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Archive for the ‘Biblical Theology’ Category

The Old Testament is so boring and so is most of the sermons that I hear on it. “How to pray like Nehemiah” or “How to have the attitude of Joseph” or “Why not complain when you are in a desert situation” or “Why you have to get some friends out of your boat of promise” or “How adultery destroys your testimony” or “The leafs and onions of Egypt”….. I could continue but I digress.

Not to mention the yearly bible plans are cool if I could read something that I liked. Unlike Leviticus, Numbers, Chronicles, Nahum, Obadiah …….  which can become quite redundant and boring.

However, when the Old Testament is faithfully exposited through Christoloigcal lenses the Old Testament becomes just as exciting as the New Testament.  So here is yet another plug for a case for biblical theology. About a year and a half ago I was introduced to biblical theology by wrestling through New Covenant Theology and Covenantal Theology.

Men like Goldsworthy, Azurdia, Poythress, Clowney, Dale Ralph Davis and Vos not to mention sites like Beginning with Moses and Biblical Theology . If you are new there a few great introduction books and a host of articles and writings on the two links above. Listening to Azurdia and Keller is also a really good way to get acquainted to this type of biblical interpretation.

As you being your new bible reading plans keep the verse below in mind I believe it will help you gain an unquenchable passion for the Old Testament scriptures and help you understand the Theocentrcity (God Centeredness) and Christocentric (Christ Centered) nature of the Old Testament. Not to mention we find the Gospel written throughout all of the Old Testament in shadows and pictures:

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

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israel

It is funny in a sad way how systems of theology (especially erroneous ones) effect the way we live and minister to others.

I remember listening to Christian radio maybe 5-6 years ago and hearing “those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed”. I won’t saturate you with the scriptures that were used to defend such a case. But to put it frankly they are all Old Covenant texts. I remember hearing people cheer as Israel would strike their enemies (my good brother Daniel Cosby has a good post on facebook about that). So they would applaud the death of those wicked “Palestinians”.

I really didn’t know how to take that. I thought it wrong to cheer the death of an enemy given the fact that Jesus says “love your enemies” and Paul says “if your enemy is thirsty bring him something to drink”. I would wonder how we would applaud the death of someone who did not know Jesus thus they would spend an eternity away from God. I thought that we should mourn and tear our clothes at such an event, but many were endorsing and applauding all in the name of American Christians responsibility to “bless Israel”.

So I want to address a theological fallacy. That fallacy is the one that states Israel is God’s people! Now to be biblically faithful Israel is God’s chosen people, the problem is who is the “True” Israel. If you spend anytime in Romans or Galatians or Ephesians or even Peter that questioned is answered quite easily. The problem is when we apply the broken interpretive method of reading the New Testament through the lens of the Old. That is similar to a group of individuals who celebrate the first half of a football game when they were up 3 points at half but lost by 30!

If you want to faithfully handle your bible, the first thing you want to do is begin with the fulfillment of God’s plan. Paul says God gave Him the full revelation to that which was a mystery hidden from the writers of the Old Testament. They see shadows and types, however, the New Testament writers see the full picture. They don’t talk about a Messiah. John says “we touched Him”. Peter says the prophets “longed” and “speculated” on what God was revealing to them, however, they walked with Jesus and received the full revelation of God’s eternal plan of redemption.

So with that said, there is only ONE people of God. Paul says in Ephesians “that two people are made one new man”. The one new man is the Church or the true Israel of God in Christ! That leads to the point of this blog. The church is not to involve herself with the ethnocentric/nationalistic/self preserving conflict in the middle east, other than to pray for peace and to find a way to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ.

To applaud Israel’s method of controlling a land (that has been fulfilled in Christ) is to employ, as Boyd would say, the kingdom of man! As believers we don’t get people groups to comply by exercising power over, but power under. I remember when Dr. Black told me “I pray for the opportunity to wash Bin Laden’s feet“.

Peace in the Gaza Strip will not be accomplished with the sword. As Jesus says “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”. Jesus did not gather a group of man to bring a militia against Rome! Jesus was not concerned with an earthly parcel of land, wrongly defined today as the “promised land”. No! Jesus’ kingdom was not and is not of this world and that means neither is ours. The kingdom we are servants of is the kingdom where our King currently reigns and will reign until God the Father makes all of His enemies His footstool. Those enemies aren’t Palestinians friend. Those enemies are those who did not do will of the Father.

I want to let you know I am not “anti-Semitic”. I am pro-Christ! And Christ’s heart is for the whole world and the remnant that will believe is who the bible calls Israel or as Paul says in Romans 2 “a true Jew”. I love Palestinians as much as I love the Jewish people. I love Iraqis as much as I love Americans who they are fighting with.

We should be alarmed when a minister of the Gospel spews hate speech from his mouth in the name of nationalism. The center of the Gospel is love displayed by a “joy” (as Hebrews says) to endure Calvary. Believe it or not, Jesus does not need the land we have defined as Israel today. Jesus is not coming to set up an earthly kingdom. Jesus is already reigning as the Son of David and when He returns He will return for His bride that He has made pure. Our job is prepare others for the King.

I close with this. Our hearts should be broken by the constant warfare and the loss of life that plagues this never ending conflict. We should be quick to rebuke anyone who applauds such demonic nationalism, especially if they name the name of Christ. We have the only answer to the problem. That answer is Jesus of whom both those of Israel and Palestine reject. As bullets fly in this earthly realm we are to move to the Spiritual. Lets beg our Lord of peace and reconciliation during these turbulent times. Both parties are equally wicked, both are fighting for a parcel of land that will be leveled at the second coming of our Lord. Neither are endorsed by God. Lets pray that the Gospel would infiltrate their hearts and they would drop the national ties and see each others as brothers and sisters, which only can be done by and through the Spirit!

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If you don’t know what Biblical Theology is, buy this book. If you do know what Biblical Theology is, buy this book. If you read the bible buy this book, if you don’t read the bible, then shame on you 8) .

This book serves as a mini commentary, has helpful articles on biblical theology and is a dictionary that follows themes (such as the Temple/Tabernacle or High Priest) in the overall story of the bible. That story being the redemption of mankind through the sovereign hand of God. The articles alone are worth the price of the book and when you add what the book was actually published to accomplish you have just robbed the contributors.

I don’t want to get into biblical interpretation here. However, I have to say, the majority of churches that meet on a weekly basis rob their congregants because of a lack of biblical theology. That is why proof texting, topical sermons that never point to Christ and His redeeming work throughout history and the “what does this mean to me” syndrome is causing, in the name of one author, “a famine in the land”. Whenever we interpret the bible in the way the Holy Spirit never intended we “deinspire” the bible and it becomes as supernatural as any other piece of literature we find in our local bookstores.

I think this book will help you get a grip on biblical theology, its contribution to biblical interpretation and help you read your bible as an overarching story of God’s redeeming work in HIS-story. Buy this book read it and let me know what you think.

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My last post sparked a discussion that I didn’t want to get lost so I am reposting one the subpoints as a main point here.

It seems that many believe that I think Theology=Maturity! That would be untrue Theology Applied=Maturity. Rather we like it or not we all have a theology and certain theological positions. It seems smart today to avoid calling it something, the problem is you can’t. For example. If you take metal, rubber, glass and plastic, put it together, put fuel in it and use it to get from point A to point B then you have a car or some type of motor vehicle. You can say “I don’t want to call it that” but that would be irrelevant! Such is the same for theology. You don’t have to call it that, but the fact that you believe something about God, something about the bible, something about how the church should meet, something about Christ, something about salvation and something about what Christians should obey and what they don’t have to obey means you have taken certain theological stances and positions.

Now if it is you want to avoid labels then fine! I have no problem with that, but just because you want to avoid them doesn’t mean that someone has not defined what you believe and has written it in a book, and it is taught maybe even in seminary. If you believe like I believe that after 2000 years nobody has figured it out, then I promise you some smart dude has written what you believe.

But lets take it a bit further! What you believe has been taught to you and what you hold to has been shaped by some theologian over the past 2000 years. I bet my yearly salary to a Peanut Butter with no jelly sandwich and a stick of celery to that statement! What you believe didn’t fall out of the sky, you were shaped. Listen to me very carefully. The Ephesians, Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians, Philippians, Macedonians, the Jews, Laodacians, Thessalonians, The Bereans, and any other person who became a Christian in the 1st Century was shaped by Pauline Theology! Now you might say that is Holy Spirit theology, but it is still Pauline Theology! The thing they have that you and I don’t is access to Paul, Timothy, Titus, Epaphorditus, John, Peter, Apollos and others who can directly ask a question and get a straight answer, even if they could answer the question!

Theology was before Seminary! Let me say that again Theology was before Seminary. Now theological language can be avoided, but we as humans always use language to discuss concepts. For example I am in Coporate America as a Financial Analyst. There are terms we use to describe what we do! When my wife asks me certain things, I have to show her more than I can tell her because the terms will leave her void of what I am trying to explain. The same goes for musicians when they talk music, writers when they discuss writing, artist when they discuss art……. You see terms like the Trinity are theological term, The Fall is a theological term, The Divinity of Christ is a theological term, and many other words we use are theological terms and concepts that are deduced and put into books to discuss them.

Now for this one I will get shot but I am going to say it anyway! Is the bible all we need? My answer is no! Absolutely not! Heck no! When I look at the Gifts given by the Spirit one of those gifts is teaching! Just because someone decides to write it in a book doesn’t negate the gift! Actually the printing press has become a blessing! We now can print 1,000,000 bibles in different languages in a a fraction of the time it would take to hand-write 10! But not only that things that was passed orally or taught can now be written and reproduced! In my experience my vast amount of theology has helped me once the Spirit caught up with my learning! So the problem wasn’t theology the problem was my ability or even desire to apply it!

Are there drawbacks to theology? I think I have written extensively about this. Theology can make one proud, arrogant, self-righteous, it can produce unbiblical distinctions as Daniel brings up, it can even produce a Christian caste system. But theology isn’t the problem, application is. Pursuing a theological education isn’t bad in and of itself. Understanding the work of the Holy Spirit systematically, that Jesus is the metanarrative or the interpretive key of the whole bible (a Christ centered interpretation) or learning the difference between how to apply the law in the Old Testament versus the New Testament are not bad things!

Using are minds and hearts simultaneously is not a bad thing. Back in the day I took an Intro to Theology class under Michael Patton, one of the books I had to read was J.P Morelands “Love God With All of Your Mind”. Listen the Holy Spirit isn’t quenched by theology. My move towards my current ecclesiological perspective and theology of the New Testament was assisted by wrestling with theological concepts and terms. Again the Spirit is quenched by not obeying and applying what you do know. The Spirit not only works in the heart He works in the mind also. The book of Romans is a theological work of Paul. It would have taken some thinking to wrestle with and it was written by the Holy Spirit! Does it mean that the uneducated couldn’t understand the Gospel? No! It does mean; however, that someone with some form of eduction would have to read it and explain it to them though.

I end with this. A little theology ain’t going to hurt nobody! The Spirit works in the mind and in the heart! But most importantly if you believe you are void of theology you are only fooling yourself. Your theological position was shaped by someone rather that is Viola and Barna or Owen and Edwards! Both sets have theological knowledge and extensive theology as a matter of fact! Most of what we believe has been shaped by 2000 years of theology from the Deity of Christ to the Trinity to baptism we have to affirm that.

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stranger

 

Here is a link to the book

I don’t understand why I didn’t hear of this work earlier. Hutch pointed this to me a while back! Hutch I appreciate it. I have recommend this to a few people. But it is sort of a Biblical Theology or at least a Christ Centered approach to interpreting the Scriptures. It sort of has a  Goldworthy or Vern Poythress feel to it, if you have read any of their works. Anyway as it relates to an intro to a Christ Centered Hermenutic of the Old Testament I would recommend this one. Not to mention for those who are not pursing a Seminary Eductaion but will be in some teaching capacity I would also recommend this book to them. Please, please check it out. For all my pastor buddies or those who teach in some capacity and especially for my gifted disciple makers give the new disciples this work first, take a sunday school or a small group through it. This book is another worth its weight in platinum!

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Viola Frank. The Untold Story of the New Testament Church: An Extraordinary Guide to Understanding the New Testament . Destiny Image Publishers , 2005. pp. 208. $10.04
Frank Viola author of Pagan Christianity, Rethinking the Wineskin and now Reimagining Church has provided the Body of Christ a Gem in this work. The book sets out to put the New Testament in Chronological order, filling in gaps, and helping the reader of the New Testament to see, smell, touch and hear what our 1st century brothers and sisters would have experienced during the time the “Church” is being built by Jesus Christ through the work of the Spirit in the lives of the Apostles and others.

(more…)

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For some of the readers of this blog this is Biblical Theology 101. For others it may be a stretch for some they may consider this eisegesis. I have come out of a slight hiatus of personal journaling to just discuss my encounter with this story in Genesis and how it rings so clear of the Gospel. Biblical Theology has been a huge blessing in my life as I now read the Old Testament Narratives with Christ being the main focus and goal. So here is my first feeble attempt to convey Christ from Genesis in a way I hope is encouraging to all, challenging to most and educational for those who have the responsibility of teaching young children from biblical narratives.

The Text Genesis 6:1-13; 7:1; 15-23 (in that order)

6:1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

7:1 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.

15 They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. 16 And those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in. 17 The flood continued forty days on the earth. The waters increased and bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. 18 The waters prevailed and increased greatly on the earth, and the ark floated on the face of the waters. 19 And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. 20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep. 21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.

1. The Judgement for Sin

 We see the clear effects of sin and God’s righteousness jeopardized if man were to continue in this way. Genesis 6 says The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”  The next few verses then shows God’s judgment of all of mankind. We see God grieved at mankind’s propensity and desire to sin continually.  So in turn he declares complete and full judgement on them and the creation.  We see this when the author says this:”So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them”

This is the same language used in John 3 . God has already judged mankind. The penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23) all have been declared unrighteous (Roman 3) and God has promised that He will destroy this world (2 Peter 3:10)

2. God’s Mercy and Grace Put on Display

In verse 8 we see the kindness, mercy and richness of Grace of our God when the word “But” is used to contrast the fact that all of mankind will be destroyed. You see all of mankind was wicked and God said He will destroy them all. Why? Because He is just and can’t allow Sin in His presence. However, God is loving as He is just, He merciful as He is full of wrath, and He is kind as He is jealous!

Now the question should be asked when we read this is: how does Noah find favor? I believe the answer is found in Epheisans 2:

2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Almost the exact same language is used. How? Well Paul declares all mankind dead in sins and trespasses, without hope and thus prepared for God’s wrath. And then the famous contrast the climax of the book of Ephesians just like the climax of this narrative the word “but”. Just as we are not righteous in ourselves, but we have a credited righteousness from God’s work in Christ and so recipients of His divine favor so is Noah. Noah was not righteous because He was a good person (we see him later drunk and naked and declaring cursings on his son a couple of chapters later) Noah was righteous because He found favor in the site of God!

How beautifully this fits into the picture of the Christian. We are dead, hopeless, declared guilty on all charges and thus prepared for the wrath of God to be poured out on us, but there is a Divine Interruption and it is the favor of God that saves us from God! Noah too was declared guilty when God says “every intention of the thougths of their heart are wicked”. Noah was not excluded from this list because he so happened to be the only good person around. Nope! He was declared righteous by the great mercy of God.

3. God’s Redeeming Instrument

Next we see God make a plan of escape from His own wrath. Which is namely a big boat called an “ark”. God gave the exact specifications and detail on how to construct the ark and all that was to go into the ark and the only thing Noah had to do was believe that it would rain and that God would preserve him, the animals and the rest of his family. Just as Noah had never saw God’s wrath before and had never even smelled rain, we too have to receive God’s favor by faith. It would had not been enough for Noah to affirm that what God had said was true. He must gather the Gopher wood, warn his family (in which most probably thought he was crazy) and enter the boat at the designated time.

For Christians our ark is Christ. We must enter in by faith and faith alone.  However the faith is to be evident by our actions to now walk in Him. As stated above we have not seen the wrath of God poured out as it is promised in the book of The Revelation. It is actually quite a weird story of horses, dragons, fire, and pits, and demons and Satan, and great wars. Nothing like it has been seen but we must believe it true if we are to escape it. The big difference is that it was only a 120 year time period from God’s declaration to His consummation. For us it has been 2000 years.

You best believe that those 120 years were years of ridicule and verbal abuse. He was mocked, scoffed, belittled, called stupid. Fired from His day job, rebuked by His relatives, scorned by friends, but He kept building by faith. The same picture today and Peter promised in 2 Peter 3 “there will be scoffers” they will laugh at our declaration of God’s judgment by fire and the torment of hell. We will and some have lost vibrant relationships with loved ones, many in other nations are losing their lives, we are called stupid. Mocked by Saturday Night Live, MAD TV, MTV, BET, different award shows. Movies are made to mock out God, some who even profess Christ don’t believe in this wrath to come.

But we persevere by faith just as Noah did. Not because we are smart but because God gives us the gift of faith to believe and the Holy Spirit to persevere. And as you can imagine what Noah experience during these years was painful but he persevered and so will you and I. Not in our own strength but because of the power of the New Heart given in the New Covenant. Finally…..

4. God’s Great Patience on Display by the 120  100 Years

Finally we see that God was also very patient with mankind. He put up with them for years and the sunk further and further into unrighteousness. But not only that. Noah didn’t build the boat in some secret basement like on Iron Man. This was built in public for all to see. I am sure they asked Noah “what are you doing dummy” and “we have never heard of a such thing as rain” and “God will not surely judge us”. As many must have screamed these things to him, he continually nailed each board into place. He continue to harvest the land, he continued to go to sleep and wake up the next day and continue to build.

This is a picture for us. As we are mocked, as God has patiently allowed 2000 years to past since the resurrection of Christ and as He has given us His word, He has church buildings, television stations, gospel tracts, radio programs, and our daily witness and just as in Noah’s day they scoff and laugh at God’s great patience. As God continues to fill their bellies with food, and their ears with good music, and their eyes with beautiful hues, and gives them nice houses to live in, dependable transportation and most of all breath in their lungs and blood in their veins, they response is EXACTLY like it was in Noah’s day! They say “there is no God” or better yet “I am good enough and I don’t need God to help me do anything”.

Maybe they agreed that rain could happen but maybe they thought they could swim to the boat later, or maybe they thought they could swim to the top of a high mountain and bypass God’s wrath. Maybe they thought “when it does rain, I will just walk up to the boat and get in when I feel like it”, or maybe they thought when the rain started to fall they could grab a raft or build a small canoe to escape the flood waters. The same is today. People reject God’s only plan. They take His patience for toleration or powerlessness. Many think Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheism (just ignore the rain and it will go away), Good works, Self Determination and effort will get them a pass!

Closing

Just as in Noah’s day many reject God’s plan for salvation. Others ignore God, others think they can wait for the last minute. All of these are lies from Satan the “father of lies”. Just as those in Noah’s day was blinded so are those in our day. However we must persevere just as Noah did, through all of the heartache and pain is a great joy and a fountain of hope only found in trusting Christ. Lets be thankful that “God has not counted our transgressions against us”. We have found favor just as Noah has and we will only experience the joy of these words “enter into the joy of your Master”

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