On Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I began a Core Seminar on Redemptive History & Biblical Theology at my church, Lake Drive Baptist Church. During the course of this series I’ll be sending out emails recapping lessons and directing recipients to resources for further study.
Rather than just share these recaps with my church family, I’ve decided to share them here on the blog for anyone else who might be interested. I will be posting them occasionally over the next couple of months on a weekly basis or so.
See previous posts:
- Introducing Biblical Theology and Redemptive History (LDBC Recap 1/24/16)
- The Significance and Relevance of Biblical Theology and Redemptive History (LDBC Recap 1/31/16)
Recap / review
This week we began closing up our survey of foundational matters by surveying foundational principles and key frameworks for understanding Biblical theology and piecing together redemptive history. These foundational matters are incredibly important because they have a direct effect on how we go about interpreting scripture (hermeneutics), doing Biblical theology, and piecing together redemptive history.
We laid out 4 foundational principles for understanding redemptive history and doing Biblical theology.
1. Scripture’s unity. Amidst its diversity of human authors, themes, settings, occasions, purposes, etc., scripture is ultimately one book, with a unified author (God), about a unified subject.
2. Scripture’s theme. That one unified subject or theme we defined as “The outworking of God’s salvation accomplished through Jesus Christ in history on behalf of his people to the glory of God.”
3. Scripture’s Christ-centered design. Noting passages such as Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; and 2 Cor 1:20, we concluded that all of scripture centers on Christ and relates to Christ. As C.J. Mahaney summarizes quite well, “Every passage of Scripture–in both the Old and New Testaments–either predicts, prepares for, reflects, or results from the work of Christ.”
Further study: I would recommend reviewing Luke 24, 27, 44; John 5:39; and 2 Cor 1:20, reflecting on what they teach us about the Christ-centered nature of scripture, and, thus, by extension the history of redemption.
4. The progressive nature of revelation. God has revealed himself to us through his acts in history and scripture–the divinely inspired commentary on those acts, so to say. However, this revelation didn’t come to us all at once. The 66 books of the Bible didn’t just fall from heaven all at once. Rather, we received more and more revelation about God as redemptive history went on. Thus, the nature of this revelation is progressive. It increases, develops, and unfolds.
Here were the diagrams by Graeme Goldsworthy (According to Plan, 65-66) that we examined on this subject:
Further study: For further study and explanation on progressive revelation, see this broadcast by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Next we talked about some key frameworks that will help us understand a lot of our future discussion on redemptive history and Biblical theology. These will reoccur frequently, so they are worth mastering at the outset.
1. The basic narrative of redemptive history. We’ve talked about redemptive history as the all-encompassing storyline that holds all of scripture together. We will unpack that storyline in more detail in the coming weeks. But for the time being, the four basic parts of that storyline are as follows:
2. The eschatological framework of scripture.
In case we are not familiar with this terminology, eschatology refers to the study of the last things, things pertaining to the end, to the goal of redemptive history; eschatological (an adjective) is used to describe those things that are “end times” stuff, that are a part of that end goal; and eschaton (noun) is the end state itself, the final state of redemptive history. Since redemptive history and Biblical theology aim at the end–eschatological realities/the eschaton–we will be using these terms throughout the course. So, it is worth while to become familiar with them now at the front end.
But on to our main point here… What is the eschatological framework of scripture? The eschatological framework of scripture is what we call “already/not yet.” With Christ’s first coming, many end-time salvation realities have already (and decisively) come, e.g., justification (the end-time judgment verdict of “not guilty”); New Creation (see 2 Cor 5:17); the New Covenant; the Holy Spirit’s indwelling, re-creating, new-birthing presence; spiritual resurrection in Christ (see e.g., Eph 2:6; Col 3:1); etc. In fact, Jesus’ coming did not just bring end time-salvation realities, it was an end-time salvation reality, i.e., the coming of the end-time Messianic figure!
At the same time, however, many of these end time-salvation realities remain to be fully worked out, fully brought into existence (thus, “not yet”). For instance, we await Christ’s second coming when he will bring about the New Heavens and New Earth. As such, the New Creation is also very much a “not yet” reality, although being at the same time an “already” reality (see 2 Cor 5:17) since in some sense we already partake in aspects of New Creation already (e.g., justification, spiritual resurrection, the Holy Spirit’s presence, etc.)
Thus, we looked at this diagram that presents an overlap of the ages.
The first age (the red section) is the old age, the age of the fallen creation under Adam’s headship. It is characterized by the penalty of sin, the dominion of sin, the consequence of sin (corruption, death). The second age (the blue section) is the new age under the headship of Christ (for all this “in Christ” by faith). This is the New Creation-age characterized by justification, forgiveness, life in the Spirit, resurrection existence (both spiritually and physically), the presence of God, God’s rule through his appointed David-king (i.e., King Jesus), etc.
With Christ’s first coming, many of the realities of that second age have already arrived in part (see Acts 2:16-17. 1 Cor 10:11; and Heb 6:5 which indicate that this future age has intruded into the old age). And those realities for which we wait (“not yet”) are guaranteed to eventually be realized due to Christ’s work in his first coming. In other words, his second coming will bring to completion what he began in his first coming.
However, the old age still continues. We still die. We still struggle with sin. Thus, there is what we call an overlap of the ages (the purple bit). It is in this overlap that we currently live.
See this video by Eckhard Schnabel on the two ages and their overlap.
See this video by Vern Poythress on this “already/not yet” framework, also called “inaugurated (i.e., already begun) eschatology.”
Finally, we talked about typology. We defined typology as follows: “An event, person, or institution that functions in the storyline of scripture to serve as a pattern that anticipates a greater reality (antitype).”
Further study: I could say more here on typology. But, for the sake of time, I’m going to direct you to some articles I’ve already written on the subject:
If I had to summarize typology…
The Difference Between Typology and Allegory
In Pursuit of Responsible Typology
Typology is incredibly important for understanding how the Bible fits together in terms of its storyline (redemptive history) and key themes (Biblical theology). And it reoccurs frequently. Thus, it would be well worth taking the time to get a solid grasp of what typology is.
Next week we will finish off our discussion on foundational matters by examining the principles for interpretation that flow directly out of the above material on frameworks and key foundations. After that, we will move into redemptive history and beginning working our way through the big storyline that ties scripture together.