Archives For biblical theology

Chris Bruno’s new book, The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses, is a wonderfully accessible introduction to the subject of biblical theology. Not only does this book offer a readable map for understanding the overarching story of Scripture – – it will help readers see their place in THE great story. There is also a video introduction available.

Every story – – whether fiction or non-fiction has a plot – – a central conflict that moves to resolution. When properly understood, the plot of a given story can be summarized in a sentence or a paragraph.

The Wizard of Oz, for example, is one of the most well known fictional (as in it didn’t happen) stories. It’s a fairy tale with many details: a scarecrow, flying monkeys, witches from all corners of the compass, munchkins, a broom, and ultimately a bucket of water. It’s a long tale. Yet, talking trees and a cowardly lion notwithstanding, the central storyline of The Wizard of Oz can be summarized in a sentence:

A young girl hates her ordinary circumstances but discovers by way of an extraordinary yellow brick journey that there is no place like home.

Once we have the plot in mind, we can see how all the details of the story of The Wizard of Oz serve the central storyline. The friends Dorothy meets turn out to be the people she already knows. The witch is a dreadful woman who hates little girls and dogs. And the bump on the head helps Dorothy realize there is no place like home, even if her Kansas home isn’t in technicolor.

Like the Wizard of Oz, the Bible tells a story. Unlike the Wizard, the Bible is a true story – –  the story – – but it is a story nevertheless. As such, it has a plot which, as I have said, is a central conflict that moves towards resolution.

Theologians classify a consideration of the central story-line of the Bible as a part of the discipline of biblical theology. Understanding biblical theology is essential not only for studying the Bible, but also for making sense of life. After all, the story of the Bible is the story of humanity: why we are here, what we’re here for, what went terribly wrong, and how it will be set right. (See here for D.A. Carson’s summary of the Bible in 221 words!)

16versesUnfortunately, for many years – – centuries even – – the subject of biblical theology has been relatively neglected. Many in our churches cannot concisely summarize the storyline of the Bible. This is unfortunate, not only because knowing the storyline gives a road map to see how the pieces of Scripture fit together, but it also shows us how we can all be written into the story.

In recent years, theologians have rightly seen the need to write on biblical theology which is great news. But, with a couple of exceptions, the books have been written on a technical level. Your average book on biblical theology has the same dimensions as a washing machine. These large tomes are wonderful for those comfortable hefting them about and interacting with their technical vocabulary. But they aren’t ideal resources for taking to one’s summer cottage to read in a hammock.

Recently, however, Chris Bruno has written a concise book on biblical theology that is easy for to read regardless of one’s background. Chris identifies 16 verses that trace the key points of the biblical narrative. If you give this book just a few hours, you will be able to distill the message of the Bible in a paragraph or two. In the process, you will see how the book of Genesis fits together with Isaiah, Ezekiel, and much more. You can read it while in your hammock without bending the supporting trees.

CDB_2648I read the entire book in less than an afternoon — it’s what pastors do on their day off – – or at least this pastor. At the end of nearly every chapter I forced myself to write out the summaries of every previous chapter. By the time I got to the end, I could trace Chris’s summary. You can see what my notes looked like by the time I got to page 100 – – and if you can decipher my handwriting you may have a future in cryptology.

But don’t rely on my scribbles or summary. Get your own copy. I am encouraging the people of our church to read this book – – mark it up – -talk about it – – and enjoy being students of biblical theology.

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses is an ideal resource for small groups or for helping a pastor organize a preaching series. I highly recommend it.

See also:

What is Biblical Theology?

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Three Minutes to Understand the Message of the Bible

D.A. Carson: The Message of the Bible in 221 Words

Without a Dark Introduction, There are No Fairy Tale Endings

We All Want to Be Written Into the Story

I’m predicting that the book described in the below video will become a very significant resource for our church. And I hope the distinction between systematic theology and biblical theology is one that our leaders can learn now. When I saw this video I was planning to ask Chris to preach at our church. Then I figured out he is in Hawaii so I’m now trying to figure out how I can get him to ask me to preach . . .

Currently, I’m preparing to start a series on the Sermon on the Mount. But we’re already praying about our emphases in 2016 (if you can believe that) and our plan is to take our church through the Bible in a year (D.V.). It will take a lot of work to prepare for surveying the Bible in a year. One of our goals for the series will be to show how important it is to keep the big picture of Scripture in mind.

I think I’ve found a resource for seeing the big picture of the Bible. In the below video, Chris Bruno describes why he wrote a new book, “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses.” This book will help the average reader see the storyline of Scripture from a high altitude. I wouldn’t be surprised if we use this book as a church in 2016.

00:00 – How can you cover the whole story of the Bible in just 16 verses?
01:14 – Can you give us some examples from the book of how you do this?
04:22 – What is biblical theology and why is it important?
08:08 – How did your identity as a pastor, husband, and dad help you write this book?
12:15 – What do you hope the Lord accomplishes through this book?

Justin Taylor Interviews Chris Bruno, Co-author of “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses” from Crossway on Vimeo.

See also: The message of the Bible in 221 Words.
HT: JT

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.

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.