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To understand the whole living process of redemptive history in the Old Testament we must recognize two basic truths. The first is that this salvation history is a process. The second is that this process of redemptive history finds its goal, its focus and fulfillment in the person and work of Christ
The most compelling reason for the Christian to read and study the Old Testament lies in the New Testament. The New Testament witnesses to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth is the One in whom and through whom all the promises of God find their fulfillment. These promises are only to be understood from the Old Testament; the fulfillment of the promises can be understood only in the context of the promises themselves. The New Testament presupposes a knowledge of the Old Testament. Everything that is a concern to the New Testament writers is part of the one redemptive history to which the Old Testament witnesses. The New Testament writers cannot separate the person and the work of Christ, nor the life of the Christian community, from this sacred history which has its beginnings in the Old Testament.
~Graeme Goldsworthy, The Goldsworthy Trilogy, p. 18-19.
The core of the gospel, the historical facts of what God did in Christ, is often down-graded today in favor of a more mystical emphasis on the private spiritual experience of the individual. Whereas faith in the gospel is essentially acceptance of, and commitment to, the declaration that God acted in Christ some two thousand years ago on our behalf, saving faith is often portrayed nowadays more as trust in what God is doing in us now. Biblical ideas such as ‘forgiveness of sins’ or ‘salvation’ are interpreted as primarily describing a Christian’s personal experience.
But when we allow the whole Bible – Old and New Testaments – to speak to us, we find that those subjective aspects of the Christian life which are undoubtedly important – the new birth, faith, and sanctification – are fruits of the gospel. This gospel, while still relating to the individual people at their point of need, is rooted and grounded in the history of redemption. It is the good news about Jesus, before it can become good news for sinful men and women. Indeed, it is only as the objective (redemptive-historical) facts are grasped that the subjective experience of the individual Christian can be understood.
From Justin Taylor,
As you read the Bible, here’s a chart you may want to to print out and have on hand. It’s from Graeme Goldsworthy’s book According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. It simplified, of course, but it can be helpful in locating where you’re at in the biblical storyline and seeing the history of Israel “at a glance.”
Goldsworthy’s outline is below. You can also download this as a PDF (posted with permission).
Taken from According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible by Graeme Goldsworthy. Copyright(c) Graeme Goldsworthy 1991. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515 (www.ivpress.com) and Inter-Varsity Press, Norton Street, Nottingham NG7 3HR England (www.ivbooks.com)