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Jesus at the Center: Understanding God’s Story

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” Luke 24:27 (NIV).

Understanding God’s Story …

The Bible is one big Story composed of many smaller stories in two testaments. The account begins with God creating the world and placing the first man and woman in His garden to tend and enjoy it. It ends with Him making a new world as a final destiny for humanity redeemed. Between these bookends, God connects with Israel and then with Israel and the world in Jesus.

Understanding the Bible

The climax of this grand narrative is Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension. He’s not merely a character in the story but the long-awaited Messiah, the very embodiment of God’s love and faithfulness. His presence is transformative, redeeming, restoring, and liberating. Paradoxically, many Israelites rejected Him, making it possible for the outsiders (Gentiles) to become insiders. In an unsurpassed act of grace, Jesus opened the door to abundant life and resurrection life, inviting both Jews and Gentiles into an eternal relationship with God.

Jesus’s coming filled out the details of the Old Testament. While no crucial new truths emerge in the New Testament, new things happen as the story progresses. These new things flesh out the truth, helping us understand the story more fully. Remarkably, the ending recapitulates the beginning, with what originally went wrong being made right. Thus, to fully understand the story, the end must be considered, taking the beginning into account.

The teaching interwoven throughout the narrative is not a linear progression but an accumulation. Each part of the story should be understood in the context of the whole. In other words, the New Testament should be interpreted in the light of the Old Testament and vice versa. Each Testament enriches our understanding of the other, not just in deciphering specific texts but in considering their implications within the broader narrative. Ultimately, the entire story connects us with God from its beginning to its end.

Please comment. What are your thoughts about understanding God’s Story?

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© Scripture Union Canada 2024

2 Corinthians 4:5


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How are you reading the Bible?

How are you reading the Bible? Bible engagement isn’t about reading the Bible exclusively to gather facts, get guidance or learn how to be good. Satan loves it when people read the Bible for these reasons because as long as we’re reading the Bible to simply grow in knowledge, figure out what to do, or develop our morality, we’re not engaging with the Bible as we should.

God wants us to taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8a). The goal of Bible reading should be to encounter Christ Jesus and to engage with Him in ways that lead us to become increasingly more like Him.taste-and-see-that-the-lord_t_nv

John Piper, the pastor and theologian, says, “Bible reading that only collects facts, or relieves a guilty conscience, or gathers doctrinal arguments, or titillates aesthetic literary tastes, or feeds historical curiosities – this kind of Bible reading Satan is perfectly happy to leave alone. He has already won the battle.”

How are you reading the Bible? Do you read it focusing on the fact that it’s ultimately the Story about Christ Jesus and how he sacrificed His life in order to atone for your sin and reconcile you to God? If not, you’re not reading the Bible as God intended.

Here’s what Satan tries to hide from us: The overall Bible story centres on Jesus. It’s about His astronomical, unconditional, sacrificial, incomparable, transformational, and eternal love for us. A love that made the world right again by making it possible, through trust in Him, for our sin to be acquitted and our death sentence revoked. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

Christ’s love for us is why the Word we read has to be the Word we know. For this to happen we cannot rely on pastors, professors or prophets, but from spending time in the Word in order to encounter the presence of the living Word. Then, when we encounter the living Word we should ask Him to renew us through His written Word. For it’s only through encountering Christ Jesus personally and openly that our minds and hearts will be convicted and changed to live a life of love emulating Christ’s love.

So how are you reading the Bible? There are only two ways to read God’s Word. The right way and the wrong way. And the right way is to read the Word as the Word we know.

© Scripture Union Canada 2018

2 Corinthians 4:5


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You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible!

You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible! Now hear me out …

If you don’t read (i.e., hear, connect, engage, study, contemplate, reflect, act on) the Bible, you don’t know who Jesus is. If you don’t know who Jesus is, you can’t worship Him. If you can’t worship Jesus, then how can you call yourself a Christian?

I meet a lot of people who tell me they’re Christians. When I ask them if they read the Bible and they say “No,” or “Not really,” then I ask, “So what makes you a Christian?” They usually say, “Because I love God/Jesus.” Now here’s my dilemma. If someone says they love Jesus, but don’t read the Bible, then what “Jesus” are they loving? That’s a crucial question. For if we don’t love the Jesus of the Bible, then there’s a problem.jesus-in-bible

Forgive me if I’m blunt, but surely it stands to reason that if someone doesn’t worship the Jesus of the Bible, then that person’s worshipping a different “Jesus.” And who is this other “Jesus” that millions of non-Bible reading “Christians” are worshipping? Probably a “Jesus” they’ve created in their own minds. One who can be shaped and moulded to be whatever a person wants Him to be.

There’s a chilling verse in the Gospel where Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” Matthew 7:21. Every time I read this verse I wonder, “Who are the people who call Jesus ‘Lord’ yet don’t get into Heaven?” Well maybe they’re the people who’ve created an alternative “Jesus” who values what they value, tolerates what they tolerate, and cares about what they care about.

Here’s the rub: If you’re worshipping a “Jesus” who you can control, then you’re worshipping an idol. Jesus said, “A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” John 4:23. To worship Jesus in “spirit and truth” our worship must be informed, not by the non-biblical things we think we know about Jesus, but by the Word of God.

Now I know, the Jesus of the Bible isn’t a tame Jesus. He disrupts our lives, opposes our personal opinions and preferences, demands holiness, gets in the way of the pursuit of happiness, and expects us to do uncomfortable things. Let’s be honest, the Jesus of the Bible doesn’t line up with our preferred version of Him.

Little wonder that people say, “I respect Jesus, but don’t agree with everything in the Bible.” For in their heart of hearts they know they can’t do things their way if they love the Jesus of the Bible.

So which Jesus do you worship. Is it a “Jesus” shaped by your imagination or is it the Jesus of the Bible? If it’s the latter, then that’s only true if you’re reading the Bible. There is no other way. You can’t worship Jesus if you don’t read the Bible!

© Scripture Union Canada 2017

2 Corinthians 4:5

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