I want to announce a series that I’ll be starting soon called The Bible in a Nutshell. It’s not a Bible study in the sense that I’ll be going through a book or portion of a book. Rather, it’s taking what I call the 20,000 foot view and considering how the Bible tells one cohesive story from Genesis to Revelation. For now, I plan on 8 segments outlined at the end, in which I hope to provide some insight into how each section of the Bible fits into the overarching narrative of Scripture. I don’t subscribe to be any kind of authority on Bible reading but I do want to pass on some lessons I’ve learned in my many years of studying Scripture and pitfalls to avoid.
If you’re like me, you started off your Christian journey with a Bible in hand and eager to dive in. After all, you heard that it is God’s word. That was me! I had a desire to read the Bible for I instinctively knew it was God’s word. I needed to learn about this Christian faith and what God has said about who he is and what his expectations are. It didn’t take long for that enthusiasm to be met with some confusion and even frustration. It’s not just one book, my many books! How does this all make sense together?
Naturally, the way we make sense of it in the beginning is to listen to the experienced voices, or at least those who claim to be. It doesn’t take much for whatever these leaders to espouse for us to then impose that on the text to derive our meaning.
That’s great if these experienced voices have taken great care to look at the Bible holistically. Meaning, they’ve studied how all the pieces fit together and handle the Bible reverently, not imposing their own philosophies on the text.
But such was not my story. I would spend many years absorbed in Scripture but failing to fully grasp the cohesive nature of God’s story. I would read the Bible in a very disjointed fashion, allowing the teaching I was under impose meanings on the text without consideration of it’s context or placement in the overall arch of the biblical narrative.
I was not told how these 66 books hang together. What is the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament? What is the continuity vs. discontinuity between the two testaments? What does the whole story tell us about what God is doing from Genesis to Revelation? I would make the Old Testament do strange things, like taking the stories as formulas for me to follow and reading Old Testament prophecy disconnected from the historical framework of what God was doing with Israel. I would read the New Testament without adequate appreciation for the fullness of fulfillment that Christ came to complete. I would fail to understand how language worked, especially how some authors would use it. Most importantly, I would fail to see how Jesus is at the center of it all, yes even the Old Testament.
I know my story is quite common. I believe many Christians come to faith and are thrown into Bible reading without being introduced to it’s proper framework. Where pragmatism and life verses are the norm, it’s easy for the Bible to become a fragmented compilation of formulaic prescriptions to having a better Christian life.
For the past 12 years, I’ve come to appreciate the cohesive nature of God’s story played out in these 66 books. It started by first understanding the importance of just reading passages in context, considering what the author was addressing to his audience in the whole book. Over time, I’ve come to see more and more puzzle pieces fall into place. I’ve come to appreciate the significance of getting absorbed in the narrative of Scripture over and above just finding chapter and verse to live a fruitful Christian life.
So stay tuned. I have a few irons in the fire this year and don’t know the frequency by which I will be posting. But I hope to have at least segment per month. Twice a month is the goal.
In the meantime, here’s an outline of what I’ll be covering
2) Foundations in Genesis: God’s promises
3) The Pentateuch: God’s law
4) OT History: God’s leadership
5) OT Prophecy: God’s word
6) The Gospels: God’s fulfillment
7) Acts and the NT Letters: God’s proclamation
8) Revelation: God’s conclusion
Also, I might be quoting from Far as the Curse is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption from time to time. Michael D. Williams has laid out such a beautiful treatment of the Bible’s cohesive story. I would strongly encourage it’s reading.