Holiness is the Goal of the Growth of the Church

Holiness is the goal of the growth of the church as the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:15).  We are to grow together to the full maturity of Christ.  We know that, when the Lord comes, we shall be made like Him (I John 3:2).  For that reason, perhaps, evangelical Christians have discounted the importance of the transformation that the Lord seeks now, before His coming.  Paul labored night and day to present the church as a pure virgin to Christ (II Corinthians 11:2).  He did not limit his work to saving souls, in the relaxed confidence that the Lord would finish their sanctification when the trumpet sounds.  Rather, his prayer and labor for the Thessalonians were that they may be ‘blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.’ (I Thessalonians 3:13) 

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 65

Christians Must Favor a Limited Role for Government

Christians must favor a limited role for government: to support life and restrain evil, but not to enforce the righteous living that is the standard of morality for Christ’s church.  Salvation does not now come by the ‘redemption’ of the political order, but by the new birth that brings lost sinners into the kingdom of God.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 195

The Shadows of the Old Covenant

[Hebrews 11:40] gives balance to our thinking. The key is God’s one plan, a plan that unfolds so that his later and better covenant does not invalidate the earlier, or exclude its participants.  Rather, the greater blessings given to us are the very blessings they sought, and that they will receive together with us.  The two great administrations of God’s one plan are distinguished in time and form, but not in God’s purpose, or in the nature of his salvation then, now and for ever.  We best understand the relation between them as we trace the Word of the Spirit, who shows us treasures of Christ in the new and the old (Matthew 13:52).  The shadows of the Old Covenant are not deceptive wraiths; they are ‘fore-shadows’ that enable us to understand better that which comes in Christ.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 55

Jesus Christ Fulfills the Cultural Mandate

Jesus Christ, who comes to bring salvation, also fulfils the heart of the cultural mandate.  Paul pointed declares that Christ not only has dominion over all things, but that he fills all things (Ephesians 1; 4:10; Genesis 1:28).  The Second Adam has completed the calling of the first in both aspects. His dominion is shown, not through elaborate technical means, but by the immediate exercise of his power.  He did nothing to redesign Galiliean fishing craft, but simply walked on the water to reach his disciples in the storm.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 175

Greater Blessings to Come

God’s fatherly instructing, directing, protecting, providing and correcting are constant themes as psalmists and prophets look back on God’s dealings with Israel, and promise greater blessings to come (Psalm 23; 32:8-9; 103:6-19; 119; Hosea 11:1-4, 8-11; Isaiah 63:7-19; Hebrews 12:5-11).  God’s grace claims Israel as his child; his nurturing love seeks the response of delight in his goodness (Ezekiel 16:4-6)

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 139

The Church’s Primary Task

The Great Commission is not a theme float for mission in a long parade of cultural triumphs.  It is the marching orders of the Lord for his church.  The Lord of the harvest calls us to call to him to thrust forth laborers into His harvest.  He must send but he moves us to pray and leads us to go.  The Church’s primary task is to make disciples.  To this task the gifts of the Spirit are directed.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Countours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 67

Spiritual Gifts Detached from Spiritual Fruit

The Lord has fashioned his church as an organic body.  The gifts he grants are not given for their own sake; their presence does not support pride, or their absence justify envy.  When the gifts are in any way detached from the fruit of the Spirit in the service of love, they become distracting noise, attracting attention but accomplishing nothing (I Corinthian 13)

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 240-241

Who, Then, Is the Heir of God’s Promises?

Who, then, is the heir of God’s promises?  Christ is the Son of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the Seed of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), the Son of David (II Samuel 7:12-16).  He alone is the rightful heir, for he alone is without covenant-breaking sin.  Those who are united to Christ are heirs in him of all the promises of God.  Christ fulfills the calling of Israel; those united to him by the fact the new Israel of God (Galatians 3:29; 4:21; Romans 15:8).  The ethnicity of the new people is now spiritual rather than physical, making the bonds stronger and the brotherhood more intense (I Peter 1:22).  Christians are not just born-again individuals, they are a family, ‘spiritual ethnics’, the new people of God in Christ.  To forget this is to undercut the practice of brotherhood in all the dimensions of daily life.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 43-44

God is not a God of Disorder

God is not a God of disorder, but of peace (I Corinthians 14:33).  In worship, all things are to be done in a fitting and orderly way (I Corinthians 14:40).  Paul instructs us in the Lord’s command (I Corinthians 14:37) precisely with regard to the use of Spiritual gifts.  Good order will mean that the unbelieving visitor will not say that you are out of your mind, but, being himself convinced of sin, will fall down – yes, he may indeed fall down – and say, ‘God is really among you!’

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 253-254

In Everything, the Ministry of the Word of God is Central

In every task of the church, the ministry of the Word of God  is central.  It is the Word that calls us to worship, addresses us in worship, teaches us how to worship and enables us to praise God and to encourage one another.  By the Word we are given life and nurtured to maturity in Christ: the Word is the sword of the Spirit to correct us and the bread of the Spirit to feed us.  In the mission of the church, it is the Word of God that calls the nations to the Lord: in the teaching of the Word we make disciples of the nations.  The growth of the church is the growth of the Word (Acts 6:7; 12:24; 19:20): where there is a famine of the Word, no expertise in business administration or group dynamics will build Christ’s church.

– Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours in Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 199-200