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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Promise-Plan of God

During Cyber Monday, I was looking for good deals online for some books that I have been wanting to get as resources. Since I am trying to save some money, I looked for used books on Amazon and found some good copies that were in "just-like-new" condition! One of those books was by Walter Kasier Jr. called, The Promised-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. The book is a very easy to read biblical theology of every book in the Bible. It breaks up the OT and NT and lists them in the canonical order to showcase the "unity of Scripture." I love this book, and the more I read it, I end up loving it more and more because of its academic approach and simple explanations so all readers can understand the content. The thesis of the book reveals how Scripture needs to be hermeneutically interpreted and read with an overarching and unifying promise-plan of God. The book argues for a textually derived "center" of Scripture that simultaneously parallels the case for the "unity of the Bible" (i.e. all 66  books), and how this case was the rubric of studying the Bible during the Reformation era, but was disengaged during the Enlightenment era. Therefore, this book aims at restoring the study of biblical theology as it once was in the Reformation, yet at the same time reveal how their is a promise-plan of God that needs to be taught in our world today.

At the beginning of the book, Kaiser defines the promise-plan of God:
"The promise-plan is God's word of declaration, beginning with Eve and continuing on through history, especially in the patriarchs and the Davidic line, that God would continually be in his person and do in his deeds and works (in and through Israel, and later the church) his redemptive plan as his means of keeping that promised word alive for Israel, and thereby for all the nations so that all the families of the earth might come to faith and to new life in the Messiah" (p.19).
I believe Kaiser correctly identifies the harmonious "scarlet thread" of the gospel throughout the OT and NT. However, he further and more accurately explains how to interpret and read the Bible through God's covenant to Abraham originating in Genesis and eschatologically fulfilled by Jesus Christ. His main point is to interpret and read the Bible with "this covenant" in mind because it all stems from it: "God gave a promise to Abraham, and through him to mankind; a promise eternally fulfilled and fulfilling in the history of Israel; and chiefly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, he being that which is principal in the history of Israel."

Kaiser presents scriptural generalizations to defend his purpose of the book. I think they are pretty simple and healthy generalizations, knowing there are some really confusing and unhealthy generalizations about the Bible. Here are ten characteristics of the Promise-Plan of God Kaiser wants reads to consider:

1. The doctrine of the Promised Messiah is found throughout all the Scriptures and not just in isolated or selected passages as understood by the Promise-Fulfillment Scheme (cf. Luke 24:44).

2. The Old Testament Messianic teaching was regarded as the development of a single promise (Greek word, "epangelia"), repeated and unfolded through the centuries with numerous specifications and in multiple forms but always with the same essential core. (cf. Acts 26:6-7)

3. The New Testament writers equate this single, definite promise as the one made to Abraham when god called him from Ur of the Chaldeans. (cf. Rom. 4:13-14, 20; Heb. 6:13-14, 17; 11:9, 39-40; Gen. 22:17)

4. While the New Testament writers occasionally speak of promises, using the plural form of the word, the manner in which they do so does not weaken the case for a single definite promise in the Scriptures. (cf. Rom. 9:4, 15:8-9).

5. The New Testament writers regard this single, definite promise, composed of many specifications, to be the theme of both the Old and New Testaments. (cf. Acts. 7:2-3, 17)

6. The promise made to Abraham is represented as both being partially fulfilled in the events of the exodus and yet still to be fully fulfilled in the distant future. (cf. Acts 13:22-23; Luke 1:69, 73)

7. The New Testament writers not only declare that the promise-plan of God is seen through the whole Old Testament, but they adopt the Old Testament phraseology as part of their own way of expressing God's revelation to them. (cf. Gal. 3:29; Eph. 2:12)

8. The New Testament writers teach that the promise of God is operating eternally and is irrevocable. (cf. Rom. 11:29; Gal. 3:15-18; Heb. 6:13, 17-18)

9. The New Testament writers make a strong connection between the promise and a number of other doctrines. (cf. Gal. 3:6-8, 14; Eph. 1:13, 3:6; Heb. 9:15; 2 Pet. 3:10)

10. The culmination of all the specifications (i.e., the individual predicted doctrines that support the one unifying promise-plan) are wrapped up in the one promise doctrine, or promise-plan, which focuses on Jesus Christ. (cf. Matt. 5:17; Rom. 1:1-6)

With all of these scriptural generalizations, I think it proper to suggest the NT use and reference of the OT "promise" is undeniable. I appreciate Kaiser's his approach to show how all of the Bible works together to theologically disclose Christ as the Messiah (as he goes genre-by genre and book-by-book to show how it unfolds). I wrote on this because I am always interested how the NT uses the OT in order to point to Jesus as God and Savior of all nations, and at the same time point to the Word of God as truth. What a perfect topic to reflect upon during Christmas!

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