In this series of posts we’re exploring the different ways the Bible confronts the reader and the appropriate response to each.
#8 – READING THE BIBLE AS SIGNPOSTS TO CHRIST & THE GOSPEL
I used to read the Bible as a long, strange book of OT stories (e.g., David & Goliath, Noah and the Flood, Daniel in the Lion’s Den) that taught moral lessons but had little to do with the New Testament’s focus on Christ and the Gospel. Yet, we are very mistaken if we believe Christ and the Gospel only enters the story of the Bible in the New Testament. In fact, the entire Old Testament — Law and Prophets — serve as sign posts pointing us forward to the Christ who would come. The OT is but “types and shadows” (Heb 10:1; 8:5) of the reality that came in Christ “in the fullness of time” (Gal 4:4).
Jesus himself is the proof of this point. Jesus said to the religious Bible teachers who knew the Scriptures backwards and forwards, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). This is a radically bold claim by Jesus! Yes, according to Christ himself, all the OT Scriptures have himself as their ultimate goal. And, as this incident seems to suggest, some people will read the Bible again and again and somehow miss Jesus who is found penetrating every page.
Again, Luke tells us the story of the couple on the road who encountered the risen Christ and had their eyes opened to see Jesus penetrating the entire OT: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Yes, Jesus showed them how the entire Book was pointing them to himself.
Again, this is an important lesson to learn. It is common today to hear sermon after sermon on such topics as practical life principles, how to have a successful marriage, seven ways to overcome doubt, and other timely topics. Yet, if we don’t see the Gospel of Jesus front and center in all of our studies, we are missing how the Bible portrays the Christian life. The Gospel of Christ is not just a step along the path of Christian formation. Rather, the Gospel is the ground on which we stand and the cross and resurrection is the grace-filled water in which we swim and through which we see the world anew through Gospel-lenses.
When you read the Bible, do you see the Gospel of Christ on every page? If not, then look again. John Piper can help us here with a piece called “Christ: The Ground and Goal of the Old Testament”:
- Christ upholds all things (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, all Old Testament events are possible because of Christ.
- Christ created all things (John 1:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). Therefore, all that exists in the Old Testament is because of Christ.
- Christ is one with God (John 10:30; 17:11, 22). Therefore, all that God does in the Old Testament Christ is involved in doing.
- All things were created for Christ (Colossians 1:16). Therefore, all people, things, customs, nature, and events in the Old Testament are for the glory of Christ.
- Christ is the end and goal of the law for righteousness to all who believe (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:24). Therefore, all Old Testament commands lead to Christ for righteousness.
- Christ was speaking through the Old Testament writers (1 Peter 1:10-12). Therefore, all the Old Testament is the word of Christ.
- All treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ (Colossians 2:3). Therefore, all Old Testament wisdom finds complete expression in Christ, the one who is wiser than Solomon (Matthew 12:41), who surpassed all the kings of the earth in wisdom (1 Kings 10:23).
- Christ is the final high priest (Hebrews 1:3; 2:17-18; 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5-10; 6:20-8:1-2, 6; 9:11-12, 24; 10:11-14; 10:21). Therefore, all the atoning action of priests in the Old Testament is fulfilled through Christ and their atoning work is ended in him.
- Christ is himself the final atoning sacrifice (Romans 3:25; 5:9; Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:12-14, 25-26, 28; 10:10, 14; 13:12; 1 Peter 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10;). Therefore, all Old Testament sacrifices lead to him and end in him.
- Christ is greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6; John 1:14; 2:18-22; Colossians 2:9). Therefore, he is “where” we meet and have fellowship with God and see his glory.
- Christ is greater than Jonah (Matthew 12:41). Therefore, all the miracles of the prophets are surpassed in Christ’s Jonah-like miracle of death and resurrection.
- Christ is preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18; 3:11). Therefore, all greatness in the Old Testament points to and is surpassed by Christ’s greatness.
- Christ is the Yes to all God’s promises (2 Corinthians1:20). Therefore, in him we are heirs of all the promises in Scripture.
- Christ is the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Therefore, in him we inherit the promise of Abraham.
- Christ is the son of David (Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:32, 69; John 7:42; Acts 2:30; 13:23; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 22:16). Therefore, the covenant with David is ours in him (Isaiah 55:3).
I think this proves the point. Thus, we would do well to re-read the entire Bible again — especially the OT — and begin looking afresh for all the clear signposts pointing forward and paving the way for the goal of the entire Scriptures: Jesus and the Gospel.