Bible Study Guides – Regaining Paradise

October 13, 2002 – October 19, 2002

MEMORY VERSE: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:6.

SUGGESTED READING: Patriarchs and Prophets, 71–79; “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Commentary, vol. 7, 931.

INTRODUCTION: “Sorrow filled heaven, as it was realized that man was lost and that world which God had created was to be filled with mortals doomed to misery, sickness, and death, and there was no way of escape for the offender. The whole family of Adam must die. I [Ellen White] saw the lovely Jesus and beheld an expression of sympathy and sorrow upon His countenance. Soon I saw Him approach the exceeding bright light which enshrouded the Father. Said my accompanying angel, He is in close converse with His Father. The anxiety of the angels seemed to be intense while Jesus was communing with His Father. Three times He was shut in by the glorious light about the Father, and the third time He came out from the Father, His person could be seen. His countenance was calm, free from all perplexity and doubt, and shone with benevolence and loveliness, such as words cannot express.

“He then made known to the angelic host that a way of escape had been made for lost man. He told them that He had been pleading with His Father, and had offered to give His life a ransom, to take the sentence of death upon Himself, that through Him man might find pardon; that through the merits of His blood, and obedience to the law of God, they could have the favor of God and be brought into the beautiful garden and eat of the fruit of the tree of life.” The Story of Redemption, 42.

“The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 366.

1 What promise of God is repeated throughout the Bible? Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 28:14; Galatians 3:8, 16.

NOTE: “Not alone at the Saviour’s advent, but through all the ages after the Fall and the promise of redemption, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.’ 2 Corinthians 5:19. Christ was the foundation and center of the sacrificial system in both the patriarchal and the Jewish age. Since the sin of our first parents there has been no direct communication between God and man. The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God. All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ. It was the Son of God that gave to our first parents the promise of redemption. It was He who revealed Himself to the patriarchs. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses understood the gospel. They looked for salvation through man’s Substitute and Surety. These holy men of old held communion with the Saviour who was to come to our world in human flesh . . . .” Patriarchs and Prophets, 366.

“Plain and specific prophecies had been given regarding the appearance of the Promised One. To Adam was given an assurance of the coming of the Redeemer. The sentence pronounced on Satan, [Genesis 3:15 quoted], was to our first parents a promise of the redemption to be wrought out through Christ.

“To Abraham was given the promise that of his line the Saviour of the world should come . . . .

“Moses, near the close of his work as a leader and teacher of Israel, plainly prophesied of the Messiah to come. . . .

“The Messiah was to be of the royal line, for in the prophecy uttered by Jacob the Lord said, ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto Him shall the gathering of the people be.’ Genesis 49:10.

“Isaiah prophesied: ‘There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.’ . . . Isaiah 11:1 . . . .

“Jeremiah also bore witness of the coming Redeemer as a Prince of the house of David . . . .

“The work that the Saviour was to do on the earth had been fully outlined . . . .” The Acts of the Apostles, 221–224.

2 How was this promise fulfilled? Luke 4:18, 21.

NOTE: “His [Christ’s] birth was without worldly grandeur. He was born in a stable and cradled in a manger; yet His birth was honored far above that of any of the sons of men. Angels from heaven informed the shepherds of the advent of Jesus, and light and glory from God accompanied their testimony. The heavenly host touched their harps and glorified God. They triumphantly heralded the advent of the Son of God to a fallen world to accomplish the work of redemption, and by His death to bring peace, happiness, and everlasting life to man. God honored the advent of His Son. Angels worshiped Him.” The Story of Redemption, 196.

“The Son of God came from heaven to make manifest the Father. . . .

“[Luke 4:18 quoted.] This was His work. He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by Satan.” Steps to Christ, 11.

3 Through the gospel, how was Abel blessed, accepted, and justified? Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4.

NOTE: “Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous, and his offering accepted.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.

4 How did Cain forfeit the blessings and acceptance of the gospel? Genesis 4:3, 5.

NOTE: “Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings. His gift expressed no penitence for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb, and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor. He presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.

5 How are the two classes of worshipers (Cain and Abel) reflected in the life of Paul? Philippians 3:4–9.

NOTE: “Cain and Abel represent two classes of men that have existed from generation to generation, and will continue to exist to the close of time. One availed himself of the promised sacrifice for sin; the other ventured to depend upon his own merits. His was the sacrifice of a sinner without the virtue of divine mediation, which is alone able to bring him into favor with God. It is only through the merits of Jesus that our transgressions of the law can be pardoned. Those who feel that they can be moral without divine help, who feel no need of the blood of Christ, are betrayed into grievous sins. If they do not gladly, gratefully, accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation. There is no other provision made whereby they can be released from sin’s terrible thralldom. There must be repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only way to secure excellence of character, the only path to divine favor.” Signs of the Times, September 11, 1884.

6 What lesson should we learn from Cain’s offering? Jude 11; Genesis 4:13, 14.

NOTE: “The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; for nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle—that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. It is claimed by some that the human race is in need, not of redemption, but of development—that it can refine, elevate, and regenerate itself. As Cain thought to secure the divine favor by an offering that lacked the blood of a sacrifice, so do these expect to exalt humanity to the divine standard, independent of the atonement. The history of Cain shows what must be the results. It shows what man will become apart from Christ. Humanity has no power to regenerate itself. It does not tend upward, toward the divine, but downward, toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 73.

7 What lesson is there for us in the fig-leaf garments of Adam and Eve? Genesis 3:7.

NOTE: “The garment of innocence, a covering from God, which surrounded them, departed; and they supplied the place of this heavenly garment by sewing together fig-leaves for aprons.

“This is the covering that the transgressors of the law of God have used since the days of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They have sewed together fig-leaves to cover their nakedness, caused by transgression. The fig-leaves represent the arguments used to cover disobedience. When the Lord calls the attention of men and women to the truth, the making of fig-leaves into aprons will be begun, to hide the nakedness of the soul. But the nakedness of the sinner is not covered. All the arguments pieced together by all who have interested themselves in this flimsy work will come to naught.” Review and Herald, November 15, 1898.

“Naked and ashamed, they [Adam and Eve] tried to supply the place of the heavenly garments by sewing together fig leaves for a covering.

“This is what the transgressors of God’s law have done ever since the day of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. They have sewed together fig leaves to cover the nakedness caused by transgression. They have worn the garments of their own devising, by works of their own they have tried to cover their sins, and make themselves acceptable with God.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 311.

8 How are we in danger of failing—as did the Israelites—to truly understand the gospel? Exodus 24:7; Joshua 24:19–21; Hebrews 4:2.

NOTE: “The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 371, 372.

“The unbelief and murmurings of the children of Israel illustrate the people of God now upon the earth. Many look back to them, and marvel at their unbelief and continual murmurings, after the Lord had done so much for them, in giving them repeated evidences of his love and care for them. They think that they should not have proved thus ungrateful. But some who thus think, murmur and repine at things of less consequence. They do not know themselves. God frequently proves them, and tries their faith in small things, and they do not endure the trial any better than did ancient Israel.

“Many have their present wants supplied, yet they will not trust the Lord for the future. They manifest unbelief, and sink into despondency and gloom at anticipated want. Some are in continual trouble lest they shall come to want, and their children suffer. When difficulties arise, or when they are brought into strait places—when their faith and love to God is tested, they shrink from the trial, and murmur at the process by which God has chosen to purify them. Their love does not prove pure and perfect, to bear all things. The faith of the people of the God of Heaven should be strong, active, and enduring—the substance of things hoped for. Then the language of such will be, Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; for he hath dealt bountifully with me. Self-denial is considered by some to be real suffering. Depraved appetites are indulged. And a restraint upon the unhealthy appetite would lead even many professed Christians to now start back, as though actual starvation would be the consequence of a plain diet. And, like the children of Israel, they would prefer slavery, diseased bodies, and even death, rather than to be deprived of the flesh-pots. Bread and water is all that is promised to the remnant in the time of trouble.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 251, 252.

9 What did God offer to establish with Israel and with each of us? Jeremiah 31:31–34, Hebrews 8:8–11.

NOTE: “The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’” Patriarchs and Prophets, 372.

10 Only one gospel has saved men since Eden; how does it apply to us? John 14:6; Acts 4:12.

NOTE: “It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded on the principles of restoring in the fallen race the divine image. The Godhead was stirred with pity for the race, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave themselves to the working out of the plan of redemption. In order fully to carry out his plan, it was decided that Christ, the only begotten Son of God, should give himself an offering for sin. And in giving Christ, God gave all the resources of heaven, that nothing might be wanting for the work of man’s uplifting. What line can measure the depth of this love? God would make it impossible for man to say that he could have done more.” Review and Herald, May 2, 1912.

“The love of Christ reaches to the very depths of earthly misery and woe, or it would not meet the case of the veriest sinner. It also reaches to the throne of the Eternal, or man could not be lifted from his degraded condition, and our necessities would not be met, our desires would not be satisfied. Christ has led the way from earth to heaven. He forms the connecting link between the two worlds. He brings the love and condescension of God to man, and brings man up through His merits to meet the reconciliation of God. Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. It is hard work to follow on, step by step, painfully and slowly, onward and upward, in the path of purity and holiness. But Christ has made ample provision to impart new vigor and divine strength at every advance step in the divine life.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 193.

11 How are we to benefit from the gospel? 1 Timothy 1:15; Ephesians 1:4–11.

NOTE: “The Father sets his love upon his elect people who live in the midst of men. These are the people whom Christ has redeemed by the price of his own blood; and because they respond to the drawing of Christ, through the sovereign mercy of God, they are elected to be saved as his obedient children. Upon them is manifested the free grace of God, the love wherewith he hath loved them. Everyone who will humble himself as a little child who will receive and obey the word of God with a child’s simplicity, will be among the elect of God.” Signs of the Times, January 2, 1893.

Q&A – Explain Luke 23:43

Will you please explain Luke 23:43 NKJV? When Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise,” what exactly did He mean?

All punctuation in the Scripture was added by the translators, as there was none in the original manuscripts. Adding the comma where it is in the above verse appears to change the timing of when the thief would be with Jesus in Paradise. However, by looking at other verses pertaining to those who have died, it is clear that Jesus did not mean that on that very day the forgiven thief would go to Paradise.

Job said, “Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.” Job 21:32.

John said, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29.

The promise made that day, as they were both hanging on a cross, was that the thief would be remembered among the redeemed for whom Jesus is coming back and will take to heaven to live with Him in Paradise throughout eternity.

“Assuredly I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Neither did Jesus Himself go to Paradise that day. On the Sunday after His crucifixion, Mary stood weeping at the empty tomb in the garden thinking the body of Jesus had been stolen. She first mistook Jesus for the gardener, but when recognizing her Lord, she was the first to see the risen Saviour. He told her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father” (John 20:17 NKJV). This verse makes it very clear that He did not go to Paradise on the day of His crucifixion.

Paradise is where the tree of life is (Revelation 2: 7), and the tree of life is “fast by the throne of God” (Revelation 22:1, 2).

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