1. THE NEW COVENANT OF PROMISE
a. In what way did God make the new covenant with Abraham—and what did God later do to confirm this covenant and why? Galatians 3:14–18; Hebrews 6:13–18.
b. What had Abraham done of himself to deserve these covenant blessings—and what does that teach us about God’s attitude toward sinners? Genesis 12:1–3; 1 Corinthians 1:26–31; Romans 3:10–12.
“Grace is an attribute of God exercised toward undeserving human beings. We did not seek for it, but it was sent in search of us. God rejoices to bestow His grace upon us, not because we are worthy, but because we are so utterly unworthy. . . .
“It is [God’s] glory to pardon the chief of sinners.”—The Ministry of Healing, p. 161.
“The more unworthy the receiver, the more glorious the mercy of God.”—General Conference Daily Bulletin, January 28, 1893.
2. THE OLD COVENANT OF WORKS
a. Why did God make another covenant through Moses 430 years later—and why can’t it disannul the new covenant of promise? Deuteronomy 4:12, 13; Exodus 19:5–7; Galatians 3:17; 1 Peter 1:18–20.
“In their bondage the people [of Israel] had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. . . . God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him . . . that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. . . .
“Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God’s law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
“The ‘old’ covenant—was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the ‘second,’ or ‘new,’ covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant.”—Ibid., p. 371.
b. How did the people react to God’s requirement under the old covenant? Exodus 19:8. How might we fall into the same danger?
“The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law.”—Ibid., pp. 371.
“Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that without divine grace they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. If they do not accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation.”—Ibid., p. 73.
“Self-righteousness is the danger of this age; it separates the soul from Christ. Those who trust to their own righteousness cannot understand how salvation comes through Christ. They call sin righteousness and righteousness sin. They have no appreciation of the evil of transgression, no understanding of the terror of the law; for they do not respect God’s moral standard.”—Faith and Works, p. 96.
3. FROM OLD TO NEW
a. What was the moral law’s purpose in the old covenant and what purpose does it still serve today? Romans 7:7, 9–13, 20; 3:19-20.
“The law was given to convict them of sin, and reveal their need of a Saviour.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 308.
b. In the new covenant, how does God change our attitude towards His law and what transformation will be seen in our life? Hebrews 8:10; Psalm 40:8; Ezekiel 36:26, 27; Colossians 3:9, 10.
“The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’ Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
“The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Saviour, working to rescue souls.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 407.
c. How does the new covenant experience perfectly fulfill the spirit and intent of the law—and what was said of Abraham in this regard? Matthew 5:20–22, 27, 28, 31–48; Romans 13:8–10; Genesis 26:5.
“Obedience is not a mere outward compliance, but the service of love. The law of God is an expression of His very nature; it is an embodiment of the great principle of love, and hence is the foundation of His government in heaven and earth. If our hearts are renewed in the likeness of God, if the divine love is implanted in the soul, will not the law of God be carried out in the life? When the principle of love is implanted in the heart, when man is renewed after the image of Him that created him, the new-covenant promise is fulfilled, ‘I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them’ (Hebrews 10:16). And if the law is written in the heart, will it not shape the life?”—Steps to Christ, p. 60.
4. BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
a. What free gift did God bestow on Abraham because he chose to believe? Romans 4:22; Galatians 3:6.
“The thought that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, not because of any merit on our part, but as a free gift from God, is a precious thought. The enemy of God and man is not willing that this truth should be clearly presented; for he knows that if the people receive it fully, his power will be broken.”—Gospel Workers, p. 161.
“The grace of Christ is freely to justify the sinner without merit or claim on his part. Justification is a full, complete pardon of sin. The moment a sinner accepts Christ by faith, that moment he is pardoned. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, and he is no more to doubt God’s forgiving grace.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 107.
b. What did Abraham do to be declared righteous—and how alone are believers in like manner saved? Romans 4:1–5; Ephesians 2:8, 9.
“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 SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1122.
c. Even though faith itself is a gift (see Romans 12:3 (last part)), what are we to do with it? John 3:16; Luke 7:1-9; Romans 10:17.
“Faith that enables us to receive God’s gifts is itself a gift, of which some measure is imparted to every human being. It grows as exercised in appropriating the word of God. In order to strengthen faith, we must often bring it in contact with the word.”—Education, pp. 253, 254.
“Men and women will not be saved unless they themselves exercise faith, and build on the true foundation, unless they allow God to re-create them by His Holy Spirit.”—The Signs of the Times, February 14, 1900.
5. UNMERITED FAVOR
a. What unmerited favor, promised under the new covenant, has God shown in order to save humankind? Genesis 12:3; 1 John 4:14; Ephesians 2:4–8; Romans 5:15–18.
“Although by our disobedience we have merited God’s displeasure and condemnation, He has not forsaken us.”—God’s Amazing Grace, p. 10.
“Those who enter heaven will not scale its walls by their own righteousness, nor will its gates be opened to them for costly offerings of gold or silver, but they will gain an entrance to the many mansions of the Father’s house through the merits of the cross of Christ.”—Ibid., p. 179.
b. How does a sinner access such a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ? John 1:12; Romans 5:17; Hebrews 11:8.
“All who believe that Christ is the atoning sacrifice may come and receive pardon for their sins; for through the merit of Christ, communication has been opened between God and man. God can accept me as His child, and I can claim Him and rejoice in Him as my loving Father. We must center our hopes of heaven upon Christ alone, because He is our substitute and surety.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 363.
c. What two things did God destroy by his marvellous grace? Romans 8:2; 1 John 3:5, 8; 2 Timothy 1:10.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Explain the word “promise” in light of God’s inability to lie.
2. Why was the old covenant given—and why was it devoid of faith?
3. How does God write His law of love within our hearts and minds?
4. Why can’t we claim credit for our good works in salvation?
5. Why will we never be able to boast of our faith?