1. TWO COVENANTS
a. In order to be justified with God, what type of agreement is necessary on our part? Psalm 50:5.
b. In order to make such an agreement, what attitude are we to possess? Isaiah 1:18.
c. What type of covenant options are given us? Hebrews 8:6–13.
“The terms of the ‘old covenant’ were, Obey and live: ‘If a man do, he shall even live in them’ (Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5); but ‘cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.’ Deuteronomy 27:26. The ‘new covenant’ was established upon ‘better promises’—the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God’s law. ‘This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts. . . . I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.’ Jeremiah 31:33, 34.”— Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 372. [Emphasis by author.]
2. WHY IS A COVENANT NECESSARY?
a. What separates us from being in fellowship with our Creator? Isaiah 59:2. What do we deserve? Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23.
“The instant Adam yielded to Satan’s temptation, and did the very thing which God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying: ‘Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man’s place. Give him another trial.’ Transgression placed the whole world under the death sentence. But in heaven there was heard a voice saying, ‘I have found a ransom.’ He who knew no sin was made sin for fallen man. ‘God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ Christ laid off His royal robe and kingly crown, and gave up His command over all heaven. He clothed His divinity with humanity, that He might bear all the infirmities and endure all the temptations of humanity. He was a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed. For our sake He became poor, that through His poverty we might be made rich. For us He left the adoration of the angels for the insults and execrations of a mob lashed to madness by the priests and rulers.”—The Signs of the Times, June 27, 1900.
b. What provision did God make from the very beginning to avert this death sentence? Job 33:24; compare also 1 John 4:19; Revelation 13:8.
“The plan for our redemption was not an afterthought, a plan formulated after the fall of Adam. It was a revelation of ‘the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal.’ Romans 16:25, R.V. It was an unfolding of the principles that from eternal ages have been the foundation of God’s throne. From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, ‘that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 22.
3. THE SEED OF THE WOMAN
a. When that old Serpent, the Devil, deceived our first parents in Eden, what promise did God make that gives hope to the human race? Genesis 3:15.
“Our natural tendencies, unless corrected by the Holy Spirit of God, have in them the seeds of moral death. Unless we become vitally connected with God, we cannot resist the unhallowed effects of self-love, self-indulgence, and temptation to sin.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, pp. 315, 316.
b. Who is this seed of the woman? Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:8, 16; Hebrews 2:14.
“Since the first gospel sermon was preached, when in Eden it was declared that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head, Christ had been uplifted as the way, the truth, and the life. He was the way when Adam lived, when Abel presented to God the blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of the Redeemer. Christ was the way by which patriarchs and prophets were saved. He is the way by which alone we can have access to God.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 663.
c. Since Abraham trusted in none other that Christ for the forgiveness of sin (Galatians 3:6–8), what was the result of that type of faith? Genesis 26:5.
“The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 5, p. 1132.
4. RATIFICATION OF THE COVENANT
a. Although this covenant was made with Adam and renewed to Abraham, when could it be ratified—and hence called the new or second covenant? Hebrews 9:16.
“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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 370, 371. [Emphasis by author.]
b. If it was not ratified till the death of Jesus, how did it apply to those children of the heavenly King before the cross? Hebrews 6:13–18.
“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. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God—the ‘two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie.’ Hebrews 6:18.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 371.
“His word is pledged. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, but His kindness shall not depart from His people, neither shall the covenant of His peace be removed. His voice is heard, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love’ (Jeremiah 31:3). ‘With everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee’ (Isaiah 54:8). How amazing is this love, that God condescends to remove all cause for doubt and questioning from human fears and weakness and takes hold of the trembling hand reached up to Him in faith; and He helps us to trust Him by multiplied assurances and securities. He has made us a binding agreement upon condition of our obedience, and He comes to meet us in our own understanding of things. We think that a pledge or promise from our fellow men, if recorded, still needs a guarantee. Jesus has met all these peculiar fears, and He has confirmed His promise with an oath: ‘Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. . . .’ What more could our Lord do to strengthen our faith in His promises?”—That I May Know Him, p. 262.
5. TABLES OF THE HEART
a. Because of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, what opportunity do we receive? Hebrews 9:15.
b. What appeal does God make to each of us personally as we evaluate our responsibility before God? 2 Corinthians 6:2.
“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.
“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.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 372, 373. [Emphasis by author.]
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What experiences have you had in relation to making covenants with God?
2. Why was God prepared when Adam sinned?
3. What illustrations did God use to continually keep in mind the coming Messiah?
4. How do we know that Abraham was under the new covenant?
5. What kind of a covenant or agreement are you prepared to make with your Creator?
Reasoning for Reformation