Study Guide: Covenantal Love

Sunday April 25, 2010 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

The love of God expressed in Christ on the cross shows the radical lengths God is willing to go to restore us. This healing of our relationship with God takes the form of a covenant, not a contract.

Extended Summary:

The Bible makes it clear that only the Holy Spirit can open our eyes to the overwhelming grace of God. The “Good News” is so outrageous that we can’t fathom it without God’s help! This is why Scripture calls us to pray so we can receive it (2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Eph. 3:17-19). Sadly, the gospel can get trivialized by framing it in the language of merely a contract where God holds up one end of the deal and we hold up the other and everyone gets what they need. Instead, we need to understand it as a covenant.

As we can see, there’s a very different character—or heart—behind these two ways of relating. The contract tends towards self-protection and the covenant assumes both parties are willing to love self-sacrificially toward one another. Just as the Apostle Paul taught that love fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10) so also covenant “fulfills” the contract and goes well beyond it. Where the contract is primarily about external circumstances of concern, the covenant is concerned with matters of the heart (internal).

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Spend some time discussing together how the gospel changes when presented as a contract verses a covenant. What language is used when the gospel is described as a contract? What story is told? How does this change when the gospel is presented as a covenant? How is that storytold differently?
  3. What do you think is the most important difference between a covenant and a contract?
  4. As a group, what role does/could a covenant play in your relationships with each