Christ Covenant Community Church (EPC)

A Covenant People


112011 Sermon

II Kings 23:1-3

A Covenant People


Genesis 12:1–3, 2 Kings 23:1–3, Hebrews 12:1–3




Road Map

What God Is Doing

What God Did Through Pilgrims

What God Wants To Do In Us à CC




What God Is Doing


Different People Answer This Question Different Ways

          Different Ways of Reading the Bible


Apologize up front

          People are liable to feel a bit caricatured or misrepresented

          Not representing their way of reading the Bible in best light


Bible as Book of Rules – How to Live Life

          Owner’s Manual


Religious Stories to Help Us Be Nicer People


For Me – “Read With Gospel Eyes” – Bible is the Story of the Gospel

          Announcement of God’s Work of Grace for us shown at the cross

          One story with four themes creation, fall, redemption, consummation – all culminated in Jesus


Reformed and Christocentric

Luke 24:27 (NIV84)

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.


How we read the Bible has important effect on what we understand from the Bible

          Impact on how we do ministry


Concrete illustration

          Recently at a meeting of CBTP – guy told a story – struggling with lustful imaginations

HS – girl broke up with him – so wounded and distraught spent 3 years drinking–not a good response

          He realized when he turned his back on God to pursue his own sin

          Like his HS girl friend turning her back on him

          Knew God loved him so deeply, that he didn’t want to do that to God

                    Gospel Transformation: Our own experience of God’s love for us,

conquer more sin that our determination or knowledge or guilt or fear


Bible as book of rules – better stop bad behavior

Religious stories to help us be nice – Lustful imaginations not a problem, just don’t hurt anyone

God’s prophetic schedule – change behavior or miss rapture


Important to understand How a person is reading the Bible

          1) Be Open about our perspective

          2) Which perspective best lets the Bible speak for itself – Lk 24


So: What Is God Doing?

          Calls Abram and makes a promise

                    Work of grace – not Abram’s performance – next thing he does is lie about his wife

          Promise includes more people than himself – builds community

          Promise will grow and extend to the benefit all people


God will be at work through Abram to bring people together, finally benefit all people on earth


See that happen

          Abram is given a sign – external expression of this promise received from God – circumcision

          Notice – God gave promise, Abram received it – expressed his trust by circumcision

          Abram did not get circumcised in order to get a promise from God


Genesis 15:6 (NIV84)

6 Abram believed the Lord, and the LORD credited it to him as righteousness.


Abram becomes Abraham

          Abraham and Sarah have a child – Isaac child of promise – now a family

          Family grew and became a nation

          Isaac gave birth to son Jacob – Jacob had twelve sons – sons became tribes

                    Tribes became a nation


That nation grows – some good times some bad times

          Slaves in Egypt – Moses is God’s instrument to set them free – Joshua, Samuel, David


In those ups and downs – promise remained

          And they would come back to it – turn their back on it – come back to it


Second text for the morning was about

King Josiah – King of Judah leads a national time of repentance – return to the LORD and promise

          Time of covenant renewal

          Not – we’re going to start behaving again, so things can go well

          We are returning the LORD and his promises – trust them – respond or express it in covenant


Zip past several centuries if history – more ups and downs

          Sometimes faithful, sometimes unfaithful


Birth of Jesus, his ministry – finally his death and resurrection

          Because I read with Gospel Eyes – this is the central, climactic point of entire Bible

          Everything that came before points to this

                    Everything before is a shadow cast by the rock-solid reality of this event

          Everything that comes after grows from that event and story continues until completion


Third text – Hebrews – briefly recounts all these heroes of grace

          Who trusted God’s promise – some with great blessing, some at great cost

Hebrews 12:2

2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.


So that is What God Is Doing

          Motivated by love,

Actively pursuing His broken creation

To redeem and restore them

Redeems them with new life that grows into new community

That new community is meant to benefit all communities



What God Did Through Pilgrims


Heard story of Pilgrim’s voyage to New England, first winter, Great Sickness, Squanto, Thanksgiving

          Don’t loose this history – many books – esp children’s books

                    Make the 3 day feasting an Indian harvest festival or the like

                    For pilgrims – see deeply committed to Gospel, they knew who they were thanking


Back Story

Part of the extension of the Protestant Reformation into England

          Started with Martin Luther – restoration of Gospel in Germany – spread from there

Skipping a lot of details – same impulses grew up among people in English town called Scrooby

          Small church gathered around Bible and pastor named John Robinson, elder William Brewster

Called separatists because their disagreements with the state church of England

          Caused them to want to separate


What they wanted to do was to love God and worship Him as they felt the Bible instructed

          Sweep away centuries of cultural traditions – and return to Bible-based simplicity


Scrooby Covenant – they jointed together

We, as the Lord’s free people, join ourselves into church estate, in the fellowship of the Gospel, to walk in all his ways made known, or to be made known, unto us, according to our best endeavors, whatsoever it should cost us, the Lord assisting us.

Paraphrase – Of Plymouth Plantation – p.9

          Lord’s Free People

          Fellowship of Gospel

          His ways made known or to be made know – God didn’t change his mind, they were learning

          Whatsoever it should cost us

Commitment to God and to one another



But after these things they could not long continue in any peaceable condition, but were hunted & persecuted on every side, so as their former afflictions were but as flea-bitings in comparison of these which now came upon them. For some were taken & clapt up in prison, others had their houses besett & watcht night and day, & hardly escaped their hands; and ye most were faine to flie & leave their howses & habitations, and the means of their livelihood


n  Redeems them with new life that grows into new community.



Relocated – as a group – to Amsterdam

          There they were free, but could not be English

          After about 15 yrs raised loans from English investors to establish a colony in New World



Productive – repaid their loans

          Investors with the London Company

Psalm 37:21 (NIV84)

21   The wicked borrow and do not repay,

but the righteous give generously;


Progeny – their children – children of their community

          Concern for their children motivated their move from England to Holland

          Finally move from Holland to Plymouth

          Promises were not just for them – but for generations to follow

                    Like Abraham


Providence – God works out His will – both providentially and personally

God is present and working within laws of nature and events of history to accomplish His will.

Providence – like a train

Personal – my particular seat on the train


          Miraculous Provision – Squanto – spoke English, new local agriculture

                    Not part of their own long range plan – part of God’s providence for them


          Nearly half the Pilgrims died in first year after landing at Plymouth –that fall, Thanksgiving

                    No one present had not lost a family member – thanksgiving

          Deep trust that God was at work


          We ask how can a loving God allow evil and suffering?

          We are in love with the world, and want the world to be made right

Pilgrims knew that this was a sin-sick and broken world – suffering and evil are part of that

          They loved God, and found comfort and hope in Him – even in a broken world

                    Their hope in this broken world was the Gospel

          That Christ had conquered evil and sin at the cross

                    Would one day end it’s grip on human lives and planet earth


Peaceful - Wampanoag tribal people

          History is ongoing story of war and animosity between different nations – ethnic groups

          Seems universal

          One chapter in that large volume of human violence is treatment of Native Americans in US

                    Over 700 treaties made, then broken by US government over 18th, 19th, 20th centuries


          Not so with initial Pilgrims – 50 years of peace, respect and interaction



I’m not a historian, and have no definitive word – as I read Bradford 2 reasons

          1) respect for Wampanoag as people –different people, but humans all the same

          2) Having been a persecuted people themselves,

they were concerned not to become persecuters when they had power or advantage

Both of these approaches to living with others find rich soil in the Gospel of Grace




          Seperatists – For the benefit of themselves and others

                    Not to keep them from others, or because they were somehow better than others


          Outsiders were always welcome to join – Outsiders cared for


When the Mayflower finally departed England

          Two groups of people on board

          “Saints” – the Pilgrims – Scrooby congregation

          “Strangers” – various people who joined on for the trip, but not for the faith


Like Abraham and His family – God was doing something in and through them

          For the benefit of all other families and nations









What God Wants To Do In Us à CC


1) Deeply Grounded in Gospel Perspective

          Understand Abraham – responding to God’s grace

          King Josiah – Nation returning to trust in God’s promises

          Pilgrims – responding to God’s grace and renewal


          A) Guard and disciple our own hearts – like Martin Luther preach Gospel to ourselves

                    Great grandchildren of the Pilgrims à Unitarians


          B) Reorient before we integrate those who God calls to be with us


                    People find their way to Christ Covenant

                              From background of moralism


                    Not prideful, arrogant or self-righteous – but vigilant for the Gospel of grace



2) Living in new community that grows out of that new life from grace

          Relationship with one another



3) New Community that benefits all communities.

          Missional Church – encourage and equip you to be God’s grace where ever you are on Wed


That means that at the center of who we are and what we do must be the cross

          That is where we supremely see the Gospel of Grace


Everything flows from God Himself

n  Motivated by love,

n  God is actively pursuing His broken creation

n  To redeem and restore them.


This Thursday – not simply giving thanks for what I have, and God’s blessing in it

          Renewing my commitment to what God is doing on planet – and here in Spotsylvania

          Pilgrims not just a reminder to be thankful, to risk for God and country

                    Put to respond in faith to God’s grace

                    Respond with others – with each of you in covenant to His grace

                    To live as a new community for the blessing of all other communities






There is power in the name of Jesus,
there is power in the name of Jesus,
there is power in the name of Jesus.

To break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.

All sufficient sacrifice,
so freely given, such a price for
our redemption, heavens gates
swing wide.

There's an army rising up,
there's an army rising up,
there's an army rising up.



Grace in FXBG – Pastor Bill’s Blog

Go to website à “Pastor’s Blog” Posts include:

 *Take Another Look – Young Adults Are Not In Church”

 “Doctrine and A Gospel Heart”

 “Innie or Outie? The Externally-Focused Church”


Listing of Missional Communities: Small Groups at Christ Covenant

Go to website à “News and Events” à “Small Group Life, September”

            Includes Listing and links to more info on all groups at CC


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