Sabbath: Justification by Faith Alone
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Read for This Week’s Study:

Gal. 2:15–21Eph. 2:12Phil. 3:9Rom. 3:10–20Gen. 15:5, 6Rom. 3:8.

Memory Text:

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).

As we saw last week, Paul publicly confronted Peter in Antioch for the lack of consistency between the faith he advocated and the behavior he displayed. Peter’s decision no longer to eat with former pagans suggested that they were second-rate Christians, at best. His actions implied that if they really wanted to be part of the family of God and enjoy the blessings of full table fellowship, they must first submit to the rite of circumcision.

What did Paul actually say to Peter on that tense occasion? In this week’s lesson, we will study what is likely a summary of what went on. This passage contains some of the most compressed wording in the New Testament, and it is extremely significant, because it introduces us for the first time to several words and phrases that are foundational both to understanding the gospel and to the rest of Paul’s letter to the Galatians. These key words include justification, righteousness, works of law, belief, and not only faith but even the faith of Jesus.

What does Paul mean by these terms, and what do they teach us about the plan of salvation?

Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 22.

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Sabbath: Justification by Faith Alone — 16 Comments

  1. thank you for this ssnet website that can help me to widen my perceptions on the sabbath school lessons !

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  2. This quarter we are studying Paul and Galatians. I have to say that the issue of justification alone permeates the discussion in Galatians and the word alone sticks in my craw because alone means that balance cannot be attained and that relationship is out as well because it takes two to relate, two to create balance.
    The issue as I see it gets down to what work is or is not and what as well is a "good" work or not as the word good means that as Christians we do not decide what is or is not "good" but God does. So. Is acceptance of Jesus itself an action, a behavior? Does anyone come to the Father outside of *that* behavior? I don't think so.
    Behavior is belief over time because it takes time to show and it takes time to learn. It is discipline that over time changes our character. Can we aspire to something when it is viewed as unnecessary and outside of requirement? Seems that John was certain that obeying
    was part of the very meaning of the word love. (John 14.21)
    Seems to me that the more we view faith as an aside from behavior the more that words like discipline itself becomes repulsive and unused especially when used as an action you take to encourage the right actions from your children. When we have a few generations like that we have churches where the kids rule us.
    There is a word that is working to delete these words in our language today and I am not ashamed to say that I work every day, especially every Sabbath day, to reinstall the words that it dispels. That Word? Legalism. This word seems to work hand and hand with concepts like justification alone to undermine language and thus Christianity at its core because the heavy words that we used to use to create impetus for achievement are *legalistic* and thus taboo.
    I would urge you to look deeper into knowing the gospel according to the gospel and reacquaint yourself with the words that seem to be taboo in our new legalistic
    distinct free world where truth is all good because there are no words to describe those things that God disapproves of. GaryK

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  3. Gary, I'm a bit confused by your post.

    Legalism is the attempt to be saved by law-keeping. And that is what Paul was battling in Galatia.

    Can you clarify what you are saying about legalism, please?

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  4. Gary, I too am a bit confused, especially by the term "justification alone". Maybe by this you mean "justification by faith alone".

    If I understand you correctly, a part of what you seem to be saying is that society & Christians tend to view and label as "legalism" anything that implies "obedience". Also that actions of discipline (maybe both self-discipline as well as the correction and guidance of others/children) with a goal of obedience or compliance with certain rules/commands is also viewed as a type of legalism. If this is what you are saying, then I agree.

    I find that obedience from the heart/out of love can still easily be viewed by others (especially church members) as legalistic and even intended to give a sense of guilt to others.

    I don't like to discipline others/children but as I grow older I have realized that when you have responsibility for someone, to not discipline/confront them is to not love or properly value them. In this sense I too agree that true faith and loving action naturally go together. I think this is what James says in scripture.

    I find that my courage to love/discipline is stronger after reflecting on the goodness of God and His commands and laws, and the inestimable value of the one(s) I am seeking to love and discipline. It is also important for me to have a meek spirit, being aware of God's presence and realizing His Spirit is essential to any discipline being beneficial of the greatest good.

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  5. ••• Justification is the process by which I, a sinner who deserves the wages of sin = death, am restored to right-standing with GOD. The Father applies the merits of the substitutionary death of Jesus to my account. I accept the work of the Father (His work, not my works) and the merits of the Son (His merits, not mine) by faith. (Faith is also a gift from GOD.) When the Father looks at me, He sees me through Jesus -- justified -- just - as - if - I'd never sinned. Brothers and sisters, through faith we need to see each other the way GOD sees us, not according to our past or present failures, but according to our glorious future through Christ! If GOD was content to let us get what we deserved, Jesus need not have come to this sin - darkened planet. ••• Does justification by faith alone eliminate works? Not at all. If GOD does not discipline us, what evidence is there that He is our Father? (see: Hebrews 12:6-11; Revelation 3:19) A disciple is a person who is disciplined. Discipline is not necessarily punishment. Discipline does not even have to be unpleasant. Discipline can be the Father taking the child's hand and leading him in the way he should go.

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    • Bro Phillips, Your comment is very clear and enlightening indeed. This is the way to go my brother. We should avoid looking down upon others. The judgement work should be left in the hands of The Creator. I got a very good defination for the word justification. I will share it with my fellow brothers and sisters in my local church.

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  6. God's condition for assurance of His forgiveness (justification) is the deliberate act of faith in the Risen, Invisible Jesus. This means that one must choose to believe that Jesus is God's uniquely appointed Savior and LORD, because to refuse to accept Him , is to choose to perish.
    We are worthy to receive eternal life because the death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ has won this for us, and having been justified through faith in Him who first loved us, we are also counted as faithful members of God's covenantal community, the family of Abraham.
    Praise God in the Highest !

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  7. hi,
    Just a question,this weeks lesson talks about being saved through faith alone.My husband is not a member of the SDA church,after reading the lesson he started saying that,we do not have to follow the sabbath that it was not going to save us.That all one has to do is believe,I have tried to elaborate more on the topic,but he seems to keep saying its useless..what do you suggest I do??

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    • Hi Nate, Thank you for asking your question. I never liked the statement 'justification by faith alone' it's too definitive and can be very misleading; incidentally this exact statement does not appear in scripture or Spirit of Prophecy.
      If we study the bible and the SoP it is clear that there are conditions to Justification by Faith. For example if we look at a just judicial system, for someone to be pardoned, or their sentenced shortened for a crime they were convicted of, the convicted felon must show some sort of remorse, good behaviour, a turning away the crime they had once believed in and did. This is the same as the biblical understanding of justification by faith. God does not provide pardoning for your sins (transgression of God’s law, in particular the Sabbath) unless there is remorse, repentance, a turning away from your sins and a contrite heart;

      As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ's atonement in his behalf and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith. Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God's will and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory. {FW 103.1}

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  8. I have a few suggestions, and I hope others will have some too.

    First of all, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide your words and soften your husband's heart.

    If we want to have a discussion, rather than an argument, it's always nice to start with a point of agreement. So you can agree with your husband that keeping the Sabbath won't save anyone. :) That you will probably get his attention.

    That phrase, "justification by faith alone," is pretty powerful, isn't it? It almost makes it sound that we just have to believe that Jesus will save us and it's a done deal. But is that really all there's to it?

    With your husband, you may wonder whether the words "by faith alone" are actually in the Bible. (I understand it was Martin Luther that made that phrase a catch phrase of the Reformation.)

    Suggest that you search the Bible together for that phrase. You probably won't find it in Cruden's Concordance (if you have one), so go to BibleGateway.com and type in the search "faith alone." (It's best to choose several translations.)

    What you find may even surprise you. Ask your husband what he thinks it means. (You just listen and pray. Resist the urge to "teach" him when he doesn't ask to be taught. Trust the Holy Spirit to do the convincing.)

    Then suggest you look at the teachings of Jesus on the subject. He certainly emphasized faith in many situations, but that's not all He had to say on the subject of salvation.

    Jesus also taught about a judgment to come, and he told a parable that tells us on what basis people will be judged in His parable of the sheep and the goats. Look up Matthew 25:31-46 together, and let him tell you what he thinks it means.

    And take a look at the commission Christ gave His disciples before He returned to His Father's side in heaven. (Matthew 28:19-20) What does Jesus say His disciples are to do? Are they supposed to tell everyone, "Only believe, and you will be saved"? What do you suppose He meant by "teach ... what I have commanded you"? (Again, ask him questions; do not provide the answers or preach to him. And pray while you ask that the Holy Spirit will convict your husband.)

    I would really be interested in the results of that approach with your husband. If you don't want to post it publicly, you can use the "Contact" form under "About" in the menu above, and I will see it.

    Remember that the Holy Spirit is patient with us and very seldom confronts people as powerfully as Saul was confronted on the road to Damascus. Usually the growth of truth in the heart is a gradual process, growing just a like a seed planted in the garden. So trust the Holy Spirit to work through little things, including your demonstration of love for your husband. (1 Cor. 7:16; 1 Peter 3:1)

    May God bless you with much wisdom and love.

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      • If we believe with our heats and confess with our mouth thou shall be saved, and what gives us this assurance, the Holy Spirit in us. You must be born again. keeping the Sabbath will not save us, but the Holy spirit will convince us what we are to do, and how we are to remember the Sabbath in our lives, we may be a profession that requires us to work on the Sabbath, just like certain profession in the bible (priest, guards, etc.) so let no man judge you of the Sabbath, but let God lead you on the Sabbath. The Sabbath like all the Laws are love from God, and each will give you a more fulfilled life

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  9. “ ‘Justification by faith alone’ . . . can be very misleading.”
    • The comment begins with the word ‘Justification,’ but then it skips over to discuss, no longer ‘Justification,’ but ‘Sanctification.’

    “If we study the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, it is clear that there are conditions . . . .”
    • But the conditions cited refer to Sanctification, not to Justification by Faith.

    “For example, if we look at a just judicial system, for someone to be pardoned, or their sentenced shortened . . . the convicted felon must show some sort of remorse, good behaviour, a turning away the crime he had . . . done. This is the same as the Biblical understanding of justification by faith.”
    • No, this is not justification by faith, this is sanctification.

    “God does not provide pardoning for your sins (transgression of God’s law in general, not keeping the Sabbath in this particular case) unless there is remorse, repentance, a turning away from your sins and a contrite heart . . . .”
    • Again, this is sanctification, not justification.

    “As the penitent sinner, contrite before God, discerns Christ’s atonement in his behalf and accepts this atonement as his only hope in this life and the future life, his sins are pardoned. This is justification by faith.”
    • This is the first step: JUSTIFICATION
    • Now comes the second step: SANCTIFICATION
    “Every believing soul is to conform his will entirely to God’s will and keep in a state of repentance and contrition, exercising faith in the atoning merits of the Redeemer and advancing from strength to strength, from glory to glory.” {FW 103.1}

    • When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they would have immediately been blotted out of existence were it not for justification. They would not have lived long enough to realize that they had offended a holy GOD, to repent, and to seek repentance.
    • We can no more repent without Christ’s atoning merits than we can be forgiven without them.

    • Comparing and Contrasting
    Justification and Sanctification
    JUSTIFICATION is: / SANCTIFICATION is:
    unilateral / bilateral
    GOD alone / GOD & us
    judicial action / relationship
    instantaneous / product of a lifetime
    past / present
    one time / continuous
    completed / on-going
    imputed / imparted
    unmerited / shared

    • GOD does for us in a moment what we could never
    accomplish for ourselves in a lifetime.

    1 Corinthians 4:5
    So do not pass judgment before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then GOD will give to each person whatever praise or condemnation he deserves.

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  10. @ Chuck who compares justification and sanctification. I agree with most of the points, except the following:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    JUSTIFICATION is: / SANCTIFICATION is:
    past / present
    one time / continuous
    completed / on-going
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I hadn't read such an explanation since the days of my youth from which I remember the diagram with a straight line, below which Christ justified us (up to the point of conversion), and after which sanctification took over, with a stair-step line leading to perfection.

    However, I believe that diagram and accompanying concept was/is wrong.

    We are justified when we come to Christ in repentance -- both at the point of initial conversion and every day thereafter. We need justification as much after conversion as before, because we do not obtain "holy flesh" or a sinless nature when we are converted.

    So justification is both past and present, it is continuing, even while we are being sanctified through His Spirit, and it will be ongoing until the day when this corruption shall put on incorruption and this mortal shall put on immortality.

    I believe that the lesson title "Justification by Faith Alone" was a poor choice for a couple of reasons. For starters, it still puts the emphasis on humanity -- because faith is exercised by the sinner, though it is a gift of God. Secondly, the phrase "faith alone" is not found in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy.

    A better title, in my opinion, would have been "Justified by Grace Alone." It puts the emphasis where it belongs -- on God's action on our behalf. He gives to every person a "measure of faith,"(Rom. 12:3) and we have to choose whether or not to exercise that faith so it grows until we trust God completetely with our salvation. At that point -- when in helplessness we throw ourselves on God's mercy --we are justified by grace through faith. (Eph. 2:8)

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