Why do we call it a “Covenant Relationship”?

Often we hear the Christian’s relationship with God and with the Church and congregation as a “Covenant Relationship”, maybe you wonder why.

A covenant is an agreement between two parties–you can think of it in terms of a contract, like when you buy a house, or a marriage license.

In faith terms, God and his people are in a “Covenant Relationship”. God agrees to be their God and they agree to be his people. This is the pattern throughout the Bible. Even in the Garden of Eden God and Adam and Eve had this kind of relationship. God’s part of being the god of his people is: a promise to provide a redeemer and ultimately do all things for the good of his people who love him. His people’s part is: trust God for his provision and keep his law.

This means that, if you are a Christian, you are in covenant (i.e. a “Covenant Relationship”) with God. You have agreed to trust in God and to keep his law. And God has agreed to provide redemption for you through Jesus and to work all things out for your ultimate good, as one of his covenant people. That’s each individual’s ultimate responsibility in the covenant, which children of the covenant are expected to grow into. Children of Covenant People are in Covenant Relationship with God through their parent’s relationship. As faithful parents, they should worship God corporately, and as a family, trust in Christ alone for salvation, and seek for the whole family to observe God’s law. As children, they are on the “coattails” of thier parents’ faith, which is good and pleasing to God, but it isn’t enough for salvation. One day most of those covenant children, by God’s grace and covenant provision (Rom. 3:1-2, 9:1-5), will have true faith of their own and hold on the covenant for themselves. Individuals are responsible for their own faith in God.

As we are in covenant with God Almighty we have agreed to be his people. This has many day to day, practical implications, some of them are: do all things to his glory, deny yourself, live as a citizen of heaven, and keep his law. Why do we know these things are part of the relationship–don’t we just figure out a relationship as we learn the person’s personality, their likes and dislikes? We know these are part of our obligation because God has revealed his personality in his Word.

  1. Do all things to God’s glory–every thought, word, deed should be done for God’s glory, not yours. We begin to do this as we begin to worship God and grow in our worship of God. When you go into the congregation to worship, do you do so with God’s majesty in mind? Do you prepare for worship before Sunday morning’s car ride–I confess many times I do not. God is the creator and sustainer of all things, am I really going to enter his presence without an extra measure of awe inspired devotion and deference?
  2. Deny yourself, as God sent his Son to die for your sins so, too, should you as one of God’s children live with other’s good in mind. Deny your desires so others might have theirs fulfilled. Deny your well guarded time-table in the interest of building a relationship, healing one, or making it stronger. Deny yourself by allowing that insensitive word to be forgiven without a word or correction.
  3. Live as a citizen of heaven, not just in terms of holy living, but keeping one eye on heaven and looking forward to Jesus’ return. This attitude helps us see all of life as God’s purposeful aim toward his glorious end. The trials that are so hard here serve to point us to the day Jesus will return. Trials and suffering aren’t the way God made the world, they are the way our sin caused the curse. So, trials point us to the hope of Jesus’ return which helps us to live spiritually as well as physically.
  4. Keep his law. Do you know God’s law? Find the summaries in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 if you don’t. Read the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms on the law for greater insight into them. Do your earnestly endeavor to keep God’s law?

These are just part of the requirements we have as God’s people, and hopefully you see your failure. Not that I want you to be discouraged, but because apart from knowing you are a failure you won’t know your need. That’s why God sent his son, Jesus, because his people are sinners, failures. Our Covenant Relationship is founded on Jesus’ perfection and ability–not ours. As we live our lives before God, let us never forget our need for Jesus–we won’t ever stop sinning before we die or He returns, so we’ll need his work for us every day until then. The Covenant calls on you to give God everything He is owed in worship and obedience, and the Covenant provides a shelter for you because you fail in Jesus. Thanks be to God!