Corporate Character of Grace
Focal: And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. (v.7)
For the past few weeks, we have been thinking on some distinctives of reformed piety, that is, what ought to be characteristic of Christian thinking and living. Specifically, what should be characteristic of people who believe as we do in the reformed church. Thus far, we have noted:
- a high view of God in his majesty and glory as the Almighty and Sovereign Lord;
- a penetrating and abiding sense of our own sin and its greatness;
- an abounding joy in the Lord and his great salvation; and,
- a gratitude to God which intrudes into all we think, say and do.
To these we add the corporate character of grace, of grace as God dispenses it in the world and by which he saves his people. That is, to the family, as the most basic and fundamental corporate institution of human life and of the grace and kingdom of God.
In the final thoughts of this post, I will be summarizing an essay Robert Rayburn wrote on this central issue of the corporate character of grace. He reminds us that it is our inheritance as reformed Christians to appreciate the vast importance that God’s Word attaches to the family.
This is true principally because our forefathers saw so much more clearly than many today, that the Bible is one, and that its message does not change from what we call the Old Testament to what we call the New Testament. And, moreover, they saw clearly that what the Scripture says about God’s grace having a corporate, rather than merely an individual reference, is a fundamental and crucial aspect of the bible’s teaching about salvation and the life of Christians in the world. Our texts for this week are Gen 17:1-8; Acts 2:38-39; 16:29-31.
When God created man, he created him as a family. It was not good that man should be alone. Mankind was not present in the world, until there was a husband and wife together in marriage, ready to have children of their own. According to God’s Word, it is the family, not the individual that is the fundamental unit of human society.
Just as the family is the fundamental unit of human society; so, in the Bible it is the fundamental unit of the kingdom of God, of human society reborn. And no view of the Christian life will be biblical in its character that does not embrace this fundamental principle and this corporate character which divine grace has had from the beginning.
Yet, for many of us this remains foreign. For our heritage hails largely from the revivalism of frontier evangelism and American individualism. Hence, it is difficult for many in our church culture to work beyond both the expectation of a ‘crisis-conversion’ and the ingrained individualistic interpretation of Scripture that resembles more American democracy than biblical categories. So let me encourage you to join us this week not armed for a debate but instead prayed up and prepared to hear the Word of God through the lens of biblical categories. And if you do, I can assure you that you will be so encouraged, and, Lord willing, renewed to bring your family up from its youngest of age to trust in the glories of the Lord.
While you’re planning to come, why not bring some others with you? Surely, we all know families that could benefit from hearing the promises of God concerning the family. I urge you to pray for our families. Also, don’t forget to bring your Operation Christmas Child Box. Grace and peace.
Reveling in God’s Covenant Promises,