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The Covenant and Our Friendships

Before we present the outline proper in regard to our subject, let us set forth the principle of God’s Word that truly governs our subject.  The principle is this, that our friendships must reflect the bond of friendship between God and His people in Christ Jesus.  This implies that our friendships have their basis in righteousness.  That this is the only proper view point in regard to the subject of friendship can easily be demonstrated from Scripture.  Let me call your attention to but one text by way of introduction.  The Lord Jesus Christ, through the psalmist David, confessed: “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” -Psalm 119:63

 

I.  The Covenant of Grace as the basis for our friendships among men.

A.  The Covenant is a living bond of friendship between Jehovah God and His people in Jesus Christ.

1.  The nature of the Covenant:

a.  Negatively,

1)  Not a covenant which is merely a temporary contractual relationship between God and man, which would imply various divine stipulations and conditions to be fulfilled by man.

2) Nor a covenant established conditionally with every child born in the Church.

3) Why not:

a) This very prevalent conception of the Covenant is cold and mechanical and lifeless.

b) Further, it presents the Covenant as a temporary relationship and not eternal.

c) It presents the Covenant of Grace as something outside of eternal life, but necessary to the attainment of it.  Therefore, the covenant is viewed as something to be discarded after salvation is attained.

b.  Positively,

1) Our conception of the Covenant of Grace is that it is an eternal bond of friendship between God and His people in Christ Jesus.  Gen. 17:7; 12:1-5

2)  The Covenant of Grace designed and willed by God from all eternity.  Eph. 1

3)  The Covenant established historically by God with His people chosen in Christ Jesus.

a)  Negatively, not established with Cain, Lamech, Nimrod, Canaan and Ham.

b)  Positively, but it was established with Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

c)  Thus two lines in all of history:

1/ The line of the reprobate who are from all eternity excluded from the Covenant of Grace.

2/ The line of the elect with whom He established His Covenant of Grace in Christ according to His holy and sovereignly free purpose.

B.  Proof from Scripture that the Covenant of Grace in its nature is a bond of friendship between God and His chosen people in Christ Jesus.

            1.  The actual relationship of Israel to Jehovah God according to God’s own institution.

a.  The tabernacle and temple symbolically testify of Jehovah God dwelling with His chosen people in love.

b.  Noah and Enoch and Abraham walked with God according to Scripture.

c.  The imposed law of God as representing the boundaries of that Covenant relationship.  Thus the law is a Word of love and grace to Israel.

2.  From the New Testament;

a.  Jesus Himself described his relation to His people as a relationship of friendship. John 15:14-15.

b.  He that is the friend of God is the enemy of the world.  I John 2:15-18, James 4:4.

c.  The life of good works is friendship with God.  James 2:23.

d.  The Spirit of God sent to dwell in our hearts (not a building as in the Old Dispensation) as our Sovereign Friend.  John 14:26; 15:26, Eph. 2:22.

II. The Biblical idea of friendship.

A.  A bond of love between two which is based upon the righteousness of life and heart towards God.

1.  Elements of friendship.

a.  Negatively: the opposite of hostility, bitterness and loneliness.

b.  Positively

1) Friendship is an openness and a willingness to share one’s life, in all its aspects, with another.

2) Friendship implies a common commitment to the truth of God’s Word and law. Amos 2:3.

3) Friendship requires self-denial for the good and advantage of one’s friend.

2.  Examples from Scripture.

a.  David and Jonathan – I Samuel 19 and 20

b.  Jesus and His disciples – John 15:14-15.

c.  Jesus’ relationship to Mary, Martha and Lazarus – John 11:11.

III. Our friendships among God’s people.

A.  How to make friends among God’s people.

1.  Negatively,

a.  Some young people in the Church are lonely and find it difficult to receive from others, acceptance.  This is a most painful experience for all.

b.  However, often the fault for this resides in one’s own sinful attitude (not always, but often).

1) The lonely are often rejected because they are unbearably self-righteous.  In their view, the young people of the Church are never any good.

2) The lonely often violate the simple principle that we are to put our trust in the work of God’s grace in the young people of the Church.

3) Others conduct themselves in a superior or haughty manner.

2.  Positively:  Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

B.  The responsibility of one in a relationship of friendship

1.  Negatively

a.  Friendships are often formed for the wrong reasons.

1) Social advancement

2) For selfish gain

b.  Scripture

1) Proverbs 14:20

2) Luke 23:12

2.  Positively

a.  A true friend in the Lord seeks his friend’s well-being both physically and spiritually.

1) Proverbs 14:20

2) Luke 23:12

b.  A friend in the Lord does not lead one into sin.

1) Galatians 6:1

2) Prov. 27:9

IV.  Our Calling to be thankful for the gift of a godly friend and friends.

A.  The friendship of the saints is itself a gift of God to us.

1.  Because God established friendship with men in Christ Jesus, elect believers can have friendships with one another.  (True friendship not possible among unbelievers)

2.  This is one of the blessings merited for us by our Lord Jesus by His death on the cross.

B.  Our calling to be thankful to God for this blessed gift.

1.  It is gross ingratitude for a believer to deal meanly or to be unfriendly to any of God’s people.

2.  We walk in thankfulness when we seek one another in the Lord.

 

Questions:

1.  May the believer develop and maintain friendships with a “decent” person of the world?

2.  Are our friendships solely to be established with fellow saints in our own churches?  May we not establish friendships with other believers?  Can friendships with other saints ever be as rewarding?

3.  Do you rebuke your friend with he/she walks in sin?  Will you accept the rebuke of your friend?

4.  Are your friendships a reflection of God’s Covenant of friendship?

5.  Is it sin to court or accept a date from one who is unbelieving?  Is it valid to claim in this connection, how can one know without first dating?

6.  Is it sin to marry an unbeliever?