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Church Covenant - Statements six, seven, and eight Print E-mail
Church Covenants

I.  Introduction:

 My goal is to try and cover the remaining parts of the covenant tonight.  Yet, since we were not able to finish all of statement five last week, I want to begin by looking some more at our statement on evangelism.  If we are not able to cover all of it, then we will finish next week and then move to a more general discussion of the covenant as a whole.

II.  Statements five, six, seven, and eight:

 A.  Statement five: Since Jesus loved the lost, befriended them, and invited them to come to Him, we will follow His example, and obey His command to go and make disciples of all nations.  We will speak the gospel to our family, friends, and acquaintances, praying for them and imploring them to be reconciled to God.

  1.  Thoughts: When we finished last week we were looking at Jesusí example of  how to treat the lost.  We said that He loved them and looked at some passages related to  that.  Then, we said that He befriended them and looked at Luke 5:30-32.  I want to pick  up tonight in Luke 15:1-2.  Look at that passage with me.  Again, we see Jesus spending time with the lost.  Look also at 7:36-50.  Jesus spent time with those who knew that they  were sinners and who rejoiced at the forgiveness that He offered.  He befriended the lost.  Finally, He invited the lost to follow Him.  Look at John 7:37.  His invitation was given to any and all to come and drink.  Look at Matthew 11:28.  Again, He calls to the weary and offers them rest.  Thus, Jesus loved, befriended, and invited the lost to follow Him.

  Jesus exemplifies how we should treat the lost and He gives us clear commands to  do the same.  Look at Matthew 28:18-20.  The Great Commission calls us to faithfully take the gospel to all nations.  We must be committed to this task as individuals and as a  Church.  The command to make disciples involves speaking the gospel.  Look at Romans 1:16.  I would like to add Romans 10:14-17, where Paul makes it clear that faith comes  from hearing.  We must speak the gospel to the lost.  Likewise, we are to pray for the lost.  Look at 1 Timothy 2:1.  We are to be praying for all people, for kings and all who  are in high positions, since God desires all people to be saved and to come to the  knowledge of the truth.  We need to pray for the lost.  Finally, lest we lack compassion and fervency, we must implore the lost to be reconciled to God.  Look at 2 Corinthians  5:18-21.  God has entrusted to us the ministry of reconciliation.  Thus, we are  ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  May we be committed to be faithful ambassadors of Christ, always imploring the lost to repent and believe in His finished work.

  2.  Questions or comments?

 B.  Statement six: Because of Godís mercies, we present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice.  We will not be conformed to this world, but will be transformed by the renewal of our minds.  Knowing the deceitfulness of sin, we will make every effort to put the sin in our lives to death.   Desiring to be above reproach in everything we do, we will be honest in all of our dealings with others, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our God.

  1.  Thoughts: This statement deals with our commitment to live holy lives.  It  begins with a very important truth: we can never be holy apart from Godís continued  mercies.  Look at Romans 12:1-2 with me.  Paul has basically laid out the gospel in the  first eleven chapters of the book of Romans.  He has spoken of our fallen state, Christís  work at the cross, and the necessity of repentance and faith.  He has repeatedly spoken of  Godís grace toward those who believe.  And in light of that grace, he calls us to present  your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.  It is this idea that we are  trying to capture with this statement.  In instructing us on how to do this, Paul tells us to  not be conformed to this world.  We are not to live like the world as believers.  Rather,  we are to be transformed by the renewal of your mind.  We are transformed as our minds  are renewed through the truth of Godís word.  In this way, we can be living sacrifices for  God.

  Of course, this does not mean that our struggle with sin is over.  No, this is why  we need our minds to be transformed.  The battle with sin is continuous in our lives.   Instead of naming all of the sins that we must battle with, we chose to speak of the battle  in more general terms.  Look at Hebrews 3:13.  Sin is deceitful and the Enemy is looking  for ways to deceive.  We must therefore Ďmake every effort to put the sin in our lives to  death.í  Look at Romans 8:13.  As Paul says, we want to put to death the deeds of the body, which we can do through the Spirit.  The battle with sin is serious and we must be  committed to putting it to death.  Likewise, we want to be above reproach.  Look at  Philippians 2:14-15.  We want to be innocent and blameless in all our activities because  the world is watching and we are lights in the darkness.  Look also at 1 Peter 3:15-16.   Again, we are to live holy lives that are above the reproach of those who seek to slander  us.  The issue of being above reproach involves honesty and integrity.  Look at Ephesians  4:25.  We are to speak the truth.  Look at James 5:12.  We are to have integrity in our  dealings with other people.  Finally, we will seek to heed the words of the prophet Micah  who tells us: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of  you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God (6:8). 

  2.  Questions or comments?

 C.  Statement seven: Because the Lord disciplines those He loves, we want our life together to reflect His loving discipline and correction.   We will pray for one another, teach and admonish one another, and submit ourselves to the discipline of the church.  Always keeping the goal of restoration before us, we will strive to be gentle, tender-hearted, and quick to forgive in our practice of correction and discipline.

  1.  Thoughts: The seventh statement deals with discipline.  Discipline is often a  negative word for us.  Yet, we need to see it in light of the text.  Look at Hebrews 12:5- 10.  I would dare say that all of us want to be true children of God.  If we are true children of God, then what does the author of Hebrews say will also be true of us?  We  will be disciplined by our heavenly Father.  Why does He discipline us?  The writer of  Hebrews answers: he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.  Jesus  tells us in Revelation 3:19, Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous  and repent.  As believers in Christ we are children of God.  And as children we should  expect, and welcome, the discipline of our loving Father.  Likewise, our life together  should also involve loving discipline.  Look at Proverbs 12:1.  We should love discipline  and welcome reproof.  Look at Proverbs 15:31-32.  We want to be wise and accept  correction from one another.  To ignore such would be foolishness.  

  So then, what does this look like in a Church?  In the life of a Church there is  constructive and corrective discipline.  Constructive discipline deals with praying and  teaching and the other things that are mentioned in the covenant, while corrective  discipline deals with seeking to turn someone from their sins.  We need to be committed  to both.  What are some aspects of constructive discipline?  First, we will pray for one  another.  Look at Ephesians 6:18.  We are called to pray for all the saints.  We could have  put our commitment to pray in a number of different places in the covenant, but it fits  here as something we actively do to live disciplined lives.  Second, we will teach and  admonish each other.  Look at Colossians 3:16.  We do this in many ways (small groups,  corporate gatherings, singing, etc.) and they are all important in our fight to be more like  Christ.  Third, we will submit to one another.  Here we see the overlap between  constructive and corrective discipline.  Part of faithful corrective discipline is a  commitment to submit to one another.  Look at Matthew 18:15-17.  Jesus teaches us the  importance of corrective Church discipline and its goal, namely restoration.  In the times  when corrective discipline is necessary we will be gentle.  Look at Galatians 6:1.  We  will also be tender-hearted and quick to forgive.  Look at Ephesians 4:32.  We will do all  of this believing: Better is open rebuke than hidden love and faithful are the wounds of a  friend (Proverbs 27:5-6).

  2.  Questions or comments?

 D.  Statement eight: Because we have not entered into this covenant with one another lightly, we will not set it aside lightly.  As members submitted to the leaders of our church, we will prayerfully consult with them before making a decision to leave.  We will, when we move from this place, unite with another true church as soon as possible.

  1.  Thoughts: Our final statement deals with leaving the Church.  We wanted to  communicate that leaving should not be done lightly, thus the first sentence.  Look at  Psalm 15:4.  Psalm 15 is describing the person who shall dwell on your (Godís) holy hill.   They will be a person who swears to his own hurt and does not change.  In other words,  they will be a person who keeps their commitments.  Since we are submitted to our  leaders based on Hebrews 13:17, we will seek their counsel when making a decision  about leaving.  Look at Proverbs 11:14 and 18:1.  We are wise to consult with others.  If  we do decide to leave, then we will join with another Church to continue meeting with  believers as the author of Hebrews instructs (see 10:24-25 again).

  2.  Questions or comments?

III.  Conclusion:

 The closing prayer of the covenant is taken straight from Ephesians 3:20.  We confess that we can only keep this covenant by Godís abundant grace and by His power which is at work within us.  Our prayer and hope and expectation is that He will be glorified in our Church, as those redeemed by His Son.  May our covenant serve to meet this end.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 15 September 2009 )

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