The New Covenant Promises New Hearts That Will Keep an Everlasting Law

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While the two covenants can be confusing for some of us, I really appreciate a couple of things last week’s Sabbath School lesson brought out, which I believe clears up any confusion. 

While many people believe that God changed His covenant at the cross, speaking of the covenant in the Old Testament, God told us through David,

My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Psalms 89:34 NKJV

Here God is saying He is not going to change His covenant. So did God change His covenant at the cross? Well let’s look at God’s covenant in the Old Testament. Of course a covenant is a promise. So what were God’s promises?

In Genesis 3:15 God promises a Savior.

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel. Genesis 3:15 NKJV

Did God change this promise at the cross? Of course not. He fulfilled this promise at the cross.

In Genesis 12:1-3 God promises Abram a Savior, among many things. 

Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3 NKJV

Were any of these promises done away with at the cross? Not at all. As a matter of fact we read in Galatians,

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29 NKJV.

The NLT makes it even more clear at to exactly what this means. 

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. Galatians 3;29 NLT 

Instead of God’s covenant to Abraham being changed, it was extended to everyone who believes. 

At Sinai God makes a promise,

You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:4-6 NKJV

In the original manuscripts the word “obey” is “Shama.” It means to listen. The word “keep” is “shamar.” it means to regard, care for or treasure. God says.”Keep my covenant,” and we know that God’s covenant is a promise. How are supposed to keep God’s promise? We aren’t. God is telling us to listen to His voice and treasure His promise! The word “shamar” is also used in Genesis when Adam was told to shamar the garden, or keep the garden. Was Adam told to obey the garden? No, of course not. He was told to regard, treasure and care for the garden. In this passage God is telling His people to treasure His covenant promises, and by thus doing, they will be His special people,  made holy, preserved from corruption, a kingdom of priests. Was this promise changed after the cross?

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

Once again we see that God’s covenant does not change from Old Testament to New Testament. Everything promised in the Old Testament becomes reality in the New Testament – as  long as we trust in His great and precious promises. That’s because God’s covenant given to Adam, Abram and Moses is an eternal covenant as expressed in Psalm 89:34. This is why Monday’s lesson of last week brought out that the “New” Covenant was actually a renewing of the everlasting covenant God originally gave to Adam, Abram and Moses. When God spoke of a “new” covenant in Jeremiah 31, He used the word, “hadashah,” which means to renew. Abram forsook God’s everlasting covenant when he took Hagar as his wife. He stopped trusting God’s promises and covenant and tried working things out on his own. At Sinai instead of trusting God’s promises, Israel started making their own promises, saying, “All that God said we will do.” (See Exodus 19:8) This original Covenant was never the problem. God’s Covenant was never intended to be about legalism. The original Covenant God made  was all about grace. Hebrews 8:8 says the problem was with the people. They started making their own promises instead of trusting God’s great and precious promises. When people kept trying to make their own promises and work things out on their own, God had to renew the original covenant all the way back in Genesis 3:15, which is based on better promises – God’s promises, rather than people’s promises. For more see Better Promises Make a Better Covenant. When Paul speaks of the old covenant I believe he means “old” as in “useless.” because our promises are useless. Paul is not referring to the original everlasting covenant as the old covenant. He is referring to the legalistic covenant that man made at Sinai as the old covenant as in useless. Man made covenants are useless in both Old and New Testaments.

The “New” Covenant of grace is actually the everlasting covenant of grace found all the way through both the Old and New Testaments, beginning in Genesis 3:15. God never changed this covenant. But He renewed this covenant whenever people tried to change covenants by making their own promises. The “New” Covenant is the original everlasting covenant, which  is God making promises to man. The “old” Covenant, which is a useless covenant, is a covenant man made after God made the everlasting Covenant.  When Abram took Hagar, he was making his own legalistic covenant apart from God’s everlasting covenant. The same for the Jews when they promised at Sinai that they themselves would do what God had promised. 

Some have the idea that the law is the Old Covenant ,while grace is the New Covenant. However when Paul said, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” in Romans 3:20, Paul was not saying anything new. Paul was stating a truth as everlasting as the original covenant. No one was ever saved by the law before or after the cross. This is clearly seen in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve tried to make their own fig leaves to cover themselves. Their fig leaves proved useless in God’s sight just as the deeds of the law. In Genesis 3:21 an animal had to die to cover Adam and Eve. This represents Jesus dying on the cross – which is the everlasting covenant. So throughout the Old Testament we see the new or renewed covenant whenever God is promising mankind His grace. Throughout the New Testament we see the renewed or everlasting covenant. Maybe we could clear up a lot of confusion by just calling the New Covenant the Everlasting Covenant, and calling the Old Covenant the “useless covenant.” Remember the New Covenant is the renewing of the original everlasting covenant based on better promises-God’s promises. 

While we have grace in the Everlasting Covenant. we also have the law in the Everlasting Covenant. This is why I really appreciate how Thursday’s lesson of last week brought out how the new covenant was not about new laws, but about a new heart. 

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27 NKJV

God does not give us new laws. He gives us new hearts that will trust His promises instead of relying on self. God changes our hearts so that we can keep and cherish all the promises God makes for us in His law. In the Ten Commandments God promises He will deliver us from bondage so we won’t need any other gods before us. He promises to fulfil all our temporal and emotional needs so we won’t need to steal or commit adultery. He promises us a weekly Sabbath rest to always remind us to never rely on our own works. 

After all the problem at Sinai was not the law, it was the promises the people were making. Again that is why Paul said the fault was with “them” in Hebrews 8:8. When God renews His Everlasting Covenant we will be keeping the law with all our new hearts.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV 

Now in Jeremiah 31:32 God talks about Israel breaking the covenant when He led them out of Egypt. They broke God’s covenant when they went about to establish their own covenant promises. God never asked them to make their own promises. Remember in Exodus 19:4-6 God asks them to cherish His promises. The useless covenant is mankind promising God. The Everlasting and Re-Newed Everlasting Covenant is God promising man. By God’s Everlasting Promises of grace in both the Old and New Testaments we have salvation from sin, and are given new hearts that can keep or Shamar, cherish the everlasting law. We escape the corruption in the world by cherishing God’s great and everlasting promises. 

by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:4 NKJV

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Video: Abraham, the Gospel and the New Covenant

The book of Hebrews makes it clear that the problem with the first covenant was not the law, it was the legalism of the people, “them.” Through the new covenant, God writes the law in our hearts.

“For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah— not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Hebrews 8:7-10

Love is why we Have to

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Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:10 NLT 

A young grade school boy and his daddy were walking down a country road, when they noticed a car pull over to the shoulder a few hundred meters up the road. The passenger door opened, and a little puppy fell out the door into the ditch near the shoulder of the road. The boy watched in amazement as the car then sped off. The boy ran to the aid of the little puppy. He found the puppy whining and confused as well as looking malnourished. When the father finally caught up to the boy, the boy firmly told his daddy, “I know you may not let me keep him, but we have to take him home and feed him right now!” 

What did the little boy mean by “we have to?” How did an abandoned puppy suddenly became his problem? Was there some law written in stone that the boy had to rescue this poor dog? As a matter fact there was a law, but it was not written in stone. The only reason why the boy said, “we have to” is because there was a law written on that little boy’s heart. 

In Luke 10:30-37 Jesus tells a familiar story we call today, “The Good Samaritan.” In the story both the Levi and the priest knew the law of God which was written in stone, but yet they passed by a suffering brother, because that law was not written on their hearts. Then a Samaritan walks by who has the law of love written on his heart. He at once recognized what he had to do, not because of the law written in stone but because it was a law of love tugging at his heart strings. Like puppet strings, his heart strings controlled his behavior. Love and compassion were written on his heart and controlled his behavior. 

Writing God’s law of love on our heart is not new to the New Testament. the goal was never to have the law of love written on stone. The ultimate goal was always to have the law written on our hearts. This goes back to the Old Testament. 

But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Jeremiah 31:33 NLT 

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 NLT 

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 NLT

True justice must be given to foreigners living among you and to orphans, and you must never accept a widow’s garment as security for her debt. Deuteronomy 24:17 NLT

In the Old Testament as well as today, God does not just want the letter of the law written on stone. He wants the spirit of the law written on our hearts. That means showing love and compassion for a little puppy that will never be able to help you. It means showing love and compassion for a neighbor or foreigner who would probably just spit on you and pass you by if the situation was reversed.  

This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3 NLT 

A Samaritan had to rescue a foreigner left to die in a ditch, a young boy had to rescue a helpless puppy, not because of a law carved in stone. They had to because the law was etched upon their hearts. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

Negative Feelings Play a Positive Role in our Salvation

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

For it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Hebrews 10:4 NLT 

To me, a lot is said in the brief passage above. It tells me no one was ever saved by the Old Covenant. Those who lived and died before Jesus came were never saved by the law or by the Old Covenant. Before and after the cross everyone is saved by grace and by the New Covenant. The same law of ten commandments exist in both the Old and New Testament while it never saved anyone in the Old or New Testament. Obedience has always been the goal in both the Old and New Covenant but it was never the means to attaining salvation. It is grace that gives us obedience. See Ephesians 2:8-10

The purpose of the animal sacrifices were to help those in Old Testament times to look forward to the cross of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Many animal rights activists and animal lovers have wondered why God would design a daily sacrificial system where countless animals would be killed everyday. What we need to understand is it was not God’s plan for countless animals to be killed every day. In Exodus 12:1-6 God tells the people to take a lamb into their home on the 10th day of the month but not to kill it until the 14th day. Why did God want the lamb in their home for four days before sacrificing it? I believe it gave them time to fall in love with their little pet so that it would break their hearts to have to sacrifice it. It was not God’s plan for countless animals to be sacrificed. It was God’s plan that the sacrifice would break their hearts and they would turn from sin. Just as Samuel told Saul,

Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22 NLT 

I can’t really blame those in the Old Testament who became callous in regard to the daily animal sacrifices. A while back I was praying to God and casually thanked Him for sending Jesus to die for me. As soon as I said “Thank you for dying for me” I realized I had just said that as casually as I would thank someone who bought my lunch! I had to remind myself of the awesome sacrifice Jesus made for me on the cross, and that He deserved more of a thank you than someone who just treated me to lunch. As someone participating in the New Covenant I need to allow myself to fully grasp the awfulness of my sin. This is hard when we are conditioned these days to “stay positive” and avoid being negative. We love popular preachers who motivate us and make us feel good about ourselves. But do negative feelings and emotions still have a part in our New Covenant lives? James says they do.

Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. James 4:9 NLT 

Negative feelings and emotions play a positive role in our lives. They bring us to true repentance and true salvation which brings us to true joy. They teach us to avoid sin which destroys true joy. 

So I don’t become callous to the blood of Jesus the way many in Old Testament times became callous to the blood of animals, I need to keep fresh in my mind the reality of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. No wonder so many inspired hymn writers wrote, “Jesus keep me near the cross,” and “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died. My richest gain I count as loss and pour contempt on all my pride.” And “my trophies at last I lay down, I will cling to the old rugged cross.” No wonder an inspired author wrote, 

It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross. -Ellen White, Desire of Ages, Page 83. 

This is my prayer…

Dear Jesus I am sorry for the times I thanked you for dying for me the same casual way I thank someone for buying my lunch. Also I want to express how deeply I appreciate your awesome sacrifice not just by my words or even tears alone. I need the power of your blood to not only forgive my sins but to also empower me to live a life of obedience and thanksgiving. I want everything I do to shout “I love you Jesus!” In the name of Jesus I pray, amen. 

You may study this week’s Sabbath School lesson here.

10: The New Covenant -Sabbath School Teaching Plan

10: The New Covenant – Teaching Plan

Posted on  by Michael Frackeravatar

Key Thought: The new covenant is a greater, more complete, and better revelation of the plan of redemption. It is based on a faith that manifests itself in obedience to a law written in our hearts.
June 5, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 31:31-34.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What parallels exist between the old and new covenants?
  3. Personal Application:: How was the second covenant better? Could there be a danger in taking grace for granted? Why or why not? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states, “What does it mean to have the law written within our hearts? Does that mean it is the law of love Jesus was talking about replacing the Ten Commandments?” How would you respond to your friend?

2. Have a volunteer read Hosea 2:18-20.

  1. Ask class members to share a thought on what the most important point in this text is.
  2. What imagery is used here ny God about the nature of the covenant?
  3. Personal Application: Because we know more revealed through Jesus, shouldn’t we be even more faithful than Israel was? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your friends states, “I want a new heart. I want the law written in my heart – but I don’t know how to get it.” How would you respond to your friend?

3. Have a volunteer read Isaiah 56:6,7.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What were the conditions Isaiah placed on those who wanted to serve the Lord?
  3. Personal Application: What is the advantage of having the law in our hearts rather than on tables of stone? Which one is easier to forget? Which one is easier to obey? Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: One of your relatives states: “Why does God keep entering into covenant relationships with mankind? We keep breaking them. We keep sinning and rebelling. Why doesn’t God just give up on us?“ How would you respond to your relative?

4. Have a volunteer read Hebrews 8:7,8 ; 10:4..

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What was wrong with the Old Covenant? Did God make a bad agreement?
  3. Personal Application: What relationship does the New Covenant have to do with the Heavenly Sanctuary?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

6: Abraham’s Seed-Teaching Plan

6: Abraham’s Seed – Teaching Plan

Prepared by William Earnhardt

Key Thought: God’s true Israel is the people of faith: persons who live in a spiritual covenant relationship with Him.
May 8, 2021

1. Have a volunteer read Ezekiel 16:8Deuteronomy 7:6

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the most important point is in this passage.
  2. What made Israel special to God?
  3. Personal Application: What message do Seventh-day Adventists have that is special? Why do we need to be careful not to think we are automatically saved just because we are Adventists? See Jeremiah 7:3-7 and Matthew 7:21-23.
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor asks you why you keep the Sabbath, saying it was only given to the Jews as a sign they were God’s people. What do you tell your neighbor?

2. Have a volunteer read Jeremiah 11:8.

  1. Ask class members to share what the main idea of this text is?
  2. What are the blessings of the covenant? What are the curses?
  3. Personal Application: What role does obedience play concerning our entering the promised land? For example Israel lost some of their land to Babylon and Rome due to disobedience. Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden by grace with no works of their own yet they lost it by disobedience. What lesson is there for us concerning entering the promised land and new earth?
  4. Case Study: Your neighbor tells you his pastor says once you are saved there is no way you can be lost. What do you say to your neighbor? What Bible passages do you share?

3. Have a volunteer read Galatians 3:26-29.

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What promises are we heirs to? What happened to make us heirs to these promises?
  3. Personal Application: What does Paul mean by we are no longer Jew or gentile or male and female? Why is it important in light of today’s current issues to know exactly what Paul meant?
  4. Case Study: Your friend tells you that the literal nation of Israel is still God’s special nation. What do you tell your friend? What Bible passages do you use? For example was Peter talking to Jews only in 1 peter 2:9? Why or why not?

4. Have a volunteer read Deuteronomy 28:1,15

  1. Ask class members to share a short thought on what the main idea of this text is.
  2. What land was to be given and what were the obligations of the recipients?
  3. Personal Application: What promised land is given in the New Covenant? What conditions do we have in getting there?” Share your thoughts.
  4. Case Study: Think of one person who needs to hear a message from this week’s lesson. Tell the class what you plan to do this week to share with them.

(Truth that is not lived, that is not imparted, loses its life-giving power, its healing virtue. Its blessings can be retained only as it is shared.”Ministry of Healing, p. 148).

The Day God’s Love Made the Universe Stand Still

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

There is a saying, “kids who are loved at home come to school to learn. Kids who are not loved at home come to school to be loved.” Is it any different in Sabbath School? Is it also true that God’s children (ages 0-125) who know they are loved come to Sabbath school to learn, and those who don’t yet know they are loved, come to Sabbath School to be loved?

I can still remember sitting at my desk in my 4th-grade classroom at Tulsa Adventist Academy, listening to my teachers, Miss Fisher and Mrs. Krueger, lecturing us about something. I don’t really remember exactly what it was about, but we must have been struggling with our grades, because all I remember is, both teachers told us, “If you only learn one thing this year learn this. We love you!”  Now we were loved at home. We were loved at church and school, but as educated as my teachers were, they knew the most important thing is not money or a degree. It’s love. Without that nothing else matters, and when you know you are loved, nothing can stop you!

For the love of Christ controls and compels us, because we have concluded this, that One died for all, therefore all died (2 Corinthians 5:14 Amplified Bible)

So while humanity tries harder, and reads self-help books and tries 12-step recovery programs, Paul says it is by looking at the cross and knowing we are loved that we get all our power to succeed. I remember John the Baptist telling everyone to “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. John 1:29. He didn’t tell them to try harder next time. He told them to look at the Lamb. Let His love soak into you.

As legalistic humans we are always wanting to promise to try harder next time. But the answer is not promising to try harder. The answer is letting yourself be loved.

In Jeremiah God mentions how Israel had not kept the promises they had made, so He was going to make a better promise. His promise would be better because He is the the One making the promise instead of them. He is the perfect Promise-maker while we are lousy promise-makers!

“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel after those days,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33 NLT)

So God promises to do for us what we could never even promise to do for ourselves, much less even try harder to make happen. God is the One promising, and He is the One who is accountable to make it so. Please notice something very important though. Its in Jeremiah 31:3 NLT, several verses before He promises to write His law on our hearts.

I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

Just like my teachers realized all the book knowledge in the world doesn’t mean a thing without love, God feels the same way. Knowing all the laws and having them memorized in your mind and knowing them all by heart doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t know how much God loves you!

Friends, there is no reason for you to promise God you are going to try harder and do better next time. He has already promised you! We don’t need to promise God what He has already promised us! What? I don’t have any work to do myself? Well yes, and I will let Jesus tell you Himself, exactly what your work is.

 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29 NLT

Our work is to believe God’s promise that He loves us with an everlasting love, and He will place the principles of His love (also known as His law) in our hearts!

This is why John never told us to try harder! Just look at the Lamb and let His love soak into your heart till your heart is saturated with His love, which is also His law. You don’t need to promise God anything. Your work is to believe the promises God has made to you!

In 2017, I don’t need too many self-help books. I don’t need to try harder. I just need to look at the Lamb in 2017 and fall in love with Jesus! His love will change me in ways I could never change myself. After all, all the self help books and promises of better performance don’t mean a thing without love!

So just how good is God at keeping His promises to love and save us? For brevity, let me share one example. You can read about it in Joshua 9-10.

The Gibeonites used deceit to trick Israel into letting them in on the covenant God had made with them. Even though Israel was not supposed to make a covenant with anyone living as close as the Gibeonites, they did. Later when the Gibeonites were under attack, they called upon Israel to save them, and even though the Gibeonites had used deceit to secure this covenant, God was so relentless in keeping His promise of love, that He caused the sun to stand still until the Gibeonites were all rescued! God fought for Israel as Israel fought for the mischievous Gibeonites. Let that soak in. The Gibeonites were in no way worthy of any of God’s blessings, but God was still so loving and faithful to His promise that He made the sun stand still until they were all rescued! Talk about a love that moves heaven and earth! And this powerful love was given to the most undeserving people! So, scientifically speaking, the greatest power in the universe is not gravity or the suctioning power of the black hole. God’s love overruled all those powers and made the solar system stand still. Imagine what this love can do in your heart! 

God’s powerful promises and love are also for you and me. In Hebrews 13:5 God promises to never leave us or forsake us, but the Amplified Bible is the only English version that even begins to grasp what God is actually promising.

for He has said, “I will never under any circumstances desert you nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless, nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you- assuredly not!” Hebrews 13:5 Amp version.

If we know we are loved we can come to Sabbath School to learn, and we can learn while we are loved, but we can’t learn without love.

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:2 NLT

—and the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT 

You may study this week’s SS lesson here. 

Galatians; An Overview

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

To read the book of Galatians click here.  To read this week’s SS lesson click here.

For the Sabbath School lesson phone app. click here.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7

In Paul’s day people were already perverting the gospel. How do you pervert the gospel? Put self in it.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  Galatians 2:20

Notice the pure gospel that Paul preaches has no self in it. He preaches a “Not I but Christ” gospel. So many people pervert the gospel by adding self. I have heard parents tell their kids, “Do the best you can do, and then when you have done your best Jesus will help you with the rest.” That is a me plus Christ gospel. The gospel is not me plus Christ, it is not I but Christ. Zero me. 100% Christ.

While at an Oklahoma Adventist Camp meeting, ,many moons ago, I heard a minister tell a story. Sorry I don’t remember his name, but I will never forget the story. It went like this. A man was on his way to a breakfast diner. There was one parking space left open by the front door. The man started for the space when he saw a man coming the other way who wanted the same space. The first man’s first reaction was to give it the gas and take the closest spot before the other man got there. But he had yielded himself to Christ that morning, so he let off the gas, let the other guy take the spot while he drove farther down and parked. When he got inside, the second man thanked him for letting him have the closer spot. The first man said, “That was not me.” The second man said well then who was it? The first man said, “It was Jesus. I would have taken the closer parking space!” So you see, whenever we do something right, we can be sure of one thing, it was not me. It was Jesus. Not I but Christ.

We also pervert the gospel when we add self effort, which is legalism by the way, and we also add legalism when we replace God’s law with manmade laws. We also pervert the gospel when we add lies. For example, John 3:16 says the unbeliever will perish, but many tell the lie that they will be tormented for all eternity instead. Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death, not eternal torment in hell.

We also pervert the gospel when we alter our preaching or worship services to please the ego of man. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Gal 2:16

Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:3

These verses make it clear we are not saved by the works of the flesh but by the faith of Jesus. Notice it is not even our own faith that saves us. It is the faith of Jesus!

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6

Faith does not do away with good works, faith works. It works by love. The legalistic motivation of hoping for a reward or avoiding punishment are gone. We work, but not to get to heaven or stay out of hell. We work because we love Jesus because He first loved us!

 [This] I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  Galatians 5:16-17

The spirit gives us victory over the flesh. The flesh is legalism. Some have the idea that legalism is where you keep God’s law. The law is a part of the gospel too. The difference is how it is achieved. With legalism we keep the law by our own power for our own glory. With the gospel we keep the law by God’s power for His glory.

Galatians 4 made this clear. For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he [who was] of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman [was] by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.  Galatians 4:22-24

God promised Abraham a son. All Abraham had to do was believe and the son would be born. Some people have told me Abraham still had to do something  as this was not a virgin birth. Think about it. Sara’s womb was dead, so it might as well have been a virgin birth. All God needed was Abraham to trust His promise. This is God’s covenant, where we trust His promises. Abraham though set out to make his own covenant based on his own effort and too Hagar to wife. Abraham had to be circumcised so he could cast away the confidence he had in his own flesh. He trusted his own flesh to do that which God promised to do for and through him. ‘

Notice, the end result is still a child being born. The difference is Abraham’s way had self in it. When Abraham learned to trust God’s promise there was fruit and the fruit was real. So today, when we cast away the confidence in our own flesh, we will have fruit. Some think that when we get rid of legalism that we get rid of standards. The gospel does not get rid of standards. It helps us reach those standards, by trusting God instead of the works of the flesh.

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.  Galatians 5:24-26

Again, with the gospel we put away the effort and pride of the flesh and we reap the fruit of the work of the Spirit for the glory of God.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14