Covenant Theology is an interpretation of the Bible from within a covenantal framework. It essentially seeks to set forth how God brings about the history of redemption in Christ through covenants (promises). As Derek Thomas puts it -“Covenant theology is, in one sense, an understanding that God relates to human beings by way of covenants—successive covenants—and that the Bible has two principal covenants: a covenant of works and a covenant of grace.” In this passage, we learn how the New Covenant (grace) is superior to the Old Covenant (works), and what it means for Christians today.
We’ve often heard a cliché about the necessity of leaders being ’empathetic’ and ‘humble’ towards people. But how does a leader cultivate such character qualities to serve people well? The Bible says that only the gospel of Jesus Christ enables leaders to have a heart of humility. In this passage, we learn how gospel authenticates and produces genuine humility in a leader through the path of suffering, so that he displays character qualities like Christ did.
Any church community’s institutional stability and solid spiritual growth is always dependent on its mature and effective leadership committee. If there are no godly Christian men who are equipped to handle the Word of God and the saints, the church would collapse immediately. In this passage, Paul explains what it means to be a genuine Christian leader called by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and to suffer for His name sake.
In our first part under this topic, we learnt that the Lord has instituted His church with certain organizational structure which includes ‘Church Discipline’, operated through pastors, elders and deacons to counsel, rebuke, correct and guide us towards righteousness. In this passage, we learn how church discipline shouldn’t be practiced, and also what kind of response should we display when the elders, pastors and deacons work to restore our joy in the Lord.
‘Decree’ literally means to order something that comes to pass. Christianity rests on the truth about God’s eternal decrees concerning the salvation of men, and controlling all that happens in this universe. Everything is predestined by God. As R.C Sproul once said – “What predestination means, in its most elementary form, is that our final destination, heaven or hell, is decided by God not only before we get there, but before we are even born. It teaches that our ultimate destiny is in the hands of God.” In this sermon, we meditate on the doctrine of God’s Sovereign and unconditional election which was decreed much before the world began.
We live in a culture which promotes freedom from accountability, regulations, rules etc. But in Christianity, the church cannot be sustained without certain organisational structure. The Lord has instituted His church with certain structure, operated through pastors, elders and deacons to counsel, guide, correct, rebuke and restore the congregation or an individual towards righteousness. This function is often referred to as Church Discipline. It is one of those essential marks of a healthy church. In this passage, we learn the nature of Church Discipline and why Christians need it.
Christianity’s message about the gospel of hope, forgiveness and eternal life is also effective when Christians maintain their integrity and uprightness. The gospel witness and our testimony is at stake when we are double-minded people who don’t live as per our profession of faith in Christ. In this passage, we learn the ways in which we can maintain our integrity so that the world would see Christ in us and glorify Him.
Elisabeth Elliot on suffering once said ― “Whatever is in the cup that God is offering to me, whether it be pain and sorrow and suffering and grief along with the many more joys, I’m willing to take it because I trust Him.” This needs to be the response of every Christian in times of suffering, because hardships are inevitable in this life. In this passage, we learn how suffering should enable us to trust in God, an expression of our humility and dependency on Him alone.
Suffering is a universal experience and an inevitable part of our lives. The world suggests us to flee suffering at all costs, so we are provided with millions of solutions everyday to get rid of suffering. However, according to the Bible, God doesn’t want us to avoid or flee from suffering but to embrace it for the greater purpose. In this passage, we learn the purpose of suffering in Christian life, and how God uses it in the lives of others so that ultimately He is glorified in and through our suffering.
“God is goodness itself, in whom all goodness is involved. If therefore we love other things for the goodness which we see in them, why do we not love God, in whom is all goodness? All other things are but sparks of that fire, and drops of that sea. If you see any good in the creature, remember there is much more in the Creator. Leave therefore the streams, and go to the fountainhead of comfort.” These are the words by puritan Richard Sibbes beautifully portraying the goodness of God toward mankind. In this sermon, we meditate on God’s goodness and our response to that glorious truth.