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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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The Five Point Covenant Model

covenantFrom: The Desk of Eric Rauch

If you spend any amount of time in the Church, you will certainly hear the word “covenant” thrown around quite a bit. Covenant is central to a proper understanding of the biblical text. God makes covenants all throughout the Old Testament and in the New Testament, the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “mediator of a new covenant” (Heb. 9:15). Jesus himself tells his disciples at the Last Supper, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20b). . . .

In 1987, Ray Sutton . . . wrote That You May Prosper, a jaw-dropping book that finally defines the covenant as no book has, before or since. Sutton’s book is brilliant in its simplicity, yet remarkable for its depth. A seasoned pastor, Sutton knows how to present his material in such a way that everyone can understand it. He then builds upon this basic knowledge brick-by-brick so that by the time the reader completes the book, he has taken an intermediate course in biblical theology without even realizing it. Understanding Sutton’s five-point covenantal model will revolutionize your Bible study and comprehension, and the perplexing and downright confusing parts of the Bible will finally begin to make sense.

But what exactly is the five point covenant model, you ask? It is nothing more than a biblical framework that provides a hermeneutical method for understanding the Bible on its own terms. Huh? Not a good enough answer for you? Try this one instead:

Pick up your Bible and ask, “How do I get hold of the message of this Book? How do I apply it to life — not just my life, but to all life in this complex world in which we live . . . ?”

In simple terms, every relationship is a form of covenant. God makes covenant with his people, just as his people make covenants with each other. Covenants make living in God’s world reasonable and predictable. Covenants are similar to contracts, but what makes them unique is that they include a self-maledictory oath before God. Without covenants, any man could do what was right in his own eyes, and be justified in doing so. Because of this, covenants will be found in each of the four realms of human government: self, family, church, and civil. Every form of government makes a covenant with God — either for or against Him — and stakes its own life on its decision (the self-maledictory part). . . .

It is not my intention in this short review to provide an in-depth example of how the five points work, but I can give a bit more meaning to each of the five points by restating them as questions. Remembering that the five points apply to all dealings between God and man, as well as man and man, think of a relationship and ask these simple questions: 1) Who’s in charge? (transcendence); 2) To whom do I report (or answer to)? (hierarchy); 3) What are the rules? (ethics); 4) What happens if I obey (or disobey) the rules? (sanctions); and 5) Does this relationship have a future? (continuity). Every covenant will have an answer for each of these five questions and the answers should be carefully considered before entering into a covenant. . . .

Sutton’s simple key, extracted from the pages of Scripture itself, will open the Bible to generation after generation, aiding the Church in its mission of being always reformed, yet always reforming.

Read more. . . .

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