1. ABRAHAM’S GREATEST CONCERN
a. What was Abraham’s greatest concern regarding the promises of God? Genesis 12:7; 15:1–3.
“As Abraham had no son, he at first thought that his trusty servant, Eliezer, should become his son by adoption, and his heir. But God informed Abraham that his servant should not be his son and heir, but that he should really have a son.”—The Story of Redemption, p. 77.
b. How did God reassure Abraham that He had not forgotten His promise? Genesis 15:4, 5; Isaiah 55:10, 11.
“God desires us to receive great blessings. His promises are so clearly stated that there is no cause for uncertainty. He desires us to take Him at His word. At times we shall be in great perplexity and not know just what to do. But at such times it is our privilege to take our Bibles and read the messages He has given us; and then get down on our knees and ask Him to help us. Over and over again He has given evidence that He is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. He fulfills His promises in far greater measure than we expect to receive help. . . .
“Wherever we are, we are under obligation as disciples of our Lord and Master, to anchor our faith in the promises of God.”—The Watchman, May 1, 1914.
2. FULLY PERSUADED
a. Why did Abraham decide to believe in God’s promise of a child? Genesis 15:6 (first part); Romans 4:20, 21.
“That faith which works by love and purifies the soul is not a matter of impulse. It ventures out upon the promises of God, firmly believing that what He has said, He is able also to perform.”—Our High Calling, p. 119.
“[Philippians 4:4–7 quoted.] The promise itself is of no value unless I fully believe that He that has made the promise is abundantly able to fulfill, and infinite in power to do all that He has said.”—This Day With God, p. 156.
b. What was his reward for believing in God’s promise? Genesis 15:6 (last part); Romans 4:22.
“The moment the sinner believes in Christ, he stands in the sight of God uncondemned; for the righteousness of Christ is his: Christ’s perfect obedience is imputed to him. But he must cooperate with divine power, and put forth his human effort to subdue sin, and stand complete in Christ.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 429, 430.
“We may rest upon God, not because of our own merit, but because the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. We must look away from self to the spotless Lamb of God, who did no sin; and by looking to Him in faith we shall become like Him.”—Gospel Workers (1892), p. 427.
c. When is faith truly exercised? Hebrews 11:1; Habakkuk 2:3.
“To abide in faith is to put aside feeling and selfish desires, to walk humbly with the Lord, to appropriate His promises, and apply them to all occasions, believing that God will work out His own plans and purposes in your heart and life by the sanctification of your character; it is to rely entirely, to trust implicitly, upon the faithfulness of God. If this course is followed, others will see the special fruits of the Spirit manifested in the life and character.”—Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 341, 342.
3. GOD JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY
a. What shows us that Abraham was a sinner in need of justification? Romans 3:9–12, 23; Genesis 12:11–20.
“During his stay in Egypt, Abraham gave evidence that he was not free from human weakness and imperfection. In concealing the fact that Sarah was his wife, he betrayed a distrust of the divine care, a lack of that lofty faith and courage so often and nobly exemplified in his life.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 130.
b. What does the Bible say about the justification of Abraham before God? Romans 4:1–8; 3:28.
“Our acceptance with God is sure only through His beloved Son, and good works are but the result of the working of His sin-pardoning love. They are no credit to us, and we have nothing accorded to us for our good works by which we may claim a part in the salvation of our souls. Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust. He cannot present his good works as a plea for the salvation of his soul.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1122.
“Remember that Christ came into the world to save sinners. We have nothing to recommend us to God; the plea that we may urge now and ever is our utterly helpless condition, which makes His redeeming power a necessity. Renouncing all self-dependence, we may look to the cross of Calvary.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 65.
c. What happens to an ungodly human when he or she chooses to believe whole heartedly in God? Romans 6:17, 18; 10:9, 10; 1:17.
“The moment we surrender ourselves to God, believing in Jesus, we have the righteousness of Christ. We realize that we have been redeemed from sin and appreciate His sacrifice to purchase our freedom.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, p. 34.
4. A SIGN OF CONVERSION
a. What outward act did Abraham perform to demonstrate his internal change? Genesis 17:10, 11; Romans 4:11.
“The rite of circumcision . . . was to be observed by the patriarch [Abraham] and his descendants as a token that they were devoted to the service of God and thus separated from idolaters, and that God accepted them as His peculiar treasure. By this rite they were pledged to fulfill, on their part, the conditions of the covenant made with Abraham. They were not to contract marriages with the heathen; for by so doing they would lose their reverence for God and His holy law; they would be tempted to engage in the sinful practices of other nations and would be seduced into idolatry.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 138.
b. Why is it essential to understand that Abraham was accounted righteous before he became circumcised? Romans 4:8–12; 2:28, 29.
“Righteousness is obedience to the law. The law demands right-eousness, and this the sinner owes to the law; but he is incapable of rendering it. The only way in which he can attain to righteousness is through faith. By faith he can bring to God the merits of Christ, and the Lord places the obedience of His Son to the sinner’s account. Christ’s righteousness is accepted in place of man’s failure, and God receives, pardons, justifies, the repentant, believing soul, treats him as though he were righteous, and loves him as He loves His Son. . . .
“Many are losing the right way, in consequence of thinking that they must climb to heaven, that they must do something to merit the favor of God. They seek to make themselves better by their own unaided efforts. This they can never accomplish. Christ has made the way by dying our Sacrifice, by living our Example, by becoming our great High Priest. He declares, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life’ (John 14:6). If by any effort of our own we could advance one step toward the ladder, the words of Christ would not be true. But when we accept Christ, good works will appear as fruitful evidence that we are in the way of life, that Christ is our way, and that we are treading the true path that leads to heaven.”—Faith and Works, pp. 101, 102.
5. CIRCUMCISED WITHIN
a. Before we are baptized with water (the New Covenant act that replaces circumcision), what must first take place within? John 3:5–8; Colossians 2:10–13.
“All who enter upon the new life should understand, prior to their baptism, that the Lord requires the undivided affections. . . . The bearing of fruit testifies to the character of the tree. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit. . . . There is need of a thorough conversion to the truth.”—Evangelism, p. 308.
“Every soul united to Christ will be a living missionary to all around him.”—Ibid., p.319.
b. What happens to Christians who rely solely on the outward act of baptism in order to be saved, as the Jews relied on circumcision? Romans 10:1–3; Matthew 23:25–28.
“Your connection with the church, the manner in which your brethren regard you, will be of no avail unless you believe in Christ. It is not enough to believe about Him; you must believe in Him. You must rely wholly upon His saving grace.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 49.
“The Lord has a work for us all to do. And if the truth is not rooted in the heart, if the natural traits of character are not transformed by the Holy Spirit, we can never be colaborers with Jesus Christ. Self will constantly appear, and the character of Christ will not be manifested in our lives.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 7, p. 969.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How can we have confidence in God’s promises?
2. What does it mean to be persuaded in God’s word?
3. What gracious blessing is ours when we surrender to God?
4. What does circumcision symbolize?
5. What is more important, baptism within or without?