Book Review: According To Plan

According to PlanAccording To Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy is a book written to be an intro to Biblical theology.  Biblical theology is the concept of understanding the Bible as a complete unit, understanding how God has revealed himself progressively throughout history.

I remember, having grown up in church my entire life, entering college and still having no idea how the God of the Old Testament was the same as the God of the New Testament.  Everything seemed so drastically different.  I had never been taught (or perhaps I was but didn’t pay attention) the Bible as a whole.  I knew about creation, and about the more “popular” stories such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Daniel, etc., but my knowledge of them was simply about them, not how they actually fit into the full story and purpose of the Bible.

Through college I was able to learn more on this and was helped in this area.  But I wish I would have read this book back then.  Even now, this book was a fantastic read.  Goldsworthy walks through the entire Bible from a high level (the book is only 251 pages), showing how God revealed himself and his purposes in a progressive manner throughout the history of humanity.  He helps to setup a framework for us to understand how and why God was working differently at different times.  He helps to shatter the idea that the God of the Old Testament is different than the God of the New Testament.

While the content of this book is helpful even at the pastoral level, it is written in a way that is very easy to follow and understand.  His thoughts and transitions from section to section are very clearly articulated without being complex.  The chapters are all rather short, so it is easy to break up the reading without being stuck in a chapter for pages on end.  At the end of each chapter, Goldsworthy includes a summary, main themes, key words, a study guide with helpful and thought-provoking questions, and options for further reading on the topics covered in the chapter.  I found that engaging with the study guide helped to further solidify my understanding of the material I just read.

Here are some excerpts from the book that I found to be very insightful:

Moses’ ministry is to be the human instrument through which God will at to redeem his people.  It is vital that we understand the place given to certain key figures, such as Moses, in the Old Testament revelation.  Their significance for us is not primarily in the way they stand as examples of godliness and faith, but rather in the role they play in revealing and foreshadowing the nature of the work of Christ. [Pg. 132]

He is their God, and he has saved them.  On this basis the law is given.  Clearly, all the conditional statements notwithstanding, the law is given to those who have already experienced the grace of God in salvation, and it is not the basis upon which they will be saved.  [Pg. 142]

This obedience to the covenant that is required of the leader of Israel has been foreshadowed in Deuteronomy 17:14-20.  When the people settle in the land and eventually decide to have a king, the one they choose must be a leader who lives by the law.  The king or leader represents the people and his personal holiness affects the life of the nation.  Viewing this from the theological angle, we see that God’s rule over his people in the place that he gives them is mediated through a human ruler who must reflect the character of God to the people.  This theme, which develops into even greater prominence in the Old Testament, is important for understanding the kingdom of God in the New Testament.  The promises of God are fulfilled by a human, kingly figure who is worthy to lead God’s people into the Promised Land.  [Pg. 157]

Paul’s use of “in Christ” and “with Christ” is a direct application of the Old Testament idea of the representative mediator of salvation.  The believer is “in Christ” in the same way that the believing Israelite was “in” the priest or king who represented him.  A main thrust of Paul’s theology of our union with Christ is to destroy the false notion that justification by faith alone allows a believer to live a godless life.  [Pg. 221]

If you want a clear and concise overview of how the Bible all works together to show the progressive plan of God for the salvation of his people, then this is a great choice.  Even though I have now read this book in its entirety, I can definitely see my self referencing this book from time to time.  I highly recommend it.

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