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Lesson 12: Christ's Church and the Law *

Introduction: In our study two weeks ago, the Apostle Paul taught us in Galatians 3 that nothing has changed in the contract between God and Abraham. This agreement, that Abraham believed and it was credited to him as righteousness ( Genesis 15:6), is available for every one of us because of what Jesus has done on our behalf. Is it really true that nothing has changed? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and look at the relationship between God's people and the law throughout the ages!

  1. Adam, Eve and the Law


    1. Read Genesis 2:15-17. Has God created a law for humans at this point?


      1. If you say, "yes," how many laws has He created? (I consider it a "law" that I need to show up for work so that I can fulfill my obligations to others and get paid. Adam had a work assignment. That might be one law. The other law had to do with not eating the fruit from one tree.)


    2. Read Genesis 2:2-3. Is there another law about work that constrained Adam?


    3. Read Genesis 3:1-3. How did Eve understand the fruit eating law? (She has it right, except that she adds that she cannot touch the fruit. That was not part of the original recorded restriction.)


    4. Read Genesis 3:4-6. The law was not to eat this particular fruit. What is the temptation before Eve? (Not to believe God. Not to trust God.)


      1. How does this differ from the obligation of Abraham? (It is precisely the same - the issue is whether we will believe and trust God. Eve did not sufficiently trust God.)


  2. Noah and the Law


    1. Read Genesis 6:11-14. Put yourself in Noah's place. What is the challenge for you? (God makes an astonishing statement about His plans for the future. The question is whether you believe God.)


    2. Read Genesis 6:15-17. Is this only a matter of belief? (No. This belief clearly requires action.)


    3. Read Genesis 6:18-22. What is the contract that Noah has with God? What is God promising? What is Noah promising? (Read Hebrews 11:7. The foundation of this agreement was Noah believing that God would destroy the earth and that God would save him and his family.)


      1. This account provides a very interesting context for examining the relationship between faith and works. Would Noah have built the ark if he had not believed God?


      2. If Noah had not built the ark, what would that say about Noah's faith in God? (His hard work on the ark demonstrated his faith in God.)


  3. Abraham and the Law


    1. Read Genesis 12:1-3. How is God's approach to Abraham similar to His approach to Noah? (God has a plan of action which involves a completely new experience.)


      1. In the three cases (Adam, Noah and Abraham), what is the basic challenge? (To believe and trust God.)


        1. What common thread do we see in all three cases? (Obedience to God's commands reflects the individual's trust in God. Disobedience reflects a lack of trust in God.)


    2. Read Genesis 12:4-5. What objections to obedience might you raise if you were Abraham? (I'm too old. I've never been there before. This seems risky.)


    3. Read Genesis 15:1-3 and compare Genesis 12:2. What is the problem with the contract? (God is not holding up His end of the deal.)


      1. What do you think about the way Abraham raised the issue with God? (Abraham is direct, but he is not charging God with a breach of the agreement.)


    4. Read Genesis 15:4-5. Put yourself in Abraham's place. How would you view this promise? (God has not performed so far with regard to the promise of children, and now God makes the promise even bigger.)


      1. Would it be hard to believe God?


        1. If you say, "yes," why? (Because it is contrary to what I see. It is contrary to the trend of things. God has had an opportunity to work on His end of the contract, but nothing has happened so far.)


    5. Read Genesis 15:6. What does this teach us about the nature of the belief at issue? Is this a casual belief? Is this a belief that results in showing up at church only on Christmas and Easter? (This is a belief that endures despite evidence to the contrary. This is belief that is not automatic. This is a belief that charts the course of your life.)


  4. Moses and the Law


    1. We pick up the story just after God spoke the Ten Commandments to Moses. Read Exodus 20:18-20. What kind of relationship did God initiate with His people? (Fear would keep them from sinning.)


    2. Read Exodus 32:15-17 and Exodus 32:21-24. How effective a tool is fear?


    3. Read Deuteronomy 7:7-11. Moses told the people that fear was God's motivating factor to keep the people from sinning. Does that seem correct to you based on this text? (God's original motive was love for His people. But, we so see a hard edge to this.)


    4. Read Deuteronomy 7:12-15. What is the appeal here? (Health and prosperity.)


      1. Would it be fair to say that God is appealing to the people's greed?


    5. Read Deuteronomy 7:16. What would you call this?


      1. Contemplate all this for a minute. We have three motives swirling around: fear, love and greed. Does this cause you to trust God less?


      2. Read 1 Corinthians 9:20-23. How would you describe Paul's method of evangelizing? (He uses what works to advance the Kingdom of God.)


      3. Is Paul taking his lead from Deuteronomy 7? (God loves us. He is willing to use the most relevant tool to bring us to Him. If you are one who responds to fear, God has that in his toolkit. If you respond to greed, God has that. If you respond to love, God uses that. Whatever approach God takes, the question for us is will we trust Him?)


  5. Jesus and the Law


    1. Read Matthew 22:36-40. What does Jesus say is the foundation for the law? (Love!)


      1. Does Jesus suggest that this changed over time? (No.)


      2. I thought we decided that trusting God was the foundation. How does that fit here? (The foundation for God's attitude towards us is love. The foundation for our response is trusting a God we know loves us and has our best interest in mind. Eve missed the part about God having her best interest in mind.)


    2. Read Revelation 12:13-16. What is being symbolized here? (The conflict between Satan, Jesus and Jesus' Church.)


    3. Read Revelation 12:17. What is the focus of Satan's attack, and why? (Those who lift up Jesus and obey His law are under attack because they are the problem. If believing in Jesus makes no difference in your life, you are not a problem for Satan.)


    4. Read Revelation 14:6-7. I thought our conclusion was that the most important part of the contract between humans and God was that we should trust Him and obey Him. Why is "fear," "glory" and "worship" mentioned as the "eternal gospel?" (This is the essence of trust: our Creator God is coming to judge the world. If you trust His love, if you trust what He did on the cross for you, then you will fear, glorify and worship Him!)


    5. Friend, we have seen a consistent theme throughout the ages. Those who follow God believe and trust Him. That belief and trust translates into concrete actions to advance God's mission on earth. Is your belief in Jesus reflected in the way you live? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to help make that goal a reality in your life?


  6. Next week: Christ's Kingdom and the Law.
* Copr. 2014, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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