(This article was first posted on enCourage. See original link by Christina Fox here).
Editor’s Note: The following is an interview I did with Sarah Ivill about her new book, The Covenantal Life. Her publisher, Reformation Heritage Books, has offered copies of her book for a giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment at the end of this post and you will be entered. Giveaway ends 3/7/18.
Christina: Can you summarize your new book, The Covenantal Life?
Sarah: Today, many of us have lost our appreciation for the beauty of both covenant theology and covenant community, and this has had dire consequences, such as individualism and isolationism in the church. I believe that a key solution to this problem is a robust understanding of covenant theology, which will deepen our knowledge of Scripture and enable us to truly serve our sisters by pointing them to Christ. In The Covenantal Life, I have tried to clearly and concisely set forth the beauty of covenant theology and covenant community, encouraging women to learn sound doctrine so that we can think biblically about the circumstances in our lives—and then help our sisters in Christ to do the same.
Christina: What inspired you to write it?
Sarah: When my publisher asked me to consider writing a book last year this topic immediately came to mind. It’s the topic I’m most often asked to speak on at women’s retreats and conferences, so I wanted to be able to put a book in women’s hands that would help them unpack what it means to be in a covenant relationship with God and a covenant relationship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Christina: What did you gain personally through the process of reading, studying, and preparing for this book?
Sarah: Covenant theology deepened my appreciation for Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension; all the spiritual blessings I have in Christ; the sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper; how God’s sovereignty and my responsibility go hand in hand; and how Scripture fits together as one big covenant story with Christ as the center of it all. In turn, it deepened my appreciation for the covenant community; my design as a woman; multigenerational ministry; how the cultural mandate and the Great Commission go hand in hand; and the city that is to come.
Christina: Do you have a particular method or routine to writing your studies? Favorite resources/commentaries you consult?
Sarah: When I’m writing Bible studies I begin by reading the book in its entirety in different translations. Then I outline it into smaller sections. Next I go section by section, reading the text, outlining it, consulting the top recommended commentaries on the particular book I’m studying, as well as any other pertinent resources. Then I write the study questions and the notes. Since this was a book instead of a Bible study, the process looked different. The finished manuscript grew from my outlines for speaking engagements. I also used trusted resources that helped me better understand both covenant theology and the covenant community.
Christina: Any advice you can give to women who teach Bible studies in their churches?
Sarah: 1) One of the greatest gifts we can give others as Bible teachers is our own time in the Word of God and prayer, as well as our engagement in and commitment to the covenant community. This fills our hearts with love for God and others, and our minds with sound doctrine, so that we teach faithfully and wisely.
2) Ask the Holy Spirit to open the women’s hearts to the Word of God. No matter how much we prepare we can’t do the work of God, which is to save sinners and make them more like Christ.
3) Proclaim Christ. When women walk away from Bible study they should know more about Jesus than they know about the teacher.
4) Don’t worry about numbers. The Lord will bring who He wants to be there. Prepare your heart and mind the same way for ten as you would for ten hundred.
5) Pray that the Lord will impact the hearts of the women so that Bible study isn’t an end in itself, but a means of growth in the area of their own walk with the Lord, their involvement and love for the covenant community, and their desire to impact the nations with the gospel. We want the women in our classes to walk away with such a wonder of who God is and all that He has done through Christ Jesus that it fuels their worship, their work and their witness for His glory.
Christina: What are you currently reading?
Sarah: The Bible in chronological order, eight commentaries on Ephesians (can you guess what study I’m currently writing?), Calvin’s Institutes, The Heidelberg Catechism, Uprooting Anger by Robert D. Jones, The Christ of Wisdom by O. Palmer Robertson, and Watership Down by Richard Adams (a read-aloud for homeschool).
Christina: Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for fun?
Sarah: I have been married to Charles for almost 15 years and we have four children—Caleb (12), Hannah (10), Daniel (4) and Lydia (2). During the day I enjoy reading and playing on the floor with my little ones, and homeschooling and engaging with my older ones. At night I love to be in my study pouring over Scripture, praying, reading books, and writing. Last fall our family began a new adventure of kayaking together, which has been lots of fun, but really I enjoy being anywhere outdoors with my family.
Click here to learn more about The Covenantal Life.
Ten years ago, in preparation for visiting a local PCA church with my husband and children, I began researching the PCA’s beliefs, read through the Westminster Confession of Faith, and studied a book on covenant theology. Not long afterwards, my husband and I joined that church. In order to flesh out what I was learning about covenant theology through our new church, I read hundreds of online lectures from a Reformed seminary, and hundreds of Reformed books. I also started writing Bible studies to help me, and hopefully other women, understand the covenantal framework of Scripture and Christ as the center of the covenant story (by God’s grace, I am on my 37th book of the Bible).
It would not be overstating things to say that studying covenant theology was life changing for me. So what is it about covenant theology that captured my heart and mind? And what is it about covenant theology that I want to share with my sisters in Christ both through the session I am teaching at Leadership Training and the book I have written on The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community?
Ten Ways Covenant Theology Captured My Heart and Mind
Bible Studies & Books by