Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Part 3: The Bible - Its Central Theme (v)

 Actually, this series is from Understanding Bible Truth booklets by Robert Hicks and Richard Bewes (1981), but I have expanded some texts for modern readers (to make it easier to read) and added Scripture quotes (I’m using ESV Bible) into these writings to clarify its points more clearly. My purpose of making this series available in the internet is single: So that you can be clear the essential facts about the Bible’s teaching in a readily understandable form.

Why the “Central Theme” in the Bible is Important?
Many good Christian scholars try to discover what the center theme of the Bible is. Some suggests that the center theme are God, Israel, Covenant, creation, kingdom, salvation, new creation, and so forth. In many of the arguments regarding this matter, Kingdom of God is the most famous one as the theme – but as for me, I think that Jesus Christ is THE theme of the Bible. All of the above will lose their meaning without Christ. If there is no Christ, there is no kingdom of God to talk about. The diversity of the Bible is unified in Jesus Christ. He is the center that holds all of the biblical truths together. The fullest expression of God and His glory come in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ – He is the theme of the Bible.

How Christ comes into the historical-biblical scene and how God in His eternal purpose set Christ as the main theme in the Bible?

The Continual Conflict
The conflict in the Bible began when Adam and Eve questioned God’s authority (Genesis 3). From this simple beginning stemmed the entrance of sin into the world, and the revolt of mankind against God’s rule. The Bible traces the spread of this conflict between men and God. It show men soon become hostile to each other (Titus 3:3), as well as to God. The Bible then continuously shows the need of humanity to be reconciled to God. That’s why as the Bible story progress to the New Testament, “God [by His own loving initiative], who through Christ reconciled us to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18, bracket mine).

The Promised Savior
The Old Testament speaks clearly about the longing for a future deliverer from sin and guilt (see Isaiah 53). However, this is more than a mere hope. The prophets, particularly, speak of God’s promise of a Savior, who will establish a new agreement with God’s people – with forgiveness and liberated service at its heart. “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

The New Testament points unmistakably to Jesus Christ as being this promised Savior. Jesus Himself said, “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

The Works of Christ
The coming of Jesus Christ in history fulfills all the hopes of the Old Testament and provides the basis for the New. In Jesus, God Himself entered human history and opened the way for forgiveness and holy living. This was done through Christ’s death, His resurrection and His gift of the Spirit. Death is defeated, the power of Satan is broken, and the ascended Christ rules. Paul writes, [God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).

The New Community
For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:18-21). The New Testament portrays the followers of Christ as the society of the saved – called to be members of His world-wide Church. Wherever the rule of Christ operates in people’s lives, there His church is found.

This new community worships its reigning Lord, and is called upon to fulfill its mission of evangelism and practical service to the whole world. Jesus Christ personally upholds it in every experience. When He comes again, its membership and task will be complete (and I say “Yes! Come, Master Jesus!”).

The Ultimate Victory
The whole of creation will be involved in the final triumph of God. His love and justice will be upheld for everyone to see, and the whole empire of evil will be overthrown.

The great landmark of the future is the return of Jesus Christ, personally, historically, visibly and triumphantly (see 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). He will come as Judge of the whole world as well as Savior of His people, the elects. The date of His coming cannot be predicted (now, you can skip Nostradamus’s prophecies and throw away the Mayan’s calendar all together), although calamities, wars and the appearance of false christs confirms to a day when they will receive new bodies which will never age or die. Then sin and sorrow will be banished forever, and their salvation will be complete.

John the apostle says, “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelations 21:3-4).

My Conclusion about the Bible “Its Central Theme”
Truly, Christ is the central theme of the Bible. In the conflict between humanity and God, He is the ultimate solution; in all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah the Savior, He is the One; in the hope for one new community united by all saved people, He is the reigning Lord; in the final triumph of God, He is the Victorious King – Christ is the central theme of the Bible.

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