It is not Temple-less Worship

What Jesus declared to the woman was not temple-less worship; it was worship at the true Temple, pitched by God not my man.  There, God her Father seeks her worship; not on top of Gerizim, or at the end of the dusty trail to Jerusalem, but at the feet of Jesus.  Worship is in spirit, that is, in the Spirit Jesus himself gives, the water that is not from the well.  Worship is also in truth; not truth in the abstract but truth in Jesus, the true revelation of the Father, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.’ (John 14:6)

God’s presence makes us his people; the presence of Jesus constitutes the church as his temple, built of living stones, joined to him as God’s elect Stone (I Peter 2:4-6).  The church itself is a temple, the h0use of God, sanctified by the presence of the Spirit (I Corinthians 3:16).

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 45-46

The Church: An Embassy of Christ’s Kingdom

The Church, while a company of pilgrims, is also an embassy of Christ’s kingdom, representing the authority of Christ.  By his command, the church teaches Christians to be subject to the state.  We are to render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s (Mark 12:13-17; Titus 3:1; Romans 13:1-2).  This is not an option or a strategy, but an obligation.  God ordains government to establish his purposes (Romans 13:3-4).  Like others, Christians benefit from the order that governments bring.  Indeed, our evangelistic task is aided by civil peace (I Timothy 2:1-7), just as the pax Romanum offered Paul opportunity for his journeys.  Our service to God includes obedience to civil authority for conscience’s sake (Romans 12:1-2; 13:1-2)

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 190

Social Action Cannot Bring Salvation that Comes Through Christ

Social action may oppose evils that God hates, but it cannot bring salvation that Christ lived and died for.  The mission of Jesus had a particular focus – to be the Savior of the world (I John 4:14).  He came to serve; the heart of that service was to give his life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  Even the miracles of Christ were signs, as Stott points out.  Jesus healed to reveal himself, and to point to the deeper salvation he came to bring.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 196

Tongues as a Sign of Judgment and Blessing

Israel, disobedient to the word of God, had tasted the bitter judgment of exile.  they had mocked God’s prophets for babbling the ABCs of judgment, and would hear babbling indeed – the strange tongue of foreign invaders occupying their land (Isaiah 28:11-13).  At Pentecost, the sign of judgment became a sign of blessing: in Jerusalem, in the dialects of the nations, the praise of God sounded forth.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988

Proof of God’s Will in the Life of a Christian and Use of Gifts

The Christian proves God’s will in daily life by using natural and spiritual gifts to God’s praise.  Christian nurture aids God’s servants in seizing opportunities to discover what their gifts are, and where to use them.  While over-directness has moved some Christian churches towards the cults, other churches have erred by indifference, or have supposed that Christian nurture applies only to spiritual gifts, or to serving at church suppers.  Too often the church offers counselling only to those whose lives or marriages are already shipwrecked.  Parents receive little or no assistance in the vocational guidance of their children.  Educational and career choices are made under the direction of secular guidance counselors who are unaware of the Christian origin of the very term ‘vocation.’

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 146

A Transcending Unity

As God’s family, it models Christ’s love in the closest bonds of human relationships; as God’s new humanity, it rebukes the pride and intolerance of modern nationalism, showing a unity that transcends cultural and ethnic distinctions.  No matter how tragically the church may fail to demonstrate the holy love of the kingdom, its mandate remains.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 192

The Prophetic Role of the Church

The Church has a prophetic role to perceive and expose ethical questions that underlie political issues.  Where God has spoken in condemning sin, whether sodomy or financial exploitation, the church cannot be silent.  Under Communist and Fascist rule, the church of Christ has repeatedly paid the price for applying Christian doctrine to political wrongs.  In democratic regimes also that price has – and will yet be – exacted

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 193

Why Do We Feel Like Exiles?

In the beginning of the book of Genesis we learn the reason why all people feel like exiles, like we aren’t really home.  We are told there that we were created to live in the garden of God.  That was the world we were build for, a place in which there was no parting from love, no decay or disease.  It was all these things because it was life before the face of God, in his presence.  There we were to adore and serve his infinite majesty, and to know, enjoy and reflect his inginite beauty.  That was our original home, the true country we were made for.

– Tim Keller, Prodigal God, copyright 2008, page 95-96

Not the Home We Long For

According to the Bible, we live in a natural world that is now fallen.  We were not made for a world of disease and natural disaster, a world in which everything decays and dies, including ourselves.  This world, as it now exists, is not the home we long for.  A real, final homecoming would mean a radical change not only in human nature but in the very fabric of the material world.

– Tim Keller, Prodigal God, copyright 2008, page 99-100