1. MERCY COMES TO THE RESCUE
a. What would have immediately happened to our first parents if mercy was not one of the fundamentals of the throne of God? Genesis 2:16, 17.
“Why was not the death penalty at once enforced in [Adam’s] case?—Because a ransom was found. God’s only begotten Son volunteered to take the sin of man upon Himself, and to make an atonement for the fallen race.”—The Review and Herald, April 23, 1901.
b. What role was played by both mercy and justice following the Fall? Jonah 4:2; Luke 6:35 (last part).
“The long-suffering of God is wonderful. Long does justice wait while mercy pleads with the sinner.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 177.
2. A SECOND TRIAL
a. Instead of the immediate execution of the death sentence upon the guilty pair, what hope did God give them? How did Abraham and John the Baptist express confidence in the divine Substitute? Genesis 3:15; 22:8; John 1:29.
“When [Adam and Eve] transgressed the law of God and fell from their state of happy innocence and became sinners, the future of the fallen race was not relieved by a single ray of hope. God pitied them, and Christ devised the plan for their salvation by Himself bearing the guilt. When the curse was pronounced upon the earth and upon man, in connection with the curse was a promise that through Christ there was hope and pardon for the transgression of God’s law.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1084.
b. By taking upon Himself the punishment for sin and by justifying the sinner, what has Christ done for him or her? Job 33:24.
“Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man’s stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon.”—Ibid., vol. 6, p. 1099.
“Bearing the penalty of the law, [Christ] gives the sinner another chance, a second trial. He opens a way whereby the sinner can be reinstated in God’s favor.”—Ibid., p. 1092.
“[Romans 3:24–26 quoted.] 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.”—The Signs of the Times, May 19, 1898.
“Justification means the saving of a soul from perdition, that he may obtain sanctification, and through sanctification, the life of heaven. Justification means that the conscience, purged from dead works, is placed where it can receive the blessings of sanctification.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 908.
3. JUSTIFICATION IN THE LIVES OF THE PATRIARCHS
a. How was the possibility of justification revealed to our forefathers? How were they to show faith in the plan of God to provide a Substitute? Genesis 3:15, 21; 4:4.
“Although gloom and darkness hung, like the pall of death, over the future, yet in the promise of the Redeemer, the Star of hope lighted up the dark future. The gospel was first preached to Adam by Christ. Adam and Eve felt sincere sorrow and repentance for their guilt. They believed the precious promise of God and were saved from utter ruin.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E.G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1084.
“Christ, in counsel with His Father, instituted the system of sacrificial offerings; that death, instead of being immediately visited upon the transgressor, should be transferred to a victim which should prefigure the great and perfect offering of the Son of God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 230.
b. What important lessons concerning the requirement of justice and mercy as the basis of the plan of redemption were given Adam and his descendants? Why was the shedding of blood essential? Hebrews 9:22.
“Heavenly angels more fully opened to our first parents the plan that had been devised for their salvation. Adam and his companion were assured that notwithstanding their great sin, they were not to be abandoned to the control of Satan. The Son of God had offered to atone, with His own life, for their transgression. A period of probation would be granted them, and through repentance and faith in Christ they might again become the children of God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 66.
“Many have expressed wonder that God demanded so many slain victims in the sacrificial offerings of the Jewish people, but it was to rivet in their minds the great truth that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. A lesson was embodied in every sacrifice, impressed in every ceremony, solemnly preached by the priest in his holy office and inculcated by God himself—that through the blood of Christ alone is there forgiveness of sins. How little we as a people feel the force of this great truth! How seldom, by living, acting faith, do we bring into our lives this great truth, that there is forgiveness for the least sin, forgiveness for the greatest sin!”—The Review and Herald, September 21, 1886.
4. JUSTIFICATION DEMONSTRATED IN THE JEWISH PEOPLE
a. What practical lesson did the Lord give the Jewish people so they could understand that justification entails the transfer of condemnation from the sinner to Himself? Leviticus 4:4–6, 13–17.
“Day by day the repentant sinner brought his offering to the door of the tabernacle and, placing his hand upon the victim’s head, confessed his sins, thus in figure transferring them from himself to the innocent sacrifice. The animal was then slain. ‘Without shedding of blood,’ says the apostle, there is no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). ‘The life of the flesh is in the blood’ (Leviticus 17:11). The broken law of God demanded the life of the transgressor. The blood, representing the forfeited life of the sinner, whose guilt the victim bore, was carried by the priest into the holy place and sprinkled before the veil, behind which was the ark containing the law that the sinner had transgressed. By this ceremony the sin was, through the blood, transferred in figure to the sanctuary.” —The Great Controversy, p. 418.
b. How clearly is the truth of justification demonstrated by the yearly Day of Atonement? Though sin was figuratively transferred to the sanctuary by the daily sacrifice, how long was the sinner still under the condemnation of the law? Leviticus 16:7–10, 15, 16, 20–22.
“Important truths concerning the atonement were taught the people [of Israel] by this yearly service. In the sin offerings presented during the year, a substitute had been accepted in the sinner’s stead; but the blood of the victim had not made full atonement for the sin. It had only provided a means by which the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed the guilt of his transgression, and expressed his faith in Him who was to take away the sin of the world; but he was not entirely released from the condemnation of the law.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 355, 356.
“The blood of Christ, while it was to release the repentant sinner from the condemnation of the law, was not to cancel the sin; it would stand on record in the sanctuary until the final atonement; so in the type the blood of the sin offering removed the sin from the penitent, but it rested in the sanctuary until the Day of Atonement.”—Ibid., p. 357.
5. THE RESULT OF REJECTING JUSTIFICATION
a. What two tendencies were soon developed in the history of humanity? What is the influence of each class? Genesis 4:3–5; 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16.
“The children of Adam present the earliest example of the two different courses pursued by men with regard to the claims of God. Abel saw Christ figured in the sacrificial offerings. Cain was an unbeliever in regard to the necessity of sacrifices; he refused to discern that Christ was typified by the slain lamb; the blood of beasts appeared to him without virtue. The gospel was preached to Cain as well as to his brother; but it was to him a savor of death unto death, because he would not recognize, in the blood of the sacrificial lamb, Jesus Christ the only provision made for man’s salvation.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 231.
b. What will be the experience and fate of those who reject the opportunity offered to them? 2 Thessalonians 2:10–12.
“Sin is the transgression of the law, and the arm that is now mighty to save will be strong to punish when the transgressor passes the bounds that limit divine forbearance. He who refuses to seek for life, who will not search the Scriptures to see what is truth, lest he should be condemned in his practices, will be left to blindness of mind and to the deceptions of Satan. To the same degree that the penitent and obedient are shielded by God’s love, the impenitent and disobedient will be left to the result of their own ignorance and hardness of heart, because they receive not the love of the truth that they may be saved.”—Ibid., p. 313.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. In what was the only hope of Adam and Eve when they disobeyed?
2. What had to be provided to satisfy justice and yet reveal the mercy of God?
3. What provision enabled people to be pardoned or justified?
4. What was a continual object lesson of justification to the Jews?
5. What experience is made by those who are not justified?