LIFE IN THE COVENANT
in Family, Church and the World
by rev. Wilbur Bruinsma
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God said to Abraham, “I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Gen. 17:7; cf. Lev. 26:12, Ezek. 37:27, Jer. 30:22). This covenant is the intimate relationship of fellowship he has chosen to share with his people in Jesus Christ. God has blessed his Old and New Testament church by way of the truth of the covenant even as he blessed Abraham. The truth of the covenant comforts us in distress, encourages us in our battle against our enemies, and gives strength when we are weak. We as believers must embrace the truth of God’s covenant by developing and nurturing a worldview that is rooted in the blessed relationship which our heavenly Father has made with us in Christ.
With the heart of a pastor and the passion of a preacher, the author has written this book to help believers combat the threatening influences of both the world and our own sin upon the Christian home and church. As a practical exposition of the doctrine of God’s covenant, this volume will aid children of the covenant in directing their lives unto the triune God— in the family, among other saints, and as they live in the midst of an unbelieving world.
Wilbur Bruinsma is a minister in the Protestant Reformed Churches. He has pastored four congregations, and he has also served as a domestic missionary in the United States and as a missionary to Jamaica. Rev. Bruinsma and his wife have been blessed with five children and many grandchildren. (189 pages, hardcover, ISBN: 978-0-916206-46-8)
Introduction: God’s Covenant: The Believer’s Worldview
Section One: GOD’S COVENANT AND THE FAMILY
1 Setting the Solitary in Families
2 The Covenant of Marriage
3 Our Calling in Marriage
4 Children: God’s Heritage
5 The Blessing of Home and Family
6 Tempered by Adversity
Section Two: GOD’S COVENANT AND THE CHURCH
7 The Church: The Body of Christ
8 The Church: God’s Dwelling Place
9 The Communion of Saints
10 Frequenting God’s House
11 The Gathering of God’s Church
12 Educating Children of the Covenant
Section Three: GOD’S COVENANT AND THE BELIEVER’S LIFE IN THE WORLD
13 In, Not of, the World
14 Loving the Neighbor
15 Living Antithetically
16 The Believer in the Workplace
17 Subjection to Rulers
18 A Place for Entertainment?
Conclusion: Seeking Our Eternal Home
The world around us is rapidly changing. This is not merely true of the rapid advances in technology and medicine. It is especially true in the sphere of modern values and morals. A believer from four generations ago would wonder aloud why God has allowed this present world to progress in sin as far as it has.
I’m a believer from three generations ago. I lived during the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s when children out of broken homes (the divorce rate skyrocketed after World War II) declared their liberty from the restrictions society had placed on sex. Sex was divorced from marriage to become a matter of recreation and fun (free love). In decades following, the consequence of illicit sexual relationships, that is, conception, was successfully dealt with: birth control, abortion, or the proud defiance of women who decided that being a single mother was empowering. This sinful attitude toward sex has changed our society today so drastically that people now identify themselves according to their sexual preference.
I have also lived to see the working through of other trends initiated by the sinful 60s. A revolution against authority began, as if the authority of parents, church, and state was inherently evil. The older generation is now considered irrelevant. The young generation is convinced that the generations gone by have only succeeded in ruining the world. The young now are wiser following a new and better way. Yet lawlessness prevails in society. Radical feminism has influenced both society and, sad to say, many in the church of today, so much so that husbands hardly dare to exercise headship in their own homes. The cry that “God is dead” has developed into a society that ignores, or worse, despises the commandments of God.
Christianity and its impact on western civilization are now hated. Pagan religions are exalted while true Christianity is labeled as vindictive, bigoted, and narrow-minded. Yes, the world is rapidly changing. But God’s Word stands the same yesterday, today and forever. This is true because God and his Son never change. The Christian faith therefore remains the same. It is relevant for each new generation—never outdated or immaterial. God’s Word establishes unchanging values that believers of the modern generation must follow in the same way as did their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We today have so much to learn from the generations of believers that have been born and raised in the covenant. This is true because the covenant itself has much to say about our lives.
This prompted me to write this book. The truth of God’s covenant with his people in Christ is a practical matter. It is not merely theological in character. I know there are theological debates in order to maintain the blessed truth regarding God’s covenant with his elect people. All good. But perhaps in it all we forget how much the truth of God’s covenant with us and with our children has to do with life itself! The holiness of the church is founded upon our relationship of friendship with God! The doctrine of the covenant, therefore, has many practical applications that affect our lives in the home, church and the world.
Early on in my ministry, while living with my family on the island of Jamaica far from the safety and comfort of our churches, I learned a deep appreciation for the truth of God’s covenant. My wife and children were my constant companions almost everywhere I went. My wife was my closest advisor. My children climbed with me the paths that led to the churches. I learned how precious family is. At the same time, I reflected upon the gracious benefits of being born in the line of the generations of God’s covenant. My family and I lived and labored among a people whose society and churches were truly void of the benefits of God’s covenant—something we so often take for granted as God’s people. Through my years in the ministry I have addressed many of the subjects pertaining to life in the family and church. Many who sat under my preaching might remember some of my sermons, others some of my writings in the Standard Bearer.
This book is also the fruit of my experience as a parent who, together with my wife, shared in the joys and sorrows of raising our children and has witnessed the struggles of our own children in establishing godly homes. More than ever the pressures of a godless world have infiltrated the church through the media. The world makes sure that its views on sex, parenting, and the church are “in our face,” so to speak. But God’s Word also has much to say on these subjects; and what it teaches us is diametrically opposed to that of the world. It is my prayer that believers will either learn or be reminded by what is written here of how our relationship with God dictates the way we live in this present world of sin. I hope especially it is of encouragement to the young people and families of the church. May zeal and dedication to the cause of Christ in this world not pass us by! May God grant us to live in all godliness and holiness in the home, the church and the world.
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