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The Promise

God's Everlasting Covenant


Introduction
Editor's Overview
Contents
Helps
Discussion Groups


Cover

INTRODUCTION   Bridge Across the Cosmos

Christianity is more than rituals; it is deeper, and more profound, than rules. It is, instead, a relationship between an offending being and an offended God.

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 become united.

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 power.

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 covenant today?


EDITOR'S OVERVIEW   The Covenant

In 1588, 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 covenant.

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 the Cross.

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).


Contents:  (all lessons may not be posted)

No. Study
Date
Topic

1

Jan 4 What Happened?  (KJV)  (NKJV)

2

Jan 11 Covenant Primer  (KJV)  (NKJV)

3

Jan 18 "All Future Generations"  (KJV)  (NKJV)

4

Jan 25 An Everlasting Covenant  (KJV)  (NKJV)

5

Feb 1 Children of the Promise  (KJV)  (NKJV)

6

Feb 8 Abraham's Seed  (KJV)  (NKJV)

7

Feb 15 Covenant at Sinai  (KJV)  (NKJV)

8

Feb 22 Covenant Law  (KJV)  (NKJV)

9

Mar 1 The Covenant Sign  (KJV)  (NKJV)

10

Mar 8 The New Covenant  (KJV)  (NKJV)

11

Mar 15 New-Covenant Sanctuary  (KJV)  (NKJV)

12

Mar 22 Covenant Faith  (KJV)  (NKJV)

13

Mar 29 New-Covenant Life  (KJV)  (NKJV)


Giardina Sabbath 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; Microsoft Word;  RTF for our MAC friends; and HTML (Web Pages).


Last updated on January 7, 2002

Editorial Office: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904.
Principal Contributors:
Based on previous work of Gerhard F. Hasel
Editor: Clifford Goldstein (goldsteinc@gc.adventist.org)
Associate Editor: Lyndelle Brower Chiomenti.
Editorial Production Manager: Soraya Homayouni Parish.
Art and Design: Lars Justinen.
Pacific Press Coordinator: Paul A. Hey.

Copyright 2003 Office of the Adult Bible Study Guide,
General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. All Rights Reserved.


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