Domingo, 26 de Fevereiro de 2017
   
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Heirs of the Covenant

It’s been quite a time since I started listening to Christian couples call their offspring “heirs of the covenant”. Well, that is kind of weird. Especially because, as reflected in Acts 3.25, the phrase “heirs of the covenant” refers to Abraham’s physical descendants, promised to the patriarch in the covenant made by God. Nonetheless, some Christians say their children are “heirs of the covenant”. As far as I can understand, they say that for believing their children are some how profited from the covenants made by God along with its blessings (not curses) once they have been born in a Christian household.

The text used to uphold such ideas is rather surprising. It is Acts 2.39: “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call”. After reading this verse, some Christian parents think “your children” refer to their babies. As the Holy Ghost is the gift promised in the text (and parents do not always notice that), this reasoning would logically imply that the Spirit is promised to whomever is born in a Christian household!

Somehow, such conclusion is (fortunately) not mentioned, but the prospect of some spiritual benefit (whatever it may be) addressing those children remains, deriving from the notion that the covenant between parents and God guarantees it.

Well, first of all I must say that children born to Christian parents are children of no covenant at all. Such teaching finds no correspondence in the Bible, no matter how bent hermeneutics may be. By the way, understanding Acts 2.39 that way is a childish approach to the excerpt. Indeed, Peter referred to “your children” not thinking about babies (or adolescents and young adults) who would eventually be in his listeners’ homes. Least of all, he was thinking of the church couples’ kids.

To get rid of such a naïve notion, we need only remember that Peter faced a Jewish and unbelieving audience. He then mentioned the promise addressing no Christian parent. What he did indeed was remind the unbelieving Israelite that the promises revealed by Joel, addressing the Jewish people, were everlasting and reached the future generations of that people. He also wanted to stress that such everlasting promise (the gift of the Spirit) could be promptly fulfilled in case the rebellious Israelite believed in the Christ they had just crucified. Finally, Peter broadened the promise’s reach by saying it aimed at “all whom the Lord our God will call” (which unfortunately isn’t the case of every kid from a Christian couple).

I know that these reflections will make many parents upset and maybe even angry. However, I bear good news too. The Bible says that children of believers do have privileges. It is not about some blessing from “sons of the pact”. But it has much to do with God distinctly acting in marriages in which one of the spouses believes. Apostle Paul says, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified thorough her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Co 7:14).

Even when one of the parents does not believe, Christian’s children are “holy”. Paul has no pact in mind at this point to substantiate such blessing. Its cause is no more than God’s grace acting in the marital endeavor when one spouse is a Christian. Notice yet that holiness can be taken under three senses in the NT. It can be positional (when speaking about men’s safe position before God), instrumental (when referring to some person or tool set apart for use of the Lord) and ethical (when applying to something morally pure). Although this may be open for debate and commentators don’t all agree about it, the third sense seems to better conceive 1 Corinthians 7:14.

In fact, children will have a distinct lifestyle under influence, direction, prayers and example of a Christian parent, at least. They will embrace Christian values, avoiding evil and cherishing virtues that children deprived of such influence would early despise.

Such is the immediate advantage in being born to a Christian family. No covenant benefits or applies to children of Christians since their birth. The benefit comes from the holy environment around them. There, they will have greater opportunities for knowing God’s grace and then enjoy in faith the blessing of the new Covenant.

Pr. Marcos Granconato

Strength and faith

Soli Deo gloria

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