is more than rituals; it is deeper, and more profound, than rules. It
is, instead, a relationship between an offending being and an offended
Jesus Christ, through His incarnation, death, and
resurrection, has become the direct link between the offender and the
offended. As God, He reached into heaven; as man, He reached the earth;
as both, He spanned the gap between the two. He is, for us, a bridge
across the cosmos. In Him, and through Him, heaven and earth have
How does it work? It is as simple as an exchange:
Christ takes our sins and gives us His righteousness so that, through
Him, we are accounted as righteous as God Himself. In this way,
sin-that which formed the break between humankind and God to begin
with-is no longer attributed to us; it no longer has to keep us
separated from Him. Murderers, adulterers, bigots, liars, thieves, and
even the incestuous can all be viewed as righteous as God Himself. And
this wonderful gift, this accounting of righteousness, comes to them by
faith, and faith alone. Hence the phrase "righteousness by faith."
But it does not end there, either. Murderers,
adulterers, bigots, liars, thieves, and even the incestuous can,
through Jesus, enter into a relationship with God, because Jesus' blood
brings not only forgiveness but cleansing, healing, and restoration. We
are, through Christ, born again, and through this experience God writes
His holy law upon the fleshy tables of our hearts. Thus murderers,
adulterers, bigots, liars, thieves, and the incestuous no longer do the
things they used to do. From and by this inward law, all of life is
shaped for the believer. These people desire to work out what God puts
within them, and that desire is matched with the promise of Divine
But this wonderful transformation does not happen in
a vacuum. God does not just arbitrarily do this work for some and not
for others. At the same time, He does not impose His saving grace upon
us against our will. Instead, responding to the prompting of His Holy
Spirit, we enter into a special relationship with Him, a relationship
that is founded upon what the Bible calls "the everlasting covenant," a
covenant sealed and ratified by blood--the blood of Christ.
This quarter we will study the covenant (or
covenants). What is the covenant? What is the purpose of the covenant?
Why were there different covenants made throughout history? What does
it mean to be under the new covenant? What obligations does it entail
on our part? And how can we, as individuals, enjoy the benefits of the
a young English woman (seven-months pregnant) looked out over the sea,
and what she saw--the Spanish Armada, with 130 heavily armed ships
planning to invade the island--so frightened her that she went into
premature labor, the midwife being fear.
Fear, in fact, was an apt metaphor for her child,
Thomas Hobbes, who became one of Europe's greatest political theorists.
Living at a time when England had been wracked by civil war and endless
religious violence, Hobbes wrote that humankind, without a strong,
all-encompassing government, existed in a state of perpetual fear- fear
of instability, fear of conquest, and, most of all, fear of death.
People lived in what he called "the war of all against all" and that
unless something radical was done, human life would be, he warned,
nothing but "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."--"Advocates of
the Method of Science," in Socrates to Sartre: A History of
Philosophy, Samuel Enoch Stumpf, ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill
Book Company, 1982), pp. 223, 225.
What was the solution? Hobbes said that there was
only one: The people must place themselves under a single power that
would reduce all their wills to a single will and that would exercise
complete authority over them. This power, this sovereign--be it a
single man or an assembly of men--through wielding absolute hegemony
over the nation, would end the terrible conditions that made their
lives so fearful and unstable. In other words, in exchange for all
their rights, the people got peace and security instead. This transfer
of power, from the people to the sovereign, is what Hobbes called the
The covenant idea, however, did not originate with
Thomas Hobbes. On the contrary. Thousands of years earlier, God made a
covenant with Israel, a covenant whose roots, in fact, went back even
farther in time. Unlike Hobbes's covenant, which was initiated and
promulgated by the people, this covenant was initiated and promulgated
by the true Sovereign, the Creator of heaven and earth. Also, though
Hobbes's covenant was motivated solely by fear, God's covenant is
motivated by love, His love for the fallen race, a love that led Him to
Because of the Cross, we love the Sovereign back, and
just as in the Hobbesian covenant, where the subjects had to surrender
to the sovereign, we surrender, too--our sinful ways, our fears, our
twisted notions of right and wrong. We do this not to gain something in
return but because we have already been given the best the Sovereign
can give--Jesus Christ and the redemption found only in Him.
This quarter we look closely at what God's covenant
is, what it offers, even what it demands. Though drawn from many
sources, the lessons rely heavily on work of the late Dr. Gerhard Hasel
whose insights into the Word (where the covenant promises are revealed)
will give encouragement, hope, and understanding in order that we can
learn something which, perhaps, Thomas Hobbes never did: "There is no
fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (1 John 4:18).
(all lessons may not be posted)
School Study Helps
Jerry Giardina of Pecos, Texas, assisted by his wife,
Cheryl, prepares a series of helps to accompany the Sabbath School
lesson. He includes all related scripture and most EGW quotations.
Jerry has chosen the "New King James Version" of the scriptures this
quarter. It is used with permission. The study helps are
provided in three wordprocessing versions Wordperfect;
RTF for our
MAC friends; and HTML (Web
Last updated on January 7, 2002
12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributors: Based on previous work of
Gerhard F. Hasel
Editor: Clifford Goldstein (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti.
Editorial Production Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish.
Art and Design: Lars Justinen.
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey.
© 2003 Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide,
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.
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