Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sabbath School Insights No. 7, Qtr 4-06

Special Insights No. 7

Fourth Quarter 2006 Adult Sabbath School Lessons

“Beginnings and Belongings”

(Produced by the Editorial Board of the 1888 Message Study Committee)

“The Man Abram”


When God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees He sought to make him the nucleus of His church. God has ever called His people out of the world so that He may use them to evangelize the world. The church is to be in the world but not of the world.


And so God made a sevenfold promise to Abram. “The Abrahamic covenant is a covenant of grace and salvation.” “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee; and (1) I will make of thee a great nation, and (2) I will bless thee, and (3) make thy name great; and (4) be thou a blessing; and (5) I will bless them that bless thee, and (6) him that curseth thee will I curse; and (7) in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:1-3, R. V.).


God literally promised Abram the world. Through him families would be benefited. God is in the business of building His spiritual nation by means of the church. These seven beatitudes are to be received by faith in the crucified Christ.


The Apostle Paul plainly states that God preached the Gospel of Christ to Abram. “The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached beforehand the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all the nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham” (Gal. 3:8, 9, R. V.).


Abram was a Gentile at the time God made this promise to him. He was not a Hebrew or Israelite. There was no such thing. So the promise of God was for Gentiles through the line of Abram.


The blessing included God’s justification of the Gentiles by faith. Abraham was faithful in believing God’s promise. He experienced the justification of God by faith. Likewise, along with God, he became a preacher of righteousness. And wherever he announced the good news of God’s deliverance and forgiveness of sins, Gentiles who believed were benefited by Christ.


The gospel message which God proclaimed to Abram was “In thee shall all the nations be blessed.” The Gospel is the power of God revealed in Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:17, 18). God revealed to Abram “a distinct knowledge” “of the salvation that would be accomplished through Christ” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 125).


After Abram sojourned in Haran evangelizing the people of the environs a large number attached themselves to his entourage as fellow believers. Then Terah, his father, died and the Lord called him to journey onward to Canaan. It was here the Lord announced: “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Gen. 12:7).


The promise of the land by God is to “thy seed.” Paul understood this seed to be Christ. “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16). The heir of God’s promise to Abram is Christ. And so Abram was a firm believer in the fulfillment of God’s promises through Christ. He was a thorough-going Christian from the outset of his faith. God preached Christ crucified to Abram.


This promise of God was for all who would believe in Christ crucified like faithful father Abram. “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:27-29).


Please note that the covenant is explicitly called God’s promise. When God makes the promise, He underwrites its fulfillment. He expects no promises in return from the human side. His promise is to be believed.


It is of crucial note that the promise of the land delivered to Abram was never his to experience while he was yet living. For according to Stephen the prophet “... He gave him [Abraham] none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on; yet He promised that He would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child” (Acts 7:5).


God’s promise of salvation in Christ crucified was always connected with the inheritance of the land. And, yet, Abram never so much as set foot on the promised land. Did the promise of God fail? Not at all. For Abram believed not only in a crucified Redeemer, but also in a resurrected Lord.


The Apostle Peter announced: “Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:25, 26). So Abram received the blessing of the land by faith in a crucified and risen Saviour. As God had proclaimed this wonderful gospel to Abram so he was faithful in teaching it to others.


Abram was so much a Christian that our Lord proclaimed to the Jews of His day, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56). Abram was the original Christian. He truly lived in the gospel dispensation as verily as do we.


Furthermore, his faith was in Christ who is the true High Priest in the true heavenly tabernacle made without hands. Abram acknowledged the greater priesthood of Melchisedec, King of peace and righteousness, by paying tithes to him (Heb. 7:2). Melchisedec was a type of the priesthood of Christ (6:20). So Abram worshiped God not in tents made with hands, but through the spiritual service of the heavenly sanctuary. By faith Christ communicated His righteousness to our father Abram in a communion established upon a heart union which appreciated the sacrifice of the Son of God.


It was the message that the Lord in His great mercy sent to “us” in 1888 that clarified for us how the gospel of the New Covenant was proclaimed to Abram. The message defined what “faith” is—a heart response to the love revealed in the cross of Christ.

Paul Penno


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