The King In His Beauty by Tom Schreiner is a book about biblical theology. But my suspicion is the author would agree enthusiastically with my assertion that the book is a worship manual. Schreiner’s work weighs in at 646 pages. Each page is filled with heart-warming theology and mind-stretching propositions. But when the work is considered as a whole – it is, in the final analysis a worship manual.
The book is arranged in nine parts.
Part 1: Creation to the Edge of Canaan
Part 2: The Story of Possession, Exile, and Return
Part 3: lsrael’s Songs and Wisdom
Part 4: Judgment and Salvation in the Prophets
Part 5: The Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke-Acts
Part 6: Eternal Life in the Gospel and Epistles of John
Part 7: The End of Ages Has Come According to the Apostle Paul
Part 8: Living in the Last Days According to the General Epistles
Part 9: The Kingdom Will Come
Schreiner makes it clear that Redemptive history is going somewhere: “The Scriptures promise that there will be a new heaven and a new earth – a new creation where the glory of God will illumine the cosmos. So, the kingdom of God has a threefold dimension, focusing on God as King, on human beings as subjects of the King, and the universe as the place where his kingship is worked out.”
The author demonstrates over and over again that Christ is the King; Christ intends to fulfill his promises; that the offspring of the woman will be the Victor; he will triumph over the serpent through the son of David (Gen. 3:15). He reiterates the theme that runs throughout the Scripture, namely, the theme of judgment followed by salvation. But the most penetrating reality in Schreiner’s work is the main truth he wishes to communicate, namely, the people of God will see the King in his beauty.
This is the book I’ve been searching for since my days as a Seminary student. For years, I was taught the distinctives of classical Dispensationalism that saw two peoples of God, a distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven, a rigid distinction between Israel and the church, and a pre-tribulational rapture. Schreiner is not content to rest in the land of classical dispensational theology, a terrain that is filled with horrible hermeneutics and wacky exegetical propositions. He moves forward and as far as I can tell, lands squarely in a historical premillennial arena.
One paragraph in particular is worth citing; a paragraph that has ended a thirty year search for answers to the dispensational dilemma. Schreiner writes, “The coming of Jesus Christ means that the old covenant, the Sinai covenant, has passed away, and the new covenant has become a reality. The promises of Abraham are being fulfilled in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now inclusion in the people of God is not restricted to Israel but is open to both Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus. Those who trust in him are truly children of Abraham (emphasis mine). Those who belong to Jesus Christ and who have received the gift of the Spirit are truly circumcised. Those who are members of the new creation are the new and true Israel of God. In the church of Jesus Christ the worldwide promises given to Abraham are becoming a reality, for Jews and Gentiles are one body in Christ, equally members of the people of God together” (p. 642).
Schreiner also clears up the essence of the land promises that are a major part of the dispensational warp and woof: “The new new heavens and the new earth fulfill the land promise given to the patriarchs, but now the promise encompasses the entire universe” (p 617).
The King in His Beauty is a fitting companion to recent works that have also jettisoned classical dispensational distinctives, namely, Kingdom Through Covenant by Gentry and Wellum and God’s Glory in Salvation Through Judgment by James Hamilton. Indeed, it is an essential part of every pastoral toolbox. But “toolbox” is the wrong metaphor. The King in His Beauty is a treasure chest. Readers who open this treasure chest will be immediately struck with the majesty, sovereignty, and the beauty of the Lord Jesus Christ! Open the worship manual and respond rightly with God-centered worship!