T.M. Moore of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview has authored an individual Bible study on Gods’ Covenant. It is available on line. http://www.colsoncenter.org/images/content/wilberforce/ViewPoint_Studies/VP-Bond-of-Peace.pdf?spMailingID=11021023&spUserID=MTMyMjUxNzg1MAS2&spJobID=520275261&spReportId=NTIwMjc1MjYxS0
This study corresponds well to the goals of the Christian Twelve Steps that are taught in Titus 2’s life recovery ministry for women. Steps 1-3 correspond to the Covenant’s goal of peace with God. Steps 4-7 correspond to the Covenant’s goal of peace within one’s own spirit, and Steps 8-12 correspond to the Covenant’s goal of peace with others. As a counselor works through the Twelve Steps with an individual, evidence of the unity and peace should become increasingly evident in the life of the student. That is the beauty of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit as one comes to know herself in covenant relationship with God. It does begin to become real and representative in the individual’s life. Continuing to walk in the Steps, using supporting Scriptures that speak to each aspect of the Covenant, and practicing the tools in accountable, honest, transparent communication with others who are pursuing the same goal of unity and peace will lead to a new way of life.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
A bond of peace
These three verses are packed with information about our lives as Christians. They describe our condition as followers of Jesus Christ, as well as the obligations that condition imposes on us, together with the privileges and benefits that come from that condition. They indicate the power which sustains that condition, and they warn, if only implicitly, against our failing to be good stewards of where we stand in the Lord.
The key phrase in these verses is “the bond of peace.” Paul says we possess a “bond of peace.” It is the condition in which we live, the fruit of the Spirit’s making us one together in Christ, but it is a condition that we must be “eager to maintain.” By this we understand that the unity and peace we enjoy, and which make up the condition in which we exist, are continually in jeopardy of being interrupted and lost. We have to “work hard” – as the Greek actually puts it – to maintain the unity we possess in this bond of peace.
But what is this “bond of peace”? What kind of “unity of the Spirit” does it provide? And why should we want to “work hard” to maintain this condition? Understanding this “bond of peace” is crucial not only to our being able to “walk in a manner worthy” of our calling as Christians, but to understanding the Bible and all God’s revelation to us. Let’s have a closer look.
The condition of the Kingdom
The “bond of peace” describes the unique possession of all who are citizens of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17, 18), and if we’re in the Kingdom of God, then the peace of God is available, through the inward work of God’s Spirit, to guard our hearts and minds against anything that might frighten or cause us to doubt (Phil. 4:6, 7). The work of the Spirit creates a “unity” within and among us that is sustained within the “bond of peace” which is the condition of the Kingdom of God. We experience this bond of peace in three ways. First, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). Whatever animosity God (rightly) held against us is removed, and we have peace with Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. We need not fear His wrath (Rom. 8:10); He has granted us His Spirit to comfort and nurture us; and we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, so that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Eph. 2:6; Rom. 8:28, 29).
Second, and as a result of this first aspect of the peace we have in Jesus, we are at peace within ourselves. God does not condemn us, so neither do we. God is working all things together for good in our lives, so we can rest in His sovereignty, wisdom, and love, and, come what may, can know a peace that simply doesn’t make sense to the minds of those who do not know the Lord. This peace leads us to know real joy, a joy we possess as a fruit of the Spirit’s inward work in our souls (Gal. 5:22, 23). Third, we are able to be at peace with others – to be patient with their shortcomings, to bear up under any slights or injustice perpetrated against us, and to seek peace for the souls of our neighbors by sharing the peace of Christ with them. The peace we have with God and in ourselves becomes a peace that unites us as members together in His Body, and allows us to present a united front of peace and hope to the world. Peace is the condition of the Kingdom, the safe dwelling of all who know the Lord. And the bond of peace, that which keeps our peace in place and sturdy, is nothing other than God’s covenant, entered and engaged, here and now.
God’s covenant is part of a larger, overarching framework of life and revelation in which He graciously binds Himself to us, and us to Him and one another, in a covenant of promise, life, and peace. This covenant is entirely of God’s devising. It is eternal and creates an unbreakable bond with God for all who to whom He extends His covenant peace. As we experience the peace of God, which passes understanding, we know that His covenant is real, that is has reached to us, and that our lives are now unfolding within a framework of eternal peace and joy that nothing in this world can overthrow. The bond of peace in which we dwell in God’s covenant encourages us to strive for the fuller and more expansive realization of that covenant in every area of life. Yet, for all that, our unity and peace can be interrupted. We can lose sight of the face of God and feel alone and abandoned by Him. We can become sad and weary in our souls, so that depression rather than joy is our constant companion. And we can fail to maintain peace with others, in particular, those who are members with us of the household of faith.
God’s covenant provides the bond of peace, but we must work hard to maintain that which God has inaugurated in and for us. How we do this, and what we can expect as we do, is the theme of this series by T.M. Moore.
If you are interested in being a part of an online discussion group to do this study, let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org. We will start it this coming week, on Friday, April 10th. If you wish to participate, download the study, Part 1,a t the link above and read the first two sections: “Gods’ Covenant” and “First, Be Cleansed”. I can set up a facebook closed group for the discussion once I know who wishes to participate.