1. A PERFECT START
a. Describe the spiritual state that God originally bestowed upon Adam and Eve, the first members of the human race. Genesis 1:27, 31.
“There were no sin and no signs of decay in glorious Eden. Angels of God conversed freely and lovingly with the holy pair. The happy songsters caroled forth their free, joyous songs of praise to their Creator. The peaceful beasts in happy innocence played about Adam and Eve, obedient to their word. Adam was in the perfection of manhood, the noblest of the Creator’s work.
“Not a shadow interposed between them and their Creator. They knew God as their beneficent Father, and in all things their will was conformed to the will of God. And God’s character was reflected in the character of Adam.”—The Adventist Home, pp. 26, 27.
b. What made the Eden life delightfully rewarding? Genesis 1:28; 2:8, 19.
“To Adam and Eve in their Eden home nature was full of the knowledge of God, teeming with divine instruction. Wisdom spoke to the eye and was received into the heart; for they communed with God in His created works.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 18.
2. PERFECTION TAINTED
a. What spoiled the happy joy in Eden? Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:6.
“Adam and Eve persuaded themselves that in so small a matter as eating of the forbidden fruit there could not result such terrible consequences as God had declared. But this small matter was the transgression of God’s immutable and holy law, and it separated man from God.”—Steps to Christ, p. 33.
b. How has this problem affected our whole planet? Romans 8:22.
“[The matter of eating the forbidden fruit] opened the floodgates of death and untold woe upon our world. Age after age there has gone up from our earth a continual cry of mourning, and the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain as a consequence of man’s disobedience. Heaven itself has felt the effects of his rebellion against God.”—Ibid.
c. What must we realize about the tendency of our race ever since that seed of rebellion entered to corrupt the natural human heart? Ecclesiastes 7:29.
“Let us not regard sin as a trivial thing.
“Every act of transgression, every neglect or rejection of the grace of Christ, is reacting upon yourself; it is hardening the heart, depraving the will, benumbing the understanding, and not only making you less inclined to yield, but less capable of yielding, to the tender pleading of God’s Holy Spirit.
“Many are quieting a troubled conscience with the thought that they can change a course of evil when they choose; that they can trifle with the invitations of mercy, and yet be again and again impressed. They think that after doing despite to the Spirit of grace, after casting their influence on the side of Satan, in a moment of terrible extremity they can change their course. But this is not so easily done. The experience, the education, of a lifetime, has so thoroughly molded the character that few then desire to receive the image of Jesus.”—Ibid., pp. 33, 34.
3. THE SIN PROBLEM
a. How does Scripture explain the existing crisis within humanity and throughout our entire planet? 1 John 3:4; 1:8.
“There is no one, however earnestly he may be striving to do his best, who can say, ‘I have no sin.’ ”—The Upward Look, p. 53.
“Nothing is more plainly taught in Scripture than that God was in no wise responsible for the entrance of sin; that there was no arbitrary withdrawal of divine grace, no deficiency in the divine government, that gave occasion for the uprising of rebellion. Sin is an intruder, for whose presence no reason can be given. It is mysterious, unaccountable; to excuse it is to defend it. Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin. Our only definition of sin is that given in the word of God; it is ‘the transgression of the law;’ it is the outworking of a principle at war with the great law of love which is the foundation of the divine government.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 492, 493.
b. What painful reality must every human being face? Romans 3:23; Isaiah 1:5, 6.
“The work of apostasy begins in some secret rebellion of the heart against the requirements of God’s law. Unholy desires, unlawful ambitions, are cherished and indulged, and unbelief and darkness separate the soul from God. If we do not overcome these evils they will overcome us.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 333.
c. How does God view the lack of justice caused by sin, and what is His solution? Isaiah 59:15, 16.
“In Eden, man fell from his high estate and through transgression became subject to death. It was seen in heaven that human beings were perishing, and the compassion of God was stirred. At infinite cost He devised a means of relief. . . . There was no hope for the transgressor except through Christ.”—Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 25.
4. ATONEMENT BY BLOOD
a. What plan had God devised in advance to rescue fallen humanity, and why was it necessary? Job 33:24; Genesis 3:17–21.
“The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave Themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order fully to carry out this plan, it was decided that Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, should give Himself an offering for sin.”—Counsels on Health, p. 222.
“As Adam’s transgression had brought wretchedness and death, so the sacrifice of Christ would bring life and immortality.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 66, 67.
b. What system was given to symbolize the sacrifice of Christ? Genesis 4:4; Leviticus 17:11.
“The sacrificial offerings were ordained by God to be to man a perpetual reminder and a penitential acknowledgment of his sin and a confession of his faith in the promised Redeemer. They were intended to impress upon the fallen race the solemn truth that it was sin that caused death. To Adam, the offering of the first sacrifice was a most painful ceremony. His hand must be raised to take life, which only God could give. It was the first time he had ever witnessed death, and he knew that had he been obedient to God, there would have been no death of man or beast. As he slew the innocent victim, he trembled at the thought that his sin must shed the blood of the spotless Lamb of God.”—Ibid., p. 68.
“Without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin; and [the children of Adam] were to show their faith in the blood of Christ as the promised atonement by offering the firstlings of the flock in sacrifice.”—Ibid., p. 71.
“The blood of the Son of God was symbolized by the blood of the slain victim, and God would have clear and definite ideas preserved between the sacred and the common. Blood was sacred, inasmuch as through the shedding of the blood of the Son of God alone could there be atonement for sin.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 55.
5. GRATITUDE FOR GOD’S PROVISION
a. What should we realize about the atonement made in our behalf, and how should we respond to it? Hebrews 9:22; Romans 5:8–11.
“Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. We can make no atonement for ourselves, but by faith we can accept the atonement that has been made.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, pp. 321, 322.
“As one is drawn to behold Jesus uplifted on the cross, he discerns the sinfulness of humanity. He sees that it is sin which scourged and crucified the Lord of glory. He sees that, while he has been loved with unspeakable tenderness, his life has been a continual scene of ingratitude and rebellion. He has forsaken his best Friend and abused heaven’s most precious gift. He has crucified to himself the Son of God afresh and pierced anew that bleeding and stricken heart. He is separated from God by a gulf of sin that is broad and black and deep, and he mourns in brokenness of heart. . . .
“God reveals to us our guilt that we may flee to Christ, and through Him be set free from the bondage of sin, and rejoice in the liberty of the sons of God. In true contrition we may come to the foot of the cross, and there leave our burdens.”—Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 9, 10.
“The salvation of human beings is a vast enterprise, that calls into action every attribute of the divine nature. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit have pledged themselves to make God’s children more than conquerors through Him that loved them. The Lord is gracious and long-suffering, not willing that any should perish. He has provided power to enable us to be overcomers.”—The Review and Herald, January 27, 1903.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Name some of the best features of the Eden lifestyle.
2. Why does God test our faithfulness and devotion in seemingly small ways?
3. Why is it wrong to blame God and others for the sins in our life?
4. Describe the depth of Christ’s sacrifice in our behalf.
5. How should I respond to the atonement made by Jesus on the cross?