April 14, 2013 – April 20, 2013
“Jesus saith unto him [Thomas], I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” John 14:6.
Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 71–79; “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 931.
“The Father has given the world into the hands of Christ, that through His mediatorial work He may redeem man and vindicate the authority and holiness of the law of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 366.
1 GOD’S PROMISE
- What promise has God often repeated? Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 28:14; Galatians 3:8, 16.
Note: “Not alone at the Saviour’s advent, but through all the ages after the Fall and the promise of redemption, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself’ (II Corinthians 5:19). Christ was the foundation and center of the sacrificial system in both the patriarchal and the Jewish age. Since the sin of our first parents there has been no direct communication between God and man. … All the communion between heaven and the fallen race has been through Christ. It was the Son of God that gave to our first parents the promise of redemption. It was He who revealed Himself to the patriarchs. Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses understood the gospel. They looked for salvation through man’s Substitute and Surety. These holy men of old held communion with the Saviour who was to come to our world in human flesh.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 366.
- What does the Bible call God’s promise to send His Son into the world, and how was the promise fulfilled? Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18, 21.
Note: “The gospel preached to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses was to them good news; for their faith embraced a coming Saviour.” The Signs of the Times, August 7, 1879.
2 CAIN AND ABEL
- How was Abel blessed, accepted, and justified through the gospel? Hebrews 11:4.
Note: “ ‘By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain’ (Hebrews 11:4). Abel grasped the great principles of redemption. He saw himself a sinner, and he saw sin and its penalty, death, standing between his soul and communion with God. He brought the slain victim, the sacrificed life, thus acknowledging the claims of the law that had been transgressed. Through the shed blood he looked to the future sacrifice, Christ dying on the cross of Calvary; and trusting in the atonement that was there to be made, he had the witness that he was righteous, and his offering accepted.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.
- How did Cain forfeit the blessings and acceptance of the gospel, and why? Genesis 4:3, 5.
Note: “Cain came before God with murmuring and infidelity in his heart in regard to the promised sacrifice and the necessity of the sacrificial offerings. His gift expressed no penitence for sin. He felt, as many now feel, that it would be an acknowledgment of weakness to follow the exact plan marked out by God, of trusting his salvation wholly to the atonement of the promised Saviour. He chose the course of self-dependence. He would come in his own merits. He would not bring the lamb, and mingle its blood with his offering, but would present his fruits, the products of his labor. He presented his offering as a favor done to God, through which he expected to secure the divine approval. Cain obeyed in building an altar, obeyed in bringing a sacrifice; but he rendered only a partial obedience. The essential part, the recognition of the need of a Redeemer, was left out.
“So far as birth and religious instruction were concerned, these brothers were equal. Both were sinners, and both acknowledged the claims of God to reverence and worship. To outward appearance their religion was the same up to a certain point, but beyond this the difference between the two was great.” [Author’s italics.] Patriarchs and Prophets, 72.
3 TWO CLASSES OF WORSHIPERS
- What two classes of worshipers do Cain and Abel represent? How do the two phases in the life of Paul illustrate the difference between these two classes? Philippians 3:4–9.
Note: “Cain and Abel represent two classes that will exist in the world till the close of time. One class avail themselves of the appointed sacrifice for sin; the other venture to depend upon their own merits; theirs is a sacrifice without the virtue of divine mediation, and thus it is not able to bring man into favor with God. It is only through the merits of Jesus that our transgressions can be pardoned. Those who feel no need of the blood of Christ, who feel that without divine grace they can by their own works secure the approval of God, are making the same mistake as did Cain. If they do not accept the cleansing blood, they are under condemnation. There is no other provision made whereby they can be released from the thralldom of sin.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 72, 73.
- What lesson should we learn from the fig-leaf garments of our first parents and from the offering of Cain? Genesis 3:7; Jude 11, first part. What principle underlies the belief and practice of those who fail to abide by the true gospel?
Note: “The class of worshipers who follow the example of Cain includes by far the greater portion of the world; for nearly every false religion has been based on the same principle—that man can depend upon his own efforts for salvation. It is claimed by some that the human race is in need, not of redemption, but of development—that it can refine, elevate, and regenerate itself. As Cain thought to secure the divine favor by an offering that lacked the blood of a sacrifice, so do these expect to exalt humanity to the divine standard, independent of the atonement. The history of Cain shows what must be the result. It shows what man will become apart from Christ. Humanity has no power to regenerate itself. It does not tend upward, toward the divine, but downward, toward the satanic. Christ is our only hope.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 73.
4 THE GOSPEL AND THE TWO COVENANTS
- How are we in danger of failing—as the Israelites failed—to truly understand the gospel? Exodus 24:7; Joshua 24:19–21; Hebrews 3:15–17; 4:2.
Note: “The people [of Israel] did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God’s law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, ‘All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient’ (Exodus 24:7). They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 371, 372.
- What covenant did the Lord offer to establish with Israel and is offering to each one of us? Jeremiah 31:31–34; Hebrews 8:8–12.
Note: “The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth ‘the fruits of the Spirit.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 372.
“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be’ (Job 14:4; Romans 8:7). Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.” Steps to Christ, 18.
“By His perfect obedience He [Christ] has made it possible for every human being to obey God’s commandments.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 312.
5 ONLY ONE TRUE GOSPEL
- Since the days of Eden, men and women have been saved by only one gospel. How does this apply to us? John 14:6; Acts 4:12.
Note: “Christ is the connecting link between God and man. He has promised His personal intercession by employing His name.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, 1078.
“Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 372.
- How are we to benefit from the gospel? I Timothy 1:15; Ephesians 1:4–11.
Note: “Jesus … took humanity upon Himself that He might touch and elevate humanity. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He reached to the very depth of human misery and woe, to take man as He found him, a being tainted with corruption, degraded with vice, depraved by sin, and united with Satan in apostasy, and elevate him to a seat upon His throne.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 199.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Why is the plan of salvation referred to as the “gospel”?
2 How do we know that Abel was under the “new” covenant?
3 What will make us today to be an “Abel” instead of a “Cain”?
4 How can we be sure our religious experience is really in accordance with the new covenant?
5 How would you summarize the gospel to someone who has never heard it before?
© 2007 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.