God’s Covenant Friendship
Rev. Angus Stewart
(originally published in the "Paper Pulpit"
of the Ballymena Times)
The covenant that God makes with elect
believers in Jesus Christ is a warm and loving relationship of
friendship and fellowship.
This is the teaching of the "covenant
formula" repeated often in Scripture in many forms: "God is our God and
we are His people." As "our God," He is and will be to us all that
Jehovah is and can be for us. He unites us to Himself through Jesus
Christ and by the Holy Spirit. He pardons our sins, embraces us in His
everlasting arms and guides us to glory. As "His people," we cleave to
Him, cast our burdens upon Him and trust in His mercy.
In the very first promise of the coming of
Christ to crush Satan's head, our salvation is described as "enmity"
with the devil, which is friendship with God (Gen. 3:15; cf. James 4:4).
At the end of the Bible, the realization of God's covenant is His
dwelling with us eternally as close friends who tabernacle together in
the new heavens and the new earth—that realm without sorrow, crying,
tears, pain or death (Rev. 21:3-4).
Throughout God's Word, He presents His
covenant as an intimate marriage bond between Himself and His beloved
bride, the church (e.g., Eze. 16). In the covenant, Jehovah establishes
a Father-child relationship (Ex. 4:22) with us as His sons and
daughters, for He has begotten us by the Spirit and we bear (though in a
weak and creaturely way) the image and likeness of our Father.
The biblical truth of reconciliation
through the cross of Christ is a covenant idea because reconciliation is
the restoration of friendship. As those brought into God’s friendship,
we enjoy eternal life, which is sharing in the life of the Triune God,
the everlasting fellowship of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.
King David affirmed, "The secret of the
Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant"
(Ps. 25:14). The root meaning of the Hebrew word "secret" is cushion or
couch. The idea is that of two friends sitting close together in
familiar conversation and communicating in confidential fellowship. The
word "secret," therefore, speaks of the intimacy of our covenant
friendship and fellowship with God.
The covenant blessings the Lord reveals to,
and confers upon, us include righteousness in Christ, an eternal
inheritance, protection from all our enemies and provision of all our
needs. Our Father shows us His covenant secrets through the reading and
preaching of the Scriptures, and by the inner working of the Holy
Spirit, He applies His Word to every God-fearing hearer, so that he is
assured that these covenant blessings are for him personally. God, as it
were, sits down with those who revere Him and shares His secrets with
him in a personal way: "In My covenant, I am for you and in you and with
you in Jesus Christ."
Do you know the secret of the Lord? Has He
showed you His covenant?
more on God's covenant, see our
Covenant & Baptism resources page and the
relevant section of our free pamphlets.