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Dr.ElliottE.

Johnson

ANARRATIVEDISPENSATIONALTHEOLOGY

WeintheDispensationaltraditionhavereceivedarichheritageinBibleExposition,yet
inrecentyearsevangelicalismasawholehasnotacknowledgeditscontribution.Thusitismy
desiretodevelopthefoundationlaidandinsodoinghighlightfeaturesinbiblicalinterpretation
thatwillenhanceanexpositoryministry.

LewisSperryChaferproducedaclassicmultivolumeDispensationalsystematictheology.
Buildinguponwhatisdistinctive,Iwanttoproposeanarrativeformofthisbiblicaltheology.It
ismyconvictionthatahistoricnarrativeformistobepreferredoverthesystematicformto
highlightwhatisdistinctiveindispensationalism.ThatdistinctivecontributionrestsinGods
progressiverevelation.AsGodspokecreationintoexistence,soGodspeakstohischosen
partnersinhistoryashisgoalsarefulfilledintheprogressofrevelation.Thenarrativefeatures
GodsgovernancethroughhisWordandhischosenstewardswhomanagehisrevelationinthe
sequenceofdispensations.

Inaddition,thenarrativeformwillshapetheoverallviewofhistoryreducingthe
numberofdispensationsfromseventofour.AssuchGenesis111setsthestageforthe
progressinrevelation.Thesettingofthestageconsistsofnormativerevelationthatframesthe
historythatfollows.Thisrevelation:thecreationaccount,thepronouncementofjudgmenton
evil,theNoahiccovenant,humangovernment,andthedivisionoflanguagesisnormative,
andunchangingthroughouthistory.

ThisisdistinctfromprogressivedevelopingrevelationwhichmovestowardGodsgoalat
theendofhistory.ThisconsistsofthreedispensationsadvancingfromGenesis12towardthe
dispensationofgracefollowingChristsfirstadvent.Thisinvolvesaseriesofplotconflictsin
history.TheRevelationinthecontextofDanielrevealsthefinaldispensationandthecomplete
fulfillmentofGodsgoalincreationinthefinalconflictresolution.

Inordertoclarifythesenseofvalueofthismetanarrative,weneedtodiscussthree
significantterms:theology,biblical,andnarrative.

Theology

Inthemostbasicterms,theologyisthestudyofGod.Thefocusofthisstudyisonone
aspectoftheology,namelyGodsroleasGovernorovertheearthfromthecreationtotheend
ofhistory.ThemetanarrativeofScriptureinterpretswhoGodisandwhathedoesto
accomplishhisforeordainedgoals.SincethisstoryrestsonScripture,thebasisofour
knowledgeisspecialrevelationwhichprovidesasolidfoundation.1

SeeessaysbyAlbertMohler,WhentheBibleSpeaks,GodSpeaks:TheClassicDoctrineofBiblicalInerrancy,and
KevinVanhoozerAugustineInerrancy:LiteraryMeaning,LiteralTruth,andLiterateInterpretationintheEconomy
ofBiblicalDiscourse,inFiveViewsonBiblicalInerrancy(GrandRapids:Zondervan,2013).

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

ThegoalofthistheologicalstudyistoapprehendwhatScripturesaysaboutGodandhis
ways.Toapprehendisdistinguishedfromtocomprehend.Ourgoalistobetruetothemeaning
whichthetextrevealsratherthanrejectingmeaningswecannotcomprehend.Therevelation
goesbeyondreasonbutisnotunreasonable.Asaresult,ourknowledgeofGodisbothrational,
filledwithawe,andwithpersonallove(Mk.12:2937).CairdcommentsonPaulsresponsethat
heneverhaddoubtthatthepowertowhichhesurrenderedwastheconstraintoflove(2Cor.
5:14,Gal.2:20).2

Godspredestinedplaninvolvesmysterybuiltintothecreation.Thepredeterminedplan
inwhichGodkneweverydetailincludedtheparticipationofchosenhumanpartnerscreatedin
Godsownimage.3SowhenGodcreatedman,asaperson,mankindsharedselfawarenessand
selfdeterminationwithGod.4TheWestminsterConfession(1646)statesthecombinationwell:
AlthoughinrelationtotheforeknowledgeanddecreeofGod,thefirstcause,allthingscome
topassimmutablyandinfallibly,yetbythesameprovidenceheordereththemtofallout,
accordingtothenatureofthesecondcauses,eithernecessarily,freely,orcontingently.5And
thosesecondarycausesfeaturethepartnershipwithchosenindividuals.Howthistension
betweensovereigndeterminationandhumanselfdeterminationisworkedoutisanaspectof
themystery.6

SoGodsgovernanceisbeyondfullrationalcomprehension,afactthatplaces
governancebeyondanyreasonforhumanattemptstocontrol(Job3842).YetGodssovereign
ruledoesnotcontradictwhatisreasonable.Thismeansthatpartnershipinvolvesmanaging
oneslife7byfaithinwhatGodhassaid;livingasastewardinobediencebasedonwhatGod
says.Andinthatpartnership,thestewardcomestolovetheOnewhochosehiminlove.
Finally,itisapartnershipinwhichthepartneroftenissurprisedbytherevelationofGodsglory

G.B.Caird,TheLanguageandImageryoftheBible(Philadelphia:WestminsterPress,1980),24.
Predestinationandforeknowledgearedifficulttermstograsp.SinceGodisoutsideofhiscreationandthus
outsideoftime,Godsdeterminationandknowledgearesimultaneous.Theyexistbeforethecreation.Godis
omniscientandknowsallpossibleplansofcreationineverydetail.Upondetermininghisplan,hehasknowledge
ofeverydetailintheplan.Godthenactsinthehistoryofcreationashehasdeterminedaccordingtowhathe
knows
4
WalterEichrodt,TheologyoftheOldTestament,vol.2(Philadelphia:Westminster),126.
5
TheWestminsterConfession(1646:reprinted;Atlanta:JohnKnoxPress,1963),5.2.200
6
Manhascreaturelyselfdetermination.Thisentailslimitedfreedomofchoice.Hecannotchoosetobecome
anotherperson,adateofbirth,orwhattalentshehas.ThemysteryconcernshowGodallowsgenuinecreaturely
choiceyetmaintainshisgoverningpredestination.Bytheverynatureofthecasethereisnotintermediatemeans
betweenGod(theprimaryefficientcause)andhumans(thesecondaryefficientcauses)offreeactions.Godisthe
causeofthefactoffreedomandhumansarethecausesoftheactsoffreedomGodgivespeoplepower(offree
choice),buttheyexerciseitwithoutcoercion.ThusGodisresponsibleforbestowingfreedom,buthumansare
responsibleforbehavingwithit(NormanGeisler,GodKnowsAllThings,inPredestinationandFreedom,edby
BasingerandBasinger[DownersGrove,IL:IVP,1986],79).Atthefallofthehumanraceintosin,mandidnotlose
selfdetermination,buttheirselfawarenesswasdarkened.NolongerdidmanseehimselfasaservantofGod,but
asonewhocanbelikegodinhispower.Withhisawarenessfallen,hechoseasaslavetolieandsinned.
7
JohnK.Goodrich,PaulasaAdministratorofGodin1Corinthians,SNTSMS152(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity
Press2012).
3

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

andisinapositionofaweasheworships.Thustherelationshipofchosenpartnersinvolvesa
studyresultinginpersonalknowledgeincludingwonderandlove.

TheserealitiesinthestudyofBiblicaltheologyfindtheirplacewithinGodsuniversal
kingdom.8Thiskingdomextendsoverallrealitywhichexistsintactwithoutlossorchallenge.
FromhispositionasuniversalSovereign,Godcreatedtheheavensandtheearth.Theninthe
creationofAdam,hedelegatedtohimtheresponsibilityofmediatingGodsruleonearth.Yet
inhisselfdetermination,GodpermittedAdamtorebelwhichhedidandsinenteredtheworld
inthehumanrace.

Thus,itisGodsmediatoralkingdomonearththatwaschallengedandlost.Adamhad
followedthewordoftheserpentwhospokeastheenemyofGod(Gen.3:16).Nowthefallen
humanracewasruledbytheprinceofthepoweroftheair(Eph.2:2),theruleroftheworld
(John12:31).InGodsplantoredeemcaptivemankindandtorestorehismediatoralruleon
earth,GodchoseEveandherchosenoffspringtopartnerinconflictagainstGodsenemy(Gen.
3:15).

Laterinthestory,PaulsawhimselfandApollosasastewardofGodsrevelation
(1Cor.4:15).GodsgovernanceinaworldunderSatansrulefeaturedhisprogressive
revelation.AsGodhadspokencreationintoexistence(Gen.1:12:3),soinhistory,God
entrustedhishistoricrevelationtostewardswhoweretomanagetheirlivesaccordingtoGods
revelationinordertobringblessingtoallnations(Gen.12:3;Ex.19:5,6).

Tobeginwith,thistheologicalnarrativeforcesustofaceapuzzlingquestion:Howdoes
thestoryindicatethatGoddeterminesthedirectionofmanwhoisfreetodeterminehisown
course?Howcanthatbe?

Biblical

ThereareanumberofcluesabouthowGoddirectshumanbeingswhilepreservingtheir
freedomtodeterminetheirowndirection.ThefirstandmostsignificantinfluenceisGods
Wordspokentoformanddirectchosenindividuals.ThisWordisseeninthenarrativeas
historicrevelationasGodbegantospeaktoAbraham(Gen.1222)andcontinuedtospeakto
otherhistoricalcharacters.Thathistoricrevelationbecomesaportionofscripturalrevelation
composedforthebenefitoflatergenerationsofelectindividualsandthecanonicalcollection
ofthesebookspreservetheprogressofhistoricrevelation.AcentralpartofGods
communicationinvolvesthatprogressinrevelationthatguidesthenarrativeandformsthe
metanarrative.GodsWORDexpresseshiswillwithoutforcingaconformingresponse.

ButthequestionofGodsdirectionstillremainsopenbecausesomehearandrespond
andotherseitherdisregardorrejectwhatGodsays.ThisdoesgiveevidenceofGodpreserving
individualsselfdetermination.Buttheproblemofthistensionwasevenexasperatedbythe

AlvaJ.McClain,TheGreatnessoftheKingdom(WinonaLake,IN:BMH,1974).

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

rebellionofAdamtoactindirectoppositionagainsttheCreator.Thisconflictincorporatedinto
theplotstructureofthebiblicalnarrative,isintroducedinthesettingofcreation.

SettingCreationNarrative

Apropheticinterpretationinanarrativeaccountincludessightofthenaturalworldand
thesupernaturalworldandinsightintounseenissuesinthenaturalworld.Genesis111sets
thesettingandincludessuchsightandinsight.Theissueofconflictisimpliedinthecreation
narrative(Gen.1:12:3).Thecreationsettingbeginswithatitle(1:1).ThenGenesis1:2
introducesthatconflictsincetheearthexistseventhoughthedaysinwhichtheheavensand
theeartharecreatedhavenotbegunyet(1:331).Further,theearththatexistsiswithoutform
andemptyandincompletedarkness.Thisforcesthethoughtfulreadertoask:howdoesthe
earthexistbeforeitiscreated?Howdoesitexistinsuchadecimatedcondition?

Ananswerisimpliedwhenthecreationnarrativeisread.Thefirstthreeactsofcreation
giveitform(1:313).Theactofcreationinthelastthreedaysfilltheheavenswithbirdsandthe
waterwithfishastheearthispopulatedbyanimalsandmankind(1:1431).Theseactsof
creationratherthancompletingthecreationofadestroyedearth(1:1,2),createtheearth
knowntomankindbyrecreatingwhatwasdecimated.Theimplicationisthattheearthis
destroyedbecauseofajudgmentpriortoGenesis1:2.Thatjudgmentoftheearthincludeda
judgmentoftheearthsoccupanttheenemyofGod(Ezek.28:1217).Grantingthatimplication,
anaturalexplanationoftheenemyofGodthatappearstotemptAdamandEveisprovided
(Gen.3:15).

Thisexplanationofthebackgroundofthecreationaccount,highlightstheroleof
maninthecreationofthepresentearth(3:15).ManiscreatedtomediateGodsruleonearth
(1:2426).Inthissense,manreplacesthepriorruler,theenemyofGodwhohadbeenjudged.
Thatalsoexplainswhymanisattackedbytheenemyspeakingthroughaserpentseekingto
undermineGodspresentcreation.Theserpentspeakstodethronemanandtorestorehis
formerpositionasrulerontheearth.Sotheconflictinthebiblicalnarrativeisnotjustthe
tensionbetweenthesovereigndeterminationofGodandtheselfdeterminationofAdam.The
tensionintensifiestobecomeaconflictasAdamdeterminestofollowtheserpentashavinga
greateradvantageforhimself.Asaresultofthatchoice,Adamsselfawarenesswasdarkened
andallsubsequentchoiceswouldbecontrolledbyaselfservingattitude.And,Adamwasalso
subjecttodeath.Thisraisestwofurtherquestions.HowcanmanevermediateGodsrule?Has
Godscreationplanbeenthwarted?

SettingPlotConflict

Thetwoquestionsaboveareansweredinacounterplotintendedtoresolvethe
conflict.ThatplotisintroducedinGodsjudgmentpronouncedagainsttheserpentenemyof
God(Gen.3:15).Whilethepronouncementhasvagueelements,theuseofconflictto
pronouncejudgmentseemsclear.

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

Asalreadyimpliedfromthecreationaccount(1:12:3),anultimateconflictalready
existedbetweenGodandtheserpentwhothenspoketoundermineGodsplan(3:15).Itisthe
enemyspeakingtorestorehisformerpositionasruleroftheearth.Ratherthanchallenging
Goddirectly,heattackstheweaklinkofmankind.EveistemptedandsheisdeceivedandAdam
isinducedtojoinherandhesinned.Asaresultofthissin,depravityanddeatharepassedonto
thehumanrace.SoGodpermitssintoenterthecreationandallowstheenemytosetthe
termsoftheconflict.

ItiswithinthesetermsthatGodpronouncesaplottoresolvetheconflict.Whilethe
resolutioniscertainbecausethejudgmentofGodhasbeenpronouncedagainsttheserpent,
thetermsoffinalresolutionarevague.Ifitistoberealized,itwillonlybeaccomplished
becauseGodhasspokenandthefulfillmentwilldisplayGodsgloryinitsfullnessbasedonwhat
hedeterminedattheoutsetofcreation.

BasedontheconflictandAdamsfall,itseemsveryimprobablethattheconflictcanbe
resolvedontheenemysterms.Thesetermsarenowhighlightedtoaccentuatethemarvelof
thestatedjudgment.

Thetermsinvolveaweaklinkwhichconsistsofmanovercomingevil.(3:15a).Eveis
chosentodoconflictwiththeserpent.Noindicationisprovidedbythetextofthisstruggleuntil
thenextgeneration.

Thetermsinvolveconflictanddeath(3:15b;4:126).Theconflictiscontinued
indefinitelyasindicatedbythetermseed(3:15b).Asacollectivenoun,itimpliesanindefinite
seriesofgenerations.Inaddition,theseedoftheserpentisunclear.Sincetheserpentisan
animal,istheseedananimal?

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

ThetextofGenesis4:126discussesthenextgenerationofEvesoffspringwhich
clarifiestheanswertothequestionregardingtheseed.EvebearsasonandnameshimCain,
believingheisthepromisedoffspring.9ThenAbelisborn.Theidentityofeitheroneasseedof
theserpentisnotknownuntiltheyeachbringanofferingtoGod.Cainbringsanofferingwhich
istheproduceofhisownefforts.Abelbringsananimalsacrificefromhisflocks.Cainsis
rejectedwhileAbelsisaccepted.ForAbelfollowedthepatternoftheskinsGodprovidedfor
hisparents(3:21).Whilethisinterpretationisdebated,itnaturallyexplainstheflowofthe
narrative.Caininhisangerathisrejectioniswarnedthathemustrejectevilwhichcrouches
beforehimanddesirestocontrolhim(4:7).Atthatmoment,hebringsAbelintothewilderness
andkillshim(4:8).Deathisthepoweroftheserpent,whoselifenowcoursesthroughCain.By
contrast,AbelistheseedofthewomanwhoisreplacedbySeth(4:25,26).Thedescendantsof
thewomanarethenincludedinthegenealogiesofthesetting(5:132);11:1032),oneper
generation,astheyearsarerecordedwheneachdescendantisborn.

Thetermsinvolvetheserpentsreturn(3:15c).Perhapsitistheunresolvedconflictthat
promptstheserpentsreturn.Morelikely,itisthepersonoftheseedofthewomanofthat
generationthatcoupleswithanunresolvedconflictthatpromptsthereturn.Yetnothingis
mentionedexceptthatthewomansseedisanindividualdescendant(he,him).

Nevertheless,theconflictisintenseinvolvingthesameblow,adeathblowattheheelof
theseedofthewomanandadeathblowattheheadoftheserpent.Howthisisaresolutionof
theconflictisnotclear.WhatisclearisthatGodhaspronouncedjudgmentagainsttheserpent
animal(3:14)andtheserpentenemy(3:15).Theplothasbeencastinvaguetermsbutthe
resolutionclearlyinvolvesGodsjudgmentoftheserpent.

ThetermsofjudgmentarecleartoAdam(3:20,21).Adamisfacedwithastarkdecision.
Godhadsaidthatwhenyoueatofthetreeyoushallsurelydie(2:17).Nowthattheybothhad
eaten,Godpronouncedthatthewomanwouldhaveoffspring(3:15,16).AdambelievedGods
wordandnamedthewoman,Eve,motheroftheliving(3:20).HebelievedGodwouldaddress
thecurseofdeathandwouldgivethewomanthepromisedoffspring.AndGoddidashe
sacrificedsubstituteanimalstocoverbothAdamandEvewithskins(3:21).WhileAdamand
Evewillintimediephysically(5:3),theirimmediatedeathinGodspresencewasaddressedby
theskincoverings.AndmancouldapproachGodthroughsacrifice

BasedonGodssovereignpredestinationandaccordingtohisforeknowledge,Godcasts
theclimaxinthetermsofjudgment.InthepropheticstatementofthejudgmentGodcommits
himselftoassuretheoutcome.ApartfromasovereignGodspeaking,thisoutcomeseemsvery
improbable,afterAdamhadfallenandpassedonthelifeofadarkenedselfawareness.What
couldpossiblyreversethedestinyofhumanlife?OnlytheWordofGodprovidesany

Syntactically,shouldtabeunderstoodasadirectobjectmarker(IhaveacquiredamantheLord)ora
preposition(withthehelpoftheLord).LutherarguedfortheformerwiththesensethatEvebelievedthatshe
hadgivenbirthtotheLordthatwouldbruisetheSerpentshead.However,manymoderncommentatorsand
translations(NASB,NIV,RSV)preferthelatteroption.

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

assurance.Butthestoryneedstobeheardbeforewecanspellouttheironicreversalof
fortunes.

TheResolutionofTensionandOpposition

TheresolutionthatGodbringscomesintofocusinthelivesofGodschosenones
clarifiedbyJesus.JesusacknowledgedthatnoonecancometoMewithoutdivine
enablement(John6:44a).AndthatenablementoriginateswithGodselectionofwhowould
cometohim.Butdoesthedivineenablementreplacetheselfdeterminationintheelect?Does
thedivineassistanceprovidethefaithresponseinplaceoftheindividualresponse?Jesus
assureshisfollowersthattheFatherdrawsthosewhorespond(6:44b).Thetextthenadds
thequotationfromIsaiah54:13inwhichonesdrawnaretaughtbyGod(6:45).Itseemsclear
thatdrawdoesnotmeanforce.Rathertheonedrawnlistens,reflectsandlearnsfromGods
Word.ThentheindividualrespondsastheWordmoldshisselfdetermination.

MoseshadexplainedfromhisgenerationthenecessityofthisworkofGod:theLord
hasnotgivenahearttoperceiveandeyestoseeandearstoheartothisveryday(Deut.29:4).
SuchaworkofGodprovideseyestosee,earstohearandahearttoperceivetheWordGod
hasspoken.ThatWordthendrawsaselfdeterminedfaithresponsetowhatGodhassaid.Like
themanbornblind,Jesusrevelationinsignandinwordguideshimtobelieveandtoreceive
theSonofManasLord(John9:138).

Inasimilarfashion,JesusjoinstwodisciplesontheroadtoEmmaus.Inhisquestions
andexplanationsheopenstheireyestoseeandearstohearthatMessiahoughttohave
sufferedthesethings(theytalkedabout)andtoenterhisglory(Luke24:2527).Inreflection
theydescribetheirexperienceoftheirheartsburningwithinthem.Thentheysawandbelieved.

Sotheanswertoourquestionoftheresolutionofthetensionandoppositionwas
clarifiedastheFatherdrewthemtoseeandtobelieve.ThesewordsofJesusseemtobe
normativeoftheworkwhichMosesreferredtoforhisgeneration(Deut.29:4).However,this
answersuggeststwofurtherquestions.First,whatrightdidGodhavetochooseandtouse
individualsfromafallenrace?Andsecond,wouldGodsdrawingofnumerousindividuals,
generationaftergeneration,besufficienttoresolvetheplotconflict?Theanswerstothese
questionsdemandaconsiderationofthenarrativeasawhole.

Narrative

Basedonthesetheologicalandbiblicalconsiderations,thepointofthenarrativeasa
wholehasbeenclarified:ThemanagementoflifebecauseofandthroughtheWordbythe
elect,inpartnershipwithGod,revealsGodsgovernancethroughtheprogressofrevelationin
theplanforsalvationhistory.

GodsGOVERNANCEinvolvesthepartnersmanagementoftheirlivesbecauseofand
throughGodsWORD.Intheprogressofrevelation,GodsWORDappearedintwoforms.First,
thespokenexpressionofGodsWORDappearedinhistorywhichwascollectedinthecanonof

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

Scripture.Atthetimeoftheend,thePersonalappearanceofGodsWORDappearedinJesus
Christ.TheBASISofGodschoosingandsalvationofindividualsfromafallenracerestin
PersonalappearanceofGod,keepingthecommitmentofhisWORD.TheMEANSofGods
drawingandsalvationoftheelectfeatureshisspokenWORDinhistoryorinScripture.Thus,
theconflictwithevilissointense,noelectindividualnorgenerationovercameevilorfulfilled
Godsplan.ThatisuntiltheWORDbecamefleshtopartnerwithGodtheFathertoservein
perfectobedience.InhissurrendertotheFather,hebecameGodsprovisionformans
salvationandforthemediationofGodsgovernanceonearth

Thissummarywillbeoutlinedbrieflyintheprogressofrevelation.

Promise,asstatedintheAbrahamicCovenant,introducesthepurposesofGodsoverall
plan.Twoadditionalfeaturesneedtobefocusedon.First,thepromisesaremadefromthe
perspectiveoftwofoundationalgoals(Gen.13),namely,(1)torestorethemediatoral
kingdom,and(2)toredeembelieverstobecomeGodspartners.Thusthepromisesto
Abrahamaddresstheblessingsneededtofulfillthesegoals.Second,thepromiseincorporates
Godscommitmentofhimselfnecessarytoprovidetheseblessings.Beforetheseblessings
appear,theyneedtobereceivedbyfaithasAbrahamhad.InGenesis15:6,Abrahamwas
declaredrighteousbyfaithandinGenesis22:122,Godsnecessaryprovisionofasubstitute
sacrificetodeliverIsaachissoninresponsetoAbrahamsobedienceandfaith.Thiswas
AbrahammanaginghislifebecauseofandthroughtheWordofPromise.

Law,intheMosaiccovenant,wasaddedtopromisebecausewithoutobedience,God
wouldnotkeephispromise.ThisdoesnotmeanthatobediencecouldearnGodsblessingsbut
obedienceofthestewardwouldprovidetheoccasioninwhichGodwouldbless.Thishappened
withAbraham(Gen.22:1618).YetintheselfdeterminationofIsrael,wouldagenerationbe
willingtopartnerwithGodunderhistheocraticrule.

Eventually,Israelinfrustration,desiredtobelikeothernationsinaddressingtheir
geopoliticalconflictsandaskedforamonarchy.WhenDavidarosetobeking,beingamanafter
Godsheart,GodrevealedtheDavidiccovenant.Intheprocess,Godpronouncedatheocratic
monarchy.ThecovenantcontainedpromisesthatoneofDavidssonswouldarisetomediate
Godsruleonearth.Thisintroducedthequestionofwhothismediatorwouldbe.Thatis,who
wouldarisetobetheDavidicdescendantthatwouldallowGodtorulehislifecompletely?Not
evenDavidhaddonethat!

Foraboutfourhundredyearsnosuchkingarose.InthemidstofIsraelsreturnfrom
captivityandsurvivalunderRomanrule,theWordwhohadspokentookonfleshtodwellin
theland.TheWordwhohadspokentocommitGodtoactbecametheWordwhopartnered
withGodtokeephiscommitmentstoactthroughhislife.Whatnoearliergenerationhadbeen
willingtodonoranyindividualhaddone,JesustheChristdid.InhiswillingnesstokeepIsraels
legalcommitments(Matt.4:111andLuke4:113),theSonallowedtheFathertokeephis
promisedcommitmentstohim.Whileearliergenerationshadexperiencedlimiteddegreesof
fulfillment,nowJesusChristexperiencedcompletefulfillmentinresurrectionfromthedead.
However,thiswasthefirststagefulfillmentasthisdescendantofthewomanovercamedeath

Dr.ElliottE.Johnson

inordertostriketheserpentintheheadinfinaljudgment(Gen.3:15).Whatearlier
generationshadbeenunwillingtodo,GodinfleshwaswillingtosurrendertotheFatherswill
andword(Matt.26:39,42,45,46).JesuslivedasaStewardoftheWord,managingeach
decisioninobediencetotheWordhehadpreviouslyspoken.AndheexperiencedGods
blessinginovercomingdeathinresurrectionandascensionasHeir.

Gracemarksthenextstageintheprogressofrevelation.ItinvolvestheWordof
blessingsthatarebaseduponthefinishedworkofChrist.Inaddition,thereceptionofthe
downpaymentoftheSonsinheritance,theHolySpiritformedthebodyofChrist,thechurch
onearth.TheepistlesfleshedtheouttheWORDoftheblessingsinChristwhichhada
responsibilityforbelieversasstewardsofGodsrevelation.Believersareresponsibletomanage
theirlivesaccordingtotheWORDaddressedtotheChurch.Andinfaithfulobedienceinthe
Spiritspower,Christsbodywillbelivingonearthasthelivingexpressionoftheresurrected
Head(Acts.6:815;7:55,56,59,60).

Kingdombringsthefinalstageoffulfillmentoftheprogressofrevelation.WhatGod
designedinthecreationofAdamisaccomplishedinthelastAdamwhowillmediateGods
reignonearth.ThewillofGodonearthwillbewhatthewillofGodinheavenhasalwaysbeen
(Matt.6:10).ThestewardsofGodsWordwillmanagetheirlivesunderChristsreignand
accordingtothepropheticWordbeingfulfilledintheclimax.

Conclusion

Thebiblicalaccountofsalvationhistorytakestheshapeofanarrativefromcreationto
climax.Thereisastorylinehavingabeginning,amiddle,andanend.Thebeginningisasetting
ofthestage,themiddleconsistsofaseriesofplotconflicts,andtheendfeaturesaresolution
oftheconflict.Theseareconventionsofstorytellingingeneralbutnotofwritingfiction.10
Finally,theliteraryconventionofcharacterization,thatis,howcharactersareportrayedina
story,isalsopartofthenarrativeofsalvationhistory.Howbiblicalcharactersaredepictedhave
animportantfunctioninhelpingthereaderseehowtheyshouldapprehendGodand
apprehendthemselvesthroughthelivesofhistoricstewards.Thismetanarrativecanenablethe
electtoseelifebiblicallyandbetransformedbythestoryandthusbeconformedtoGodswill.

10

Whilethegenreoffictionoftenusesstorytellingtechniques,notallstorytellingisfictional.Indeed,mostancient
examplesofhistoryusestorytellingtechniques.Onemustbecarefulnottoequatemethodandresult.Yetthe
veracityofBiblicalhistorystandsaparteventhoughthegenreissimilar.