(Read Part 1)
In the first installment in this series, we began to see an answer to this question: Is there a unifying principle to all of God’s activity?
As we learned, this principle will also include one’s approach to the Bible. What is the unifying center or theme of the Scriptures? This unifying center of all of God’s activity—with reference to the universe—will also be the unifying theme of the Bible. The two are correlative to each other.
- The covenant.
- The promise.
- God’s sovereignty.
- God’s holiness.
- God’s rulership.
- Communion between God and man.
- God’s design.
- God Himself.
- Salvation history.
- A no-principle.
A Proposed Unifying Principle/Center
God’s ultimate purpose of getting glory to Himself would seem to entail a goal to His activity. This goal is that which unifies His activity, or becomes the fundamental rationale for what He does in glorifying Himself. The most primitive purpose of God is His activity to glorify Himself, but that purpose should be connected to some less remote, penultimate end on the historical level.
This goal, or unifying center, should also carry the means of attaining it. This involves the expending of God’s power and influences in order to accomplish this goal on the historical level. In other words, this goal, which becomes the principle of unification, entails a plan of achievement. This plan structures God’s activities in accomplishing the goal within earth history. This plan of achievement is the dispensational program of God, the progressive unfolding of Divine revelation and the resultant stewardship responsibilities that devolve on mankind.
This goal, or principle of unification, with its means of accomplishment will also be the central theme of Scripture. The Bible is the embodiment or the objective truth-deposit of the propositional, verbal revelation on this or any other subject of Divine attitude and activity.
The Unifying Center
God’s ultimate purpose and the unifying principle of His activity is to glorify Himself by establishing a rule of loving sovereignty and fellowship with human beings in His image and dwelling with them forever.
This principle involves a two-fold relationship:
- “I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek. 37:27).
This relationship began with the creation of man in/as the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 11:7). Eventually this was expressed in terms of the covenant (cf. Gen. 17:7; Lev. 11:45; 22:31-33; 25:28; 26:44-45; Num. 15:41; Deut. 29:12-13; Jer. 7:23; 11:4; 30:22; 31:1, 33; 32:28; Ezek. 11:20; 14:11; 36:28; Zech. 8:8; 13:9).
- “I will dwell among them” (Ezek. 43:9).
This relationship began when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden, apparently on a daily basis (Gen 3:8). This must have been in the form of a Christophany (a temporary, preincarnate manifestation of the Son in human appearance). God’s “dwelling” with man after the fall into sin was probably in sporadic Christophanies, such as possibly to Cain (Gen. 4:9-15), Noah (Gen. 6:13-22; 7:16) and others. There was no permanent, visible abode of God until the glory cloud and the eventual construction of God’s “house” and “dwelling” (Deut. 12:5, 11; Ps. 74:7). The Hebrew word for tabernacle (mishkan) means dwelling (cf. Ex. 25:8; 34:26; Lev. 26:11-12; Ezek. 37:27; 43:9; Zech. 2:5, 10-11; 8:3; Rev. 21:3).
This principle accounts for all the activities of God external to Himself, such as:
The creation of the heavens and the earth was ultimately designed for mankind and culminated in the creation of the man and the woman in the image of God. The image of God enables man to enjoy the creation, fulfill God’s mandate to rule the earth, have loving fellowship with God, and thus to glorify Him.
- The Dispensational Program.
This program of stewardship responsibility began with the Dominion Mandate of Genesis 1:26-27, and is forwarded by the progressive unfolding of God’s revelational light in succeeding dispensations. The dispensational program is the means or structure by which God achieves His goal of a rule of loving sovereignty and fellowship. This program culminates in the mediatorial (millennial) kingdom of God on earth, which then issues in a transition to the eternal universal kingdom.
- The Permission of the Fall and the Subsequent Provision of Redemption.
In the inscrutable wisdom and sovereignty of God, He both permitted sin to enter the universe and provided a means of reconciliation so that He could have fellowship with His image-bearers and be glorified in it all.
- The Final Consummation.
The consummation will be in the eschaton, in the Messianic, millennial kingdom and its transition to the eternal kingdom. God and His creation will be in perfect harmony as He rules in loving sovereignty. Each facet of the universe will glorify God to its fullest capacity.
(Read Part 3)
Dr. Rolland D. McCune served at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary from 1981 to 2009 as professor of systematic theology, dean of the faculty and president. He previously taught at Central Baptist Seminary for 14 years. He is the author of A Systematic Theology of Biblical Christianity, 3 vols. (Allen Park, MI: DBTS, 2008-2010) as well as other books and many journal articles. It is a truly a blessing to include him as a contributing author to Dispensational Publishing House.
Copyright © 2016 by Dr. Rolland D. McCune. Used by permission of the author.
Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995
by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)