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Understanding logos, rhema, scripture and the Bible (part 2)

Amid pandemic enrollment to Christian Colleges have decreased.
Amid pandemic enrollment to Christian Colleges have decreased. | Flickr

The apostles understood by revelation the whole story of the Old Testament scriptures as pointing to Christ, not just the specific prophecies related to Jesus the Messiah. This is why Matthew 2:15 quoted Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I called my Son,” which originally referred to Israel. Hereby, Matthew revealed that the ultimate journey of Israel was fulfilled in Messiah.

Even though it wasn’t a specific Messianic prophecy, such as Isaiah 53, the New Testament apostles interpreted the whole story of Israel as being fulfilled in Messiah (except for their future restoration as a nation, according to Romans 11:26).

There was a recapitulation of Israel which constantly embodied the life of Jesus. The following examples attest to this:

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In the same way that Israel was tested for 40 years in the wilderness, Jesus was tested by Satan for 40 days in the wilderness. Israel went through the Red Sea to escape Egypt's bondage; in like manner, Jesus washed us in His blood so that we would be delivered from the bondage of sin. God instructed His people, through Moses, to put the blood of an unblemished lamb on the doorposts and lintel of each house to escape death; likewise, the blood of Jesus, the slain spotless Lamb of God, delivers as many as believe from the bondage and wages of sin. Also note, those who looked to the image of a fiery serpent lifted by Moses were healed, a type of those looking to the risen Son of God to receive eternal life.

Furthermore, God gave manna to feed Israel in the wilderness; much later, Jesus proclaimed that He was the true bread from heaven by saying, “I am the bread of life.” Also, Jesus stated that the only sign to be given to His generation was Jonah’s sign, which depicts His death, burial, and resurrection. We could even make a case about the story of Joseph (thrown into a pit, sold, imprisoned, then later elevated to be second in command to Pharaoh) as a type of Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and exaltation to the right hand of the Father. In addition, when we look at how Abraham offered up his only son of promise (Issac), we see a type of Jesus being sent by the Father as His only begotten Son of promise.

We could go on and on to show how the artifacts and furniture of the tabernacle, the feasts, and the various Levitical sacrifices all point to and were fulfilled in Jesus.

The early fathers of the Church applied all scripture as ultimately fulfilled in Christ. For example, Saint Irenaeus, of the second century, had a 50-page treatise called “the demonstration of the apostolic preaching,” in which he rarely once quote the New Testament. He used the Old Testament to demonstrate apostolic preaching and rarely quoted the New Testament. Some scholars believe that the gospels only recap the Old Testament scriptures. Along with this, the three synoptic gospels focus on the story of Christ before He was revealed as Messiah (as noted by patristic scholar, Orthodox theologian, Father John Behr).

The gospel of John frames the narrative, from the start, that Jesus is the divine Son of God and Lord, who is in control of all things. Part one is the gospel of John manifests His glory through His incarnation while He tabernacled among us while the book of Revelation, which is part two, unveils the ascended Christ in all His radiant glory.

The Bible

When the Scriptures were printed in the 16th century, they became a profound blessing. Unfortunately, some severe challenges resulted. The Bible eventually became a handbook where people picked and chose passages to back up whatever they believed and desired. Instead of viewing the Scriptures holistically, through the lens of Christ, people extracted worldview topics concerning politics, economics, biblical prosperity, and promises.

Over the years, the Bible has been reduced even more to systematic theological topics. From this perspective, the Scriptures' overall intent and complete story have been overlooked. Consequently, it has produced pastors and believers who know only certain “parts of the Bible.” The full redemption story, the knowledge of God, and the Bible’s entire essence are not mused. Instead, the Bible can often be used as a manual to affirm or prove preconceived ideas.

This is why in the current evangelical world, the Bible has often been reduced to writings that validate various ideologies and political affiliations. This is used to determine whether a person is truly a believer. Rarely is orthodoxy judged by testing a person’s view regarding matters such as the divinity of Christ, the trinity, Hell, Heaven, or salvation. Many contemporary pastors are even ignorant of the historic theological views of these subjects.

In recent times, true Christianity has been judged based on whether a person voted for a Republican or Democrat. Considering these actions, the Church must be careful not to change the definition of heresy to mean a particular political affiliation. Sadly, we see many pastors who seem to be more aware of the stance of political candidates and parties than they are of the historical creeds and theological perspectives of the Church.

If this doesn’t change, the Bible will continue to function merely as a handbook rather than the sacred God-breathed text in which God reveals His ways and actions to conform His bride (the Church) to the image of Christ.

Dr. Joseph Mattera is an internationally-known author, consultant, and theologian whose mission is to influence leaders who influence culture. He is the founding pastor of Resurrection Church, and leads several organizations, including The U.S. Coalition of Apostolic Leaders and Christ Covenant Coalition.

To order his books or to join the many thousands who subscribe to his newsletter, go to

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