What I came away with after this week’s reading was the importance of “seeing life through the lens of Scripture.” The purpose of everything is that we would be shaped by God, and we will only see this happen as we understand and apply God’s Word. Leaders should demonstrate “asking spiritual questions and discussing biblical matters” as part of the daily Christian life (page 428). “Biblical theology offers us the storyline, structure, symbols, and themes that lead to the articulation of clear doctrine, resulting in a particular culture that is embodied by God’s people in the church” (pg 429). This should manifest itself in our daily lives through Bible reading, prayer, evangelism, discipleship, and preaching and teaching. In 2 Timothy 4:1-5, ”Paul connects the grand storyline of the Bible (Jesus is the Christ) to the preaching of the gospel message, the ministry of the word in the life of believers, and the defense of the faith” (pg 433).
The shape of the Scripture itself points out our need for the Word of God, and its power, as the beginning of each grouping stresses it (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29; Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:2). The point is to know God. “Joyfully and expectantly beholding Christ in the Scriptures is the means to becoming like him” (pg 418). Knowing how to study scripture “summons our hearts to worship God and our hands to serve him” (pg 419).
Scripture reveals God’s character and shows us how to live and to pray. Understanding scripture gives us “precision and depth” as we pray. Specific places which show prayer, such as the Lord’s Prayer, can guide is in how to pray. Paul’s letters can give us insight in how to address God (Rom. 15:14-23; Eph. 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-14; 1 thess. 3:9-13; 2 Thess. 1:3-12). Understanding the macrostructure of Scripture (redemptive history) can give us insight how to pray today.
As we study Scripture, we have to come to grips with humanity’s sinfulness and God’s judgment which gives God’s mercy, grace and love more appeal. Biblical theology equips us with the “whole truth of the identity and work of Jesus,” with which we can reach the world effectively.
A disciple is a learner. To learn to become like Christ, we have to come to know Him. The means of that is based on biblical theology. In his blog post “The Heart of Discipleship” found on desiringgod.org, Jonathan Parnell makes the point that the basis for true Christian discipleship is fellowship with Christ himself: “Discipleship—following Jesus—is to live before God’s face, to dwell in his presence, to be satisfied in all that he is.” Understanding Scripture—the “what,” “how” and “why” of God’s communication with us—helps us understand fellowship with God.
Discipleship has two aspects which biblical theology feeds. The first aspect involves the teacher’s instruction and the learner’s attentive synthesis of what is said—the gospel along with “exhortations, commands, warnings, and promises that flow from it” (pg 422). See 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
The second aspect of discipleship involves the teacher’s modeling of truth in everyday life and the learner’s attentive application in their own life. Disciples should observe teacher’s behavior, inasmuch as they reflect Christ’s character, and seek to form virtuous habits that “spring from new life in Christ (2 Cor. 3:18) and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:18-20).
Preaching and Teaching
To effectively preach and teach, we have to understand the Bible as a whole—both at the book level and canonical level. This big picture view helps us to “preach the whole counsel of God,” as James M. Hamilton, Jr. says on page 197 of his book Text-Driven Preaching: God’s Word at the Heart of Every Sermon. Spellman and Kimble assert that having sermon series on particular books can help us “proclaim the whole counsel of God” (pg 423). (See page 424 footnote for list of preaching textbooks). Further, in his chapter “Biblical Theology and Preaching” from Text-Driven Preaching… Hamilton describes how to model biblical theology for people to whom a teacher of God’s word are entrusted. First, introduce the message. Second, show the people their need to take this message to heart. Third, state the point of the Scripture passage. Fourth, summarize the structure of the passage. Fifth, show the book-level context of the passage. Last, demonstrate how the passage fits into the Bible’s grand storyline by looking at the canonical context. (pg 424)
The Bible is clear about the office of “Elder” being a vital part to the life of the church. Elders are entrusted by God to preach, teach, minister and defend the faith—protecting the Church from false teaching and deluding influences. The PRIMARY responsibility of pastor-elders is that which concerns the spiritual matters of sound doctrine, shepherding God’s people, equipping the saints for the work of service, and facilitating true growth—maturity. Kimble and Spellman note that often these roles are taken to business items and different ideas of growth (buildings, budgets, attracting people) which distract from biblical truth. (pg 425) With that comes the responsibility of mutual accountability and sharpening each other biblically. Kimble and Spellman suggest that groups of pastors could read books on biblical theology then come together to discuss and reflect. We have to remind each other that “all areas of our lives fall under the authority of Christ by means of his Word” (pg 426). Along these lines, we must “immerse ourselves in the text, memorize Scripture, and meditate joyfully on its contents day and night” (pg 426).
Spellman and Kimble point out that in shepherding, counseling and care situations biblical theology plays an important role in reminding people about God’s plan and their part in it. My reflection on this is that as we ingest God’s Word and submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in His sanctifying work in our own lives, God will give us what we need to say when we need to say it for every single person. God is very personal, concerned about every human being, and He knows how to reach each and every one. In a statement:
God knows how to comfort, correct, command, and cleanse for conformity to Christ!
Kimble, Jeremy M. and Spellman, Ched. Invitation to Biblical Theology: Exploring the Shape, Storyline, and Themes of Scripture. Kregel Academic, 2020.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!