This month there are two monumentally important links. One helps us see the reason for gospel-centered hermeneutics and the other helps us avoid an enormous corruption of gospel-centered hermeneutics. If you are concerned about the gospel-centered movement you must read them.
You must read these two links:
Cameron Cole explains the reason we must read the entire Bible in light of the gospel:
When we do not preach the Gospel, this is what we say: Everything is fine. We say that our problem with sin is not that severe; we can fix our problems with a little effort. We say that death is not a real thing; we can kick that can down the road. We say that the world is generally fine; it’s not in need of radical rescue. We say that our need for God’s redeeming love and power is not that great.
If there’s no gospel there’s no rescue. If there’s no rescue we must rationalize our way out of life’s troubles. When we do that our souls perish. This is the reason we need to read the entire Bible through a gospel lens.
This link is a purpose statement for the gospel-centered movement. If you want a how-to book, look at Christ-Centered Bible Study.
If you’re going to read the Bible through a “Jesus lens” make sure it’s the right Jesus. Andrew Wilson shows us how one group is misinterpreting Jesus and when they apply that fake Jesus to the rest of Scripture they are missing the point.
I don’t think Steve Chalke, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, Rob Bell and co are reading the Bible through a Jesus lens, as much as they are reading Jesus through a selective, progressive postmodern lens, and then reading the rest of the Bible through that. The end result, ironically, is that while the Jesus we find in the Gospels fits well with the rest of the scriptures – as you might expect, given that he inspired them – neither the Jesus of the Gospels, nor the Bible, fit particularly well with the pastiche of Jesus that the Red Letter guys want to promote. When all is said and done, the biblical Jesus cannot be squeezed thorough the fine mesh of the progressive Jesus tea-strainer.
Bear in mind that there are lots of ways to misinterpret Jesus. The example here is a postmodern misinterpretation of Jesus. There are conservative misinterpretations of Jesus. There are liberal misinterpretations of Jesus. There are all kinds of misinterpretations of Jesus.
If you’re going to read the Bible in light of Jesus make sure it’s the right Jesus.
The remaining links are good but optional. Continue reading
Without further ado…
Thabiti Anyabwile looks at Matt 22:20-31 and asks what we can learn about how Jesus read the Bible. We would be wise to follow suit.
An excellent quote from John Owen about the relationship between our growth in Christ and his accomplished work:
This whole matter of sanctification and holiness is peculiarly joined with and limited unto the doctrine, truth, and grace of the gospel; for holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and realizing of the gospel in our souls.
David Murray examines the teaching of John Newton and John Owen (again!) to answer the question: How were Old Testament saints saved?
The answer: Faith in the Messiah.
Mitch Chase looks at Jesus’ birth narrative and sees how the Father set events into play that demonstrate the fulfillment of Israel’s history. This isn’t anything new, but it’s well written and concise.
What does Matthew want readers to affirm when they read about foreigners traveling to Israel with gifts of gold and spices to offer God’s king? Jesus is the New Solomon! Wise men came to worship the Wisest of all. Like Solomon, Jesus was the Son of David (cf. Matt 1:1). The wise men even came from the same area as did the queen of Sheba. Like Solomon, Jesus received gifts of gold and spices.
But Jesus is not merely like Solomon. In his own words: “behold, something greater than Solomon is here” (Matt 12:42).
This month’s gospel centered links roundup is a bit late. We just moved to seminary and things have been quite hectic.
The “problem of evil” – why would a good God allow suffering – is a perennial topic. Trevin Wax looks at 1 Pet 1:12 and wonders:
There’s something more beautiful about redemption than innocence.
Maybe that’s why evil exists – so that we could be redeemed from it to the glory of God. The gospel is more glorious than evil is awful.
I actually began writing an extended essay on this very topic – from this same verse and making this same argument – called Created for Rescue and verse a while back. I might finish it and release it as an e-book if anyone’s interested. Let me know in the comments.
Luke Geraty quotes John Sailhamer:
The purpose of the Pentateuch is not to teach a life of obedience to the law given to Moses at Sinai, but to be a narrative admonition to be like Abraham, who did not live under the law and yet fulfilled the law through a life of faith.
David Murray looks at portions of the OT and demonstrates how the “main idea” of each book is connected to redemption and faith in God.
Jared Wilson looks at Mark 12:18-27 and how Jesus teaches the Sadducees how to read the Bible. Their interpretation of the Old Testament is missing one key ingredient:
They’ve got all the old covenant data, but they don’t know how to read it. Christ’s work – his life, death, and resurrection – inserts new variables into all of our equations. The Pharisees and Sadducees kept forgetting to account for Jesus! They are trying to solve these riddles with the simple math of the law when Jesus is doing the advanced calculus of the gospel.
Nick Batzig is at it again. This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read on typology. It has tons of resources and examples.
Sally Lloyd-Jones teaches us how to teach the Bible, that is, to teach Jesus.
When I go to churches and speak to children, I often start by asking them two questions:
First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you? They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.
And second, How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you? Almost without fail they raise their hands.
These children think they have to keep the rules or God won’t love them. They think if they mess up God will stop loving them. These children are in Sunday schools. They know all their Bible stories. And they have missed what the Bible is all about.
Tim Challies absolutely crushes it. A sample:
Consider that the one who binds the devils in chains would be tempted by Satan; that he, who owns the world, and everything in it, would hunger and thirst; that the God of strength would be weary, the Judge of all flesh condemned, the God of life put to death; that he who is one with his Father would cry out of misery, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”; that he who holds the keys of hell and death would lie dead in a borrowed tomb, having in his lifetime nowhere to lay his head, and having after death nowhere to lay his body.
Further Reading: How to Use the Gospel to Kill Sin Continue reading
Just like last time, this was an above-average month for articles on gospel-centered preaching and teaching.
David Murray gives us a rich discussion of typology. He looks deeper than just, “this passage reminds me of grace” and goes to the heart of the Joseph narrative. It’s a great example of how we should approach typology.
- By God’s gradual habituation of His people
- By arguing from the lesser to the greater (if less Christ-like characters were types, how much more Joseph).
- By the work and indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Joseph’s life conforming him to the image of Christ.
- For the fourth way to Christ he points to a previous post where he asks the question, “What is the Messiah like?”
See also Christ-Centered Hermeneutics and Typology for another post by David Murray on the topic of typology in the Old Testament.
I really enjoyed this read. Using the book of Hebrews (especially chapter 1) Fred Sanders recognizes that the Old Testament records a back-and-forth conversation about redemption between the Father and Son:
When we overhear the Father and the Son talking to each other, what do we hear them saying? OT QUOTES. They talk Old Testament-ese to each other; that is, the words they speak to each other are the God-inspired words previously spoken by prophets: the Father and the Son speak in the words of the Spirit.
And what’s all this trinitarian talking in OT QUOTES all about? It’s about the gospel. Salvation.
Trevin Wax summarizes the seven major christocentric interpretive methods in Sidney Griedanus’ Preaching Christ in Genesis (required reading for gospel-centered preachers): Continue reading
Praise God, we have an embarrassment of riches this month!
Jesus In The Pentateuch
This is a series of articles I missed in August, 2012. It’s light on detail and heavy on typology. Well worth a read.
Alastair Roberts shows us how Samson points to Christ. In God’s strength Samson crushed his enemies with his own death:
At that point he prays that, just that one final time, God would strengthen him. He braces himself on the two pillars of the temple, then pushes with all of his might. The temple of Dagon collapses, falling on all of those within it. Willingly giving up the Spirit that had returned to him in that final act, Samson dies with the Philistines, accomplishing a greater victory in his death than at any point in his life.
Of course, Jesus is the true and better Samson: He not only defeated his enemy through his death, but his enemy was death and he did not stay dead because he had the authority to take his life back up. Continue reading
Few people read the Old Testament and see the gospel as well as David Murray. He describes his method so simply:
- What does the passage reveal about God?
- What does this passage reveal about the coming Savior?
Continue to the post to see the answers he looks for in those questions.
Erik Raymond gives us an awesome list of places in Proverbs that point directly to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Here’s a sample:
(Prov. 11.4) Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
My chief need is not to accumulate wealth but to overcome my infinite debt of unrighteousness. Christ Jesus is my everlasting righteousness in spite of my infinite demerit (2 Cor. 5.21)
(Prov. 13.7) One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
In my sin I pretend and perform like I have or am something. The truth is: I am weak, helpless, and broken (Rom. 5.6ff). Though he was rich, Christ the King left the throne of heaven (Phil. 2.5-11) to be a weak, poor, humble servant that he might make a poor sinner like me rich in him (Eph. 1.3; 2 Cor. 8.9)
(Prov. 14.9) Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1.18). I have worn this hat and uttered these words. But by God’s sovereign grace I now see that Christ Jesus has become my guilt offering (Isa. 53.10). In his body he has borne all of my guilt and shame so that I now enjoy acceptance.
Tim Challies gives us a list of pros and cons of the gospel-centered movement: Continue reading