Understanding the Story of Scripture

Jan 05, 2020

Have you ever approached the Bible, and realized that you don’t understand it? Maybe you have started to read it, but you are confused. Is it one book? Is it a lot of books? How do those books work together? 

Well, hopefully I can answer a few of those questions. 

The Bible is one book, but it is made up of 66 smaller books. There are 39 books in the Old Testament, (or, books written before Jesus was born) and 27 books in the New Testament (or books written after Jesus was born). Each of these smaller books contributes to the larger story. 

Sometimes it can be hard to pick out the larger story because the books in the Bible are not in chronological order. They are grouped by type of literature, and not necessarily when they happened. How’s that for confusing? 

So today, I want to give you a little overview of the whole story of scripture. The big word for this is a metanarrative. It is the story that is woven through each book of the Bible, and they all play a part in telling this bigger story. 

The Bible starts off in the book of Genesis. It begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. The very first words are “in the beginning God created…” so right from the start we see that this is a story about God. 

This is where it is easy to get tripped up. How often do you read the Bible hoping to get some answers about your own life? Well the truth about the Bible is that it is a story about God, not a story about us. Yes, it talks about us in the Bible, but we need to read it to learn more about God first. Then that will shape how we live our lives. 

Okay, so the first thing we have is that God created. This is the first part of the metanarrative - the creation. You can read more about that in Genesis 1-2. 

The next part of the story starts in Genesis 3. This is known as the fall. God created humans and gave them a command in the garden, and we broke that command. This is the story of Adam and Eve. Eve ate the fruit and brought sin into the world. Maybe you have heard that story before. This sin brought into the world separated us from God and is the reason for all the pain, suffering and heartbreak we face today. The punishment for this sin is death.

The fall is the current state of the world. It started in Genesis 3, and we are still in that state today. Most of the Bible will be in the middle of that state. 

However, God did not leave us in the middle of this fallen state and abandon us. Even from Genesis 3, He starts to reveal His plan to redeem the world. This is the next stage of the story, and that is redemption. Redemption and the fall overlap, so bear with me here. We can see God’s redemption start to unfold in the Old Testament, pointing  the way to Jesus. 

God calls certain people over the course of the Bible to help protect and lead  His people, the Israelites. People like Abraham, Moses, and David are called to help save them. Unfortunately, each of these people eventually fail in some way and can’t quite bring full redemption. 

That’s where Jesus comes in. Jesus is the only person that can truly save us from our sins. When Jesus shows up in the New Testament, He lives a perfect life. He is the only person to ever do this. He then took our sin and brokenness upon Himself and died in our place. We deserved death, but He took the penalty meant for us upon himself. This is the beauty of grace in the story of the Bible! 

If you want to know where we are  in the story of the Bible, we are here in the middle of the fall and redemption. There is still pain and suffering in the world, a result of the fall, but Jesus promised that He is coming back, and will get rid of sin and death once and for all. This is called the consummation. You can find the story of this in Revelation in the Bible. Jesus is coming back to get all of his followers and take them to a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no more crying and He is making all things new. 

Every book in the Bible tells this story. Each book points to at least one of these parts and helps us see the bigger picture that the Bible is painting. As you are reading, look for this bigger story, and look for how you see God moving in the midst of it.