There are four institutions established in the Bible: the individual; the family; the church; and the state. Each of these institutions has a relationship with God that is described by His covenant with them.
Christians today are generally unfamiliar with the concept of a covenant, and they are also unfamiliar with the importance of God’s covenantal relationship with these four institutions. This article provides a brief summary and outline of them.
Without understanding the covenant, we cannot fully understand how each relates to one another and to God — though it is certainly within our mandate to do so (Genesis 1:28). For example, Christians know that the Ten Commandments are still true; but we are confused about applying them. We are generally told by everyone not to apply them anywhere except in a narrow personal, moral sense — especially by our pastors and fellow church members, which is doubly confusing.
In a previous article, I wrote a general introduction that described the basic outline of the five-point Biblical covenant as described by Ray Sutton in That You May Prosper. There is a handy acronym to help you remember each of those five points: THEOS. The five points are as follows:
More conveniently, you can more easily understand the five points by asking yourself these five questions:
1. Who’s in charge here?
2. To whom do I report?
3. What are the rules?
4. What do I get if I obey (disobey)?
5. Does this outfit have a future?
In their personal lives, Christians can apply the covenant to better understand the purpose that God calls them to fulfill. It can help them to fully understand the importance of progressive sanctification and other important areas, such as tithing. Being saved is only the first step — what comes afterward? Can you fall away? What did James actually mean when he said “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”? (James 2:26)
In the family, keeping the covenant produces Godly children and happy marriages and warm, loving relationships. Most Christians don’t even understand the significance of the wedding ceremony. They have also omitted a vital step in the process, and the result is predictable — skyrocketing divorce rates. Humanistic culture has destroyed the Biblical family unit by undermining the roles of the men and women in marriage. Continual monetary inflation has also hurt the family unit by undermining the husband’s ability to be the sole provider for his family.
The church is the center of society. The condition of the church is reflected in the condition of society around it. America’s in a state of moral decline. Bureaucratic control over all aspects of our lives is on the rise. Liberty is on the decline. The church reacts to the horrible state of society with disgust, but it doesn’t realize that because it’s own house isn’t in order, society continues to crumble.
Applying the covenant to the church will restore society’s health as we get our churches back in order and reclaim the compromised values that have seeped in from surrounding culture. With knowledge of the covenant, we can understand the true importance and significance of the two sacraments — baptism and communion — and where excommunication and ecclesiastical order fits in. (Matthew 18:17-19) These last two items are never discussed; perhaps it is because they conjure strong images of the corrupt Catholic church of the middle ages.
In the area of government and state, Christians have abandoned all pretenses of engagement. We subscribe to the myth of neutrality that has been fed us for so long, and as a result of our ceding government rule to non-Christians government oppression is on the rise for everybody. Restoring an understanding of the covenant will stem this rise in oppression and decline in liberty, but authority in government will only be granted when we’ve gotten our other houses in order: individuals; families; and our churches.
In that order.
In future articles I will go into the specific application of the covenant model to each of the four institutions, including an outline of Deuteronomy in terms of the five-point covenant. My articles will be summaries. If you wish to read in depth for yourself, I recommend that you download Ray Sutton’s book for free here.