SDA Sabbath School Lessons
Wednesday July 10, 1996

Righteousness Bestowed
(John 3:3-8)

In what terms did Jesus explain the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer? John 3:3-8.

As birth is the beginning of life, so rebirth is the beginning of a new life with Christ. Jesus shattered the Pharisee's illusion of personal holiness. Nicodemus needed heart transformation. He needed new life from Christ.

"When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God."-The Desire of Ages, p. 173.

What special gift is bestowed upon the believer by the Holy Spirit? Rom. 3:22-24; 8:9, 10; 10:6-10; Gal. 3:6, 14.

The gift of the "righteousness of God" upon the believer (Rom. 3:22) is the gift of "grace" (verse 24). Grace is God's loving favor bestowed upon the unworthy. But it is more. Paul speaks of the "grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus" (I Cor. 1:4, RSV) as the source of enrichment in "all speech and all knowledge" (verse 5). The result of receiving God's grace is that "you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 7). Both the individual and the church are enriched by grace.

This gift, righteousness (grace), is bestowed upon the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, 1 0). Romans 10:10 translates literally: "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness." As Abraham believed and received the gift of righteousness (Gal. 3:6), so we receive the same gift today by the bestowal of the Holy Spirit. We receive "the blessing of Abraham" (righteousness) , "the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:14, RSV).

"In order to meet the requirements of the law, our faith must grasp the righteousness of Christ, accepting it as our righteousness. Through union with Christ, through acceptance of His righteousness by faith, we may be qualified to work the works of God, to be colaborers with Christ." Selected Messages, book 1, p. 374.