This week, Pastor John hands over the TAGD keyboard to Taylor Mendoza, Northpoint’s Director of Students Ministries
Does the Bible tell One Story?
In the fall of 2012, I was a freshman in the Bachelors of Applied Theology program at California Baptist University, where I experienced an awakening. One of my professors consistently used the word, meta-narrative when he referred to the Old Testament’s story arc. The phrase meta-narrative literally means master story or the biggest story.
My professor told us that the Bible tells one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation. Even though there are many stories captured in the 66 individual books in our Bible, God was telling us one story. Much like Sauron’s Ring of Power in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, my professor argued that there was “one story to rule them all.” For example, it is not a coincidence that the biblical story starts in a garden (Genesis 1) and ends in a garden-city (Revelation 22).
Today among theologians, the idea of a master story is all the rage. They are wrestling with the question: Does the Bible tell One Story? The answer is an enthusiastic yes! The Bible was written by a myriad of human authors ranging from Moses to Paul. Yet, at the same time, 2 Peter tells us that no human author wrote on his own. The Holy Spirit inspired these men to tell one cohesive story (2 Peter 1:19-21). You could say that the Bible has one Divine Author, namely God himself.
Beginning to look at the Bible as one story may help you put your Bible together. It may cause you to see things that you may have never seen before. It takes your Bible reading from black and white to Technicolor. It brings clarity and shape to your understanding of who God is; what He is doing; and where this world will end up. Understanding the big story is the secret to finding Jesus in the Old Testament. And it is the hinge on which you can understand all of world history.
My modest yet revolutionizing proposal for you is this: Try Reading the Bible as one big story. Today, most theologians are in agreement that the one big story is “God’s wonderful plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.” Kevin Deyoung, who has written an excellent children’s book on this topic called, The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher brings us back to the Garden, begins in Genesis and moves to Revelation painting a picture that explains the beauty and power of Christ in all the Bible. His book is highly recommended and a must-read for this upcoming Christmas morning.
Another way to think about this master story is to divide the Bible into four major chapters. Chapter 1 is Creation. Chapter 2 is The Fall. Chapter 3 is Redemption. Chapter 4 is Consummation. This was wonderfully displayed and masterfully articulated in our recent Choir Christmas Concert. The Christmas season is all about entering into God’s chapter of redemption.
Creation (Chapter 1)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth (Genesis 1:1). God is the creator of both the natural and supernatural world. God has always existed in perfect love (Ephesians 1:1) and has always been one, yet distinct in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God spoke and out of nothing the world came into being. He created man and woman in his image (Genesis 1:28) and gave them a purpose best articulated in the Westminster Confession: To glorify God (by) enjoying him forever. Adam and Eve enjoyed God with personal interaction and unhindered praise. God dwelt among his creation without separation or void.
Fall (Chapter 2)
Yet, despite all the wonders of creation, our first parents disobeyed God and exchanged the glory of God, for their own glory (Genesis 3). They were removed from the Garden of Eden, death entered the world, the relationship between Creator and creation was severed, and humanity no longer enjoyed God by glorifying him. Since then, not a single person has avoided sin, but rather all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). Paradise was lost. The wages of sin was death (Romans 6:23). Hell, along with eternal punishment, destruction, and banishment are the result (Revelation 19-20). And now all of creation groans inwardly longing for some sort of redemption (Romans 8).
Redemption (Chapter 3)
But God being rich in mercy and because of his great love, poured out his grace by bringing good news to those who have fallen (Ephesians 2). God has provided a way of salvation through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The perfect Son, the perfect solution, the perfect man would die a gruesome and humiliating death on a cross in order to redeem that which was lost (John 3:16; Col. 2:9; Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ has paid our debt, he took our punishment as our substitute, and he became our blood sacrifice washing us clean. The snake crusher crushed the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:18-20) and bought at the price of his own blood his chosen people.
Consummation (Chapter 4)
The ultimate gift of such a redemption is the promise that we get God back. We are reconciled to God (Colossians 1:21-22). In the near future, all of heaven and earth will sing, “Holy, Holy, Holy. Worthy is the Lamb who was Slain!” All of God’s people from every tribe, language, nation, and country will stand together in worship to their great God (Revelation 7). And God will wipe away every tear, make all enemies his footstool, and create a new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22). Best of all, we will dwell with him again and we will see his face.
As you read your Bible ask yourself the question: How does what I am reading fit into the biggest story? What chapter am I in? Now, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ illuminate the Scriptures for you in such a way that you glorify him even more.