The Significance of Advent

adventI admit that I love the fall holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Perhaps it’s because of the joys I’ve experienced in the past and still do experience when I gather with loved ones, sharing time, space, and meals. Essentially, we’re sharing our lives and for a particular purpose – gratitude to God for the work accomplished through His Son, Jesus Christ.

That wasn’t always the case for me though. Before I was a Christian, the holidays served a selfish purpose for me. I was more concerned about being free from the responsibilities of school or work, and consumed with eating, drinking, being merry and getting gifts. I was a consummate  professional at being selfish. But that changed in 1998 when the LORD saved me and placed me in union with Christ.

This year, Advent season starts December 1st. Advent means “arrival” or “coming” and is the season that celebrates the coming or the birth of Jesus Christ. This is known as His First Advent. It also is a season that points to His promised Second Coming (Acts 1:11; 1 Thess. 3:11, 4:13-18).  Since becoming a Christian, this season of celebration is much more profound and special to me. It is a season that is well suited for sharing the gospel and reflecting on the greatest example of giving there was or ever will be. Of course, we should be sharing the gospel irrespective of holidays, but Advent rolls out the red carpet for gospel proclamation.

The coming of Jesus marked what some believe is the most significant event in human history. While His whole life was significant, including his death and resurrection, His coming marked a pivotal moment in God’s redemptive plan. The promised offspring (Gen. 3; Gal. 3:16), the Last Adam (Rom. 5:12-21), the True Israel and Son of God (Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:13-14), the Promised King (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Zech. 9:9; Matt. 21:5; Rev. 19:11-16) came and dwelt among men to fulfill God’s Law in every way and defeat sin, thus securing eternal hope for His people.

To understand the significance of Advent, we must understand the coming of Jesus in light of God’s plan of redemption throughout human history.

Here is a great article providing an overview of the Bible, which gives us insight to God’s plan of redemption: Overview of The Bible

Desiring God has urecently re-released their Advent devotional, Good News of Great Joy, as a free PDF download.

May we all reflect on the significance of Advent and worship Christ, our Lord, Savior and King!

Grace & Peace,

d.

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Understanding the Scriptures

One of the most daunting and frustrating tasks I faced for the majority of my Christian life was trying to fully comprehend the Old Testament in light of the New Testament.  While I understood the origin of sin, how Moses was a type of Christ, how the sacrifices pointed to Christ, how the Levitical priesthood pointed to Christ, and how David’s kingship pointed to Christ, there was so much that I was missing that I longed to understand.   I always felt like there was a cohesion to the Scriptures, but somehow I could not get a grasp on it.  I knew that understanding the Old Testament had a direct implication of my understanding of the New Testament because the New Testament authors quote and reference the Old Testament a great deal.  Perhaps the most helpful verse that helped me understand the importance and relevance of the the Old Testament is found in Luke 24:27, the Emmaus Road account:

27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Jesus, having been raised from the dead but unrecognizable,  is talking with two men who were expressing their dismay because of His death as they had hoped He would be the one to redeem Israel.  Verse 27 says Jesus explains everything about His life, death and resurrection from the Old Testament.   This drove me to understand the Old Testament even more and by God’s grace, I was introduced to the discipline of Biblical Theology.  Very simply defined, Biblical Theology is an approach of the Scriptures that reveals God’s progressive plan of redemption throughout human history through the work of Jesus Christ.  Biblical Theology reveals the metanarrative or big picture of Scripture. Biblical Theology is a 30,000 ft. view of the Scriptures that helps us understand individual books  when read in light of the grand scope.  One of the most important steps for doing Biblical Theology is to grasp the historical development of the Bible.  It is imperative that we understand the flow of biblical history if we want to better understand the progressive nature of salvation. Below is a diagram of biblical history from According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy, a highly respected biblical theologian.

The following books are highly recommended as introductions to Biblical Theology:

1. God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

2. Goldsworthy Trilogy by Graeme Goldsworthy

3. According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy

Also, here are reviews of the aforementioned by 9Marks.org.

Grace & Peace,

d.