How does one join a corporation, whether it be an ecclesiastical organization, a social club, or a financial giant? However one looks at it, this is accomplished through covenant, whether by verbal or written agreement! Corporations stand on Covenant; if there was no Covenant involved, the corporation would not, could not exist! Agreements must be made & bonds must be witnessed & sealed, by definition, before the corporation can exist!
The Body of Christ, the Church, is, in this sense, the truest, best & greatest example of a corporation! By means of the Covenant, we have been incorporated into Him! We agreed & confessed, along with the Church in long ages past, that Jesus was Israel's long-awaited Messiah & that He was sent, as the Scripture says, to 'save His people from their sins', 'that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life'!
In most if not all of the Institutional Church today, a covenant, in whatever form, must be signed in order for one to be considered a member. Social organizations are the same way & there are very few paying jobs out there that one can do without signing a covenant or agreement of some sort! Whether verbal or written ( usually written ), a covenant must be agreed to in order much of anything to be accomplished!
Glory be to God, the Covenant that our Heavenly Father made with His Children was not of this sort! This Covenant, in the form of His only begotten Son, was inscribed on our hearts & has become an infinite well of the Water of Life within us, springing up to Eternal Life! On the other hand, this Covenant was ratified through the agreement of the Elect of Israel & thus ours, as the Body of Christ in the 21st century!
The Church, which is 'the Israel of God' of which the apostle Paul wrote ( Galatians 6:16 ) became 'the Body of Christ' ( I Corinthians 12:27 )! Through the Covenant, we have become part of the Corporation that is His Body; by the Grace of our Heavenly Father, we have been blessed to do His will on earth, as it is in the heavenly places! The Incorporation of the People of God into the Body of Christ was indeed fulfilled in the first century 'anno domini' & is yet being fulfilled today!
As agreement is made & upheld ( witnessed ) by those who wish to join with the Body of Christ, the Covenant is both honored & expanded! By Covenant alone, whether verbal, written or actual, can one be considered a member of this August Corporation. But this Covenant does not stand upon our individual faithfulness, as with so many other Covenants & Corporation! This Corporation is backed, not by some elite group of finite human beings, but by an infinitely gracious & merciful Living God, the Creator of all!
Through this Covenant, as the prophet Jeremiah ejaculated, 'we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning' ( Lamentations 3:22 & 23 ), we stand Incorporated, not as cogs in some graceless & merciless corporation, but as members of the Corporate Body of Christ, a Living & Breathing Organism! We are One with Him & so have become the greatest & most successful Cororation the world will ever know!
Charles Haddon Shank