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