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Tapestries of Teaching

July 27, 2017

The Bible is not all about Jesus. The Bible is not all about salvation. Viewing the Bible as all about one thing is too simplistic. The Bible does not present itself as a monolithic work that develops one single theme from beginning to end. While I would personally like to say the Bible is all about the glory of God, even that answer is not sufficient. A better, but still deficient, description of the Bible is that it is the story of God’s work in His creation to redeem a people unto His eternal praise through the suffering, death and exaltation of God the Son.

The great overarching storyline of the Bible includes many themes. The promise of the coming of a deliverer is a major theme of the Bible. God’s eternal plan to redeem a people to Himself is a major theme of the Bible. The glory of God as seen in His rule, wisdom, grace, salvation, judgment and holiness is a major theme of the Bible. Another significant theme of the Bible is the nature and perfection of the Bible. Another major theme is the wickedness of man. Still another significant theme in Scripture is the character and perfection of God. Yet another important theme is the obligation of God’s people to live according to His rule. Many threads are woven into the tapestry of the Bible. These many threads are all connected to form one grand display. To pull out one thread and treat it as the whole ruins the fabric of it all.

Some Old Testament passages were written to teach of the first coming of the Messiah. Some were written to teach of the second coming of Christ. Some were written to teach the right way to live as the people of God. Some were written to show the continued unfaithfulness of God’s people. Some were written to show of God’s final conquest over all rebellious peoples. Some were written to show the character of God, others to teach His nature and others to reveal the character of men. To bypass those purposes to focus on redemption, the cross or the person of Jesus is to miss out on the many profitable teachings of God’s Word. The Christological method reduces God’s Word to one theme. Though it may be the greatest theme, the message of Jesus is not the only chord played in the Bible.

Reducing the Bible to a single subject abbreviates the theology of the Bible. If every passage is about Jesus, where does the Bible teach of God the Father or God the Spirit? The doctrine of the Trinity matters. The Father and the Spirit are not learned only by looking at Jesus. Jesus told Thomas, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” but He did not say that learning about Him was the only way to learn about the Father. In His earthly ministry Jesus took care to teach about the Father. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught about the Father’s perfection, omniscience, justice, forgiveness, compassion and sovereignty.

Jesus used the Old Testament to instruct about the Father. Are we to read the Old Testament passages about God the Father as actually about God the Son? Does the Old Testament teaching of the work of Holy Spirit actually describe the work of Jesus? While the Triune God is One, yet each person in the Godhead exercises distinctive functions. To reduce everything in the Old Testament to be about Jesus risks overlooking the Father and the Spirit. Jesus Himself taught Old Testament passages as if they had a meaning that was not Him. A failure to recognize the various themes in the Old Testament strips it of the detail and contrast that makes it truly beautiful.


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