|Our Written Covenant with God
A covenant is like a contract, which obliges each party to certain conditions for specified benefits to each party. Is that legalese enough? Two things. One, the benefit to God, who has everything, is the propagation of His love to human beings, who could be like Him and be adopted into His loving family. In other words, God loves to help people to learn to love as He loves. Two, the benefit to covenant signers, us, perhaps, is eternal life when Jesus returns to set up the Kingdom of God and on the new Earth, which God will create in a later millennium. The covenant contract benefits us who agree to it immediately as well, and one does not have to wait until sleep (the Biblical term for believers death) and the resurrection.
The covenant contains ten main provisions called the Ten Commandments. God the originator of the covenant divides the ten provisions into two parts, how to conduct ourselves with God, and how to associate with other members of the human race. Our conduct with God means we hold Him as the one and only Lord and Creator. We never make anything like an idol made of created stuff on earth, or put anyone or anything before Him. We never show any disrespect to Him or behind His back. And, we rest and assemble ourselves on the Seventh Day. We associate with other Earthlings by treating them as we would be treated, honor our parents, never lie to, steal from, hurt or murder another. We honor the marriage covenant and never covet what another has. These ten provisions are found in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
When we agree to Gods covenant, we agree to Gods binding provisions with their attendant blesses for adherence and penalties for non-adherence. First, He warns us to consider carefully entering into the agreement, very carefully. Further, God helps us in many ways to enable us to follow the provisions. He provides a written statement, gives examples of people following them, and finally writes the provisions on our minds for easy access. Ultimately, God gives us a direct line to Him through His Son to obtain all that is necessary to keep the covenant. Of course, the God of Love wants us to succeed now and be resurrected later.
Heb. 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their god, and they shall be my people.
Ratification of the Covenant
The God instituted the covenant with Abram, later to be renamed Abraham, whom God told to halve several specimens of animals. Subsequently, a flame passed between the pieces. Later, bloody circumcision replaced the animals of Abram, but physical circumcision remained an outward sign for the spiritual symbol of a humble heart shown by obedience to God. Finally, the covenant became finalized when the Holy Spirit removed the foreskins of the heart. Unlike contracts of today that are signed sealed and delivered in lawyers offices, our covenant with God began with physical circumcision and developed into a ratification of the covenant by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Rom. 2:28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.
Rom. 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Thus, God offers us the covenant of life by which we agree, not by having the foreskin removed, but rather by taking the New Covenant steps. First, the Gospel inspires a person to repent and believe Jesus is the Messiah from God. Then the party of the second part, the human about to enter the covenant, gets baptized. And finally, with hands being laid on, the Holy Spirit permeates the individual and severs all connections, like circumcision of the heart, with the social systems of the world and the former ways of life, and thereby completes the ratification of the covenant.
Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:17 Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.
As in any contract or covenant, certain conditions must be met among the terms of the agreement. Certainly keeping the commandments remains paramount. A major section of the covenant obliges the ratifier to keep the Passover in remembrance of Jesus sacrifice and death that made the covenant possible. As Jesus ate the bread and drank the wine to authorize his requirement to the covenant, we likewise on the same Passover day, albeit in another year, confirm our signatory in that covenant. All is legally binding on all parties when the conditions are met: vis. our keeping the commandments, getting baptized, receiving the Holy Spirit, and keeping Passover above all and with the other Holy Days.
1Cor. 11:23 ¶ For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
1Cor. 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.
1Cor. 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
1Cor. 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lords death until He comes.
Jesus Obligation to Us
Once having met our obligation to the covenant, the resultant provisions of the covenant thereby become incumbent upon Jesus to fulfill. His main obligation requires him to mediate between God and us. When we err, make that unfortunate and rare inadvertent mistake, of breaking a commandment or other codicil, we repent and pray for forgiveness. At that point, Jesus goes to His Father and Ours, and proclaims his blood for our forgiveness. Being freed from the slavery of sin, without anything else, becomes an eternal reward in and of itself. We call this salvation, which is the ultimate purpose of the covenant. More on this later.
Gal. 3:20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one.
1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Heb. 8:6 But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
Heb. 9:15 ¶ For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
When all is fulfilled, God must and will keep all the provisions He placed in the covenant that we obligated ourselves to. While the covenant is a legally binding document, God is still Our Father in Heaven who loves beyond all we can imagine and is determined that we will receive all the promises because He will bring about all the circumstances that will get us to keep our end of the bargain. That said, we can see what God promises covenant keepers.
Deut. 29:9 So keep the words of this covenant to do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.
Deut. 28:1 ¶ Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.
Deut. 28:2 All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the LORD your God:
Deut. 28:3 ¶ Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
Deut. 28:4 ¶ Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.
Deut. 28:5 ¶ Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
Deut. 28:6 ¶ Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
Deut. 28:7 ¶ The LORD shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.
Deut. 28:8 The LORD will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
Deut. 28:9 The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways.
Deut. 28:10 So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they will be afraid of you.
Deut. 28:11 The LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.
Deut. 28:12 The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
Deut. 28:13 The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully,
Deut. 28:14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
God gave the above promises to Israel for their loyalty in keeping the covenant. While many redound on covenant keepers today, some are meant for the nation of Israel then. Even so, not all of them received all of the promises because, not due to their disobedience, but due to their desire. Not everyone wanted all that was offered, for whatever reason. On the other hand, some of the promises could prove to have an adverse effect on certain individuals. For some wealth could be an impediment rather than a blessing, if you understand. God knows what is best for us, even if we might think otherwise, at times. These physical blessing mean little when compared to the spiritual ones God planned in the New Covenant.
Gods covenant with us frees us from slavery to Satan and sin. Jesus paid all the penalties for the crimes (sins) we committed against God and our fellow man, when he died on the cross in our place. His blood bought our freedom, so Satan and sin have no legal bond on us. We, therefore, are free to be righteous. If nothing else were promised in the covenant, to be free from the slavery of sin amounts to the greatest blessing we could receive. But, God promised much more.
Rom. 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Rom. 6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,
Rom. 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
Rom. 6:20 ¶ For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
Rom. 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Gal. 4:7 Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.
Rom. 8:15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, Abba! Father!
Rights as Progeny
God foreordained us in the beginning of time to be His adopted children with Jesus as our brother. If he is our brother, we have the same rights and privileges, as does he. God is Our Father in Heaven just as much as He is Jesus. We have been given the same ability to do the works Jesus did and more. We have the same right to approach Our Father in Heaven as Jesus did and does. The covenant document, so hard earned by Jesus, has yielded profound blessings for those who are willing to follow its provisions.
Rom. 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.
Gal. 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
1John 3:1 ¶ See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
John 14:12 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
Promise of the Indwelling Spirit
An immediate result of signing the covenant is receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit. No longer are people of the covenant just flesh and blood human beings, they are now renewed and remade with Gods Holy Spirit permeating their being. While the Holy Spirit cannot be discerned by material measures, it truly exists within and capable of great power for good. God sealed us with the Holy Spirit until we would be changed into spirit beings upon Jesus return. Until then the Spirits power remains available for use.
Rom. 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
Eph. 1:11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Eph. 1:12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.
Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvationhaving also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
Eph. 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of Gods own possession, to the praise of His glory.
In a word, the New Covenant promises life, and life more abundantly. Life in the New Covenant means more than breathing, walking and talking. It means living abundantly, which is loving abundantly. It further means being blessed by God with discipline and hard instruction where necessary. It means living by faith instead of sight. While in this world abundant living refers to money, wealth and other material or pagan things, in the Bible it is all about love, for God is love.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Eph. 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Heb. 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Heb. 12:5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
My Son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him;
Heb. 12:6 For Those Whom The Lord Loves He disciplines,
and He scourges every son whom he receives.
Heb. 12:7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
Heb. 12:8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
Heb. 12:9 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live?
Heb. 12:10 For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness.
Heb. 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Gal. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.