1. THE WORK OF GOD
a. What can justification by faith do in us and for us? Romans 3:24, 25; Ephesians 2:8.
“What is justification by faith? It is the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself. When men see their own nothingness, they are prepared to be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 111.
b. How did the Lord Jesus reveal Himself to John the apostle? What does this signify in reference to the work of salvation? Revelation 21:6.
“Unless the Holy Spirit works upon the human heart, at every step we shall stumble and fall. Man’s efforts alone are nothing but worthlessness; but cooperation with Christ means a victory. Of ourselves we have no power to repent of sin. Unless we accept divine aid we cannot take the first step toward the Saviour. He says, ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end’ (Revelation 21:6) in the salvation of every soul.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 381.
2. INVITATION, REPENTANCE, FORGIVENESS
a. What is the first step in the salvation of a soul? When a soul accepts the invitation, why does he or she come to Christ? John 12:32; 14:6.
“Calling and justification are not one and the same thing. Calling is the drawing of the sinner to Christ, and it is a work wrought by the Holy Spirit upon the heart, convicting of sin, and inviting to repentance.
“Many are confused as to what constitutes the first steps in the work of salvation. Repentance is thought to be a work the sinner must do for himself in order that he may come to Christ. They think that the sinner must procure for himself a fitness in order to obtain the blessing of God’s grace. But while it is true that repentance must precede forgiveness, for it is only the broken and contrite heart that is acceptable to God, yet the sinner cannot bring himself to repentance, or prepare himself to come to Christ. Except the sinner repent, he cannot be forgiven; but the question to be decided is as to whether repentance is the work of the sinner or the gift of Christ. Must the sinner wait until he is filled with remorse for his sin before he can come to Christ? The very first step to Christ is taken through the drawing of the Spirit of God; as man responds to this drawing, he advances toward Christ in order that he may repent.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 390.
b. Wherein is the real origin of the work of repentance in the sinner? 2 Timothy 1:9; Acts 5:31.
“Repentance is as much the gift of Christ as is forgiveness, and it cannot be found in the heart where Jesus has not been at work. We can no more repent without the Spirit of Christ to awaken the conscience than we can be pardoned without Christ.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1056.
“It is through the influence of the Holy Spirit that we are convicted of sin and feel our need of pardon. None but the contrite are forgiven; but it is the grace of God that makes the heart penitent.”— Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 353.
“Repentance is no less the gift of God than are pardon and justification, and it cannot be experienced except as it is given to the soul by Christ. If we are drawn to Christ, it is through His power and virtue. The grace of contrition comes through Him, and from Him comes justification.”—Ibid., p. 391.
3. FAITH: THE OUTWORKING OF THE MERCY OF GOD
a. What is the definition of faith? What is its source? Hebrews 11:1.
“Faith is trusting God—believing that He loves us and knows best what is for our good. Thus, instead of our own, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, purity, have been pointed out as secrets of life’s success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these principles.”—Education, p. 253.
“Faith earns nothing for us; it is the gift of God, which we may receive and cherish by making Christ our personal Saviour. We may refuse the gift, and talk doubts, and become unhappy by cherishing unbelief. But this will grow into an impassable barrier, shutting us away from the Spirit of God and closing our hearts to His light and His love.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 6, pp. 1080, 1081.
b. What is the condition of the sinner without the mercy of God? Galatians 5:19–21.
“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.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 366.
“Do you feel that because you are a sinner you cannot hope to receive blessing from God? Remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We have nothing to recommend us to God; the plea that we may urge now and ever is our utterly helpless condition, which makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the cross of Calvary and say: ‘In my hand no price I bring; Simply to Thy cross I cling.’”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 65.
4. THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
a. What heart condition is evidence that the Lord is at work by His Holy Spirit to save the sinner? Matthew 5:6.
“Have you a sense of want in your soul? Do you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Then this is an evidence that Christ has wrought upon your heart, and created this sense of need, in order that He may be sought after to do those things for you through the endowment of His Holy Spirit which it is impossible for you to do for yourself. The Lord specifies no conditions except that you hunger for His mercy, desiring His counsel, and long for His love. ‘Ask!’ The asking makes it manifest that you realize your necessity, and if you ask in faith, you will receive.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 332.
b. From whence is man delivered, and where is he led? Colossians 1:12, 13; 1 Peter 2:9.
“The Lord would have His people sound in the faith—not ignorant of the great salvation so abundantly provided for them. They are not to look forward, thinking that at some future time a great work is to be done for them; for the work is now complete. The believer is not called upon to make his peace with God; he never has nor ever can do this. He is to accept Christ as his peace, for with Christ is God and peace. Christ made an end of sin, bearing its heavy curse in His own body on the tree, and He hath taken away the curse from all those who believe in Him as a personal Saviour. He makes an end of the controlling power of sin in the heart, and the life and character of the believer testify to the genuine character of the grace of Christ.”—Ibid., pp. 394, 395.
“God loves His believing people, and He has placed their feet in a safe and sure path. He has caused them to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. This He has done, not because of their goodness and worthiness, but because of the free promptings of His grace, because He is rich in mercy, because of the great love wherewith He loves them. He has delivered them from the power of darkness and has translated them into the kingdom of His dear Son. He is very desirous that they shall perfect characters which will enable them to stand before Him, purified and made white.”—The Signs of the Times, August 28, 1901.
5. THE WORK COMPLETED
a. In order to be heirs of heaven, what is the standard which we must reach? How may this be done? Luke 10:27.
“In order to be candidates for heaven we must meet the requirement of the law: ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself’ (Luke 10:27). We can do this only as we grasp by faith the righteousness of Christ. By beholding Jesus we receive a living, expanding principle in the heart, and the Holy Spirit carries on the work, and the believer advances from grace to grace, from strength to strength, from character to character. He conforms to the image of Christ, until in spiritual growth he attains unto the measure of the full stature in Christ Jesus.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 395.
b. How will the saving work be finished in the believer? Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:30.
“To those that ask Him, Jesus imparts the Holy Spirit; for it is necessary that every believer should be delivered from pollution, as well as from the curse and condemnation of the law. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the sanctification of the truth, the believer becomes fitted for the courts of heaven; for Christ works within us, and His righteousness is upon us. Without this no soul will be entitled to heaven. We would not enjoy heaven unless qualified for its holy atmosphere by the influence of the Spirit and the righteousness of Christ.”—Ibid.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What shows that the work of justification and salvation is entirely dependent upon Christ?
2. Differentiate the steps in salvation.
3. What great change does the mercy of God work in the repentant sinner?
4. What part is played by the Holy Spirit?
5. What is the completion of the work of salvation?