The Gospel and Mission pt 5

The Gospel and Mission pt 5 January 13, 2020



What is the purpose of the Christian life?
I have been asking in this series of blogs, “what is the purpose of the Christian life?” To this point, I have been suggesting that it is to imitate and fulfill the mission of Jesus. In the last few posts I have been arguing that the coming of Jesus was in fulfillment of all that the OT promised. In particular, Jesus fulfilled the mission of the OT people of God to make God known.

I have noted that one of the great promises of Scripture is the “Immanuel Principle:” the promise that God will dwell among His people: see Lev 26:11-13 and Ezek 37:24-27.

In order to understand the significance of this promise for the life of the people of God today we must reflect on two key elements of the Immanuel Principle. In the last post I noted that the first key of the Immanuel Principle is that it is primarily about God dwelling among His people and only secondarily about a place. In this post, I will reflect on the second key element: namely, that God’s dwelling among His people is a present reality!

God presently dwells among His people
The second key to understanding the Immanuel Principle is that the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell with His people has already begun!

Though, indeed, the book of Revelation places God’s dwelling among His people at the end (Revelation 21-22), it is important to note that Paul cites the very same OT passages (Lev 26:11-12 and Ezek 37:24-27) and argues that they are being fulfilled in the present!

That is, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s people today is also the fulfillment of the Immanuel Principle. Paul says, “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE” (2 Cor 6:16).[1]

In this passage, Paul cites Ezekiel 37 and Leviticus 26 and contends that the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people has already begun in the life of the believers through the presence of the Spirit. We are the temple of God and the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people! This is key. Paul places the dwelling of God among His people—in fulfillment of the Immanuel Principle—not in some distant future, but as a present reality!

This doesn’t mean that there will not be a glorious future fulfillment as expressed in the book of Revelation. The difference between the fulfillment now and the future fulfillment is that sin, death, and sorrow remain in the present. In the future fulfillment,

“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

[1] Note the use of all caps is the NAU’s means of confirming for their readers that they are convinced that the saying derives from the OT.

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