“If some teaching claims to be the Gospel but does nothing in response, does not elicit any compassionate action, then it is surely not the Gospel. The fantasy of a gospel that does nothing is not the good news of the New Testament.
The heart of the Gospel is God’s good work for us. What we do in response is a story every believer lives out. It is the story of faith becoming active in love.”
~ Thomas Oden, The Good Works Reader (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2007), 3.
Aside from the use of the word “rebuilding” in this quote, I like what it says about the claims that the Kingdom of God makes upon our lives. I think the grace of the gospel through the church will have transformative influence in the world, but I don’t see “rebuilding” the good creation as a Kingdom mandate or possibility. When Jesus returns, the creation will be more than rebuilt – it will be transformed! Re-creation, rather than rebuilding, is what the future holds for this groaning world.
Christians seek to live their whole lives in continuity with Christ, taking on his mind and affections, acting as his body in the world, sharing his sufferings and his victories in the project of overcoming misery and rebuilding God’s good creation. Christians gladly join this project out of gratitude to Christ, out of obedience to Christ, and out of an enkindled desire to work within the Kingdom of Christ. As faithful workers within this Kingdom, Christians struggle to align themselves with the redemptive purposes of God in this world.
~ Preface to “An Engagement with God’s World: A Statement of Purpose for the Core Curriculum of Calvin College” quoted by Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. in Engaging God’s World (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2002), 124.
“The meaning of this ‘overlap of the ages’ on which we live, the time between the coming of Christ and his coming again, is that it is the time given for the witness of the apostolic church to the ends of the earth. The end of all things, which has been revealed in Christ, is — so to say — held back until the witness has been borne to the whole world concerning the judgment and salvation revealed in Christ. The implications of a true eschatological perspective will be missionary obedience, and the eschatology which does not issue in such obedience is a false eschatology.”
– Lesslie Newbigin, Household of God: Lectures on the Nature of the CHurch (New York, NY: Friendship Press, 1954), 153.
“Virtue may be defined as an activity of the whole person in conformity with love of God and love of neighbor.”
~ Benjamin W. Farley, In Praise of Virtue (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 1995), 160.
“You can run from God either by breaking his rules or by keeping them. The difference between the religious person and the true Christian is that the religious person obeys God to get control over God, and to get things from God, but the Christian obeys just to get God. Religious persons obey to get leverage over God, to control him, to put him in a position where they think he owes them. Therefore, despite their moral and religious fastidiousness, they are actually attempting to be their own saviors. Christians, who know they are only saved by grace and can never control God, obey him out of a desire to love and please and draw closer to the one who saved them.”
~ Timothy Keller, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: Living in Line with the Truth of the Gospel (Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2003), 38.