In Ephesians 4:17, Paul says that Christians “must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” In this insightful passage, we see the connection between doctrine and life, even in the case of non-Christians. According to Paul, Gentiles pursue lives of pleasure and sensuality because they believe that life is ultimately purposeless and futile. Christians, however, are called to live in light of God’s revealed purposes in Christ, and to put off the old self with its deceitful desires.
On this program, the hosts are continuing their survey of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join us for this new edition of the White Horse Inn.
“The new creation is breaking in now. In Hebrews 6 it talks about tasting of the heavenly gift, being illuminated, experiencing the powers of the age to come. That’s the new creation. The age to come is the new creation and I think if the people in our churches believed that when we gather together for worship, the powers of the age to come, a new creation, were breaking in on us, we wouldn’t miss it. How could we? The Word of God is being preached and raining down upon us like these heavenly showers. This is amazing.”
Term to Learn
“The Character of the Kingdom of God – Present and Future”
Jesus did not hold that the coming of the kingdom was only a reality to be expected in the more or less near future. Moreover he also proclaimed it as the present fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of salvation, manifested in his person and work. However, this does not mean that the statement “the kingdom of heaven has come” exhausts all that can be said. Jesus again and again speaks of the future of the kingdom of God, and that this future bears the character of the consummation and fulfillment of all things. This constitutes the startling point of Jesus’ pronouncements concerning the presence of the kingdom and his messianic self-revelation. They claim the presence of the kingdom and of the Messiah, whereas the great moment of the consummation has not yet arrived. Any attempt should be rejected which tries to divide the coming of the kingdom into separate parts. The kingdom of heaven appearing in the world with the coming of Christ signifies no less than the end of prophecy (Matt. 11:13; Luke 16:16), the binding of Satan (Matt. 12:28), the wonderful and all-embracing redemption of life (Matt. 11:5; Luke 4:18–19), the authority and power of the Son of Man (Mark 2:10), and the bliss of the poor in spirit (Matt. 5:13). Any attempt to detract from this character either by the application of an ethicizing or a symbolizing reduction, or by detaching the present from the future, is a dissolution of the contents of the gospel of the kingdom. We should rather consider the characteristic and peculiar nature of Jesus’ preaching to be his proclamation of the kingdom in its consummative, eschatological significance both as a present and as a future reality. The fulfillment is there, and yet the kingdom is still to come. The kingdom has come, and yet the fulfillment is in abeyance.
(Adapted from Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, pp. 104–106)