1. ABRAHAM JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
a. How was Abraham justified before God, and what is written about his faith? Romans 4:1–3; Hebrews 11:8–10.
“[The covenant of grace] was renewed to Abraham in the promise, ‘In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.’ Genesis 22:18. This promise pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 370.
“Abraham’s unquestioning obedience is one of the most striking evidences of faith to be found in all the Bible. To him, faith was ‘the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’ [Hebrews 11:1]. Relying upon the divine promise, without the least outward assurance of its fulfillment, he abandoned home and kindred and native land, and went forth, he knew not whither, to follow where God should lead.”—Ibid., p.126.
b. Describe Abraham’s severest trial of faith. Hebrews 11:17–19.
“The trial was far more severe than that which had been brought upon Adam. . . . All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration Abraham’s unfaltering obedience. All heaven applauded his fidelity.”—
2. DAVID JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
a. After his crimes against Bathsheba and Uriah, what prayers did David offer to the Lord? Psalms 51:1–4; 32:1–5.
b. When the prophet Nathan presented to David the enormity of his sin, how did David react? 2 Samuel 12:13 (first part). How did the Lord then respond through the prophet? 2 Samuel 12:13 (second part).
c. What does the apostle Paul reveal about David’s experience following his repentance? Romans 4:5–7.
“David’s repentance was sincere and deep. There was no effort to palliate his crime. No desire to escape the judgments threatened, inspired his prayer. But he saw the enormity of his transgression against God; he saw the defilement of his soul; he loathed his sin. It was not for pardon only that he prayed, but for purity of heart. David did not in despair give over the struggle. In the promises of God to repentant sinners he saw the evidence of his pardon and acceptance. . . .
“Though David had fallen, the Lord lifted him up. He was now more fully in harmony with God and in sympathy with his fellow men than before he fell. . . .
“This passage in David’s history is full of significance to the repenting sinner. It is one of the most forcible illustrations given us of the struggles and temptations of humanity, and of genuine repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Through all the ages it has proved a source of encouragement to souls that, having fallen into sin, were struggling under the burden of their guilt. Thousands of the children of God, who have been betrayed into sin, when ready to give up to despair have remembered how David’s sincere repentance and confession were accepted by God, notwithstanding he suffered for his transgression; and they also have taken courage to repent and try again to walk in the way of God’s commandments. . . .
“The Lord will never cast away one truly repentant soul.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 725, 726.
3. JUSTIFIED BEFORE OR AFTER BAPTISM?
a. Was Abraham justified by faith before circumcision or after circumcision? Romans 4:8–10.
b. What was the purpose of circumcision? Romans 4:11. What is the purpose of baptism? 1 Peter 3:18, 21.
“The rite of circumcision was given to Abraham as ‘a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.’ Romans 4:11. It was to be observed by the patriarch and his descendants as a token that they were devoted to the service of God and thus separated from idolaters, and that God accepted them as His peculiar treasure. By this rite they were pledged to fulfill, on their part, the conditions of the covenant made with Abraham. They were not to contract marriages with the heathen; for by so doing they would lose their reverence for God and His holy law; they would be tempted to engage in the sinful practices of other nations, and would be seduced into idolatry.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 138.
“The resurrection of Christ is commemorated by our being buried with Him by baptism, and raised out of the watery grave, in likeness of His resurrection, to live in newness of life.”—Early Writings, p. 217.
“Christ has made baptism the sign of entrance to His spiritual kingdom. He has made this a positive condition with which all must comply who wish to be acknowledged as under the authority of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Before man can find a home in the church, before passing the threshold of God’s spiritual kingdom, he is to receive the impress of the divine name, ‘The Lord our Righteousness.’ Jeremiah 23:6.
“Baptism is a most solemn renunciation of the world. Those who are baptized in the threefold name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, at the very entrance of their Christian life declare publicly that they have forsaken the service of Satan and have become members of the royal family, children of the heavenly King. They have obeyed the command: ‘Come out from among them, and be ye separate . . . and touch not the unclean thing.’ And to them is fulfilled the promise: ‘I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.’ 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 91.
4. PROMISES FULFILLED THROUGH FAITH
a. On what basis did God fulfill His promises to Abraham? Romans 4:13.
“The Bible plainly teaches that the promises made to Abraham are to be fulfilled through Christ. All that are Christ’s are ‘Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise’—heirs to ‘an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away’—the earth freed from the curse of sin. Galatians 3:29; 1 Peter 1:4. For ‘the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High;’ and ‘the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.’ Daniel 7:27; Psalm 37:11.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 170.
b. What else is written about Abraham’s faith? Romans 4:18–22.
“The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the works of righteousness.”— The Desire of Ages, p. 98.
c. What is the ultimate lesson we gain from these facts? Romans 4:23–25.
“It is God that circumcises the heart. The whole work is the Lord’s from the beginning to the end. The perishing sinner may say: ‘I am a lost sinner; but Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost. He says, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). I am a sinner, and He died upon Calvary’s cross to save me. I need not remain a moment longer unsaved. He died and rose again for my justification, and He will save me now. I accept the forgiveness He has promised.’ ”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 392.
5. FAITH ESSENTIAL FOR OUR JUSTIFICATION
a. What is the biblical definition of faith? Hebrews 11:1.
“Faith is the condition upon which God has seen fit to promise pardon to sinners; not that there is any virtue in faith whereby salvation is merited, but because faith can lay hold of the merits of Christ, the remedy provided for sin. Faith can present Christ’s perfect obedience instead of the sinner’s transgression and defection. When the sinner believes that Christ is his personal Saviour, then according to His unfailing promises, God pardons his sin and justifies him freely. The repentant soul realizes that his justification comes because Christ, as his Substitute and Surety, has died for him, is his atonement and righteousness.”—Faith and Works, pp. 100, 101.
b. What is the big difference between faith and presumption? Ephesians 2:8; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17.
“We do not earn salvation by our obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith. [1 John 3:5, 6 quoted.] Here is the true test. If we abide in Christ, if the love of God dwells in us, our feelings, our thoughts, our purposes, our actions, will be in harmony with the will of God as expressed in the precepts of His holy law. [1 John 3:7 quoted.] Righteousness is defined by the standard of God’s holy law, as expressed in the ten precepts given on Sinai.
“That so-called faith in Christ which professes to release men from the obligation of obedience to God, is not faith, but presumption. [Ephesians 2:8; James 2:17 quoted.]”—Steps to Christ, p. 61.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can my faith become more like that of Abraham?
2. How can my repentance come more like that of David?
3. What is to be the experience of one who takes the vow of baptism?
4. Why should we not delay in taking our sinful lives to the Saviour?
5. How might I be in danger of falling into some form of presumption?