By God’s grace, he saved me at the age of 7. Though I’ve walked with the Lord for a long time, it wasn’t until my early 20s I learned a truth that was a game-changer for me when it came to studying Scripture. This truth deepened my love for God’s Word. It’s made my personal study time come alive as the Spirit illuminates Scripture.
The truth is this- the Bible is one Big Story with one main character, God.
I always thought of the Bible in pieces. There were the Old Testament stories, and those seemed to give nice characters whose example we should follow. They can be, but if that’s all we learn and/or teach from them, we’re totally missing the point. There were the gospels that taught about Jesus, and then some letters in the New Testament that taught what to do and not do.
While there’s some truth in those statements, the Bible isn’t meant to be a book to teach us about heroes (who in fact weren’t very heroic many times) or morals. The Bible is God’s special revelation that’s one Big Story that beautifully weaves together from Genesis to Revelation.
Let’s take a look at the components of this Big Story and a few examples of how all Scripture fits into this.
Creation. The story starts in Genesis with creation, which was perfect. There was no sin and God was able to dwell with his people. This is how God always intended things to be.
Fall. In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned, and everything changed. God could no longer dwell with his people because he is a holy God, and he cannot be around sin. Thus, man has his biggest problem- being separated from God. Because God is love and just, he begins working to redeem man from this problem, all the way back in Genesis 3:15.
Rescue. This is where most of the rest of Scripture fits into the Big Story. God wants to dwell with his people, but he can’t because of their sin. The Big Story continues after the Fall with the unfolding of God’s rescue plan to redeem his people and bring them back to him. God promises in Genesis 3:15 a Seed (Christ) will come, and the Old Testament spends its pages bringing about and pointing to the Seed. This is obvious in the prophecy passages we read at Christmas, but did you know stories like David and Goliath and Noah point to Jesus? These are much more than stories to teach examples and morals from. In David and Goliath, sin is our biggest giant we can’t fight on our own, so God will send a better David (Jesus) to defeat this sin for us. In the story of Noah, God’s wrath comes on sinful people, but he provides a way of salvation for the righteous; this points to how God sends Jesus as the way of salvation for all people to be saved from his wrath. The laws show we can never be good enough and therefore need a Savior. The prophecies give details about the coming Messiah. The psalms worship Jesus and teach about his character. Then, there’s the New Testament, where finally the long awaited Seed comes. Christ is the climax of this rescue plan, and he fulfills his mission with his perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection. Reading Scripture knowing it’s the unfolding of God’s rescue plan helps us see much deeper into Jesus’ earthly ministry. His miracles are about far more than the miracles themselves, but they’re actually Jesus proclaiming he is God and Savior of the world. The New Testament letters become more than just moral checklists. When we view them within the Big Story, they’re books to teach us about the Church and God’s character. Of course, as we learn these doctrines, the way we live will change. However, seeking God first in our Bible reading instead of ourselves will deepen our love for him.
Restoration. We anxiously await the day God will restore all things. Remember how in creation God intended things to be perfect? His plan is to restore all things back to Eden. Promises of God’s restoration are all throughout Scripture. It’s in the Old Testament when God promises to restore Israel, which points to how he’ll one day restore all things. In the New Testament, the book of Revelation points us to this truth. We can study Scripture with praise waiting for the day of restoration and also with anticipation as we learn how to live in light of this day coming.
Friends, studying Scripture is a lifelong journey. The Word of God is living and active, and the Spirit illuminates it to us as we study it. We can never know too much about God or his Word. My best encouragement to you is this- just start. Rely on the Spirit and jump into those wonderful pages of truth.
As we read Scripture, here’s some questions to help us focus on God and the Big Story:
- What does this teach about God and/or how does this point to Christ?
- How does this fit into the Big Story/God’s rescue plan?
- Is this pointing to the future restoration? How?
- Where is the Gospel in this?
- Based on what this teaches about God, how should my heart and life change?
The answers might not always be easy or obvious, and that’s okay. We won’t know all of the answers on this side of eternity, and studying with the Big Story in mind takes time and practice. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect theologians; he provides us grace upon grace as we’re faithful to study his Word. From personal experience, knowing the Big Story has enhanced my study and made it much more meaningful. Books like Leviticus that seem irrelevant or boring are coming to life by the power of the Spirit. Here’s some other resources to help and equip with studying Scripture:
- The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung. This is a children’s book, but it gives a big overview of Scripture and how it’s one big story.
- The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. It’s another children’s book, but she does shows how each story points to Jesus.
- Missional Motherhood by Gloria Furman. This is obviously about motherhood, but in the first half, she does gives what she calls a 20,000 foot overview of Scripture. It’s a great read for discipleship and motherhood, too.
- “The Story” app. It takes you through each step of the Big Story.
- The Abide method on Risen Motherhood– This is a guide of how to study Scripture in a way that puts God first. Their website is filled with tons of other resources for studying Scripture too!
Studying God’s Word and doing it well is a worthwhile pursuit. Many things want our time, but fewer things could be a better use. Friends, I pray you see God’s redemptive hand from Genesis to Revelation. I pray you see how he is Lord in Leviticus. I pray you see how Judges points to the need for a better Judge, which is Christ. I pray you see God’s character in Paul’s New Testament letters. I pray you read Revelation and excitingly anticipate the day Christ will come and make all things right. Happy studying, friends!