WHI-1257 | The Family of God

Sunday, 10 May 2015

In the last program we focused on the message, ministry, and marks of the church. Instead of branding themselves according to specialties, every church was and is expected to be committed to preaching and teaching, fellowship, the sacraments, the prayers, and evangelism. We can’t say “Well, other churches are great at evangelism and fellowship but we focus on doctrine and the sacraments.” Or “Our church isn’t that big on doctrine but we’re really committed to outreach.”

In his Great Commission Jesus gave us his marching orders. “Go into all the world and make disciples.” How? “By preaching the gospel, baptizing them in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe everything I have commanded.”

In this program we want to focus on the emphasis in the new covenant on the family of God. It’s hard to imagine our local church as our first family. We usually start with the nuclear family, then our extended family, and only then do we think of our church family as a “family” in a metaphorical sense. It’s not metaphorical. In Ephesians 5 Paul says that marriage is an analogy of our relationship to Christ and his body, not the other way around. Our next of kin are actually our brothers and sisters with whom we are baptized, hear the Word, pray, receive the Supper, and serve.

Jesus provoked blank stares when he redefined family and even neighbors. In Matthew 10 he says, “Do not think I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and daughter against her mother, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. He who has found his life will lose it and he who has lost his life for my sake will find it.”

Joining us once again to discuss this topic are the same panelists from the last program Sam Allberry and Jeff Mallinson. Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we look at the church as the family of God.

“When Paul talks about even Gentiles, who have absolutely no access to the temple and to the rights of forgiveness and the covenants of promise… now Gentiles who trust in Christ are more the children of Abraham, the offspring of Abraham, while those Jews who don’t believe in Christ are actually more the children of Hagar, then they are the children of Abraham. This is as radical as what Jesus said.
“So, our ultimate loyalty is to Christ, that’s what he’s saying here, and we have to realize in our cultures we have loyalties eating away at that. We have alternative loyalties that shape us into thinking, ‘You know what. I am going to take the gospel, this Jesus thing, only this far – as long as it doesn’t interrupt these loyalties.’ We do that in all kinds of ways.”
– Michael Horton
The Family of God
In the ancient Near East, the family was a metaphor for the relationship of a lord to his people, his servants. The federation or nation was a family, with the suzerain as the father, and the vassal-people as his son – and therefore brothers and sisters to each other. The Old and New Testaments do not remove this from their use of ancient covenants but reinterpret them according to God’s promises.
In establishing his everlasting covenant with David, Yahweh promises to “be a father to him, and he shall be to me as son.” In this light, Paul refers to the church as “the household of God” (1Ti 3:15), as does Peter (1Pe 4:17). There is one Father over the house, and a Son who is represented as our elder brother, legal heir of the whole estate, which he nevertheless enjoys as a public (representative) person only to dispense his benefits and blessings to his co-heirs (Ro 8:17). Once again, the traditional political and legal practices undergo modification as analogies in this new covenant relationship, since it is after all Christ who in this case is the “Son” and “heir of all things” (Heb 1:2). As he has made us his joint heirs, he has made Jews and Gentiles fellow heirs of the promises made to Abraham (Gal 3:29; 1Pe 3:7). All of those united to Christ, who is the very “image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), are adopted as God’s children (Ro 8:23; Gal 4:5), and therefore are being transformed into the likeness of Christ’s image: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Ro 8:29).
(Adapted from Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, p 724)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Email Address
Forgot Password?
Signup for an account now