BEHIND ALL STORIES about successful business practices, we can find God revealing Himself through covenants. This has been evident as He has reflected his love and holiness 1) throughout the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), 2) throughout the New Testament, 3) throughout the community of Christians, and 4) through discipleship along the path toward loving and holy relationships at work and elsewhere. The four brief sections of this Conclusion summarize these four topics.
1. Our Lord's Holiness and Love in the Old Testament
Our Lord reveals Himself as the sovereign Lord when He forms covenants with man (see, e.g., Gen. 3:14-19, 9:1-17, 15:1, etc.). He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way using covenants (Ps. 25:9-10). He describes covenantal relationships in terms of peace (Num. 25:12, Isa. 54:10, Ezek. 34:24, 37:26; Mal. 2:5). God shows how His revelation is actualized through purposeful leaders who obey Him. This results in prosperity for those who honor the divine covenant (Deut. 7:12-15; 8:18, 28:2-12). Before Christ, this prosperity was described not just in terms of wealth but also in terms of spiritual fruit (Lev. 26:4; Deut. 7:12-17) and the loving fatherhood of God over people who have divine commands written on their hearts (Jer. 31:33). This law on their hearts unites believers in lovingkindness (Ps. 40:10).
Surrender to God comes before His people receive the blessings of the covenant. We see this when Moses reveals the Sinai covenant (Exod. 20 and Deut. 5) and then links blessings and curses to respect for the covenant (see, e.g., Deut. 7:12-15; 28:2-12) . The blessings of respecting God's law are then emphasized throughout Scripture, such as in Psalm 1: "Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked… but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers."
The Lord God calls his people to respect His law (be righteous) so that they may be people of the covenant and a light to the nation (Isa. 42:6). "'I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever," declares the LORD. ‘Then the nations will know that I the Lord make [them] holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever'" (Ezek. 37:26-28).
God's light is a purifying light that fosters holiness (Isa. 60:1-4). Andrew Murray writes that, "The one purpose of His holy Covenant is to make us holy as He is holy. As the Holy One He says: "I am holy; be ye holy; I am the Lord which hallows you, which makes you holy." The highest conceivable summit of blessedness is our being partakers of the Divine nature, of the Divine holiness. This is the great blessing Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, brings."
2. Our Lord's Holiness and Love in the New Testament
The covenants point toward the light of Christ. We remember his holy covenant… to enable us to serve God without fear in holiness and righteousness [and] to guide our feet into the path of peace" (Luke 1:68-79). Through covenants, God provides His light (Luke 1:78-79, John 8:12, John 12:35-36). The covenants provide an eternal lamp with light to guide believers before Christ and through Christ. Non-believers cannot see this light (2 Cor. 4:2), but for those who believe in Christ, God "[Lets His] light shine out of darkness" and [makes] His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God's glory displayed in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).
Christ's light radiates and purifies. "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven" (Heb. 1:3). Through knowledge of Christ, believers can "contemplate the Lord's glory…being transformed into his image" (2 Cor. 3:14-18). Through this process, saved people reflect the Lord's glorious love and holiness (His character) to others, and at the same time are being transformed into his likeness.
Christ calls his followers to holiness and love (see, e.g., 1 John 1:5-7; 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:9). Christ exhorts believers to "remember His Holy Covenant; … serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all our days" (Luke 1:68-75). Christ exhorts His followers to love by keeping the holy law. He says, "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you" (John 15:10-12). In 1 John 5, we see a similar description of how Christians are to maintain loving and holy relationships, "This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God" (1 John 1:2-5).
To experience Christ's love and holiness, we are to be baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3), united with Christ in his resurrection (Rom. 6:5), and seated with him in the heavenly realm (Eph. 2:6). Then Christ is formed in believers (Gal. 4:19) and He dwells in our hearts (Eph. 3:17). Upon conversion, the believer is in Christ (Rom. 6:11) and partakes of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). Once we are united with Christ, we are justified (1 Cor. 1:30), sanctified by truth (John 17:17), and adopted so that God the Father loves us no less than he does his own eternal Son (John 17:23). Then we are competent as ministers of a new covenant (2 Cor. 3:6).
3. Our Lord's Love and Holiness Reflected Through the Community of Believers
Those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God respect divine authority (Rom. 10:9-13) and divine righteousness (Rom. 10:3-6). Such people come together in communities that reflect holy and loving relationships with one another. The apostle Paul writes, "Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Rom. 8:2). Such people have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:5-6)."
In community, Christ's followers see how Christ loves them as the Father loved Christ (John 15:9). Believers come together as the body of Christ (1 Cor. 6:15; 12:27) where Christ is in us (2 Cor. 13:5) and we are in Him (1 Cor. 1:30). In such a loving community, it is safe to confess weakness because then God is strong (2 Cor. 13:4, 9). In loving community, we do not have to rely in our own efforts to keep God's law, but we can instead obey from our hearts the pattern of teaching that leads to righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). We then offer ourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness and eternal life (Rom. 6:19, 22).
In community, Christ's followers experience not just love and holy faithfulness but other spiritual fruit as well. Jesus makes this clear in John 15:4-8 when he exhorts, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
In new covenant communities, we see a continuation of theocentric relationships guided by the commitment to ancient biblical covenants. The new covenant church fulfills the intention or goal of the Old Testament's promise of God's presence among his people. In churches committed to the establishment and maintenance of God's everlasting presence, there are abundant blessings described in 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1, a section of Scripture with many passages tying back to parallel teachings in the Old Testament.
Jesus exhorts churches to maintain His presence through communion which He defines as the new covenant in His blood (see, e.g., Luke 2:20, 1 Cor. 11:25.) The blood washes away sin as prayerful ministers of the Word teach about "repentance unto life" and the Lord's Table. Pastors invite to the Lord's Supper all who are believers in Christ, who are baptized members in good standing of an evangelical church, and who have been properly approved by church officers to take communion. Pastors may also remind those coming to the altar for communion that Jesus warns against participating in the Lord's Supper if there is unresolved conflict with a fellow Christian (see, e.g., Matt. 5:23-24). Effective leaders create a church culture where God's kindness leads to repentance (Rom. 2:4). Such kindness, when combined with warnings about sin and the disciplinary authority of Spirit-led elders, helps maintain the peace and purity of the covenant community church.
When churches use preaching, prayer, and proper administration of the sacraments (the means of grace) to maintain the presence of Christ, leaders in the church see how they can similarly rely on prayer, teachings from God's Word, and discipline to extend Christ's presence beyond the Sunday worship service and beyond the church campus to the marketplace. As business leaders encounter sin in their organizations, they can encourage prayerful peacemaking, refer to relevant biblical teachings, and use various types of discipline to constrain behaviors that disrupt teamwork. Of course, a business is not the church and the business leader does not have the authority of church elders; however, a leader committed to the presence of Christ can learn much from how healthy churches maintain loving and holy relationships while encouraging unity.
4. Discipleship Along the Path to Loving and Holy Relationships
Despite the great promises made to those who remain in loving and holy community, we are far too prone to sin (see, e.g., Rom. 7). We are easily distracted from the true Gospel message. We may be zealous for God, but that zeal may not be based on knowledge (Rom. 10:2). We may not know or submit to God's sovereignty and righteousness but seek to establish a righteousness of our own (Rom. 10:3). We may be saved, but we may not know how to enter into an intimate relationship with Christ and with mature believers. We may acknowledge Christ as Lord (Phil. 2:11-13), but they may need mature help in seeing how Christ's Lordship extends beyond the church campus and beyond Sunday morning service to the marketplace. In such cases, we need relationships that help us mature in faith, experience God's glory, and bear much fruit.
In his teaching about spiritual freedom, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples" (John 8:31). Christ tells his apostles to teach others to observe all that He has commanded (Matt. 28:20). The apostle Paul then describes how discipleship fosters maturity when believers invest their lives in one another. Paul writes, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us (1 Thess. 2:8 NIV). Investing in one another is explained by Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others."
How do we find reliable people who are qualified to teach others? Above all also, we need leaders who are united with Christ and guided by the Spirit under the authority of the Father. How do we find such people who respect the Triune God? Christ gave us prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Christ shows us the perfect counselor (John 14:15-31). Christ also affirms the leadership roles of peacemakers (Matt. 15:9) and parents (Matt. 15:4).
These spiritual guides can be hard to find off the church campus. Moreover, when the Christian business leader goes to his/her church for guidance, the leader may find that the pastor and church elders know little about board governance, accounting standards, compliance burdens, personnel laws, strategic planning methodologies, stewardship of wealth not given to the local church, and other issues most distracting the business leader from a whole-hearted focus on Christ. Worse, leaders may find that church pastors and elders fail to keep confidences or focus too much on cultivating the business owner as a source of funding for the church.
How does a business leader find a spiritual guide who knows the Lord, knows the business leader, and knows the reality of the marketplace? How does a company owner find qualified consultants who know how to reflect God's character when establishing Christian business principles and practices?
Scripture shows us how prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, counselors, parents, and peacemakers can clearly provide much light when they know the Lord and reflect His character. When modern people in these roles lack knowledge of the business world or knowledge of the business person seeking counsel, a business person can turn to seven other sources of spiritual light. In the 21st century, corporate chaplains, business counselors and coaches, board (council) members, prayer partners, consultants, and peacemakers (conciliators) actively advertise their services within Christian circles. Forty-seven of these services are listed along the top row of http://www.reflectinggod.info/7LightSources/. At this link, you can see a grid which explains how the 47 services correspond to these 7 roles: chaplains, counselors, coaches, council members, corporate prayer partners, consultants, and conciliators. You can see which of the 47 services you need and then choose which roles need to be filled as you seek guidance.
To further guide discussions about which advisers can reflect God's character and shine light into a business, this book includes five appendices with more information. Appendix 1 helps focus an adviser on building a Christian culture through personal discipleship and corporate consulting. Appendix 2 explains a strategic planning process that relates the traditional SWOT analysis to the mission, objectives, strategies, and tactics of a business. Appendix 3 shows how success in fulfilling the mission ad objectives can be monitored on web-based Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Appendix 4 offers ideas about how a business leader might choose and evaluate a Christian consultant. A list of Christian business organizations, including those with consultants for hire, is in Exhibit 1. Appendix 5 includes ideas about how a business owner should focus on stewarding all of his/her assets throughout the consulting process.
Behind all stories about successful business practices, we can find God revealing love and holiness and other aspects of His character through covenants. Teachings in the ancient Scriptures are now made clear through Christ, the mediator of a new covenant, and through mature Christians who are competent as ministers of a new covenant. A proper understanding of Christ and His covenant community helps the business leader develop his personal relationship with Christ while building teams that reflect God's character. Business leaders all have weaknesses, but, in mature covenant communities, Christ is strong even when the leader is weak. This strength can be found through healthy churches and the types of consultants explained in the following appendices and exhibits.
Throughout this book, we have emphasized that God is Holy and Loving. The holiness of God is closely related to God's character as the Just, Truthful, Wise, and Faithful God. The Love of God is closely related to God's character as the Good, Merciful, Gracious, and Patient God. All ten of these attributes of God are discussed well in a book by Jen Wilkin entitled, "In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character." See www.ReflectingGod.info/InHisImage
 Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace. This doctrine is to be preached by every minister of the gospel along with preaching about faith in Christ. See Chapter 15 of the Westminster Confession of Faith at www.Covenant.net/WCF15.
 For information about Protestant fencing of the communion table, see www.Covenant.net/CommunionFence. For parallel information about closed communion in Roman Catholic churches, see www.Covenant.net/RomanCatholicClosedCommunion.
 For a very helpful summary of how a church can use church discipline to maintain peace and purity, see http://www.BiblicalPeace.com/RC.
 Paul Washer warns that American Christians are often deceived into neglecting the repentance element of the Gospel; see www.ReflectingGod.info/GreatestHearsay. Ray Comfort warns that many people who make "decisions for Christ" never enter into a relationship with Christ; see www.ReflectingGod.info/DecisionsVsRepentance. Tim Keller warns that legalism and liberalism often distract us from a focus on the true Gospel; see www.Covenant.net/3ViewsKeller. H. Richard Niebuhr shows us how differing views of Scripture complete with one that emphasizes freedom in Christ and the transforming work of Christ; see http://www.covenant.net/5ViewsBusiness.
 A business or business person should asses internal Strengths and Weaknesses in light of external Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). The SWOT process is also referred to as the WOTS process. To see how this assessment process relates to the Mission, Objective, Strategies, and Tactics (MOST) of a business, visit www.WOTSMOST.com.