Guiding Question: How does the covenantal structuring of biblical revelation turn it into a strategy?
The Bible isn’t just a book that tells us things about the past. It teaches the art of spiritual war. From the beginning to the end it shows the spiritual conflict between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman, but not simply as a record of war, but a summons to war, and a strategy for war. In other words: “Kiss the Son. Fall in line with the Son of God. Don’t resist God, but fight for Him” (Ps 2). Whoever picks this book up finds his or her place in the battle and the strategy to fight better and smarter.
B. Biblical Theology Highlights Authority Issues Covenantally
The spiritual battle that is going on in the Bible is a struggle for who is in charge. In the Garden of Eden, Satan challenged God’s authority, and succeeded in bringing the human pair under his covenantal authority.
However, God did not relinquish His authority, but reasserts it, again and again. Noah knew God’s gracious authority, as did Abraham. Moses reasserted the authority of God, as did David, and so on. Christ spoke as one having authority, and when the apostles were before the Sanhedrin, they were asked by what authority (or name) they spoke. These men made an appeal to the revealed covenants and especially the authority of Christ, the Seed of the woman, who has all authority in heaven and on earth.
When Stephen was indicted for speaking against the temple and the law (supposedly), he made an appeal to the glory of God, the name of Christ, and the power of the Spirit from out of biblical theology.
Biblical Theology uncovers and marshalls the authority structure of covenantal speech. It does so against those fighting under the doomed authority structure of Satan, and it reminds the church constantly of the tendency to compromise or abandon its exclusive authority structure.
C. Biblical Theology Highlights Spiritual Strategy at a Basic, Spiritual Level
The Word of God doesn’t simply convey information, but calls to a new allegiance, confirms the faithful, and notably constitutes us as being in a battle, positioned as we are on one front or another. Within this strategic positioning, the following is vital.
- The terrain of warfare is, first of all, bound up with: allegiance, that is, heart, mind, soul, and strength.
- The perspective on the warfare is revelatory and gracious.
- The means of warfare is, coordinately, spiritual, by word, prayer, vigilance, wrestling, travail, etc.
- The enemy and its targets are not, in the first place, seen, but unseen.
- The aim is not human or institutional honor, but theocentric doxology.
D. Biblical Theology Highlights the obligation of Self-Sacrificing Vulnerability
The charter of the covenant of grace does not exempt the people of God from suffering, but makes clear that victory comes through suffering and weakness (the bruised heel). Indeed, Christ alone suffered so as to redeem us unto God. But we also suffer (see 2 Cor 10:13; 2 Cor 2:12; 1 Cor 4:7-15). The final reference is likely to the dramatic Roman spectacles where people would watch the public humiliation of victims for entertainment. Paul is content with this “lot” – for he knows that because of the gospel, the order “is strength through weakness”. It really is the apostolic victims that are the victors.
E. Biblical Theology Points the Church to the Impetus of Living out of Victory
The glory of the gospel is that by virtue of the Covenant of Grace, believers can fight from victory, the victory of Christ over Satan and his hosts. Their faith looks forward and sees the victory secure in the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world.
- Our lives are unalterably configured in terms of spiritual warfare, in which our strategic stance is that we are open to suffering but shut to sin.
- Biblical Theology does not allow for side-line spectators; only front-line participants. Sin is essentially leaving God’s service, and deserting His army in the heat of battle.
- The moment we open our mouths in Christian service, our words or stance is not objective or neutral but our lives are that of servants ministering from out of the victory of God in Christ.