Lesson for July 26-August 1

Last week we learned the basics of salvation: that…

  • it’s a gift from God
  • it begins with God
  • it requires death
  • it frees us from sin
  • it gives us eternal life

But many are still left wondering how to go about attaining this glorious gift of salvation. All too many of us approach the question sounding like the rich young ruler, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16).

This shows how much Satan has attacked this teaching of Jesus. Even today, many try to earn salvation, don’t realize that God Himself is searching for lost souls to save not condemn, and that only His death can bring us true freedom.

Key Text: “‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.'” John 3:14, 15 NKJV

We remember the story of the Israelites in the wilderness desert when many people were dying from poisonous snakes. God told Moses to put a bronze snake on a pole and all those who would just look at the bronze snake would be saved. It probably didn’t make sense at the time, but those who followed His instructions miraculously lived.

I’ve often wondered in my mind why a snake would represent Jesus on the cross. The snake was a symbol of sin and death; and Christ, the Bearer of our sins, was also lifted up on Mount Calvary’s cruel cross, becoming a symbol for us of life. Only by looking to Jesus can we find a cure for the stings of Satan, that old serpent.

Sunday: Recognize Your Need

It’s ironic that the people Jesus had the most difficult time saving while on earth were the religious elite. Those who had seemingly sinned the least were the hardest to forgive.

We most likely nod our heads in agreement that their stubborn, hard hearts were the problem. But the problem was more basic than that. They just didn’t recognize their need to be saved from sin. They thought that was for other worldly, sinful people–certainly not themselves.

Paul said most clearly though in Romans 3:23– “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.To believe otherwise just isn’t scriptural. No matter how long we have been “in the church” or felt that we have been saved, none of us measure up to all we could be.

There are two steps we must take in the beginning of our Christian walk, and probably daily afterwards:

  • First, we must recognize our need of saving.
  • Second, we must recognize our total inability to save ourselves.

If these sound like the first of the Twelve Steps in Alcoholics Anonymous, you are totally correct. Amazingly, it’s not Jesus who first brings about our taking this first step in salvation. You’ll recall that the Holy Spirit is in the business of convicting us of sin (John 16:8). Spiritual blindness required spiritual eyesight.

Discussion Questions: In what ways can our eyes be opened to recognize our desperate need for salvation?

Read Revelation 3:14-18 and discuss the problems and  remedies offered the Laodicean church for their spiritual blindness.

Monday: Repent

Recognizing our need is only the first step in repentance. We must understand what repentance means, if we want to follow Jesus.

John the BaptistMost of us remember that John the Baptist preached repentance (Matthew 3:2 “…saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”). But Jesus begins His ministry preaching the same call to repentance using the same words (Matthew 4:17 “…Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”). It’s therefore an important subject to understand.

Repentance must consist of three elements:

  1. acknowledgement of one’s sin
  2. sorrow for having sinned
  3. the desire not to sin any more

True repentance must involve all three steps. Luke reminds us just how vital repentance is by quoting Jesus as saying, “…unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:5 Indeed, the lack of repentance reveals a person’s refusal to surrender to God. It is a serious issue with God, and one we must not take lightly, every day of our lives.

Another point of interest here is that God doesn’t expect us to dwell only on our own sinfulness.  When that happens all sorts of complications arise. The good news is that dwelling on the goodness of God also leads us to repentance. See Romans 2:4. We must have that recognition in our thinking as well.

“We do not repent in order that God may love us, but He reveals to us His love in order that we may repent.” Ellen G. White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 189.

Discussion Questions: What evidences of God’s love have you seen and experienced that help you to trust and surrender to Him?

What are some of the repercussions of dwelling on one’s guilt alone and not on the goodness and love of God as well? [substance abuse, depression, excessive anger, emotional detachment, etc.]

What’s the difference between regret or remorse and true repentance? Think of the difference between Peter and Judas Iscariat. Which appeared to have true repentance?

Tuesday: Believe in Jesus

In order for true repentance to take place, a firm faith in Jesus must be established. We must understand what it means to believe in Him. It obviously goes beyond believing in God’s existence. Even the devils do that and tremble (James 2:19).

Yes, believing in Jesus is more than a vague feeling or a mental exercise. It consists of totally trusting Him. We must…

  1. know and understand Him (“And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:49 KJV
  2. receive Him fully into our lives (“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12 KJV

By believing we have…

  • righteousness (imputed to our record, taking away past sins, justification–the past)
  • assurance(that God gives to help us live like Him, dealing with our temptations, sanctification–the present)
  • hope (the promise that He will raise us up at the last day, glorification–the future)

Discussion Questions: Jesus told us in Mark 9:23 that “…all things are possible to him who believes. At times He even told people that “Your faith has made you well” (Matthew 9:22, Mark 10:52, and Luke 17:19). What part does our faith play in our healing, both of body and of soul? Where does our faith come from?

What do you say to someone who feels that they weren’t healed because their faith wasn’t strong enough?

In Luke 7:50 Jesus tells the woman who anointed His feet with ointment, “Your faith has saved you”. How does our faith save us?

Wednesday: The Wedding Garment

God often uses the marriage relationship as an analogy of His relationship with the human family:

  • We might see the courtship phase as our initial recognition of our sinful condition. It includes justification, the declaration of our forgiveness, or wiping the slate clean.
  • Then comes the engagement period. During this time we are sanctified, or made ready for the wedding day.
  • And lastly comes the wedding and marriage itself, a day we look forward to celebrating at the Marriage Feast in Heaven.

You recall the parable Jesus told about a wedding in Matthew 22:2-14. When the king’s invitation to his son’s wedding kept getting turned down by his friends, he told his servants to invite any one they could find on the streets. But along with the accepting the invitation, they were required to accept the wedding garment he provided for them.

Understanding what that wedding garment represented is pivotal in applying the parable to our lives today. Even as far back as the Garden of Eden, we are given the idea that it is God who clothes us. Adam and Eve’s fig leaves weren’t enough to cover them properly.

Isaiah perhaps makes it most clear to us:

“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,…” Isaiah 61:10NKJV

The parable reminds us that it’s not enough to accept the invitation, we must also accept God’s covering, His robe of righteousness, in place of our filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). In other words, one can not claim to be saved, without being willing to follow Him, making lifestyle changes that transform us into His likeness.

Discussion Questions: Remember the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22) and the one guest who refused to wear the wedding garment. How do we refuse God’s righteousness today?

Keep in mind that His righteousness is twofold and includes both forgiveness and overcoming. What happens when we neglect either one of these elements?

Either people are married, or they are not. Partial marriage, part-time marriage, and occasional marriage do not exist. How does this illustrate our relationship with Christ? What constitutes full marriage, or even courtship and engagement?

What spiritual barriers prevent us from total commitment to God?

Thursday: Follow Jesus

The verb “to follow” is synonymous with “to be a disciple”. When Jesus’ disciples on earth followed Him, they left all behind. See Mark 10:28 and Luke 5:28. The call to discipleship implies leaving everything behind to follow Him.

The disciples not only believed His words, they were so committed to Him that they acted on them. Obedience is the only way to prove our loyalty to the Master today as well. It’s the only way we can witness to others effectively. One of the main reasons for being a disciple has always been to win others to His cause.

Jesus voiced this requirement when He said, “…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples;” John 8:31 NIV He expected them to be living His word. “Walking the talk”, as some have put it.

Discussion Questions: Luke 14:25-27 talks about the cost of discipleship and the need to hate our family members. What do you think is the real meaning of this counsel? [“hate” can also mean to “love less”]

What are the dangers of putting too much emphasis on belief and faith? Obedience and our Christian walk? How important to our witness is it to have a proper balance?

Read Mark 8:34, which says: “…If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” NIV Does leaving everything behind have to mean all our material possessions, as some of the disciples did? What other kinds of crosses can a person carry for Jesus, and how do they relate to denying oneself?

They say that salvation is free, but discipleship costs you your life. How do you feel about this statement?


  • Genuine repentance must include acknowledgment of our sins, sorrow for them, and a desire to leave them behind.
  • Believing in Jesus brings us righteousness, assurance, and hope, and covers our past, present, and future needs.
  • We must not arrive at the Wedding Feast in heaven without the provided garment, called the robe of Christ’s righteousness.
  • His disciples are known for giving up all to follow the Master.


Examine how genuine repentance has worked in your life. Can you recognize a time when you were in one of the stages of repentance: recognizing and acknowledging your mistakes, feeling badly about them, and desiring to correct your ways?

Contemplate the goodness of God and how it leads you to further repentance. The more we look on the holiness of God, the more we see our sinful condition. We must accept His robe of righteousness every day.

Identify hymns or Christian songs that express your experience of salvation and meditate on their words this week.

Next week: Growing in Christ

To read the Sabbath School lesson or for additional resources, see www.ssnet.org