Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Beautiful Word of God

The copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible (gloriously subtitled: Every story whispers His name) finally arrived today, and I immediately started leafing through it. The author being Sally Lloyd-Jones, I of course had to know if she is related to THE DOCTOR. She graciously informed me that she is least not biologically. But I also discovered (in her acknowledgments section) that she attends Redeemer Presbyterian Church.

That reminded me, this article (below) was on my old blog, but really should have been posted on this one a long time ago:

Beautiful Word of God

The great beauty of the Word of God (text) is that it speaks about the Word of God (Christ). Tim Keller, in his message during the Gospel Coalition makes this observation:
The basic subject of every sermon ought to be Jesus. Doesn't matter what passage. Doesn't matter Old or New Testament. It's got to be about Jesus. And by the way, before you say, Oh, this is about Old Testament hermeneutics, no, my friend Sinclair Ferguson says, "Most evangelical preachers don't preach Christ. Not only don't they preach Christ from the Old Testament, they don't preach Christ from the New Testament."
Keller then acknowledges this is a bit of an "intramural debate." There are "good men" who deny this issue in preaching and say that Jacob wrestling with God has nothing to do with Christ and should just be about wrestling with God. Keller acknowledges that these are good, intelligent men, but he also states he believes they are wrong.

Keller then spoke of the transforming nature of revealing Christ in the passage. He shared that people are truly transformed when they see God's standard, they see their inability to meet it, and then are met with the fact that Christ fulfilled God's standard. The listener then has hope and desires to please God. It ceases to be out of obligation. Keller continues:
Your preaching with never be doxological and won't even be central unless it is Christo-centric.
Keller explains that at the root of every sin is an inadequate worship of Christ. We got to get them to Jesus. If not, Keller says you will just be "beating on their wills."

Keller then offers this quote from Ferguson:
The preacher has looked into the text, even in the New Testament, principally to find himself and his congregation, not to find Christ. You can even do that in the New Testament, even in the Gospels. The sermon, therefore, is principally about the people in the gospels instead of the Christ Who is the gospel! The more fundamental issue is this question: What is the Bible really about? Is the Bible basically about me and what I must do, or is it basically about Jesus and what He has done. Is the Bible basically about the objective and indicative?
Keller, and Ferguson for that matter, are not advocating sloppy hermeneutics. They are not claiming you "find Jesus in every little twig." You must follow the trajectory of the text to Jesus (which I suppose means you also have to believe the trajectory is toward Jesus).

I have begged others to see this beauty. However, Keller and Ferguson claim this is more of an instinct than a trained discipline. It's not about hermeneutical principles. Do you believe the Bible is basically about you, or about Him?

I believe that once you grasp this, the Bible becomes all the more beautiful. Consider this example from Keller:

Jesus is the true and better Adam

who passed the test in the Garden, His Garden, a much tougher garden, and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel

who though innocently slain has blood that cries out not for our condemnation, but for our acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham

who answered the call of God, to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go into the void, not knowing whither He went.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac

who was not just offered up by His Father on the mount, but was truly sacrificed for us all. While God said to Abraham, "Now I know you love me because you did not with hold your son, your one and only son, whom you love from me," now we, at the foot of the cross can say to God, "Now we know that you love me, because you did not with hold your Son, your only Son, whom You love, from me."

Jesus is the true and better Jacob

who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved so that we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace, that wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph

who is at the right hand of The King and forgives those who betrayed and sold Him and uses His power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses

who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a New Covenant.

Jesus is the true and better rock of Moses

who struck with the rod of God's justice now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job

who is the truly Innocent Sufferer who then intercedes for and saves His stupid friends.

Is that a type? See this is not a type, it's an instinct.

Jesus is the true and better David

who's victory becomes the people's victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther

who didn't just risk losing an earthly palace, but lost the ultimately heavenly one. Who didn't just risk His life, but gave His life. Who didn't just say, "If I perish, I perish," but said, "When I perish, I'll perish for them, to save My people."

Jesus is the true and better Jonah

who is cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

He's the real Passover Lamb.
He's the True Temple.
The True Prophet.
The True Priest.
The True King.
The True Sacrifice.
The True Lamb.
The True Light.
The True Bread.

Wow, isn't it beautiful?

or more appropriately...

Isn't He beautiful!!!


Brad said...

I'm still struggling myself with how to go about teaching Christ in every passage without engaging in overly imaginative exegesis. I want to avoid presenting my own fallible views of Christ as if they were those actually presented by the text. What say you?

Sally Lloyd-Jones said...


Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. I very much enjoyed reading it. (Not stalking you!)

Sounds like it's sparking a great discussion.

I've had the tremendous privilege of sitting under Dr Keller's teaching for nearly 13 years, and my faith has been transformed by seeing Christ in every story.

Now I see that the Bible is not most of all a book of rules or a book of heroes (that is, not mostly about me and what I should or shouldn't be doing); it's most of all a Story (that is, about God and what He has done)--and that at the center of that Story is a baby, the child upon whom everything would depend.

To come to see that this Story is told not just in the Gospels, but right from the beginning, from Genesis through to Revelation has opened my eyes to the startling beauty of the Redemption Story and the magnificence of God's Grace.

Dr Keller over and over again demonstrates that every story really is about Him--there to point us to Him, to prepare us for Him.

(I heartily recommend his teaching tapes to anyone who wants to find out how... for example his series on Esther last year.)

Writing The Jesus Storybook Bible; Every Story Whispers His Name, my aim was to share this wonderful Story of Redemption with children. I wanted them to know that God loves them with a never giving up, never stopping, never breaking, always and forever love.

And what's been marvelous to see, and what took me totally by surprise, is the way in which Pastors as well as parents are finding it helpful. And college students as well as children. And theologians as well as teachers.

WOW, is all I can say. How cool of God to use an illustrated children's bible storybook in this way. (And the icing on the cake: Dr Keller has endorse the book and said he thinks every christian should read it!)

Well enough rattling and rambling. Thanks for letting me join in. And it's great to meet you Danny and all God's best in your ministry!

danny2 said...

I want to avoid presenting my own fallible views of Christ as if they were those actually presented by the text.

i say, "amen."

i think keller displays a pure biblically accurate Christocentric hermeneutic. he doesn't do bizarre things with the text, yet Christ is the center.

i think a great example is rahab. it is not necessary for us to proclaim the red thread in the window as a picture of the blood of Christ, but it would also be tragic if we didn't point to rahab's salvation coming by faith and that she was an ancestor to the Messiah.

perhaps bryan chappell helps some when he speaks of the "fcf" (fallen condition focus). sometimes people are portraying types of the Messiah, whereas other times, they display opposite features of the Messiah to come.

similar to "making the Bible relevant" producing pictures of Christ in the text are not necessary. just as the Bible IS relevant, pictures ARE there.


don't think you're stalking...just honored to have you around.

Darby Livingston said...

I still say The Vossed World is a treasure trove of redemptive historical hermeneutics to deal with just the dilemma that Brad speaks of.

BReformed said...

This link (perhaps old news...) by Russell Moore focuses on Brad's question.