Text: Ecclesiastes 5:1-5
“Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”
The Church: The term church is used with reference to a company of visible, baptized believers who are in covenant together as one body to worship, fellowship, and to carry out the Great Commission that was given to the Church by the Lord. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia, and means “a called- out assembly.”
The Covenant: The term covenant means an agreement, or contract between two or more individuals to which both parties agree that certain principles will be upheld by both.
In days gone by many churches would have a Church Covenant meeting to renew their covenant with the church and its members. In the next issues of The Baptist Arrow we will outline the Church Covenant into four divisions starting with “Our Relationship to God”. “Our Relationship to the Church” will follow, then “Our Relationship in the Home”. We will conclude with “Our Relationship to the Brethren”, and “Our Responsibility to maintain this Covenant”.
O U R C O V E N A N T
Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, angels and this assembly most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline, and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
We also engage to maintain family and secret devotion; to religiously educate our children; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deportment; to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger; to abstain from the sale of, and use of, intoxicating drinks as a beverage; and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the kingdom of our Saviour.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to remember one another in prayer; to aid one another in sickness and distress: to cultivate Christian sympathy in feelings and Christian courtesy in speech; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation and mindful of the rules of our Saviour to secure it without delay.
We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with some other church where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God’s Word.
The Scriptures show us other covenants that were made between God and man for example:
1. Genesis 6:18 – The first time the word covenant is mentioned, God makes an agreement with Noah concerning Noah, his family, and the animals finding safety in the Ark when the flood came. In Genesis 9:9, 11-13, and 15-17 God confirms the covenant He made with Noah and his descendants. The sign of this covenant was the rainbow.
2. Genesis 15:18 – God makes a covenant with Abram. In Genesis 17:2, 4, 7, 9-11, 13, 14, 19, 21, God confirms the covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
3. Genesis 21:27 & 32 – Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant concerning the well at Beersheba.
4. Genesis 31:44 – Jacob made a covenant with Laban to not take any more wives. The agreement was between Jacob, Laban and God. (Genesis 31:45-55 notice: verse 50)
The Church Covenant that hangs on the walls of Baptist churches is an agreement that we have made with each other before God that outlines our responsibilities as church members. The covenant is taken from the Scriptures and is often neglected or forgotten. There have been many different church covenants written in history but the one that is most used among Baptist today and has gained acceptance is the one found in the Baptist Church Manual by James Madison Pendleton. Each time we see the church covenant, we ought to remember that we have made a covenant before God and with each other as members of the church. The practice in Baptist churches of the past was to read the Church Covenant to new church members coming by promise of a letter from a church of like faith and order. It was read to new converts that had been baptized and become members of the Church. When a new Church is being organized, the Church Covenant is used as part of the charter that the members sign in the organizational meeting.
To make a covenant or an agreement is a serious matter. Numbers 30:2 “If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.”
“OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD”
Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour and, on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do now, in the presence of God, angels and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as one body in Christ.
I. The Way of Salvation – John 6:44
Having been led, as we believe by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour
A. The Sinner’s Doom “No man can come to me”. This phrase expresses the inability of man to come to the Lord in his own strength. The Scripture declares that man is dead or a corps. (Ephesians 2:1)
B. The Sovereign’s Decision “except the Father which hast sent me”. This phrase makes it plain that salvation is of the Lord and it takes the initiative of the Father in calling sinners to repentance and faith. (Ephesians 1:4)
C. The Spirit’s Drawing “draw him”. This phrase makes it clear that the sinner is quickened or made alive through the regenerating power of the Spirit which produces repentance and faith enabling the sinner to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. (Ephesians 2:1)
D. The Saviour’s Deliverance “and I will raise him up at the last day”. This phrase speaks of the sinner being rescued from sin and his blessed hope in the resurrection. (I Thess. 4:13-18)
II. The Way of Confession – Romans 10:9-10 & Romans 5:5
and, on the profession of our faith,
A. The Lord commands believers to publically confess with their mouth The Lord Jesus Christ. (Mark 8:34-38, Rom. 10:9-10) One of the errors of our day is robbing the new convert the opportunity of making his own public confession before the church.
B. The believers conform to the New Testament command to confess their faith in The Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 8:36-37; 10:44-48)
III. The Way of Baptism – Matthew 3:13-17
having been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
A. We are to be baptized in the name of the Trinity:
1. Because the Father predetermined our salvation and authorized it. (Eph. 1:4 & John 1:33)
2. Because the Son purchased our salvation and required that all righteousness be fulfilled. (Acts 20:28, Matthew 3:13-15, Hebrews 1:3)
3. Because the Holy Ghost persuades us unto salvation and sanctioned the Lord’s baptism at the hand of John the Baptist. (John 6:44 & Matthew 3:16-17)
B. We are to baptize as a testimony of his the death, burial, and resurrection. Scriptural Baptism requires:
1. Proper Authority (Matthew 28:16-20) A New Testament Church.
2. Proper Candidate (Acts 2:41, 8:36-37) A believer by in faith in Christ.
3. Proper Purpose (Matthew 28:19-20) Obedience to our Lord’s command.
4. Proper Mode (Romans 6:1-11; John 3:23; Mark 1:5) Symbolism demands immersion.
IV. The Way of this Covenant – Ecclesiastes 5:1-5
we do now, in the presence of God, angels, and this assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another
A. A covenant made in the presence of God. (Psalms 34:15 & 139:7-12)
B. A covenant made in the presence of Angels. (Hebrews 1:13-14)
C. A covenant made in the presence of this assembly. It is a solemn agreement with one another as being part of the body of Christ. Deuteronomy 23:21 “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.”