Gather Your Tools
To read the Bible faithfully, we need the proper tools. The discipline of biblical theology is one of those helpful tools.
1. Biblical theology helps clarify the Bible’s main purpose.
Some people approach God’s Word as if it were a collection of independent stories, or an assortment of advice and counsel, or even a universal cookbook with recipes for “the good life” scattered across its sixty-six books. But these approaches fail to bring to light the central purpose of Scripture.
In the Bible, the triune God explains who he is and what he is like and how he’s at work throughout history by his Spirit and in his Son, Jesus Christ the King, and how we ought to glorify him in this world. Biblical theology helps us to grasp this main purpose by looking at each passage of Scripture in light of the whole Bible so that we understand how every part of Scripture is related to Jesus.
2. Biblical theology helps guard and guide the church.
Reading Scripture rightly means knowing where each book fits into its overarching narrative. And knowing the overarching narrative helps us read and understand accurately each event, character, or lesson that’s been given to us as part of God’s progressively revealed Word. Understanding the whole story of Scripture clarifies who Jesus Christ is and what his gospel is. God has promised to rescue a people from every tribe and nation and tongue for his own glory through his Son and by his Spirit.
In the Bible, the triune God explains who he is and what he is like and how he’s at work throughout history by his Spirit and in his Son, Jesus Christ the King.
These redeemed people are members of Christ’s body, the church. What is the church of Jesus Christ supposed to be and supposed to do? Jesus said to his followers—those who’ve repented of their sins and trusted in him alone—that the Scriptures testify “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). So the proclamation of Jesus Christ ought to be at the heart of the church’s mission to disciple the nations. In this way, biblical theology guards the church from the deadly error of proclaiming a false gospel and guides the church toward keeping the proclamation of the true gospel as the centerpiece of its mission to the world for the praise of God’s glory.
3. Biblical theology helps us in our evangelistic outreach.
Sharing the good news with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity requires explaining much more than “four spiritual laws” or the “Romans road.” People first need to grasp that the Christian worldview accompanies a total transformation of mind-set. In our evangelism, we must start with God and creation to see what’s gone wrong. From there, we’re able to follow what God has been doing throughout history, which will help us discover why he sent Jesus and why that matters today. Not until we rightly understand these past events in their proper contexts will we be equipped to uncover what God is doing right now and what he’ll do in the future.
4. Biblical theology helps us read, understand, and teach the Bible the way Jesus said we should.
Jesus himself says in Luke 24 that he is Scripture’s interpretive key. So if we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible, and as a result we will teach others to commit the same error.
This article is adapted from Biblical Theology by Nick Roark and Robert Cline.
- 10 Things You Should Know about Biblical Theology (Chris Bruno)
- Short Studies in Biblical Theology (Dane C. Ortlund)
- A Biblical Theology of the City of God (T. Desmond Alexander)