For those of you who like charts and maps, today is your day! Below is a “flyover” vision of the Bible at 36,000 feet. Notice the timeline above Abraham’s name begins at 2000 B.C., and the New Testament timeline ends in less than 100 years after Christ’s birth (around 90 A.D.). For those of you who are NOT chart folks, there’s more below.
If someone asked you what is the theme of the Bible, how would you answer?
With over 20 human authors and 66 “books” written in the span of 1900 years of history, one might think that there wouldn’t be a central theme, but rather a collection of 66 themes from each of the individual books. But we know from what Scripture says about itself, that God directed His concepts, words, and ideas through each of the human authors, and to that end we find surprisingly that like a great novel, THE Author (God) lays out a specific premise and context early in the book, and then creatively takes His readers along a story line to build upon that theme; and finally, He brings the theme to an ultimate conclusion. Scripture is incredibly UNIFIED and stands on its own without contradictions (although it has its share of “paradoxes,” which make for some interesting study).
However, it is with GREAT humility that I try to help you grasp the theme of the Bible (especially to assume that it can be captured in just a few words – God’s plan and revelation is just TOO grand for a few words). Rather, I’d like to give just a few words to use as “hooks” to help you hang the concepts of Scripture on, and to see the BIG PICTURE so that the “little pieces” make sense in the flow of “HIStory.” Before I try to pen the theme, meditate for just a minute on what Paul says about the Bible’s ONE Author.
For he [ God ] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:13-20).
The theme of Scripture starts and ends with God and His glorification (the revelation and worship of His attributes, character and Personhood). It is God’s work in history for HIS own ends! God’s purpose behind Scripture is to reveal His loving (reconciling) nature toward a creation (mankind) that chose to rebel AGAINST its own Creator. Adam & Eve (made in God’s image), lost the full benefit of relationship with God by their own decision to disobey the Word of God. Their 7-fold “death” or separation (between themselves and God, spouse, society, self, work, environment and physical life) and subsequent human history recorded in the Old Testament, all point to a dire need within the human race. As sin increased, God scattered mankind through language to abate the spread of Adam’s sin. He chose one man (Abraham) to work through to develop a “time and space” historic human context so that eventually ALL languages, cultures and people could eventually see His character. All of God’s dealings with “Abraham’s seed” (the Jewish people – Old Testament), was for the purpose of providing a “context” for ALL nations and cultures to understand the purpose and work of Jesus (the second Person of the Godhead). That work was to break Adam’s “curse” of separations, which is to say that Christ “reconcile[d] to Himself all things” by bearing humankind’s entire curse on Himself. Those who have chosen to follow God through Christ are brought BACK (reconciled) to relationship with God and the 6 other separations of Adam, and are given a permanent seal of the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit who lives inside every believer. Christ’s work on the cross, and subsequent resurrection, all satisfy the justice of a holy and perfect God. At the end of human history, ALL cultures and nations are represented and gathered to worship God and give Him ultimate glory.
Truly there is NO book on earth like the Bible. It stands unique in its claims, superlative in its historic accuracy, and POWERFUL in its effect on believers and skeptics. Ultimately, for you, it is God’s love letter to you, and an accumulation of His “very great and precious promises” that allow you to escape “the corruption in the world caused by evil desires” (2 Peter 1:4). Consider Scripture as “He whispers in your ear,” the verbal side to His relationship with you.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.