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For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

About a week ago, we heard the sermon from Ho Kien Keong, from FGA Kuala Lumpur, that our God is a covenant God. In everything He do with man, He sets the parameters using covenants. In language, covenant is an old term used in the past, referring to agreements.

Let’s consider a common scenario that you and I could easily identify with; a person purchasing a house. When a seller advertise his house for sale, he begins a process known legally as “invitation to treat”. Technically, a buyer have no power to accept the invitation, unless the buying terms are met and a decent offer by the buyer is made within the terms expected by the seller.

Following the invitation, the buyer then “offers” to buy the house by stating the price he is willing to pay. Usually this is the price advertised by the seller in his invitation, or close to it. If the “offer” price is not within the minimum expectation of the seller, the deal will not likely happen.

After the “offer” price is arrived at, the seller then “accepts” the “offer”. And a contract is formed on this premise; the full cycle of what is invited, offered and accepted. These three elements are the pillars of a valid agreement, or valid contract or in the days of old, a valid covenant.

The contract then becomes a binding and enforceable agreement. Once signed and sealed, the seller cannot pull out from selling if the full price is paid and the buyer cannot rescind either if the acceptance from the seller remains. If either party breaks the agreement, it then becomes a breach of contract.

Likewise, when God the Father surrendered Christ to pay the price of sin by sacrificing Him on the Cross (John 3:16), Christ created an invitation to treat for us; to demonstrate to us the extent of the Father’s love. As it is, you and I have no power yet to accept or to create any binding covenant with God. The Bible says we need to confess our sins, believe in Him, repent and to offer ourselves as living sacrifice that is Holy and acceptable to God, the minimum standards required by Biblical teaching.

Romans 12:1 speaks clearly of this offer and acceptance policy initiated by God, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present (“offer”) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, “acceptable” to God, which is your reasonable service.

When we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, to be Holy and acceptable to Him, the onus is then in God’s power to either accept or reject our offer. The power of acceptance lies with God, and not us. There is no automatic salvation by mere professing with our lips. Neither can pastors provide us with tickets to heaven. God paid the price for our sins and in return, the price He demands for a covenant with Him, is our turning away from sin to holiness and come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

After God accepts our offer, a covenant between God and us is created. With the creation of the covenant, we cannot go back to doing things that will grieve the Father’s heart and breach our end of the bargain with God. Otherwise we will break the covenant and consequences or penalty will follow (as in what happened to Israel for generations).

By understanding the basic tenets of how legal agreements are formulated, we can also have a good glimpse of how covenants with God are created and how to preserve them. By grasping this legal concept, we respect God. We respect Jesus. We recognize He is a just God that honors agreements. We respect His absolute, universal authority to life. By His deeds at the Cross, salvation is a new covenant from God set on invitation. Salvation is not a free pass to heaven, as widely misconceived.

We have no right to accept Jesus. The power to accept or reject is in the hands of God Himself, not us. The phrase “accept Jesus” is a term used in our churches and taught by our pastors. The phrase itself is no where to be found in the Bible. And only fools would believe they have the right to accept the Son of God. This is the reality within the context of Christ’s proposition to us.

Anything outside Christ, there’s no binding agreement, no covenant. The argument of offer, acceptance or rejection, do not even exist to start with.