Are you a child of God? Oh yeah? Well, prove it!
In preparing for our continuing study through the book of Genesis at Calvary Bible Church, I came to chapter 17. In this chapter God reaffirms His unconditional covenant to Abram. However, chapter 17 has caused some to wonder whether or not this is a different covenant from the one addressed in the preceding chapter. God calls on Abram and says, “walk before Me that I may make my covenant between Me and you…” (Gen. 17:1-2).
Does this mean that God is either making a different covenant with Abram or is He adding a new conditional element to the covenant that He’s already made? The answer to both questions is “no”. The emphasis in this chapter is especially laid on the work of God in fulfilling His promises to His servant. The covenant that God makes does not depend on the work of Abram. The work of Abram depends on the covenant that God has made with Him.
Commentator and pastor James M. Boice is helpful when he explains it this way:
We may express this theologically. Speaking in New Testament thought forms, we may say that God justifies the ungodly by grace alone–that the work is entirely of him. But God never does that apart from regeneration. God justifies us by grace on the basis of the work of Christ. But since God never justifies without regenerating, the one who is justified will, must, and shall respond in ways that are glorifying to God. This is what we find in the case of Abraham. The Lord said, ‘I am going to bless you and your descendants through my Son, Jesus Christ. And now, because I am doing this, because I am applying my grace to your life, you must live for me.’ If we are not living for God, we prove by our actions that we have never been regenerated or justified. If we do, there is a certain sense in which we add our seal to the seal of God and acknowledge that his word is truth (James M. Boice, p. 582).