Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20–21—NKJV)

Most every human agreement is based on conditional covenants. There is usually an enumeration of expectations and penalties associated with any foreseeable outcome or circumstance. Insurance policies, contracts, doctor services, employment conditions, and now even marriage prenuptial arrangements are in vogue. I suppose this way of thinking is what is behind the idea that children should be allowed to sue their parents as if there is some written agreement that was hammered out long ago which the parents failed to fulfill.

Scripturally, there are two kinds of covenants, conditional and unconditional. The Old Testament word for covenant means “to cut.” The two participants in the agreement would cut a sacrificial animal in half and lay the pieces opposite each other creating a path between the halves. A conditional covenant meant that both parties were agreeing to hold up their respective ends of the bargain. The conditional covenant was signified by both parties standing at either end of the path between the animal halves and both walking through to stand on the opposite side where the other party once stood. An unconditional covenant signified that only one party had obligations and the other was merely a recipient of the other party’s duty and obligations. The unconditional covenant was signified by both parties standing on opposite ends of the path between the animal halves and only one party walking through to stand by the side of the recipient of the benefits of the covenant.

An illustration of this ritual is found in Genesis 15:1–18. God repeated the “Abrahamic Covenant” of “land, seed, and blessing” found in Genesis 12:1–3 to Abraham in the first eight verses. In order to show the kind of covenant God was making with Abraham, God instructed Abraham to sacrifice several animals and lay them out in preparation for the covenant ratification (verses 9–11). God then caused a deep sleep to fall upon Abraham and He continued His promise to Abraham (verses 12–16). At the conclusion of God’s words, a burning furnace and a lamp were seen to pass between the animal pieces signifying an unconditional covenant (verses 17–18).

In the New Testament, covenant is a word that focuses on an obligation taken on by a single person. It is much like the idea of a promise or an undertaking. When referring to the work of God, it is a covenantal promise established on the basis of the death of Christ upon which the salvation of men is secured. Hebrews 7:22 reads, “by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.” Hebrews 8:6 states, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which is established on better promises.” On the night before our Lord’s crucifixion, He instituted the communion service for the soon-to-be-birthed church: Mark 14:24, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.” 1 Corinthians 11:25 reiterates, “In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’”

If you are genuinely born again, there is nothing that lacks to complete your salvation. You are guaranteed entrance into the presence of God Almighty because of the unconditional covenant of the finished work of Jesus Christ unerringly applied by the grace of God. His is the eternal covenant, as our passage states; it is unconditional; it is based upon the trustworthy nature and the divine ability of God to perform. May every believer live in light of the quality of the covenant he has received from God, and extend the same grace to others. Hebrews 10:19–25 reads in part, “Let us hold fast the confession off our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

To be loved unconditionally is an amazing gift. Those who have experienced it once in their lifetime (whether unconditional parental love, spousal love, or divine love) are supremely blessed. Unconditional love that allows God’s lovingkindness to flow from a believing husband to his wife is a love that honors God. Men ought to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Such a love will be her primary loss that she mourns upon his passing into eternity. If he has done a good job mirroring the love of God to her, then the unconditional love of God to her will overflow to dampen the pain and fill his unconditional love’s void until they are joyfully reunited in the presence of the Almighty. Learn to love as Christ has loved you. Trust and obey.