Covenant

covenant-2cov-e-nant 1 : a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement : COMPACT
2 a : a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action. –Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary

Understanding the salvation of God must begin with the knowledge that it is based on a covenant, not a contract. Scripture gives us that much explicitly. But what is a covenant? We know what language pundits have to say (see above), but the etymology of the word is somehow confined in the natural realm. Where God is concerned, a covenant seems to be much more than what we get from Merriam Webster. When we begin to search the Scriptures, we find the thing swaddled in otherworldly wonder and power.

I wanted to tap into the mystical essence of the covenant, to go beyond the intellectual and linguistic trappings of the word. So I asked several people what they thought a covenant is. Many people said it was an agreement. However, that, too, has been given outright. One person said, more specifically, that it is a relational agreement. Others called it a promise. One considered it a sacred, unbreakable pact. I think my favorite response was that a covenant is a bond. The word brought for me a gush of warmth.

What does a divine covenant look like? To explore this question, we should recall that God made a covenant with Abraham to give him the Promised Land and to bless the entire world through his descendants. In spite of countless failures on the part of the Israelites, God came through on both parts of His promise. The Covenant wasn’t broken because of their failures. But now what does the New Covenant mean for us? For God’s part, it means He promises to bring us back to Himself through our belief in Christ. God has given us the assurance of forgiveness, justification, redemption, deliverance, sanctification and, in the end, passage into glory because of the person and sacrifice of Jesus. For my part, it means that I must not allow anything to get on top of the truth that, once I have entered into this covenant with God, that transaction (and all its provisions) becomes the central deciding factor in my life from now on. God’s part is to do it. My part is to trust that He has done it.

But if I fail to trust, can the covenant be broken?

It is essentially impossible for sinful humanity to fully grasp the meaning of a covenant with Almighty God. We know the word means, among other things, “promise,” but where does that leave us? Promises can be broken. Our world is literally built on the detritus of broken promises, like a city paved over the crumbled pillars of former civilizations. How can we possibly see the New Covenant through the lens of corruption and finitude which is the ongoing human milieu? The answer is that we need the supernatural assistance of the Holy Spirit to see it. Moreover, glimpsing the truth isn’t enough. Our view of it can too easily be snatched away from us (Matt. 13:19). We must throw ourselves at the glittering hope of it with all our strength and with all our heart. If we believe in Christ and abandon ourselves to His marvelous salvation, we are then carried by the strength of the Covenant, which cannot be dissolved, for it is based on the promise of One who never fails, not out of weakness nor out of moral deficit.

But what happens if I decisively “opt out” of this covenant? What penalty could be levied for deliberately violating an agreement by which God commits to overlooking all violations? Green parkHow would God proceed when, in the first place, He undertook the agreement specifically to deal with my inability to remain true? If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Does this mean that we have Eternal Security? Perhaps. But what if someone, having at one time decided to give his life up to Christ, suddenly changed course and completely shut God out, repudiated his former commitment, pushed away the conviction of the Holy Spirit, ignored all of God’s conciliatory overtures and “laid the reins against the neck of [his] lusts,” and died in that condition, would God forgive him and take him home anyway? Perhaps. But my question would be: Why on earth would any of us want to?

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About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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4 Responses to Covenant

  1. Anne says:

    Much better…and clearer. Thanks. The love of God is definitely unfathomable.

    • Fred Blauer says:

      Hi Doug,
      I read again the new post on covenant and I like it and think it is spelled out clearly as I understand it; but frankly, I don’t relate well with the word covenant. I find it somewhat legal, like God and I review a document to make sure all parties are living up to there part. For me, I compare my bond with God the same way I do with my earthly relationships. I am a son of God and my expectations from him are the same as I have for my children. I feel he gave birth to me, nurtures me, and corrects and loves me so long as I live.
      John Newton says it this way, “What is the tenderness of a mother, of ten thousand mothers, to that which our compassionate Savior bears to every poor soul that has been enabled to flee to him for salvation!” Is it possible to turn our backs on God? I suppose anything is possible but I think those that have turned from the ways of God have more accurately turned from the corruption of Christ church. I have heard the gospel presented many ways, and some of which I’m thankful weren’t my first introduction to Christ; had they been, I’m not sure I would have surrendered. Lots of wrath, hating of the wicked, destruction of the evil ones, eternal tormenting and fire, flames and smoke. Not quite the refuge many a soul is looking for in their hour of need, especially if they come from a violent past where abuse was common. But this subject begs hours of discussion so I will leave you with these few impressions.
      In Christ,
      Fred

  2. Scott says:

    Dude you are so gifted you need to publish these as a year in the life of a mere or something of that nature

  3. Sarah Willems says:

    The theological implications are deep and rich! Keep digging away! Some conclusions are past our understanding, but we are always invited to use our brains and think things through. For me the shining star of this discussion is that our God, Jehovah, is the only diety, past or present, who is relational — that is, he longs for a relationship with his creatures. He wants us in his household! How amazing is that??
    Blessings to you!

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