Sunday School Lessons


Commentary by Walter Albritton


July 27


A Serious Covenant with God is Essential to Authentic Christian Living


Nehemiah 10:28-39


Key Verse:  Because of all this we make a firm agreement in writing, and on that sealed document are inscribed the names of our officials, our Levites, and our priests.  

n      Nehemiah 9:38


            The people of Judah were not perfect; they had many faults. They deserve our praise, however, for showing us the great need for a serious covenant with God.

            The teaching of Nehemiah and Ezra did not fall on deaf ears. The people realized that in allowing them to return to Jerusalem, God had shown them great mercy. To their credit, they did not take God’s mercy for granted, as many of us are prone to do.

             They responded to God’s deliverance by developing and entering into a covenant with God. This covenant was a written statement of promises they vowed to keep to show their gratitude for all that God had done for them.

            Across the centuries, God’s people have always recognized the importance of a covenant with God. The Jews were a covenant people. Christians are a covenant people. There was the old covenant, and there is the new covenant.

            As disciples, we may have a rich personal relationship with Jesus. However, genuine Christianity is much more than a personal religion. It is impossible, for example, to be an authentic Christian and ignore the Church. Those who believe they can be serious Christians without participating in a church have been deceived by the Evil One, the father of all lies.

            To know Jesus as Lord is to become a brother or a sister with all others who know Jesus as Lord. As brothers and sisters, we become part of the family of God, the Church Universal. The Church is the Body of Christ in the world, and our Living Lord Jesus is the Head of the Church.

            Our Lord binds us together, with love, so that within our several churches we may work together to fulfill the Great Commission, to make disciples, and to make known the gospel to all the nations of the world.

            This is where the covenant is important. Our modern covenant is different from that of the people of Judah. Essentially, however, our covenant springs, as theirs did, from those promises we believe we must make to honor God with our lives and our resources. It may be helpful to examine the promises that express your personal covenant with God.

            In 1970 I had the good fortune to meet Elton Trueblood. He became a gracious mentor and friend. The prominent Quaker philosopher had attracted thousands of believers to the Yokefellow Movement. Under Elton’s influence, I made the commitment to live for Christ as a Yokefellow.

            Yokefellows were bound by a covenant, a simple agreement to embrace several disciplines of the spiritual life. We covenanted to daily prayer, Bible reading, regular worship, intercessory prayer, tithing, serving others in love, and studying the Christian classics to enrich our lives.

            Even though the Yokefellow Movement has not remained strong since Elton’s death, I continue to be bound by this voluntary covenant to link my little life with others who demonstrate our love for Christ by faithfulness to these “holy habits.”

            The “way” we live is a witness to others about the serious promises we have made to our God, in response to his great gift of his Son Jesus for our salvation. Like the people of Judah, we must not take for granted the unmerited mercy of God.

            The least we can do today is to make sure our covenant is up to date. + + + +