1. AN ETERNAL MYSTERY
a. For how long has God’s covenant of grace existed? Romans 16:25.
“The covenant of grace is not a new truth, for it existed in the mind of God from all eternity. This is why it is called the everlasting covenant.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 77.
b. When was the covenant of grace confirmed to humanity by promise? Genesis 3:15. When was it fully established? John 19:30; Romans 3:25.
“The kingdom of grace was instituted immediately after the fall of man, when a plan was devised for the redemption of the guilty race. It then existed in the purpose and by the promise of God; and through faith, men could become its subjects. Yet it was not actually established until the death of Christ. . . . When the Saviour yielded up His life, and with His expiring breath cried out, ‘It is finished,’ then the fulfillment of the plan of redemption was assured. The promise of salvation made to the sinful pair in Eden was ratified. The kingdom of grace, which had before existed by the promise of God, was then established.”—The Great Controversy, pp. 347, 348.
2. THE COVENANT BLESSING FOR ALL NATIONS
a. What blessing did God promise to Abraham under the covenant of grace? Genesis 12:1–3. Who is the promised “seed”? Galatians 3:16.
“Christ was not alone in making His great sacrifice. It was the fulfillment of the covenant made between Him and His Father before the foundation of the world was laid. With clasped hands they had entered into the solemn pledge that Christ would become the surety for the human race if they were overcome by Satan’s sophistry.”—The Youth’s Instructor, June 14, 1900.
b. What does God do under this covenant for all who believe in Christ alone for salvation? Galatians 3:8; Romans 5:1.
“The covenant made with Abraham four hundred and thirty years before the law was spoken on Sinai was a covenant confirmed by God in Christ, the very same gospel which is preached to us.”—The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891.
c. What promise did God’s covenant with Abraham also include, and what will receiving it do for the believer in Christ? Galatians 3:14; Ezekiel 36:26, 27.
“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. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, ‘I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.’ Psalm 40:8. And when among men He said, ‘The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.’ John 8:29.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372.
3. GRACE FOR OBEDIENCE
a. Why did God confirm His everlasting covenant to Abraham by an oath? Genesis 22:16–18; Hebrews 6:13–18.
“This promise [Genesis 22:18] pointed to Christ. So Abraham understood it (see Galatians 3:8, 16), and he trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 370.
“On Mount Moriah, God again renewed His covenant, confirming with a solemn oath the blessing to Abraham and to his seed through all coming generations.”—Ibid., p. 153.
“Abraham was human; his passions and attachments were like ours; but he did not stop to question how the promise could be fulfilled if Isaac should be slain. He did not stay to reason with his aching heart. He knew that God is just and righteous in all His requirements, and he obeyed the command to the very letter.”—Ibid.
b. What shows that obedience to God’s law will always be seen in the life of those under the covenant of grace? Genesis 26:5.
“The covenant with Abraham also maintained the authority of God’s law. The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, ‘I am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect.’ Genesis 17:1. The testimony of God concerning His faithful servant was, ‘Abraham obeyed My voice, and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’ Genesis 26:5. And the Lord declared to him, ‘I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee.’ Genesis 17:7.”—Ibid., p. 370.
“The apostle Paul clearly presents the relation between faith and the law under the new covenant. He says: ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ ‘Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.’ ‘For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh’—it could not justify man, because in his sinful nature he could not keep the law—’God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.’ Romans 5:1; 3:31; 8:3, 4.”—Ibid., p. 373.
4. THE COVENANT AT SINAI
a. Why was another covenant formed at Sinai and what was its purpose? Deuteronomy 4:35–37.
“In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea—where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible—that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage.
“But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. 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, p. 371.
b. Why is the covenant made with Abraham called a “new” covenant even though it was made before the one at Sinai? Hebrews 9:16–20.
“Though this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, it could not be ratified until the death of Christ. It had existed by the promise of God since the first intimation of redemption had been given; it had been accepted by faith; yet when ratified by Christ, it is called a new covenant. The law of God was the basis of this covenant, which was simply an arrangement for bringing men again into harmony with the divine will, placing them where they could obey God’s law.
“Another compact—called in Scripture 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., pp. 370, 371.
5. DELIVERANCE FROM THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE
a. What did the Israelites fail to understand when they entered into the covenant at Sinai? Exodus 24:7; Romans 10:2, 3; John 15:5.
“The people did not realize . . . that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.’ Exodus 24:7.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
b. How can we be in danger today of making the same mistake the children of Israel made at Sinai? Romans 8:15.
“The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus.”—The Youth’s Instructor, September 22, 1892.
“All religious service, however attractive and costly, that endeavors to merit the favor of God, all mortification of the flesh, all penance and laborious work to procure the forgiveness of sin and the divine favor—whatever prevents us from making Christ our entire dependence, is abomination in the sight of God. There is no hope for man but to cease his rebellion, his resistance of God’s will, and own himself a sinner ready to perish, and cast himself upon the mercy of God. We can be saved only through Christ.”—The Signs of the Times, August 24, 1891.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why is the covenant of grace called an everlasting covenant?
2. How am I blessed today by the covenant made with Abraham?
3. What does God promise to do for me under the covenant of grace?
4. Why is the covenant of grace called a “new” covenant?
5. How can I ensure today that I am under the covenant of grace?