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Sabbath School Lessons on Garments of Grace
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: Garments of Splendor *
Introduction: The controversy will probably never end over what is
appropriate for worship in church. I have a clear preference and I
know others who clearly disagree with me. Our lesson this week
touches on something much deeper - what lies underneath our worship?
Should we be alert to an evil which can lurk beneath our worship and
invalidate it? Since we exist to give praise and honor to our God,
let's dive into our Bible study to uncover whether we are guilty of
an evil which makes even our worship unacceptable to God!
- Unacceptable Faith?
- Read Isaiah 1:1 and Isaiah 1:10. Is Isaiah addressing
both the leaders of Judah and of Sodom and the people of
Gomorrah? (No. Did your parents ever say "you are acting
just like the [naughty] neighbor children?" God says His
people are acting like the terrible people of Sodom and
- Read Isaiah 1:11. Has Isaiah garbled God's message? These
sacrificial animals looked forward to the sacrifice of
Jesus. Would God ever say "I don't care about the fact
that you claim the sacrifice of Jesus for your sins?"
- Read Isaiah 1:12-14. What do we say when our God tells us
He does not want us to observe the Sabbath any more? He
does not want us attending church? He hates to have us
- Isn't the essence of righteousness by faith that
evil people (which we all are) come to God claiming
the sacrifice of His Son and worshiping Him for His
incredible offer of salvation?
- Is so, how do you explain this mixed up stuff
in Isaiah? (Now you know why you should never
set foot in the Old Testament, right? I'm just
joking for those who are unsure.)
- Something bizarre is going on. Something difficult to
understand is being said. Let's continue to read to see
if we can figure this out. Read Isaiah 1:15-16. Is Isaiah
telling us that our sacrifices (faith), worship, praise
and prayers will not do us any good unless we "stop doing
- Read Romans 3:19-24. If we could put Isaiah and Paul
in a room together, would they agree? Would Paul
say, "Hey, buddy, we have an updated version for
- Look again at Isaiah 1:16. How is "washing" relevant
to making us morally clean? (This is something
outside controlling our "evil deeds.")
- Read Isaiah 1:17. Is God calling His people "Sodom" and
"Gomorrah" because they are not helping the oppressed,
orphans and widows?
- Why doesn't God mention lying, stealing, killing,
adultery? What about homosexuality? God is, after
all, calling them Sodom and Gomorrah!
- What does God's naming of certain sins related to
abusing the powerless have to do with righteousness
- Or, do we not have to worry about the poor and
powerless anymore because we now have updated
software for our gospel?
- Reasoning It Out
- Read Isaiah 1:18. God says "let's talk this out." Let's
do just that. When we read about our red sins become
white as snow or wool, is that a picture of righteousness
by our works? (No, this is a picture of washing - an
external matter which does not change any internal
- Read Luke 10:25. Would you like to know the answer to
this question? This will tell us if our salvation
software has been updated, right?
- Read Luke 10:26-28. Is this the answer you wanted to hear
- that your salvation software has not been updated?
- Do we now need to put Jesus and Paul in a room to
debate righteousness by faith?
- Read Luke 10:29. The law expert gave Jesus the correct
answer. What does the Bible mean when it says "he wanted
to justify himself?" (We all want to justify our actions
- which means that we all are looking for a way not to
really have to love our neighbor as our self!)
- Read Luke 10:30-37. Does this answer help you to justify
yourself? (Hardly! This tells us to use our time and
money to care for the physical, financial and security
needs of a foolish person of another race - even an
- Can you think of a broader definition of "my
- Let's take a moment to review here. The question was:
"How do I go to heaven?" Jesus' answer is the Samaritan
story followed by the instruction to "Go and do
likewise." Have we just driven a stake through the heart
of righteousness by faith?
- If you are a "righteousness of works" person, have
we just driven a stake through the heart of your
hope to go to heaven because (I'm just guessing
here) your puny works don't begin to compare to
those of the Samaritan?
- Let's bring Paul back into the discussion. Read again
Romans 3:19-20. Is the Good Samaritan a mythical person?
An unattainable goal? (Yes.)
- Do you think that this was Jesus' point? (Imagine
the reaction of the law expert if Jesus had directly
answered him: "Go to heaven? Believe in Me!" The
law expert said "obeying the law is the key to
heaven." Jesus replied, "Let me show you what
obeying the law means." We know the law expert did
not come close to meeting this standard because
(like us) "he wanted to justify himself" by looking
for a very narrow definition of his "neighbor." He
did not get a narrow definition. Jesus showed him
the only possible path to heaven was to accept the
righteousness of Jesus on his behalf.)
- Now let's get back to the problem of our Sodom and
Gomorrah friends in Judah. Can you explain why God didn't
want their sacrifices or worship while they were
oppressing, not helping, the powerless? (Isaiah's
audience did not understand they were Sodom and Gomorrah
people. Righteousness by faith only works when we rely on
it. As long as we think we are good enough, we are
relying on our works to be saved. Our works are never
good enough. If you doubt that, consider carefully
whether you love your neighbor as God loved you. God died
- Gomorrah man (woman), how do you treat the poor and
- Re-read Isaiah 1:18-20. What is Isaiah's message to us
about garments? (If you think about it (reason), you will
see that your sins can go from red to white in only one
way - washing.)
- What do the words "willing," "resist" and "rebel"
have to do with this one way to salvation? (These
- Does that mean we believe in righteousness by
attitude? Our attitude saves us or causes us
to be lost?
- What about the idea that we can do nothing to
merit salvation? Is there a footnote that says
our attitude is an exception?
- Read Isaiah 1:21-23. What does God mean when He calls a
"faithful city" a "harlot?" (The people have turned away
from God. They are unfaithful to Him. They are unfaithful
to His principles. They are not reflecting His love
because they do not treat orphans fairly. Indeed, they
refuse to even consider the cases of the widow.)
- Is this an attitude problem? (Yes!)
- When we speak of "faith," do we really mean "attitude?"
(I think so. Faith is not mere words (James 2.) Faith is
an attitude. It is an attitude that God loves us so much
that He gave up heaven and died painfully for us. Thus we
must love Him and our "neighbor" for whom He also died.
We know we cannot meet God's "Samaritan" standard. So we
accept Jesus' righteousness by faith and in gratitude
seek to follow the Samaritan standard.)
- The Garment of Splendor
- Read Isaiah 61:1-3. Who are the poor, the brokenhearted,
the captives and the prisoners? (This is not just people
who do not have money. This means people who are poor
because life is going badly and they do not have the
- Isaiah 61:10-11. Has the good news of the gospel been
updated from Isaiah's time? (Our salvation comes from God
alone. He gives us the "garment of salvation" the "robe
of righteousness." He gives it to those who realize what
the law requires of them, realize their inadequacy to
keep the law, and have the attitude of love to the "poor"
(of every kind) around them. This attitude flows from the
delight and joy of our undeserved salvation. It triggers
the gift of love to those around us.)
- Friend, has your heart been broken yet? Have you realized
that the law holds before you the Samaritan standard for
those in need, but that you have woefully failed to meet
that standard because you are constantly trying to
justify yourself? Why not, right now, admit you can
never meet the standard on your own? Admit that you need
the gift of the garment of grace and righteousness. Why
not let God break your heart and open to you a path of
joy, delight and love for those who are poor?
- Next week: A Brand Plucked From the Fire.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.