The word ‘covenant‘ simply means ‘a binding agreement‘. The Bible clearly reveals that God is a God of covenant: he exists in a perfect covenantal relationship with himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in a divine community of unity.

God is one (Deuteronomy 6:4), and the three Persons of the trinity love and honour one another (Matthew 3:13-17, John 15:26-27). This is something of what Christians mean when we talk of God being triune. But God is also a God who makes and keeps his covenant with people; it is his way of relating to us. When he establishes covenant God establishes relationship, because the heart of covenant is relationship. This is the great theme in all the biblical covenants: God says, “I will be your God and you will be my people”.

The history of God’s people is a history of covenants, which are all part of God’s single magnificent purpose, to fill the earth with men and women in his image (Genesis 1:26-27). He joins himself to his people in covenant throughout the Old Testament; he keeps every promise he makes because he is faithful to his covenant (see Genesis 9:1-17, Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 15, Exodus 24, 2 Samuel 7).

These Old Testament covenants were ever only designed by God to be staging posts in his overall purpose. In all his dealings with the men and women of the Old Testament he was always moving towards something even greater, to the time when he would establish his everlasting covenant with everybody, whatever race they were. They would come from every people group and nation and be the people of God, filling the whole earth with the knowledge of God’s glory! Of course, this new covenant is centred in a person the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah 42:6-7, Mark 14:24). All the Old Testament covenants are fulfilled in him (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

The new covenant in Jesus Christ is the climax of every Old Testament promise and covenant. Indeed, the eternal covenant purpose of God was always centred in Jesus Christ right from the very beginning (Genesis 3:15). As the new covenant people of God we are joined to him and also to every other believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, the new covenant that we enter in Jesus Christ is a covenant of brotherhood, of family. Through it we do not only belong to Christ but also to one another. This means that the New Covenant should be practically expressed in our life together as Christians in mutual love, care loyalty, honesty, encouragement, correction and faithfulness. A life lived in covenant with God and his people frees us from sinful independence, from selfishness, loneliness and isolation. Our salvation is not only individual but corporate. God’s intention is that all his people should express his covenant life.

Roger Aubrey

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