Home > Biblical Theology, New Testament, Old Testament > God’s Purpose for the Nations, Part 1

God’s Purpose for the Nations, Part 1

John Meade, a new friend in the blogsphere and a really sharp guy, has sparked my desire to write a three-part series on God’s purpose for the nations.  His recent comments about God’s salvation to the Gentiles from the Old Testament were excellent.  It is interesting to read John’s comments as this has been a driving force behind our Doctrine of the Church study at our church (which is done from a redemptive-historical perspective).   

If we fail to read our Bible as a complete story from creation to consummation we end up missing a lot of important truths in regard to God’s purposes.  I believe dispensationalists or at least all those who read their Bible’s in a fragmented way miss the central issue in Scripture, which is God’s purpose for humanity in Jesus Christ.  Of course we all know that humanity fell because of Adam’s sin, but what we often miss are the key plot points in the early chapters of Genesis that give us insight into God’s ultimate purpose that we find fulfilled with the coming of Christ and the birth of his Church. 

I have often told the people in our church that the “things” we read in the text are there for a reason.  In other words, they are not there accidentally or arbitrarily, but there is a purpose for the stories, events, and people we find in the biblical text.  There are a few rules that we must keep in mind when discovering the meaning of these “things” we find in the text.

1.) Every story, event, person, or institution found in the biblical text serves the greater goal  of telling God’s redemptive purposes.  In other words, the creation narrative is not there to figure out how old the earth is nor is the story of Noah there for me to figure out all the geological changes that may or may not have taken place because of the flood.  I posted quotes by Carson and Webb that help explain my point.

2.) Building off point one, we must read the text looking for the theological or redemptive message.  I am not talking about finding some spiritual principle or application from the text, which most preachers so often do, but I am talking about understanding how any particular passage fits within the storyline of Scripture and how it supports and ultimately finds its fulfillment in person and work of Jesus Christ.  Too often we think we’ve uncovered the meaning of the text when we do historical-grammatical interpretation, but this is simply not enough.  We have to go a step further by asking where we are in the plotline of Scripture and how do these things ultimately point to and find their fulfillment in Jesus.  The complaint, as it has always been, is that such a hermeneutical approach can lead to allegory, but the difference between this hermeneutic and allegory is that our connections in the Scriptures are textually based where we allow the final revelation of God (i.e., Jesus and his apostles) to be the interpreter of past stories, events, persons, and institutions.  We must always guard against eisegesis, but our misunderstandings about the text are not because the Bible isn’t clear enough, but because of our inability to let the Bible interpret itself.  I think Scripture makes some clear connections for us regarding God’s purpose for the nations if we are willing to allow it to speak for itself.

In my next post I will unpack several key plot points from Genesis, as well as parts of 2 Samuel and 1 Kings (I have chosen these sections of Scripture to build off of John’s references to Genesis and David) that help show us God’s purpose for the nations.  In my final post I will tie in what we have learned from the Old Testament to the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts. 

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  1. Kevin Pannebaker
    April 4, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Hi Chad!

    What exactly is “eisegesis?”

    Just a possible suggestion for future blogs…maybe you could provide brief definitions in parenthesis after the big “theological terms” so we novices can grasp everything you’re trying to say. I’m enjoying what I’m reading, but much of this is new to me (or I haven’t studied it at any great length), and I get lost at times trying to figure out what you mean by “Historical Grammatical/Redemptive Historical,” “Exegesis/Eisegesis,” Eschatology/Ecclesiology,” et al…

    Please don’t mistake what I’m saying as being critical of your work. It’s really not. I just think that far too often too much is assumed of the audience in much of what I’m reading, and a great amount of impact can be lost along the way for a lack of understanding.

    Thanks for your consideration.
    Keep up the good work!
    Kevin

    BTW – I like the title: “Road to Emmaus.” If you don’t mind, I’d like to join you on your journey.

  2. Kevin Pannebaker
    April 4, 2007 at 4:19 am

    Hi Chad!

    One other thought, you could always use the “definition” in your text and put the “theological term” in parenthesis. Whatever you think would work best for “the common man.” 🙂

    Have a good day!
    Kevin

  3. Chad
    April 4, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Kevin,

    No offense taken. It is always good to have feedback.

    Eisegeis is when we read into the text something that is not there, rather than exegesis where we “dig out” of the text what is there.

    Eschatology: the study of last things.

    Ecclessiology: the study of the church.

    Historical Grammatical: understanding a text, by looking at the grammar, historical situation, cultural situation, etc.

    Redemptive-historical: understanding that human history is first and foremost about God’s redemptive purposes completed in Christ Jesus. RH is also reading the Bible as a complete story from creation to the end of time.

    Thanks again for your feedback.

    Chad

  4. Kevin Pannebaker
    April 5, 2007 at 4:37 am

    Thanks for the explanantions/definitions. That helps!

    Any help in the future with this kind of thing will be greatly appreciated, as well.

    Kevin

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