Ten years ago, in preparation for visiting a local PCA church with my husband and children, I began researching the PCA’s beliefs, read through the Westminster Confession of Faith, and studied a book on covenant theology. Not long afterwards, my husband and I joined that church. In order to flesh out what I was learning about covenant theology through our new church, I read hundreds of online lectures from a Reformed seminary, and hundreds of Reformed books. I also started writing Bible studies to help me, and hopefully other women, understand the covenantal framework of Scripture and Christ as the center of the covenant story (by God’s grace, I am on my 37th book of the Bible).
It would not be overstating things to say that studying covenant theology was life changing for me. So what is it about covenant theology that captured my heart and mind? And what is it about covenant theology that I want to share with my sisters in Christ both through the session I am teaching at Leadership Training and the book I have written on The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community?
Ten Ways Covenant Theology Captured My Heart and Mind
- First, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for God’s covenant promises. God promised His people His presence, blessings through the person of Jesus Christ, the preservation of His people, and His Spirit to enable His people to practice godly living.
- Second, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the covenant book, the Bible. God has graciously chosen to reveal Himself and His will to His people through the written words of Scripture.
- Third, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the covenantal structure of Scripture that leads to a redemptive-historical, Christ-centered interpretation. This keeps me from falling into the error of a moralistic, legalistic, or therapeutic interpretation.
- Fourth, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the doctrines of justification, adoption, and sanctification. Christ’s covenantal death perfectly and eternally secured our justification, we have been adopted into the family of God, and we have been given a new heart so that we can live for God.
- Fifth, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the doctrines of grace. Ephesians 2:1-10 beautifully summarizes these doctrines—all humankind are covenant-breakers, the covenant King has chosen out of His love and grace to save some of humankind, and our salvation is secured by Christ’s fulfillment of the covenant of grace.
- Sixth, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the covenant community. There is one people of God saved by grace alone through faith alone. If we have a firm grasp on the truth that the God of the covenant builds a covenant community and that the covenant promises are for us and for our children, then we will realize that we are not just going to another event, taking another class, or filling another slot in the church nursery. We will understand that we are fostering fellowship with one another, growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ together, and keeping our promise to help train up our covenant children in the faith.
- Seventh, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for biblical womanhood. As those who are in Christ, we have been brought from death to life and are to be life-giving helpers who spread the aroma of the gospel to those around us.
- Eighth, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for walking with my sisters through the hard places of life. As we walk with sisters through crisis, we must always remember to speak the truth in love and to point them to the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the one who redeems their stories for their good and His glory and who is coming again to make all things new.
- Ninth, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the cultural mandate and the Great Commission. The cultural mandate is still in effect, though it now has a gospel focus. It includes: worship, woman (marriage and family), and work, which are all grounded in God’s Word. The Great Commission adds one more—we are witnesses for Christ.
- Finally, covenant theology deepened my appreciation of and love for the city to come and the restoration of all things. We are going to a place (the new heavens and the new earth), a person (Jesus Christ), a possession (all the benefits of Christ’s are ours), promises consummately fulfilled (there will be no more curse) and we are going to a people from every tribe, tongue and nation so that we might spend an eternity worshiping the Lion and the Lamb. Let us rejoice that such a future lies ahead for us!
Editor’s Note: Sarah will be speaking on this topic at the upcoming Women’s Ministry Leadership Training in Atlanta. Her book, The Covenantal Life is available now. Click here to learn more.
About the Author:
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina and is a member of Christ Covenant Church. She is the author of Hebrews: His Hope, An Anchor for Our Souls; Revelation: Let the One Who Is Thirsty Come; Judges & Ruth: There Is A Redeemer; 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith; and The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community . You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahivill.com.