It is not easy for me to remember phone numbers, addresses, or Bible verses. As a Christian seeking the truth of Scripture in my early 20’s, I gave up trying to remember specific, proof texts1. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few I could remember (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38) but I struggled to commit book, chapter, and verse of important passages to memory. Plus, proof-texting was preventing me from simply letting God speak to me through the word. So, I developed a system to learn the Bible story using a series of landmarks and timelines. I mention this in Bible class frequently and Ronnie Johnson asked me to publish some material on it. Soooooo, here goes. I pray it is helpful and God is glorified.
The Bible is the story of God’s love for his created beings and his plan to save us from our sins by the sinless blood of his only Son, Jesus the Messiah. When man fell into sin and death, the Lord prophesied deliverance by the one born of woman who would crush Satan’s head, destroy death, and grant eternal life to those who believe in and serve Jesus (Genesis 3:16-19; Matthew 25:21).
There is no substitute for reading your Bible and studying using a guided curriculum. To learn where “things are,” we have to first learn, “what those things are.” When you examine the Scriptures, let the story wash over you. It is God’s love letter and he wants us to understand big picture.
The Bible: The Cliff Notes (SparkNotes for the youngs)
In The Beginning: The first eleven chapters of the Bible tell us about creation, Adam and Eve, sin and death entering the world, and the flood of Noah’s time. The one God is powerful, hates sin, and knows how to deliver the faithful.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: In Genesis chapter 12, God calls a man named Abram (later Abraham) to leave modern day Iraq and travel 1,200 miles to live as a stranger in the land of Canaan. God promises Abraham he will make his descendants into a great nation, give them the land of Canaan, and bless all nations of the earth through one of those offspring. Abraham’s son Isaac fathered a man named Jacob. Which takes us to…
The Nation of Israel: Jacob is also known as “Israel.” His 12 sons would become the tribes of Israel. These descendants of Abraham become the great nation that conquers and thrives in Canaan as the nation of Israel. The rest of the Old Testament is the story of the Israelites exodus from Egypt, wilderness wandering, taking the land, rise to power, descent into captivity, and God’s prophesies that he will send a Messiah to return God’s people to glory.
Jesus The Messiah: Every page of the Old Testament is the story of God providing for the eventual virgin birth of Jesus. God promised to bless all nations through a descendant of Abraham. He fought their battles, punished them for disobedience, provided for a remnant to remain in Israel, promised the Messiah would be of the royal lineage of their famous king David. But God’s true concern was solving our sin and death problem by offering his Son as a sacrifice for my sins.
The first four books of the New Testament tell us about the birth, life, miracles, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God, seed of Abraham, descended from David, Christ (Messiah) our Lord.
The Church: The fifth book of the New Testament (Acts) begins with Jesus ascending into heaven and ends with the gospel being preached in the capital city of the world. The story of God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, and affirming power of the Holy Spirit spread Christianity like wildfire. Those who believe in Jesus, repent to serve him as Lord, and submit to baptism in his name are gathered into local groups known as churches.
The rest of the New Testament tells the story of apostles preaching the gospel of salvation through faith in Jesus. They are beaten, jailed, shipwrecked, and belittled. But they set the world on fire and established a kingdom that will last forever.
The story of the Bible is of God controlling 2,000 years of world history to multiply Abraham’s descendants into a great nation, and provide for their existence until the promised Messiah would come. Jesus is the crucified, resurrected Son of Abraham, David, and Jehovah God. Those who walk with him in faith are called Christians and the kingdom of Jesus is the church. One day Jesus is coming to take us home to be with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in heaven.
Now, who doesn’t want to read that story?!?!?!