14 September 2022
We have been considering Biblical Theology in several sharings and its relation to the Biblical storyline, as well as applications from bible study and bible messages.
But biblical theology is actually about reading the Bible, not as if it is sixty-six separate books, but as a single book with a single plot -God’s glory displayed through Jesus Christ. Biblical theology is therefore about discovering the unity of the Bible in the midst of its diversity (which includes narratives, proverbs, books of wisdom etc.).
It shapes our sharing, our counselling, our evangelizing, our ability to engage wisely and relevantly with culture and more. In other words, it will help us learn how to better teach, disciple, and counsel other believers. Of course it also does all these for Christian leaders and pastors, particularly in their preaching and sermons. Apart from preaching, all the other aspects of ministry constitute the work of every Christian.
God’s Word has real power to change lives; knowing how to understand and apply the Word correctly is directly related to biblical theology. God’s Word does not merely give information – it actually creates life. It is not only descriptive; it is effective – it is God speaking, and God speaking is God acting.
God’s Word is powerful and effective because it is carried along by God’s Spirit in order to perform exactly what He intends for it.
Biblical theology is how we go about the task of reading the Word and ensuring that it is God’s Word rather than our words that are shaping people’s lives. Biblical theology is how we bring people into the life-changing story of God’s redemption plan (which includes the focus on our fallen state and our fallen world and environment, and the presence of a formidable enemy).
Biblical theology not only gives us the story of the Bible, but it places our story in the context of God’s story. It immerses us in God’s storyline, which turns out to be more than a story about ancient and future history. It turns out to be a story of right now; it gives us a theological vision which puts us in a position to apply God’s story to the details of our lives and the lives of those we minister to.
The world is now in a crisis: in the midst of war, calamities, inflation, the possibility of recession, there are also those who lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. How do we counsel a brother who comes to us after listening to preachers on television or U-tube who promised that God would provide material blessings today, if only he would have faith today. The brother also may refer to Deuteronomy 28 where God says that He will bless our homes and our fields if we follow Him. God certainly promised such blessings to the Israelites. Yet are these promises true for Christians?
Biblical theology will affect our counsel to such a brother in Christ.
The brother needs to have his worldview reordered and his theological vision reoriented. He needs to understand that the picture of Deuteronomy 28 was but a ‘type’ or picture in comparison to what God has ultimately planned for His people in the new heavens and new earth. He needs to understand that God does inten his best life, but that in a fallen world, glory comes only through suffering and life comes only through death. He needs to know that the wealth and riches God intends to give him is not finally the wealth of the world, but the wealth of uninterrupted fellowship with God Himself through union with Christ. He needs to know that the worth of that inheritance is displayed through our faith in the midst of our current wanderings in the ‘wilderness’ as we journey as pilgrims in this fallen world to the heavenly city that awaits us.
He needs to keep his eyes focused on Christ regardless of his circumstances. Earthly wealth will not satisfy and it will not last (remember what the preacher shared in Ecclesiastes).
We must not cling to the world’s lying story that wealth means security; the preacher said enough for us to know how wealth can bring about anxiety and insomnia, as well as the realization that we cannot bring it along to our graves. But the Bible tells us that we can lay up ‘treasures’ in heaven by ‘sending’ our wealth ahead of us for God’s heavenly kingdom and citizens.
Today ought to be defined in the light of the biblical story; it is not to be understood in terms of the current cultural narratives (the narratives of progress, accumulation, status etc.).
Biblical theology helps to define who we are, where we come from and where we are going. Notice how the grasp of biblical theology helps to correct the worldview and theological vision of the brother who lost his job and became devastated and disillusioned. It does not only help in counselling, as illustrated here, but it also applies to all forms of ministry in the lives of Christians and in the life of the church.