9 minutes to read
The Bible is a book of stories - not disconnected, unrelated or a jumbled book like the Tinkle, but different stories that are connected, and built to a grand climax. Upon careful observation, one could say that the Bible is God’s story. It begins with God, and it ends with God. It is about a good God who worked to rescue mankind and this broken world from the corruptions of sin. In order to understand the Bible, then, we must see God at work in each of the stories, characters, poems, prophecies, and commands.
From God’s perspective, the Bible is one basic story. It contains betrayal, envy, slavery, sickness, war, hatred, murder, and evil. But it also contains rescue, protection, pardon, preservation, mercy, and beauty. Though evil is present and prevails frequently, God’s sovereign, wise, and faithful work will bring about good.
Unless we understand this basic story, we will not be able to understand our world and how to live in it as God’s people. If God has deliberately given us the Bible in the shape of a story, then only as we attend to it as a story and actively appropriate it as our story will we feel the full impact of its authority and illumination in our lives. Our need is to understand this greater and more basic story. Our lives as individuals will take on new significance as we understand how our lives fit into the story of God. The deeper we understand the story of the Bible, the better we understand God. We will be able to appropriate this story for ourselves only when we see that the Bible is nothing less than God’s basic story.
So how does this story span out in the Bible?
1. The Beginning (Gen. 1, 2).
The Bible tells us how all things came into existence. In the beginning, God created everything (Gen. 1, 2). And because He created everything, His authority extends to every part of the universe. When God looked at everything He had created, He said, it was “very good.” There was perfect harmony. God also created man and woman and placed them in a beautiful garden to serve as His representatives on earth. As His image-bearers, they were commissioned to rule as God himself would rule, and spread the blessing of God’s rule through all the earth. God planted a tree in the garden to remind them that God was the ultimate Ruler, and they were to trust Him for their needs. He had provided them with everything they needed.
2. There Was A Fall (Gen. 3).
Instead of trusting the good rule of God, they chose to trust the devil’s words. The temptation in the garden was not about eating a fruit, but about exercising autonomy. Sin entered this world when they believed the words of the devil. Their sin was not only “a rebellion against God, but a replacement of God.” In the garden, they chose “self-rule.” Instead of “spreading the blessing that came through God’s rule, they spread the curse through their rejection of God’s rule.” God had said that “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”. Physical death entered humanity through their sin. Pain, suffering, sickness, sorrow, hatred, distrust, betrayal, envy, greed, anger, covetousness, pride, hostility, shame, and fear would now mark human experience. They spread the curse of human sin to the ends of the earth. But they suffered a greater death - a death in their relationship with God. Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. The perfect harmony that God had created was no more.
3. There Was A Promise (Gen. 3:15).
Even though human rebellion marred God’s creation, He set out to restore it. He did not turn his back on a world bent to destruction. He promised to reverse the curse of humanity’s sin and restore His creation - through a seed. The verse Genesis 3:15 is God’s first pronouncement of “good news.” The good news was that God would send a Saviour to defeat Satan even though he would experience an awful attack from the evil one. Satan would cause the Saviour to suffer, but the Saviour would crush his influence. This verse sets the stage for the rest of the Bible. Every portion of the Bible from here on has a redemptive context. God is the One who set this context. So if we are to understand the story of the Bible, we have to read it the way God has written His story for us. In His story, Genesis 3:15 paves the path for the reader to see how Jesus is the Saviour that God promised for all mankind. He is the culmination and climax of the whole story. So the stage is set for Him; everything that happens on the stage relates to Jesus.
4. God Kept His Word.
Adam and Eve had failed to spread the blessing of God’s rule. So God chose Abraham to bless the nations. From Abraham, a nation was born. God would promise again that the seed He promised in Gen 3:15 would come through this nation (Gen. 49:10). This nation was Israel. They were God’s chosen people and they were chosen to be a light to the nations. Israel was God’s holy people. God gave them the law to help them. But they failed to bring God’s blessing to the nations. Jesus is the True Israel through whom God’s blessings would reach the nations. But the way the nations will be blessed will be through the cross. On the cross, Jesus became the substitute for mankind. His death and resurrection conquered sin and its effects on God’s creation. “In His death, He took upon Himself the judgment of the world. In His resurrection, He inaugurated a new era.” All those who believe in Jesus will enjoy the blessings of God’s good rule. They will be freed from the tyranny of sin and taste the effects of resurrection life. The promise that God made in Gen 3:15 was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. What God had promised, He fulfilled. He is a faithful God.
5. Our Place In The Story.
God’s blessings now came to the nations through Jesus Christ. His good rule has expanded to all nations through the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ. God not only sent his Son to redeem and restore His creation, but He also poured out His Spirit into our hearts so that we can experience the effects of Jesus’ resurrection. He has given us a new identity and made us a new creation. Those who trust in Jesus are the people of God, who live in this world tasting the effects of God’s good rule. The evidence of resurrection power is seen in how God’s people dwell together in peace and unity. This is the church: a people who live as God’s people with a new identity, living the new life God has given them. The church’s mission is to bring the good news of Jesus to the nations, but also “witness to the restoring power of God” as citizens, consumers, students, husbands, mothers, bankers, engineers, accountants, plumbers, artists, and friends. It will mean that the people of God “embody God’s renewing power in economics and business, politics and citizenship, education and scholarship, family and neighbourhood, leisure and play.” Through our efforts, God is restoring his broken creation. However, this world is not free from the effects of sin. One day, God’s people will enjoy total freedom from the effects of sin when Jesus returns. Sin and death will finally and fully be defeated. The church lives with this hope and purifies herself. Till then the church lives with hope, and functions as a foretaste of God’s rule to come, giving the world a sneak preview of the future.
6. The End Of The Story (Rev. 21 - 22).
One day we will reach the last page of the story. “Jesus will return as King and He will renew all things – end the world of evil, reconcile His people, and renew His creation – finally and ultimately making the world God’s kingdom. This is the goal. The goal is heaven and earth coming together – a new creation.” That’s why the Bible ends with a picture of Jesus on the throne, proclaiming, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). God’s people will finally live with God, free from sin and death, “unharried by worry and pain,” enjoying the favour of God for all eternity. Eternity is when Jesus’ people will taste the peace, joy, and freedom of living under the reign of Christ. Eternity is when Christ will gather and dwell with His people “from every tribe and language and nation in a world renewed by grace.” Eternity is when we “will finally live as God intended, under His perfect rule, in the place that He prepared for us, living with Him forever.”
This is a story we are called to join. Jesus is making new creations as He redeems more and more people from around the world. When Jesus does that, we get to see God fulfil the promise He made to Abraham (all the nations will be blessed through you). We have “the joy of seeing God at work reverse the curse and defeat the devil.” We have the opportunity of bringing the gospel to a world that is still suffering in sin and death. We get to announce the good news of Jesus’ victory and invite them to join the story that God is writing, till Jesus returns, and we enter eternity. This is the story of the Bible.
- “Seek first: How the kingdom of God changes everything,” Jeremy R. Treat
- “Unlimited Grace,” Bryan Chapell
- “The whole story of the Bible in 16 verses,” Chris Bruno
- “The drama of Scripture,” Craig G. Bartholomew & Michael W. Goheen