In Part 1 of this two-post series, we saw the meaning of an agreement, a contract and a covenant. Now let us look at a few similarities and differences between them.
- All three are, at their most basic level, agreements of some kind
- They are entered into for the benefit of at least one of the parties (obvious)
- An agreement often has terms and conditions, just like a contract and a covenant (though not always)
- Violating the conditions of a contract and a covenant can have legal implications – only, in the case of the Biblical covenant with God, the implications are primarily spiritual in nature.
- A simple agreement that has no evidence backing it, will not stand in the court of law. A contract is written and will stand in court. E.g. a couple in love who simply ‘agree’ to live as partners cannot become a husband and wife unless they have a marriage certificate.
- In a (Biblical) covenant, at least one of the parties is sure to fulfil the conditions. But in a simple agreement or a business contract, all parties are vulnerable to violating the terms. Or they may opt out of the contract by fulfilling certain conditions. If man fulfils his part, God will never back out!
So what’s this discussion got to do with God and the Bible?
A lot! The entire Bible is a series of incidents where God, having made a covenant with man, shows His longsuffering nature before striking judgment. Seeing that we have a sin nature, He also works out a plan for us to obtain His pardon though we do not deserve it. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) The Law of Moses was a covenant. Man broke it. God warned them to repent. Many did – many did not. Those who did not, faced the wrath of God.
The new covenant through Jesus Christ makes it far simpler for us. God promises to fulfil His commitment despite our failures. We only need to believe and receive His grace to obey His commands. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12)
If you want to know more about how you can obtain forgiveness of sins and God’s grace, read the Good News here.