The Bible isn’t an encyclopedia.
That frustrates some of you. Wouldn’t it be easier if the Word of God had alphabetized tabs so we could search for a topic, find our verse, and be on our way?
But the Bible is intentionally written as a story – a theologically annotated narrative with God’s notes. From cover to cover, this grand story details the wondrous works of God and then applies it to our everyday life. You simply cannot understand yourself, your world, and the meaning and purpose of your existence unless you view them from the vantage point of the reality, character, and plan of God.
So the next time you’re tempted to use the Scriptures as an encyclopedia, read it as a story instead. Here are five elements to look for when you do:
1. Identity: It’s only by reading this story that you will learn that you were made by God and for God, that everything you are and everything you have comes from him, and that you were made to live for something vastly bigger than yourself.
2. Understanding: You will never know all that you need to know in order to live as you were designed to live by human experience, research, and analysis. This is why God immediately spoke with Adam and Eve after he created them. In the same way, God speaks to us in his Word so that we can know and understand, and in knowing and understanding, live as we were created to live.
3. Comfort: The world in which you live can be very confusing, distressing, and painful. But the biblical story comforts us with another reality – that our world is not out of control. Rather, our world is under the careful personal control of One who is the ultimate definition of everything that is good, true, wise, and loving. We can rest, not because we understand what’s happening, but because we know the One who rules it all.
4. Salvation: This is the ultimate reason for the Word of God. Without it, we wouldn’t know that our biggest problem exists inside us and is called sin. The biblical story chronicles the great things God has done and is doing to rescue, forgive, and deliver us from our sin. The epicenter event of the narrative is the Cross of Jesus Christ, delivering to us the one thing that we desperately need but cannot achieve on our own – new life.
5. Hope: The biblical story, because it is a story, has a final chapter. One day, the sickness, sadness, and sin of this broken world will end. We will be like God and with God forever. The Author of this Book has guaranteed the end of the story by raising Jesus from the dead. No matter what happens, we have hope, because we know the final page has already been penned.
The old hymn says, “I love to tell the story of unseen things above; of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love.”
How much do you love this story?