The Bible has always been intimidating to me. I’ve never fully understood the overall story or how all the individual books work together.
I never wanted to ask people basic questions about it – lest I look “late to the party.”
So often, the messages given on Sundays zoom in on specific verses or books of the Bible. I think it would be a healthy exercise to routinely take a step back – zoom out – and spend time reminding ourselves what it is we’re reading – why we even have the Bible in our hands in the first place…
In my journey of studying the scriptures this year, I’ve come across several summaries of what the Bible is.
These summaries have helped me frame what I’m reading – which has made reading the Bible less intimidating. Actually, it’s helped create an increased desire to know more.
So, what is the Bible?
The Bible is the vehicle that God has chosen to speak to His people throughout history.
It’s God revealing His character and love.
Picture a completely pitch dark theater with people walking around, aimlessly bumping into each other – with no purpose, no hope. The Bible is a stream of light coming from the ceiling of the theater – revealing our role in the story – revealing an alternate view of where we are, who we are, and the meaning of human existence.
The Bible is a book…that is really a library of books that all work together…and they all work together by contributing to an epic narrative….and epic unified story.
The Bible came into existence through the history of how God was at work with a people.
It emerged out of that history.
The story of the biblical texts has the people of Israel at its center but it actually has the story of the whole world and all of humanity as its main focus.
The Bible is dominantly narrative – precisely 43%.
Narrative is the most dominant shape that the Bible takes.
“Narrative” meaning…there’s characters… in a setting…with a plot line driving the story line forward.
This narrative starts on page 1…”In the beginning…”
There’s a narrative unifying this entire collection, from beginning to end.
So…the Bible is telling a story?
The Bible tells the story of God and the world.
The Old Testament begins with a set of stories saying, “The world was designed for so much more than what we currently experience. What we currently experience is a world that’s been vandalized by rebellious humans who lost a great opportunity through choosing selfishness and sin” – which the story defines as humans trying to define right and wrong on their own wisdom, apart from God’s wisdom.
And so…the world’s in a bad state and human history has gone off the tracks.
What is God gonna do about it?
He starts a conversation with a guy named Abraham…and thus the rest of the Old Testament becomes the story of the family of Abraham – but all within that larger story of “What is God going to do to rescue the world from itself? How is God going to rescue the world through this family? (Abraham’s family)”
The second part of the Bible – the New Testament – reveals the answer to that question – and in so doing, reveals our purpose in this world and our everlasting hope.
The Bible is God revealing His plan and purposes – His faithfulness to His promises. The Bible is not only a spoiler alert – revealing the future ending of the story – but it’s an invitation. It invites us play an important role. It invites us participate in God restoration mission.
The Bible is a book…it tells a story….and epic story…a story that involves everyone…a story that invites us in.
The Bible is a book…but it is so much more.