BT & ST in Preaching

0e733507_helm2ndaryIt ought to be no surprise that the recent resurgence in gospel-centrality has coincided with a renewed concentration on biblical theology. The latter gives weight and meaning to the former.

David Helm, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Chicago, is no stranger to biblical theology. Through his work with the Simeon Trust he’s trained hundreds of pastors in expositional preaching that’s rooted in biblical theology. He’s also published a perennial best-seller, The Big Picture Story Bible, which eloqently explains the basics of biblical theology for parents and children.

On top of all this, Helm recently published Expositional Preaching in 9Mark’s “Building Healthy Churches Series” in which he says, “The discipline of biblical theology offers preachers a certain benefit. It prevents intellectual or moralistic preaching. To put that positively, it brings you – legitimately – to the heart of the Christian gospel from particular texts in the Bible. It keep the main things the main thing.”


So what is it about the resurgence of biblical theology – a very resurgence he’s helped promote – that concerns good Mr. Helm? That’s what Mark Dever asked in a recent 9Marks interview. Furthermore, does systematic theology have any place in preaching? Helm says, “Yes!” and his answer is oh so good.

Listen in to this four and a half minute clip as Helm provides sound counsel on how to faithfully integrate biblical theology and systematic theology in your preaching.

3 Books Every Pastor Should Read: On Biblical Theology

Books are some of the best friends a pastor can have. How to know which friends to have is quite difficult, for as the inspired Preacher said, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Every so often I recommend three books for pastors on a given topic, hoping the suggestions might hone your book budget.

A popular renaissance in the field of biblical theology came at the turn of the century. Seminaries moved to offer PhDs in Biblical Theology and countless resources on the discipline have poured out of publishing houses. The saturation of books can make it difficult for a young pastor to know where to begin. Here are a few titles undoubtedly worth your time and money.

0851514588mBiblical Theology by Geerhardus Vos. If Gabler is the grandfather of biblical theology as a theological enterprise, Vos surely is the Father of Biblical Theology. This volume is the fountainhead for the plethora of resources we’ve seen over the last few decades. Simply put, you have to reckon with the Dutchman who taught at Princeton Seminary in it’s twilight of grandeur. Vos is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but the strain on your brain will be oh so worth it.

0830814388mNew Dictionary of Biblical Theology edited by Alexander, Rosner, Carson, and Goldsworthy. Yes, this is more an encyclopedic resource than page turner, but its insights are often stunning. As IVP says, “At the heart of this work is an A-to-Z encyclopedia of over 200 key biblical-theological themes such as atonement, creation, eschatology, Israel, Jesus Christ, the kingdom of God, redemption, suffering, wisdom and worship.” A BT benchmark that ought to be in every pastor’s study.

9781842270363mThe Goldsworthy Trilogy by Graeme Goldsworthy. Paternoster did everyone a favor by bringing three excellent Goldsworthy books – “Gospel & Kingdom,” “Gospel & Wisdom,” and “The Gospel in Revelation” – into one volume. Few people have been able to better the Australian’s brilliant summation of Scripture’s storyline as “God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.” The “Gospel & Kingdom” work is particularly helpful.


Dominion and Dynasty: A Study in Old Testament Theology by Dempster. A magnificent evaluation of how OT passages find meaning and significance within the overall story of “dominion and dynasty.”

New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New by Beale. Rightly called a “magnum opus,” this work will do for your understanding of the NT what Dempster does for the OT.

God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Roberts. An admitted simplification of Goldsworthy for the average church member, but it’s an excellent distillation. And a wonderful discipling resource!

Check out my past suggestions in the “3 Books Every Pastor Should Read” series here.

A Series Worth Serious Investment: Vol. 3

Pastors and Reading

Among the many words one can use to describe D.A. Carson “prolific” is quite a good one.

This servant of God has published standard commentaries on Matthew and John, a perennial bestseller in the seminaries, a slim volume every pastor should own, and as good a book on prayer as you will find.


What some people don’t know however is that Carson is in the midst of editing a marvelous series published by IVP titled New Studies in Biblical Theology. The series’ aim is to

. . . address key issues in the discipline of biblical theology. Contributions to the series focus on one or more of three areas: (1) the nature and status of biblical theology, including its relations with other disciplines (e.g. historical theology, exegesis, systematic theology, historical criticism, narrative theology); (2) the articulation and exposition of the structure of thought of a particular biblical writer or corpus; and (3) the delineation of a biblical theme across all or part of the biblical corpora.

Above all, these monographs are creative attempts to help thinking Christians understand their Bibles better. The series aims simultaneously to instruct and to edify, to interact with the current literature, and to point the way ahead.

If you’ve got the ability to do so, buy the whole set of 26 (more are on the way) over at WTS Books and get reading. If not, here are few individual titles well worth your money and study.1


0830826157Dominion and Dynasty: A Study in Old Testament Theology by Stephen DempsterChristian theologians rarely study the Old Testament in its final Hebrew canonical form, even though this was very likely the Bible used by Jesus and the early church. However, once read as a whole, the larger structure of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) provides a “wide-angle lens” through which its contents can be viewed.

In this stimulating exposition, Stephen G. Dempster argues that, despite its undoubted literary diversity, the Hebrew Bible possesses a remarkable structural and conceptual unity. The various genres and books are placed within a comprehensive narrative framework which provides an overarching literary and historical context. The many texts contribute to this larger text, and find their meaning and significance within its story of “dominion and dynasty,” which ranges from Adam to the Son of Man to David, and to a coming Davidic king.

0830826114mSalvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission by Andreas Kostenberger and Peter O’BrienFew biblical topics are as important as mission. Mission is linked inextricably to humanity’s sinfulness and need for redemption, and to God’s provision of salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This “good news” of salvation must be made known! The saving mission of Jesus constitutes the foundation for Christian mission, and the Christian gospel is its message. According to Andreas Köstenberger and Peter O’Brien, this significant theme has rarely been given its due attention in biblical theology.

Motivated by their passion to see God’s mission carried out in today’s world, they offer a comprehensive study of the theme of mission. In Salvation to the Ends of the Earth they explore the entire sweep of biblical history, including the Old Testament, the second-temple period, each New Testament Gospel, Paul and his writings, and the General Epistles and Revelation.

9780830826018mPossessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness by David PetersonDavid Peterson challenges the common assumption that the New Testament views sanctification as primarily a process. He argues that its emphasis falls upon sanctification as a definitive event, “God’s way of taking possession of us in Christ, setting us apart to belong to him and to fulfill his purpose for us.” Simply to identify sanctification with growth and holiness, he contends, obscures the emphasis and balance of New Testament teaching and creates unrealistic expectations.  Throughout this study Peterson builds his case on the careful exegesis of relevant passages, with a keen eye for the pastoral implications of his findings.

0830826181mTemple and the Church’s Mission: Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God by G.K. BealeIn this comprehensive study, G. K. Beale argues that the Old Testament tabernacle and temples were symbolically designed to point to the end-time reality that God’s presence, formerly limited to the Holy of Holies, would be extended throughout the cosmos. Hence, John’s vision in Revelation 21 is best understood as picturing the new heavens and earth as the eschatological temple.

Beale’s stimulating exposition traces the theme of the tabernacle and temple across the Bible’s story-line, illuminating many texts and closely-related themes along the way. He shows how the significance and symbolism of the temple can be better understood in the context of ancient Near Eastern assumptions, and offers new insights into the meaning of the temple in both Old and New Testaments.

0830826211mShepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible by Timothy LaniakMost of Israel’s pastoral imagery is grounded in two traditions: Moses as God’s under-shepherd and David as shepherd-king. These traditions, explains author Timothy S. Laniak, provided prototypes for leaders that followed, and formed the background for the ministry of Jesus, the good shepherd. The pastoral role was central to the ongoing life of local churches in the Christian movement, and today’s pastors are still called to be shepherds after God’s own heart, to lead his people, living on the margins of settled society, to their eternal home.

In this excellent study, Laniak draws on a wide range of Old and New Testament texts to develop the biblical theology of “shepherd” imagery, and concludes with some principles and implications for contemporary pastoral ministry. A wonderful resource for pastors, teachers and seminary students, as well as readers interested in the study of biblical imagery.

Click here to see previous entries in the “A Series Worth Serious Investment” series.

  1. All following descriptions are taken from the publisher.