The context of this verse has to do with the use of tongues, and other spiritual gifts, in the church. While all churches certainly need to make the Bible their standard for faith and practice, different churches tend to interpret things differently. Therefore, it is wise for a local church to give some kind of broad explanation to its beliefs, and also to it’s expectations for each of its members. A church covenant is a document for defining how members should conduct themselves with respect to the local church.
A covenant is a promise. It can be unilateral. There are instances where God made promises that were not dependant upon the response of man. For example, the covenant with Abraham. God said, “This is what I am going to do through you and your descendants.” We call this an unconditional covenant.
Most of the covenants that we see in the Bible are bi-lateral in nature, that is, they serve as agreements, or promises, between parties. We call them conditional covenants, because they specify that both parties are to do certain things. A good example is the covenant that Moses received at Mt. Sinai.
Church leaders of yester-year thought it wise to establish some form of covenant. Something that would be Scripturally based, and to which people could agree that this would be the guide-lines of proper attitude and actions, in order to represent the Lord Jesus as a group, and to represent one another as individuals.
There is an account in (2Ki.22:8) that says, “Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it.”
I’ve always thought that it was amazingly sad that, of all places the Scriptures might be lost, they would be lost in the house of the Lord. That’s really what had happened in the 1st century, when Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers. He said, “You have turned my Father’s house into a den of theives.” They may not have lost the book, but they had certainly lost their respect for it, and thier obedience it.
There have always been, and will be until the end of this present age, people who fail to live up to their profession. There is not one of us, including this preacher, who lives in sinless perfection. Yet, because we have been born again by the Holy Spirit of the Almighty God, we have the desire and the power to follow after godliness, as the pattern of our life, (Ph.2:13).
In order for any church to properly function as the body of Christ to its membership, and within its community, all things must be done decently and in order, (1Co.14:40). The Bible must be our standard of both faith and practice. In (ITi.3:16), it is written, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
These points of scriptural profit are not only for the individual, but also for the church. There are portions of scripture that instruct the church how to conduct its business in certain matters. The book of revelation repeatedly says, “He that ears, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”
The Bible is sound doctrine. The Bible is the only message true churches have to proclaim. The Bible is the only standard for the practice of Christian living. Yet, the Bible warns in (2Ti.4:3,4) that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” I suggest to you that those perilous times of which the Bible speaks, those last days, are upon us.
The local church, that preaches the biblical truths, is the primary target of Satan’s attack. He wants to cripple the effectiveness of the local church, because he knows the church is the body of Christ upon this earth. He knows the church is a powerful force of salt and light.
Satan has never, in all of history, been able to successfully war against the church from the outside. Even a superficial study of church history will reveal that when Satan has moved wicked men to persecute and scatter the church, and kill the church members, the church has grown stronger. However, Satan well knows that his most effective battle ground is claimed when he is able to get inside the church.
Sometimes, his being inside the church is seen in bickering and backbiting, a division among the people, because they have forgotten that it is the Lord’s Church and not their club.
As bad as civil war within a church is, there is something even worse, something that even more effectively binds the effectiveness of the church hand and foot. This “something” of which I speak, is when Satan is able, ever so subtly, to maneuver a church to the point where they will ignore, and even sanction, sin. The apostle Paul saw this as a very present danger in the church at Corinth. They had ignored the sinful behavior of one of their members. It was the kind of behavior that any lost person would quickly recognize as being immoral and wrong! He scolded them for not doing any thing about it, and instructed them to take action immediately, (1Co.5:1-7).
In order that things be done in an orderly fashion, there needs to be a covenant into which we can enter into with agreement, that this is what we ourselves pledge to do, and this is what we believe we have a right to expect of everyone else who becomes part of this body of believers.
We need to know that we are in covenant relationship with Christ, and we need to be in convenant relationship with one another. A covenant among believers, particularly among those in the family of faith of a local church, needs to be soundly based upon the Bible. It defines our expectations of each other as members in good standing, and it specifies our basis for church discipline. Things that are important need to be treated as important. How we conduct ourselves as a body of believers is very important.