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