Archives For biblical theology

Thanks to Andy Naselli for this post pointing to a 1 sentence summary of every book in the Bible.

I’m teaching a course at Bethlehem College and Seminary this fall to second-year seminary students called “New Testament Background and Message.” We are systematically working through the NT, and prior to each time we meet for class the students must summarize the theological message of a NT book in one clear, concise sentence. Then they must briefly unpack that sentence by showing how the book’s themes support that message. (And it takes a lot of work to do that well!)

NIVPBIt frustrates me when books and articles discuss the “theology” of a Bible book by presenting a bucket list of parallel motifs but without showing how they integrate as one coherent theological message. So I was delighted to see that the new NIV Proclamation Bible (ed. Lee Gatiss; cf. publisher page and 40-second video) includes a one-sentence summary of the message of every book of the Bible.

I disagree with many of these one-sentence summaries (which are rather uneven), but it’s still helpful to consider how others articulate the messages. These are from the introduction to each book of the Bible:

Genesis. The Creator God is faithful to his covenant promises and redeems humanity through the promised line, despite their sin and rebellion. (Seulgi Byun)

Exodus. Trust, obey and worship the redeeming, covenant-making God who is with us. (Douglas Stuart)

Leviticus. The holy God makes his people holy, calls them to be holy, and provides atonement through blood when they are not. (Robin Weekes)

Numbers. God has saved us and, as we travel through the wilderness of this world, we need to go on exercising faith to enter the inheritance Christ has secured for us. (Adrian Reynolds)

Deuteronomy. God’s people are called to respond to God’s salvation with love and loyalty, worshipping the one true God in the midst of surrounding cultural idolatries and living in the midst of the nations as a community shaped at every level of life by God’s character of grace, justice, purity, compassion and generosity. (Chris Wright)

Joshua. God gave the Land he promised and Israel took it (11:23; 21:43-45). (Liam Goligher) . . .

Read the rest here.

What is Biblical Theology?

Chris —  October 30, 2013 — 2 Comments

Full disclosure: I haven’t watched this entire video. But this is bound to be good. For those who want to go to the next level, this will be very helpful.

 

HT: JT

D.A. Carson:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

It is becoming increasingly “popular” to deny the historicity of Adam. Michael Reeves, on the Desiring God site, argues that denying an historical Adam has fundamental theological  implications.

Nor it is not just that the biblical genealogies depict Adam as a historical figure, not just that Paul can build core arguments on his belief that Adam was as real a man as Christ (Romans 5; 1 Corinthians 15). Adam has a significance in the Bible that far outstrips the simple number of mentions he gets. In fact, he has a significance so great that without him we no longer have a recognisably Christian gospel.

Given space restraints, I will point out just two ways mythologizing Adam uproots the gospel.

(1) It Makes God Bad

Let’s put it this way: what if sin did not enter the world at a particular point in time, with a real, historic first sin? . . .

Read the whole thing here.

Image of the Red Brick Church in Stillman Valley.The Church is God’s vessel for this age.  You need a local church as much as Noah needed the ark.  Sure, it is not a perfect vessel.  The ark wasn’t perfect either.  But it beats being dog paddling in the flood of a fallen world.

Have you ever considered what it must have been like to be on the ark? The ark was God’s perfect plan. But God’s perfect plan involved imperfect people, so there must have been problems.

It was dark. You can’t light too many candles when the ship you are on is pitching from one side to the other in a violent storm.

I wonder who was sick.  Noah and his family weren’t sailors.  They had no Dramamine.  The animals may have been sea-sick too.  How would you like to breathe the fragrance of nauseous elephant for a couple of weeks?

Maybe one of Noah’s sons didn’t put enough pitch on one side of the ark so that sea water was leaking on somebody’s bed.

Whatever happened, we can be sure that the ark wasn’t a perfect boat. But it was God’s perfect plan and no one thought about getting off.  The water was too deep outside. Getting on each others nerves and smelling the elephants beat being outside in the rain.

Image of Mark Dever's book, The Church.God’s perfect plan for today is the local church. Jesus said that he would build his church and that nothing would stop him (Matthew 16:16-18).  We need the church as much as Noah needed the ark.  Like the ark, the church involves imperfect people.  It’s not a perfect vessel.  It has flaws and is at times a leaky boat.  But, we must not even consider trying to make it on our own.  The water is too deep outside.  And, nothing can replace the church.  Today, the church is the ark. It is the only boat God has in the water.

As a pastor, it’s a sobering thing to consider. When I think about all the people in Stillman Valley, Byron, Oregon, Davis Junction, Rochelle, Rockford, and other surrounding communities, and I remind myself that the Church is as much God’s plan for this age as the ark was for Noah’s, it reminds me again of the wonderful opportunity to proclaim Christ and of the incredible importance of The Red Brick Church and other Christ-centered churches.

See also:

Mark Dever’s book, The Church: The Gospel Made Visible

Quiz yourself for a minute. Can you outline the central plot of the Bible in a few sentences? We must always remember, the individual stories of the Bible fit together as tiles in a mosaic to form the one beautiful picture of what human history is all about. If you need help understanding the overall story of the Bible, take three minutes to watch the below video. It is also worth reading this 223 word summary of Scripture.

D.A. Carson:

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.

But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.

In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

For Such a Time as This: Perspectives on Evangelicalism, Past, Present and Future, ed. Steve Brady and Harold Rowdon (London, UK: Evangelical Alliance, 1986), 80.

HT: Desiring God

One of the more important books I have spent time in during the last 10 years is James Hamilton’s book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment. I give it such lofty praise because Hamilton seeks to capture the big picture of biblical theology and does an admirable job pursuing that goal.

The target audience for my blog is the people in my church. And I know that few of them will want to make the investment to wade through 280,000 words and 600 pages. But even if you don’t read Hamilton’s book, it is worth clicking through to his site to read the 500 word summary he gives of his book.

Click here to read Hamilton’s summary of his book.

One of the most important books I have read in recent years is James Hamilton’s, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment.  The material is technical so you’ll have to focus in thinking about the below interview.  But it is worth the effort!

In the interview below  [from Credo] James Hamilton, Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, answers questions about his new book, God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment (Crossway).

Who is your target audience for God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment?

I am inclined to think that the person who will benefit most from this book is the person who will sit down, read a passage of the Bible and then read what my book has to say about that particular section of Scripture, or read my book then read the corresponding passage(s) of the Bible. So say, read my 10-to-15-page discussion of the book of Genesis, and then go read Genesis. But anyone made in the image of God, with the ability to read, can do so. You know, 8-year-olds might not be interested, but adults, college students, anyone who loves the Bible can read it. I don’t think it necessarily takes time in Greek or Hebrew classes to be able to understand my book. I think that anyone who is interested in the Bible can read the book. I also hope that it will be helpful to students learning the Scriptures for ministry. And I hope that others who do what I do will appreciate it.

How long did you work on the book?

I started in earnest in the spring of 2007 and worked through December 2009; it was due to Crossway January 2010.

What is your book’s overall thesis?

My thesis is that God’s glory in salvation through judgment is the center of biblical theology.

Can you tease that out a bit?

When Moses asks to see God’s glory, God responds by telling Moses that he will cause all his goodness to pass before him, and proclaim his name to Moses. And when God does that, he identifies himself as a God who is merciful and forgives iniquity, transgression and sin. And yet at the same time, he is a God who does not clear the guilty. So there is an affirmation of this forgiveness which is somehow possible with justice being maintained. God doesn’t clear the guilty, but he does show mercy and forgive. There seems to be a sense in which this is bound up in God’s identity as God: he is both merciful and just. And this incident, when Moses experienced God’s glory, had a profoundly shaping impact on Moses’ understanding of God, which then influenced the way he wrote the Pentateuch. And, I think, every biblical author who followed Moses learned to interpret life and earlier Scripture from Moses. Therefore, within the Pentateuch, you can see Moses interpreting earlier passages in light of later passages, and from this, later biblical authors learned how to read the Bible and how to read the world. They learned from Moses that God is the most important thing in all of reality, and that to know God is to know his justice and mercy, it is to experience this righteousness which maintains and makes possible his mercy.

Read the rest here.

Edmund Clowney (The Unfolding Mystery, 11):

The story [of the Bible] is God’s story.  It describes his work to rescue rebels from their folly, guilt, and ruin.  And in His rescue operation, God always takes the initiative.  When the apostle Paul reflects on the drama of God’s saving work, he says in awe, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever (Romans 11:36).