The Covenants of Promise (02): Covenant Children
The Covenants of Promise (2): Children
How Church, Children and Culture are Transformed by Covenant Faithfulness
Ephesians 2:12–22 NRSV - Remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus . . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God . . .
In this three part series we will see how God has fulfilled His covenant promises to undo the fall of Adam by making a new humanity in Christ. This transforms belief and practice about Church, Children and Culture.
What is a covenant? Palmer Robertson's definition of covenant is "a bond in blood sovereignly administered." John Murray taught the covenant "implies mutuality” and “responses of faith, love and obedience” to enjoy the covenantal blessings. Throughout the covenants of promise we see both ingrafting and pruning. The covenant is foundationally the union of love within the Triune God. The Trinitarian God has been revealing Himself throughout history. God’s covenant character is revealed in the pattern of promise and obligation in the unfolding story of redemption.
What about our children? In every administration of the covenants of promise, the central promise is that He will be “God to you and your descendants” (Gen. 17:7, Dt. 7:9, 30:6, 1Chr. 16:15, Ps. 103:17, 105:8). This is essential since redemption includes the fallen sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Just as in Israel we are “no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). And just as with Noah, Abraham and Moses, this includes our children.
So what? We must raise our children in the grace of knowing that they are already related to the Triune God. God has made promises to them and acted for them. This has two sides: affirmation and admonition. The basis for the affirmation is the promise of their inclusion. We admonish them to “be who they are.” To grab them by their baptisms, to correct them by their communion. We must always instruct them according to their true identity in Christ who has accomplished a complete salvation.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more