1. GOD’S REGENERATING GRACE
a. How does Paul present God’s grace in the plan of salvation—and the attitude with which we are to accept it? Galatians 2:15–18; Ephesians 2:8–10.
“The Chief Shepherd is Judge and illustrates the great principles which are to regulate the proceedings of the reckoning with His servants who are justified by faith, judged by their works. Faith works by love and purifies the soul of moral defilement that it may become a temple for the Lord.”—This Day With God, p. 208.
“Without faith it is impossible to please God. Living faith enables its possessor to lay hold on the merits of Christ, enables him to derive great comfort and satisfaction from the plan of salvation.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 364.
“While we are to be in harmony with God’s law, we are not saved by the works of the law, yet we cannot be saved without obedience. The law is the standard by which character is measured. But we cannot possibly keep the commandments of God without the regenerating grace of Christ. Jesus alone can cleanse us from all sin. He does not save us by law, neither will He save us in disobedience to law.”—Faith and Works, pp. 95, 96.
2. UNDERSTANDING GRACE
a. To what is any attempt to obtain salvation by our own strength—or through any supposed achievement of our own—compared? Genesis 4:3–5.
“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.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 363.
b. What does God’s grace actually do for us? Titus 2:11–14; 3:4–7.
“Jesus stands in the holy of holies, now to appear in the presence of God for us. There He ceases not to present His people moment by moment, complete in Himself. But because we are thus represented before the Father, we are not to imagine that we are to presume upon His mercy and become careless, indifferent, and self-indulgent. Christ is not the minister of sin. We are complete in Him, accepted in the Beloved, only as we abide in Him by faith.”—Faith and Works, p. 107.
c. Explain the great depth of our tremendous need of God’s grace continually. 2 Corinthians 3:3–5; Galatians 2:19.
“We are justified by faith. The soul who understand the meaning of these words will never be self-sufficient. We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves. The Holy Spirit is our efficiency in the work of character building, in forming characters after the divine similitude. When we think ourselves capable of molding our own experience, we make a great mistake. We can never of ourselves obtain the victory over temptation. But those who have genuine faith in Christ will be worked by the Holy Spirit. The soul in whose heart faith abides will grow into a beautiful temple for the Lord. He is directed by the grace of Christ. Just in proportion as he depends on the Holy Spirit’s teaching he will grow.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1109.
3. TRUSTING IN THE SUPPLIER OF GRACE
a. How can we sustain the benefits of God’s grace in our life? Hebrews 12:1–3.
“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, bk. 1, p. 364.
“No one can be justified by any works of his own. He can be delivered from the guilt of sin, from the condemnation of the law, from the penalty of transgression, only by virtue of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ. Faith is the only condition upon which justification can be obtained, and faith includes not only belief but trust.”—Ibid., p. 389.
“When the sinner has a view of the matchless charms of Jesus, sin no longer looks attractive to him; for he beholds the Chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely. He realizes by a personal experience the power of the gospel, whose vastness of design is equaled only by its preciousness of purpose.”—Faith and Works, p. 107.
b. How are we to avoid frustrating God’s grace? Galatians 2:21.
“Solid faith will not lead anyone away into fanaticism or into acting the slothful servant. It is the bewitching power of Satan that leads men to look to themselves in the place of looking to Jesus. The righteousness of Christ must go before us if the glory of the Lord becomes our rereward. If we do God’s will, we may accept large blessings as God’s free gift, but not because of any merit in us; this is of no value. Do the work of Christ, and you will honor God and come off more than conquerors through Him that has loved us and given His life for us, that we should have life and salvation in Jesus Christ.”—Ibid., pp. 27, 28.
“While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God. Faith is manifested by works.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1073.
4. STAYING PURE OR BECOMING TAINTED?
a. How can we summarize the awesome experience of living by God’s grace? Galatians 2:20.
“Through the grace of Christ, we may accomplish everything that God requires.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 94.
“The propensities that control the natural heart must be subdued by the grace of Christ before fallen man is fitted to enter heaven and enjoy the society of the pure, holy angels. When man dies to sin and is quickened to new life in Christ, divine love fills his heart; his understanding is sanctified; he drinks from an inexhaustible fountain of joy and knowledge, and the light of an eternal day shines upon his path, for with him continually is the Light of life.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 250.
“The touch of faith opens to us the divine treasure house of power and wisdom; and thus, through instruments of clay, God accomplishes the wonders of His grace. This living faith is our great need today. We must know that Jesus is indeed ours; that His Spirit is purifying and refining our hearts. If the followers of Christ had genuine faith, with meekness and love, what a work they might accomplish! What fruit would be seen to the glory of God!”—Ibid., p. 265.
b. Why did Paul become greatly alarmed for the believers living in Galatia, and what should we learn from this? Galatians 3:1; John 3:3.
“The apostle urged the Galatians to leave the false guides by whom they had been misled, and to return to the faith that had been accompanied by unmistakable evidences of divine approval. The men who had attempted to lead them from their belief in the gospel were hypocrites, unholy in heart and corrupt in life. Their religion was made up of a round of ceremonies, through the performance of which they expected to gain the favor of God. They had no desire for a gospel that called for obedience to the word. ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ John 3:3. They felt that a religion based on such a doctrine, required too great a sacrifice, and they clung to their own errors, deceiving themselves and others.
“To substitute external forms of religion for holiness of heart and life is still as pleasing to the unrenewed nature as it was in the days of these Jewish teachers. Today, as then, there are false spiritual guides, to whose doctrines many listen eagerly. It is Satan’s studied effort to divert minds from the hope of salvation through faith in Christ and obedience to the law of God.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 386, 387.
5. KEEPING CHRIST AS OUR FOCUS
a. What questions did Paul ask to open the eyes of the Galatians to see the specific type of “bewitching” that had deluded them? Galatians 3:2–5.
“Satan is the bewitcher, and he has wrought, that Christ may be expelled from the soul, and that he himself may be there enthroned.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 336.
b. In contrast, what was the focus of Paul’s teaching? 2 Corinthians 4:5, 6.
“It was not to exalt self, but to magnify the grace of God, that Paul . . . presented to those who were denying his apostleship, proof that he was ‘not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.’ 2 Corinthians 11:5. Those who sought to belittle his calling and his work were fighting against Christ, whose grace and power were manifested through Paul. The apostle was forced, by the opposition of his enemies, to take a decided stand in maintaining his position and authority.
“Paul pleaded with those who had once known in their lives the power of God, to return to their first love of gospel truth. With unanswerable arguments he set before them their privilege of becoming free men and women in Christ, through whose atoning grace all who make full surrender are clothed with the robe of His righteousness. He took the position that every soul who would be saved must have a genuine, personal experience in the things of God.”—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 388.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What do I need to realize about God’s grace?
2. How can I grow in grace?
3. How is faith manifested?
4. What was so dangerous about those who had bewitched the Galatians?
5. What might cause me to be in peril of losing my first love of the gospel?