Until the end of August in this theology column, we’re going to explore the story of the Bible, journeying through its grand narrative. This is big picture stuff – the big ideas, themes and events. For some people, it’s all very familiar. For others, piecing it together is all a bit confusing. But for all of us, we need to let it be foundational to who we are and what we believe.
Today, we’re zooming right out to see the whole picture, beginning to end. In 3 minutes. There are two ways to do that: read the post which will take about 3 minutes, or watch a video where Malcolm explains the whole Bible in 3 minutes. Right, let’s get to it.
Chapter 1: Creation
The Bible starts with God creating everything. Everything. Genesis 1–2 depicts God making time and space, setting it all in motion and maintaining it all. Plants, land, animals, stars, seas. And then the crowning jewel of all creation: us. People. Men and women. When humanity is made, creation goes from ‘good’ to ‘very good’. We’re the best bit, the reason God made it all in the first place. And this is how we’re described:
“God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
In God’s image. We have something of God’s nature, character and identity built into our being. We are relational, made to be in perfect harmony with God our maker, with one another and with the world around us. Peace and love and unity is woven into the fabric of this beautiful creation.
Chapter 2: The Fall
Sadly the story takes a turn. In Genesis 3, we read the devastating story of people setting themselves against God. They have a wonderful freedom to live in God’s goodness and provision, but as with any healthy relationship that also means respecting the boundaries and limits. They (we) prefer not to. This is the beginning of people turning their backs on God.
The technical word for that is ‘sin’, which is not just about ‘doing things wrong’ but about a heart of rebellion against God and a desire to live our way not His way.
And we see the consequences for that. A relationship with God is at the heart of the created order. When that’s broken, everything breaks. People’s relationships with each other are corrupted and estranged, and our relationship with our world is no longer marked by peace. The whole of creation is broken. From Genesis 4–9, we see the world spiralling out of control in this new distorted order.
Chapter 3: Israel
In Genesis 12 (we’ll start speeding up now, I promise!), we see the beginnings of God’s plan to restore everything. And it starts with one man and the family God will give him. Abraham, the beginning of the people of Israel. To Abraham God says this:
“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)
The people of Israel were called to be set apart from the world, different. God would use them as a picture of what a life lived with Him, not against Him, looks like. And use that to draw all people to Him. Only Israel weren’t very good at keeping their end of the deal. They weren’t that picture. We’ll explore the details of that journey in a few weeks, but they weren’t brilliant at being God’s presence in the world.
Crucially, God never gave up on them. He was faithful to them, and to everyone one of His promises to them. And He did use them to bless the whole world, through one person in the line of Abraham.
Chapter 4: Jesus
That person was Jesus. Jesus is the perfect picture of a life lived before God. But He’s not just an example to follow. Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself, entered into our world. He lived our life. He felt our pain. He walked our earth, which was His earth in the first place.
Jesus is the turning point in our story. When plan becomes action and hope becomes reality.Jesus is the turning point in our story. When plan becomes action and hope becomes reality. Click To Tweet
Jesus enters our world, lives the perfect life we never could, and then dies at the hands of people. We kill Jesus. And He takes all the sin and rebellion of the fall, all the brokenness that comes from it on Himself. He has no sin of His own, but he takes all of yours, all of mine, all of it. All of it. And He pays the price, takes the punishment, suffers in our place.
But Jesus doesn’t stay dead. On the third day He rises from the tomb, gloriously alive. Breaking the power of sin and death so that nobody has to be defeated by either if they will turn to Jesus and receive what He offers. Then He returns to be with His Father in heaven.
Chapter 5: The Church
But He doesn’t leave His people on their own. In the book of Acts and the letters of the New Testament, we read of the life of the early church, filled with God Himself, the Holy Spirit. We see the victory of the resurrection breaking out in to the world, as the good news of Jesus, of this whole story, is shared and people are forgiven and restored. It’s a revolution!
This is our part in the story. We still live in these times. Empowered by the Spirit, equipped with God’s word, seeing God’s kingdom become more of a reality in our world and sharing His good news of restoration with a world that needs to hear it.
But even though it is our point in the story, it isn’t the end of the story. There is much yet to come!
Chapter 6: New Creation
The Bible finishes with pictures of what will happen when Jesus returns to the world. The world He made, the world He worked in, the world He saved, the world He is bringing back into order. One day He will return and finish everything He has started.
There are many things about this time we do not know, and some we do. We’ll explore that more in August, but for now the headline is this: everything will be put right. The world will be brought back to order, perfection and harmony. The relationships broken at the fall will be healed. Everything will be good. This is the picture which the Bible ends with:
“God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more” (Revelation 21:3-4)
That is what we are waiting for.
And now, all that as a video…
As promised, if you didn’t want to read all that, or if you did but also want to watch it, here’s Malcolm speaking a few years ago at Spring Harvest, and explaining the whole Bible’s story in three minutes.
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