THE SECONDARY ROLE OF THE EKKLESIA
A. In light of the coming Messianic Kingdom, and the judgment and restoration therein, the secondary role of the Church is to honor the King whom we serve through our lifestyle and prepare for our inheritance in his kingdom.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope— the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (NIV Titus 2:11-14)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (NIV Colossians 2:6-8)
B. This is the context of the biblical exhortation to discipleship and sanctification. The Church is called to holiness and righteousness because the King we serve and his coming kingdom will be ruled by those who are holy and righteous. This is radically different than the common context for discipleship of an immaterial heaven.
Therefore (because of the living hope of resurrection and salvation, v.3-12), preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (i.e. resurrected body, v.4-5). 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance (about the resurrection), 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds (cf. Is. 40:10; 62:11; Mt.16:27; Rev. 22:12), conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (unto your inheritance), 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (ESV 1 Peter 1:13-19)
1. “Discipleship” therefore is simply training to reign. Because all government is based on love and ability, God has provided a context and opportunity for all the nations to be purified of selfishness, pride and greed and to be made worthy to rule over the earth in genuine love for its highest well-being.
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me (i.e. benevolent sovereignty, inevitably resulting in the resurrection and judgment, cf. Acts 2:35; Heb. 10:13; etc.). 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations (in preparation for that Kingdom), baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (for assurance of inclusion in that Kingdom), 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (when the Kingdom is established). (NIV Matthew 28:18-20)
2. God calls his followers to be holy in character and lifestyle, unto future governance over the earth, as He is holy in character and lifestyle in his everlasting governance over creation.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature (i.e. resurrection), having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith (in the resurrection and Kingdom) with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind (i.e. lack of vision for the age to come), having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (ESV 2 Peter 1:3-12)
3. In this way, we live lives “worthy” of the kingdom of God and the age to come—not that our lives qualify us for the inheritance, but that our lives emulate the righteousness of that which we have been called to.
You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory. (NIV 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28 without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved— and that by God. 29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. (NIV Philippians 1:27-29)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. (NIV Colossians 1:9-12)
4. It is the judgment and righteousness of the coming kingdom that sets the standard for holiness in this age. Sanctification and a higher moral standard are not arbitrary realities given by God in this age before we die and go to an ethereal “heaven”; they are real standards that will be enforced on the earth in the age to come.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. 4:1 Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to live and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God (benevolently ruling over creation); 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. (ESV 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:7).
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person– such a man is an idolater– has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them. 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. (NIV Ephesians 5:5-11)