Monday: The Nature of Christian Freedom
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Image © Stan Myers from GoodSalt.com

Paul’s command to stand firm in freedom is not made in isolation. An important statement of fact precedes it: “Christ has set us free.” Why should Christians stand firmly in their freedom? Because Christ has already set them free. In other words, our freedom is a result of what Christ has already done for us. 1

This pattern of a statement of fact followed by an exhortation is typical in Paul’s letters (1 Cor. 6:20; 10:13, 14; Col. 2:6). For example, [...]

Sunday: Christ Has Set Us Free
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“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5:1).

Like the rallying command of a military leader to his wavering troops, Paul charges the Galatians not to surrender their freedom in Christ. The forcefulness and intensity of Paul’s tone cause his words nearly to leap off the page into action. In fact, this seems to be exactly what Paul intended. Although this verse is connected thematically [...]

Sabbath: Freedom in Christ
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Read for This Week’s Study:

Gal. 5:1–15; 1 Cor. 6:20; Rom. 8:1; Heb. 2:14, 15; Rom. 8:4; 13:8.

Memory Text:

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13)

In Galatians 2:4, Paul briefly referred to the importance of protecting the “freedom” that we have in Christ Jesus. But what does Paul mean when he speaks about “freedom,” which he does so often? What does this freedom include? How far does this freedom [...]

Further Study: The Two Covenants
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Read Ellen G. White, “The Law and the Covenants,” pp. 363–373, in Patriarchs and Prophets.

“But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. . . .

“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 [...]

Inside Story: Against the Tide
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Friday Nwamaga

I grew up in a family that worshipped idols, but I often wondered about my Christian friends’ beliefs. When a friend invited me to attend church with him, I went. My parents were angry when they learned what I’d `done. But something had moved me during the worship service, and from then on I slept in the bush on Saturday night so I could attend church on Sunday. I joined my friend’s church and became a youth leader. Eventually [...]

Thursday: Ishmael and Isaac Today
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Image © Providence Collection from GoodSalt.com

Paul’s brief sketch of Israel’s history was designed to counter the arguments made by his opponents who claimed that they were the true descendants of Abraham and that Jerusalem—the center of Jewish Christianity and the law—was their mother. The Gentiles, they charged, were illegitimate; if they wanted to become true followers of Christ, they must first become a son of Abraham by submitting to the law of circumcision. 1

The truth, Paul says, is the opposite. These legalists are not the [...]

10: Laws and Promises – Thought Starters
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Madeline and Melvin were in love. No question about it. At every opportunity they would steal glances at each other and talk with nudges and grins. Everybody knew.1

They would soon be married.

Then Melvin dropped a bombshell. Both Madeline and Melvin had been married before, and Melvin wasn’t ready to risk a repeat performance of what he’d gone through.

“I love you, Madeline,” he said. “I love you from the bottom of my heart.” [...]

Sarah’s Covenant or Hagar’s?
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“…the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves…” Galatians 4:24, NIV

So much has been written and said about two covenants in Christendom that it has become trite. However, this week’s lesson compels us to revisit the dichotomy, albeit with oft repeated assumptions and interpretive constraints framed by extra-Biblical sources. Nonetheless, we shall try to inject some fresh perspectives into this topic.

While Paul writes of two covenants in Galatians, many [...]

Wednesday: Hagar and Mount Sinai
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What type of covenant relationship did God want to establish with His people at Sinai? What similarities does it share with God’s promise to Abraham? Exod. 6:2–8, 19:3–6, Deut. 32:10–12. 1

God desired to share the same covenant relationship with the children of Israel at Sinai that He shared with Abraham. In fact, similarities exist between God’s words to Abraham inGenesis 12:1–3 and His words to Moses in Exodus 19. In both cases, God emphasizes what He will do for His people. He does not ask the [...]

10: The Two Covenants – Teaching Plan
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Key Thought: Self-righteousness is referred to as the old covenant. The new covenant is the everlasting covenant of grace ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

[Teaching Plan for "The Two Covenants" November 30, 2011]

1. Have a volunteer read Galatians 4:21-23.

A. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
B. Why was the child born of the freewoman called the child of promise? And the child of the bondwoman called after the flesh?
C. Personal [...]

Tuesday: Abraham, Sarah, and Hagar
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Why does Paul have such a disparaging view of the incident with Hagar? Gal. 4:21–31, Genesis 16. What crucial point about salvation is Paul making through his use of this Old Testament story?  1

Hagar’s place in the Genesis story is directly related to Abram’s failure to believe God’s promise. As an Egyptian slave in Abram’s household, Hagar likely came into Abram’s possession as one of the many gifts Pharaoh gave to him in exchange for Sarai, an event associated with Abram’s first act of [...]

Monday: The Abrahamic Covenant
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What covenant promises did God make to Abram in Genesis 12:1–5? What was Abram’s response? 1

God’s initial promises to Abram make up one of the more powerful passages in the Old Testament. These verses all are about God’s grace. It is God, not Abram, who makes the promises. Abram had done nothing to earn or merit God’s favor, neither is there any indication that suggests that God and Abram had somehow worked together to come up with this agreement. God does all [...]