Wise for Salvation in Christ

What is the Bible and what are we supposed to do with it?

“Inspired” is an answer that many of us give right off the top of our heads:

Every scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for showing mistakes, for correcting, and for training character. (2 Tim 3:16, CEB)

But in general we’re not so up on the lead-in:

Since childhood you have known the holy scriptures that help you to be wise in a way that leads to salvation through faith that is in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim 3:15, CEB)

Scripture is not just about “learning things” that God wants us to know.

And it’s not just about finding out “what we should do.”

The things we are to learn, and the things we are to do are located within the work of God that has a specific end and goal in view.

We read scripture with full faithfulness not merely when we say, “This is God’s word,” but when we read and interpret it as a witness to the salvation that God has made available to us in Christ.

It’s not enough to read the Bible. We have to read it with a Christological hermeneutic.

6 thoughts on “Wise for Salvation in Christ”

  1. Dr. Kirk, what resources do you recommend for guidance on reading the Old Testament with a Christological hermeneutic?

  2. Don, the absolute best thing you could do would be to take my OT in the NT course online this fall, of course!

    Second to that, I think the best thing to do is to read the work of folks who are studying what the NT writers do with the OT. Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul would be a good place to start. Also, Hays’ Conversion of the Imagination is a rich resource.

    You might also read the chapter on the NT use of the OT in Peter Enns, Inspiration and Incarnation.

    After reading a bit in such books, I think that one of the best things you can do is to start digging into the NT: what are the writers doing when they cite and interpret the OT?

  3. While I appreciate the need for a Christological hermeneutic, it’s not enough to think that personal salvation is the only purpose in reading Scripture–especially if we limit our meaning of salvation to making a decision for Christ or calling ourselves Christian.

    The Old Testament law reinterpreted through apostolic eyes did not change the nature of the law or the fact that the Apostles relied upon it for many things not directly related to what evangelicals like to term salvation. Paul uses the Mosaic law to justify paying ministers (1 Cor. 9:9), notes that the State is God’s minister with the sword to punish evildoers and to be obeyed (Romans 13), and assumes a literal account of the early chapters of Genesis as a theological basis to speak of original sin and our need for salvation in Christ.

    Yet we will be told in the recommended works above that such things are merely reflective of a point of view which today we can’t really maintain. It’s odd that until 1859 (publication date of Darwin’s Origin of the Species), the church had no use for the perspective many glibly take today regarding the Old Testament and could employ a Christological hermeneutic quite apart from postmodern overlays of Scripture informed by science. One undoubtedly has to ask himself whether or not Paul and the other Apostles and their close descendants would have at all come up with “the faith once for all delivered to the saints” had they enjoyed the sort of imaginative postmodern creativity proposed by Enns and Hays in the first and following centuries.

    1. No, those things don’t have to do with what evangelicals call salvation. But they have to do with what Paul would have called salvation: entering into the age to come through participation in the Christ event.

      Not sure about your final paragraph. Folks like Hays, in their reading of the NT’s use of the OT, are not being driven by anything post-Darwinian. He’s trying to give an account of the Christological hermeneutic the NT writers engaged in. Same with Enns, at least in his first book.

  4. And all Gods children say “Amen.” I am heavily convicted by NT Wright’s work to the belief that if we don’t read the Bible with the undergirding worldview of the creator and redeemer God of Israel, we miss great parts of the story.

  5. Amen, this is so important! I never made the connection here in Timothy, great observation. Reading how the NT authors apply a Christological reading, what strikes me most is how this effects ethics–that is, how they read the OT not only to find references to Jesus, but far more how they re-read the OT in order to reflect the character and way of Jesus. That’s radically different than the approach where one reads the OT ethics and portrayal of God and projects these onto Jesus. That’s why Anabaptists have focused on this kind of Jesus-shaped reading so that they end up with an understanding of the Father that is not in conflict with Jesus.

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