Before we dive into covenant theology, we'd like to get your brain thinking...
We've all signed contracts with cell phone companies or TV providers. At the beginning our desire for what they provide over shadowed the fine print and binding legal language in the end that we despised the most.
Don't act as you've never been upset by a cell phone or TV provider contract in the end when you wanted out.
Let me ask you a question... if these contracts frustrate us so much, but we insist on having the service, then why does a contract (a covenant) with God deter so many people?
Perhaps it's not God that deters us, but the people that mislead us in explaining what God requires of us in this contract. Did any of these people explain to you what God's contract entails? Simply put... God wants us to turn from our way of life (sin), and in doing so, God shows us unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness. No questions asked! Then, he asks us to live according to His will for our lives aka a better way of life! Sweet deal, right?!
We believe that people get hung up on His will for their lives not their will for God in their life. The contract becomes impossible to sign. People don't want other people controlling their life. I know, I know! His control leads to a better way of life, said every Christian to a person on the fence about following Christ. We can't simply say or make this argument. We have to embody it, i.e., we have to give evidence to living according to His way leads to a better way of life aka we must journey together (through discipleship and equipping them with Biblical Foundation of God's Word) to a better understanding of what God is calling us to do.
Now that we have your interest peaked or your now second guessing signing that cell phone contract last weekend, let's start unpacking Module 3 - Understanding the Biblical Narrative: Covenant Theology. But, before we start I want us to take a look at Matt Allen's introduction to Covenant Theology:
The topic of covenant theology, to do it justice, would require a lifetime of study. In this module, we will briefly review the most significant covenants between God and man. These covenants consistently show how God desires to show mankind His loving kindness, and how mankind requires divine grace to forgive his innate inability to hold up his end of the bargain.
Before we survey these covenants, it is imperative to understand the idea of a covenant. In modern terminology, it is a contract. We engage in contracts all the time: employment contracts, real estate contracts, handshake agreements with vendors or customers. Marriage, in fact, is the most prevalent and perhaps most commonly violated covenant in our time.
A contract is essentially an agreement between multiple parties. In the Bible, the agreements are typically between God and either a specific person or group of people. The agreement will stipulate what each party will do, and the consequences for failing to complete the agreement. Interestingly enough, many of the covenants that God established are very unilateral, meaning that He makes promises but does not hold the counterpart (mankind) to any conditions. These agreements are rare and gracious.
Take, for example, your employment contract. Let’s suppose that your employer signs an agreement that they will never fire you or eliminate your position. The agreement, however, allows you to quit at a moment’s notice to take a new job and leave with a big check in your hand. This agreement would clearly favor you with little to no benefit to your employer. It would be rare to find such gracious terms. Yet, Scripture is full of examples of God offering generous conditions in His covenants, with no benefits to Himself as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
Author Michael Horton gives us a breakdown of the importance of understanding covenant theology:
"While some Bible readers quake at the mention of "covenant" or "doctrine," it is vitally important to recognize and understand the significance of covenant and its role in bridging the gap between sinner and salvation. Why? Because to understand covenant theology is to understand how it unifies the diverse teachings of Scripture, binds the Old and New Testaments as one narrative, and enriches the meaning in your relationship with the Triune God."
Matt made it a point to stop and explain the importance of covenant theology before we dove into Module 3. Michael Horton's quote reaffirms Matt. "It's vitally important to recognize and understand the significance of covenant and its role in bridging the gap between sinner and salvation." - Michael Horton
Vitally important, significance, role in bridging the gap. Hopefully these words get you to sit up and pay attention. We must understand what God's Word means and for us to understand what it means we must understand the Biblical narrative and a part of that Biblical narrative is covenant theology.
This information is not solely for Pastors, Missionaries, or people in spiritual leadership. If we call ourselves Followers of Christ that means He calls us to understand His word, i.e., this information.
Michael Horton goes on: "Whether new to Reformed theology or not, every believer (emphasis added) needs to understand the importance of covenants. God of Promise unpacks covenant theology so you can explore the core of Christianity: knowing-and honoring-the promises of our Creator."
We hope this will stir something in you to journey with us as we explore the importance and significance of God's covenant.
We are proud and honored to have Matt Allen dedicated to writing/leading us through this material. He not only understands the importance of Biblical Foundation, but he has this amazing way of teaching it to you. Matt is not one to boast about it, but as a friend and brother in Christ, I will tell you - if you get a minute with Matt you will be better off for it. His knowledge and passion for Christ are evident in the words he speaks. I encourage you to join us and be apart of Biblical Foundation training. In the almost three years of knowing Matt, I have grown tremendously in my faith and knowledge of God's word!
If your schedule doesn't permit you to join us in Honduras, please contact us and let us know your interest. We will be scheduling other Biblical Foundation training in the states for 2018!
In the next coming weeks, we will dive into Covenants between:
- The Creator and His Creatures: Adam
- Calling a People: Abraham
- Redeeming a People: Moses
- Establishing a People: David
- The Need for a new Covenant: Jesus
These covenants will help us understand the Biblical Narrative that shows how God desires to show mankind His loving kindness, and how mankind requires divine grace to forgive his innate inability to hold up his end of the bargain.
Take this time to check out our recommended reading: Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton and more importantly dive into His word and explore the covenants of Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David.
Live for His glory... Succeed for His kingdom!