Summary: The church covenant is important: not the sign on the wall, but the relationships involved.
God’s Glorious Church
The Covenant Relationship
Woodlawn Baptist Church
April 10, 2005
“Paul, and Silas, and Timothy, unto the church of the Thessalonicans which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of god and our Father; knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: so that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing. For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”
Today I want to continue our study of the Lord’s churches with a look at our covenant relationship, and while there are probably several churches in the Bible that enjoyed a great covenant relationship before God and one another, I can’t think of a passage in the Bible that expresses everything that our Church Covenant embodies the way that this passage does.
I know our covenant hangs on the wall, but most of you probably have not read it in some time if you’ve ever read it at all. I’ve given you a copy of it in your notes, and in your study time this week I want you to read it and pray that God would give you a great heart for your church and for your place in it.
Do you know what a covenant is? Or what the difference is between a covenant and a contract? While you might get varying definitions in your dictionaries, I want to give you one of my own. I want you to think of a contract as an agreement made between two parties, whether it is written or spoken. When you bought your car, you signed a contract. When you got your Visa, you entered a contract, and you can think of plenty of other examples. Contracts can be made and they can be broken. A covenant on the other hand is different. While a contract is an agreement made between two parties, I want you to think of a covenant as an agreement made between two parties before God. In fact, you’ll find in the Bible several covenants were God was one of the parties. That’s why we don’t call marriage a contract, and those who do don’t have any problem breaking it.
In Bible days, when a covenant was made, the two parties would take an animal or several animals and they would cut them in half long-ways. They would then place the halves end to end, separated down the middle with a space wide enough to walk through. The two parties would join hands and pass through the carcasses of the animals together, and while we may fail to see the significance of the act, suffice it to say that it was recognized as serious.
When two parties enter into a covenant agreement before God, what they are communicating is that they intend to keep up their end of the agreement with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their might. So, what does that have to do with the Church Covenant? Everything!
Folks, people are starving today for the greatness of God. I know and you know that most people don’t realize that their greatest need is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ: a genuine, life-changing, intimate and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. They don’t know they’re starving for His greatness. They don’t know they’re starving for His holiness. They don’t know they’re starving for His righteousness, for His presence, for His purpose and for His power. They’re literally starving to death and don’t know it.
What is a shame to me is that not only are the people on the outside of our churches starving; now the people on the inside are starving too. Listen to me – your deepest need is God! He is the Bread of Life for the starving soul. He is the Living Water; He and He alone can quench the thirsty soul. But in our world where the significance of church and church ministry has diminished, we have lost sight of our purpose of serving Him up to people who are hungry and thirsty!