April 2023 New Horizons

The New Creation, the Kingdom of God, and the Church

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The New Creation, the Kingdom of God, and the Church

It was my custom in my seminary class on the Gospels to ask the students at the opening of the kingdom of God section the simple question: “What is the kingdom of God?”  Their faces grew serious as they invariably discovered that they did not know the answer exactly or that their thinking was unsatisfyingly vague. Yet the definition of the kingdom of God is easy to give: it is the new creation, the new heavens and the new earth. In the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it is “the kingdom of glory” (Q/A 102). According to that catechism answer, we are asking our Father to hasten this new creation kingdom when we pray for his kingdom to come in the Lord’s Prayer. I don’t think people expect the definition of the kingdom to be so simple, but it is, and the Scriptures are clear on this. The kingdom of God is an eternal inheritance for all those who have been redeemed by Christ (Westminster Confession of Faith 8.5). And a promised inheritance necessarily lies in the future. Jesus ... Read more

What the Resurrection Demands

Matthew’s account of the resurrection of Jesus is surely a study in brevity. The events of the “holy week” prior have been related in painstaking detail, over seven chapters, with special attention given to our Lord’s arrest, trial, sentencing, mocking, flogging, crucifixion, final words, death, and burial. But when it comes to the event of Christ’s resurrection, it is almost as if Matthew has run out of ink! He gives testimony to the resurrection itself in only ten verses (Matt. 28:1–10). What explains this curious economy of words about the historical event that alone makes the story of Jesus worth telling? (See 1 Cor. 15:17–19.) That is the question that confronted me years ago at the end of a sermon series on Matthew’s gospel. This article is about the answer that eventually dawned on me: the resurrection of Jesus demands a response, and Matthew’s intentional brevity accentuates that demand. It is as if he is saying: “This Jesus, whose remarkable birth and life and death I’ve ... Read more

God’s Cancel Culture and Ours

Today, “cancel culture” dominates our media. If a person says or does something that goes against the culture’s prevailing mores, they get “canceled,” criticized, banned from social media, and ostracized. Christian churches, however, must have a very different culture—one in which, instead of canceling people, sins are blotted out. We must choose to not keep record of wrongs. We do this because our God blots out sins. The Lord declares, “I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isa. 43:25). God is a sin-blotter, and those who have had their guilt canceled by him should act likewise: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. . . . Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 4:32; 5:1). Clearly, God blots out transgressions through the substitutionary sufferings of Christ (Col. 2:13–14). God Cancels Our Sin The language God uses in Isaiah of ... Read more