Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor


By signing up for the course, participants are agreeing to the commitment under "course description."  Point out the course requirements and procedure at sign-up.  Emphasize the instruction not to read ahead but to complete each exercise before moving to the next.  Participants may use the instructor's lesson sets only after that session.

Make sure participants have the first lesson at least one week prior to the first session.

Prompt participation in meetings by asking questions and assigning different participants passages to read aloud or parts to lead in class participation.  Leaders should work through each lesson themselves before going through the instructor's materials.  The ultimate goal is not only that each participant have a clear understanding of the heart of the Bible, but that each be able to lead others (friends, family, etc.) along the same path of discovery.

Absentees are expected to complete their lessons and go over them with another participant before the next session.

True or False - understanding the promises to Abraham and his descendants is one key to understanding the New Testament.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 1

·        A correct understanding of Abraham's four seeds is key to harmonizing Scripture.

Abraham is one of the most significant individuals in Scripture.

He is the only man who was ever called "the friend of God" (Isa.41:8; Jas.2:23) by any writer of Scripture.  Paul uses his friendship with God to prove the pattern of "salvation or justification by grace through faith" for all believers of all ages (Rom.4).

All of Scripture from Genesis 12 to the end of the Book of Revelation is the story of Abraham and his "seed" as that seed relates to the rest of mankind.

Apart from Adam, no two men in all of Scripture or History are related to each other as are Abraham and Christ as it concerns their "seed."

Every blessing of God experienced by the Nation of Israel was because of God's promise to Abraham.  In fact, they were delivered from Egypt and formed into a nation at Sinai because of their physical relationship to Abraham.

…and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them.  Ex.2:23-25

6"For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.  7It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.  Dt.7:6-8

Why did Christ come into this world? (Lk.1:72-73)  "To show mercy to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath He swore to our father Abraham."

The apostles preached the gospel as the fulfillment of the covenant that God made with Abraham.

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

Understanding the book of Galatians requires grasping the significance of Abraham and his relationship to believers today.  All who are "of faith" are "Abraham's children" (Gal.3:7), and are "blessed with faithful Abraham" (3:9).  Christ died on the cross so that "the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles" (3:14).

Abraham enjoyed God's inheritance of justification by faith in the gospel promise concerning Christ (Gal.3:6-9, 18), and all who believe the same gospel message today enjoy the same inheritance of justification because by faith we are Abraham's true seed and the true "heirs with him according to the promise" (3:29).

·        The whole of the history of redemption revolves around "Abraham and his seed."

EXERCISE - Read the following passages and mark (underline, highlight, etc.) God’s promises to Abraham.  (Gen.12:1-7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-8)

1Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.  2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that [purpose or result] you will be a blessing.  3I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”… 6Abram passed through the land…At that time the Canaanites were in the land.  7Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land."  Gen.12:

14The LORD said to Abram…"Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.  16 I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.  17Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you."  Gen.13:

1…the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: "Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great."  2But Abram said, "O Lord GOD, what will you give me, for I continue childless…4And behold, the word of the LORD came to him…“your very own son shall be your heir.”  5And he brought him outside and said, "Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them."  Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."  6And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.

7And he said to him, "I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess [purpose]."  8But he said, "O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?"  9He said to him, "Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon."  10And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half.  11And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

12As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him.  13Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.  14But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  15As for yourself, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age.  16And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." [a detailed account of the future]

17When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.  18On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19the land of…"  Gen.15:

1When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly"…4"Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.  5No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.  6I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.  7And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  8And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God."  Gen.17:

What in the above passages is most difficult for you to understand?  The everlasting nature of the covenant and permanent possession of the land (Gen.13:15; 17:7-8, 13)

Why?  Because people die, they cannot enjoy the benefits of either the covenant or the land forever in a physical sense.  Even if people could live forever, life as we know it gets old, we grow weary of it and long for something better [message of Ecclesiastes].

Who was included under the umbrella of the covenant God made with Abraham (Gen.17:9-14)?  Abraham’s entire household (non-genetic relations) as well as his children.

9And God said to Abraham, "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations.  10This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  11You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  12He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised.  Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring, 13both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised.  So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.  14Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant."  Gen.17:

Who was the covenant with (Gen.17:15-21)?  Isaac, not Ishmael

15…"As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  16I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her.  I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her."  17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old?  Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"  18And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!"  19God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him.  20As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly.  He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation.  21But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year."  Gen.17:

What is the difference between being included under (covered by) the covenant and being the one with whom the covenant is made?  The blessings and promises belong to the covenant heir and the benefits spill over to the proximate community.

Give instances where God guarded Abram and Sarai in order to keep His promises.  In Egypt when Pharaoh took Sarai, and again when king Abimelech took her; when Abram rescued Lot in a military action; when Sarah bore Isaac.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 2

The Scriptures make it clear that there is an important distinction between Abraham's "seed" (singular) and "seeds" (plural).  Paul argues that the real promise that God made was to Abraham and a specific singular seed and not plural seeds.  The following text is crucial to a correct understanding of Paul's use of the OT promise of God to Abraham and his seed:

Now to Abraham and his seed [singular] were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds [plural] as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.  Gal.3:16

Although we may discuss exactly what promises Paul was talking about, what is certain is that the seed to whom the true promises were made [object of the promises] must be singular.  What does the "seed of Abraham to whom the promises were made" have to do with physical birth (Mt.1:1)?  He would be in Abraham’s genetic line.

Mark the apparent contradiction between Heb.6:13-15 and Heb.11:13 & 39?

13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you."  15And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.  Heb.6:13-15

13These [including Abraham] all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth…39And all these, [including Abraham] though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised.  Heb.11:13 & 39

What conduct do both sets of passages urge us to if we expect to receive the blessing promised?  Imitation of Abraham's persevering faith

Summarize the OT events that the Heb.6 passage is referring to and identify the promised blessing it is referring to.  God called Abram from a pagan culture and promised to bless him with children, land, and a great legacy.  His wife was barren and after they both grew old God promised them a son.  Sarah bore Isaac.

According to the Heb.6 passage, what kind of promised blessings did Abraham and his descendants receive?  Physical, earthly, temporal

What do the Heb.11 passages refer to and what makes you think so?  The coming of Christ; “having seen them [the things promised] and greeted them from afar” (v.13) refers to “their faith” (v.39) “…Abraham rejoiced that he would see My day.  He saw it and was glad [unlike the Jews confronting Jesus].” (Jn.8:56); “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring [singular].  It does not say, ‘And to descendants,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.” (Gal.3:16); [the law of Moses was in effect] until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made” (Gal.3:19); “think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Mt.5:17)

Do the Heb.6 & 11 passages refer to two different promises?  Yes & no – 2 different aspects: (1) the physical which visibly pledges and testifies to (2) the spiritual [both were supernatural events]

Identify Abraham’s offspring in Gal.3:7-4:7.

7Know then that it is those of faith [regardless of ethnicity] who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed." 9So then, those who are of faith [all the nations being blessed is explained as meaning all believers from any nation] are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

10For all who rely on works of the law [whether Jews or Gentiles] are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." 11Now it is evident that no one [neither Jews nor Gentiles] is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous [whether Jews or Gentiles] shall live by faith." 12But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them [laws, commandments]." 13Christ redeemed us [all believers] from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we [all believers] might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

15To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16Now the promises [of God] were made to Abraham and to his offspring [singular]. It does not say, "And to descendants [plural]," referring to many, but referring to one, "And to your offspring," who is Christ. 17This is what I mean: the law [covenant with the Israelites], which came [through Moses] 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise [to Abram and His seed] void. 18For if the inheritance comes by the [covenant of] law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

19Why then the law [Mosaic covenant]? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring [Christ] should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place [administered] through angels [Dt.33:2; Acts 7:53; Heb.2:2] by an intermediary [Moses, Ex.20:19-22]. 20Now an intermediary implies more than one [at least two parties are involved – God and Israel], but God is one [the promise is unilateral].

21Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin [keeping laws could not make righteous because sin had already tainted everything], so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to [all] those who believe [regardless of ethnicity].

23Now before faith came [the Gospel of righteousness through faith in Christ], we were held captive under [the righteousness requirements of] the law, imprisoned [by inability to keep the law] until the coming faith would be revealed. 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian [the obligations of a covenant of law], 26for in Christ Jesus you are all [believing Jews and Gentiles] sons of God, through faith. 27For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus [a new corporate identity]. 29And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring [singular], heirs [plural] according to promise.

1I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3In the same way we [all people] also, when we were children [historically before Christ came], were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world [weak and poor elements, 4:9 – observing days, months, seasons, years, 4:10]. 4But  when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman [Gen.3:15], born under the law [requirements of the law covenant], 5to redeem those who were under [the curse of] the law, so that we [Jews and Gentiles] might receive adoption as sons. 6And because you [Jew and Gentile believers] are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our [believing] hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!" 7So you [believer] are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Gal.3:7-4:7

What is the subject of the discussion in Gal.3:7-4:7?  Justification by faith - God’s redemption of a people for Himself

Identify some of the terms in the passage that point to this.  God would justify the Gentiles (3:8); blessed, blessing; promise, promised; adoption as sons, son, heir, heirs; inheritance

What is the content of the promises?  Reception of the Holy Spirit (3:14; 4:6); inheritance (3:29; 4:7)

What is the nature of the blessing?  Salvation

What progression relating to believers takes place in the Gal. passage?  From being children no different than slaves to being sons and heirs; from being sons of Abraham to being Children of God

·        What further conclusion(s) about the Bible’s coverage of God’s dealing with Abraham can be drawn from the above answers?  God uses the historic account to teach people about relating to Him and the NT reveals how to understand the use and meaning of Scripture.

Categorize Abraham’s descendants.  Physical (all his children and their descendants, including Christ) and spiritual (people who believe God like Abraham)

Further differentiate Abraham’s physical descendants.  Those who received the promises; those who were not heirs of the promises; the one to whom the promises refer.

·        Explain in detail what conclusion(s) about the Bible’s coverage of God’s dealing with Abraham can be drawn from the above sets of answers.  There is a depth of meaning that goes beyond the obvious historical account and language of physical blessing that relates to the Gospel and reveals something of God’s overall plans.  The promise of a seed to Abraham fulfilled when Isaac was born, but the real promise of a seed to Abraham was not fulfilled until Christ came.  Therefore the promise to Abraham must have both an immediate physical and an ultimate application.  However there are not two different things promised, but rather the physical aspect is the visible pledge and testimony to the spiritual or true promise [see RPCD chaps.1-3].  The spiritual aspect is the real thing promised and supersedes the physical aspect.

The true promise that God made and the real inheritance of that promise, are given to Abraham as the Father of Christ and not as the father of the Jews or the Church.  Believers inherit any blessing promised to Abraham because of their spiritual connection to Abraham.  Can physical birth relate us or our children to Abraham spiritually?  No.  Was this just as true in the OT as it is in the NT?  Yes, it was true for a Jew regardless of when he lived.

How must one be spiritually related to Abraham in order to receive any spiritual blessing promised to Abraham - physical birth? Circumcision? Baptism (Rom.9:11, 23-24)?  Union with Christ that is produced by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit because of electing grace is the only ground for any person’s being the object of any spiritual promise given to "Abraham and his seed."

Complete the chart.

Thing Promised

Physical Fulfillment

Spiritual Fulfillment



Christ, true seed



Church, true nation



Salvation rest, true land

Rom.9:3… my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.  4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.  5To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ

EXERCIZE: Design a question that gets at Paul’s purpose for the above passage, and answer it.

What did Paul accomplish in Rom.9:3-5?  He reiterated (from chap.2) the advantages of the physical Jewish [his own] heritage, both identifying with them and distinguishing himself from them.

6But it is not as though the word of God has failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named."  8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.  9For this is what the promise said: "About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son." Rom.9:

Explain what Rom.9:6-9 is getting at.  God’s rejection of physical Israel is not rejection of His true covenant people.

10And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—12she was told, "The older will serve the younger."  13As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

14What shall we say then?  Is there injustice on God’s part?  By no means!  15For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."  16So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.  17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."  18So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. Rom.9:

Sum up the argument in Rom.9:6-18.  God is sovereign and [since no one is righteous or deserving of salvation, 3:9-20] shows mercy to [redeems] those whom He chooses.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 3

19You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault?  For who can resist his will?"  20But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?  Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"  21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?  22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?  Rom.9:

Identify the vessels of wrath and the vessels of mercy (Rom.9:22-24) and explain why each is such.  Unbelievers and believers by God’s design

25As indeed he says in Hosea,
"Those who were not my people I will call 'my people,' and her who was not beloved I will call 'beloved.'"
26"And in the very place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' there they will be called 'sons of the living God.'"

Identify those described as “not My people” and explain (Rom.9:25-26).  Gentiles who were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel  Identify those described as “My people” (Rom.9:25-26).  believing Gentiles [see RPCD chap.5]

27And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
"Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, 28for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay."

29And as Isaiah predicted, "If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah."

Identify the believing Jews in Rom.9:27-29 and explain the meaning of v.28-29.  The remnant.  Judgment upon the unbelieving nation would have wiped it out completely if God had not procured a remnant.

30What shall we say, then?  That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law.  32Why?  Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.  They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame."

Identify the “stumbling stone” (Rom.9:33) and explain (see10:19 & 21; 11:7-10).  Jesus comes to a nation blinded to the truth and deaf to the words of God by their own unbelief, so they, with the exception of a few, despise the Messiah who brings salvation.

10:1Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.  2For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  3For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.  4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

What is the main problem in Rom.10:1?  Jews by physical descent are spiritually dead.

5For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them.  6But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).  8But what does it say?  "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame."  12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Explain the issue of salvation and qualifications upon it (Rom.10:5-13)?  The issue is always righteousness before God (v.5) which we cannot achieve, but can only embrace God’s provision of it by faith (v.6) in the resurrection lordship of Christ (v.9-10).  The riches of salvation (v.12) are bestowed exclusively upon those who turn to Christ (v.13).

14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  15And how are they to preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"  16But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?"  17So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

What phrase is used as a synonym for faith or belief in Rom.10:16?  Obey the gospel

18But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for
"Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."

What is Rom.10:18 talking about?  How do you know?  What message does “their voice” carry?  General revelation – the creation, specifically the “heavens,” act as a preacher, declaring the glory of God and thus allowing mankind to perceive something about God that is invisible, His eternal power and divinity (Rom.1:19-20).  The language and sentiment is recognizable as coming from Ps.19:1-6.  [This emphasizes the importance of general Bible knowledge and translation that maintains linguistic consistency.]

19But I ask, did Israel not understand?  First Moses says,
"I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry."

20Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,
"I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me."

21But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people."

Work out the logic of Rom.10:18-21.  The Jews had more than the general revelation everyone else had.  They had special revelation – the words and instructions of God proclaimed by a succession of prophets and God’s acts written and supposedly continuously and repeatedly taught throughout their history.  They cannot claim not to have heard or understood when even the “spiritually unenlightened” Gentiles got the limited revelation they were given.

11:1I ask, then, has God rejected his people?  By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.  Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?  3"Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life."  4But what is God’s reply to him?  "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal."  5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace.  6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

Explain Paul’s argument in Rom.11:1-6 and how Elijah’s situation (1 Ki.19:1-18) contributes to it.  Paul is showing that God has graciously kept a remnant of Hebrew people loyal to Himself and cites himself as an example.  It seems like He has rejected Israel just as it looked to Elijah in his tiredness, discouragement, and fear that he was the only God-fearing Israelite left in the whole land.

7What then?  Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking.  The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8as it is written,
"God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day."

9And David says,
"Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them;
10let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and bend their backs forever."

11So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall?  By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.  12Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Read carefully Rom.11:7-12 and note what you cannot explain.  Notice the strong language of sovereignty in v.7 (elect) and (were hardened) clarified in v.8 (God gave them a spirit of stupor explained as blindness and deafness).

13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry 14in order somehow to make my fellow Jews jealous, and thus save some of them.  15For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?  16If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Explain the paradox regarding God’s rejection of His people in Rom.11:1 and v.15a.  Reading further in Chap.11 helps.  God has given an open invitation (9:33b; 10:12-13; etc.) [see Approaching the Bible with Prejudice] and saved a remnant, but the majority were hardened.

17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches.  If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.  19Then you will say, "Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in."  20That is true.  They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.  21For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.  22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.  23And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree.

25Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
"The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob";
27"and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

 28As regards the gospel, they are enemies of God for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers.  29For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  30For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now] receive mercy.  32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

Work through Rom.11:17-32 and come prepared to discuss it.

33Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  34"For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?"
35"Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?"
 36For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen.

Rom.11:33-36 is a doxology, which is what exactly?  From the Greek doxa meaning glory, a hymn or expression of praise exalting God and His ways

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 4

In the following studies we will try to identify the seed "to whom the promises were made."1  The possibilities are:

(1) all of Abraham's physical children;
(2) the physical children of Jacob (Nation of Israel);
(3) Christian parents and their physical children;
(4) believers, period, in any age because of their relationship to Christ;
(5) Christ Himself; or
(6) a combination of the above.

What does Galatians 3:16 specifically argue?  that Abraham's seed is singular and refers to Christ alone

What does Galatians 3:29 argue?  all believers (plural) are Abraham's seed


1 The answers to the following questions are basic to an understanding of Abraham and the promises made to his seed and form the foundation of our approach to the whole Scripture.

1. Since it is obvious that all the natural children of Abraham are not "reckoned" as his seed as it applies to God's Covenant, to whom is Scripture referring to in the various passages when it speaks of "Abraham's seed?"

a.      Does "Abraham's seed" always refer to the same people?

b.     How many different meanings can it have?

c.      How do we know for sure which particular meaning or people is meant in a specific passage?  When does Abraham’s seed include the following?

(1) Isaac but not Ishmael
(2) Jacob but not Esau
(3) a Christian Gentile but not a Jew?

2. Considering what blessings were promised to Abraham's seed in the different passages, how would Ishmael, Isaac, Esau, Jacob, and a New Covenant Gentile believer fit into the answer to each of the following questions?

a.      Is the "blessing of Abraham" one thing, or is it more than one?

b.     Are there different "blessings" for different "seeds"?

c.      Do all of the different "seeds" of Abraham get some of the same "blessings"?

d.     Are some "blessings" given only to certain seeds?

e.      How do we know which particular blessing is meant in a specific passage?

3. What are the conditions upon which any specific blessing(s) will be realized by a particular seed?

a. Are some of the promises to Abraham and his seed made with "conditions" and others made "unconditionally"?  How do we know "which is which"?

b. Are some blessings automatically guaranteed by physical birth and other blessings obtained only by personal faith?

c. How do we know which particular "condition" applies to which blessing and which seed in a particular verse?

4. Are all of the promises made to Abraham "unconditional," (cannot be revoked once made) or are some of the promises so connected to other things that they are withdrawn under certain circumstances (revocable because the condition under which the promises were made changed)?

a. Are the promises that were made to Abraham and repeated to the Nation of Israel concerning the land of Palestine
   (1) now ended
   (2) spiritually fulfilled in the church
   (3) "postponed" to be fulfilled in a future earthly millennium?

 b. Which promises to Abraham's seed in the OT Scriptures do we spiritualize, and which ones are to be understood in natural language?

5. How do we apply the answers to these questions today respecting:

a.      The nature of the Church and its relationship to the Nation of Israel in the past, present, and future?

b.     The relationship of the Old Covenant to the New Covenant?

c.      The purpose and function of the law at Sinai and in the church today?

d.     The meaning and subjects of baptism and the relationship of baptism and circumcision?

e.      The relationship between church and state?

f.        Millennialism?


·        Actually, Abraham seeds fall into four distinct categories.

1.    Abraham’s NATURAL Seed.  This seed includes all of his physical progeny or every person who was in any way physically descended from Abraham.  The natural seed includes Ishmael, as well as Isaac; Esau, as well as Jacob; the Arabs, as well as the Jews; and Judas, as well as Paul.  In this sense, Gentile believers can never be Abraham's seed.  Some of the same promises were given to both Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham's sons.  The same is true of Jacob and Esau, Abraham's grandsons.

Ishmael received the covenant sign of circumcision on the same day as his father Abraham because he was Abraham's true son.

. . . In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and ISHMAEL his SON.  Gen.17:25-26

In Genesis 17:23, the Holy Spirit carefully distinguished between Ishmael as a true son and the slaves and servants in Abraham's household.  There is a marked similarity between the list of things promised to Ishmael in Gen.17:20 and the list promised to Abraham in Gen.17:6.  The fulfillment of the promise that Ishmael would become a "great nation" was rooted in the fact that Ishmael was truly "Abraham's seed."

 . . . and also of the son of the bondwoman [Ishmael] will I make a great nation, BECAUSE HE IS THY SEED.  Gen.21:13

Ishmael was blessed, was made fruitful, became a great nation, begat princes, and wore the sign of circumcision because he was "the seed of Abraham."2  However, in no sense was he ever under grace.

Esau received far more special blessings than Ishmael but Esau was still only one of Abraham's natural seeds.  Esau, Abraham's grandson and Jacob's twin brother wore the sign of the covenant of circumcision as did Ishmael and was as much his true son as was Jacob.  That Esau was not a true "covenant child" as was Jacob can be seen in the division of their respective promises (Rom.9:13).  God gave Esau a land grant just as He did to Jacob and refused to allow the Israelites to "meddle" with it.

Meddle not with them; for I will not give you their (Esau's descendants) land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.  Dt.2:5

Why was this land was given to Esau (Josh.24:1-4)?  because he was Abraham's seed whom God blessed in this way

Both Jacob and Esau were "blessed in faith" by their believing father Isaac (Heb.11:20).


2 Once the promised son, Isaac, had come with whom God made His covenant, Abraham had no expectations for his latter children as he did for Ishmael.  He neither requested nor received special blessings for them.

Gen.25:1Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.  2She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.  3Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan.  The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim.  4The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah.  All these were the children of Keturah.  5Abraham gave all he had to Isaac.  6But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.


2.    Abraham’s SPECIAL NATURAL Seed.  All of the natural children of Jacob became the "Nation of Israel."  Jacob, as the father of the Nation was given unique promises that Esau his twin brother was not given, even though Esau was just as much the physical "covenant seed of Abraham" as was Jacob.  This nation was a "special" or "chosen" nation before God.  Most of the people in that nation perished because of unbelief, but they were still a special natural seed of Abraham with special and unique promises from God which no other nation ever had.  However, despite their special national status before God as a physical nation, they were still only the fleshly natural seed of Abraham.  An unregenerate Israelite had no more claim or right to spiritual blessing than did Ishmael or Esau.

God's dealings with the nation of Israel was more involved than the "physical lineage" aspect (Dt.7:6-12; 8:19; 9:3-6; 10:12-15) – there was the connection with God's overall purposes and goal of salvation for His true elect.  The difference between Jacob and Esau was God's sovereign electing grace discriminating within the same "covenant family."  Gen.21:12 refers to a "called spiritual seed" in Isaac, yet the next verse refers to natural seed blessings to Ishmael.

But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant.  Listen to what Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.  I will make the son of the maidservant [Ishmael] into a nation also, because he is your offspring.  Gen.21:12-13

What is your assessment of the promises to Ishmael as compared with those of Abram (Gen.17:6, 20)?  Ishmael was promised nearly every blessing that was promised to Abram himself.

Promise for Ishmael

And as for ISHMAEL…I will surely bless him, and will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers.  He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.  Gen.17:20

Promise for Abraham

And I will make thee [Abram] very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you…  Gen.17:6

Ishmael "became a great nation" in fulfillment of the "promise made to Abraham" because he was a true "seed of Abraham."

And also of the son of the bondwoman [Ishmael] will I make a GREAT NATION, because he is THY SEED.  Gen 21:13

God did not "establish his covenant" with Ishmael or include Esau in it even though like Ishmael, he was "signed and sealed" with the same covenant sign of circumcision as was his twin brother Jacob.  God loved one "covenant child" (Jacob) in a way that He did not love the twin brother (Esau, Rom.9:13) even though both had the same believing parents and were "signed and sealed" with the same covenant sign.

The Israelites were given revelation and covenant promises (Rom.9:4-6) that no other nation was ever granted with the gospel of the promised Messiah at its heart.  However, these things were privileges that promised spiritual blessings to genuine faith but never to fleshly birth.  Most of the Israelites that came out of Egypt died and were lost because they rejected these gospel promises (Heb.3:18-4:3).  The Nation of Israel had “great privileges" and "advantages," but they were not "under grace" nor were they in a "separate spiritual category before God."3


3 Paul's argument in Romans 2:17-3:3 shows that you could be a Jew, have the Law, and even wear the covenant sign of circumcision; but those things would not put you into a special spiritual status or category before God.  You could still be as lost as an ignorant Gentile.  Paul's detractors will ask the logical question, "What advantage then has a Jew?" (Rom.3:1).  Paul's answer (Rom.3:2) has nothing to do with status or special spiritual category but only with privilege and opportunity.

What ADVANTAGE then hath the Jew? or what profit is there in being circumcision?  Much every way: chiefly, because unto them were committed the oracles of God.  Rom.3:1-2.

The Jew’s "much advantage" was primarily because he had both the law covenant (to convict him of sin) and the gospel promise (to bring him to salvation) preached to him.  The Gentiles were privy to neither (Eph.2:11-13).

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 5

3.  Abraham’s Spiritual Seed.  Every true believer in every age since the time of Abraham is Abraham's spiritual seed.  This seed is the true "election of grace."  In this sense, Gentile believers are part of Abraham's seed and Jewish unbelievers are not.  It is this seed alone through Christ that inherits the true "promises made to Abraham and his seed."

Explain Rom.2:25-26.  The real [spiritual] circumcision that makes a difference with God has to do with obedience to God, aka keeping the law.

What is Paul doing in Rom.2:25-29?  He is explaining the distinctiveness and essence of God’s people that the Jews were meant to represent – Jews inwardly, called “true Jews” in this study.

Come prepared to discuss your answers in light of Rom.3:9-24.  We all, Jews and Gentiles, stand condemned before God.  Our sole hope for acceptance with God is the gift of Christ’s righteousness.

To whom were the words of Gal.3:29 spoken?  To Gentiles unrelated to Abraham physically

And if ye be Christ's, then are ye ABRAHAM'S SEED, and heirs according to the promise.  Gal.3:29

Abraham's Spiritual Seed is:

(1)                   the "election of grace" - Romans 11:5; 9:23-26.

(2)                    the "saved" of all ages - Galatians 3:24-29.

(3)                   "the Bride of Christ" - Revelation 21:1-3; 9-14."

What does Rev.21:3 express?  God’s [spiritual] goal from all eternity

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.  Rev.21:3

This was the heart of God's promise in His dealings with Abraham and the Nation of Israel as well as His dealing with the Church.  The shout from heaven in the above verse is claiming the final fulfillment of God's eternal purpose of redeeming [spiritually] His one eternal elect people.

One-to-one" comparisons equating Israel as a physical nation with the church as a physical institution are just as wrong as equating a physical Jew with a true believer.  Israel, as a nation, is a TYPE4 of the new covenant church in the same sense that every individual physical Israelite who left Egypt at the Exodus "redemption" is a TYPE of a saved believer; but neither of these "types" can be treated as the same thing.  The whole Nation of Israel was physically redeemed, but only a very small handful of individuals were spiritually redeemed.  (cf. Heb.3:16-4:3 and 1 Cor.10:1-13 with Num.14:22-35).


4 Types, representations, images, shadows, forshadowings, parallels, patterns, figures, and symbols depict, picture, outline, prefigure or render some semblance or clue to the reality (antitype).  They are not themselves the reality [See Chap.2 RPCD] and there are more representations than those specifically identified as such in the N.T.  They serve to condition our thinking and instill certain concepts so we will recognize the truth when it is revealed.  Thus the Old Testament is the historical foreshadowing of the future reality.  It builds a conceptual framework that provides the categories for comprehending the ways of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.


The designation of the Nation of Israel  as "redeemed people of God" can only be used in a physical sense and never in any spiritual sense because that is all it is referring to.  NT doctrine and experience cannot be built on the typology of OT Scriptures.  Could the following words to the Israelites apply anyone that had been spiritually redeemed?  NO.

Your eyes have seen all that the Lord did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land.  With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders.  But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.  Dt.29:2b-4.

Israel’s becoming a distinct nation at Mount Sinai was not the formation of "the Body of Christ."  That nation was an evil congregation" (Num.14:27, 35) that never did know God in a way of saving faith (Dt.29:4).  The "Body of Christ" is a new creation brought into being by the personal advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  The Church of Christ is not simply the adding of the Gentiles to the "Jewish church"; it is the "new man" (Eph.2:11-22) - the totally "new creation" (2 Cor.5:17).  The Church as the Body of Christ is the fulfillment of God's redemptive goal as prophesied in Gen.3:15 rather than a parenthesis between a supposed "temporary casting aside and future dealing of God with the Nation of Israel" [see RPCD chap.4].

Gracious Purpose [see Tablets of Stone; The Old Covenant]

The Law covenant at Sinai had a most gracious purpose but it was not a gracious covenant.  The legal covenant at Sinai was not given to regenerated and justified believers to "aid them in sanctification."  Most of those people were not regenerate.  The law covenant was laid on the conscience of a generation of blind rebellious sinners to convict them of their unbelief and to kill their hope in their own righteousness!  That covenant only ministered grace as it effected the knowledge of sin and spiritual death in an Israelite's heart and led him to faith in the gospel covenant given to Abraham.

What was the stated purpose of the law covenant at Sinai?  To be a "ministration of death"  God designed the covenant written on "tablets of stone" (the Ten Commandments) to minister death (2 Cor.3:6-9; Rom.7:9-10) to the people described in Dt.29:4 and Heb.3:18-4:2 to kill their conceit and pride.  Don't confuse a gracious purpose (the giving of the legal covenant to convict lost sinners) with the nature of the law covenant that does the essential convicting work.  Likewise, do not try to use the instrument that God specifically designed to administer death as the chief instrument in a believer's conscience today to produce holy living.

God was "Israel's God" in a national sense, but that was purely a conditional relationship.5  The legal covenant at Sinai administered or furthered God’s purpose of salvation by grace, but that in no way negates the fact that Sinai was a covenant of works.  In reality, that covenant could not perform the "killing work" that was the essential preparation for grace if it could not legally administer death - and it could not administer death if it did not have the status and authority of a true legal covenant.  The Nation of Israel was not the "Body of Christ," even though the Body of Christ is indeed the true "Israel of God."

Now therefore, IF ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, THEN ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation...  Ex.19:5-6

The blessings in Ex.19:4-5 are contingent on Israel obeying or "keeping the covenant," which was the Decalogue and all of the attending system of laws and ceremonies.  The Church inherits these very blessings because our Surety was born and lived under that covenant (Gal.4:4-5); He totally fulfilled its every demand and earned the righteousness that it promised (Heb.7:22); and He then died under its curse (Gal.3:13).


5 Actually God’s words always carry the understood condition of obedience with the implied attitude of belief.  Abram left his home, circumcised his household, and sacrificed Isaac expecting God to fulfill His promises.  [see Gen.17:1, 9]


Words and Their Use

Every word like "elect," "chosen," "loved," "redeemed," "son," etc. that describes Israel's relationship to God as a nation has a totally different connotation when the identical words are used of the Church's relationship to God.  You cannot mix spiritual and natural or treat the type as if it were the reality.

The words "God will be their God" can never be applied in a redemptive sense to any nation or individual that is cast off by God, and Israel was cast off in respect to special national status (Mt.21:33-46).  Such words taken in the spiritual sense of the New Testament mean absolute eternal security.  Israel was indeed "called" out of Egypt by God's grace and power, but the word "called" does not mean the same thing as it does in Romans 1:7.  Every Israelite was "redeemed" by blood out of bondage in Egypt, but most of them perished in unbelief.  The "redemption by blood" in Exodus twelve is not the same as that in Ephesians 1:7.  One is a type and the other is the reality even as physical Israel is a type and the church is the reality.

4.  Abraham’s Unique Seed, Christ the Messiah.  Any spiritual blessing that any of the other three seeds ever enjoyed or ever will enjoy is only because of their union with the true Seed, Christ, to "whom the promises were made."

Christ is the unique seed.  Israel must be seen as the natural seed of Abraham despite the fact that some Israelites were true believers and were thus also part of the spiritual seed through faith. 

Fill in the chart from memory.

The Four Different Seeds of Abraham

1. Natural seed

2. Special Natural seed

3. Spiritual seed

4. Unique seed

All physical children: Isaac & Ishmael;
Jacob & Esau;
Jews & Arabs

All the physical seed of Jacob and his twelve sons - The nation of Israel,

All believers of all ages – David & Paul;
Jew & Gentile believers;
you & me

Christ the Messiah


One: Distinguish between the physical Nation of Israel as a "special" natural seed chosen from among all of the other natural seeds of Abraham and the true believers within that physical nation by filling in the chart.

Kind of Seed

Natural only

Special Natural

Natural and Spiritual

Spiritual only

Those included

All of Abraham’s physical seed

Unbelieving Israelites

Believing Israelites

Believing Gentiles

Represented by

Isaac and Ishmael




Two: Distinguish and maintain the distinction between the physical blessings promised to and enjoyed by the whole Nation of Israel, and the spiritual blessings promised to every individual in the nation but only enjoyed by those who had Abraham's faith.

Abraham's faith is always the most important thing.  If you lack all else, but have Abraham's faith, you will be saved whether you are a Jew or Gentile, or whether or not you were born in a Christian home.  If you have everything else, but lack Abraham's faith, you will be lost regardless of who your parents are or what "signs and seals" were placed upon you.

"Justification by faith" preceded circumcision, the law, and the covenant nation - therefore neither salvation itself nor the gospel message that proclaimed that salvation are in any way integrally connected to any of the things just mentioned.  The gospel of grace both precedes and continues after Abraham and circumcision and was preached and believed before, during, and after the covenant of law given to Moses.  There is only one gospel message and it is "salvation by grace through faith."  The success of that gospel is determined by the sovereign electing grace of God irrespective of our works or our family tree.

Three: We must not give New Testament spiritual meaning to the physical blessings (which were only a type of the spiritual) that were experienced by every person born into the Nation of Israel, even when the same words are used in both cases.

Four: What was God's purpose in putting the children of Jacob (as a special and unique nation) under a legal covenant of works at Mount Sinai?  To expose the extent and depth of sin.

Five: Was the covenantal foundation upon which the Nation of Israel's existence and hope of blessing built the same covenantal foundation upon which the Church is built?  No.

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  Heb.8:6


First  The ministry of Christ as our High Priest is far better than the Aaronic ministry it replaces.

Second  Christ's ministry is better because the covenant that He established and under which He ministers (the New Covenant) is much better than the Old Covenant (made at Sinai) under which Aaron ministered.

Third  This New Covenant is so much better than the old covenant that it replaced because the New Covenant is based on better promises than the Old Covenant.  The old covenant said, "If you obey, then you will be blessed" (Ex.19:5-6), but the New Covenant says, "I have obeyed for you, believe and live" (Heb.10:14-22).

The above three comparisons are clearly set forth in the text in Heb.8:6 and amplified in the context of Hebrews chapters eight through ten.  The author’s whole point is to show that a New Covenant believer's position is so much greater than the position of an old covenant believer simply because Christ brought in a New Covenant based on better promises.  Aaron's ministry was designed to remind men of sin because of the nature of the legal covenant under which he ministered (Heb.10:3-4).  Our High Priest's ministry reminds us that "sin against us will be remembered no more" (Heb.10:18).  We will never need another Day of Atonement (Heb.10:2) because the Old Covenant that condemned has been fulfilled and done away in Christ.  This is our sure hope because of the gracious covenant that He established with His blood of sacrifice.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 6

Six: Neither the actual heart spirituality of an individual Israelite, nor the heart spirituality of the nation as a group had anything to do with Israel being "redeemed" from Egypt and established as a nation under law to God at Sinai.

The physical Nation of Israel was indeed a special nation, but none the less they were not a spiritual nation.  There were spiritual individuals, but the nation by and large was unregenerate.  Paul drives this home emphatically in Romans nine.

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  Rom.9:6-7

Regardless of what promises were made to the nation made up of Jacob's twelve sons, not all Israel are true seed that inherits the promise.

Romans 8 declares the certainty of ultimate salvation for every person chosen and called by God into a saving relationship.  It is as if Paul is saying, "Nothing in heaven or earth can destroy or harm a soul who is in a saving covenantal relationship with God!"  The obvious objection to all that Paul declared in Romans 8 is "the casting off" of the Nation of Israel.  Did not God break His covenant with His chosen people when He cast them off and turned to the Gentiles?

Romans 9-11 deals with this question in the light of God's eternal purposes as seen in the OT Scriptures and in history.  God never has nor ever will fail to keep every covenant He has made.  "However," Paul declares, "God has never promised any spiritual blessing to anyone on the basis of fleshly birth."  This is the heart of the whole issue! 

Every promise of God that brings a spiritual blessing to any individual requires that individual to personally believe the promise.  Israel never inherited the promised blessing because they "sought it not in faith" (Rom.9:32).  In other words, they rejected the gospel message that Abraham, their forefather, had savingly believed.  The heart of Romans 9-11 declares the absolute necessity of personal faith in order to receive any promised blessing from God.

"Not all Israel is Israel" simply expresses the difference between people with special privileges and people that actually possess grace.  God did not deny His promise or fail to keep His covenant when He cast off the Jewish nation.  He did not break or dishonor His "special covenant" relationship with Israel simply because that covenant and relationship were purely conditional and Israel never met the terms.  The apostle illustrates that the "Israel within Israel" is a matter of sovereign election (Rom 9:11) and effectual calling (Rom 9:24), and has nothing at all to do with physical lineage.

Paul does not demonstrate and prove the doctrine of election by comparing a "covenant child" (seed of Abraham) and a "non-covenant" child (Gentile), but he compares two "covenant" children.  Paul uses Abraham's twin grandsons in his illustration to demonstrate that inheriting God's true promises has nothing to do with being a so called "covenant child," nor with being "signed and sealed" with covenant signs.

And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac, (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob [the younger "covenant child"] have I loved, but Esau [the older "covenant child"] have I hated.  Rom.9:10-13

God's grace is totally unconditional, and nothing, including all of the privileges listed in Romans 9:4-5, guarantees any individual a spiritual blessing.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.  Gen.12:1-3

Is the land promised in Genesis 12:1-3?  No, Abraham is merely told to "go to a land that I will show you."  After he came into the land of Canaan, God then promised that specific land to him and his seed.

And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem unto the plain of Moreh.  And the Canaanite was then in the land.  And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, "unto thy seed will I give this land…"  Gen.12:6-7

After Abram and Lot parted company, God reaffirmed His promise to Abraham concerning the promise that his seed would inherit the land.  God then added that the inheritance would be "forever."

So what did God promise Abraham in Gen.12:6-7?
1. the physical land

2. the natural children are the seed that is to inherit that land

3. and the inheritance of the land is to be "forever."

The NT Scriptures make the physical land to be a type of spiritual rest and the Israelite to be a type of a true believer.  That conclusion cannot be reached from anything in the OT Scriptures alone.  The following description of a real physical land is the uniform message of the OT Scriptures:

And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, "Lift up now thine eyes and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward; For all this land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever.  And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.  Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will Give it unto thee."  Gen.13:14-17

In Genesis 15:6-7 God reaffirms both the promise of the innumerable seed and the land.  For what purpose was Abraham called out of Ur?  To inherit the land

And he said unto him, "I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.  Gen.15:7

Part of the reason the land is given as a permanent inheritance is that it is one of the things that would maintain the special people or human heritage out of which the Messiah will come.

In verses 8-17 we have the record of the actual covenant that God made with Abram, and verse 18 again states the essence of that covenant to be the physical land.  The text gives the specific boundaries of the land:

In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates."  Gen.15:18

No mention is made of "the blessing to all nations" in this entire chapter.

Genesis 17 records God's reaffirmation of the promises and covenant made with Abram in Gen 15:18.  Abram's name is changed to Abraham and the innumerable seed promise is reaffirmed in verses l-5.  Verse six lists three distinct blessings that God promised to Abraham:

And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.  Gen.17:6

The promises given to Abraham, in the early part of this chapter, are almost identical to the promises given to Ishmael in the later part:

And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee; Behold, I have blessed him, and I will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he begat, and I will make him a great nation.  Gen.17:20

Genesis 25:12-18 records the fulfillment of the promise given to Ishmael in the above text:

Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham . . . These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.  Gen.25:12, 16

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  Gen.17:7-8

These words are the heart of the reaffirmation of the Abrahamic covenant and promises.  Note the absence of the promise concerning "blessing all nations."  Also the phrase "establish my covenant" in Gen.17:7 is given to seeds, plural.  It speaks of "their" generations.  The NT Scriptures tell us that the "thy seed" in verse 7 refers to Isaac as the spiritual seed of Abraham.  This is clear from the following comparison of Romans 9:7 and Genesis 17:18-21:

And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.  And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee:  Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.  But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear..."  Gen.17:18-21

Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  Rom.9:7

Romans 9:7 is actually quoting Genesis 21:12 where God repeats the same thing concerning Ishmael and Isaac.  The phrase "establishing my covenant" is that which discriminates among the various physical seeds.  This distinction concerns the seed line that will be the bearer of the promised Messiah.  After Jacob, this designating of a particular son is discontinued.  Once Israel was established as a nation, the promise of the Messiah was taken up into the Mosaic Covenant and became the property of the whole nation as a nation.

By the addition of the word "everlasting" in Genesis 17:7, God established His covenant with Abraham and his seed as an "everlasting" covenant and promises to be "a God unto thee and thy seed after thee:"

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after.  Gen.17:7

In verse 8, God promised Abraham and his seed all of the land of Canaan for an "everlasting" possession, and then repeated the promise to be "their God:"

And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the LAND wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.  Gen 17:8

Exegetically it is impossible to separate the "land promise," the "everlasting covenant," and the promise to "be your God" in these two verses of Scripture.  The "seeds" in verse 7 and in verse 8 must be the same people.  God promised to give the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession to the very same people to whom He promised to be their God and they would be His people.

From Genesis 17 throughout the rest of the OT Scriptures, the land will be the central feature of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed.

How Long Is "Everlasting"?

How are we to understand the "everlasting" things that not only did not last forever, but obviously were not intended or expected to last forever?  The word "everlasting" is used of many things promised under the Old Covenant, and the New Testament Scriptures clearly prove that most of those "everlasting" things have not only ended, but it was clearly prophesied that they would end when Christ came.

1. The Aaronic priesthood was to be an "everlasting priesthood," but it definitely ended.  The following text may give us a clue when it adds the phrase "throughout their generation" as a possible explanation of how long the "everlasting" priesthood is to really last:

 . . . for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generation.  Ex.40:15

And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood.  Num.25:13

The Aaronic priesthood ended with the death of Christ and the forming of the Body of Christ at Pentecost.

2. The Passover was to be a "feast forever."

And this day [Passover] shall be unto you for a memorial . . . ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.  Ex.12:14

3. All of the tabernacle rites, ceremonies, and services were to last "forever" (Ex.27:21).

4. The Sabbath was a "sign forever."

Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath . . . It is sign between me and the children of Israel forever . . ."  Ex.31:17

5. "Circumcision" was an everlasting sign given as the sign of the "everlasting" land promise (Gen.17:8).

He that is born in thy house . . . must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  Gen.17:13

Which of the above things actually did last forever?  None.  Why?  God never intended that they should.

What conclusion about the use of this language is one driven to by the facts?  "Everlasting" cannot mean "never to end" or “continue as is forever” in these OT passages.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 7

Aaron’s priesthood was done away in Christ; the Passover feast was done away when the true Passover Lamb was offered; the tabernacle services were only types of the true everlasting ministry of Christ; the seventh day Sabbath given to Israel as the sign of the Mosaic covenant was a beautiful picture of our eternal rest in Christ, our true Sabbath (Heb.4:1-11); and circumcision in the flesh was a type of regeneration or circumcision of the heart.  None of these things were meant to be permanent yet the OT specifically states that all of these things were to endure forever or "everlastingly."  What rule of logical interpretation do we violate when we view the "everlasting" land promise the same as the other "everlasting" things mentioned above?

The word "everlasting" is to be understood in one of two ways depending on the context.

One: It may mean that something is given as a physical and temporary "type" of something else that is spiritual and eternal.  The thing promised becomes truly "everlasting" as it finds its fulfillment in its anti-type.  Israel is a nation before God "forever" as it is fulfilled in the church, the true "Israel of God."  Aaron is indeed a priest "forever" as he finds his fulfillment in Christ our High Priest.  The Sabbath is a sign "forever" as it finds its fulfillment in eternal salvation or rest in Christ.  God's people will indeed dwell secure in the true holy land "forever" as they eternally rest in Christ.

Two: The word "everlasting" may also mean that something will last as long as the covenant lasts under which it was instituted.  A change in covenants changes everything under that covenant (Heb.7:11-12).  When the New Covenant replaced the Old Covenant, it also replaced everything that the old covenant had brought into being.

The Passover dated the beginning of Israel as a nation (Ex.12) and was the sign of the covenant that established Israel's unique relationship to God as a special nation (Ex.31:12-17; Dt.5:15; Ez.20:12, 20).  The whole function of the priesthood was built around "the sins committed" under that Old Covenant (Heb.9:15) which was housed in the "Ark of the Covenant" behind the veil in the Most Holy Place.  All of those things together are what made Israel a special and "everlasting" separate nation.  The everlasting nation, priesthood, and sign" all ended when the Old Covenant that established all of these things was fulfilled by Christ.  The anti-types of all of these things are truly established "forever" because they are built on the new and true "everlasting" covenant (Mt.26:28, 51; Heb.13:20) that will never need to be modified, added to, or changed in any way.

The rending of the veil from top to bottom took place the very second that the true Passover Lamb "gave up the ghost" (Mt.27:50-51).  The true High Priest has not only gone behind the veil, He has totally removed it.  That event was the beginning of Christ administering the New Covenant and the ending of the Old Covenant along with everything that it established.

The heart of the Abrahamic Covenant as expressed in the language of the OT Scriptures is the promise that "Israel will inherit the land of Canaan forever."  The covenant that promised this was cut in Genesis 15 and the language used in the covenant precisely describes the specific boundaries of the land that was promised to Abraham and his seed.  Only special revelation from God could allow anyone to spiritualize the land promise in the Abrahamic covenant in the following text:

 . . . in the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river Euphrates . . ."  Gen.15:18

Despite Joshua 21:43-45; 23:14-15a and similar texts that state "all this has already been fulfilled," in David's day long after Joshua was written, the fulfillment of the "covenant of Abraham" was still understood as future, and the heart of the promise was still in terms of the same land being given as an "everlasting" inheritance to the Nation of Israel.

O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.  He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.  Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations; even of the covenant he made with Abraham, and of his oath unto Isaac; And hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant, saying, "Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance."  1 Chron.16:13-18

The promise of the physical land is just as much a part of the "everlasting covenant" that God made with Abraham as the promise "I will be their God and they shall be my people."

Psalm 105 is a recitation of God's past blessings and future (from that point) promises for the Nation of Israel.  When David repeats the same words as those quoted above, he adds, "He hath remembered his covenant forever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations," and then proceeds to talk about the land.

O descendants of Abraham . . . he is the Lord our God . . . he remembers His covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac.  He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: `to you will I give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit."  Ps.105:6-11

Compare the above verses with texts like Luke 1:67-79 to see that the NT Scriptures uses the same terms in a spiritual way.  The physical "land" is the heart of the promise in Psalm 105, but salvation (spiritual rest) becomes the heart of the fulfillment of the same promise in Luke 1 and other NT passages.  There is no hint of the physical land of Palestine in Luke's words.  He totally spiritualizes the words found in the OT Scriptures.

67And his [John the Baptist’s] father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
68"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
69and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us; 72to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant, 73the oath that he swore to our father Abraham,
to grant us 74that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
78because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."  Lk.1:

In Jeremiah's day, "I will be their God" and possessing "the land" are both equal parts of an "everlasting" covenant that God promises to make with Israel in the last days.

Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely; and they shall be my people, and I will their God; and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever for the good of them, and of their children after them; and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.  Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with My whole heart and with My whole soul.  Jer.32:37-41

·        Where you look for the answers to the questions raised will determine your answers.

First, is there a repetition or mention of the land promise in the NT?  No.

Second, the NT "spiritualizes" the land promise in passages where you would expect to find it reiterated.  This is illustrated in every sermon in Acts, Hebrews, and in passages like Luke 1:67-79.  The writers of the NT Scriptures always point a Jew back to the Cross and Pentecost as the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham (Acts 3:24-26).  They never once point him forward with a future "land promise."

Third, what is evident about the "promised land" in Heb.11:8-10?  The land was only a pledge of something greater.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city6 which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  Heb.11:8-10

Abraham obviously realized, while his feet were actually standing "in the promised land" itself, that the land was not the full or real promise, but only a pledge of something greater.  Abraham's ultimate hope was "heavenly" (v.16) and not "earthly" (v.13).  He was still looking for a heavenly city even while dwelling in the physical "land of promise."  And we only know what Abraham understood by what the Holy Spirit has revealed to us in the NT.  [see RPCD Apdx.J]

What OT believer would trade what they now possess in the presence of God for every inch of Palestine?  Do you really think a believing Jew in the future would feel "let down" if all they got was heaven itself?  In this we are just like Abraham, “for here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”  Heb.13:14


6 The word city is used to mean dwelling place; a place of rest and belonging.  [see Jn.14:2]


What we are really saying is this:

(1) Every promise that was made to "Abraham and his seed" is either now fulfilled spiritually in Christ; or will be fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth; or else it ended when the Old Covenant was done away; or there will be, in some cases, a "double" fulfillment.

(2) Every single thing given to a believer "in Christ" is far better than anything in the natural world, including all of the "land of Palestine."  Every believer, whether Jew or Gentile, will ultimately be united to Christ and be part of His bride (Rev.21) and experience the "better things" of Heb.11:39-40.

Fourth, the NT Scriptures see all of the things that are implied in the promise concerning "a land of your own" to be the New Covenant believer's possession in a spiritual sense.  The heart of the land promise involved "rest from your enemies" and full provision of every need.  The heart of the gospel message in the NT is "rest" and full provision, but it is spiritualized.  It is not difficult to read the fulfillment of the promised rest into passages like Mt.11:28-31, Heb.4, and Luke 1:68-79.  It is not the Real Estate (physical land) that was important but an eternal real "Estate" (the blessing that was typified by the land).

Fill in the chart.

Thing Promised

OT Type

NT Fulfillment

Everlasting Priesthood



Everlasting Sanctuary


The Body of Christ

Everlasting Sabbath

Seventh Day

Salvation Rest (Heb.4)

Everlasting Circumcision

Physical Circumcision


Everlasting Land

Earthly Jerusalem

New Jerusalem (Rev.21)

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 8

Abraham's True Seed

The apostle now approaches the subject which he had in view, the rejection of the Jews, and the calling of the Gentiles.  That God had determined to cast off his ancient covenant people, as such, and to extend the call of the gospel indiscriminately to all men, is the point which the apostle is about to establish.  He does this by showing, that God is perfectly free thus to act (Rom.9:6-24), and that he had declared in the prophets that such was his intention, vs.25-33.  from A Commentary on Romans by Charles Hodge, 1989

Wherefore the law was OUR  schoolmaster [slave in charge of escorting the child to the teacher] to bring US to Christ, that WE might be justified by faith.  But after that faith is come, WE are no longer under a schoolmaster.  [Could David have said those words prior to Pentecost?] For YE are all SONS [in the sense of "mature children"] of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  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.  [Could a Jew, living under the very covenant that mandated those distinctions, utter these words?]  And if YE  be Christ's, then are YE Abraham's seed [Could a Jew, before Calvary and Pentecost, speak these words to a group of Gentiles?], and heirs according to the promise.  Gal.3:24-29

The personal Advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost not only produced a "unity in Christ" of all believers (both Jews and Gentiles); it also established a total equality "outside of Christ" of all unbelievers (both Jews and Gentiles).  A Gentile believer under the New Covenant, along with his believing Jewish brother in Christ, is raised to a higher status and privilege (sonship) than Moses or Aaron ever enjoyed; and likewise, the Jewish unbeliever is now lowered to a position of total equality with the "Gentile dogs outside the covenant."

There were great differences between Jews and Gentiles before the Day of Pentecost in respect to special privileges, but now "there is no difference" at all.

The doctrine of the Church in relationship to the two testaments

1. Are all believers today, without any exception, "in Christ?"  Yes, beyond question (1 Cor.12:12-13; Gal.3:26-29; whole Book of Ephesians)

2. Is being "in Christ" and being part of "the body of Christ" the same thing?  Yes, they are interchangeable statements?

3. How does one get into the body of Christ?  We are "baptized into the body of Christ" by the Holy Spirit.

4. Were believers living prior to Pentecost also, at that time, "baptized into the body of Christ" and given the Holy Spirit as the "Spirit of Adoption"?  No, because such an experience was impossible prior to the personal advent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.  The Old Covenant believers were just as truly saved as we are today, and they were saved in exactly the same manner, namely, by grace through faith in the gospel promise.  However, they were "heirs in non-age" waiting for the time of full-fledged "sonship" to come (Gal.3:24 - 4:7), and the essence of that sonship is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and deliverance from the law as a pedagogue.

5. Why was it impossible for an Old Covenant believer to be "baptized into Christ" and to be given the "Spirit of Adoption" (Gal.3:26-4:7)?  The Apostle's whole argument would be nonsense if that had been possible.  In that passage Paul is not discussing how or when unbelievers get converted and become children of God or part of the family of God.  An Old Covenant believer was just as much a part of the family of God as a believer today, and he became a child of God in exactly the same way, namely, by faith in the gospel promise.  In Gal.3 & 4 Paul is showing the difference between a child in minority under a Pedagogue (a tutor - a Jewish believer under the law covenant) and a mature son (a believer under the New Covenant) brought into full family rights and governed from within by a new Pedagogue, the Holy Spirit Himself.

The reverse order in which a Jew and Gentile come into sonship and heirship is an important part of Paul's argument in Gal.4:1-7.  A believing Jew living under the legal covenant was a true child of God and therefore an heir-in-waiting of the full benefits of the status of sonship.  The law covenant in his conscience was the Pedagogue that controlled him in his minor state. When the Holy Spirit came to indwell each believer, the minor child was raised to full mature sonship and the old Pedagogue was dismissed and the Holy Spirit became the new Pedagogue.

On the other hand, the Gentile was an heir of nothing but wrath.  We were not "immature heirs-in-waiting," but rather "strangers to the covenant and promises etc.," without covenants, promises, or hope.  The Gentiles were never under the period of the tutorship of the law.  We came into full sonship the moment we trusted in Christ. Unlike the Old Covenant believer, we did not have a waiting under a Pedagogue for Christ to come before we could receive "the gift of the Spirit."  At conversion we were immediately given the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of adoption to testify to our full sonship and all of its privileges and we were given the full inheritance.  However, unlike the Jewish believer who was an heir waiting to come into sonship, we became heirs because we had become sons.  The heir/sonship order is reversed.  The Old Covenant believer was an heir who became a son on the day of Pentecost, and under the New Covenant the Gentile believer becomes an heir because he was first made a son.

The distinctions between Jew and Gentile, male and female, and bond and free in Gal.3:27-28 were all established and enforced by the law covenant made at Sinai.  A Jew, prior to Pentecost, could not have married a Gentile without deliberately sinning against God.  All of these distinctions existed and were carefully enforced by God's orders simply because God Himself had made a difference between Israel and every other nation, and He wanted that distinction maintained "until the seed came to whom the promises were made" (Gal.3:19).  The means that God used to establish the difference was the Covenant of Law, and it’s attending rules and ceremonies given at Sinai.

It is because every believer has now been "baptized into Christ" that these distinctions cannot exist in the Church.  Because the cross has forever broken down the middle wall of partition (the Old Covenant) (Col.2:14-15), the baptizing and uniting work of the Holy Spirit could take place.  This is the clear argument in Ephesians 2 and 3 as well as Galatians 3 through 5.

The personal faith of a genuine believer prior to the coming of Christ did not allow him to ignore the Jew/Gentile distinctions.  A pious Jewish woman could not ignore the restrictions set out in the law that put clear distinctions between her and males.  Justification by faith did not allow even the most Godly Jew the "Christian liberty" to eat pork chops with his Gentile neighbor or with anyone else!

Where we find any of the distinctions mentioned in Galatians 3:27-28 in force, we cannot have the "one in Christ" experience; and where we have the "one in Christ" experience, we cannot have any of those distinctions in force.

The Old Covenant believer was forced, in some cases upon pain of death, to rigidly maintain certain customs and standards in his relationship with Gentiles that are now absolutely forbidden for a Christian.  How could this be possible if he was "baptized into the body of Christ" and "one in Christ" with the Gentile?  Is not this one of the major problems dealt with by the Apostle Paul because the Jewish believers (including Peter) had such difficulty accepting the Gentile as "equal in Christ."?  Personal faith in a coming Messiah did not nullify the Jew/Gentile category as it concerned a true believer living under the Old Covenant.  It took the Cross and the personal Advent of the Holy Spirit to create the "New Man" (Eph.2:14-18), and the establishment of the New Covenant to destroy all the distinctions established by the Old Law Covenant.

6. What really happened that changed the whole situation?  The fulfillment of the "promise made to Abraham and His seed" set aside the Law Covenant (Gal.3:19) that functioned as a pedagogue in the conscience of immature heirs of the promise (Gal.4:1-3).  The Law Covenant that established the distinctions was fulfilled and nullified, and a New Covenant (which fulfilled the promise to Abraham and his seed) was brought in to take its place.  It was the Law Covenant that established Israel as a distinct and separate nation, and that separation had to be maintained under threat, even down to clothing, food, agriculture, etc., as long as that Old Law Covenant stood in force.  Everything stood or fell together.

The inauguration of the New Covenant made possible the creation of the body of Christ, the New Man of Ephesians 2. The new experience of the Holy Spirit indwelling every member of God's true temple is the essence of New Covenant sonship and this made possible the new approach to God (Heb.10; 2 Cor.3).  The old Pedagogue (Law Covenant) has been dismissed now that the child has become an adult, and the new Pedagogue (the indwelling Spirit) treats us as full-fledged "sons."  This is the message of Ephesians and Galatians.  This is the "liberty we have in Christ Jesus" that Paul expounds and defends:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been made near by the blood of Christ. For He himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that he might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off [Gentiles] and to those who were near [Jewish believer under the law].  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  Eph.2:13-18

This is true "liberty of conscience," and it is a liberty that must be protected against legalism.  It is impossible for men who do not see this liberty as a distinct New Covenant blessing to protect it.  The moment you read this liberty of conscience back into the experience of an Old Covenant believer, you have already lost the reality of the liberty itself.  John Stott has some excellent comments on Galatians 5:1 where the Apostle Paul exhorts us to "Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free..."

"Christ set us free, to be free men."  Our former state is portrayed as a slave, Jesus Christ as a liberator, conversion as an act of emancipation and the Christian life as a life of freedom.  This freedom, as the whole Epistle and this context make plain, is not primarily a freedom from sin, but rather from the law.  What Christ has done in liberating us, according to Paul's emphasis here, is not so much to set our will free from the bondage of sin as to set our conscience free from the guilt of sin.  The Christian freedom he describes is freedom of conscience, freedom from the tyranny of the law, the dreadful struggle to keep the law, with a view to winning the favor of God.  It is the freedom of acceptance with God and of access to God through Christ. From: The Message of Galatians, by John R Stott, p.132.

Passages like those just discussed from Ephesians and Galatians could never have been written prior to the cross and the personal advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.  The "in Christ" experience of being "baptized into His body" cannot take place until the "middle wall" erected by the Law Covenant has been removed.  The true inheritance cannot be realized until the "true seed to whom the promises are made" has come and fulfilled the Old Covenant, earned the blessing it promised, died under its curse, and then established the New Covenant, the new "man," the new access, the new status, yea, the whole "new creation" (2 Cor.5:17).  This is exactly what we celebrate when we sit at the Lord's Table and remember the "New Covenant" sealed in His blood (1 Cor.11:25).

Just as Galatians 3:24 - 4:7 could never have been written to the Nation of Israel, and just as the verses in Ephesians could never have been written before Pentecost, so passages like Romans 9:6 could not be spoken today in reference to the New Covenant people of God, the Body of Christ.  The following words were true of the Nation of Israel, but the same words could never be true of the Body of Christ:

Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect.  For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel . . .  Rom.9:6

Paul could say, "Not all Israel is Israel" in reference to people in the physically "redeemed" Nation of Israel simply because a person was part of the nation by their physical birth.  However, you could be part of the redeemed nation and still be lost, but the same situation cannot be true under the New Covenant.  Paul could never say, "not all of the Body of Christ is the Body of Christ," in reference to people under the New Covenant simply because every single person in the Body of Christ is a true believer.  Everyone in the Body of Christ has been "baptized by the Holy Spirit" into that body.  He has been born of God and given the Spirit of Adoption.  That is the only way you can get into the Body of Christ.  Paul emphatically warns professing believers in a local congregation to be sure they are saved, truly "in Christ," but he can never say that the "Body of Christ" has unbelieving members who will ultimately be lost.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 9

The "Great Nation"

Who is the great nation that was promised to Abraham, and who are the kings and priests who come from him?  Has this promise been fulfilled or is it still waiting a future fulfillment?

In a natural sense the "great nation" part of the promise to Abraham was fulfilled in Ishmael (Gen.17:20).  It was also fulfilled in a special natural sense in the Nation of Israel.  However, the NT Scriptures make it clear that this promise was not really fulfilled until Christ came.  The Church is the true nation promised to Abraham, and all her children are kings and priests.

The Body of Christ is a new thing on the earth (Eph.2:11-21).  The believer living prior to Christ's coming was just as saved and secure as we are, and he was saved in the same way that we are today.  Old Covenant believers had a hope in a "coming Messiah," but that hope was not realized until Calvary and Pentecost actually took place (Heb.11:39-40; 1 Pt.1:10-12).

The Church is the "nation born in a day," the true "House of David," the "Temple of the Living God" with each of her members as "living stones" in that growing temple.  God Himself not only dwells in her midst, He literally indwells every stone.  Her children, without exception, shall dwell safely in the mountain of God forever.  She is Abraham's seed because she is in Christ, and every one of her children is a true believer because they are all born spiritually.  They are all baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit of Promise and are all given the Spirit of Adoption in order that they might realize that new position.  The new covenant community that was promised in the prophets has been now established forever, and that new covenant community is the true and final fulfillment of God's promise to make Abraham a great nation.

In the argument in Hebrews 8, we see a specific "new" covenant replacing a specific and different "old" covenant.  Verses 6-7 and 13 of show that God has made this new covenant with the "house of Israel."  Since the context demands that this covenant is in effect right now, then the church simply must be the "house of Israel" in some sense.  Is not this exactly what verses 8-10 say?

(1) The true covenant promise to Abram concerns salvation and not a physical land; and

(2) everyone in this new covenant is a regenerate believer, not believers and their children.

"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:  And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest . . ."  Heb.8:10-11.

There is no unbeliever in the New Covenant nation because every member of this redeemed nation is a king and a priest.  The New Covenant community is that spiritual "holy nation" that was "born in a day" when the ascended King sent His Personal Vicar to indwell every redeemed and adopted seed of Abraham.

Here’s how the two covenants relate to each other as well as to Israel and the Church:

ONE: Under the Old Covenant, circumcision defined a physical nation.  Under the New Covenant, regeneration defines a spiritual nation irrespective of nationality or parentage.

TWO: Under the Old Covenant, perfect obedience was the only ground of receiving the blessing promised.  Under the New Covenant, both the blessing and the necessary obedience are guaranteed by Christ our Surety:

(A) Christ's life of obedience "under the law" earned every blessing the law covenant promised, and His death under the curse of that same law covenant removed every curse it threatened.

(B) The giving of the Holy Spirit to every believer as an indwelling Pedagogue guarantees obedience from the heart.  From this obedience there comes more and more external conformity to Christ and His law.  The legalist attempts to produce internal change with external standards and threats and produces an immediate outward result.  However, such a method does not change the inner man and therefore it will not last.  Paul describes this very thing in Col.2:21-23.

Time frame of existence


Christ’s Church



Pentecost, 1 Cor.12:12-13



Never end, Eph.2:21-23


All Finished, Heb.8

All new, Heb.9 & 10

Is the promise that Abraham would be the father of a "great nation" in Gen 12:3 to be fulfilled in the future in a physical sense in the land of Palestine in the physical Nation of Israel; or, is it spiritually fulfilled right now in the Church viewed as the true spiritual Israel of God?  The comparison of Ex.19:4-5 and 1 Pt.2:5-11 in the chart below shows the Church is right now all of the things that Israel never became.


Point of Comparison

The Nation of Israel

The Body of Christ

Promise to Abraham

Same promise given to the
Nation of Israel

Fulfilled in the Church

“I will make of thee a

“IF you will obey...and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me...a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation...”  Ex.19:5-6.

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a Great Nation.” a spiritual house, a holy are a chosen generation, a royal [kingly] priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people...1 Pt.2:9

Both chosen “nations”


1 Peter 2:9

Kind of nation



Basis of citizenship

Natural birth

Spiritual birth

Spiritual state of citizens

Saved and lost Rom.9:6

Saved only – Heb.8:10-11

Proof of citizenship

Circumcision in the flesh by human hands

Circumcision of the heart
by Holy Spirit

Both are the “seed of Abraham” by birth.

Born “after the flesh” - “
natural” seed only.

Born “after the spirit” -
“spiritual” seed.

Relationship to God

Loved, chosen, redeemed, adopted, as a physical nation among nations.

Loved, chosen, redeemed,
and adopted
as a spiritual family.

Both “redeemed”

Physically - from slavery in Egypt

Spiritually - from slavery to sin

Both “called by God”

Out of Egypt

Out of the world

Covenant foundation
of nationhood

Decalogue - “Do” and live,
Disobey and die

Blood of Christ “Finished” -

Condition of blessing

Works - Obedience

Grace - Faith

Government or rule

Whole Mosaic Economy

Whole law of Christ

Goal - Become the true “holy nation” of God  Ex.19:45

Never realized -
The IF never fulfilled

Realized by EVERY citizen
in the nation - “ye ARE”

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 10

Heb.1:1Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

When did this begin?  The time of Moses.

 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things,

What is the comparison and contrast in Heb.1:1-2a?  God has been speaking to the Hebrews in history.  There is a finality to God’s message in Jesus.

 through whom also he created the world.  3He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.  After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4having become  much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Notice that this discussion is not in terms of Abraham’s descendant and heir, but of the true nature of God’s son who is not God’s descendant and doesn’t inherit merely by right of birth, but by merit.  Mark this merit in the above and below passages.  v.3-4, 9a

5For to which of the angels did God ever say, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"?

What is this referring to and how do you know?  The resurrection of Jesus in Ps.2:7 as interpreted in Acts 13:32-33.

Or again, "I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son"?

Compare 2 Sam.7 with 1 Chron.17 below.

11…Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house.  12When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  13He shall build a house for my name and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  14I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.  When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men,

What’s this about?  He will be a man under God.

 5but my steadfast love will not depart from him,(L) as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you.  16And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.  Your throne shall be established forever.'"  2 Sam.7:

10…Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house.  When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.  12He shall build a house for me and I will establish his throne forever.  13I will be to him a father and he shall be to me a son.  I will not take my steadfast love from him as I took it from him who was before you, 14but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'"  1 Chron.17:

Note the language of permanence.

6And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God’s angels worship him."

7Of the angels he says, "He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire."

8But of the Son he says "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.  9You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions."

10And, "You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed.  But you are the same, and your years will have no end."

13And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"?

14Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?

Why this contrast with angels?  Because of the curious lowliness (2:7, 14, 17) and exaltation of the son.

2:1Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  2For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?  It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

5Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.  6It has been testified somewhere, "What is man that you are mindful of him or the son of man that you care for him?
7You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8putting everything in subjection under his feet."

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control.  At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10For it was fitting that he for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12saying,
"I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise."

13And again, "I will put my trust in him.  And again, "Behold, I and the children God has given me."

14Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.  16For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham.  17Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  18For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Note that though creation is repeatedly mentioned, the emphasis is upon redemption.

3:1Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.  3For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.  4(For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.)  5Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later [ie. to point to Christ], 6but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son.  And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

7Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.
10Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.'  11As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

What was the context for this?  The crossing of the wilderness under Moses.

12Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.  14For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.  15As it is said, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."

16For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?  17And with whom was he provoked for forty years?  Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?  18And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

What does the word rest refer to in these passages, Canaan?  No, salvation, compare with Lk.16:19-31.

What does 4:1a mean and imply?  Salvation is still being offered, which implies that there is coming a time when it will no longer be available.

4:1Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,
"As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" [see Ps.95] although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.  4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." [Gen.2:2]

How does this fit?  The rest of God has existed from the beginning.

 5And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."

6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."

8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest [keeping] for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.  12For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  13And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

How does one strive to enter the rest of God?  By taking heed to the teachings of God’s word which exposes the truth of our very motives and attitudes - so our only hope is to cast ourselves upon the mercy of God.

14Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 11

·        For our final sessions, go through the remainder of Hebrews and continue asking questions and answering them as we have been doing.

5:1For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  2He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness.  3Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.  4And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God just as Aaron was.

5So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,
"You are my Son, today I have begotten you";

6as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

7In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  8Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.  9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

11About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  12For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.  You need milk, not solid food, 13for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.  14But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

6:1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  3And this we will do if God permits.  4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.  7For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

9Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.  10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.  11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end 12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you."  15And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.  17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.  19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

7:1For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything.  He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace.  3He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

4See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils!  5And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham.  6But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.  7It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior.  8In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.  9One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

11Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?  12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.  13For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar.  14For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

15This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.  17For it is witnessed of him, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."

18For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20And it was not without an oath.  For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
"The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever.'"

22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

23The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  25Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.  27He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.  28For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever.

8:1Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.  3For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; thus it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer.  4Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.  5They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things.  For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."  6But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.  7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.

8For he finds fault with them when he says:
"Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah 9not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
11And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities and I will remember their sins no more."

13In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete.  And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

9:1Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.  2For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence.  It is called the Holy Place.  3Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.  5Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

6These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.  8By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9(which is symbolic for the present age).  According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.

11But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.  13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

15Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.  16For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established.  17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.  18Therefore not even the first covenant was inaugurated without blood.  19For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, "This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you."  21And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship.  22Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

23Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.  24For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.  25Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world.  But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  27And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

10:1For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.  2Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?  3But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.  4For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

5Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
"Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
6in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
7Then I said, 'Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'"

8When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), 9then he added, "Behold, I have come to do your will."  He does away with the first in order to establish the second.  10And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.  14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16"This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,"

17then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more."

18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.  23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

26For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.  28Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.  29How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?  30For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."  31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated.  34For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.  35Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  36For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."

39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.

Children of Abraham/Children of God – 1st of 3 Studies, Instructor Session 12

11:1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  2For by it the people of old received their commendation.  3By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

4By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts.  And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.  5By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found because God had taken him.  Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  7By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.  By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

8By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  9By faith he went to live in the land of promise as in a foreign land living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise.  10For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.  11By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.  12Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  14For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.  15If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return.  16But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

17By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18of whom it was said, "Through Isaac shall your offspring be named." 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.

21By faith Jacob when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph bowing in worship over the head of his staff.  22By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

23By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  24By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  26He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.  27By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible.  28By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.

29By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.  30By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.  31By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.

32And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets—33who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  35Women received back their dead by resurrection.  Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life.  36Others suffered mocking and flogging and even chains and imprisonment.  37They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword.  They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—38of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

3Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.  4In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.  5And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.
6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives."

7It is for discipline that you have to endure.  God is treating you as sons.  For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?  8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them.  Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?  10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  11For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.  14Strive for peace with everyone and for the holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.  15See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; 16that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  17For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.

18For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.  20For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned."  21Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear."  22But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, 23and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

25See that you do not refuse him who is speaking.  For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven.  26At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."  27This phrase, "Yet once more," indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain.  28Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29for our God is a consuming fire.

13:...8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.  9Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.  10We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.  11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.  12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  13Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.  14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.  15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.