The covenant-making God

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region (Luke 4:14).

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him. You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him (Acts 10:34-38).

 

In reading these two portions of Scripture, one thing can be understood from them. Form both of them, they describe how Jesus Christ had “power.” This power is what many contemporary, “TV,” preachers would call the anointing. And this anointing is seen to represent the effectiveness of the gospel as it is spread throughout the world.

Most of these teachers go so far as to declare that when one preaches they present a covenant that God is making with each individual. And, in a sense, they are correct. This is because God is doing just that with those who repent of their sins and become members of his kingdom through conversion.

The apostle Peter describes this when he declares: “in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35). The acceptance before God of such individuals represents a covenantal relationship that God forms with them. Therefore, it is quite acceptable to understand God as a “Covenant-making God.”

If we look further into the account from Acts, we will find the following:

While Peter was still speaking of these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word (Acts 10:44).

Such a situation allows us to see that God wants to move upon us in grace. For the moment in which the Holy Spirit fell upon those listening to Peter, was at a moment when God was offering forgiveness for sin. We can see this if we look at the previous two verses, where Peter declares:

He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:42-43).

The moment in which God came upon them, was the moment his covenant of forgiveness, “the gospel,” was mainly known to those who were listening.

So if we approach the gospel with the understanding that it is a covenant that God is making with people, it is my opinion that we will do so with a proper perspective of how to present the message of salvation to others. Since it is a covenant, we can do the work that we are called of spreading this message without taking it personally if it is not accepted by those who are “unsaved.”

For the Scripture gives us the following understanding of the gospel as a covenant:

Therefore, remember that at one time you, Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by those called the circumcision, which is done in the flesh by human hands, were at that time without Christ, alienated from the community of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become nearby the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, made both one and broke down the dividing wall of the entity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that entity to death by. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2:12-19).

Here is the full covenant message that is found in the gospel that we are to preach. All of us at one time were “strangers to the covenants of promise.” This was the way we initially approached God while we were still sinners. It makes no difference whether or not we were raised in a church or if we are atheists, because of sin, we were aliens from the community of Israel, or as we would understand today, the Roman Catholic Church, because our sins deprive us of the hope of eternal salvation and the blessedness of fellowship with God.

Yet now, because Jesus Christ died on a cross for each one of us, peace has been secured for us if we will be “one new person” by putting on Christ through conversion from our sins.

This is the “new” covenant that has been secured for us by the blood of Christ. Blood that was shed for us on Calvary and is presented for our recollection at every Mass that is celebrated throughout the world.

We are no longer strangers, but are now fellow citizens and members of the household of God, having a place in his kingdom which is visibly known wherever the Roman Catholic Church can be found.

This is our covenant that God has made with us in Christ Jesus.

All that remains is our cooperation in love to believe this gospel. To accept the terms of his covenant. For if we will do this we shall properly be saved by the God who makes covenant with us in his gospel.

 

Related: Learn more about how faith is a covenant by reading the author’s book: The Basics of Faith

The sin of prayerlessness

prayer

What makes prayerlessness such a great sin? For many when it is first looked at, a lack of a prayer life does not seem like that great of a catastrophe. In fact, many do not pray until there is a major event in their lives that require them to look heavenward for an answer. Most of the time we get caught up in all sorts of distractions from other “important” things that we usually don’t think that prayer can be fit into our daily routines. Yet, this is not the truth. Because prayer is just merely a conversation we have with God. It is not supposed to be something we treat as a life raft for bad things or even like Aladdin’s lamp that we rub when we need to have a wish granted.

What is prayer?

Essentially prayer is a heavenly privilege. It is an opportunity to enter into a conversation with one’s Creator and fellowship with Him as if He was a friend.

How often have we neglected a friend by not taking time to visit them or even at the cost of some personal sacrifice do something that we enjoy with them? I think we can answer this question with an admission that it would be very rare for us not to take time for those that we care about.

We truly have time for everything that really interests us, but no time to practice fellowship with God and delight in Him. We can always find time for creature who can be of service to us, but we can rarely find time to spend even an hour talking with God.

This is the cause for a deficient spiritual life among many Christians. For the most part, lacking a prayer life proves that our lives are still under the power of worldly desires. Prayer is the pulse of one’s spiritual life. With it, a person can know the true condition of your heart. Being prayerless proves that the soul is deadly sick and weak.

What is the cause of prayerlessness?

A simple answer to the question can be just pointing to unbelief in a person’s life. But when it comes to not being a prayerful person, that unbelief is based on attachment to worldly things. If your life is not one of self-denial -that is, one that’s willing to let things of the world go- you will find it hard to exercise faith and lay hold of heaven and its resources.

Scripture teaches us that there are but two conditions possible for any Christian. One is that you can walk according to spiritual things, and the other is to walk according to natural things. These two powers are in irreconcilable conflict with each other.

While many people will insist on the sincerity of their faith and conviction in God, the way they live their lives proves that they are attached to many natural things to be of any spiritual good. This is what the apostle Paul warned about in the book of Galatians, when he said: “live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire to flush. Or the flesh is desires against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other… Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warn you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16-21).

It is saddening to consider how many Christians there are seldom think or speak earnestly with God in prayer. Especially because they are spending all their energy attached to the things of this world instead of building up for themselves spiritual treasures.

Yet this is the state that many Christians find themselves in when they lack a prayer life. For when a Christian does not yield entirely to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they live, without knowing it, under the power of the flesh and seek worldly treasures. Treasures that end up with them doing the works of the flesh that Paul warned them against in his epistle to the Galatians.

How can you overcome being prayerless?

The beginning of one’s prayer life must be an acknowledgment that such a life is only possible by the grace of God. When one realizes that the sacrifice on Calvary opens the door for our intimate communication with God as our Father, prayer becomes something that we can enjoy.

With this understanding in mind, we can change our attitudes and become a praying people. And, this can then begin our spiritual life anew.

 

Related: Doug Sumowski is the author of “Learning to Pray with the Rosay” A great resource to help you is the spiritual journey of prayer.