1. CHRIST IN PATRIARCHAL TIMES
a. Addressing the Galatians influenced by Judaizers, how did Paul introduce the connection between Abraham—whom the Hebrews all claimed as their father by lineage—and Christ? Galatians 3:6–8.
“Not alone at the Saviour’s advent, but through all the ages after the Fall and the promise of redemption, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.’ 2 Corinthians 5:19. Christ was the foundation and center of the sacrificial system in both the patriarchal and the Jewish age. Since the sin of our first parents there has been no direct communication between God and man. The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God. All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 366.
b. Who are the ones blessed in contrast to the cursed? Galatians 3:9, 10.
2. CHRIST AND THE TWO LAWS
a. Explain the connection between Christ and His eternal moral law of Ten Commandments. Isaiah 42:21; Galatians 3:11–14.
“The law of God existed before man was created. It was adapted to the condition of holy beings; even angels were governed by it. After the Fall, the principles of righteousness were unchanged. Nothing was taken from the law; not one of its holy precepts could be improved. And as it has existed from the beginning, so will it continue to exist throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. . . .
“By this law, which governs angels, which demands purity in the most secret thoughts, desires, and dispositions, and which shall ‘stand fast for ever’ (Psalm 111:8), all the world is to be judged in the rapidly approaching day of God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 220.
“Christ and the Father, standing side by side upon the mount, with solemn majesty proclaimed the Ten Commandments.”—Evangelism, p. 616.
“If the law of God could have been changed or abrogated, then Christ need not have suffered the consequences of our transgression. He came to explain the relation of the law to man, and to illustrate its precepts by His own life of obedience.”—The Desire of Ages, pp. 307, 308.
b. Explain the contrast in the ceremonial law that pointed forward to the sacrificial Lamb of God. Hebrews 9:27, 28 (first part); 10:1, 4–10.
“The promise of a Saviour was given, and sacrificial offerings pointing forward to the death of Christ as the great sin offering were established. But had the law of God never been transgressed, there would have been no death, and no need of a Saviour; consequently there would have been no need of sacrifices.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 363.
“There are many who try to blend these two systems, using the texts that speak of the ceremonial law to prove that the moral law has been abolished; but this is a perversion of the Scriptures. The distinction between the two systems is broad and clear. The ceremonial system was made up of symbols pointing to Christ, to His sacrifice and His priesthood. This ritual law, with its sacrifices and ordinances, was to be performed by the Hebrews until type met antitype in the death of Christ, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. Then all the sacrificial offerings were to cease.”—Ibid., p. 365.
a. When was the covenant of grace first needed and immediately provided, pointing to the Saviour to come? Genesis 3:9–11, 14, 15, 21.
“As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 210.
“The covenant of grace was first made with man in Eden, when after the Fall there was given a divine promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. To all men this covenant offered pardon and the assisting grace of God for future obedience through faith in Christ. It also promised them eternal life on condition of fidelity to God’s law. Thus the patriarchs received the hope of salvation.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 370.
b. How was this covenant renewed to Abraham—and when was it ratified? Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:14–18.
“[Abraham] trusted in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It was this faith that was accounted unto him for righteousness. 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.
“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.”—Ibid., pp. 370, 371.
4. THE TWO COVENANTS
a. What was the “old” covenant, who broke it—and why could it not be trusted? Exodus 24:6–8; 32:1, 31.
“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. . . .
“In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. . . .
“Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no 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.
“God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: ‘If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then . . . ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.’ Exodus 19:5, 6. 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; 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. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 371, 372.
b. How did the Lord mercifully renew the original covenant given to Abraham, calling it the “new” covenant? Jeremiah 31:33, 34; Psalm 40:8.
“The same law that was engraved upon 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.”—Ibid., p. 372.
5. CHRIST SHINING FROM WITHIN
a. How does the New Testament describe the same covenant of grace for us today? Hebrews 8:10–13; James 2:18–23.
“Abraham believed God. How do we know that he believed? His works testified to the character of his faith, and his faith was accounted to him for righteousness.
“We need the faith of Abraham in our day, to lighten the darkness that gathers around us, shutting out the sweet sunlight of God’s love, and dwarfing spiritual growth. Our faith should be prolific of good works; for faith without works is dead. Every duty performed, every sacrifice made in the name of Jesus, brings an exceeding great reward. In the very act of duty, God speaks and gives His blessing.”—Reflecting Christ, p. 79.
“The transforming power of Christ’s grace molds the one who gives himself to God’s service. Imbued with the Spirit of the Redeemer, he is ready to deny self, ready to take up the cross, ready to make any sacrifice for the Master. No longer can he be indifferent to the souls perishing around him. He is lifted above self-serving. He has been created anew in Christ, and self-serving has no place in his life. . . .
“Have you so deep an appreciation of the sacrifice made on Calvary that you are willing to make every other interest subordinate to the work of saving souls? The same intensity of desire to save sinners that marked the life of the Saviour marks the life of His true follower. The Christian has no desire to live for self. He delights to consecrate all that he has and is to the Master’s service. He is moved by an inexpressible desire to win souls to Christ. Those who have nothing of this desire might better be concerned for their own salvation. Let them pray for the spirit of service.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, pp. 9, 10.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Where was Christ in the Old Testament era?
2. What is the difference between the moral and ceremonial laws?
3. How long has the new covenant existed—and why is it called “new”?
4. By what means are we enabled to keep the moral law of a holy God?
5. What would you explain to someone accusing you of being “under the law”?