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Professors John Frame and Steve Childers combine their almost 90 years of experience (Frame 49 Systematic Theology, Childers 22 Practical Theology & 15 in church planting and pastoring) to help you apply theology to life and ministry. Study the 8 foundations Scripture provides for developing sound theology.
The essence of God’s revelation of himself in Scripture is that he is Lord. Sound theology is about God’s Lordship over all things.
The Lordship Foundation in Theology
Our study of God in theology must be not only biblical and missional but also centered on the supremacy of God as Lord. The essence of God’s revelation of himself in Scripture is that he is Lord.
Throughout the Bible, one of the most significant ways God reveals his nature is by his many names. Theologians suggest many groupings and distinctions between them.
But almost all agree that God’s name Yahweh (YHWH in Hebrew, or LORD in English–often capitalized) is the most significant name of God in the Old Testament.
This English name for God, LORD, the Hebrew name Lord (Adon), and the Greek name Lord (Kurios), occur over 7000 times in the Bible. All throughout history recorded in Scripture, we learn that God works in the lives of his people so they will know he is LORD (e.g. Exod 6:7).
Therefore, the essence of theology is the study of God in Scripture to know who he is and what he does as Lord. And this fundamental confession of God’s Lordship summarizes the main message of the Bible.
When God appears to Moses in the burning bush, Moses asks God what his name is to understand who he is and what he is like. God answers Moses, saying:
“I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I AM has sent me to you. Say this to the people of Israel: ‘YHWH (LORD), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’” (Exod 3:14-15).
In obedience to God’s command, Moses wrote this historic confession of faith: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:4-5).
God’s revelation as LORD in the Old Testament continues in the New Testament when God translates his personal name YHWH as Lord (Greek kurios) and applies the name to Jesus.
When the Jewish religious leaders ask Jesus, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” he answers, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM. So they picked up stones to throw at him (John 8:53, 58-59a).” This violent response to Jesus’ “I AM” statement shows that the religious leaders understood Jesus to be saying he was equal to God, who gave himself the name “I AM” in Exodus 3.
This same confession of God’s people in the Old Testament, that “God is LORD,” continues in the New Testament and today as “Jesus is Lord!” (Rom 10:9).
The Scriptures teach that God created the world to be an eternal, utopian, cosmic display of God’s glory as he rules over everything as Lord. God created us to reflect his glory as we find our joy in him and the mission he began at creation. His mission is to fill the earth and rule over it as Lord so that the paradise of his perfect rule will extend on earth for eternity.
However, evil entered the story through a real villain, Satan, who enticed humanity to sin. We lost paradise. As a result, God allowed Satan to set up his kingdom in this fallen world and to rule over it. The Apostle John writes, “The whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). This means that Satan now declares himself to be Lord and cries “Mine!” over all of God’s creation to rule over it for his evil purposes.
But the good news is that God, as Lord in Christ, is not only the Creator of all things but also the Redeemer and Restorer of all things lost in creation because of the Fall.
As our Redeemer Lord, Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserve to die for our sin. Through his death, Paul writes, “He disarmed all rulers and authorities putting them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Col. 2:15). Then God raised Him from the dead, proclaiming his ultimate victory over evil and inaugurating his new rule on earth as Lord.
After ascending to the right hand of God the Father, Jesus continues God’s mission on earth by redeeming and restoring all things lost in the Fall as “far as the curse is found.”1 In Philippians 2:9-11, the Apostle Paul describes why God exalted Jesus:
Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
When Jesus returns, he will reveal God’s Lordship by crushing Satan under his feet (Rom 16:20). Paul writes: “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (1 Cor 15:24-25).
At the return of Christ, he will reveal the full extent of God’s rule and overcome all enemies of God’s Lordship and honor. This promise of God’s future rule as Lord gives us a biblical vision of Jesus’ present rule as our ascended Lord, as he is now putting all his and our enemies under his feet. So, when we battle with the enemies of God’s Lordship in our lives, we are not fighting alone.
Dutch statesman-theologian Abraham Kuyper (1880) presents this biblical vision of God’s Lordship:
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”
Although the study of God in Scripture should help us apply God’s Word to our lives so we can grow in our maturity in Christ, however, the end goal of theology is vertical, not horizontal.
Sound theology is about God’s Lordship over all things. It starts with God and finds its goal in God. The higher purpose of our study of God in Scripture is to know, love, serve, and honor God as Lord in all of life.
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