Category Archives: Russell Moore
In the following quote, Russell Moore ties together (as does the Bible) the ascension of Christ and the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant:
Pentecost is tied to the resurrection of Christ because it is the ascended Christ, exalted as the Davidic King, who is given the authority to pour out the Spirit, as exposited in the apostle Peter’s sermon recorded in Acts 2. [Sinclair] Ferguson suggests, “The coming of the Spirit is, therefore, the enthronement of Christ, just as the resurrection is the evidence of the efficacy of the death of Christ as atonement.”
From here Moore touches upon the relationship of the ascended King to the hope of his Kingdom people the church:
Scripture sees the relationship of believers to heaven as tied to the presence there of their King and Messiah, not as the place of their ultimate abode. This contention bears the scrutiny of New Testament theology, especially the Pauline epistles, in which “heaven” seems to have a present, Christological referent (Eph. 1:3; 1:21; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 1:5; 3:1-2; 1 Thess. 1:10) and thus is more emblematic of the “already” of the Kingdom than of the “not yet.”
Russell Moore, The Kingdom of Christ
One of the trickiest, and controversial, topics of New Testament studies is the relationship between the New Covenant church and the Old Covenant people of Yahweh. Are they the same? Are they different? Does the former replace the latter? Here Russell Moore, in The Kingdom of Christ, tackles this hot topic in a way that, to my mind, does justice to the various ways the New Testament speaks of the corporate body of believers united in the Messiah, Jesus:
The “adoption” means that the Gentiles are joint-heirs-with the One who is the true Israel, the “firstborn” of God (Rom. 8:17, 29, KJV). It is not that God has “natural” sons-the Jews-and “adopted” sons-the Gentiles. Rather, both Jews and Gentiles find their identity in being conformed to the image of the Messiah, “in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Rom. 8:29, ESV)… Thus, the New Testament applies to Jesus language previously applied to the nation-the “firstborn” or the “son of God” (Ex. 4:22-23; Matt. 2:15). The first “Israel” himself, the patriarch Jacob, promises preeminence and rule to a tribe of Israel, Judah (Gen. 49:4, 9-12). The apostle Paul applies this language explicitly to Jesus (Col. 1:18). This emphasis is more than incidental or fragmentary. The identification of Jesus with Israel-as her king, her substitute, and her goal-is everywhere throughout the apostolic understanding of the Old Testament promise. When the apostles speak of “promises” being fulfilled (as in, for example, the sermon in Acts 13), they are not speaking of abstract heavenly comforts. They are speaking specifically of promises made to Abraham and the nation of Israel. The old covenant looked forward to the day when the nations would see the vindication of Israel, through Israel’s resurrection from the dead and anointing with the Spirit (Ezek. 36:33-36). “My dwelling place will be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” Yahweh speaks through the prophet Ezekiel. “Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forever” (Ezek. 37:27-28, ESV). Israel, therefore, did not just long for a “Messiah.” The Israelites longed for a Messiah who would reign over a messianic age, the day when the nations would come to Israel (Isa. 60:1-14), when the ends of the earth would be given as an inheritance to the Son of David (Ps. 2:8-9; 110: 1 -7). They were waiting for the resurrection of Israel, the marking out of Israel by the Spirit, the drawing of the nations to Israel. They were waiting, in short, for the Kingdom of God.
Russell Moore on the cosmic scope of Christ’s redemption:
The kingship of Israel, with its Davidic line, is…presented in terms of a Spirit-anointed king charged with subduing and defeating the enemies of the people of God (1 Sam. 8:19-20). Indeed, the removal of the Israelite kingship from Saul takes place precisely because Saul refuses to destroy utterly the enemies of Yahweh (1 Samuel 15), resulting in the loss of Saul’s monarchy and the anointing of the Spirit of God, both transferred instead to the house of David (1 Sam. 16:1-3, 12-14). Indeed, as soon as David receives the anointing of oil by the prophet Samuel, he is anointed with the Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13), and immediately David as the “anointed one” leads the nation in the defeat of the Philistine attackers (1 Sam. 17:20-58), an activity that Saul recognizes as inherently kingly (1 Sam. 18:6-9). The definition of Jesus’ messianic identity as the “anointed one,” the bearer of the Spirit (Luke 4:18-19), is therefore set within this context of the anointed warrior-king.
This means that, contra dispensationalist traditionalism, there is no dichotomy between the “offer of the Kingdom” and the “forgiveness of sins,” as though the forgiveness of sins can be anything other than a Kingdom act. Instead, in the Gospel of Luke, for example, messianic salvation is defined in terms of Jesus’ promised Davidic kingship (1:32-33); the forgiveness of sins (1:50, 72, 77); the defeat of all enemies (1:51, 71); the crushing of political pretenders-to-the-throne (1:52); the provision of material blessings (1:53); the covenant restoration of national promises to Israel (1:54-55); the redemption of the Gentile nations (1:79; 2:32); and the monarchial anointing of the Spirit (4:18). In Jesus of Nazareth, therefore, salvation is a Kingdom activity whereby the Second Adam, the Son of David, displays His anointing by God and His faithful obedience to His mandate as King by protecting the created order, crushing the head of the ultimate enemy of the Kingdom, the Serpent (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20; Rev. 12:9). The dispensing of the Spirit on those united to Him in faith is possible only because of union with the messianic King who is declared to be the Son of God (Gal. 4:4-7). It is this Christocentric focus of salvation that ties the salvation of human beings to the motif of the Kingdom of God and to the broader aspects of cosmic salvation. The defeat of Satan by the man Christ Jesus is pictured by the apostle John as the establishment of the Kingdom (Rev. 12:10; also John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8). The cosmic extent of salvation is seen as the Second Adam offers up to the Father a created order in which He has subdued every enemy (1 Cor. 15:24-26), and there is nothing unclean in the garden over which He rules (Rev. 21:1-8). Thus, salvation is portrayed in the New Testament as more than simply the salvation of so many individual souls. Redemption is the transfer from the satanic kingdom to the eschatological Kingdom that God the Father has prepared for His Messiah (Col. 1:13), a transfer that is by definition a violent act of subduing “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:3-4, NIV) or “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:1-7).”
- Russell Moore, The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective
It has often been thought the Christus Victor understanding of the atonement is incompatible with the traditional Protestant model of penal substitutionary atonement. The former teaches that in the atonement Christ defeats death and Satan, leaving Jesus the Messiah as the triumphant champion of his people. The latter teaches that on the cross Jesus took the penalty (‘penal’) of God’s wrath on behalf of his people (‘substitution’). There’s been a long history of theologians playing these two approaches off against one another, especially over the last century. In my view, this is unfortunate because both are clearly presented in Scripture and work together in tandem. Here Russell Moore shows why:
The historic Protestant understanding of the cross as essentially propitiatory and substitutionary ironically serves as the only way to make sense of the cosmic implications of both redemption and the fall since, in both, the destiny of the created order is tied to the mandate given to the human vicegerents responsible for creation. Indeed, it is the only way to make sense of the “Christus Victor” model itself. Thus, the defeat of the powers of darkness in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus means that the ancient serpent is indeed defeated, but this defeat comes through reversing human slavery to sin and death (John 8:31-47; 12:31-33; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 2:14-15) by hearing the punishment due to a humanity justly accused by the satanic powers (Col. 2:14-15; Rev. 12:10-12), and thereby restoring humanity as king of the cosmos in the person of the Second Adam (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-28; Heb. 2:5-18).
-Russell Moore, The Kingdom of Christ: The New Evangelical Perspective
Sinclair Ferguson ties this all together quite well:
A comprehensively biblical exposition of the work of Christ recognizes that the atonement, which terminates on God (in propitiation) and on man (in forgiveness), also terminates on Satan (in the destruction of his sway over believers). And it does this last precisely because it does the first two.
-Sinclair Ferguson, For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper, 185.
For more on the atonement, see,
From Between Two Worlds:
A transcribed excerpt below from Russell Moore’s excellent talk, “The Devil Votes Christian Values: Why We’re Tempted to be Glorified Satanists Rather than Crucified Followers.” Dr. Moore shows that in Satan’s third temptation of Christ he is willing to broker a deal with the Son of God: Satan will give up his authority over the external rule of the nations in exchange for keeping the power of accusation.
Satan ultimately has a power that is not found most importantly in moral decay or in cultural chaos. His power is in the authority to accuse.The power of accusation.
The power of holding humanity captive through the fear of death and the certainty of judgment.
Satan is not fearful of external conformity to rule. Not even to the external conformity of the rule of Christ–provided there is no cross.
Satan does not mind family values–as long as what you ultimately value is the family.Satan does not mind social justice–as long as you see justice as most importantly social.
Satan does not tremble at a Christian worldview. He will let you have a Christian worldview as long as your ultimate goal is viewing the world.
If Jesus will receive the kingdoms of the world, this crafty serpent thinks, then he can hand them to him apart from the shedding of blood at the cross.
Apart from the overthrow of the demonic powers through the empty tomb.
Apart from a reconciliation between a holy God and a renegade humanity.
If he can just bypass the cross–and get to the kingdom apart from the cross–then he will have everything that he wants.
Pastor: Satan doesn’t mind if you preach on the decrees of God with fervor and passion every single week–provided that you do not ever preach the gospel of the cross.
Homeschooling Mom: Satan does not mind if you teach your children all the books of the Bible and all the Ten Commandments and all of the catechism–provided you do not teach them the gospel of a bloody cross.
. . . He will let you get what it is that you want, no matter what it is–sanctity of marriage, environmental protection, orphan care, all of these good and wonderful things–he will allow you to gain those things provided you do not preach and proclaim and live through the power of a cross that cancelshis power of condemnation.
He so fears the gospel of a Christ crucified and raised from the dead that he is willing to surrender his entire empire just to appease the threat of it.
This is a rich and very important message, which I commend to you.