Categories
Theology

321: The Story of God, the World, and You

https://vimeo.com/48734715

Categories
Theology

A New Year to Remember the Old Gospel Story

Many people are taught to believe the Bible is a book of rules with a bunch of stories about many heroes who are used by God because they are good people. That could not be further from the truth.

With this new year, as you begin your Bible reading plans and start resolutions, remember the simple, old, gospel truth of Scripture:

The Bible is not a book of rules, but rather one rule: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Bible is not a book of stories, but rather one story: God redeeming a people for himself. The Bible is not a book of heroes, but rather one Hero: Jesus Christ, who kept the rule on our behalf and purchased our place in the story through his life, death, and resurrection.

Happy New Year to you. Would this new year be a perfect year to remember that the old, old story will never, in fact, grow old.

Categories
Theology

Interpreting Stories With the Best Story

Part 4 in a 4 part series. View series intro and index.

The world is full of stories. Romantic stories. Dramatic stories. Sports stories. Horror stories. Adventure stories. Fantasy stories. We tell stories because we are created in God’s image. God is the divine storyteller, so it only makes sense that we would mimic him in our telling, writing, and acting stories.

If this is true–that we are reflections of God’s creative genius, which naturally expresses itself in storytelling–then every story outside of the Bible even relates to the gospel message, the climax of God’s redemptive story. You might say, “Can’t a story just be good in itself?” Maybe, but ultimately we will ask ourselves why we love victories in the face of affliction; why we long for protagonists who squish the antagonist; and why we always want a happy ending.

When we ask these questions and more, we start to realize that the fact is not simply that we love stories, but rather that we need stories. We need stories to understand how life works. We need stories to understand why we are the way we are. We need stories to understand why the world is the way it is. We need stories to understand what it takes to be rescued. This insight helps us realize that there aren’t “secular” and “Christian” stories. If God is the ultimate storyteller, then every story is a footnote in his grand, redemptive story told in the Bible.

Every story can be redeemed, even “bad” stories about rape, murder, hatred, and sexual immorality. Those stories–perhaps more than others–make us long for Hero who never fails and never forgets and never injures and never does injustice and never speaks foolishly. What about stories that seem to give false hope by neatly wrapping up everything in 90 minutes or 300 pages? Don’t those stories make us say, “I wish that were true”? Those stories make us long for Someone who will one day wrap everything up and judge the world with equity.

Great stories touch our heart and change us. They don’t change us because they give us a list of rules to follow. No one loves a story that says, “Be a nice sibling.” No, stories change us because (nearly always) some hero captivates and conquers our hearts. That is what the Bible is about. As Sally Lloyd-Jones has written, “When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done!”

The Bible is God’s magnificent story. Every other story–fanciful or true–is oriented to and grounded in it. Our stories point to the gospel story, which makes possible the dream we never thought could come true: one Hero who has accomplished final victory for us and promised eternal happiness to us. Once we get this, the “footnotes” of daily life that we read, hear, see, and experience will remind us of the infinite treasures of God’s kindness to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Here are several resources to help you learn how to read the Bible contextually and with a gospel-centered lens. These will also help you to think critically about so-called “secular” stories.

Children’s Books

Adult Books

Other

Categories
Life

Christ-Centered Biblical Theology Coming in May

Graeme Goldsworthy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors when it comes to seeing the unity of the Bible, and he will release a new book in May called Christ-Centered Biblical Theology

In case you missed it a couple weeks ago, I talked about what it means to be a biblical theologian. A biblical theologian is concerned with the grand narrative of the Bible, taking parts and relating them to the whole. Biblical theology, for the minister or the average saint in the seat on Sunday, is vital because it keeps each individual story in perspective and helps guard against taking passages out of context. Coffee mugs at Christian bookstores are notorious for this.

In an interview with Collin Hansen on the Gospel Coalition blog, Goldsworthy talked about biblical theology’s importance for pastoral ministry. I think laypeople can learn from this too:

A sound biblical theology should prevent the misuse of Scripture, such as when texts are relieved of their biblical context and allowed to mean something quite other from what they mean in that context. When Scripture is treated as a lucky-dip of texts that assumes Christians stand in one, flat, undifferentiated relationship to all biblical texts, it can be made to mean anything we like. This is no basis for a sound and faithful pastoral ministry. I understand pastoral ministry to be the valid application of biblical truth to the various situations that arise and affect individuals and whole congregations. Biblical theology provides the means for understanding every part of the Bible in its final canonical context. Biblical theology, then, is at the heart of the pastor’s correct understanding of how Scripture can be thus applied to people’s lives. I also believe that the main emphasis in preaching should be the regular exposition of Scripture. Expository preaching, as the norm, really requires biblical theology in the preparation of sermons. Ideally, everyone who has the task of teaching the Bible to others should understand something of biblical theology.

When I told a friend and co-pastor about Goldsworthy’s new book, he said, “Maybe eventually this kind of book will replace classic systematic theology books in Christian colleges.” There is nothing wrong with systematic theology, as far as it goes, but if the only way we think about the Bible is in compartments (creation, atonement, Holy Spirit, end times, the Church, etc.) we will always study doctrines in isolation from each other. The Bible will then become a book of doctrine, rather than God’s story of redemption in the world.

What is your experience with biblical theology? Do you find that is the heartbeat of your personal ministry, whether a pastor, teacher, or small group leader?

Categories
Life

A New Year to Remember the Old Story

Many people are taught to believe the Bible is a book of rules with a bunch of stories about many heroes who are used by God because they are good people. That could not be further from the truth.

With this new year, as you begin your Bible reading plans and start resolutions, remember the simple, old, gospel truth of Scripture:

The Bible is not a book of rules, but rather one rule: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Bible is not a book of stories, but rather one story: God redeeming a people for himself. The Bible is not a book of heroes, but rather one Hero: Jesus Christ, who kept the rule on our behalf and brought us into the story through his life, death, burial, and resurrection.

Happy New Year to you. Would this new year be a perfect year to remember that the old, old story will never, in fact, grow old.