How God's Story Changes Me
This fall, Verity Fellowship asked me to teach the “One Story of Scripture” workshop at Verity Forum. There may have been some shouts of joy and some jumping up and down on my part. If there was one workshop that I would beg them to let me teach, it would be this one. From preparation to teaching, I loved the whole process. Why? Because understanding the storyline of the Bible has changed my life in profound ways.
For many years I struggled with lack of desire for God’s Word. I found the Bible confusing. I didn’t know how to approach it or make sense of much of it. I wasn’t sure how the law and grace fit together.
That is, until I began to see the Bible in a whole new light. I began to learn that it’s God’s love story to us. And that it all works together to show us who he is and why we need him so desperately.
Of course, we all know that the Bible is full of stories. But do we understand it’s one overarching story?
What is the Storyline of Scripture?
God chose to speak to his people in written words, and he chose to record history in the form of a true story. The Bible is one cohesive story, spanning the time from Creation to New Creation, unfolding the plot of God’s mission to rescue his people through His Son, Jesus. God created us to love and resonate with a good story, and then he gave us the greatest one of all.
God’s story progressively reveals more of himself. And it progressively reveals more of his plan to save his cursed people from sin and from themselves, even though they brought it upon themselves. It progressively reveals the Savior, God’s own Son, Jesus. And it progressively reveals the glorious future that awaits those who call on Jesus’ name. A story is the perfect medium to accomplish this revelation.
Reading and knowing the Bible the way that God intended, as a comprehensive, progressive story helps us wrestle with questions. It helps us better know God.
Knowing the Story Helps Us Read Our Bibles
It’s true, God’s Word is difficult and heavy at times. I’m currently reading the book of Numbers. I can’t say that I find all of it captivating. But being able to think about different, sometimes difficult books in the context of God’s greater story helps immensely. I can see how Numbers is part of God’s revelation. Like the rest of the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy), it reveals much about God’s character, faithfulness and holiness, and the holiness that is required to live in fellowship with him. Whereas once I felt like Numbers was confusing, arbitrary or unnecessary, now I see more of God. And I have a deeper appreciation for what Jesus has done in reconciling me to God, making me holy when I can never make myself holy.
Knowing the Story Helps Us Teach Others
Knowing the storyline of Scripture also helps me when I’m teaching children. I’ve had the privilege of teaching my church’s kindergarten/1st grade Sunday school class the past few months. Our lessons have been about Old Testament characters like Elijah and Elisha. It’s so easy to end up moralizing these types of lessons for kids. But we do a great disservice if we end up teaching them to purely “trust God like Elijah did” or “be faithful like Elisha was.” When we teach, we want to point people, kids included, to the work that God is doing in that part of the story, and ultimately to Jesus. How can any of us trust God or be faithful? Only through the saving work of Jesus. Only because we are being conformed into his image. Only as we know and depend on him.
One of the main reasons that it so temping to moralize stories as we teach children is that it takes effort to make gospel connections. Trying to figure out how a story about Elijah connects to Jesus can be challenging, especially if we are accustomed to viewing the Bible as disjointed or a bunch of stories put together. But it becomes so much easier if we are familiar with the overall story of the Bible, of God’s plan to rescue his people through Jesus.
Knowing the Story Helps Us Tell Others
Another area of life that is influenced by understanding the story God tells is evangelism. Grasping the work of God in the story of Scripture helps me better appreciate what Jesus did for me. This prepares me to speak of the gospel to others. But it also goes deeper than that.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle to believe that certain people would ever be receptive to the gospel message. So many seem to have everything together. But what does God’s Word say? God came to rescue his people from their sin. Every single person has need of him. We also might encounter those who seem beyond God’s grace. Once again, returning to the story of Scripture reminds us no one is too far gone for Jesus. God’s Word is a story of unmeasurable grace for the worse of sinners, including you and I.
There are so many reasons that I am passionate about sharing the One Story of Scripture. God’s Word impacts every area of our lives. It’s the way that we can know we have eternal life. It reveals Jesus to us, and he is the one we desperately need. As we come to know the story better, we come to know and love him better, too. And that makes it all a joy – even the book Numbers.