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Quarter At A Glance
by Jim Eichenberger
Human relationships are built on interpersonal agreements. We formalize these agreements as contracts or covenants. Covenants promise that debts will be paid or services will be performed regardless of the situations in which the parties may find themselves after the contract is finalized.
At times, a party to a contract may be deemed a poor risk. That person may have a history that does not provide adequate assurance that he or she will be able to meet the obligations of a covenant. Situations such as these may require a guarantor or cosigner. The guarantor assumes the responsibility for terms of the covenant when a party defaults on the agreement.
During this quarter, we will develop a clearer understanding as to why our relationship with God through Christ is expressed as a covenant.
Guarantee of Payment
Let’s face it: human beings have a dismal “credit rating” with God! Old Testament history illustrates that God’s people defaulted on promises to their Creator time after time. How can a working relationship ever be forged between God and such unreliable signatories?
The first unit of this quarter focuses on the role of Jesus as our guarantor. We come before God with a massive debt to Him. A fair look at our “spiritual finances” would yield the inevitable conclusion that we have liabilities that we can never repay. But enter the guarantor!
Gathering with His disciples on the last Passover they shared, Jesus used that reminder of the past to institute a covenant for the future. His very body and blood was to clear our sin-debt, making a relationship with God possible. While we must never assume that our duty to God is trivial or nonexistent, we can know that our guarantor has done what animal sacrifices and ritual actions can never accomplish.
Power to Perform
The guarantee of a contract is not the end, but the beginning. The second quarter in this unit moves from debt to performance. Jesus paid our sin debt. But how can we now live as responsible citizens of God’s kingdom?
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount addresses that very issue. Christ’s followers are called to display a superior, imputed righteousness. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, believers have transformed attitudes, world-changing influence, and a discernment to view the world from the perspective of their king.
Help in Difficult Times
Life is filled with challenges. Sometimes those trials make it difficult to live as a forgiven, reborn child of God. The third unit in this quarter is a series of case studies of God-followers overcoming those difficulties and living as faithful children of the Father.
David (King Saul’s anointed successor) and Jonathan (a bloodline heir to Saul’s throne) maintained a friendship despite the conflict inherent in their respective positions. What could have been an adversarial relationship between Ruth and Naomi became one of mutual support because of their relationship with the God of Israel. The joining of Boaz and Ruth with a marriage covenant was preparatory to an immeasurably greater covenant to come.
May this quarter cause us to rejoice in the remarkable covenant we have with God. Through Jesus, our guarantor, our sin-debt to God is paid, our behavior is empowered by the Spirit, and the most difficult, faith-shaking tests can be overcome!
Unit 1: A Fulfilled Covenant
Lesson 1, June 2 – Jesus Institutes the New Covenant – Mark 14:17–25; Hebrews 8:6, 7, 10–12
Lesson 2, June 9 – Jesus Seals the New Covenant – Mark 15:6–15, 25, 26, 33–39
Lesson 3, June 16 – The New Covenant’s Sacrifice – Hebrews 9:11–22
Lesson 4, June 23 – Hearts United in Love – Colossians 2:1–15
Unit 2: A Heartfelt Covenant
Lesson 5, June 30 – Right Attitudes – Matthew 5:1–12
Lesson 6, July 7 – Fulfilling the Law – Matthew 5:13–20
Lesson 7, July 14 – Love One Another – Matthew 5:21–32
Lesson 8, July 21 – Transforming Love – Matthew 5:38–48
Lesson 9, July 28 – Spiritual Discernment – Matthew 7:1–6, 15–23
Unit 3: Covenant: A Personal Perspective
Lesson 10, August 4 – A Covenant Between Friends – 1 Samuel 18:1–5; 19:1–7
Lesson 11, August 11 – A Mother-Daughter Covenant – Ruth 1:6–11, 14–18
Lesson 12, August 18 – A Covenant to Marry – Ruth 3:1–6, 8–12, 16–18
Lesson 13, August 25 – A Covenant of Mutual Love – Ephesians 5:21–33
Diligent study of these lessons will not only bless you spiritually, but also aid you in discovering God's plan for your own life.
-John Alva Owston