Presenting a Biblical response by concerned former Seventh-day Adventists to the Sabbath School Bible Study Guide.

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Commentary on "Grace"



Day 2: Sunday, May 10, 2009



Sunday's lesson reviews the story of Abraham, where he is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. The lesson examines the prophetic significance of this story in pointing to the Messiah and the ultimate sacrifice through Jesus. The lesson concludes by stating that the central point of the entire Old Testament is Jesus.



At a glance, this lesson is seemingly very straightforward. But there are subtle errors that must be addressed.

First, the E.G White Notes "expand" on the story of Abraham by adding thought and emotions that are not described in the actual story found in Genesis 22:1-18. Here is an excerpt from the E.G White Notes that correspond with this lesson:

"All the grief and agony that Abraham endured during the three days of his dark and fearful trial, were imposed upon him to give us a lesson in perfect faith and obedience, and that we might better comprehend how real was the great self-denial and infinite sacrifice of the Father in giving his only Son to die a shameful death for the guilty race. No other trial, no other suffering or test, which could have been brought to bear upon Abraham, would have caused such mental anguish, such torture of soul, as that of obeying God in offering up his son."--Signs of the Times, April 3, 1879.

While it can be assumed that Abraham was filled with grief and agony, these emotions are not recorded in the Biblical account. In fact, by adding these assumed emotions to the Bible, it minimizes Abraham's trust in God's faithfulness and promises.

It is important to note that God calls Abraham by his covenant name. "Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, 'Abraham!' And he said, 'Here I am'" (Gen. 22:1). This fact tells us that God was in a covenant relationship with Abraham. God had agreed to bless and protect Abraham, and make him the father of many nations.

The actual story of the Abrahamic covenant is found in Genesis 15:6-21. It is important to note that this covenant was unilateral. Abraham did not have to hold to any standards of behavior to maintain this covenant--God's promises to Abraham were unconditional. God, representing both the smoking oven and the flaming torch (vs. 17), alone passed between the animals while a deep sleep was upon Abraham. The fulfillment of this covenant fell to God alone.

It is also important to note that God refers to Isaac as his only son:

"He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you'." Because of God's earlier promise and covenant to Abraham, Abraham understood that Isaac, not Ishmael, was the son through which the promise was to be given. "But God said, 'No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him'" (Gen. 17:19).

Hebrews 11:17-19 states that Abraham did this by faith, knowing all along that God, who cannot lie and is faithful to His promises, had promised a long line of descendants through Isaac. This was not merely an act of blind faith, or as the E.G White Notes put it, a "dark and fearful trial". Abraham was able to fully trust God because he was in a unilateral, unconditional covenant relationship with God. He knew God would be faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).

Another problem noted in the E.G White Notes, is the undermining of God's sovereignty by introducing the heretical thought that the angels were eagerly watching to see whether Satan's accusations would be false. Note the following excerpt:

"It had been difficult for the angels to grasp the mystery of redemption--to comprehend that the Commander of heaven, the Son of God, must die for guilty man. When the command was given to Abraham to offer up his son, the interest of all heavenly beings was enlisted. With intense earnestness they watched each step in the fulfillment of this command... Heavenly beings were witnesses of the scene as the faith of Abraham and the submission of Isaac were tested... All heaven beheld with wonder and admiration of Abraham's unfaltering obedience. All heaven applauded his fidelity. Satan's accusations were shown to be false."--The Truth About Angels, pp. 79, 80.

The above account is completely unbiblical. There is no indication in the Bible that angels are watching a cosmic battle between God and Satan, applauding when the good side wins. It's a ridiculous notion.



  1. Abraham's faith was not blind. Because of his certainty in God's covenant and promises, he trusted God.
  2. The Abrahamic covenant was unilateral and unconditional. It was not dependent on his behavior or level of obedience.
  3. God is sovereign. He does not need to prove Himself to His creation.






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