Reading the Bible: “Christ from Beginning to End”

As Christians, we affirm the Christian Scriptures as one book with two testaments: the Old and New Testaments, which comprise the Bible (Article 2, The Bible, EFCA Statement of Faith). We connect the two testaments in this one Bible with the expression “Israel’s promised Messiah” (Article 4, EFCA Statement of Faith). This is foundational to our reading and interpreting of the Bible, which means our fundamental hermeneutic is Jesus. As Augustine noted, the New Testament is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.

While affirming the Bible is one book, we are committed to a redemptive-historical understanding of the Scripture, viz. the progressive unfolding of God’s plan, which finds its climax in Jesus. Since Christ is the climax of Scripture, we are, as Christians, committed to a Christological hermeneutic, i.e., Christ is the One who enables us as Christians to understand the Bible as Christians. We read, interpret and understand the Bible through a Christological lens, through Christ, or we misunderstand the Bible, or we read it as a Jew (particularly the Old Testament) not as a Christian (Matt. 5:17-20; Lk. 24:25-27; Jn. 12:41; Acts 28:23; Rom. 10:4; 2 Cor. 1:20; etc.).

A new book has been written by Trent Hunter and Steve Wellum: Christ From Beginning to End: How the Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018). Their work models this Christ-revealed, Christ-focused and Christ-fulfilled way of reading the Bible.

Originally Wellum taught this material in a seminary classroom. Hunter, his student, took the material and taught it in the church. This is a collaborative work, combining the efforts of a theologian and pastor, taught in the context of the seminary and the church. The fruit of this rich collaboration is this book.

I am encouraged by the publication of the book, and I am hopeful many will use it in the church, either in an adult Sunday school setting, or in a small group. I am presently teaching on the topic of The Bible: Reading, Understanding, and Applying in our adult Christian Living Class. In consulting Christ From Beginning to End, it is obvious we are reading and have prepared from the same script. And of course, we have, the Bible, with the same hermeneutical lens, Jesus.

I had the privilege of writing a brief endorsement for the book.

Christ From Beginning to End: How the Full Story of Scripture Reveals the Full Glory of Christ is masterfully done! This book is the fruit of a professor and a pastor, material that was presented in the classroom, taught in the church, and now published and made available to others.

Hunter and Wellum take their cue from Jesus’ brief yet profound teaching on understanding the Bible: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). They expound Jesus’ teaching by informing how to read and understand the Bible, and then they bring you through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, with a Christ-centered focus.

Too often Christians read the Bible in verse-a-day manner, and then they tweet it. But in doing this, readers lose the big picture of the Scriptures, the overarching story of God’s plan culminating in Jesus Christ. Hunter and Wellum’s book helps us to take a step back, to understand the whole story with a Christological lens, so that we can then rightly see and understand the verses and passages and books and covenants and testaments in the Bible.

This book can fruitfully be read by all Christians, those mature in their faith and those who are new believers. It would be ideal in small groups, adult classes in the church, and to read as a companion to one’s daily Bible reading. This excellent book deserves wide reading. For an overview of the Bible with a focus on Christ, this will be the text I recommend!

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