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The Story Continues

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When I was a freshman in college, I was required to take two introductory Biblical Studies courses – Bible Survey and Bible Interpretation. Every student at the university was required to take them and they were prerequisites for students in my program. Bible Survey covered the overall themes of Scripture while Bible Interpretation covered how to study them.

That year marked a significant milestone in my relationship with Christ. The two classes together unlocked the Bible for me in a way I had never understood it. The most powerful moment came when we began looking at the big picture story that permeates the entire Bible. Many people understand the Bible as a collection rules or short stories. Depending on where you are in Scripture, you could read any number of literary genres. But the Bible actually contains a cohesive structure that is often lost on us unless we actually read it from cover to cover. I love how The Jesus Storybook Bible puts it:

[quote_simple]”No, the Bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne – everything – to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is – it’s true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name.” [/quote_simple]
In the end, the Bible is a story. It tells of how we became captive to our sin and how Christ came down to rescue us. Ultimately, a story is driven by its plot and every plot contains five essential features – a problem, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. Scripture contains all of these elements but presents them with a twist.

The Problem

The problem is easy to identify – sin. God made the world complete and placed humankind in perfect fellowship with him. Yet we only had to get to the third chapter before Eve ate of the fruit and sin brought death into our world.

There was no way for us to fix ourselves so God promised a rescuer to come. As we read through the Old Testament, we get to see God’s relationship with the Israelites. He extends an invitation to them for a special relationship with him with the Law as its foundation. This is where the rising action takes hold.

The Rising Action

As the story continues through them, their inability to follow God’s Law and maintain their own righteousness creates mounting friction in their relationship with him. Eventually, they are exiled from the land God gave them and humanity’s hopelessness is amplified through their failure.

Climax

But the rising action leads to a powerful climax. After centuries of silence, God breaks through by sending his Son into our world. Christmas morning was a spiritual D-day, an invasion of light into a world marked by darkness. He lived with us and even though he never sinned as we did, he died as the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. But that still wasn’t the end. He eventually broke the bonds of death by rising again three days later.

The Twist

But this is where the Bible departs from other stories. Other stories give us a quick falling action and a poetic resolution. Scripture is different. The New Testament gives us the first part of the falling action by telling us about the early Church and caps it off with the book of Revelation. Revelation doesn’t tell us how it ended. It tells us how it will end. It tells us of the day when Christ will ride back in, putting a final end to the darkness and setting us free once and for all.

But that hasn’t happened yet.

So if the Bible only sets the stage for the falling action and tells us of a resolution still to come, we can only conclude one thing – the story isn’t over and we’re in it. As followers of Christ and members of the Church, we are now characters in the story of God’s salvation still unfolding today.

In other words, Christ’s work on the cross isn’t just about what happens to us when we die. It transforms the way we live today. As characters in this story still unfolding, we are to be agents of his justice and righteousness in the lives of those around us. We just have to be willing to step out of the central role in our own stories so we can join the Story already in progress. It requires us setting aside our own pride, plans, and desires for something greater than ourselves. The question is, are you willing to do it?

Posted in: Discipleship

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