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Reading God’s restoration plan

by Alan Robinson

We value the Bible as God’s authoritative word, study it together, and build our lives on its truth.

If you were to walk into the garage of a mechanic who was in the process of restoring a vintage car, you’d probably see a mess. Pieces of the carburetor would be all over the floor, some of the doors might be removed, and the paint job wouldn’t have been completed yet. Now, you wouldn’t take a snapshot of that scene and say, “This is the way a car is supposed to be. This is its showroom condition.” You would understand that it was in the process of being restored.

This illustrates a principle for how to approach the Bible. We should not point to one verse and, without regard to its broader context, declare, “This is the final answer. This is the complete picture of what we should do.” Each verse is but a snapshot in the sequence of God’s redemption of the world. The first two chapters of Genesis present us with the “showroom condition” of creation. But in Chapter 3, we see the Fall, when creation gets wrecked by sin. The rest of the Bible relates the story of God’s restoration project, culminating in the coming of Christ and Revelation’s picture of the re-created heaven and earth.

As is true for most Christians, we Brethren in Christ tend to emphasize some parts of the Bible over others. For us, the concept of progression or hierarchy in the Bible speaks to our belief in the revelation of Scripture. We give more interpretive priority to the New Testament and the “showroom condition” chapters in Genesis than we do to Old Testament law, because we believe that Christ fulfilled the law and prophecies and represented a higher revelation from God. As the writer of Hebrews put it, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets [. . .], but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2).

Christ, too, described His coming as superseding the ways of the Old Testament. Jesus continually pointed to the Hebrew law and placed Himself above it, announcing, “You have heard it said that . . . But I tell you . . .” This doesn’t mean that we reduce or remove the revelation of the Scriptures in the Old Testament. We simply acknowledge that if Jesus modified or clarified the law, His words must be taken into account. And as we do so, we become part of God’s divine restoration project.

Adapted from “When Kingdoms Collide,” a sermon delivered by Alan Robinson at Carlisle (Pa.) BIC Church on September 14, 2008.

This article originally appeared in the spring 2009 issue of In Part magazine.
Alan Robinson

Alan Robinson serves as the senior pastor of Carlisle (Pa.) BIC Church. A native of Northern Ireland, he and his wife, Sharon, live in Carlisle with their two daughters. In his spare time, Alan enjoys football (or what US Americans know as soccer), running, cycling, and photography.

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