Category Archives: Biblical Theology

“It was right there in the text” by D.A. Carson

“Paul assesses the significance of Israel and the Sinai covenant within the larger biblical narrative. It is this essentially salvation-historical reading of Genesis that enables him to come within a whisker of treating the Sinai covenant as a parenthesis: the law’s most important function is to bring Israel, across time, to Christ—and to bring others, too, insofar as the ‘law’ is found among those ‘without the law.’

Here, then, too, we obtain a glimpse of how something could be simultaneously long hidden / eventually revealed and long prophesied / eventually fulfilled. It was right there in the text (provided one reads the Scriptures with careful respect for the significance of the historical sequence), even though, transparently, this was not how it was read by Paul the Pharisee.

Doubtless it took the Damascus road Christophany to make Saul of Tarsus recognize that his estimate of Jesus was wrong: Jesus could not be written off as a (literally) God-damned malefactor if in fact His glorious resurrection proved He was vindicated, and so the controlling paradigm of his reading of the Old Testament had to change.

But when it changed, Paul wanted his hearers and readers to understand that the Old Testament, rightly read in its salvation-historical structure, led to Christ.

In other words, as far as Paul was concerned the gospel he preached was announced in advance in the Scriptures, and was fulfilled in the events surrounding the coming, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus—even if this gospel had long been hidden, and was now revealed in those events and thus in the gospel Paul preached—the gospel revealed, indeed, through the prophetic writings.”

–D.A. Carson, “Mystery and Fulfillment: Toward a More Comprehensive Paradigm of Paul’s Understanding of the Old and the New,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism: The Paradoxes of Paul (ed. Peter T. O’Brien and Mark A. Seifrid; vol. 2, 181st ed.; Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament; Grand Rapids, MI; Tübingen: Baker Academic; Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 2: 427–428.

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“The only foundational pillar of the new world” by G.K. Beale

“Now that Christ has come and has launched a new cosmos, the old cosmos has begun to be destroyed. The only element or fundamental building block of the new creation is Christ.

And since there is only one Christ, of whom the new creation consists and upon whom it is built, there can be only one newly created people subsisting in that renovated creation. In what sense can it be said that the old world has already begun to be destroyed?

The elements of divisiveness that sustained the sinful structure of the old world have been decisively decimated by Christ, and He Himself has replaced them as the only foundational pillar of the new world.

This is what Paul has in mind in Gal. 6:14–16, where he says that through the cross of Christ ‘the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And those who will walk by the elements (stoichēsousin) of this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’

That is, those who conduct their lives on the foundational ‘elements’ of Christ, who is the inaugurated new creation, are partakers of the new creation, and they will experience the peace and unity promised to occur in the new heaven and earth.

We could picture Christ as a hermeneutical filter through which the law must pass in order to get to the new creation.”

–G.K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), 874–875.

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“Only Jesus” by Stephen Wellum

“Given who Jesus is, we must also be led to worship, adoration, faith in Him alone, and a glad and willing submission to His Lordship in every area of our lives. In Jesus Christ, God the Son incarnate, we see the Lord of Glory, who has taken on flesh in order to become our all-sufficient Redeemer.

By sharing our common human nature, the Son of God is now able to do a work that we could never do. In His incarnation and cross work, we see the resolution of God to take upon Himself our guilt and sin in order to reverse the horrible effects of the fall and to satisfy His own righteous requirements, to make this world right, and to inaugurate a new covenant in His blood.

In Jesus Christ, we see the perfectly obedient Son taking the initiative to keep His covenant promises by taking upon himself our human nature, veiling His glory, and winning for us our eternal salvation.

Our Savior and Redeemer is utterly unique. This is why there is no salvation outside of him. He is in a category all by himself in who He is and in what He does.

In fact, because our plight is so desperate, due to sin, the only person who can save us is God’s own dear Son. It is only as the Son incarnate that our Lord can represent us; it is only as the Son incarnate that He can put away our sin, stand in our place, and turn away God’s wrath by bearing our sin.

Only Jesus can satisfy God’s own righteous requirements, because He is one with the Lord as God the Son; only Jesus can do this for us because He is truly a man and can represent us.”

—Stephen J. Wellum, God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 442-443.

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“The Lord of glory” by Stephen Wellum

“The all-glorious Creator—Covenant Lord assumed a full and sinless human nature, such that the eternal Son became a man in order to restore humanity to its vice-regent glory and to inaugurate the new creation, over which the new humanity will rule in righteousness in the age to come.

In this way and by these glorious means, our Lord Jesus Christ becomes our great prophet, priest, and king, the head of the new creation, the Lord of glory, who is worthy of all our worship, adoration, and praise.

In fact, it is only as God the Son incarnate that Jesus can achieve His great work for us. To deny either Christ’s deity or His humanity is to deny the Jesus of the Bible and to rob us of our Redeemer.”

–Stephen Wellum, God the Son Incarnate: The Doctrine of Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 240.

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“Measure the height of His love by the depth of His grief” by Charles Spurgeon

‘There was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.’ This cry came out of that darkness. Expect not to see through its every word, as though it came from on high as a beam from the unclouded Sun of Righteousness.

There is light in it, bright, flashing light; but there is a centre of impenetrable gloom, where the soul is ready to faint because of the terrible darkness.

Our Lord was then in the darkest part of His way. He had trodden the winepress now for hours, and the work was almost finished. He had reached the culminating point of His anguish. This is His dolorous lament from the lowest pit of misery— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’

I do not think that the records of time, or even of eternity, contain a sentence more full of anguish. Here the wormwood and the gall, and all the other bitternesses, are outdone.

Here you may look as into a vast abyss; and though you strain your eyes, and gaze till sight fails you, yet you perceive no bottom; it is measureless, unfathomable, inconceivable.

This anguish of the Saviour on your behalf and mine is no more to be measured and weighed than the sin which needed it, or the love which endured it. We will adore where we cannot comprehend.

I have chosen this subject that it may help the children of God to understand a little of their infinite obligations to their redeeming Lord.

You shall measure the height of His love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of His grief, if that can ever be known.

See with what a price he hath redeemed us from the curse of the law! As you see this, say to yourselves: What manner of people ought we to be!

What measure of love ought we to return to one who bore the utmost penalty, that we might be delivered from the wrath to come?

I do not profess that I can dive into this deep. I will only venture to the edge of the precipice, and bid you look down, and pray the Spirit of God to concentrate your mind upon this lamentation of our dying Lord, as it rises up through the thick darkness— ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘“‘Lama Sabachtani?’’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 153-154. (MPTS: 36: 133-134)

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“The wrath of God drove us out of paradise, but the grace of God invites us to return” by Jonathan Edwards

“‘Tis proclaimed in the gospel

  • that God is willing again to receive us into His favor, to pardon all our sins, to quit all enmity, to bury all former difference and to be our friend and our Father;
  • that He is willing again to admit us to sweet communion with Him, and that He will converse with us as friendly and intimately as He did before the Fall;
  • that God is willing to receive us to paradise again, to a like freedom from all grief and trouble;
  • that He will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and that sorrow and sighing shall flee away;
  • that He will make us to forget our former melancholic, forsaken, and doleful state;
  • that we may be again admitted to as great a fullness of blessings, to as pleasant and delightful a dwelling place as the garden of Eden, as full of those things which tend the delight of life, to pleasures as refreshing and satisfying;
  • that we shall be as free from want, and the curse shall be removed, and all frowns and tokens of displeasure. The world shall again smile upon us and congratulate us.

God will be our friend and the angels shall be our friends, and all things shall be at peace with us, and we shall enjoy as great and uninterrupted a pleasure in mutual society. The wrath of God drove us out of paradise, but the grace of God invites us to return.

The Son of God in the name of His Father comes and calls to us to return from our banishment. He ceases not to call us. He beseeches us to return again. He is come forth on purpose to make known those joyful tidings to us.

Christ calls us away from this cursed ground that brings forth briars and thorns, to a better country. Our first parents were driven away very loath and unwilling to go, but we are invited back again.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “East of Eden,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1730–1733, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 17, Ed. Mark Valeri and Harry S. Stout (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1999), 17: 342–343.

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“Read Scripture as a divine book” by Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum

“Consider what it means to read Scripture as a divine book— from God to us!

If God wrote every word, sentence, paragraph, chapter and book, then the Bible is unified. The Bible’s sixty-six books really form one book from one Author.

It’s also coherent. If we’re confuses about the meaning of a certain text, we may assume that we’re the ones confused, not God. The Bible coheres with itself and with the world in which its readers live.

It’s complete— the Bible is what God wanted us to have. If it raises questions that it doesn’t completely answer, then that must be on purpose.

And not only is it complete, but it’s also sufficient for what we need.

The Bible is perfect. There’s nothing wrong with it. Every word is good and true.

The Bible is also urgent. If God has spoken to us, then nothing is more important than for us to listen to its message.

All of these truths about Scripture have major implications for how we interpret the Bible.

We should read it with creaturely humility because these words are from our Creator and Lord.

We are to read with expectation. If we look forward to the release of a new novel by a favorite author, how much more should we look forward to reading God’s Word!

We should also read with caution, recognizing that we are inclined to misunderstand what God has written, given our finitude and sinfulness.

That means we should read the Bible patiently to accurately discern what God has said. We cannot assume that what first comes into our minds matches what’s in God’s mind.

We read and we reflect, and once we settle on an interpretation that is faithful to the text and aligned with previous interpretations, we submit to God’s Word.

If we disagree with something the Bible teaches, we assume that our thinking must change, not God’s. We don’t stand over Scripture; we stand under it in submission to God (Isa. 66:1-2).

We are aware of the Bible’s divine authorship, and we are aware of our creaturely position as readers.”

–Trent Hunter and Stephen Wellum, Christ From Beginning to End (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), 44-45.

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