Perhaps no one has had a more profound impact on the way I read Scripture in the last few years as has the late biblical theologian Dr. Edmund Clowney (1917-2005). Clowney’s ability to see Christ in all of Scripture is formative and unique. Dr. Clowney had such a profound grasp on the “unfolding story” of Scripture, perhaps captured best in his concise little volume, The Unfolding Mystery (1988). Dr. Clowney’s many audio lessons can be found both on the site of Westminster Seminary as well as SermonAudio.com where literally dozens of lectures can be heard to assist us in capturing his vision of Christ in all of Scripture but particularly in the OT. That is really what Clowney’s work is all about, Christ and how He makes the whole Bible “Christian Scripture.” We should probably begin with that very observation. For Clowney, the Bible is a massive Christian book that begins in Genesis and culminates in Revelation. From cover to cover the volume of the book is written of Christ, His redemptive work, His redemptive plan, and His redeemed people. It is in the context of these people and their lives that God’s story of redemption unfolds. From Adam’s creation and fall to the nation of Israel’s captivity and exiles; each scene is a Christological drama for Clowney. He writes:
“Only God’s revelation could maintain a drama that stretches over thousands of years as though it they were days or hours. Only God’s revelation can build a story where the end is anticipated from the beginning, and where the guiding principle is not chance or fate, but promise. Human authors may build fiction around a plot they have devised, but only God can shape history to a real and ultimate purpose. That purpose of God from the beginning centers on His Son.” (Edmund P. Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament, 25th Anniversary Edition (Philipsburg: P&R Publishing, 2013) 13).
This is what Clowney is all about, seeing the unfolding of a great divine drama, Trinitarian in nature and Christological in essence; this drama supersedes all other biblical plots. It is not just about seeing what is going to happen with Abraham, is he going to believe the promise or not but what is going to happen with the promise? It is not about just following the Exodus and the wilderness wondering but how is God going to bring a greater prophet than Moses and a greater Exodus for His people? David was a great king and a great warrior that kills his ten thousands but where is David’s Lord and Son who makes innumerable multitudes to live and who’s throne will never end? When we trace the story of Scripture with Jesus in view, we can never settle with life lessons and moral maxims for our own lives, we must see Jesus and learn from the lessons of Christology. Leading up to this Emmaus Conference (and until TEC 2015 as well), we will continue to think with Clowney about God’s purpose centering on His Son from the beginning or as
Jesus himself taught the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24.27). The story did not end with the resurrection, having accomplished redemption for us, the story of Jesus had really just begun. We have only to read it again from the beginning.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.