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Friday, April 12, 2013

From a Christ-Centered View of the Bible to a Christ-Centered View of the World

For the past couple of months, a group of us have been reading through the Bible using Jim Hamilton’s God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment as a reading companion.  Reading through the bible at such a quick pace (we plan to be finished by the end of August) has made it much easier to see the big picture storyline of Scripture.  At each turn, it has been striking to see how Christ-centered the bible is and that each section of Scripture can only be rightly interpreted in light of the coming of Christ.  That, in turn, has prompted me to consider how important it is to interpret the world around me in light of the coming of Christ.
The New Testament is clear that the Old Testament should be viewed in light of Jesus. The Gospel writers, especially Matthew, repeatedly show Jesus as the fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture (Mat 1:23; 2:6, 15,18, 23; 3:3; 4;1-11, 14-16; 11:4-6; 12:15-21; 13:34-35; 21:4-5; 26:56). Jesus Himself viewed the entirety of the Old Testament as a testimony about Him. In John 5:39, He told the Jews, “you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; It is these that testify about Me.”  At the time Jesus said this, the New Testament did not exist, so “the Scriptures” refers to the Old Testament.  There is also that glorious scene in Luke 24, where Jesus walked with two men from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27). According to Jesus, the overarching intent of the Old Testament was to point forward to Him.
This conviction was shared by the apostles.  In the book of Acts, Peter, Philip, Stephen, Paul, and Apollos appealed to the Old Testament to validate the claim that Jesus was the Christ (Acts 2:14-36; 3:11-26; 4:8-12; 7:1-53; 8:4-5, 26-35;9:20-22; 10:34-43; 13:13-49; 17:1-4, 10-11; 18:24-28; 20:17-27; 24:10-21; 26:1-23;28:23-28).  In Romans 3:21-22, Paul declared that the Law and Prophets bear witness to the “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (cf Rom 1:1-2; 1 Cor 15:3-5). Peter wrote that the prophets knew that “the Spirit of Christ in them” was predicting “the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories” (1 Pet 1:10-11).  
So Jesus and the apostles clearly viewed all of Scripture in light of Christ.  We should do the same.  But if we read all the bible in light of Christ, shouldn’t we also read the world around us in light of Christ?  The bible records that after a brief period of perfect fellowship with God, man sinned against God, resulting in alienation from Him and sin and sickness entering the world.  But in the very pronouncement of judgment, God promised a seed who would vanquish evil and redeem man (Gen3:1-24).  That seed was Jesus Christ.  He is the one who would reverse the effects of the Fall, which He began to do at His first coming and will finish at His second. 
Every instance of sin and its effects, death, sickness, and suffering all around us is a result of the Fall that cries out for the redemption of creation, which comes only through Christ. Conversely, every joy and everything of beauty is evidence of God’s grace, which comes only through Christ. If all of that is true, we can and should interpret everything around us in light of Christ and His gospel.
For example, currently we are witnessing a national debate regarding homosexual marriage.  What the bible teaches us about Christ should inform the way we view this issue.  God’s Word reveals that homosexuality is an abomination to Yahweh and as such condemns a person to eternal torment (Lev 18:22, 20:13; 1 Cor 6:9-10; Matt 13:41-42). Man’s inability to deal with his own sin is the reason a Savior was necessary.  Homosexuality in our culture should remind us of how essential the coming of Christ was and is for saving sinners.
Every time we hear talk about the permanence of a person’s sexual orientation or the inability of homosexuals to change, we should be reminded that Scripture testifies that in Christ this too can be changed – “…and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:9-11).   In other words, viewing homosexuality in light of Christ helps us to see this issue in terms of the necessity and sufficiency of the Savior.
But what about homosexual marriage?  Christ should inform our understanding of this, too.  Marriage is intended to be a picture of the union between Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-33).  To unite a man and a man in marriage is to defile that picture.  It takes what is an abomination to God and seeks to join it with what is sacred to God.  It is a defamation of Christ Himself.  We can and should view homosexual marriage in light of Christ.
We should interpret everything in the world in a similar fashion.  All sin, immorality, and suffering should remind us of the brokenness of creation, a problem that only Jesus is able to fix.  All joy and goodness should remind us that redemption and eternal bliss can only be found in Him.  He is the only hope for this world.
What are your major concerns right now?  What difficult decisions do you have to make?  What trials are you enduring?  What political or social issues are you struggling to understand?  Let me exhort you to look at these things in light of Christ.  Apply the coming of the Savior to your particular situation.  The key to being able to do this is to know what the Bible teaches about Jesus.  The more we are in His Word, understanding all of Scripture in light of Christ, the more we will be able to understand the world in the same fashion.
Posted by Greg Birdwell

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