I have been thinking about writing an extended piece on the storyline of the Bible (hopefully I get around to it).
My reason for thinking about this is that I want Christians to understand the Bible story from creation all the way to the new creation. We must understand how the story of the Bible develops, and how each subplot fits into the overall drama.
For instance, where do the following accounts fit into the overall storyline: David and Goliath; Daniel in the lion’s den; Isaiah’s prophecy of the suffering servant; or Paul’s injunction of selecting elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3?
My concern is that we often view the various biblical parts without an understanding of how they fit together into the whole. We can be like the person who opens a box, which contains 3,000 small pieces that, together, make a beautiful picture. But, if we only examine the individual pieces, we will never see the puzzle.
If we are to understand the Bible’s story from beginning to end, in chronological order, it would be valuable to know what the overall picture looks like. It would be like pouring out all those puzzle pieces onto your kitchen table, and then staring at the picture on the front of the box.
Can we do the same with the Bible?
Of course, it is not possible to do that until we have read the story many times. How often have we picked up a contemporary novel, in which the plot of the story is given in the inside flap? In one short paragraph, the reader is made aware of what it is they will be reading.
I have often wondered if just such a paragraph could be given to anyone who begins to read the Bible for the first, or perhaps even for the one hundredth time. Let’s see if we can try to put just such a paragraph together.
(As a side note, I have spoken to some theologians who feel that this is not possible. From their perspective, the Bible contains not one plot line, but numerous plots without a single, overarching, unifying theme. But this would be true only if the Bible was simply a catalogue of various books. However, if the books of the Bible actually contribute to the overarching theme of the whole, we would discover not just the unity of the Bible, but God’s central message to the human race.)
So, to get a “picture” of the Bible, it might be helpful to put together a series of statements, each of which captures just a bit of this larger “puzzle
1) The Bible tells the story of the eternal God.
2) The Bible tells the story of the eternal God who created all things.
3) The great Creator owns all things and has never relinquished His right of ownership over everything. Therefore, He rules and governs everything by divine right.
4) Human beings, created by God, have fallen into open rebellion against Him, and are therefore engaged in a losing war against their creator.
5) In compassionate love, God has instituted a series of covenants. These are holy, binding agreements between God and man, whereby God binds Himself to declare His glory and bring about grace and mercy to the human race.
6) The climax of all of God’s dealings is found in the covenant God makes with the human race through the sacrifice and resurrection of his own Son.
7) All of history will be consummated in the end, when God through Christ defeats evil and establishes His eternal reign with those whom He has redeemed as His own.
But can we put all of that into one sentence? I recently heard one Bible teacher put it this way: “God reigns, saves and satisfies through covenant for His glory in Christ.”
That’s pretty good. Here is my attempt:
“The Bible tells the story of the one true God, who determined to declare His glory in creating, redeeming and glorifying a chosen people through his Son Jesus Christ.”
Well, at least, that’s my first attempt.