Jason Hood: With apologies to Malcolm Gladwell, the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 is not intended to offer a lesson in how underdogs can defeat heavily favored opponents. Nor can we find corporate-leadership strategies or advice for tackling life’s giants ranging from debt to weight problems to addiction. Nor is the lesson “use the armor that’s authentic to you.” So how then is the story of David and Goliath relevant? A more useful approach is to ask what God is up to in Scripture as a whole, beginning in 1 Samuel. When we read this story in its canonical context, we can begin to see how it connects to Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ to us. Seeing Jesus: David, Goliath, and the Bible’s Big Story In 1 Samuel, God is transitioning his people from rule by chieftains to rule by kings, and raising up a monarch with whom he will make an eternal covenant (2 Sam. 7). Because that covenant
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By Stephen Wellum: DEFINITION The Bible is comprised of many books and written by various authors over centuries, but as God’s Word it is a unified revelation unveiling a single message. It is crucial to understand what the Bible’s overall message is to interpret it properly and rightly apply it to our lives. SUMMARY This article explains what the central message of the Bible is by thinking through two ways of describing the overall story of Scripture. First, the Bible’s plots movements of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation are explored to understand the Bible’s message. Second, the Bible’s story is explained by thinking through how God’s plan is unveiled through the covenants from the creation covenant to the new covenant in Christ. The Bible is a big book that consists of many topics, diverse literature, and spans centuries. Yet, the Bible, despite being written by multiple authors and addressing various subjects, is one grand story whose central message is
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T. Desmond Alexander: God’s Holy Mountain The concept of God living on a holy mountain is a significant theme in the Old Testament. However, this same theme frames the entire Bible. It begins with the garden of Eden in Genesis and ends with New Jerusalem in Revelation. In Genesis the elevated location of the garden of Eden is indicated by the fact that a single river flows out of Eden, before dividing to become four rivers. Genesis 2:10–14 provides a short and enigmatic description of these rivers. While there is some uncertainty about the identity of all four rivers, the description implies that the garden of Eden occupies a raised position in the middle of the world. In keeping with this picture, the prophet Ezekiel designates Eden as both “the garden of God” and “the holy mountain of God” (Ezek. 28:13–16). A New City Leaping to the New Testament, the concept of a holy mountain city is linked to New
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T. Desmond Alexander: What Is the City of God? The apostle John’s vision of a gigantic, golden city brings the book of Revelation to a dramatic conclusion. The vision recorded in Revelation 21:1-22:5 forms the climax to a series of amazing visions that reveal through rich imagery God’s plans for humanity and the world. The descent of this extraordinary city from heaven to earth marks the goal of God’s creative and redemptive activity. John’s vision of the city abounds with imagery drawn from the rest of Scripture. Elements of the Garden of Eden reappear in Revelation 21-22, especially the tree of life (Rev. 22:2; Gen. 2:9; 3:22-24). Importantly, in New Jerusalem the consequences of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden are fully reversed. People are no longer barred from eating of the tree’s life-renewing fruit. God and humans enjoy each other’s presence, living together in perfect harmony. God’s Original Plan The creation of New Jerusalem does not occur as an
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Nicholas Batzig: As a young man, I would sometimes spend time talking with a family friend who was a watch expert. I was fascinated by the way in which he could quickly distinguish a true Rolex from a fake. On one occasion, my friend pointed out the seemingly microscopic initials that a watchmaker had engraved into the underside of a timepiece. It was this small detail that enabled my friend to authenticate this particular watch. I would never have thought to look for such a small and seemingly insignificant detail if he had not pointed it out to me. Similarly, the Scriptures identify the Lord Jesus as the true Israel of God by means of the smallest and seemingly most insignificant details in the records of His temptation in the wilderness. No sooner had God brought His son (Ex. 4:22), Israel, out of Egypt and through the waters that He brought him into the wilderness for forty years—to be tested
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Leadership Resources have released God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts. This is a free video study tool that walks through each of the nine units of the book. An ideal resource for churches and any Christian wanting to dig deeper in understanding the Bible’s overarching story. Summary of God’s Big Picture Video Study: UNIT 1: THE PATTERN OF THE KINGDOM The Bible isn’t just a random collection of books but one connected story and it is vital to understand it in that context. This first video explains that the Bible has one author: God, one subject: Jesus Christ and one overarching theme: God’s plan to save the world through his son Jesus Christ. We begin to look at this unfolding story in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, which sets up the pattern of God’s kingdom that we will trace through the rest of the units. We see that in God’s perfect created order, God’s People, Adam and
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Michael Lawrence: What Is the Good News? Biblical Theology’s Answer Let’s consider how both biblical theology and systematic theology are important and relate to each other when we try to answer the most basic of ministry questions: What is the gospel? What is the good news that the Bible reveals to us? When biblical theology comes to this question, it lays out the grand sweep of God’s actions in history. That sweep might be described as the movement from Creation ➜ Fall ➜ Redemption ➜ New Creation. Notice that this outline follows the narrative of Scripture itself. It explains what God is doing across redemptive history as that history moves from the garden of Eden to the new heavens and new earth. The Good News of the Kingdom Biblical theology also talks about the gospel in terms of the kingdom of God. George Eldon Ladd has forever changed the way all of us think about this kingdom. As Ladd observed,
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Chris Bruno: 1. Biblical theology is different than systematic and historical theology. When some hear “biblical theology,” they might assume that I’m talking about theology that is faithful to the Bible. While its goal is certainly to reflect biblical truth, the discipline of biblical theology is different from other theological methods. For example, the goal of systematic theology is to gather everything the Bible teaches about a particular topic or issue. For example, studying everything the Bible teaches about God or salvation would be doing systematic theology. When we are doing historical theology, our goal will be to understand how Christians throughout the centuries understood the Bible and theology. So we might study John Calvin’s doctrine of Christ. While both systematic and historical theology are important ways to study theology, biblical theology is a different and complementary theological discipline. 2. Biblical theology emphasizes God’s progressive revelation. Rather than gathering everything the Bible says about a particular topic, the goal of
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Tim Challies: If you are a committed reader, you know what it’s like when you get swept away by a book—where hours pass in what feels like minutes. You know the sheer pleasure of being drawn into a book that is unexpectedly interesting and intriguing. This was the case for me this weekend when I began to read The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places from Genesis to Revelation. Hidden behind that title is a brilliant and fascinating work that offers something to every Christian. This book, as the title suggests, is a study of the Old Testament temple and tabernacle. Yet it is much more than that. So central are these buildings to Old Testament worship and New Testament symbolism that understanding them, understanding the roles they played, understanding the way they were made, understanding their function to Old Testament worship, and understanding the key differences between them illumines so much of the Christian faith. We
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Tom Schreiner (part two of a three part essay): The solution to the problems of shallow preaching … is really quite simple: pastors must learn how to use biblical theology in their preaching. Yet learning how to do that requires us to begin by asking, what is biblical theology? Biblical vs. Systematic Theology Biblical theology, in contrast to systematic theology, focuses on the biblical storyline. Systematic theology, though it is informed by biblical theology, is atemporal. Don Carson argues that biblical theology stands closer to the text than systematic theology, aims to achieve genuine sensitivity with respect to the distinctiveness of each corpus, and seeks to connect the diverse corpora using their own categories. Ideally, therefore, biblical theology stands as a kind of bridge discipline between responsible exegesis and responsible systematic theology (even though each of these inevitably influences the other two). In other words, biblical theology restricts itself more consciously to the message of the text or corpus under consideration.
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By Dr. Jim Hamilton, excerpted from Text-Driven Preaching (B&H Publishing Group, 2010) Biblical theology helps us get our arms around the big picture that ties together everything from Leviticus to Esther, and we see how Amos, John, Romans, and Revelation fit, too. Knowing what the forest looks like enables understanding of the individual trees. If we are to preach the whole counsel of God, we need biblical theology. What sets the agenda in your preaching? Nehemiah really is not about the building program some church wants to initiate, and the Psalms are not in the Bible for amateur psychotherapists to explore their inner depths from the pulpit. Has God communicated His agenda in the Bible’s big story—its overarching message? Does the Bible’s big story set the agenda for your preaching or does something else drive it? If we are going to understand God’s purposes, which are revealed in the Bible, we need biblical theology. Biblical theology pushes us to understand
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Gavin Ortlund: How does a preacher “know nothing but Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) when preaching through Leviticus or Lamentations? What does it mean to be “gospel-centered” when you’re leading a Bible study on the locusts of Joel, or the false teachers of Jude? We all want to be Christ-centered in our teaching and preaching. But it’s not always obvious how each particular text of Scripture gets us to Christ. One of the most helpful tools for connecting the dots—and simultaneously one of the most neglected—is biblical theology, which (in evangelical circles) refers to the art of reading thematically across the entire Bible as one story. To learn more about biblical theology, and its relevance for expository preaching, I corresponded with Graeme Goldsworthy, former lecturer at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, and author of numerous helpful books on biblical theology, including Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Eerdmans, 2000) and Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and
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This post is adapted from God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. A Summary of the Bible’s Story What, we may well ask, in literary terms, is the plot structure of the Old Testament or even of the entire Bible as a single text? We would advocate that the covenants constitute the framework of the larger story. They are the backbone of the biblical narrative. The biblical story begins with the fact that there is only one God. He has created everything and especially has made humankind to rule under him. In this context, God is the center of the universe and we humans find our purpose in having a right relationship to God and to one another. The first man and woman, however, rejected this way. Now, what happens when God is no longer the center of our universe? Who steps in to take his place? Why, we do. I
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“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 Welcome to the world of Biblical Theology. Tevin Wax: Here’s a brief video that shows how the Old Testament stories point forward to Christ. This is the heart behind The Gospel Project Chronological. You can preview sessions here.
A theology of the church with a sound theological method. Andy Naselli has posted a review here. When you have a solid grasp of how a theme develops across the Bible’s storyline in Scripture, you are able to trace that theme from a number of starting points. For example, you may be preaching or teaching through the Gospel of John and come to John 2:19: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” You may then zoom out so that you can trace the trajectory of the temple theme across the Bible’s storyline—from Eden, to the tabernacle, to Solomon’s temple, to Ezekiel’s temple, to Zerubbabel’s temple, to Jesus as the temple, to the tearing of the temple’s curtain, to the church as the temple, to the individual Christian’s body as the temple, to the heavenly temple, and all the way to its culmination in Rev 21:22: “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple
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Monergism: Biblical theology and systematic theology are two different manners of arranging the teaching of the scriptures. Biblical theology seeks to understand the progressive unfolding of God’s special revelation throughout history, whereas systematic theology seeks to present the entire scriptural teaching on certain specific truths, or doctrines, one at a time. Biblical theology is thus historical and chronological in its design; and in fact, a close synonym for biblical theology, at least in its wide-angle task of accounting for all of special revelation, is the term “redemptive history”. Biblical theology is not always pursued in so broad a fashion, however; sometimes, certain themes are approached in a biblical theological manner; for instance, a biblical theology of holy space in worship would seek to understand how that specific motif unfolded in redemptive history, from the beginning of revelation until the end. Another narrower application of biblical theology would be the study of the unfolding of revelation during a specific time period
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James M. Hamilton: What is biblical theology? I use the phrase biblical theology to refer to the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. So what is an “interpretive perspective”? It’s the framework of assumptions and presuppositions, associations and identifications, truths, and symbols that are taken for granted as an author or speaker describes the world and the events that take place in it. What do the biblical authors use this perspective to interpret? First, the biblical authors have interpreted earlier Scripture, or in the case of the first author on record (Moses), accounts of God’s words and deeds that were passed down to him. Second, they interpreted world history from creation to consummation. And third, they interpreted the events and statements they describe—Moses didn’t recount everything Balaam said and did in the instances presented in Numbers 22-24. Moses selected what he wanted, arranged it with care, and presented the true story. The presentation of Balaam’s oracles Moses gives us in the book of Numbers is
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From a recent interview with Tom Schreiner about his new book, The king in His Beauty. Why is understanding the tension of the “already but not yet” so crucial to rightly understanding the Bible? How might grasping this practically help a Christian struggling with sin? If we don’t understand the already but not yet, then we simply won’t and can’t understand the Scriptures. For example, when the kingdom comes in Jesus’ ministry, the dead are raised, demons are cast out, and the sick are healed. Satan’s kingdom is overthrown! The Gospel writers clarify that victory over sin and Satan are due to Christ’s death and resurrection. But what does this mean for us today if the kingdom has come? After all, sickness is rampant, death seems to reign over all, and Satan is alive and well. The answer is the already but not yet. The kingdom has arrived in Jesus and, among other things, the gift of the Spirit demonstrates
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From Andy Naselli: The concluding chapter of this new book lays out six key theses about Luke’s theology: Darrell L. Bock. A Theology of Luke and Acts: God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. “Although there are many themes,” Bock notes, “six issues within the scholarly conversation are most important” (p. 448–50): 1. Divine Direction, Salvation History, Continuity of Promise, and Mission The predominant idea in Luke-Acts is that Jesus’ coming represents the inauguration and culmination of a program of promise God introduced to Israel through the covenants to Abraham, David, and the offer of a new covenant. This salvation history did not replace eschatology as Conzelmann claimed, but rather was the eschatology of divine promise outlined in the program of Scripture and event that was a part of the Hebrew tradition. Israel’s story was about promise, including the promise to include the nations in blessing. Jesus and the mission of the
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