Putting on Jesus Glasses - Part 5July 11, 2023
If this is your first exposure to the title, it simply means that we are using “Jesus Glasses” as a metaphor to assert that Jesus is the standard by which all scripture must be read if one is to truly understand it. (Read Luke 24:25-27;44; John 1:45;5:39; Acts10:43; 28:23,31)
This week we intend to give a sweeping view of the whole Big Story of the Bible in an outline that has eight parts. Imagine that these eight parts are a magnificent cathedral such as the Washington Cathedral in Washington (D.C.). This Cathedral is a huge structure that from the outside appears to be just one big building. However once inside you will discover numerous side chapels and main chapels filled with a wide variety of furniture and art. What at first seems to be one huge room turns out to be a multitude of rooms and corridors, towers and balconies, stairs and hidden passages.
Just like Washington Cathedral, when we get into the Bible we discover that it is comprised of sixty-six books, written by dozens of human authors over the course of more than a thousand years. Like a grand cathedral with many rooms and levels, it has a variety of entrances. For example, you can enter the Bible through one of the middle doors that we will call the Psalms, others prefer to enter through one of the gospel accounts like the Gospel of Mark or the Gospel of John.
Yet if you want to get the big picture of the cathedral, you need to find the main entrance. From the “you are here” directory you can orient yourself to the whole? Over the years many persons have cut various doors to get into the cathedral – doctrinal doors, denominational doors, dispensational doors, etc., and all these different doors give a variety of perspectives on God's Glory Story, but in my humble opinion they miss the main door.
I am in agreement with Bartholomew and Coheen, in their fine book, The Drama of Scripture, as they assert that the main door is actually a double door --"covenant" and "the kingdom of God". Kingdom and covenant are two sides of the same coin. Kingdom is all about the pervasive reign of God and covenant is about a particular relationship with God.
The kingdom of God is the pervasive reign of God. Graeme Goldsworthy defines the kingdom of God as” God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule. I enlarge this to mean that the Kingdom of God involves a people walking in the love of God (in relationship with Him); living in the will of God (under His rulership); obeying the Word of God (working in partnership)
The Pattern for the Kingdom was established in the Garden of Eden. God’s people (Adam and Eve), in God’s place (Garden of Eden), under God’s rule (God’s Word). This involved: (1.) Relationships – Love (2.) Rulership – Law (3.) Partnership – Labor.
The other side of the coin is covenant. Professor O.P. Robertson defined covenant as, “A bond (i.e. bond =a legal promise) in blood (this means death is the price for beginning and breaking the covenant) sovereignly administered (i.e. the king calls all the shots!). Someone rightly said that “Covenant spells relationship and mutual agreement.”
With this redemptive coin of “kingdom and covenant,” we can unlock the main door into the Cathedral of God’s Glory Story that we call the Bible. When the doors open, we observe that the biblical story can be seen through ‘Jesus Glasses’ as the kingdom rule of God established and extended through the covenant promises of God that finds their climax in the New Covenant made between Father and Son, and whose contents are made available to all those who are “in Christ. The kingdom of God is then extended through the New Covenant Community of Faith (the Church) until it is consummated under a new heaven and a new earth.
Using the redemptive coin of “kingdom and covenant,” I want to provide a sweeping overview of the Cathedral of God’s Glory Story – the BIBLE. (Forgive the alliteration – it has been my way of outlining for forty years!)
(1) The First Manifestation of God’s Kingdom – Genesis 1-2 – Creation by the design of God the Father, through the dynamic of God the Holy Spirit, under the direction of God the Son, for the glory of the Triune God!
(2) The Fatal Marring of God’s Kingdom – Genesis 3-6 – Corruption by Adam’s fall into sin. Corruption spreads throughout the human race until there is Condemnation by God and Catastrophe by the flood with only one family surviving.
(3) The Faithful Covenant-making God of the Kingdom – Genesis-Deuteronomy – After the flood God makes a covenant with Noah, this involves the promise of SUCCESSION for the earth. The covenant expands as God makes or cuts the covenant with Abraham – this involves the promise of the SEED (Jesus). Then the covenant with Moses/Israel involves the promise of a faithful SERVANT (Jesus, the True Servant and only Faithful Israelite). As the covenant expands it then involves the promise of God in regards to David, the great king of Israel, whereby a True SOVEREIGN is promised to sit on David’s throne forever (King Jesus). Then in the fullness of time, the PROMISES all converge into the SON (Jesus)! God made a covenant with a few in order to produce the SEED and SON that would reproduce many sons.
(4) The Fractional Make-up of God’s Kingdom – This part of the Cathedral of God’s Glory Story involves what we call the “Historical and Wisdom books” of the Bible (from the book of Joshua to the book of the Song of Solomon). We call them fractional for two reasons: (1) they make up a small, but very strategic fraction of the future of God’s kingdom; (2) they (Israel) are fractured in their call to represent and extend God’s kingdom.
(5) The Forecasted Manifestation of God’s Kingdom – This part of the Bible is gathered in the great chapel of the prophetic writings. There are seventeen books of the prophets (from Isaiah to Malachi). The prophets predicted a time of restoration and rest, of redemption and release, of rejoicing and revelation, of riches and forever relationships uninterrupted by sin and death.
(6) The Fulfilling Messiah of God’s Kingdom – We now move in the Cathedral of God’s Glory Story from side rooms to the main room where God’s Promise is fulfilled and fleshed out in the Person of His Son – Jesus. The main program of this part of the story is recorded in the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) What started in creation; that became corrupted and condemned, that was promised in covenant, now climaxes in the Son – Jesus the Christ. Jesus is the climax of God’s Glory Story. Although the consummation is yet to come, the climax, the greatest event, the First Advent of Jesus, is a fact of history! It is the teaching of God’s Word that Jesus is the true Israel of God, that His incarnation, obedience, death and resurrection was not a by-product of Israel’s rejection of the offer of an earthly kingdom, but the fulfillment of God’s plan from all eternity. This is what Jesus told the disciples on the road to Emmaus. One of them said, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” In response our Lord said in essence, “All the expectations and longings of the Old Testament are fulfilled in me and by me. I am its focus and fulfillment.” In Jesus, we have the priest, the sacrifice, the tabernacle, the temple, the new Jerusalem, the new Israel, all in One person – our High Priest/Covenant-maker/Sovereign King/Prophet Full-filler – the Lord Jesus Christ.
(7) The Fruitful Mission of God’s Kingdom – The climax of the Story centers in Christ, but its continuation is through the new covenant people of God – the Church – which is the agent of the kingdom of God. The Church is the New Community in Christ that re-presents Him and extends His kingdom to the ends of the earth until the end of time. Just as all biological children have a set of parents, so do all spiritual children. The Father, through the provision of the Son of God, by the power of the Spirit of God, with the seed of the Word of God, from the womb of the Church of God, births us as children of God, into His Kingdom and Family. In symbol, our Father in Heaven is represented by the principle of His Kingdom. It's His kingdom; it's his good pleasure to give us the kingdom; we are to seek it first; the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. In symbol, the Church is the Mother, in covenant relationship as the Bride of Christ, that provides the womb to deliver, the room to nurture and submit to Father's desire and design for the creation of a new humanity -- a third race of the twice born -- a new creation of Adam's and Eves that will join him in the Family business of Almighty and Sons, where they learn to reign as kings in life! When Mother is embracing Father, the kingdom of Father begins to be made visible through the miraculous birth of little Isaacs -- sons of laughter. Mother manifest the glory of the kingdom as she teaches her sons to do whatever Father tells them. The kingdom is then made a visible reality, in the casting out of demons (breaking into the domain of Satan), the working of miracles (signs, fulfillment of prophecy, the blind receiving sight, and the deaf hearing), and the proclamation of the gospel. The task of the Church is to make the invisible kingdom of God, which is spiritual, visible, through faithful obedience to the king, and by proclaiming the message of the Kingdom.
(8) The Final Manifestation of God’s Kingdom – This brings us to the final script in the Cathedral of God’s Glory Story – the book of Revelation. Many view the closing of the final chapter as THE END. However, it is really the opening of chapter one of the Great Story of God’s Unfolding Drama of Redemption which no one on earth has read; which goes on forever; and in which every chapter is better than the one before! In the book of Revelation the beloved disciple John is given a multidimensional view of God’s Great Story from the last chapter of the old earth and old heaven, to Chapter One of the never ending great story of the new heavens and the new earth. Someone said, “On a clear day you can see forever.” For John this was truly a very clear day. If we had been with John on the isle of Patmos at the time of his vision, we would have shouted from down below to him on the lonely pinnacle of his vision, “John, what can you see from there?”And to borrow the answer in the words of Philip Greenslade, John would shout down to us, “I can see a sparkling new world; a whole new creation! What does it all look like? It looks like a city but stretched out in all directions. It’s like a new Jerusalem, teeming with people from every nation, as if up for an international festival, enjoying the presence of God.” What else can you see? “I can see that no one is crying, there are no cemeteries, no prisons; I can see no one is suffering any disease; and I see… I think I can see… I can’t believe it… I feel sure I can see God! I can see God’s face! And yet everything is radiating such a glorious light that I’m not sure what I see: Yet when I stare at the face of God, more often than not I see a face I know so well, the human face of Jesus!”
Lord Jesus, you made the hearts of the Emmaus Road disciples’ burn within them as you opened to them the Scriptures. Do that for us today. Holy Spirit, fill us with a fresh experience of the gospel. Enlighten our hearts with the beauty of all God has made Jesus to be for us in His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to His right hand. Make us to know the experience that the two Emmaus Road disciples had so, like them, we can return to the place of lost hope, our Jerusalem, with a holy heartburn and filled with a new courage that we would not otherwise have. Open the eyes of our understanding so that we perceive more and more what God has made Jesus to be for us so that we can find our place in His Glory Story. Because Christ is all and in all to whom be glory forever, may He have the supremacy in my life, in His Church, and may through the gospel’s powerful converting ministry, His enemies, world-wide, soon become His footstool. Amen!