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Sabbath School Lessons on The Promise - God's Everlasting Covenant
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 37 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 12: Covenant Faith *
Introduction: Our series of lessons for the past 11 weeks has taught
us that God's law, the Ten Commandments, still stands as God's
standard for our lives. What has changed about the covenant (the
contract) between God and humanity, is our side of the agreement.
Instead of being required to perfectly keep the law, we are instead
asked to accept, as our substitute, Jesus' perfect obedience to the
law and His death for our sins. Does this make any sense to you? If
it does, how should it affect our attitude towards others? Paul lays
out a logical summary of this change in Romans 3 and 4. Let's explore
the logic of Paul for our study this week!
- Let's review a moment. Read Romans 3:21. We have been
discussing the continuing importance of the Ten
Commandments. What is this righteousness that is "apart"
from the law?" (This is Jesus' sacrifice of His life for
us. His perfect obedience to the law.)
- When the text says the "Law and Prophets testify" to
this righteousness, what do you think that means?
(The old covenant system of sacrifices pointed to, or
symbolized, what Jesus would do on our behalf.)
- OK. Enough review. Let's move ahead. Read Romans 3:22-24.
How do we obtain this righteousness from God? (Through
faith in Jesus - if we believe.)
- What does Paul mean when he says "there is no
difference?" Difference in what? Social status?
- What does this say to those who claim to be "the
remnant?" (We are all, according to this text, a
bunch of sinners. We need to be shy, as sinners,
about claiming to be the theological "betters" of
- Is it possible to be in exactly the same position as
other sinners when it comes to sin and grace, but in
a superior position when it comes to our
understanding God's will? (No superior theological
understanding will make one bit of difference on the
grace side of things. However, there certainly are
Christians who are serious about knowing God and who,
as a result, have a superior knowledge of Him.
Consider 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.)
- Are some of us superior in the sin area by
having less sin? I once was in a meeting where
I heard the speaker say that she had not sinned
for the last twenty years. Didn't she have a
claim to superiority in the sin area? (When I
heard her say that I thought, "Well, I just
heard you sin right now." Any sin separates us
from God. The penalty for sin is death. (Romans
- What quality do all those who are justified by the
grace of Jesus share? (That they believe in Jesus
- Why does Romans 3:22 refer both to "faith in
Christ" and "all who believe?" Are these two
separate requirements for grace? (Consider James
2:18-20 where he tells us that even the demons
believe in Jesus.)
- Let's read on in Romans 3. Read Romans 3:25-26. How does
Jesus' sacrifice for us demonstrate justice?
- How was it just for Jesus, who was sinless, to die a
painful death for our sins? (When God told Adam that
the penalty for sin was death ( Genesis 2:16-17), He
was not kidding. The "justice" was that if we did not
die for our sins, then our Creator must die for those
- Why did the Creator have to die? Why not
- God is God and He can do anything. Why didn't He just
say, "A mistake was made (after all, you are only
human!) and we will just forget all about this
unfortunate incident?" Why make such a big deal about
it? Why make His Son go through this unbelievably
harsh experience because of the sin of Adam and Eve?
(Our only conclusion must be that God's law was that
- If you are ever tempted to think that the Ten
Commandments are not important, and obedience to God
doesn't really matter that much, consider the
importance of the law to God the Father and God the
Son. What was more important to God than the
requirements of the law? (Apparently nothing was more
important. Jesus gave His life because of it.)
- I often hear people say, quoting John 3:16, that
Jesus gave up His life on the cross for us because He
"loved us." Did Jesus love us or did He love the law?
(Apparently, true love for us requires the
preservation of the law. If God the Father just loved
us without any standards, He could have simply
changed the rules and let us live without having
anyone die - much less His Son Jesus. I can only
conclude that it would have been unloving for God to
give us eternal life without preserving the integrity
of the law. For that reason, God's ultimate act of
love for us preserved the law at the same time as He
- Our Attitudes
- Read Romans 3:27. What should be our attitude about other
Christians? Should we think that we are better Christians
- If not, why not? (This verse tells us that boasting
is "excluded" based on the principle that we were
saved by faith, and not saved by our obedience to the
law. Any obedience does not make us better than
others, because we still do not perfectly obey the
law and are therefore "entitled" only to death. It
was only Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf that gave us
the chance for life.)
- Read Romans 3:28-30. Who is eligible for this offer of
grace and eternal life? (Everyone. The Jews thought they
were special. They had a special relationship with God.
However, if faith, rather than our merits, makes all the
difference, then everyone who has faith can be saved.)
- Read Romans 3:31. Why does righteousness by faith uphold
the law? (See the last three questions of the previous
section (I (C)(2-4).)
- Righteousness by Faith
- Read Romans 4:1-3. Did Abraham have some great works? Did
he do great things for God?
- Have you ever told God that you were doing some good
things for Him? Have you ever thought that God
should appreciate all you do for His kingdom?
- What is wrong with Abraham boasting to God about
what He had done? For example, Abraham left his
home to follow God. Can't Abraham say to God,
"Remember, I did what you asked me to do. I left
my home just as you asked." (Imagine I gave you
a new car. You came to me and reported that you
had shined up that new car, put air in the
tires, vacuumed the carpet and filled it with
gas. Would you dare tell me that you now
deserved to be given the car? Would you say you
had now earned the right to be given the car? I
think that is what Paul is saying here about the
idea of Abraham boasting to God about his good
- Read Romans 4:4-5. Paul tells us that when a man works,
his pay is not a gift. He earned it. Why does Paul make
this argument? Why can't our works earn us some merit
before God? (Read Galatians 3:17-18. Paul is telling us
that God's original covenant with Abraham was that Abraham
would be saved because of God's gift to him, not because
he earned it. Giving the Ten Commandments did not change
that gift. So, Paul's point is that if righteousness is a
gift from God, we should not start saying that we can earn
it. If we earned any part of it, righteousness would no
longer be a gift.)
- Let's skip down and read Romans 4:16-17. When Paul says
that God "gives life to the dead and calls things that are
not as though they were," what does he mean?
- In what way does God "call things that are not as
though they were?"
- Does this have anything to do with giving "life
to the dead?"(I love this text. God calls us
righteous even when we are not. As a result of
calling us righteous, he gives us life. By this
God gives life to the dead. This shows that
God's grace is an unmerited gift to us.)
- Friend, God has offered you the priceless gift of eternal
life. You don't deserve it. But, because of Jesus great
sacrifice for you, eternal life is offered as a free gift.
Will you accept it?
- Next week: The New-Covenant Life
* Copr. 2003, 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.