Your Local Church, The Kingdom, The Resurrection, The New Creation, and The Restoration of All Things

At one point in his new theology—The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way (Zondervan, 2011)—Michael Horton gathers together several themes including the resurrection of Christ, the kingdom, and the new creation. In the mix, notice where he places the local church (from pages 525–526):

Only on the basis of the resurrection can we say that the righteous and peaceful dominion of humanity has been restored. It certainly cannot be discerned from the daily headlines or from the sate of the church throughout the world. Yet it has been recovered and fulfilled in Christ as our Living Head. By his sanctification we are sanctified, and by his reign the world is assured its participation in the cosmic glory that he has already inherited in his investiture as “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Ti 6:15) …

Christ is already a king with his kingdom, but for now this realm is visible chiefly in the public ministry of Word, sacrament, and discipline, and also in the fellowship of the saints as they share their spiritual and material gifts in the body of Christ. Thus, in all times and places since Pentecost, the Spirit is opening up worldly reality to the new creation that has dawned with Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Through the waters of baptism, the breaking of bread, the hearing of the Word, the guidance of pastors and elders, the priestly service of deacons, and the witness of all believers to Christ in the world, the powers of the age to come begin to penetrate this fading evil age. The church is not yet identical with the kingdom that Christ will consummate at his return, but it is the down payment on “the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Ac 3:21). As Paul confirms, the resurrection of Christ is not distinct from the resurrection of believers, but the “firstfruits” of the whole harvest (1Co 15:21–26, 45, 49).

Breathtaking.

I am always impressed when a theologian places the local church within a broader cosmic eschatological framework like this. Such a spectacular vision of how Christ is working in the world through His Church can radically change your attitude and perspective of the local church you attend each Sunday (see also Eph 1:15–23, 3:7–13; Col 1:15–2:7).

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