Biblical Theology for Discipleship
Biblical theology supplies the disciple with the content—the storyline, structure, and themes of the Bible—that will guide them in their doctrine and practice. To be a disciple is to become immersed in what and how the Bible speaks as we increasingly understand and embrace the interpretive perspective set out by the biblical authors. To make disciples, according to Jesus’s commission, is to engross people in what and how the Bible speaks and show them how it affects your own life so they can learn to better live, love, and lead like Jesus.
Preaching and Teaching
A robust understanding of biblical theology would also demand that all the books of the Bible are worthy of being included in our preaching and teaching ministry. Many pastors tend to default to the Pauline Epistles as their primary (if not virtually exclusive) preaching content. While Paul’s writings are essential and excellent, if we are to proclaim the whole counsel of God, there also needs to be sermon series derived from books such as Leviticus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Ecclesiastes, Chronicles, Jude, and Revelation. This will demonstrate that all Scripture is breathed out by God, profitable (2 Timothy 3:16), and equips us, as well as gives people a clear guide for their own study of the Scriptures.
In shepherding ministry, pastor-elders must recognize the importance of biblical theology in their pastoral ministry. There will be opportunities to visit the sick, comfort the grieving, counsel the hurting, and encourage the fainthearted. In these dire moments, people do not need mere opinion or sentiment; rather they need the deep and abiding truth of God’s Word applied to their situation. Therefore, biblical theology serves as a helpful guide to remind people of the grand storyline, of which they are a part.
We will have the resources to gently tell them the key themes of Scripture, their specific trajectories across the canon, and how these matters come into play in that respective moment of their lives. The Word of God serves as our guide as we speak into the various situations our communities will face, and this is crucial as we ponder how we must think, feel, and live in moments that are profoundly difficult or confusing. Biblical theology serves as an antidote to the world’s supposed wisdom and offers truth and life.
Seeing Life through the Lens of Scripture
As noted above biblical theology offers us the storyline, structure, symbols, and themes that lead to the articulation of clear doctrine, resulting in a particular culture that is embodied by God’s people in the church. Therefore, we should give ourselves to frequent, delight-filled meditation on God’s Word (Psalms 1:1-2). As Peter writes, “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25; cf. Isaiah 40:6, 8).
This post is adapted from Invitation to Biblical Theology: Exploring the Shape, Storyline, and Themes of Scripture. If you are interested in adapting this book for a college or seminary course, please request a faculty examination copy. We will also consider requests for your blog or media outlets.
“One of the goals of this book is to increase the number of people who are interested in doing biblical theology. We want you to be biblical theologians, but we also want you to be well-equipped and well-informed biblical theologians. We need a generation of students, teachers, pastors, church leaders, missionaries, and church members who care deeply about biblical theology.”
Chapter 1: Defining Biblical Theology