Graeme Goldsworthy, in a series of lectures on the necessity and importance of Biblical Theology in Seminary, Christian education, the home—and most importantly in Pastoral Ministry, offers some observations on how it can aid the Pastor and the Church:
First, biblical theology is integral to, and helps promote, a high view of the Bible.
To begin with, biblical theology, by exposing the inner structure of biblical revelation becomes the source of an ongoing adventure in discovering new ways that the texts are interconnected. The interconnectedness of texts is what gives them meaning. The more we understand the structure of Scripture, the better able we will be to find our own place within the biblical story. That is to be well on the way to making valid interpretations of the way particular texts apply to us. Quite simply, if we can see how any text relates to Jesus Christ then, since we also study to know how the people of God relate to him, we can grow in understanding of how the text relates to us through Christ the mediator.
Second, biblical theology promotes a high Christology.
Which Christ do we proclaim and worship? Is it the Christ of popular piety, the Christ who requires us to approach him through his mother, the Christ of dogma, the Christ of the enthusiasts, or the Christ of literature?
When biblical theology shows us how all the great themes about God, his people, and the promises are gathered together in Christ, then faith in Christ takes on a meaning that is all too rarely attained.
Third, biblical theology promotes a high view of the gospel.
Very early in the history of the church, the loss of the objective and historic gospel went hand in hand with the loss of the historical and natural meaning of the Old Testament.
I am asserting that the loss of a robust biblical theology from our evangelical preaching and teaching leads to a blur- ring of the gospel. The important biblical doctrine of the new birth of the believer has often been hijacked from its biblical- theological context and transformed to become the essential gospel. In practice, much evangelical ministry concentrates more on what God can do in our lives now, at the expense of what God has done for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Of course both are valid aspects of the biblical teaching, but it is the perspective of the relationship of the two that becomes distorted.
Fourth, biblical theology promotes a high view of the ministerial task.
It is to be regretted that many ministers find themselves overworked, under-funded, under constant pressure to conform to the preconceived ideas about the minister and his role, and burdened with expectations of success rather than faithfulness. The result is that many ministers become pragmatic and driven by the search for the next program that will bring people through the doors on a Sunday. There is no more potent antidote to pragmatism than the reinforcing of the truth that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. I want to be bold here and claim that biblical theology can have real and observable effects in our lives and ministries. In the first place, biblical theology will help the minister to be clear as to what the gospel is that is God’s power for salvation. Understanding the breadth of the biblical view of salvation will help prevent the harassed pastor from being sidetracked into the wrong kind of success.
Fifth, biblical theology promotes a high view of the people of God.
Christians need a biblical anthropology as well as a biblical ecclesiology in order to resist the tendency to the self-centeredness of our sinful nature.
A biblical-theological survey of the theme of the people of God builds up a sound Christology and a realistic anthropology. The people of God are defined by their union with Christ, a union that in turn is defined by who and what Christ is. Only in a secondary way are we defined by our relationship to the great heroes of faith in the Bible. That is why their relationship to Christ is so important to the interpretation of the narratives in which they figure.
Biblical theology in the church must begin in the pastor’s study. Above all, biblical theology involves a way of thinking about how one uses and applies the Bible. It is a way of thinking that needs to be cultivated about all the issues of pastoral ministry. It is a method of approach to almost any matter that confronts us in ministry. It is a way of training ourselves in theological reflection that will pay handsome dividends if we persevere. Often there are no clear doctrinal formulations to assist us in facing certain issues, and we are left with a few Bible verses that might spring to mind, along with a certain amount of experience- based wisdom. It is in such cases that biblical theology comes into its own. Whatever the subject—prayer, guidance or knowing the will of God, assurance, the fulfillment of prophecy, secular powers, miracles, Israel and the Palestinians, social justice, suffering, the Sabbath, leadership, life after death, church and denominations, and the whole range of ethical issues—biblical theology provides a strategy for investigation. It enables us to make progress on subjects that do not turn up in concordances (because they do not involve any single and obvious biblical word), nor in handbooks of doctrine (because they are not perceived to be central matters of doctrine).