The Church Lives in an Economy of Gratitude…

As a recipient of this covenantal exchange between the Father and the incarnate Son, the church lives in an economy of gratitude rather than either sacrifice or as an extension of Christ’s atoning work.  We are passive receivers of the gift of salvation, but we are thereby rendered active worshipers in a life of thanksgiving that is exhibited chiefly in loving service to our neighbors.

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 195

Instead of an Oasis of Life, It Has Become a Part of the Desert

Instead of being an oasis of life, the church had become assimilated to the surrounding desert of idolatry.  With explicit echoes of Eden after the fall, the image we meet repeatedly in the prophets is of the gardener withdrawing, turning the oasis back to a barren land of thorns and tumbleweeds.  It is not an invading army of pagans that has done this (Jeremiah 12:10).

Yet the day is coming when the owner of the vineyard will send a faithful shepherd-gardener (Hosea 14:4-8)

– Horton, Michael, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World; Zondervan; copyright 214; Kindle Edition; page 169-170

What the World Desparately Needs to See

Yet the freedom and courage to love is what the world desperately needs to see in the church and from the church.  The world does not need to see strident, triumphalistic evangelicals laying claim on their rights.  The world needs to see the radical, risk-taking, Christ-exalting sacrifice of humble love that makes us willing to lay down our lives for the good of others, without the demand of reward on this earth.  For the sake of this display of the glory of Christ, I plead for our allegiance to a robust, biblical vision of Christ whose obedience is counted as ours through faith alone.

– John Piper, The Future of Justification: A Response to N.T. Wright, copyright 2007, page 188

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

What is the Church?

According to the Bible, the church is the people of God, the assembly and body of Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  Each of these views of the church has been favored in one of the major ecclesiastical heritages.  The Reformed family of churches has emphasized the church as the people of God; the sacramental churches as the body of Christ; the Anabaptist churches as the disciples of Christ; and the Pentecostal churches as the fellowship of the Spirit.  No doubt we are all guilty of tunnel vision, focusing on one model.  Vatican II challenged the comprehensiveness of the ‘body of Christ’ metaphor, and brought back the ‘people of God’ idiom.

 Edmund Clowney, The Church: Contours of Christian Theology, copyright 1988, page 28

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 Church is not the Source for Divine Revelation

The church is not the source of the divine revelation given through the apostles (Galatians 1:1, 6-9).  Rather, New Testament revelation is part of Christ’s work through his Spirit; it is the apostolic foundation on which Christ builds his church.  The gospel witness that Christ gives through his apostles is not repeated, nor is their written testimony to be amended.  The finality of the book of Revelation applies equally to all the apostolic scriptures (Revelation 22: 18-19)

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