How We Do Ministry, Part 2
Last blog, we saw that a gospel community needs to be built around what the objective truth of the word. But some might warn that this can be very dry–dry teaching and lecture with little emotion or involvement of the heart. It may even be legalistic–always stressing how we need to live as Christians. But being centered on the Word doesn’t need to be that way, nor is it supposed to be that way. In their book, Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis write: “Bible study and theology that do not lead to love for God and a desire to do his will–to worship, tears, laughter, excitement, or sorrow–have gone terribly wrong. True theology leads to love, mission and doxology (worship)…We should not expect an adrenaline rush every time we study God’s word…but when we study God’s word we should pray that the Spirit of God will not only inform our heads, but inspire our hearts.” (from Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis)
At New Hope, we have come to believe (along with many others before us) that the key to grasping the Scripture in our heads, and being inspired in our hearts, is to see that the gospel is both the central focus in Scripture and the key to how we change (our sanctification).
First, the gospel is the central focus in Scripture: It has been said that the Scripture is really a story–the story of redemption, or how God saves his people. And if this is right, then the hero of the story is Jesus, and everything leads up to his coming, dying, and being raised victorious after completing his quest to save a great multitude. When Jesus walked along the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion and resurrection, he hid his identity from two disciples and allowed then to express their confusion about all that had happened. Jesus then rebuked them saying, ‘”How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.’ (Luke 24:25-27) Jesus himself makes clear that all the Scripture is about him, and his gospel work.
So everything points to him. As early as Genesis, the Scripture points to him when God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,and you shall bruise his heel.” What this prophecy means is that one day, the devil would inspire Pilate and Herod and others to crucify Jesus (you shall bruise his (Jesus’) heel). But it also means that Jesus would deal a death blow to Satan (he (Jesus) shall bruise your head). Amazing! The victory-through-death of Jesus predicted centuries before, and fulfilled in the pages of Scripture. Pastor Tim Keller is well known for pointing out that Jesus is the not only the fulfillment of the prophecies, but also the true and greater fulfillment of many biblical characters as well. For example, Jesus is the true and greater Moses, who lead his people not just out of bondage to human masters, but out of bondage to sin and death itself; he is the true and greater Solomon, who not just built the Temple, but is the Temple; he is the true and greater David, who represents his people and kills the giants of sin, guilt, and death, and so on. It all points to him, and his gospel work.
So he is the key to understanding every passage. When we read, we ought to ask, where does this fit in the great story of redemption? How is God revealing the gospel? How does it point us to Jesus?