The Bible is a strange book, from page one all the way through to the end we’re confronted with weird stories and characters that can be really confusing for us to understand. To be honest most people give up on reading the Bible because it can be a challenge and its a lot easier to watch Netflix than it is to dig into a 2000 year old book.
The Bible is more than just a book though, it’s a gateway to understanding who God is, who we are, and what life is all about.
The Bible is God’s story with the power to impact our story
People think about the Bible in a lot of different ways. On one end there are a lot of people that see the Bible as nothing more than a big list of rules to be followed to make God happy. On the other end there are people who see it as nothing more than a self help book for right thinking and right living. Of course there are also those who see it as a collection of fairy tales from the ancient world that people today keep on believing.
While there are a lot of rules, practical advice, and crazy stories in the Bible it is not primarily a rule book, a self help book, or a fable. Instead it is a story, not a collection of stories, but one big story about God and his relationship with people.
The story of the Bible begins with God in perfect contentment without needing anything. Out of the overflow of his love and contentment he made the universe, what process he used to make it is up for debate and we won’t go into it here. He made the world a place where people could flourish with all of the love and resources they could ever need. Nature, people, and God were all in perfect harmony.
The story continues with tragedy, people are deceived into believing that God did not have their best interest at heart, that God was holding out on them and that people would be better off on their own (a lie we still believe today). With this rebellion the harmony of the universe was broken, death entered in which is separation from God, the author of life.
From then until today people have been trying to find their own way apart from God, but the story of the Bible shows us that God is a pursuing God who wants to seek those who are lost. Throughout the Bible God continues to enter into the story of undeserving rebellious people who constantly fail and shows them his love and uses them to display his power and grace.
Throughout the first part of the story called the Old Testament God sets apart one nation to be his own called Israel (which means “wrestles with God”). These people continue the trend of falling short of God’s standards despite seeing clear signs of his presence. God, being full of justice and mercy punishes Israel for their failure, not to destroy them but for them to learn. In this though, he promises to send someone who will be able to solve the problem of rebellion against God. This person would change the people’s hearts so that they would want to follow God. These people would be God’s new nation, replacing Israel as God’s chosen people. It would be a community of people from every tribe tongue and nation in the world.
In the second part of the story called the New Testament a man named Jesus appears who claims to be this promised person called the Messiah. He began teaching this radical new way of life, that following God had less to do with performing the right tasks but rather it had to do with having the right heart, the right desires, the right intentions. He taught that the only way to please God was to have a new heart and to be re-born. This was all very confusing to the people who he taught, but what made people follow him was that his words were accompanied with miraculous signs. This Jesus was able to heal people, cast out demons and even raise people from the dead.
His teaching was controversial, too controversial for the religious and political leaders of the day. They conspired together and eventually had Jesus executed in the most humiliating way possible, being nailed to the cross. What happened next though transformed the world forever. Jesus had claimed that he was not just a messenger but that he was actually God in human form. He claimed that he would be killed and when that happened the failures of the people of the world would be placed on him. He would bear the punishment for people’s rebellion and then, to prove his victory, would come back from the dead. And he did
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the sins of us all.
He returned and taught his disciples that if they believed this good news, that the Judge of the universe came down to be judged on behalf of the people of the world that they would be “reborn” with a new heart and new desires. They would be forgiven of their sin, have no debt towards God and would be able to live in restored community with God.
The rest of the New Testament tells the story of this new Jesus community called the church as they began to tell the good news, face persecution and spread over the face of the earth. The story concludes with a vision that one of Jesus’ followers had near the end of his life of what the future would look like. It all ends with a restored creation where nature, people, and God are all in perfect harmony once again where there is peace and joy for eternity because we are in the presence of God, the embodiment of love itself.
This story is like a raging river that we were meant to be swept up in. God has made all of us to be loved by him and to live in peace with him. That can only happen through Jesus, but once we accept the good news of the Gospel then we are free from debt, fear, and death. God makes us something new, and we join his story.
Our goal as followers of Jesus is to live like we’re loved unconditionally. This will lead us to compassion for others and gratitude towards God with a willingness to obey his commands.
The Bible teaches us who God is and how he designed the universe to work. That means when we follow and obey Biblical teaching we are contributing to the perfect harmony of the universe which leads to life. When we reject the teaching of God through the Bible we contribute to decay and death in the universe. So we don’t follow God out of obligation or fear that God will get mad at us. We follow because we love God and we love others.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
The best way that we can join in God’s story is through helping other people hear and believe the Good News. We do that through telling people about how God has changed us and how God can change them as well. We tell them about God’s story and how it has impacted our story
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires
For more info check out this video from the Bible Project that outlines what the Bible is all about. Take some time to watch their whole series on the Bible.
Of course whenever we talk about the Bible some big questions are raised. Here are some of those questions along with blog posts or videos that dig into those questions.
Why should I care about reading the Bible? Christianity Today
Is the Bible Authentic? The Gospel Coalition
How do I study the Bible? The Village Church