Learning How to Think Biblically– Part Four

benn

The next step in learning how to think Biblically is learning the overarching narrative of the Bible– starting with creation, then Fall, then the various acts of redemption culminating in the Christ event, and then the Age of the Spirit leading up to the return of Christ and the new creation. Secondly, one needs to learn a good deal about covenantal theology, because mistakes on this score have led to reams and reams of problems. Christians for example are not under the Mosaic covenant, nor is the new covenant a mere renewal of the Mosaic covenant. Take a moment to read Galatians 4 and 2 Cor. 3-4. Here Paul tells us that the Mosaic covenant was pro tempore, for a specific period of time in the history of God’s people which is now in the past, once Jesus came on the scene. Christians are not obligated to keep kosher, or observe Sabbaths, or get circumcised, or practice patriarchy. The covenant sign of baptism which is gender inclusive signals a new age in the history of God’s people where patriarchy is to be left behind since it was a part of the Fall, and the curse on Eve (see Gen. 3). Once one gets clear on covenantal theology and where we all are in the story, it then also becomes clear that: 1) the church is not Israel, nor even Israel expanded. The church is Jew and gentile united in Christ, and God is not finished with Israel yet as Rom. 9-11 makes clear; 2) the church is also not the Kingdom, though it is where one can most readily see the Kingdom, God’s dynamic saving reign and realm, being formed; 3) as children of the new covenant we live by the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, and by the teachings of his apostles such as Paul. Where OT commandments like ‘thou shalt not steal’ are reintroduced from the old covenant, they still apply. Any other OT commandments, if not specifically reaffirmed, are not binding on Christians.

Most importantly of all, we need to get our thinking straight about the nature of God as revealed throughout the Scripture. Indeed, we can ask any text in the Bible the following three questions: 1) what does this text tell us about God?; 2) what does it tell us about human beings?; 3) What does it tell us about God’s relationship with human beings?

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