Mapping Your Story to the Ongoing Mission of God
Are you too foolish and slow of heart to understand why life sometimes doesn’t make sense? I know I often am. If you are like me in this way—and my guess is most people are—you’ve probably had moments where life hits you in the face and you can’t tell up from down anymore. It might be a job lost out of the blue or the normal stresses of life pressing in on you until you feel like you’re at the breaking point. Or maybe everything is turning out just as you had hoped. You’re in your dream job with your dream house and your dream family. But still something doesn’t feel quite right. You’re missing something, but cannot put your finger on it.
When life feels like it’s taken a wrong turn, we are often tempted to wonder how things ended up this way. When we feel empty in the middle of our greatest successes, it is disorienting and confusing. We are tempted to ask where things went wrong. But if we are mapping our lives with the ongoing story of the Bible, then we may discover that the problem was not so much in us taking a wrong turn but instead in misunderstanding our path altogether.
1. Biblical theology is different than systematic and historical theology.
When some hear “biblical theology,” they might assume that I’m talking about theology that is faithful to the Bible. While its goal is certainly to reflect biblical truth, the discipline of biblical theology is different from other theological methods. For example, the goal of systematic theology is to gather everything the Bible teaches about a particular topic or issue. For example, studying everything the Bible teaches about God or salvation would be doing systematic theology. When we are doing historical theology, our goal will be to understand how Christians throughout the centuries understood the Bible and theology. So we might study John Calvin’s doctrine of Christ. While both systematic and historical theology are important ways to study theology, biblical theology is a different and complementary theological discipline.
2. Biblical theology emphasizes God’s progressive revelation.
Rather than gathering everything the Bible says about a particular topic, the goal of biblical theology is to trace the progressive revelation of God and his saving plan. For example, in Genesis 3:15, God promised that the offspring of the woman would one day crush the head of the serpent. But it is not immediately clear what this will looks like. As this theme is progressively revealed, we find that this offspring of the woman is also the offspring of Abraham and the royal Son who comes from the tribe of Judah, Jesus the Messiah.
The Bible is a very big book with lots of people, lots of words, and lots of concepts. Thus, understanding the overall message of Scripture and how everything fits together can seem like a daunting task, especially for those who are just getting their feet wet with reading God’s Word. Topics such as sin, salvation, sacrifices, seeds, covenants, resurrection, redemption, and eternity are huge yet hugely important concepts. In his excellent book called The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 VersesChris Bruno breaks down for the reader the entire message and flow of Scripture into 16 easy to understand steps.
Now Bruno does not cover each and every story, event, principle and theological truth found in the 66 books of the Bible. That would take volumes upon volumes upon volumes. What he does instead is to note for the reader 16 key points in Scripture that define God’s plan of redemption. These markers of salvation history are the backbone upon which the rest of Scripture is built.
Beginning with the creation account and concluding with that glorious day of redemption we all look forward to, Bruno weaves with great expertise God’s salvation story. This was a book I simply could not put down and I ended up reading it basically in one sitting. While his intention is not to unpack every aspect of the deep theological points he discusses, he nevertheless explores and explains in a clear and understandable way very important issues such as sin, covenant, and redemption. I found his writing to be lucid, purposeful, and focused on helping the reader understand God’s plan of salvation and redemption.
There are many books available today that approach the various elements of Scripture. Some of those efforts are quite large and take many pages to do what I believe Bruno does in less than 150 pages, namely to share the message of the gospel in a way that all believers, regardless of their maturity level in the faith, will greatly appreciate.
I highly recommend Chris Bruno’s book. In fact, this would be a great book to provide to those new to the Bible. I would suggest the use of this book for family devotions or small group study as a jumping off point to further study of the elements of Scripture Bruno addresses. I know I will be using this as a tool in family devotions for many years to come.
This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Crossway Books for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”