.” –The Faith I Live by, p. 111.
1. Considering what the Scriptures say about the condition of every human being, does anyone have something to boast about? Who can hope for justification by virtue of his own works?
Romans 3:19, 20 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
“We have transgressed the law of God, and by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified. The best efforts that man in his own strength can make, are valueless to meet the holy and just law that he has transgressed; but through faith in Christ he may claim the righteousness of the Son of God as all-sufficient. Christ satisfied the demands of the law in His human nature. He bore the curse of the law for the sinner, made an atonement for him, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Genuine faith appropriates the righteousness of Christ, and the sinner is made an overcomer with Christ; for he is made a partaker of the divine nature, and thus divinity and humanity are combined.” –Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 363, 364.
God’s righteousness manifested
2. Despite man’s horrible condition, what righteousness does the Lord demonstrate? Who bore witness of this revelation? How alone can one receive God’s righteousness?
Romans 3:21, 22 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.
“None of the apostles or prophets ever claimed to be without sin. Men who have lived nearest to God, men who would sacrifice life itself rather than knowingly commit a wrong act, men whom God had honored with divine light and power, have confessed the sinfulness of their own nature. They have put no confidence in the flesh, have claimed no righteousness of their own, but have trusted wholly in the righteousness of Christ. So will it be with all who behold Christ.
“The righteousness of Christ, as a pure white pearl, has no defect, no stain, no guilt. This righteousness may be ours. Salvation, with its blood-bought, inestimable treasures, is the pearl of great price.” –The Faith I Live by, p. 111.
3. What is the only way for a person to be justified? Who made justification and redemption possible, and how?
Romans 3:23, 24 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
“‘Being justified freely by His grace,’ the apostle Paul says, ‘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.’ Romans 3:24-26.
“Here the truth is laid out in plain lines. This mercy and goodness is wholly undeserved. The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on His part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.” –Reflecting Christ, p. 78.
4. Who established the propitiation for man to be rescued through faith in Jesus’ blood? Who, then, gives justification through Jesus?
Romans 3:25, 26 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; 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
“Abundant grace has been provided that the believing soul may be kept free from sin; for all heaven, with its limitless resources, has been placed at our command. We are to draw from the well of salvation. Christ is the end of law for righteousness to everyone who believeth. In ourselves we are sinners; but in Christ we are righteous. Having made us righteous through the imputed righteousness of Christ, God pronounces us just, and treats us as just. He looks upon us as His dear children. Christ works against the power of sin, and where sin abounded, grace much more abounds. ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ Romans 5:1, 2.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 394.
Faith that works by love
5. Explain in your own words the meaning of what the apostle Paul says about where justification comes from. According to the apostle, what kind of faith is effective through Jesus Christ?
Romans 3:27, 28 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Galatians 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
“Without the grace of Christ, the sinner is in a hopeless condition; nothing can be done for him; but through divine grace, supernatural power is imparted to the man and works in mind and heart and character. It is through the impartation of the grace of Christ that sin is discerned in its hateful nature and finally driven from the soul temple. It is through grace that we are brought into fellowship with Christ, to be associated with Him in the work of salvation.” –Faith and Works, p. 100.
“Genuine faith is the faith that works by love, and purifies the soul. A living faith will be a working faith. Should we go into the garden and find that there was no sap in the plants, no freshness in the leaves, no bursting buds or blooming flowers, no signs of life in stalk or branches, we would say, ‘The plants are dead. Uproot them from the garden; for they are a deformity to the beds.’ So it is with those who profess Christianity, and have no spirituality. If there are no signs of religious vigor, if there is no doing of the commandments of the Lord, it is evident that there is no abiding in Christ, the living vine.” –Our Father Cares, p. 21.
6. Why is the argument that Jews were saved by works and non-Jews were saved by grace not correct or logical?
Romans 3:29, 30 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
“In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul set forth the great principles of the gospel which he hoped to present in person. He stated his position on the questions which were agitating the Jewish and Gentile churches, and showed that the hopes and promises which once belonged especially to the Jews were now offered to the Gentiles. With great clearness and power he presented the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. While addressing the Roman Christians, Paul designed to instruct other churches also.” –Life Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 187.
“Justification by faith is to many a mystery. A sinner is justified by God when he repents of his sins. He sees Jesus upon the cross of Calvary. Why all this suffering? The law of Jehovah has been broken. The law of God’s government in heaven and earth has been transgressed, and the penalty of sin is pronounced to be death. But ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Oh, what love, what matchless love! Christ, the Son of God, dying for guilty man!” –Selected Messages, book 3, pp. 193, 194.
Justification by faith establishes the law
7. Is the fact that justification does not result from the works of the law a concept that weakens or even abolishes the law? How did the apostle affirm the inviolability of the law and the necessity of coming into harmony with the holy commandments through the indwelling Christ?
Romans 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.
1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.
Romans 6:15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
“There are many who cry, ‘Believe, only believe.’ Ask them what you are to believe. Are you to believe the lies forged by Satan against God’s holy, just, and good law? God does not use His great and precious grace to make of none effect His law, but to establish His law. What is the decision of Paul? He says: ‘What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law…. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and [the commandment then ended? No.] I [Paul] died…. Wherefore the law is [standing directly in the way of my having liberty and peace? No.] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.’ Romans 7:7-12.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 347.
For additional study
“Through Satan’s temptations the whole human race have become transgressors of God’s law, but by the sacrifice of His Son a way is opened whereby they may return to God. Through the grace of Christ they may be enabled to render obedience to the Father’s law. Thus in every age, from the midst of apostasy and rebellion, God gathers out a people that are true to Him–a people ‘in whose heart is His law.’ Isaiah 51:7.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 338.
“He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law, is attempting an impossibility. Man cannot be saved without obedience, but his works should not be of himself; Christ should work in him to will and to do of His good pleasure. If a man could save himself by his own works, he might have something in himself in which to rejoice. The effort that man makes in his own strength to obtain salvation, is represented by the offering of Cain. All that man can do without Christ is polluted with selfishness and sin; but that which is wrought through faith is acceptable to God. When we seek to gain heaven through the merits of Christ, the soul makes progress. Looking unto Jesus, the author and Finisher of our faith, we may go on from strength to strength, from victory to victory; for through Christ the grace of God has worked out our complete salvation.” –Selected Messages, book 1, p. 364.
Missionary Report from the European Division
To be read on Sabbath, October 26, 2019
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered on Sabbath, November 2, 2019
“And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.” Acts 16: 9.
Europe covers an area of 10,180,000 square kilometers (3,930,520 square miles), and the population is 742,452,000. There are 50 countries on the continent, and more than 37 languages are spoken, which is a huge challenge for communication and missionary work in different countries. In all of Europe, 75% are Christian, 8% are Muslim, 17% are atheist, and less than 1% are Jewish.
Christianity reached Europe very soon after the apostle Paul began his missionary trips.
The Protestant Reformation gained great impetus in Europe in the Sixteenth Century. Before that, millions of sincere Christians who were persecuted by the Catholic Church gave up their lives for the love of God and His word. Great Reformers were born here, including John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other prominent Reformers, who established Protestant churches. Because of persecution, many Protestants left Europe and settled in the Americas, playing a main role in the establishment of the United States of America.
In the early Twentieth Century, the International Missionary Society of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Reform Movement, formed among the Seventh-day Adventist people following World War I and the crisis that was precipitated at the beginning of the war in 1914. Shortly after the organization of the church, missionaries such as Carlos Kozel were sent to plant the seeds of the Reform Movement in other continents. After World War II, Elders Siegmund Gutknecht, Simon Schmidt, and others carried the message to many countries around the world.
Now we live in the last phase of the spread of Heaven’s message. According to the prophecy of Revelation 18:1-4, the last warning will be given by God’s faithful remnant under the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we need deep spiritual preparation and complete devotion to God so He can use us in His closing work.
“I was pointed down to the time when the third angel’s message was closing. The power of God had rested upon His people; they had accomplished their work and were prepared for the trying hour before them. They had received the latter rain, or refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and the living testimony had been revived. The last great warning had sounded everywhere, and it had stirred up and enraged the inhabitants of the earth who would not receive the message.” –Early Writings, p. 279.
The European Division Committee is working according to a missionary plan. We have many projects, and a lot of money is needed for their implementation.
• A decision was made in September 2018 to open a missionary school in Tortoreto, Italy.
• There is also a decision to establish an retirement home in Portugal, where older brothers and sisters from that country and others will be able to spend the last years of their lives.
• We need to prepare missionary material in different languages in Europe.
• We also have a project to begin missionary activities in new fields.
We ask all the brothers, sisters, and friends of the church to give generously next Sabbath in support of God’s work in Europe. Let us remember that “he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6.
God bless His work in Europe and all over the world.
–Committee of the European Division