The current issue of Credo Magazine addresses the question, “Why Biblical Theology Should Matter to Every Bible-Reading Christian” (Credo Magazine is excellent, by the way. Robustly theological and committedly biblical. Scholarly and pastoral. And it’s free online).
Pages 56-77 contain brief interviews of five authors who have recently published some of the more thoughtful, faithful, and helpful books that help us put our Bibles together and see it’s big picture. Each of these guys have significantly helped me see the storyline of Scripture and the themes that run through it, showing how Christ is at the center of it all.
Here are a few summaries and highlights for me:
Tom Schreiner, author of The King in His Beauty, explains key themes that run through the story of redemptive history from the Old Testament to the New Testament, including the themes of kingdom, “offspring,” land, salvation, new exodus, and the goal of the whole story, which is “to see the King in his beauty.” Here’s an example of the theme of “offspring”:
“The Lord will triumph through the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15). From the beginning of Genesis we see a conflict between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the serpent. Everyone enters the world as the offspring of the serpent, but God promises… that the offspring of the woman will triumph… After the flood the Lord promises that the promise of Genesis 3:15 will be fulfilled through a child of Abraham. The promise narrows even more as the story unfolds, for it is revealed that the promise will be fulfilled through a son of David, through a king. Here we pick up the theme of the Messiah, the Anointed one, who is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He is the offspring of the woman, the true son of Abraham, the true son of David, the Son of God and the Son of Man… Those who belong to Christ are the true Israel of God and the true children of Abraham.”
Greg Beale, author of A New Testament Biblical Theology, helps us see the significance of the resurrection in God’s plan of redemption:
“eschatology” is not mere futurology but also a reality that has begun with the first coming of Christ… We should think of Christ’s life, and especially his death and resurrection as the central events which launched the latter days. These pivotal events of Christ’s life, death, and especially resurrection are eschatological because they launched the formal beginning of Christ’s reign in the new creation…
“The OT prophesied that the destruction of the first creation and the re-creation of a new heavens and earth were to happen at the very end of time. Christ’s work reveals that the end of the world and the coming new creation have begun in his death and resurrection.”
Peter Gentry, co-author of Kingdom through Covenant, summarizes the covenant-structure of the Bible (italics added to highlight the covenants)
“When the covenant with creation was violated, God renewed it through the covenant with Noah. This demonstrated to the whole world that even if we were given a brand new start, we would all blow it. So God begins to work with one man [ie., the covenant with Abraham] and his family [ie., the covenant with Israel] and through them to restore his whole creation…
“God’s purpose is to use Israel, the family of Abraham, and to bring blessing to the nations. This seems completely doomed to failure since Israel is as header for chaos and destruction as the nations. She is not a faithful covenant partner. In biblical language, she is not an obedient son or even a servant king. So God makes promises to David. This covenant [ie., covenant with David] shows that what God intended for the nation of Israel will be fulfilled solely by her king as the one who stands for the nation as a whole. This has a great impact on the inauguration of the new covenant: it will only be fulfilled by Israel’s King. The remnant boils down to one person who becomes head of the new humanity.”
Stephen Wellum, coauthor of Kingdom through Covenant, was asked how we are supposed to understand the application of Old Testament commands to Christians today. He gives us a five-point framework for thinking through an answer. Here’s an (over-)simplified summary:
- As Christians, we are united to Christ and under the New Covenant, and are therefore not under the previous covenants as covenants.
- While we are not under the demands of old Covenant, it is nevertheless God’s Word and profitable for us.
- Yet, when deciding how the demands of the old covenant apply to us, we need to view everything through Christ and the lens of the new covenant.
- Since the old covenant has reached it’s completion and is fulfilled in Christ, it remains relevant for us as it is fulfilled by and in Christ.
- Therefore, we consider application to our lives of old covenant instructions (sexual ethics, food laws, circumcision, etc.) only after we ask how they functioned in the old covenant and how they are brought to fulfillment in Christ.
Read the whole set of interviews here.
Also, one interesting part of Credo is a section called, “From the Horse’s Mouth.” A few months back I was one of the ‘horses’ whose ‘mouth’ gave a response to the question, “What is the Most Difficult Part of Being a Pastor?” You can read the various responses here.