David Gibson has helpfully explained:
“The church is God’s new humanity, an example of the future new creation given in advance to the old creation, a sign of the world to come where everything is brought together under the unending reign of Jesus the King.
“This means that expository preaching, because it is addressed to people whose very existence is defined by the world to come, constantly draws on the reality of the next world to help make sense of the present world. The doctrine of the church ensures that preaching is addressed to “strangers in the world” (1 Pet. 1:1) and provides the challenge to “live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age while we wait for the blessed hope-the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). Preaching for the church roots its ethical imperatives in the eschatological reality of both coming judgment and promised reward (2 Pet. 3:11-14). It interprets suffering as a participation in the frustrated groans of a cosmos waiting for its liberation, and holds out the comfort that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18-21). It also means that the proclamation of the gospel does not offer a dualistic “saving of the soul” or merely a “ticket to heaven.” Instead, ecclesiology ensures that expository preaching heralds a whole new way of being human in the world-reconciliation to God and to others by participating in the first-fruits of the new creation.
John Stott once wrote:
“We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it.”
Martin Downes wrote: “It is a solemn thought that God can sustain his people when they suffer for the gospel so that they will not be ashamed of the testimony of their Lord. It is a solemn thought that Jesus Christ will make his enemies a footstool for his feet.”
Here are three discussions by Tim Keller that aid our thinking about the nature of the Gospel and its ongoing function in the life of the Church and believer in the way of sanctification.
a) Exposing the idolatry of all our sin (disbelief in the Gospel), and
b) Expelling unbelief (the heart of all misbehavior) by the transforming truth/work of the Gospel.
a) Exposing the idolatry of religion (grace-less) and irreligion (truth-less) by way of wisdom of the Gospel.
a) Exposing the idolatry of civil, emotional, or familial “faith”
b) Expounding the need for a personal faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The more of Tim’s stuff I read and hear, the more our faith—that the power of God for all redemption is the Gospel alone—is confirmed!
Chad Bresson: “Inherent to the hope we have in Christ that orients our affections heavenward and forward to the new heavens and earth is the concrete reality that our fallen world has an endpoint. As Vos says…there is a “fixed end” to all of the suffering and pain we endure. And we are not the only ones who await such an end; even the created order is anticipating liberation.
D.A. Carson: “[R]estlessness is for our good. It is a design feature of our makeup, of our nature as creatures made in the image of God. We were made to inhabit eternity; by constitution we know that we belong to something better than a world (however beautiful at times) awash in sin. Paul understands this point perfectly (2 Corinthians 5:1 – 5). He anticipates the time when “the earthly tent” (our present body will be destroyed, and we will receive “an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands” (5:1) — our resurrection body. “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling” (5:2). It is not that we wish to “shuffle off our mortal coil” and exist in naked immortality: that is not our ultimate hope, for “we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (5:4). Then Paul adds: “Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (5:5). God made us for this purpose, i.e., for the purpose of resurrection life, secured for us by the death of his Son. Moreover, in anticipation of this glorious consummation of life, already God has given us his Spirit as a deposit, a kind of down payment on the ultimate inheritance. Small wonder, then, that we groan in anticipation and find our souls restless in this temporary abode that is under sentence of death.
John Stott: “We have to learn to climb the hill called Calvary, and from that vantage-ground survey all life’s tragedies. The cross does not solve the problem of suffering, but it supplies the essential perspective from which to look at it,”