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Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry (9Marks) Paperback – April 1, 2010

4.8 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Every thoughtful preacher or teacher of the Bible sooner or later faces questions of the nature of biblical theology, its relationship to doctrine (systematic theology), and the practical application of both to the ministry that edifies the church. Following in the footsteps of Geerhardus Vos and Edmund Clowney, Michael Lawrence has provided us with a masterly study that relates biblical theology to systematics, and then applies both to the ministry of the church. This skillfully executed integrative approach breaks new ground in the practical application of biblical theology. Its thoroughness without being over-technical makes it accessible to anyone who wants to be a better preacher or teacher of the Bible.”
Graeme Goldsworthy, Former Lecturer in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics, Moore Theological College

“I thoroughly appreciated Lawrence’s fresh approach to ecclesiology. While there are many treasures in this book, its primary richness comes from following the flow of redemptive history five times over—each time from a different perspective, built around a different theme. Looking at biblical theology like one stone with many facets was an exceptionally enlightening approach. This is a book to be read and re-read.”
John MacArthur, Pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California; President, The Master's College and Seminary

“If the kind of biblical theology described and commended by Michael Lawrence in this superb book were to take root in the preaching and teaching ministry of pastors, and get into the bloodstream of lay people in the churches, things would bode well indeed for the improvement of our collective grasp of and obedience to the whole counsel of God. Lawrence not only does a brilliant job of introducing a sound biblical theology, but also relates it to the ministry of the church. He offers one of the finest and most accessible discussions of the relation between biblical and systematic theology that I’ve ever read. This is a pastoral must-read for our times. I cannot recommend this book too highly.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, Chancellor and CEO, Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi

“Studies on the relationship of theology to ministry seem to be quite rare. In fact, some books designed as ‘guides for ministry’ often portray suspicion of and hostility toward the theological enterprise. On the other hand, some theologians think that such guides are not worthy of serious attention. What is desperately needed is a work that recognizes the significance of the work of theology for ministry, while simultaneously recognizing the importance of doing theology for the church. Michael Lawrence has brilliantly met this need in this clearly written and compelling volume, which envisions afresh the work of pastor-theologians. I believe that Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church will certainly be one of the most important books for pastors and theologians to read this year.”
David S. Dockery, President, Trinity International University

“I commend both Lawrence$rsquo;s book and the wonderful ministry at Capital Hill Baptist Church, where they are putting this book into practice.”
James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church

“Usually, you have to go to different sections of the bookstore to find good books on biblical theology, systematic theology, ministry, the church, and the Christian life. At the very least, the relationship between theory and practice seems strained. However, this book brings these concerns together. Michael Lawrence believes that good shepherds are theologians and good theologians are shepherds. For anyone who believes that theology needs the church and the church needs theology, this will be a welcome resource. For anyone playing with the idea, it will be a compelling one.”
Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California; author, Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story

“According to the Apostle Paul, one of the central works of pastoral ministry is rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and it takes diligent study to be able to do it. According to Michael Lawrence, it is also vital to rightly apply the word of truth to the life of a congregation, and to be certain that the application is faithful to the united story of the entire Scripture. In his book Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, Lawrence skillfully guides his readers in constructing a biblical theology, “the whole story of the whole Bible,” and teaches them how to derive lessons from that story. But Lawrence’s heartbeat is the right application of the story and those lessons to the daily life scenarios every minister faces. This work is a succinct, readable manual on the right application of the storyline of the whole Bible to the common issues of daily life which pastors will inevitably face as they minister in the 21st century. It is a valuable addition to the library of any pastor who yearns to see God’s word bear fruit for eternity.”
Andrew Davis, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina

“I am grateful that this book has been written. It’s an ambitious book—broad in scope and simultaneously rich in insight. Its biblical, systematic and pastoral theology are presented in a lucid and accessible way, its case studies are pastorally helpful, and its polemics are thought-provoking and penetrating.Michael has done us a great favor by grounding his subject material in the cut and thrust of ordinary pastoral ministry while at the same time stimulating us intellectually. His unshakable commitment to propositional revelation, the centrality of the Bible in church ministry, and his unflinching belief that God works by his Word are a great foil to much theology in vogue in the church today.This book is a bell ringing in the fog of American Christianity—with its extremes of prosperity, market-driven, and emergent theology—that we at the ends of the earth in South Africa have sadly not escaped. It calls us back to the old fashioned, tried and tested practices of exegesis, hermeneutics, and preaching that have fed the Christian church for centuries. May God use it to nourish his church, which often seems undernourished both in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.”
Grant J. Retief, Rector, Christ Church, Umhlanga, Durban, South Africa

“With biblical illiteracy in the church at an all-time high, faithless and banal preaching the seeming norm, and Christian leaders impressed more by stories of success in the marketplace than the biblical story of redemption, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church comes as a much needed correction. Michael Lawrence is surely right: One must understand the grand story of Scripture to rightly interpret its constituent parts. When the story is misunderstood or ignored, then Christian preaching and ministry will inevitably suffer. Through definition, explanation, and example, Lawrence has produced a thorough and practical guide to correct biblical interpretation, Spirit-empowered exposition, and faithful ministry.”
Todd L. Miles, Assistant Professor of Theology, Western Seminary, Portland, Oregon

“Biblical theology is the missing tool for so many pastors— and yet is such an essential tool for rightly handling the Word of God. Michael Lawrence leads us step by step from theological foundations all the way through to real life applications of biblical theology. In other words he shows us how to read and use the Bible rightly on its own terms. He skillfully blends scholarly insight with down-to-earth pastoral awareness and covers a huge amount of ground in the process. This is a great example of theological thinking for the work of ministry. You may not agree with every conclusion he draws but you cannot fail to benefit from interacting with his thinking.”
Graham Beynon, Minister, Avenue Community Church, Leicester, UK

“I am deeply thankful for this important book and pray it will be widely read and greatly influential! There is no greater need in the church than biblically grounded theological discernment that informs everyday life. The perspective and methods of ‘doing theology’ that Michael Lawrence provides are crucial for developing this distinctively Christian view of life. Ministry methods and foci today are so often determined by pragmatism, consumerism, trends, and the latest opinion polls rather the an holistic understanding of the Bible. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church points the way out of this man-centered approach and helps equip leaders for God-honoring, gospel-advancing ministry. Lawrence writes with the depth of a careful theologian and the heart and experience of a loving pastor. Here he models what he is wanting to produce with this book—pastor/theologians who understand the whole counsel of God’s word, and are able to translate it into the lives of God’s people for the glory of God.”
Erik Thoennes, Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies, Chair, Biblical and Theological Studies Theology Department, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University; Pastor, Grace Evangelical Free Church, La Mirada, California

About the Author

Michael Lawrence serves as the lead pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon. He earned a PhD in church history from Cambridge University and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Lawrence is the author of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church.

Thomas R. Schreiner is the James Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds an MDiv and ThM from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and a PhD from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has published a number of articles and book reviews in scholarly journals.

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Product Details

  • Series: 9Marks
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway (April 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433515083
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433515088
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By James on July 12, 2010
Format: Paperback
Biblical theology is a specific type of way to study the Bible from the perspective of redemptive history. It is an attempt to look at how God revealed himself to humanity at different stages of redemption: at creation, at the fall, during the time of Noah, Abraham and the patriarchs, and on throughout the Old Testament into the New Testament.

Since Geerhardus Vos wrote his classic work Biblical Theology Biblical Theology, evangelicals have continued to realize the importance of the discipline. In fact, we have numerous books out now that are good introductions to the task of Biblical theology, and Michael Lawrence has added a helpful resource with his book Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry.

Lawrence means two things by biblical theology. First, he means sound theology, theology that is biblical. Second, he means what is properly called biblical theology: the whole story of the whole Bible. Usually the first definition is closer to what we call systematic theology, and for that reason, Lawrence devotes two chapters to the integration to biblical theology and systematic theology.

The book is divided into three sections. Section 1 examines the tools that are needed to interpret the Bible, which includes exegetical tools, Biblical theological tools, and systematic theological tools. Section 2 provides examples of the task of biblical theology under the title, "The Stories to be Told." Here Lawrence looks at Creation, Fall, Love, Sacrifice, and Promise. Section 3 concludes the book with "Putting It Together For the Church," examining some case studies of preaching and teaching and how it applies to the local church.
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For some time, I have wanted to require my students to purchase a basic biblical theology--like Goldsworthy's "According to Plan"--that was very specific about how to apply all of this in the daily life and ministry of the the local church. This book does everything that I envisioned and more. Outstanding.
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This is a down to earth book on the basis for Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology and how to use in the church congreagtion. Easy and interesting to read. Good refresher for Pastors and other trained leadership in a local church. A highlight from the book is when the author states that when people read the Bible Story they are doing Biblical theology and the process of how they sum up passages, doctrine and apply them in their life is sytematic theology. He furthers states that even if we do not recognize that is what we are doing;we still do it.
This is a must read for Pastors.
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Michael Lawrence has written both a fine introduction to biblical theology and also an apologetic for its centrality in the ministry. The work is readable, has helpful reviews throughout, and an annotated bibliography, but will the evangelical church listen?
The first section defines biblical and systematic theology and explains how to do them. "Biblical theology is the attempt to tell the whole story of the Bible as Christian Scripture. It is a story, therefore, that has an authoritative and normative claim on our lives, because it's the story of God's glory in salvation through judgment" (89). "Systematic theology is the attempt to summarize in an orderly and comprehensive manner what the whole Bible has to say about any given topic" (89). Lawrence thus rightly criticizes those who pit biblical theology against systematic theology, often limiting the former to descriptive statements and characterizing the latter as imposing a philosophical system on the biblical text.
The second section demonstrates the utility and complementary nature of biblical and systematic theology. It expounds five major biblical themes (creation, fall, love, sacrifice and promise) from the perspective of both disciplines. For someone wanting to teach or preach on one of these themes this section is pure gold.
The third section shows how Lawrence's approach would influence our preaching and teaching of specific issues in the church. He develops briefly case studies in four different areas: counseling, missions, care for the poor, and church/state relations.
Why should we care? Lawrence contends, "the most practical thing we can do, the most important tool we need in ministry, is biblical theology" (15). This theologian turned pastor readily agrees but many will not.
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What is biblical theology and why is it important to the local church? It's easy to understand why theology in general is important since we need to know what we believe and apply certain biblical ideas to contemporary living. But when we talk about the importance of theology, I think we usually have in mind systematic theology (i.e., what does the Bible as a whole say about X?). Michael Lawrence makes the case for biblical theology; not only its importance, but how it is a necessary complement to systematic theology, as well as the tools biblical theology provides for us to read and apply scripture.

The great strength of Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church (BTLC) lies in translating a potentially complicated, sprawling topic into digestible paragraphs that uphold the nuances in this discursive discipline. A basic example is how he defines "biblical theology". Lawrence gives us three definitions from different authors:

"Biblical Theology is the branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible" - Geerhardus Vos (p. 88)

"...biblical theology...seeks to uncover and articulate the unity of all the biblical texts taken together, resorting primarily to the categories of those texts themselves." - D. A. Carson (p. 88)

"[Biblical theology] contends that to read the Bible as unified Scripture is not just one interpretive option among others, but that which best corresponds to the nature of the text itself, given its divine reveltion. As such, [biblical theology[, as a discipline, not only provides the basis for understanding how texts in one part of Scripture relate to all other texts, but it also serves as the basis and underpinning for all theologizing...." - Steve Wellum (p.
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