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Though it may not appear to be the one main theme in parts of the Old Testament, the Bible is fundamentally a Christocentric book – that is to say it centers on Jesus. The New Testament is the Word and witness of Jesus, while the Old Testament is prophetically anticipating him.
As should be expected, theology and dogmatics find their center in the same place as Scripture. This center is Jesus. Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) once wrote, “The doctrine of Christ is not the starting point, but it is certainly the center of the whole of dogmatics. All other doctrines anticipate, prepare for, or flow from it.” Thus, it is fitting that a course on the doctrine of salvation should start with the doctrine of Christ.
The center or core of Jesus’ life was his death and resurrection. This was not only the center of his life, but is the center of the Scriptures. Dr. Gaffin describes the four Gospels as “Passion narratives with lengthy introductions.” Likewise, Paul told the Corinthians that he delivered to them “as of first importance” that Christ died and was risen according to the Scriptures.
Dr. Gaffin argues that it is a summary of the time when Jesus was teaching his disciples of himself from the Old Testament.
Apostolic preaching of the death and resurrection was preached from the Scriptures.
Yes, but we must be careful not to probe this question too strongly because we simply cannot have definitive answers. Dr. Gaffin does, however, point to 1 Peter 1:10-12 and John 12:41 to show signs of how the prophets understood what they were saying.
It depends on what we mean by this question. Jesus will always be found in the context of any given story, but that does not necessarily mean that we must find a unique significance to Christ in every single sentence that we read in the Old Testament.
It is better to speak of a single decree because it is found in the eternality of God.
No, this reading is misleading. It blurs the distinction between what God is doing in history and what God has done in his eternal counsel. Jesus was not slain before the foundations of the world. If we read it this way, then Christ’s passion in history becomes unnecessary. A more accurate reading would be, “…written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world.”
Some schools of thought see the death of Christ as a hypothetical necessity, while we would say that it is an absolute necessity. Below are the common views today.
The question is often rooted in the order of an eternal decision. Dr. Gaffin, however, argues that the distinction is found more in the priority of the aspects of the single decree in eternity.
Deuteronomy 29:29. He says that these are the things of God that are not for us to know. If they were for us to know, we would know them.