No doubt many people in ministries and leading small groups are wondering what’s coming next after missions month. For several months we have been planning to do a series called, “The Gospel Through The Bible.” The point of this series is twofold:
- We want people to understand how to put their Bibles together.
- We want people to see Jesus and the gospel in all of Scripture, which will also help us accomplish #1.
Putting our Bibles together
Biblical ignorance takes many forms. There are lots of people who simply aren’t familiar with the Bible’s stories. Other people don’t know the argument of the book of Romans in reference to how to believe in and follow Christ. Some wouldn’t be able to open their Bible to one of the four Gospels. All of these forms of biblical ignorance are very normal in our present culture.
However, there is one form of Biblical ignorance that is common to almost all levels of Christian experience, whether someone visits a church for the first time, or has been following Christ for years. That is the knowledge of how all of the different parts of the Bible come together in one unified whole. Many Christians know that we believe the Bible is one unified whole. But they would have a hard time explaining how that is true other than that all the books are part of one historical group.
Biblical theology helps people put their Bibles together as one big story all about Christ. It is not just theology that agrees with the Bible, but it is a technical term referring to a kind of theology that sees the unity of the whole story of the entire Bible. And in so doing, it connects the whole Bible together. Instead of seeing the gospel as systematic theology: God → Sin →Christ → Faith/Response, biblical theology sees the gospel through the story of Scripture: Creation → Fall →Redemption and Restoration.
Seeing the gospel this way expands our understanding of God’s work through all of history and binds it to everything in human experience, rather than only our individual experience in coming to Christ or thinking about him. Understanding the Bible in light of biblical theology enriches our personal faith, helps us understand each separate portion of Scripture in relationship to the whole, and allows us to talk about Christ in more compelling and diverse ways.
For example: Since biblical theology starts with creation, it is easy to move from biblical theology to discussing the fall of the gospel and environmental questions. Such questions and their relationship to Christ are important to many secular people who associate Christianity with Republicanism and who associate Republicanism with environmental non-concern. Whether these associations are fair, biblical theology allows us to penetrate the environmental concern directly from the story of the gospel, giving the gospel the credibility and relevance it deserves.
THE GOSPEL IN ALL OF SCRIPTURE
Gospel ignorance is worse for the soul and harder to remedy than biblical ignorance. It is a twofold problem: we have trouble understanding the gospel, and deep down we don’t really want to understand it. Yet we need the gospel the most – it is how Jesus both saves and transforms us. We are moralists and idolaters by nature, and the gospel is the death of both, and therefore the death of us.
This is why we need the gospel explained a hundred different ways.
We need to believe it again through all the parts of Scripture. And we need to actively, through disciplined faith, put to death the part of us that won’t trust God by looking at every example of his trustworthiness and our proneness to wander.
As we go through the Big Story of redemption, every passage will have the gospel or one of its key dynamics embedded in it.
God’s Provision and initiation :: Condition on human action or response:
- God gives a promise to trust :: faith/trust
- God rescues the enslaved to freedom :: faith/trust
- God provides rescue from starvation and death :: faith/trust
- God provides a substitute for our deserved punishment :: faith/trust
- God makes an agreement on terms of love and commitment (covenant) :: faith/trust
- God is king over his people :: faith/trust
- God has a plan and includes people as a part :: faith/trust
- God pursues an unfaithful wife/bride :: faith/trust
- God wins victory for his people as a warrior :: faith/trust
- God pleases his people by being an object of enjoyment and delight :: faith/trust
- God gives power to the powerless :: faith/trust
- God uses unseen providence to bring unexpected rescue :: faith/trust
We could list many more. But the point is, the more ways we understand God’s saving us, the more the one message about Christ’s death means to us. When we look at each dynamic of salvation, we see how that dynamic is embedded in the one event that all Scripture points to: the death and resurrection of Jesus. By seeing all the gospel dynamics of Scripture pointing ahead to Christ, we understand God better, our salvation in him better, and what it means to trust and have faith in God better. And the deeper that goes, the more likely it will free us from morality and idolatry, which crush our faith and hollow out our lives.
If you hang with us for the next year, I think you’ll find yourself growing a lot. Every sermon may not talk about your most immediate felt needs, but if the gospel really hits your deepest needs, you will find many of your felt needs met as well. And if God is truthful in giving us testimony to everything we need in the Scriptures, then this series will make you ever more able to find the thing God needs to give you in each day.
I’m excited about the next year. Are you?
Comment below on what passage you are hoping I will do, and why; or comment on why you are excited.