1. DISTINCTIONS OF GOD’S CHARACTER
a. After bestowing life upon humanity, what else did God provide? Genesis 2:7, 15. Why is this a blessing for us? Ecclesiastes 5:12, 18.
“Adam was not to be idle. No sooner was he created than his work was given him. He was to find employment and happiness in tending the things that God had created, and in response to his labor his wants were to be abundantly supplied from the fruits of the Garden of Eden.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, pp. 273, 274.
b. What daily evidences reveal God’s abundant love for us? Psalm 36:5–9; Lamentations 3:22, 23; Acts 14:17.
“We are indebted to [God] for every moment of existence, and for all the comforts of life.”—Counsels on Stewardship, p. 17.
“The Lord has given His life to the trees and vines of His creation. His word can increase or decrease the fruit of the land. If men would open their understanding to discern the relation between nature and nature’s God, faithful acknowledgments of the Creator’s power would be heard. Without the life of God, nature would die. His creative works are dependent upon Him. He bestows life-giving properties on all that nature produces. We are to regard the trees laden with fruit as the gift of God, just as much as though He placed the fruit in our hands.”— Lift Him Up, p. 62.
2. THE GREATEST GIFT
a. What is the greatest of God’s gifts? John 3:16; Ephesians 2:4–7.
“The treasure of the gospel, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, was among [the Jewish people], but they rejected the greatest gift that Heaven could bestow.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 105.
“The heart of God yearns over His earthly children with a love stronger than death. In giving up His Son, He has poured out to us all heaven in one gift. The Saviour’s life and death and intercession, the ministry of angels, the pleading of the Spirit, the Father working above and through all, the unceasing interest of heavenly beings—all are enlisted in behalf of man’s redemption.”—Steps to Christ, p. 21.
“Christ has purchased us by the price of His own blood. He has paid the purchase money for our redemption, and if we will lay hold upon the treasure, it is ours by the free gift of God.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 245.
b. When we follow Christ, what gift does the Father promise to His Son? John 6:37–39; 17:24. Why should this fact encourage all? James 1:17, 18.
“How much God loves human beings, we never can compute. The universe is filled with proofs of His measureless benevolence.
“Christ has a claim on all in this world. ‘All things are delivered unto Me of My Father,’ He said [Luke 10:22]. ‘All things that the Father hath are mine.’ ‘All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth’ [John 16:15; Matthew 28:18]. All in heaven and in earth is at His service. The great gift of heavenly love was not to be shut up in the bosom of the Father. It was to Christ, to give to needy human beings.
“Christ is full of grace and truth. He is all and in all. Then let no human being take glory to himself. The glory is to be given to the Son of God. Now and forever He is to receive all praise.”—Battle Creek Letters, p. 65.
“Because we are the gift of His Father, and the reward of His work, Jesus loves us. He loves us as His children. Reader, He loves you. Heaven itself can bestow nothing greater, nothing better.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 483.
“It is your privilege to trust in the love of Jesus for salvation, in the fullest, surest, noblest manner; to say, He loves me, He receives me; I will trust Him, for He gave His life for me. Nothing so dispels doubt as coming in contact with the character of Christ.”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 517.
3. WHO IS CHRIST?
a. As we reverence the heavenly Father as Creator, what should we also understand about Jesus Christ? Hebrews 1:1–3; John 1:1–3.
“If Christ made all things, He existed before all things. The words spoken in regard to this are so decisive that no one need be left in doubt. Christ was God essentially, and in the highest sense. He was with God from all eternity, God over all, blessed forevermore.”—Lift Him Up, p. 16.
“Christ the Word, the Only Begotten of God, was one with the eternal Father—one in nature, in character, and in purpose—the only being in all the universe that could enter into all the counsels and purposes of God. By Christ the Father wrought in the creation of all heavenly beings. ‘By Him were all things created, that are in heaven, . . . whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers’ (Colossians 1:16); and to Christ, equally with the Father, all heaven gave allegiance.”—The Great Controversy, p. 493.
b. Upon what basis is Christ entitled to our worship and discipleship? Ephesians 3:9; Philippians 2:5–10.
“The greatest gift that God could bestow upon men was bestowed in the gift of His beloved Son. The apostle says, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ (Romans 8:32). There was nothing held in reserve. No second probation will ever be provided. If the unspeakable gift of God does not lead man to repentance, there is nothing that ever will move his heart. There is no power held in reserve to act upon his mind, and arouse his sensibilities. The whole character of God was revealed in His Son, the whole range of the possibilities of heaven is displayed for the acceptance of man in the Son of the Infinite One. The way for man’s return to God and heaven has no barriers. The matchless depths of the Saviour’s love have been demonstrated; and if this manifestation of God’s love for the children of men does not prevail to draw men to Himself, there is nothing that ever will.”—The Signs of the Times, December 30, 1889.
“The apostle Paul, writing by the Holy Spirit, declares of Christ that ‘all things have been created through Him, and unto Him; and He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:16, 17, RV, margin). The hand that sustains the worlds in space, the hand that holds in their orderly arrangement and tireless activity all things throughout the universe of God, is the hand that was nailed to the cross for us.”—Education, p. 132.
4. A HEAVENLY PRINCIPLE
a. What fundamental concept should we learn from the example of Christ’s earthly life? Luke 22:27 (last part); Hebrews 5:8; 12:2, 3.
“The foundation of the plan of salvation was laid in sacrifice. Jesus left the royal courts and became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. All who share this salvation, purchased for them at such an infinite sacrifice by the Son of God, will follow the example of the true Pattern. Christ was the chief Cornerstone, and we must build upon this Foundation. Each must have a spirit of self-denial and self-sacrifice. The life of Christ upon earth was unselfish; it was marked with humiliation and sacrifice. And shall men, partakers of the great salvation which Jesus came from heaven to bring them, refuse to follow their Lord and to share in His self-denial and sacrifice?”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 387. [Author’s Italics.]
b. In what sense are we to gladly follow Christ’s example of sacrifice? 1 Peter 2:21; Romans 12:1, 2.
“Christ sacrificed everything for man in order to make it possible for him to gain heaven. Now it is for fallen man to show what he will sacrifice on his own account for Christ’s sake, that he may win immortal glory. Those who have any just sense of the magnitude of salvation and of its cost will never murmur that their sowing must be in tears and that conflict and self-denial are the Christian’s portion in this life.”—Ibid., p. 481.
“[Christ] laid aside His glory, His dominion, His riches, and sought after those who were perishing in sin. He humbled Himself to our necessities, that He might exalt us to heaven. Sacrifice, self-denial, and disinterested benevolence characterized His life. He is our pattern. Have you . . . imitated the Pattern?”—Ibid., vol. 2, p. 549.
“The words, ‘Ye are not your own,’ ‘ye are bought with a price’ [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20], should be hung in memory’s hall, that we may ever recognize God’s right to our talents, our property, our influence, our individual selves. We are to learn how to treat this gift of God, in mind, in soul, in body, that as Christ’s purchased possession we may do Him healthful savory service.”—Medical Ministry, p. 276.
5. GRACE GRANTED
a. What is grace—and why is it essential for our salvation? Romans 5:6–9; Ephesians 2:8, 9.
“Grace is unmerited favor, and the believer is justified without any merit of his own, without any claim to offer to God. He is justified through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, who stands in the courts of heaven as the sinner’s substitute and surety.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 398.
“[The Saviour’s] grace is sufficient to subdue sin.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 87.
b. How should we respond to God’s bountiful grace? Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:11–14.
“Are good works of no real value? Is the sinner who commits sin every day with impunity, regarded of God with the same favor as the one who through faith in Christ tries to work in his integrity? The Scripture answers, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’
“In His divine arrangement, through His unmerited favor, the Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone; and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works.
“It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us.”—Selected Messages, bk. 3, pp. 199, 200.
“All your good works cannot save you; but it is nevertheless impossible for you to be saved without good works. Every sacrifice made for Christ will be for your eternal gain.”—Ibid., p. 147.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Name some simple gifts of God bestowed from the days of Eden.
2. How does God’s greatest gift involve a reciprocal relationship?
3. Why is it important for us to understand who Christ really is?
4. What fundamental principle underlies the entire plan of salvation?
5. How does grace from God impact our preparation for Heaven?