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:
This week was surveyed the role of the Gospel–or, the mission of Jesus–in redemptive history.
Overview of Biblical material
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – The life and saving work of Jesus.
- God becomes a human—Jesus of Nazareth.
- He works great miracles.
- He teaches great things.
- He is eventually killed by the Jews and Romans.
- But three days later he rises from the dead.
Role within redemptive history
We can summary the central role of the Gospel in redemptive history as follows: God becomes a human being—Jesus—and initially but decisively brings about God’s new-creational kingdom. He does this centrally through his death and resurrection.
As always, we will break this down into in various parts for closer examination.
- God becomes a human: the incarnation’s relationship to the Gospel
First, we want to consider the incarnation’s (lit. “infleshing,” i.e., the event God becoming a human) relationship to the Gospel and its fulfillment of this new-creational kingdom.
Elsewhere I’ve written about this subject–the significance of Christ’s resurrection as inaugurated eschatology, the bursting of the new creation into the midst of this fallen creation in the person of Jesus Christ who is the resurrected new creation “pioneer” of sorts. But, I’m currently reading Ramachandra’s Faiths in Conflict?; and he summarizes this concept quite well. So, I thought I’d share his thoughts here. If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying more than once and in more than one way by more than one person, right?
Resurrection, for all first-century Jews, was bound up with the hope of the kingdom of God, of God’s vindication of his people Israel before their pagan enemies and the renewal of his disfigured world.
Resurrection, then, was corporate… public, and physical. … The age to come would be a renewed space-time world in which the righteous dead would be given new bodies in order to inhabit a renewed earth. Thus, the resurrection of the dead – the righteous to eternal life and the wicked to destruction – marked the consummation of the human drama. It spelt the triumph of Israel’s God who was also the universal Creator and Judge of all humanity. Resurrection, marked the dawn of a new world order, the final and supreme manifestation of God’s justice, mercy and power in history.
But … the early Christians proclaimed that the resurrection had occurred in Jesus before the day of resurrection for all. … In the resurrection of Jesus, God not only gives a glimpse and pledge of the new creation, but he announces the dawn of that new creation before its promised fulfillment. Here is a foretaste of the future age in the present.
Resurrection [specifically the general resurrection inaugurated in Christ’s resurrection, the “first-fruits” of the general resurrection, to use Pauline language] is a fresh creative act of God in which he displays his faithfulness to his creation by raising it to new life in his presence beyond death and decay. Resurrection, then, is the Creator’s final act of faithfulness to his creation…
The Old Testament (OT) anticipates Christ and is an unfinished story without Him. Christ fulfills the hopes of the OT, which is another way of saying that the OT is about Christ (Lk 24:25-27, 44-45; Jn 5:39-40). Therefore, when the realization (i.e., Christ) of what was anticipated in the OT arrives, it actually illuminates and clarifies the expectation. In other words, Christ’s person and work specify what was anticipated in previous revelation. As such, the revelation of Jesus is a revelation on previous revelation (cf. Heb 1:1-2). Only in this sense is all previous revelation understood with all its implications, in its fullest meaning. In light of progressive revelation culminating in Christ, the significance of OT passages develop, they undergo an organic expansion, and they receive a fuller, but not contradictory, meaning. And as Christians who affirm the centrality of Christ in scripture and desire to read scripture in context, including its ultimate canonical context, we must read the OT in light of its consummation in Christ.
Matt Chandler, with the help of Jared Wilson, has published his first book–The Explicit Gospel.
This book’s purpose is a negative one–to get its readers to the point of not assuming the Gospel. As Chandler states towards the end of his book,
Unless the gospel is made explicit, unless we clearly articulate that our righteousness is imputed to us by Jesus Christ, that on the cross he absorbed the wrath of God aimed at us and washed us clean–even if we preach biblical words on obeying God–people will believe that Jesus’ message is that he has come to condemn the world, not to save it.
But the problem is deeper than that and more pervasive. If we don’t make sure the gospel is explicit, if we don’t put up the cross and the perfect life of Jesus Christ as our hope, then people can get confused and say, “Yes, I believe in Jesus. I want to be saved. I want to be justified by God,” but then begin attempting to earn his salvation [pg. 208-209].
On January 13th I published a post analyzing and critiquing the viral video by Jefferson Bethke entitled, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus” (see my earlier post here). This post got lit up with lots of attention and traffic–far more than I expected. I got plenty of feedback from plenty of people, some positive, so not so positive. Among those who responded more negatively, some seemed to have the impression that I did not see any value or benefits in the video (on the contrary, I was simply presenting a caution). Due to this, I’ve decided to write a “part 2” on the strengths/benefits of Bethke’s “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” By doing so, I want it to be clear that I am not attempting to retract my initial criticisms/cautions. However, I am presenting a balanced perspective that probably should be taken.