Tag Archives: Theology

Theology Thursday: Covenant of Grace

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From CreationSwap

Welcome back to Theology Thursday! I left you hanging a bit on my last post about covenants. I’m probably not sorry for it though because maybe that means you’ve come back to hear more. 🙂

Let’s recap. The Covenant of Grace is summed up in two simple statements: God did it all. We reap the benefits. God chose to make a covenant with mankind, and by doing this, He also fulfills the requirements of the covenant for both Him and us. We saw this in the story of God and Abram in Genesis 15, and we find the fulfillment of the covenant at the cross and resurrection.

Christ came as the fulfillment of the covenant. It’s a thing of beauty. Because Jesus is both God and man, He is perfectly able to fulfill the requirements of both sides of the covenant. Just like Abram, we could not keep the covenant, so He did it for us. But this time, unlike the story of Abram, Jesus tangibly became the sacrifice that met the requirement of the covenant. He gave His blood and His body like those animals which Abram dissected and God walked through. Only this time, the effects became permanent. The all-sufficient sacrifice.

You might be wondering why He had to give His blood (and let’s get one thing straight, He didn’t HAVE to give it. He WILLINGLY gave His life – John 10:11,15, 17). What’s up with all the blood?!? Let me take you through a quick trip of the Old Testament concerning the issue of blood (or sacrifice).

Genesis 9:4 – God tells them not to eat an animal that still has it’s blood in it because “the life is in the blood.”

Genesis 9:6 – God then goes on to say never to kill a person because man is made “in God’s image” and from the dead person’s blood, the murderer’s blood will be demanded.

Exodus 12:13 – God tells the Hebrews to paint the blood of a lamb (that they were to kill themselves) on their doorposts and that when He saw it, He would “pass over” them (in other words, not kill them).

Exodus 24:8, 29:12, 29:20-21 – God instructs the sprinkling or splashing of blood on the people, on the altar/horns of the altar, and on His priests as a way to consecrate them.

Leviticus 17:11 (also v. 14) – “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” **major verse**

You can see that the life of a person or animal is in the blood, and for there to be a proper atonement for sins, there must be the surrendering of life – or blood as we’ve learned here. God made a covenant,

  • starting with Adam (and there was shedding of blood – remember the animals God had to kill in order to clothe them?),
  • then with Noah (God makes the covenant after MUCH blood was shed in the flood and required sacrifices after they got off the ark – Genesis 8:1-9:17),
  • then with Abram (we already saw the shedding of blood in this story – Genesis 15),
  • then with David (this breaks a little from the issue of blood/sacrifice and is a promise of an everlasting kingdom – 2 Samuel 7),
  • and finding it’s fulfillment in Christ (Jesus, at the Last Supper, holds up the wine and bread signifying His blood and body, given to us as the “new covenant in [His] blood” Luke 22:20 and see also Hebrews 8-10 for further explanation).

It’s enough information to make your head spin…I realize this. So why does it matter? I could take this in a million directions because there really are lots of reasons why this matters, but let’s keep it simple. We were hopeless to save ourselves from sin, and trust me, everyone has a sin problem. We’re born with it. (I feel another Theology Thursday post coming on…) God comes to us, offering a relationship in the form of a covenant, and it is literally our only hope. Only a perfect sacrifice (the blood) can cover the effects of our sin, and He knows we don’t measure up (it’s that whole sin thing again…we just aren’t pure). So His plan is to be both the One who offers the relationship and the one who makes us acceptable to be in relationship with Him.  God did it all. We reap the benefits.

We can go before Him in full confidence knowing that we are acceptable to Him because Christ was the acceptable sacrifice. We no longer approach the holy Father as strangers covered in the dirtiness of our own sin but as children covered by the blood of His perfect Son. He sprinkles it on us, and we are made pure…holy…consecrated for His divine purpose. Are we sinless? No. But the good news is that He empowers us to follow Him, giving us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

So what’s your response to this generous God?

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Introducing: Theology Thursdays

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One of my favorite things to talk about is the Bible. Related to this, I also LOVE theology. I took three systematic theology graduate courses about five years ago, and I have been hooked ever since. I’m hoping you’ll be hooked too after enjoying some of my posts related to theology. I’m definitely no expert, but I certainly love to think about these things (and you should too).

The reason that theology is so interesting to me is not just for the benefit of knowing something that sounds intelligent, but it has more to do with what we do with the theology behind the passage. It’s the famous, “so what?” question. Sure, it’s nice to know things that scholars love to dig into and research, but what will we do with it for our lives? If we have knowledge but are completely unchanged by what we know, is it really worth knowing? That’s why I’m writing Theology Thursdays (although it remains to be seen if I will actually stick with Thursdays…we shall see).

One of my favorite topics in the theology course had to do with covenants. There are varying views concerning this topic alone, but for my post, I’ll be looking at covenant theology (rather than dispensationalism…if you don’t even know what that is, great, neither do I, really! haha). Also please note that this is going to be very brief so you don’t get bored 😉

You are wondering what is meant by covenantal theology (right? please say yes). To boil it down: God did it all. We reap the benefits. Seriously! That’s it. But for those who aren’t really satisfied with that answer. I’ll give the main points from one of my lectures (Systematic Theology III with Douglas Kelly at RTS).

1. God sovereignly establishes the covenant.

I can almost hear you saying, “ok, and?” Well, it means that God is the one who initiated the covenant. What covenant, you ask? The covenant of grace. It is every covenant (or promise) that God makes with every human in the Bible (starting with Adam, then Noah, Abraham, David, and finding its fulfillment in Jesus). I’m not talking about the promises like Jeremiah 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you…), but about true covenantal promises that have to do with God initiating the promise and expecting the individual to agree to the terms. In other words both God and the individual are committed to the covenant. (Something else that can get confusing is the issue of multiple covenants. The way covenantal theology sees it is, God makes one covenant – the covenant of grace – and each of the successive covenants are just a part of the greater covenant. I believe this is one point that differs from the dispensational view.) It is important to note that a covenant is an agreement between two parties. This comes in handy later, trust me.

2. God sovereignly administers the covenant.

Establish. Administer. Po-tay-to. Po-tah-to. No, it’s actually not the same thing just said in a different way. In this point, God determines the nature of the relationship to the covenant and the obligations for the individuals agreeing to the covenant. In other words, man doesn’t get to bargain with God about the terms. God sets it up.

3. God sovereignly fulfills the conditions of the covenant.

EEEeeeeEE! This may be my favorite part. 🙂 You see, when two individuals enter into a covenant, both are required to fulfill their side of the bargain. If one party does not keep his end of the covenant, it means death for him (there is a great video by Ray VanDerlaan on this very topic). Do you remember when God makes the covenant with Abraham (then Abram) and has him cut up several animals, then God (the smoking firepot and flaming torch) “walks” through the blood? (You’ll find that in Genesis 15.) It was a very sobering moment for Abram because when God did this, He essentially said, “may this happen to Me if I do not hold up My side of the covenant.” But what about Abram? He didn’t walk through the blood! This is because God elects to fulfill the conditions of the covenant for both Him and Abram (we’ll see an even greater picture of this in Christ). The main point here is that none of us could possibly hold true to the covenant with God, and He knows it.

4. God sovereignly sustains the covenant.

If this doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will (especially since the last point was pretty awesome too). God by His will empowers believers to fulfill the requirements of the covenant. In other words, it is Him at work in us “both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” He gives us faith, leads us to repentance, softens our hearts for obedience (all important requirements in keeping the covenant). It’s absolutely beautiful. Take it in. He gives us everything we need to be faithful in covenant to Him. Only my God would think of doing something like that.

So there it is! Four points about covenants. Sorry it ended up being a little longer than I originally thought! There’s so much more I wanted to say…maybe another day. 🙂 Stay tuned for the “so what” discussion (since that is, after all, why I wanted to write about theology in the first place!).

God is good…so what? [Part 3]

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Your view of God as being a good Creator will have an influence on all areas of life. Take this for an example: how you view yourself. He only creates good things. (Remember Genesis, everything God created was good. He called it all good.) We are made in His image (also from Genesis 1:26). No, we can’t really say that we ourselves are good. We are sinful from birth. Yet when He calls us out of that past life into a life following Him, He gives us a new identity–one that is good. We see God as good, and this affects how we see ourselves.

How you view God influences how you view other people. This also relates to how you view yourself, as created in His image. All people are created in His image, and because of this we have dignity. We place high value on human life when we have the right perspective of our Good God because He values each and every life. We will treat people respectfully, kindly, better than ourselves, and all of the above because we know what value He has placed on their lives and how He has called us to serve and bless them. We see God as good, and this affects how we see others.

The way you perceive God has an effect on your values – how you parent, how you cultivate your marriage, how you feed your friendships. If I know that my God is good and has affection toward me even when I don’t deserve it, that informs the way I’m going to handle my children when they’re having a particularly bad day. He does not treat me harshly when I disobey nor does He yell and scream at me when I’ve made a mistake. He’s a perfect parent. Thank God we have Him as an example! We see God as good, and this affects how we live out our values.

My perspective on God has an effect on how I approach work. Knowing that God is good gives me a sense of confidence and cheer because I get to serve a God who loves me. I’m filled with gratitude that He pours out His love on me ESPECIALLY when I don’t deserve it. I’m overwhelmed by His goodness when He withholds punishment just because He desires to show mercy. I love much because I’ve been forgiven much and this fills my heart with joy. So as I go about my day at work whether at home or in an office, I can do my work as though I were doing it for Him. My perspective will be one of gratitude that He’s even provided me with the task at hand. We see God as good, and this affects how we approach our work.

There are so many examples of how our theology, our doctrine, or what we believe about God affects our actions every day. Let us be brave to believe the truth about God, search out that truth when we don’t know it, and rest in the truth when trials come our way. And may we put our knowledge into practice.

God is good…so what? [Part 1]

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I am very nerdy.

I really like theology and doctrine and learning things. I would be a professional student if it weren’t for the pesky fees you have to pay to actually attend classes.

With every class I’ve ever taken, the theology lesson always starts with God. That’s like the cop out answer everyone gives in Sunday School.

{Who loves you? “Jesus!” We all say in unison}

Ever since my husband and I began teaching youth I’m fully convinced that the only way to start any program or class is by teaching about God. Who He is, what He’s done, what His character is, how He relates to us.

Because ultimately what you think about God affects EVERY aspect of your life- what you think about yourself, how you view others, how you parent, how you do your work, etc.

So we begin with God. This can get tricky because some people grew up learning the truth about God, some learned half-truths, and some learned untruths about Him. Let’s just make one thing clear, there is a God and He wants you to know Him…deeply know Him. This means that if you are confused about Him, take heart because He desires you to know the truth about Him and He makes Himself known through His word ALL THE TIME.

Stay tuned for more on “God is good…so what?”