Somehow as we grow older we forget this simple answer and begin substitute more complicated answers for everything. The purpose of this message this morning is that children and adults alike would answer the question: “What is the Bible about?” with the simple answer: “God!”
This message is the second in a series of six that seek to develop this summarizing sentence about the Bible:
The Bible is the story of a God who makes a special promise about a special person who creates a special people to live in a special place with Him forever.
The focus of this message is on the very first part of that sentence: “The Bible is a Story about God.” This morning we will trace three distinct themes through Scripture which show plainly what the Bible teaches about God. We’ll see that the Bible is the story of a God who reveals His Person, requires perfection, and redeems His people.
I. The Bible is the Story of a God Who Reveals His Person.
In the very first verse of the Bible God is already revealing Himself! He is revealing Himself as Creator! “In the beginning God created…” Had God not revealed Himself we could never know God. God is infinite (unlimited), we are finite (limited). The finite cannot comprehend the infinite, unless the Infinite condescends to make Himself known to the finite. This is exactly what God has done. Like a mother or father who seeks to communicate with her babies, God has stooped down to our level and spoken to us in our “baby-talk”.
There are two ways in which God has revealed Himself to His creatures. First, through what is called “general revelation”. This is revelation of God that is available “generally” to all people. The primary example of this type of revelation is creation. God has revealed Himself in creation as Psalm 19:1-4,
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Likewise, Paul states in Romans 1:20,
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Although this general revelation through creation renders mankind without excuse concerning their knowledge of the existence and power of God, it is insufficient for us to know God most fully. For this knowledge, we have “special revelation”. This is revelation of God that is available through special means to a special people. This revelation is found in Scripture and ultimately in the Christ who is revealed in Scripture. God reveals Himself in Scripture to us in two ways: by revealing His nature and His names.
First, God’s nature is revealed as His attributes are both cogently defined and clearly displayed. God is revealed to be:
- One, Deuteronomy 6:4 and 1 Corinthians 8:6
- Infinite, 1 Kings 8:27 and Acts 17:24
- Eternal, Psalm 90:2
- Sovereign, Daniel 4:34-35 and Ephesians 1:11
- Immutable, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, and James 1:17
- Omnipotent, Matthew 19:26
- Omnipresent, Psalm 139:7-12
- Omniscient, Psalm 139:1-4
- Holy, Righeous and Just, Isaiah 6 and 1 Peter 1:16
- Loving, Merciful and Gracious, 1 John 4:8 and Exodus 33:19
The nature of God is revealed as God’s attributes are clearly defined in Scripture.
In addition to the attributes of God, the names of God reveal to us the character of the God of Scripture:
- I Am Who I Am, Exodus 3:14-15
- Yahweh, Genesis 12:1
- Yahweh Yireh “The LORD will provide”, Genesis 22:8-14
- Yahweh Shalom “The LORD is peace”, Judges 6:24
- Yahweh Raah “The LORD is my shepherd”, Psalm 23:1
- Yahweh Rapha “The LORD who heals”, Exodus 15:26
- Adonai “Lord, Master”, Exodus 4:10-12
- Elohim “Mighty One”, Genesis 1:1
- El Elyon “Most High”, Genesis 14:18
- El Roi “The Mighty One who sees” Genesis 16:13
- El Shaddai “All-Sufficient One” Genesis 17
- El Olam “Everlasting God” Genesis 21:33
And in the New Testament:
- Yeshua “Yahweh is Salvation”
- Christos “Annointed One, Messiah”
- Kurios “Lord, Master”
- Soter, “Savior”
Ultimately, God has revealed Himself in the Person of His Son: Jesus.
John 1:1-3, 14, 17-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (18) No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
Colossians 1:15-19, 2:9 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (16) For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. (17) And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (18) And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
The Bible is the story of a God who reveals His Person!
II. The Bible is the Story of a God Who Requires Perfection.
The God who created us demands and deserves our humble worship and obedience. He had every right to issue the one, solitary commandment to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and to establish the penalty for disobeying as death!
Every page of Scripture shouts to us of the holiness of God and the perfection which He requires of His creatures. We often brag, “Well, I’m not perfect!” But few realize what a serious problem that really is. No, we’re not perfect, but God requires perfection!
In Genesis 3 we see God requiring perfection in the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s disobedience as they, their descendants and the earth itself is cursed because of sin. Because of God’s perfect standard He cast Adam and Eve out of His present, outside the Garden of Eden!
We also see God requiring perfection in Genesis 4 as He rejects the improper sacrifice of Cain.
In Genesis 5 (often called “the chapter of death”) we see God’s requirement of perfection as God’s judgment upon sin is realized in this list of genealogies in which each descendent of Adam is listed ending with the morbid phrase, “and he died.”
In Genesis 6-9, God’s requirement of perfection as God destroys the entire human race because of their rebellion against Him, sparing only the family of Noah.
We also see God’s requirement of perfection in Genesis 11 as God scatters in judgment all those who had united together against Him at the Tower of Babel.
We’re not going to go through every chapter of the Bible, but we could! Suffice it to say that God’s requiring of perfection is seen throughout the Old Testament: in the giving of the Law to the Children of Israel after being rescued from Egypt to the Sacrificial system which was the only way that sinful men could approach a holy God, to the destruction of Korah and his 250 followers because of their rebellion against God’s leadership through Moses, to the slaying of Aaron’s two sons: Nadab and Abihu, who had attempted to offer “strange fire” in sacrifice to God, to the fact that Moses was forbidden to enter the land of Promise because of one act of anger.
We also see God’s righteous requirements in His judgment upon the rebellion of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC by allowing them to be taken in captivity by Assyria and by His judgment upon the rebellion of the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC by allowing them to be taken in captivity by Babylon. That is basically the end of the Old Testament!
But the teaching that God requires perfection is not just an Old Testament concept (contrary to popular opinion). Jesus actually raised God’s standard in His Sermon on the Mount. There he taught that “unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven.”
God also killed people in the New Testament. In Acts 5, God killed Ananias and Sapphira because they lied to Him. In Acts 12, God killed Herod Agripa I because he did not give God the glory. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul says that many Corinthian Christians were now dead, because they took the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner. God still requires perfection!
God still has wrath against sin according to Romans 1:18,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
No unrighteous person will enter Heaven:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, (10) nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Revelation 22:14-15 Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (15) But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.
The God of the Bible requires perfection! But, thank God, that’s not the end of the story. The perfection which God requires, He also freely provides! The Bible is also the story of a God who redeems His people!
III. The Bible is the Story of a God Who Redeems His People.
If we were to envision all of human history as a tapestry which is all beautiful until Genesis 3 when a thick dark ugly black string is introduced that continues on through the present day. However at the precise point of the insertion of this black string of sin, there is also introduced what some have called “the scarlet thread of redemption.” This glorious thread of salvation also continues through the present day and will eventually bring about the end of the dark string of sin.
I noticed this week that one of my red ink pen’s tips had gotten stuck in the edge of my Bible so that nearly 30 pages near the end of Leviticus and the beginning of Numbers had become stained with red ink. There is a very real sense in which every page of the Bible is stained red with the Blood of Christ. From Genesis to Revelation this “scarlet thread of redemption” stretches from cover to cover!
The same God who shed blood in Genesis 3 to provide coats of skins to cover Adam and Eve’s newly discovered nakedness is the same God who is worshiped in heaven in Revelation 5 as a slain lamb who has redeemed people from every tongue, tribe, people and nation. And in between is the story of a God who always seems to be at work redeeming His people. This is the case, because His people always need redeeming!
According to Exodus 6:6, the story of the Exodus is the story of redemption. There God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel:
Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. (7) I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (8) And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.’”
The prayer of the Psalmist David in Psalm 25:22 is “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all her troubles!”. In the very next psalm, Psalm 26:11, David prays for himself, “Redeem me and be merciful to me!” This cry is at once the greatest need and the greatest expectation of the Old Testament Israelite.
In the pages of the New Testament, God shows up in the person of Jesus Christ to fulfill this great need and expectation.
Galatians 4:4-5 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Titus 2:13-14 Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Hebrews 9:11-15 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. (12) Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (13) For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, (14) how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Revelation 5:9-10 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”
The Bible is a story about God! A God who reveals His person, requires perfection, and redeems His people!