The Main Story Of The Bible
The Bible has many messages and much to discover and understand! Most people who have read it for a long time arrive at a conviction that it is cleverly and deliberately designed and written to fuel a lifetime journey of faith, growth and discovery. This is amazing, but can also be overwhelming. So it’s helpful to just start with the main storyline of the Bible. From a simple understanding of the Bible’s primary message, we can then enjoy growing in a greater knowledge and appreciation of the message of God – the journey of a lifetime!
What Is The Main Story Of The Bible And Jesus?
We are going to see that the primary story of the Bible came to a climax in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Both Old and New Testaments have a common thread – a primary theme – that I believe can be summarised in this way:
The main story of the Bible is God revealing to us who He is: that He is a God of love and righteousness in complete contrast to sin and unrighteousness, with a constant appeal to us from God: ‘I want you to come to know, love, trust and obey me, so that you may have abundant and eternal life, instead of death and destruction!’
The Story Begins
From the first chapter of the story of the Bible, God continually reveals Himself to us as ‘The Powerful Creator’ of order, life, light and abundance; a holy, righteous, true, faithful and loving God. A God who is the powerful, life-giving creator of everything. He explains to us, His created beings, that sin is destructive and will bring us death.
God’s message is that sin is not good and that it will be destructive to our life and relationships. It is necessary for Him to judge sin as wrong. He further explains that His intentions towards us are good and that everything He is saying to us is in love. If we put our faith and trust in Him, He will provide a pathway for us so that we can have a relationship with Him and have life abundantly.
How exactly God was going to provide this pathway remained a little of a mystery until we come to the ‘New Testament Revelation’ and discover that God would provide a pathway for us to Himself (and life abundance) through a man – Jesus, the Christ, God’s chosen king. Jesus – the ‘much loved’ Son of God, who was appointed as heir of everything that belongs to the Father. Jesus, who now shares in the Father’s kingdom, throne, rulership, eternal life and glory!
Why is this Good News to us? Because God has appointed His Son to be our saviour, to save us from our sins and from the death and destruction that comes from our sins. Jesus the Christ is our pathway to the Father, to the realm and world of the Father, to abundant and eternal life, free from sin!
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me!” “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 14:6, John 10:10, ESV
God speaks powerfully through Jesus, delivering His same message from Old Testament times, but like never before and on a completely different level!
Emmanuel – ‘God With Us’
Jesus was born from a woman (just like us), but God did something remarkable to bring about his birth and perfect life. The Father begat a Son by His power (His Holy Spirit) and then taught His Son everything about Himself so that Jesus could come among us and show us the Father. Jesus did this perfectly, loving his Father and working in willing cooperation with his Father. Jesus never sinned and always did what pleased his Father. God was working in Christ, on behalf of humanity, to obtain victory over sin and death in a man, Jesus – the Son of the Living God.
“[God has] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” – 2 Timothy 1:8-10
Jesus, by his message, life, example and perfect offering for sin calls us to repent from being slaves to sin and to turn to the Father, that we might be freed into the abundant life of God.
The Drama And Good News Of The Crucifixion
In the darkest hour of human sin and rebellion – rejecting and killing God’s righteous and perfect Son, and by the same man being so terribly mistreated, persecuted, slain and crucified – a perfect victory over sin and rebellion was accomplished. The greatest act of love and benevolence was graciously extended by God to the whole world by Jesus Christ. In the person of Jesus, sin – the ruler of the world was destroyed! Jesus continued saying no to sin and continued saying yes to God’s rulership and will! Jesus said YES to believing, hoping and trusting in God and His rulership. In the person of Jesus, the kingdom of God had broken into the world!
During Jesus’ ministry, his ‘good news’ message was to repent because the kingdom was at hand. Jesus was the leader of the repentance movement. He completely outworked repentance! In his life he made the choice to completely say no to sin, and yes to God. Sin was judged and condemned to be completely wrong and the righteousness (rightness) of God was declared to be completely correct.
This work, victory and sacrifice of Christ had been foreshadowed in the symbolic rituals and ceremonies of the Old Testament offerings for sin. The Law of Moses had many different types of ritual animal sacrifices that together represented and symbolised the real sacrifice that a man would make for the world.
The limitations of the offerings under the law were that they only symbolised ‘a perfect righteous life offered up to God’. The animal offered only symbolised perfection and sinlessness. So, in reality, the offerings didn’t actually please God! God accepted the offerings as token gifts that represented a sinless man who was coming to do the will of God.
These offerings were carefully selected and had to be blemish free; perfect – representing the perfect man who would come and who would love God’s righteousness but hate rebellion against God. He would do God’s will, commit no sin and, in the process, overcome and completely destroy sin (figuratively called the ruler of the world of men). The righteousness of God would be declared to the world. Jesus, having offered himself to God so completely and perfectly, it was not possible for God to allow him to remain dead. Instead, he was given eternal life by the Father. He ‘ascended up’ to his Father where he was joyfully received and welcomed. Jesus, as our great ‘God-provided’ lamb, without any (moral) blemishes was received by God with joy and acceptance! By his perfect offering, Jesus has become our leader, deliverer, shepherd and king!
Death To Sin And Death To Death
Sin has really been overcome, so has its consequence: death!
Jesus’ offering is the basis of the New Covenant (a new relationship agreement between God and humanity), by which the sins of many can be forgiven. God has provided for us “a lamb to take away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
If this is the offering that God has accepted and if you would like to be accepted then you need to make this offering your offering. Just as the Old Testament worshippers placed their hand upon the symbolically perfect animal offering, reach forth and identify yourself fully with Christ.
Baptism is God’s arrangement for a person to gain a clean conscience based on their faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We identify fully with Jesus by believing in him and everything he represents and we show our acceptance of his offering by being baptised into him.
To believe in Jesus and to believe that God raised Jesus from the dead is to believe in the declarations Jesus made during his lifetime; that sin is wrong and destructive and that the Father is good, righteous, loving and the source of abundant and eternal life. The resurrected and ever-living Jesus is God’s proof that this is true. God graciously forgives and justifies us when we believe in Jesus.
In the Old Testament, a person would take a lamb from their own flock as an offering. The gift of God is that He provided a lamb as an offering for us from His own flock. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).
Jesus won a victory that none of us were winning nor could ever win! Jesus’ victory over sin was accomplished in himself and was a work and gift of God for our deliverance from sin. We must acknowledge that God provided the lamb!
Not only did Jesus have a personal victory over sin in himself (with the Father’s help), but he also bore our sins. All our sins were laid upon him and he carried them away (Isaiah 53:4, 1 Peter 2:24).
During the last days of Jesus’ life, the worst forms of human behaviour were literally piled upon him. It was as if the entire human race joined forces against him and willingly united together, mistreating an innocent man in the worst possible ways, because they hated God and didn’t like His perfect messenger!
Jesus had all the sins and rebellions of the human race laid upon him but he did not collapse under the load. He bore the sins of many and yet still trusted in God, committing no sin. While we were sinners (heaping sin and rebellion upon him), he died on the behalf of our sins. When we placed our sins upon him, he carried them away by choosing not to respond to sin with sin. So our sins placed upon him did not kill him. Instead he killed (“crucified”) the sin that we placed upon him. When Jesus arose victorious from the grave he had borne our sins away!
The practical result of Jesus’ victory over sin was that he was also victorious over death. When God resurrected him, it wasn’t only just to live again himself, but to actually become transformed into ‘a life giving spirit being’, who is now empowered and authorised to give life (1 Corinthians 15:45). The Father granted to the Son the right and power to give life in the exact way that He himself can. Jesus became for us the source of eternal life to whoever believes in him and his message. This is the gift of God and the good news of the gospel!
“And just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so the Son also gives life to whom he wants. The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son…. Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come out — those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of condemnation”. – John 5:21-22, 28-29. CSB