March 19 – 25, 2023
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.” Romans 4:4, 5
Study Help: Faith and Works, 15–18
“Justification is wholly of grace and not procured by any works that fallen man can do.” Faith and Works, 20
1 THE LAW CANNOT JUSTIFY
1.a. What is written about the purpose of God’s law? Romans 3:20, 28
Note: “I would call on all who would win heaven, to take warning. Do not devote your precious probationary time to sewing together fig leaves to cover the nakedness which is the result of sin. As you look into the Lord’s great moral looking glass, His holy law, His standard of character, do not for a moment suppose that it can cleanse you. There are no saving properties in the law. It cannot pardon the transgressor. The penalty must be exacted.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 6, 1070
1.b. What is written about the Israelites as a nation? Romans 10:1–4
Note: “Priests and rulers became fixed in a rut of ceremonialism. They were satisfied with a legal religion, and it was impossible for them to give to others the living truths of heaven. They thought their own righteousness all-sufficient, and did not desire that a new element should be brought into their religion. The good will of God to men they did not accept as something apart from themselves, but connected it with their own merit because of their good works.” The Acts of the Apostles, 15
2 HUMAN WORKS CANNOT JUSTIFY
2.a. What does the Bible say about a person’s good works? Romans 4:1–5
Note: “The reward is not of works, lest any man should boast; but it is all of grace. ‘What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.’ Romans 4:1–5. Therefore there is no occasion for one to glory over another or to grudge against another. No one is privileged above another, nor can anyone claim the reward as a right.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 401, 402
“The work of faith means more than we think. It means genuine reliance upon the naked word of God. By our actions we are to show that we believe that God will do just as He has said. The wheels of nature and of providence are not appointed to roll backward nor to stand still. We must have an advancing, working faith, a faith that works by love and purifies the soul from every vestige of selfishness. It is not self, but God, that we must depend upon. We must not cherish unbelief. We must have that faith that takes God at His word. …
“Sanctification of soul, body, and spirit will surround us with the atmosphere of heaven. If God has chosen us from eternity, it is that we might be holy, our conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God. We must not in any way make self our god. God has given Himself to die for us, that He might purify us from all iniquity. The Lord will carry on this work of perfection for us if we will allow ourselves to be controlled by Him. He carries on this work for our good and His own name’s glory.” Bible Training School, June 1, 1915
2.b. What is said about the works of righteousness and our salvation? Titus 3:5
Note: “Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 199
3 FAITH PLUS WORKS CANNOT JUSTIFY
3.a. What did the apostle Paul explain to the Galatians? Galatians 2:16
Note: “Let the subject be made distinct and plain that it is not possible to effect anything in our standing before God or in the gift of God to us through creature merit. Should faith and works purchase the gift of salvation for anyone, then the Creator is under obligation to the creature. Here is an opportunity for falsehood to be accepted as truth. If any man can merit salvation by anything he may do, then he is in the same position as the Catholic to do penance for his sins. Salvation, then, is partly of debt, that may be earned as wages. If man cannot, by any of his good works, merit salvation, then it must be wholly of grace, received by man as a sinner because he receives and believes in Jesus. It is wholly a free gift. Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.” Faith and Works, 19, 20
3.b. Who is the author of the theory of salvation by works?
Note: “A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.” The Desire of Ages, 280
“The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.” Ibid., 35, 36
4 FALSE FAITH vs. TRUE FAITH
4.a. What did James explain about false faith? James 2:14–20
Note: “The apostle James saw that dangers would arise in presenting the subject of justification by faith, and he labored to show that genuine faith cannot exist without corresponding works. The experience of Abraham is presented. ‘Seest thou,’ he says, ‘how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?’ James 2:22. Thus genuine faith does a genuine work in the believer. Faith and obedience bring a solid, valuable experience. …
“The so-called faith that does not work by love and purify the soul will not justify any man. ‘Ye see,’ says the apostle, ‘how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.’ James 2:24. Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God’s love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead.” The Faith I Live By, 115
4.b. On the other hand, what is the result of true faith? Galatians 5:6
Note: “The Holy Spirit comes to convict of sin, and the faith that springs up in the heart works by love to Christ, conforming us in body, soul, and spirit to His own image. Then God can use us to do His will. The power given us works from within outwardly, leading us to communicate to others the truth that has been communicated to us.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 100
“The faith that works by love and purifies the soul could find no place for union with the religion of the Pharisees, made up of ceremonies and the injunctions of men.” The Acts of the Apostles, 15
5 OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS CANNOT JUSTIFY US
5.a. What is written about our own righteousness? Isaiah 64:6; Revelation 3:18
Note: “The true Witness has said, ‘Buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear.’ What is the shame of this nakedness and poverty? It is the shame of clothing ourselves with self-righteousness, and of separating ourselves from God, when He has made ample provision for all to receive His blessing.” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, 965
5.b. What will be the fate of those who cling to their own righteousness? Revelation 3:16
Note: “There are those who, though professedly serving God, are witnessing against Him. To them the message to the Laodicean church is given. Christ says to them, ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.’ When the avenging angel shall pass through the land, Christ cannot say of them, ‘Touch them not. I have graven them upon the palms of my hands.’ No; of these halfhearted ones He says, ‘I will spew them out of my mouth. They are offensive to me.’ ” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, 963
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 God’s law cannot justify anyone. Why?
2 Can a person’s good works assure his or her salvation?
3 Why do we have no merits in ourselves before God?
4 How does James explain true faith?
5 Why are we not justified before God by our own righteousness?
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