1. THROUGH CHRIST
a. What does God offer us through the redemption Jesus Christ accomplished and for what aim? Colossians 1:14. Acts 26:17, 18
“Jesus knows the circumstances of every soul. You may say, I am sinful, very sinful. You may be; but the worse you are, the more you need Jesus. He turns no weeping, contrite one away. . . . He bids every trembling soul take courage. Freely will He pardon all who come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. . . .
“The souls that turn to Him for refuge, Jesus lifts above the accusing and the strife of tongues. No man or evil angel can impeach these souls. Christ unites them to His own divine-human nature.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 568.
“The object of the Great Teacher is the restoration of the image of God in the soul.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 436.
b. What part does Christ have today in the forgiveness of sinners? Hebrews 4:15; 1 Timothy 2:5.
“[Christ] qualified Himself to be, not only the representative of the race, but their Advocate, so that every soul if he will may say, I have a Friend at court.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, p. 393.
2. GOD’S FORGIVENESS IS OUR JUSTIFICATION
a. What shows that justification and forgiveness are one and the same thing? Romans 3:24, 25.
“Pardon and justification are one and the same thing. Through faith, the believer passes from the position of a rebel, a child of sin and Satan, to the position of a loyal subject of Christ Jesus, not because of an inherent goodness, but because Christ receives him as His child by adoption. The sinner receives the forgiveness of his sins, because these sins are borne by his Substitute and Surety. The Lord speaks to His heavenly Father, saying: ‘This is My child, I reprieve him from the condemnation of death, giving him My life insurance policy—eternal life—because I have taken his place and have suffered for his sins. He is even My beloved son.’ Thus man, pardoned, and clothed with the beautiful garments of Christ’s righteousness, stands faultless before God.
“The sinner may err, but he is not cast off without mercy. His only hope, however, is repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the Father’s prerogative to forgive our transgressions and sins, because Christ has taken upon Himself our guilt and reprieved us, imputing to us His own righteousness. His sacrifice satisfies fully the demands of justice.”—Faith and Works, pp. 103, 104.
b. What life changing consequences are in store for those who God forgives? Romans 8:28–30.
“The work of redemption involves consequences of which it is difficult for man to have any conception. ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.’ 1 Corinthians 2:9. As the sinner, drawn by the power of Christ, approaches the uplifted cross, and prostrates himself before it, there is a new creation. A new heart is given him. He becomes a new creature in Christ Jesus. Holiness finds that it has nothing more to require. God Himself is ‘the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’ Romans 3:26. And ‘whom He justified, them He also glorified.’ Romans 8:30. Great as is the shame and degradation through sin, even greater will be the honor and exaltation through redeeming love. To human beings striving for conformity to the divine image there is imparted an outlay of heaven’s treasure, an excellency of power, that will place them higher than even the angels who have never fallen.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 162, 163.
3. ACCEPTING GOD’S FORGIVENESS
a. In the parable of the prodigal son what can we learn of the forgiving love of God toward us? Luke 15:20–23.
“In the parable there is no taunting, no casting up to the prodigal of his evil course. The son feels that the past is forgiven and forgotten, blotted out forever. And so God says to the sinner, ‘I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins,’ Isaiah 44:22. ‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ Jeremiah 31:34. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.’ Isaiah 55:7. ‘In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found.’ Jeremiah 50:20.
“What assurance here, of God’s willingness to receive the repenting sinner!”—Ibid., pp. 204, 205.
“Christ came to this world to prove the falsity of this [Satanic] statement [that there is no forgiveness with God], to show that God is love, that like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. Follow the Saviour from the manger to the cross, mark his life of unselfish ministry, his agony in the garden, and his death on the cross; and know that with God there is plenteous forgiveness. He abhors sin, but with a love that passes knowledge he loves the sinner.”—The Review and Herald, January 19, 1911.
b. What must be really believed in order to be overcomers? Mark 2:5.
“Here is where thousands fail; they do not believe that Jesus pardons them personally, individually. They do not take God at His word. It is the privilege of all who comply with the conditions to know for themselves that pardon is freely extended for every sin. Put away the suspicion that God’s promises are not meant for you. They are for every repentant transgressor. Strength and grace have been provided through Christ to be brought by ministering angels to every believing soul. None are so sinful that they cannot find strength, purity, and righteousness in Jesus, who died for them. He is waiting to strip them of their garments stained and polluted with sin, and to put upon them the white robes of righteousness; He bids them live and not die.”—Steps to Christ, pp. 52, 53.
4. HUMAN FORGIVENESS AND DIVINE FORGIVENESS
a. When a sinner is forgiven, what must he also do? What is the measure of forgiveness? Luke 11:4; Matthew 6:15.
“Nothing can justify an unforgiving spirit. He who is unmerciful toward others shows that he himself is not a partaker of God’s pardoning grace. . . .
“It is true that he may once have received forgiveness; but his unmerciful spirit shows that he now rejects God’s pardoning love. He has separated himself from God, and is in the same condition as before he was forgiven. He has denied his repentance, and his sins are upon him as if he had not repented.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 251.
“[Luke 11:4 quoted.] He who is unforgiving cuts off the very channel through which alone he can receive mercy from God. We should not think that unless those who have injured us confess the wrong we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. It is their part, no doubt, to humble their hearts by repentance and confession; but we are to have a spirit of compassion toward those who have trespassed against us, whether or not they confess their faults. However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries; but as we hope to be pardoned for our offenses against God we are to pardon all who have done evil to us.”—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 113, 114.
b. To what extent should we forgive those who have offended us? Luke 17:3, 4.
c. How did Jesus forgive even those who were responsible for His death? Luke 23:34.
“Jesus was earning the right to become the advocate of men in the Father’s presence.
“That prayer of Christ for His enemies embraced the world. It took in every sinner that had lived or should live, from the beginning of the world to the end of time. Upon all rests the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. To all, forgiveness is freely offered.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 745.
5. THE ABUNDANCE OF GOD’S FORGIVENESS
a. What shows that God’s forgiveness also recovers us from a sinful life? 1 John 1:9 (last part).
“God’s forgiveness is not merely a judicial act by which He sets us free from condemnation. It is not only forgiveness for sin, but reclaiming from sin. It is the outflow of redeeming love that transforms the heart. David had the true conception of forgiveness when he prayed, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.’ Psalm 51:10. And again he says, ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.’ Psalm 103:12.”—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 114.
b. How do we know that God’s forgiving grace not only justifies the penitent sinner but also renews them for a life of obedience? Titus 3:3–8.
“[Paul] bids Titus to instruct the church that while they should trust to the merits of Christ for salvation, divine grace, dwelling in their hearts, will lead to the faithful performance of all the duties of life.”—The Sanctified Life, p. 87.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why can we only obtain forgiveness of sin through Jesus? Why was it necessary for him to partake of our fallen human nature?
2. How can we encourage those who are erring and discouraged?
3. What should we remember when we are tempted to believe that we cannot come back to God after we have sinned?
4. How should we treat those who have offended us? What happens to us if we refuse to forgive others?
5. What will take place in the heart of those who receive God’s forgiveness?