The angel's declaration "For unto you a child is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" did not take the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night completely unaware (Luke 2:11). We do know they were scared stiff, on one level. But if the shepherds were good Sabbath-school students, then the glorious announcement was not without context and may have struck a chord on a much deeper level. In fact, the angel that night made explicit reference to that most remarkable prophecy from the Old Testament; it was in essence a paraphrase of Isaiah 9:6. In this Christmas story we see just one example of the many, many ways in which the Bible is one incredibly intricate, interconnected, coherent, and surprising story.
In this issue of Modern Reformation, we introduce three important biblical strategies on how to read the Bible for a new and better understanding. Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton introduces the way in which these reading strategies are based on Scripture's own interpretation of itself; and Anglican theologian and author Graeme Goldsworthy explores how Jesus is the "self-declared fulfillment of the Old Testament promises," culminating specifically in the three offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, which Jesus embraces in "the totality of his being and doing." Tom Egger, a Lutheran theologian who teaches at Concordia Seminary, helps us connect Jesus all the way back to Adam in the Garden of Eden. "In restoring us to the image of God" lost by Adam, Egger reminds us that as the Second Adam Jesus "regained not only humanity's original goodness, but also humanity's original greatness and dominion." Also, Old Testament scholar and Westminster Seminary California professor Bryan Estelle employs a very helpful literary category or figure of speech, "synecdoche," to discuss the meaning and significance of the Exodus for relating both Testaments of Scripture. Something greater than Israel's escape from Egypt and deliverance into the land of Canaan was foreshadowed in the Old Testament—namely, escape from sin and entrance into the Promised Land of heaven itself. This theme of "a greater fulfillment" is also taken up in our last installment of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" by Presbyterian pastor Zach Keele in his essay on Nehemiah and Ezra.
These are themes of thundering importance, crucial as they are for our understanding of the person and work of Christ. But they are not just for adults or mature Christians—they are for us and our children. In this vein, author and teacher Starr Meade offers practical advice on how to teach the gospel to young kids. Whether in our preaching, Sunday school classes, or personal Bible study, we should strive to make the apostle Paul's determination our own: to know "nothing but Christ and him crucified." We need a Messiah who is bigger than a few favorite texts, as Goldsworthy reminds us, one who is revealed in all of Scripture as a Savior who saves us to the uttermost. May we also, like the shepherds, glorify and praise God for all we have seen and heard as we approach this Christmas season.
Ryan Glomsrud (D.Phil., University of Oxford) is Executive Editor for Modern Reformation and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at Harvard University. He earned his M.A. in Historical Theology from Westminster Seminary California and B.A. from Wheaton College, Illinois.
Issue: "How To Read The Bible: Reading with the lights on" Nov./Dec. 2013 Vol. 22 No. 6 Page number(s): 4
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