Lesson 12 *March 16-22
Read for This week’s Study: Gen. 3:21; Ps. 104:29, 30; John 1:4; Rom. 5:6-11; Gal. 3:13; Matt. 27:46.
Memory Text: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22, NIV).
In the biblical account, Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, without any moral defect. But they did have free will, a prerequisite for them to be able to love. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, they fell under Satan’s power (see Heb. 2:14), an act that brought the whole world under the enemy’s power, as well. Jesus, though, came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and free us from his power. He did this by dying in our place and offering us life. On the cross, Jesus became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) and experienced the separation from His Father that sin causes. By His death, Jesus restored the relationship between God and humanity that had been broken by the sin of Adam and Eve.
All these points are logically linked to the Creation story. Creation comes into the picture again as the power of the Creator God is exercised to create a new heart in His children (2 Cor. 5:17), renewing the image of God within us and restoring our relationship with Him.
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, March 23.
As we all know so well, the first humans, perfect beings created in the “image of God,” fell into sin, which brought death. They had been warned, and they understood what they had been told. Eve even repeated to the serpent what God had said. Yet, they sinned anyway. At times we, like Eve, are led into sin by deceit; while, at other times, like Adam, we sin intentionally. Either way, we are sinners, guilty of transgressing God’s law.
Read Genesis 3:9-15. What was God’s response to the sin of Adam and Eve?
God held a trial, an “investigative judgment” even. The purpose of the trial was not so that God could learn the facts. He already knew them. The purpose was, instead, to give the couple an opportunity to accept responsibility for their actions, the first step toward repentance and restoration. God asked them what had happened, and they confessed, although reluctantly. Though they were guilty and though their sin brought immediate consequences—the first gospel promise was given (see lesson 6) to them in Eden.
Read Genesis 3:21. What further act of grace was revealed?
Death came in a most unexpected way. Instead of the immediate death of Adam and Eve, one or more animals died. Imagine Adam’s feelings as the animal died, perhaps in his place as a sacrifice. It was the first time that Adam had seen death, and it must have brought him enormous mental pain. Then the animal was skinned, and a tunic was fashioned from the skin. The skin was placed over Adam’s body to cover his nakedness. Every time he looked at it, or felt it, he was surely reminded of what he had done and what he had lost. More important, it was a reminder of God’s grace.
No doubt we all should be very appreciative (to say the least) of God’s grace to us. What better way to reveal that appreciation than to show grace to others. To whom, however undeserving, could you show some grace right now?
In Genesis 3:19, Adam was told that, at death, he would return to the dust from which he was made. The same thing happens to us. Notice—we do not return to being apes, because we were not made from apes. We were made from dust, and it’s to the dust, at death, that we return.
Read Genesis 2:7; Psalm 104:29, 30; John 1:4; Acts 17:24, 25. What is the ultimate significance of these texts for us? How should this truth impact the way in which we live?
Life is a marvelous phenomenon. We are all familiar with life, but there is still something mysterious about it. We can take apart a living organism, but in the end we find nothing there except various kinds of atoms and molecules. We can collect the molecules in a container and heat it or pass an electric spark through it or try any number of other experiments, but we do not get life again. There is no entity called “life” that exists within a living body or a living cell. Life is a property of the entire living system, not an entity that can be separated from the cells.
On the other hand, we know much about how to produce death. We have devised many ways of killing living things. Some of these methods reveal in astonishing detail the violence and cruelty of our sinful hearts. Death we can produce, but the creation of life is beyond our grasp. God alone has the ability to create living organisms. Scientists have tried to create life, thinking that if they could do so they would have an excuse for why they do not believe in God. So far, all such efforts have failed.
Read Isaiah 59:2. How does sin affect our relationship to the Life-Giver?
If life comes only from God, then separation from God cuts us off from the source of life. The inevitable result of separation from God is death. Even if one lives 969 years, as did Methuselah, the story still ends with “and he died.” Sin, by its very nature, causes separation from life, and the result is death.
All throughout the Bible we find that God’s response to human sinfulness is redemptive in nature and motivated by genuine, unselfish love. He would have been fully justified in giving Adam and Eve up to Satan’s destructive power; after all, they had made their choice. But God knew that Adam and Eve did not understand the full meaning of what they had done, and He determined to give them an opportunity to become better informed and to be able to choose again.
Read Romans 5:6-11. How do these verses help us to understand what God’s grace is all about?
When we are wronged, we like to have an apology before we accept the offender back into a good relationship with us. Of course, an apology is appropriate in such circumstances. Complete healing of a damaged relationship includes an expression of sorrow and acceptance of responsibility for the misdeed. But God did not wait for us to ask for forgiveness; He took the initiative. While we were yet sinners, He gave Himself to die on our behalf. This is a wonderful demonstration of divine love.
How does our behavior compare with God’s behavior? How often are we offended and angry and seek revenge rather than restoration? We should be eternally thankful that God does not treat us in that way.
God’s treatment of sinners shows the true meaning of love. It is not a mere feeling but a principled behavior in which every effort is made to reconcile the offender to the offended and restore the relationship. God’s treatment of Adam and Eve is an illustration of how He relates to our sin.
“The scenes of Calvary call for the deepest emotion. Upon this subject you will be excusable if you manifest enthusiasm. That Christ, so excellent, so innocent, should suffer such a painful death, bearing the weight of the sins of the world, our thoughts and imaginations can never fully comprehend. The length, the breadth, the height, the depth, of such amazing love we cannot fathom.”-Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, p. 213. Maybe we can’t fathom this love, but why is it so important that we try?
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Gal. 3:13, NKJV). Dwell on the amazing implications of this text, keeping in mind the deity of Christ as you do. What does this tell us about what God was willing to do in order to save us? More so, what does this tell us about how tragic it is for anyone not to accept the provision that Christ made in our behalf?
In taking the guilt of our sins upon Himself and dying in separation from God, Jesus fulfilled the promise originally made in the Garden of Eden that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. His sacrifice made possible the reconciliation of God and the human family and will eventually result in the final elimination of evil from the universe (Heb. 2:14, Rev. 20:14).
Keeping Galatians 3:13 in mind, read Matthew 27:46. What do Jesus’ words reveal about what He went through on the cross?
On the cross, Christ accepted the curse of sin in our behalf. This was a change in His standing with the Father. The sacrificial lamb, when brought to the altar, became a substitute for the death of the sinner. Likewise, when Christ went to the cross, His status before the Father changed. Shut out from the Father’s presence, He felt the curse that our sin had caused. In other words, Jesus, who had been One with the Father from eternity, experienced a separation from the Father, in what Ellen White called the “the sundering of the divine powers.”-Ellen G. White, Manuscript 93, 1899. However hard it is to fully comprehend exactly what was happening, we can know enough to realize that an amazing price was paid in order to redeem us.
The great news of the gospel centers around the death of Jesus as our substitute. He took our sins upon Himself, bearing in Himself the penalty that would, otherwise, justly be ours. As we have seen, too, the whole idea of Christ as our substitute, dying for the sins of the world, is inextricably linked to the Creation story. Christ came to destroy death, which is an alien intruder in God’s creation. If evolutionary theory were the chosen way that God used to create humans, it would mean, then, that death, far from being an aberration and an enemy, would instead be part of God’s original plan for humanity. Indeed, death would play an important role in the way in which God created us. It’s no wonder, then, that Christians must reject theistic evolution as a viable way of understanding the Creation story.
The Genesis Creation account, however crucial in helping us to understand Christ’s death in our behalf, also helps us to understand another aspect of the plan of salvation, that of God’s work of creation in us, as we partake of His holiness now.
Read Psalm 51:10; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; Colossians 3:10; and 2 Corinthians 5:17. What promises are given to us here that are linked with the concept of God as Creator, as revealed in Genesis 1 and 2?
A new heart is a creation that only God can do. We cannot do it ourselves but must depend on the same Creator who formed the world and created our first parents. David recognized his need and asked God to solve the problem by an act of creation.
Indeed, the person who is “in Christ” is a new creation. The old way of thinking must be taken away and replaced with a newly created mind. Our new mind is created for good works, in accordance with God’s will. This kind of creation is a supernatural process, accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. God’s creative power, as shown in the original Creation, gives us confidence that God’s creative power is able to change our lives and to bring us back into relationship with Him.
How have you experienced what it means to be a new creation in Christ? What does this mean, in a daily, practical sense? What is it that changes in the life of someone who has had this experience?
Further Study: “‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children forever.’ [Deuteronomy 29:29.] Just how God accomplished the work of creation he has never revealed to men; human science cannot search out the secrets of the Most High. His creative power is as incomprehensible as his existence.”-Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 113. “In that thick darkness God’s presence was hidden. He makes darkness His pavilion, and conceals His glory from human eyes. God and His holy angels were beside the cross. The Father was with His Son. Yet His presence was not revealed. Had His glory flashed forth from the cloud, every human beholder would have been destroyed. And in that dreadful hour Christ was not to be comforted with the Father’s presence. He trod the wine press alone, and of the people there was none with Him.”-Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 753, 754.
Amir Ghali, director of the Al-Waad Media Center in the Middle East, is delighted to share the following email that he received from someone who came to love Jesus by listening to the Hope Channel.
"Through its amazing programs, Hope Channel North Africa/Middle East [N.A.M.E.] has played a major role in comforting me during my time of mourning. I especially mention the program entitled 'Road to Salvation'. This particular program has introduced me to Jesus Christ, His miraculous birth, His holy life, and His true nature. This program also introduced me to the Holy Spirit. I didn't know there was a Holy Spirit before. Now I know that He is the one who comforted me during my time of distress. I know that He is with me wherever I go.
"I live among people who don't believe in Jesus, and my life may be in danger. If my family learns that I have accepted Jesus as my Savior they may kill me. In spite of that, I feel happiness and peace in my heart. I have found a treasure which I will never give up. I used to be so afraid before, but now I am not afraid of anything.
"I now know that Jesus Christ is the door to God the Father. I now pray in Jesus' name, and I know that He will hear my prayer. Not long ago I had a big problem in my life. I prayed in the name of Jesus, and the problem was solved in an unexpected way. I believe in Jesus Christ and in His grace for me.
"Thank you for Hope Channel. Without it, I would have been lost."
Please pray for Hope Channel, especially its North Africa/Middle-East center and the ministry it is carrying out to reach the people in a difficult-to-reach part of the world. Your mission offerings are another important means to support and promote the work of the Hope Channel around the world.
All art in these lessons and on the cover are courtesy of GoodSalt.com.
Sabbath School Lesson Copyright © 2012 by the Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide,
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
All Rights Reserved.
For questions and concerns about the Study Guide,
please contact the editor of the Bible Study Guide, Clifford Goldstein.