On Sunday the Sunset pastor continued our “Covenant” series with a message, “Covenant Father, Covenant Children.” The text was from 2 Corinthians 6:18: “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
The word covenant, found about 300 times in the Bible, generally denotes an agreement between God and humankind. God is always the initiator of the agreement, and He does it for the purpose of drawing us his fallen creation into a place of friendship and loving fellowship with Him.
It’s a bit difficult for God to work with us because in covenant God is trying to bring us sinful, unholy folks into his sinless, holy presence—both in this life and the life to come.
The pastor focused on two points: (1) God’s Promises, and (2) The Christian’s Response.
(1) God’s Promises. V17b-18: “I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” This is a truly amazing statement from our holy Creator. Here we are—sinful, corrupt, violent, fallen into the depths of depravity.
God knows all of our past, and yet says: “I will receive you.” That is, he wills to have friendship and fellowship with us anyway.
Then, “I will be a Father to you.” Not just our Creator, but God says I want to be in a most personal relationship with you—your Father—and you will be my sons and daughters.
God doesn’t want us to be like the inanimate rocks, or even like the living animal creation, but: I want you to be my sons and daughters—recipients of all the spiritual blessings of love and fellowship I can give you. These are great promises, which will carry us into eternity with Him.
(2) The Christian’s Response. The question then is: Who are these promises for? Is it just anybody, regardless of their stance toward God? No.
God receives all those who have willingly come to Jesus. They have renounced the sin and corruption, the sinful pleasures and violence, the wickedness and destruction of the world for the blessed experience of peace, joy and love found only in a vital, ongoing relationship with our Creator Father God and his Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
I said we have renounced some things. The ancient church’s baptismal exorcism reads: “Do you renounce the devil and all the forces of spiritual darkness?” The answer: “I renounce them.” It is a good exorcism—effective when spoken from the heart. It reminds one of our duty to repent of our sins if we wish to be forgiven (Acts 2:38).
Paul, V14: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? What fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial [the devil]…?”
All who come to Christ renounce the devil, and do not traffic in the underworld.
V17: “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” So must we go out of the world? No. Never sin again? No. It means that we do not regularly participate without repentance in the devil’s underworld activity. We do not stay in the filth of the devil’s ditch.
7:1: “Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Does God do it all without our response? No: “purify yourselves.” We cooperate with God. Strong effort, prayer, worship and confession of sin is required.
Here’s a good question when faced with a decision about how we live: Will this activity help or hinder my journey to heaven? Paul says: “Touch no unclean thing.”
Our Sunset song leader Sherry Whatley sang a wonderful special on Sunday, “Consider the Lilies.”
“Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns.’ The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” [Psalm 96:10]
God will be the Judge of all the earth: May we all be ready—our prayer for you from your friends at Sunset Christian Church.