In his book A Concise New Testament Theology, I. Howard Marshall writes, “The focus of the New Testament writings is to be found in their presentation of Jesus as the Savior and Lord send by God, through whom he is acting to bring salvation to the world. More specifically, they are the documents of a mission. The New Testament,” Marshall continues, “is primarily about God’s mission and the message associated with it.”
This evaluation of the Bible helps us interpret the Bible in light of its intention. Jesus is portrayed as the rescuer sent by the Father to inaugurate his kingdom. The missional church is subsequently sent to continue the kingdom mission as they proclaim him as such and call people to faith. Those who respond to the message of the Kingdom continue the mission through declaration and demonstration. The church, therefore, is a missional agent of the Kingdom which seeks to glorify God.
These words are encouraging to those who embrace the missional church movement. They provide a solid theological testimony regarding the purpose of Scripture and its relationship to the church. If Marshall is correct, and I think he is, we must consider how we treat the Bible. People who are serious about living missionally understand the Bible to be more than merely a book for academic consumption. Its words instruct all things missional, and when properly approached, give guidance for living life in the Kingdom of God to the fullest limit.
For those who are interested in New Testament theology, Marshall’s book is a worthwhile investment. Marshall has written a chapter on each of the New Testament books and has highlighted the important theological contributions each book has made to the Bible. The book was recommended to me by my friend Dr. Bruce Corley (President, BH Carroll Theological Institute) and have I enjoyed its pages. In turn I commend it to both pastors and Christians who are serious students of Scripture.