“It is certainly not without significance that God has embodied the contents of revelation, not in a dogmatic system, but in a book of history,” remarked the so-called grandfather of biblical theology Geerhardus Vos over one hundred years ago. There’s a dramatic difference, in other words, between a god who simply drops oracles from heaven, and one who takes the elements of history itself (people, nations, events, institutions, mighty acts), gives shape to those elements, and, along the way, provides a verbal interpretation through key actors (see Deut 4:32ff). What’s more, he then shows up and says, “This is all pointing to me!” (see Luke 24:25ff).
In seminary, I was told in preaching class to keep an illustrations file. That’s fine. But I hope you know, pastor, that your church already has such a file, one with thousands of illustrations that are all sub-plots in a larger drama: the drama of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation. The question is, do you know how to begin at any one of the Bible’s thousand sub-plots and relate it to the grand drama? Do you know why this is critical if you want a church of Jesus lovers and not Pharisees?
This issue of 9News is dedicated primarily to proving Vos’ words—“certainly not without significance.” More than musings on methods, marketing, or music, pastors and church leaders need a solid grasp of biblical theology.
Graeme Goldsworthy, Bruce Waltke, and the other participants of the pastors’ and theologians’ forum warn preachers what will happen in their congregation’s life if they don’t know their biblical theology. So does Tom Schreiner in part 1 of his contribution, after which he describes exactly what biblical theology is, and how to do it in our preaching. Jim Hamilton, tightening the screws, proposes that our biblical theology should center on God’s glory in salvation through judgment. We then offer a few thoughts on the difference between the “gospel” of biblical theology and systematic theology, as well as several resources for you and your church members.
But first, see if you don’t find yourself praising God for his irresistible work in creation and new creation, as traced out by Michael Lawrence.