Contract or Covenant?

In a recent blog, I saw this thought being expressed …

The point of a contract is to put down in writing, an agreement between two (or more) parties so that each knows his own obligations and the obligations of the other parties. This is to ensure that each fufils his part of the agreement, and it gives him “protection” should other fail to fulfil his obligations. It spells out and gives the right to force fulfilment of the promise or otherwise sue for damages (this is usually financial). In the UK we also have a concept of “verbal contract”, though these are notoriously difficult to prove in a court. However, in essence:

Any contract is an expression of mistrust, and a written contract is a document of mistrust.

If we lived In a world where people are truly honest and full of integrity there would be NO NEED for a contract of any sort.

A marriage is NOT and should never be a contract. Marriage is at its core, a covenant relationship. A covenant is a commitment to act in a certain way REGARDLESS of the actions of another. When I married Wendy 33 years ago I did not enter into a contract with her, I made certain promises to her. Likewise she made certain promises to me. Neither of us used the word “if”, we both used the expression “I will …”. The vows we both made were not dependant on the other’s fulfillment or otherwise of a condition. In making those promises to Wendy on that day, I enetered into a covenant with her which means that my promises stand alone. Whether or not she reciprocates, earns or even deserves my love and fidelity by either her attitudes or her actions, I covenanted that I would love her, I would put her first and I would be faithful to her for the rest of my life.

Breaking any of the promises I made (for whatever reason) would not reflect on her – they would reflect on me.

In Ephesians, Paul reflects on the nature of the marriage covenant, describes it as a mystery and then says “but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). One implication of this is that a Christian’s relationship with God is not contractural – it is a covenant relationship!

Let that sink in a minute …

God’s love of us and His promises to us are covenant promises and not contractural obligations!

Hundreds of years before Jesus came, Jeremiah prophecied and described this covenant …

“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant …..”

And Jeremiah described this New Covenant …

“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Jesus describes this in Luke 22:20. I wonder if he had Jeremiah’s prophecy ringing in His ears as He said … “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”.

Paul picks up on this newness in the covenant and describes himself as a minister of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6), declaring that this New Covenant is of the Spirit and brings us life.

In Hebrews, we learn of the New Covenant which is superior to the Old Covenant (Hebrews 8:6) and has made it obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), and that Jesus, the mediator of the New Covenant has set us free from sins committed under the old covenant (Hebrews 9:15). As a result of this, we can be sure that we will recieve our eternal inheritance.

And none of this depends on us or what we do. All we have to do is accept the love of God and respond to the message of the Gospel by “calling on His name” (Romans 10:13)

So the question I want to ask is this one …

Would you rather enter into a contract with God, where his love of or acceptance of you is dependant on your fulfilling some conditions or requirements?

Or

Will you call on His name and accept the free gift of the New Covenant which will bring you life in all its fulness and an eternity with Him?

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

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