Sermon Title: God’s Covenant with You
Text: Genesis 15:1-21 and Luke 22:14-23 (Please read)
Brief summary (what’s the point of this text/sermon?)
At the end of 2017 Chuck preached two sermons on key concepts that help us see the Bible’s storyline more clearly. The first focused on holiness and the second on glory. In this sermon we studied a third idea: covenant.
In one sense, a covenant is easy to understand—it’s similar to a contract that two parties make with each other, each agreeing to fulfill his side of the agreement. In biblical contexts, though, it’s different, and significantly more important.
God—the Creator of the world—has condescended and taken our hands and made covenants with us. It’s remarkable to consider.
In Genesis 15 we have an unusual story of God’s covenant ceremony with Abraham: it involves animals cut in half, God walking between the dead animals, etc. It sounds weird, but it has enormous implications for us.
God recognized the inability of Abraham, Israel, David, or anyone to keep the covenant, but he gave the covenants in anticipation of the One who would keep them perfectly. On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus said, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20).
Here’s the point: no one who ever made a covenant with God kept it, except Jesus Christ. He’s the better Noah, the better Abraham, the better Israel, the better David. He kept the covenant perfectly, and when he offered himself on the cross, his body was broken as a sign that God had established the final covenant that was based not on our faithfulness, but on his. He is the faithful covenant-keeping God who walks between the slain animals. He offers himself as the guarantor of a better, once-for-all covenant.
For that reason, today we live under the perfect covenant, sealed by the blood of the Perfect Lamb, and we trust absolutely that he will be faithful to the covenant. In return, he calls on us to honor the covenant in our obedience, even though we so often fall short.
How do I live out the implications of this passage? (Discussion starters to help with applying the sermon to our lives)
- So in a covenant between two parties, both have expectations to fulfill in order to live up to the terms of the covenant. God will keep his part, but what are our responsibilities in this covenant? What does God expect of us?
- In ancient near eastern covenant ceremonies, it was customary for both parties to walk the path between the slain animals. In God’s covenant with Abram, though, Abram is sleeping, and only God (represented by a “smoking fire pot and a flaming torch”) passed between the pieces of the dead animals. Chuck discussed the possible significance of this. What might it have been? And what does this say about our covenant with God?
- What does it mean for God to be faithful to the covenant even when we’re not?
- You are in covenant with God—do you keep it perfectly? Why not? Does that mean you’re lost? Why or why not?
- In our covenant with God, he is the only truly faithful covenant-keeper, right? Does that mean that since we don’t keep the covenant perfectly, we give up and just go to sleep (like Abraham)?
- Some people have characterized our covenant with God as 50% God’s responsibility and 50% ours. Does the Bible support that? What are the problems with that characterization?
- Practically speaking, what does human faithfulness to the covenant of Christ look like? What’s involved?
- In this study we would never want to imply that human faithfulness is impossible, but that God saves us anyway. God wants us to be faithful. So how do we reconcile our often feeble attempts at faithfulness with God’s expectations of our obedience to the covenant?