Desperate for Hope- 3 Ways To See Jesus in the Bible
I started this week struggling. I didn’t want to live my life for the glory of Jesus. This is a common experience in my life. So I turned to the Lord and asked him to change my heart. I know the gospel teaches that he forgave me and would help me, but I didn't believe it experientially. The struggling had only shifted.
Doubt came back.
In the midst of my unbelief, I got to Psalm 18 in my Bible reading plan (link to your blog on this). Desperate for personal encouragement, I read that the Lord had, “rescued me because he delighted in me.” My heart began to hope until I read the next verse: “The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands, he has recompensed me.” Uh oh. I know very well that I am not righteous and that my hands are anything but clean. So maybe the Lord hadn’t rescued me? Maybe he didn’t delight in me? Doubt came back.
Actually, the problem wasn’t that God hadn’t rescued me, but that I wasn’t interpreting the Psalm correctly. Before I took it and applied it to my life, I needed to understand it in the light of Christ. The Bible is the story of God’s redemption of humanity from sin through Jesus, so we must see every single passage that way. The Holy Spirit inspired the writers in such a way that it all ties together and all points to Jesus. Right interpretation sees each passage in that context.
There are multiple ways to go from a passage to Christ. Sidney Greidanus sees seven. At the workshop I’m teaching at Verity Forum, we’ll go over three of them. And by “go over,” I mean we’ll talk about it a little bit. But more importantly, we will do it together in various passages of Scripture.
1. The Redemptive Historical Way
This way is not only a way in and of itself, it’s also the primary way that informs all the other ways we get to Christ. Because the Bible is God’s story, there is a storyline that we can trace from creation to Christ. For example, when God promised Abraham that he would make him a great nation and that it was through his descendants that the all the people of the earth would be blessed, he was pointing forward to Christ. We can trace the lineage of Abraham all the way to Jesus and see that he is the promised descendant that blessed the whole world. That’s one way we understand a passage in the light of Christ.
2. The Promise-Fulfillment Way
God loves to make promises to his people and then keep them. When he does, he often fulfills them in multiple ways. Many of these are seen in the prophetic books. For example, in Jeremiah 31 :27-40, God promised Israel, who was exiled due to sin, that he would restore what had been broken and lost. He fulfilled this promise when he brought them back to the land after 70 years in exile. But this promise also points forward to the New Covenant, the one brought about by Jesus. Because Jesus defeated sin and death on the cross, he will one day come again and restore his people, both Jewish and Gentile, in the New Creation. This is another way to understand a passage in the light of Christ.
3. The Typology Way
A type is a small picture or shadow of a greater reality. The greater reality is called an antitype. In the Bible, the Old Testament is full of types that point forward to an antitype. For example, the sacrificial lamb offered at Passover is a type that points forward to Christ, who is the antitype. Or Aaron, the high priest, was a type who pointed forward to Jesus, our great high priest. In the workshop, we will carefully define types, making sure that we’re not finding them in the Bible where the Holy Spirit didn’t intend them to be. And we will also find plenty of legitimate types that are intended to point to Jesus. This is a third way to understand a passage in the light of Christ.
Back to Psalm 18
Of course, not every way applies to every passage. Some passages have multiple ways of getting to Jesus; others just one. The most obvious way in Psalm 18 is typology. Psalm 18 was written by King David. David was, on the one hand, the King of Israel hundreds of years before Jesus was born. On the other hand, David was the king who was meant to be a type of the ultimate ruler of God’s people, King Jesus. This is why the writers of the New Testament make so many references to Jesus being the Son of David. Jesus is the antitype of David.
That means that Psalm 18 is about David, but it is also about Jesus. Jesus is the one God rescued because he delighted in him. Jesus was perfectly righteous and blameless, so he was rewarded by God for those things.
Only having done this can I take this Psalm and apply it to my life. Here’s how. The gospel teaches that Jesus was those things for me. Although I am not righteous, my sins have been forgiven by his atoning death and his righteousness now clothes me. Since I put my faith in Jesus, God looks at me and declares me righteous, even though I still sin. He has rescued me, and he does delight in me because I am in Christ. And one day, when Jesus returns, he will complete his work, and my heart, my mind and my actions will line up perfectly with who I am in him. When I see a passage in the light of Christ, I read it with the hope of the whole story of Scripture. It’s then that it speaks to me the gospel that I desperately need so that my struggle ends in faith.
The Verity Forum is our spring event on May 7th, 2016. One of the four tracks of the day is called "Teaching the Bible" with three workshops. Katie will be teaching the workshop titled "Your Text In The Light of Christ." You can read more about the Verity Forum workshops on the event page. There you will find downloadable media from the event.