The Story of the Bible

The Message of the Bible in One Sentence

Dane Ortlund asked twenty-five pastors and scholars to answer the question: “What is the message of the Bible in one sentence?”  The answers are very good – ranging from short to long, simple to profound.  Well worth the time to read through them.

I believe trying to think about the one message of the Bible is a very helpful exercise.  This is because too often we are tempted to treat the Bible as merely a collection of many different stories with a moral lesson.  A Christian version of Aesop’s Fables.  While it is true that the Bible does contain many different stories and that most of them have a moral lesson, the Bible is much more than what it is often treated as.  The Bible is one story, with one overarching message.  That story is the most compelling story ever written.  Literally, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”

I have thought a lot about this topic, even preaching a series of sermons on the subject.  In my series of sermons on the story of the Bible, I tried to expand on this sentence offering my understanding of the central message of Scripture:

The Bible is the story of a God who makes a spectacular promise about a supernatural Person who creates a special people to live in a supernal place with Him forever.

What about you?  How would you summarize the message of the Bible?  Would you leave out from or add something to my summary?  Feel free to take a stab at it in the comments section.  As I said, this is a fruitful exercise.

The Bible is the Story of a Special Place (Message 6 of 6)

There has always been a fascination in human thought for the Garden of Eden. Many archaeologists have tried to pinpoint the exact location of this ancient home of the first man and woman. One, named Dr. Juris Zarins, believes that he knows where the Garden is: under the waters of the Persian Gulf in the Middle East. Others, less scientifically, have asserted the location of the Garden of Eden. The Mormons, for example, believe that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri!

Many of the utopian political philosophies of modern times are nothing more than attempts to return to Eden. The Enlightenment’s philosophical children of socialism, anarchism, communism and libertarianism all can be traced back to this desire to return to a utopian Edenic state. All such attempts have failed and are doomed for failure because of the reality of sin. Just imagine that you could come up with the perfect political system, it would still fail because it would have to be led and populated by sinful human beings.

But one day, God’s redeemed humanity will return to Eden! The Bible is the story of a special place!

This message is the sixth and final message 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 fifth part of that sentence: “The Bible is the Story of a Special Place.” A place called Eden, a place called Canaan, and a place called Heaven. Let’s read Genesis 2:8-15 for the description of the first place which God created for man to live in fellowship with God.

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. (9) And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (10) Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. (11) The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. (12) And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. (13) The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. (14) The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. (15) Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

I. The Bible is the Story of a Place Called Eden.
The Garden of Eden was a beautiful place! It is described in our text as having a river which divided into four rivers, a Tree of Life, a Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, gold and precious stones. There was no curse on the ground, no thorns nor thistles. There was no sweat from the working of the Garden!

But the best thing about the Garden of Eden was the presence of God! God was there and apparently was accustomed to walking and talking with Adam and Eve in the Garden. We know this from Genesis 3:8 where, after their disobedience, Adam and Eve clearly recognized the sound of God walking in the Garden and they hid from Him. They knew what it sounded like to hear God walking in the Garden. Before sin entered the world, there was intimate fellowship between man and His Creator, face to face!

But sin entered the world and the result was that fellowship with God was broken in Genesis 3:22-24,

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– (23) therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. (24) So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.

All of human history from that point to this present day has only known life outside the Garden! That is a fitting description for the current human predicament: “Life Outside the Garden.” This explains the longing of mankind to “return to Eden” which has resulted in the many attempts in human history to find the Garden of Eden either archaeologically or politically.

Outside the Garden, life gets worse and worse. From Cain’s murder of his brother Abel in Genesis 4 to the worldwide Flood of Genesis 6-9 to the confusion of the languages at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11.

But just when things seem hopeless for humanity outside the Garden, God steps in with a promise of a new place for a new people in Genesis 12:1-7. God promises to make Abram a great nation and to give his descendants a land. The Bible is not only the story of a place called Eden, but it is also the story of a place called Canaan.

II. The Bible is the Story of a Place Called Canaan.
God called Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees in Genesis 12:1-7. He is promised both a people and a place. At last, God’s people would once again be in God’s designed place for them! A place called Canaan.

But this land is not fully occupied by Abraham or his immediate descendants. Even though they live in the land, it is as visitors, not as permanent citizens. But God promised Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16 that after 400 years of bondage in a foreign land, that his descendants would return and fully possess the land “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).

Just as God promised, after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, God raised up a deliverer named Moses to lead His people back to the land of Canaan. This land begins to be spoken of as a land, like the Garden of Eden, full of plenty. It is described as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” In fact, when God calls Moses at the Burning Bush He says in Exodus 3:6-8,

Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. (7) And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. (8) So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites.

After Moses led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, spies were sent into the land of Canaan. They came back with a cluster of grapes that it took two of them to carry on a pole between them and they gave this report,

We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Numbers 13:27

Although the Children of Israel refused to enter at this time because of fear of the inhabitants of the land and failed to possess the land which God promised them, they would eventually enter the land under Joshua who records in Joshua 21:43-45,

So the LORD gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it. (44) The LORD gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the LORD delivered all their enemies into their hand. (45) Not a word failed of any good thing which the LORD had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

There are a few bumps in the road during the period of the Judges and the reign of Saul, but by the time of the reign of King Solomon it could be said as 1 Kings 4:20-21 states,

Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking and rejoicing. (21) So Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.

Therefore Solomon prayed in 1 Kings 8:56,

Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

But we know the rest of the story. Solomon’s own life is soon plagued by sin as his heart is led astray to worship false gods by his many wives. The kingdom is divided during the reign of his son Rehoboam and the two resulting nations of Israel and Judah continue to spiral downward morally and spiritually. The end result is that the Northern Kingdom of Israel is taken out of the land in 722 B.C. by Assyria and the Southern Kingdom of Judah is taken out of the land in 586 B.C. The reason for God’s judgment upon His people is seen in 2 Kings 17.

This should have been no surprise to the nation of Israel. God had warned in Deuteronomy 28:15ff that if His people were not faithful to the covenant which He had made with them, then He would remove them from the land. Specifically note vv. 63-65,

And it shall be, that just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess. (64) “Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known–wood and stone. (65) And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.

So once again we see that disobedience of God results in departure from the land. Just as Adam and Eve’s sin resulted in their being driven from the Garden of Eden, so too the sin of Israel and Judah results in their being driven from the land of Canaan!

But the Old Testament saints realized that the land of Canaan was not the ultimate destination for God’s people. Abraham is described in Hebrews 11:8-10 as waiting “for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” Then in vv. 13-16, all the Old Testament saints are described as having the same hope. The prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 11:6-9 describes the land for which these Old Testaments saints waited expectantly as one in which “the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb” and “The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den” without being hurt. The Old Testament saints were longing for a place that we call Heaven!

III. The Bible is the Story of a Place Called Heaven.
The best definition of heaven is the dwelling place of God. Thus, wherever God is: that is heaven! Contrary to popular opinion, the ultimate goal of redemption is not for us to go and be with God in heaven, but for God to come with Heaven to dwell with us on earth!

God has always desired to dwell with His human creatures. In the Garden of Eden, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. After sin entered the world, this kind of face to face fellowship with God became impossible. But God still desired to dwell among His people. This is why He instructed the Children of Israel to construct a Tabernacle for Him to manifest Himself in. Because of man’s sin, God’s glory had to be veiled in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle (which was the perfectly cubed innermost room of the Tabernacle). Only one man (the High Priest) could enter into the Most Holy Place (or Holy of Holies) and then only once a year with a blood sacrifice on behalf of the sins of the people. But the Tabernacle is an example of God’s gracious desire to dwell among His people.

This desire is again clearly seen in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. Where the eternal Son of God is described in John 1:14 as “tabernacling” (the word translated “dwelt” could be used for “pitching one’s tent”) among us. What a gracious act by God. Yet even in Jesus, God’s glory was veiled in human flesh or the sinful human race would have been destroyed by the brightness of His coming (as one day Scripture says an unbelieving world will be).

But the good news is that this God-Man Jesus announced in John 14:2, “I go to prepare a place for you.” Jesus went to the cross the next day to prepare a way for a holy God in all of His glory to be able to dwell once again with sinful man. He accomplished this by being banished from His Father’s presence for the first time in all of eternity (“My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me!?!?”). He was separated from the presence of His Father in order that those who believe on Him would never have to be separated from God throughout all of eternity future. As Jesus hung on the cross, the veil in the Temple (which symbolized the fact that sinful man could not live in the presence of holy God) was tore in two from the top to the bottom signifying that Jesus had prepared a place for us in the presence of God!

Now the way has been prepared for God to dwell in the midst of His people again, the way He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden! We’re going back to Eden! Everything that Eden offered, we will have, but only better for there is no possibility of sin that could result in our removal!

Look at Revelation 21 and 22 for a description of where human history is headed. John sees a city descending from God out of heaven! Heaven is coming to earth! The earth will have been made new by this time. All the effects of the curse of sin will have been removed. The way has been prepared for God to again dwell on planet earth the way that He dwelt with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. John sees this city descending and guess what: it’s a perfect cube, just like the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle and Temple. This indicates that redeemed humanity will live in the Most Holy Place, the dwelling place of God which will encompass the entire earth. Note the description in the beginning verses of Revelation 21 and 22.

Revelation 21:1-4 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Revelation 22:1-5 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. 4 They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. 5 There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

On that day, man’s greatest longing will be fulfilled. The curse will be reversed. We’re going back to Eden!

Conclusion:

The Bible is the story of a place called Eden, Canaan and Heaven.
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.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

The Bible is the Story of a Special People (Message 5 of 6)

Though the main character of the Bible is God and the main subject of the Bible is the person and work of Christ, the Bible is also a book about people. All kinds of people. There are male and female, young and old, rich and poor. There are the good, the bad and the wicked. There are heroes and villains. But this morning’s message will focus on the corporate people with whom God has established a special relationship.

This message is the fifth 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 fourth part of that sentence: “The Bible is the Story of a Special People.” In this message I will seek to answer the question: What kind of people is the Bible about? The Bible is the story of a created people, a chosen people and a covenant people.

Our Scripture this morning is from Genesis 1:26-27, 2:7 and 2:18-25.

Genesis 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (27) So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being [soul].

Genesis 2:18-25 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (19) Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. (20) So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. (21) And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. (22) Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (23) And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.” (24) Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (25) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

I. The Bible is the Story of a Created People.
In Genesis 1 and 2, we have the account of the creation of the human race. This event occurs on the sixth day of creation as the climatic goal of all of God’s creative activities. In Genesis 1:16-27, a general overview of God’s creative act is given, but in chapter 2 a microscope is placed over this event resulting in the additional details which are provided. Here we see that God’s life-giving creative act is initiated, as always, through His spoken Word. In Genesis 1:26 the Godhead converses, “Let Us make man in Our image.” Also included in this account is the necessity for the Spirit of God in the life-giving process as God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).

Soon, however, man became a “dying” being because of sin. In the very next chapter, the first man Adam disobeys his Creator by eating of the one tree which was forbidden him. As a result of this disobedience, God’s promised judgment of death has come upon all human beings. Genesis 4 tells us the sad story of the first murder as one of Adam’s sons (Cain) kills another, his brother Abel. Chapter 5 is the chapter of death as the genealogy of Adam’s descendants are given, each ending (with the exception of Enoch) with the chilling epitaph “and he died.” By chapter 6 the wickedness of mankind has gotten so bad that God sends a worldwide flood which wipes out the entire human race with the exception of the eight member family of Noah. After the flood and the earth is somewhat repopulated, mankind once again expresses its rebellion against its Creator by erecting a Tower. God’s judgment is once again swift and severe. Humanity’s common language is confused that no more collaboration for such a project would be possible.

In other words, in the first eleven chapters of Genesis we see the failure of humanity and the need for a new humanity. We see death reigning and the need for the life-giving work of the Creator God. We see the failure of the descendants of Adam and the need for a new Adam. This is exactly what God provides in the pages of the New Testament. There Jesus Christ is described as the new Adam who creates a new humanity. 1 Corinthians 15:22 states, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Then in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 we read:

And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (46) However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. (47) The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. (48) As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. (49) And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Christ creates a new humanity who, according to His own words in John 3, must be “born of the Spirit” and who according to the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 1:23 have “been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever.”

No wonder that Jesus on the very evening of the day of His resurrection appeared to His disciples in the room where they were assembled and in John 20:22 says, “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” Then nearly fifty days later on the Day of Pentecost, there is the sound of a “rushing mighty wind” as the Holy Spirit was poured out and a new humanity was created in Acts 2. And God is still at work creating this new humanity whenever the Word of God is preached and accompanied by the regenerating work of the Spirit of God. Whenever these two dynamics are at work new life is always still the result!

The Bible is the story of a created people!

II. The Bible is the Story of a Chosen People.
In Genesis 12, we have the account of God’s sovereign choice of Abram out of all the families of the world. After the scattering of the nations in Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel, we see the beginning of the gathering of the nations in Genesis 12 as Abram is told that through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). But in the immediate context of the promise we don’t see Abram being a blessing to all nations, but rather a curse. By the end of chapter 12, Abram is in Egypt and Pharaoh’s house is plagued because of Abram’s sin of lying about his relationship to his wife Sarai (Genesis 12:17). Then in Genesis 22:18, God specifies that it is through Abraham’s seed that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. The apostle Paul explains exactly who Abraham’s seed is in Galatians 3:6-9, 13-16 and 26-29. There he writes:

Galatians 3:6-9 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (7) Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.Galatians 3:13-16 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), (14) that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (15) Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man’s covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. (16) Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Galatians 3:26-29 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. (27) For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (28) There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (29) And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Then in Ephesians 2:11 through 3:7, the apostle Paul explains that believing Gentiles have been mysteriously united together in one body with believing Jews, in Christ. These are the same ones described in Ephesians 1:4 as those chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world.”

The apostle Peter adds similarly in 1 Peter 2:9-10 that believers are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people” in language clearly meant to parallel God’s description of the nation of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6.

The Bible is the story of a chosen people!

III. The Bible is the Story of a Covenant People.
After Abraham’s descendants spent 400 years in Egypt, God raised up a deliverer to bring them out of bondage and into the promised land. God used Moses to accomplish a complete victory over the gods of Egypt through the ten plagues and over the mighty Egyptian army at the Red Sea. After experiencing the redemption of God from their slavery, God entered into a sacred covenant with His people at Mt. Sinai. This covenant is treated by the later Old Testament prophets as a marriage covenant between Yahweh and Israel. The marriage vows for this covenant are found in Exodus 19:1-8 (before the giving of the Law) and in 24:3-8 (after the giving of the Law). Notice Israel’s repeated “I do’s” or literally “We will do . . .”:

Exodus 19:1-8 In the third month after the children of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on the same day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai. 2 For they had departed from Rephidim, had come to the Wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness. So Israel camped there before the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 ‘And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” 7 So Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before them all these words which the LORD commanded him. 8 Then all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” So Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.

Exodus 24:3-8 So Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the LORD. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 Then he sent young men of the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half the blood and put it in basins, and half the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”

The indictment against Israel throughout the Prophets is that although they were married to Jehovah they had been an adulterous wife. The story of the prophet Hosea is one which illustrates at the same time both God’s faithfulness and Israel’s unfaithfulness to the covenant. Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to her marriage covenant with Yahweh, the Lord utters these shocking words to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 3:6-10,

The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: “Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot. (7) And I said, after she had done all these things, ‘Return to Me.’ But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (8) Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also. (9) So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees. (10) And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says the LORD.

But God promises that things will not always be this way. There will be a New Covenant made, a new wedding ceremony conducted. This New Covenant is described in Jeremiah 31:31-34 as follows,

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– (32) not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. (33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Do you remember the words of the Old Covenant ceremony from Exodus 24:8? After Israel’s agreement to the vows of her covenant relationship with Jehovah Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” Now read the words of Jesus to His disciples at the Last Supper: “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). This marriage will not end in divorce, because Jesus shed His blood to purchase the ability for the bride to keep her marriage vows! He will not let the church turn away! Paul describes this glorious purpose of Christ in His bride in Ephesians 5:25-27 with these words,

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (26) that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, (27) that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

But will this marriage truly be successful? From our perspective the church doesn’t look too pretty sometimes. But take a glimpse into the future in Revelation 21:1-7, 9-11 and we see the glorious future of the church! Can you hear the wedding music begin to play in the background: Here comes the bride . . .”?

Revelation 21:1-7 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Revelation 21:9-11 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

God’s purposes will not fail! He will have a bride without spot and without blemish. The New Covenant will be successful because Christ has redeemed His people by His blood!

The Bible is the story of a covenant people!

The Bible is the Story of a Special Person (Message 4 of 6)

You probably don’t need to be told that the New Testament is about Jesus. Everyone knows that, don’t they? But what about the Old Testament? Can one truthfully say that the whole Bible is about Jesus?

The answer in a word is yes! But don’t just take my word for it, take Jesus’ words to the Pharisees regarding the Old Testament Scriptures in John 5:39. There Jesus declared, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” These words were spoken in reference to the Old Testament, which was the only Scriptures written at the time. In this verse, Jesus emphatically declares that the whole Old Testament is about Him!

This message is the fourth 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 third part of that sentence: “The Bible is the Story of a Special Person.” In this morning’s message we will show that the Bible is the story of a special person who is revealed predictively, pictorically, preincarnationally and preparatively.

Bryan Chapel has written in his great book titled Christ-Centered Preaching that:

In its context, every passage possesses one or more of four redemptive foci. Every text is predictive of the work of Christ, preparatory for the work of Christ, reflective of the work of Christ, and/or resultant of the work of Christ (p. 275).

Most of us don’t have trouble seeing how the New Testament is about Christ, but we do have trouble seeing how the Old Testament is about Christ. For this reason, we will spend our time in this message focusing on how Christ is revealed in the pages of the Old Testament. I believe that there are four primary ways in which Christ is revealed in the Old Testament. The Bible is the story of a Person (Christ) who is revealed predictively, pictorially, preincarnationally and preparatively. But before we seek to unfold each of these in turn, let’s turn to a passage in which Christ shows that the Old Testament is all about Him: Luke 24:25-27, 44-49.

Luke 24:25-27 Then He said to them, foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! (26) Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (27) And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Luke 24:44-49 Then He said to them, are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (45) And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (46) Then He said to them, it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise[8] from the dead the third day, (47) and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (48) And you are witnesses of these things. (49) Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem[9] until you are endued with power from on high.”

This text, along with John 5:39, reveals Jesus own hermeneutic of the Old Testament. He saw that it was all about Him! The following is an attempt to show how that is the case.

I. The Bible is the Story of a Special Person Who is Revealed Predictively.
This theme was thoroughly developed in the previous message as Christ was seen to be prophesied as the fulfillment of the promise of the “Seed of the woman,” “Seed of Abraham,” and “Seed of David.”

The first gospel promise is given all the way back in the third chapter of the Bible in Genesis 3:15, where God told the Serpent that one day the Seed of a woman would bruise the head of the Serpent. This prophecy is shown to be fulfilled in the victory won over Satan on the cross according to Hebrews 2:14 and 1 John 3:8.

This first gospel promise was expanded upon to Abraham who was told first in Genesis 12:1-3 that he would become a great nation through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed, then in Genesis 22:18 that this promise would be fulfilled in his Seed. Paul in Galatians 3:16 explains that Christ fulfills this promise as the Seed of Abraham by blessing all those from every nation who put their trust in Him.

The promise to Abraham is repeated to Isaac and Jacob before Jacob (on his death bed) blesses Judah with a prophesy that the deliverer would come from his family as a Lion with a ruling scepter (Genesis 49:8-10)! In King David there is a finally a descendent of Judah ruling God’s people, but he is not the ultimate fulfillment of this promise for God tells him (through the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7) that one of David’s Seed would rule forever and would be called Son by God!

The Old Testament prophets Isaiah and Micah expanded on this prophesy. Isaiah shows that the Seed of David would be born of a virgin and be called “Immanuel” which is interpreted “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah also declares that a child will born who will be called “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.” His kingdom would never end and He would sit on His ancestor David’s throne forever (Isaiah 9:6-7). Micah provides the detail regarding where this great King will be born (in Bethlehem) while also providing a description of this King as being the One “whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

Thus we see that across the pages of the Old Testament this special Person is prophesied, promised, predicted and proclaimed. The One who was foreknown is foretold. The Bible is the story of a special Person!

II. The Bible is the Story of a Special Person Who is Revealed Pictorially.
But not only is Christ foretold predictively in the Old Testament, He is also foreshadowed pictorially. There are many pictures of Christ in the people, events and ceremonies of the Old Testament. It is easy to get carried away with what is called “typology” and force things upon the text which are not there. We must always understand the original historical setting of the text under consideration without minimizing its ultimate New Testament fulfillment.

Some see a type in every detail of the Old Testament. This makes for exciting preaching, but I think many times meaning is read into the text which was not intended either by the human author or the Holy Spirit! Others only interpret as types those persons, events or ceremonies which are specifically explained as such in the New Testament. This is clearly the safest method of interpretation, but I don’t believe that we must restrict ourselves to the types interpreted in the New Testament. Instead, I think that the types defined in the New Testament are not an exhaustive, but a representative list. In other words, the examples given in the New Testament show us how we can interpret people, events and ceremonies in the Old Testament in a responsible way.

While I believe one may responsibly see types of Christ in passages that are not explicitly interpreted as such in the New Testament, in this message I will restrict myself to those pictures of Christ in the Old Testament which are verified by the inspired authors of the New Testament. For the sake of time, I will list the Old Testament person, event or ceremony with its original reference and New Testament fulfillment.

Adam is a type of Christ who is called “the last Adam” in 1 Corinthians 15:45 which states: “And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” Likewise, Paul in Romans 5:12-21 contrasts the work of Adam bringing death into the world through sin with the work of Christ which has brought life into the world through righteousness.

Melchizedek was also an individual who was a type of Christ. His ministry pictured Christ’s ministry as both priest and king (Genesis 14:18-20). The fact that Melchizedek’s birth and death are not recorded in Scripture make him an excellent type of Christ according to Hebrews 7.

In Genesis 28, Jacob’s ladder with angels ascending and descending typifies Christ who brings communication from the Father and provides access to heaven for those who believe. Jesus said to Nathaniel in John 1:51, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

Moses is a type of Christ in that he was the mediator of the Old Covenant, and Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, 12:24). Moses himself also predicted that one day God would send a Prophet like him to whom the people would actually listen (Deuteronomy 18:15). This was fulfilled in Christ whose life in many ways parallels the life of Moses (compare the beginning chapters of Exodus and Matthew).

In Exodus 16, the manna provided for the Children of Israel in the wilderness typified the Christ who was “the true Bread from heaven” (John 6: 32). In Exodus 17, the water from the rock in the wilderness typified the life giving water provided by Christ (John 4:14 and 1 Corinthians 10:4).

The tabernacle and many of its furnishings described in Exodus 25-40 were also types of the Christ who “dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and who is the reality to which the shadows pointed. According to the author of Hebrews, Christ was also typified by the priest offering the sacrifice, the place of sacrifice “the mercy seat” and the sacrifice itself!

On the Day of Atonement two goats were brought by the High Priest before the tabernacle. One was slaughtered and its blood was placed on the Mercy Seat by the High Priest. This typified the sacrifice of Christ whose blood, according to Hebrews 9:11-12, was taken by our Great High Priest Jesus into the Most Holy Place for our eternal redemption. The second goat also typified Christ. It was called the Scapegoat. The sins of the people were confessed over this goat and then it was taken out into the wilderness and lost signifying that the sins of the people had been taken away. This is what John the Baptist mean when he said in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

The Passover Lamb also typified the sacrifice of Christ as a spotless lamb without any broken bones that was slain as a means of saving life (1 Corinthians 5:7).

The brazen serpent of Numbers 21 which was lifted up in the wilderness to bring physical healing from a snake bite was a type of the lifted-up Christ who would provide spiritual healing from the effects of sin. Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:14, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

III. The Bible is the Story of a Special Person Who is Revealed Preincarnationally.
The Bible is not only the story of a special Person who is revealed predictively and pictorially, He is also revealed preincarnationally! What I am referring to here are the times in the Old Testament (before the Incarnation) when the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, appeared in human form. These are some times called Christophanies.
Abraham experienced Christophanies on several occasssions (Genesis 17, 18, 22). Hagar saw a Christophany in Genesis 16. Jacob wrestled with a Christophany in Genesis 31. Balaam’s donkey first, and then Balaam himself saw a Christophany in Numbers 22. Joshua saw a Christophany revealed as the “Commander of the army of the LORD” in Joshua 5. Gideon saw the second person of the Trinity as a Christophany in Judges 6, as did Samson’s parents in Judges 13. The 3 Hebrew children experienced one in the fiery furnace of Daniel 3.

Many times these preincarnate appearances of Christ in the Old Testament are referred to as “the Angel of the LORD.” But in each of the Christophanies the term “Angel” is used in regard to his office as messenger and not as to his nature. If you study the context of each of these references you will find five common characteristics of these appearances which indicate that the “Angel of the LORD” is none other than the Son of God in a preincarnate form. The following list is from James Borland’s excellent study titled Christ in the Old Testament (pp. 43-44). He writes that in these passages we see the “Angel of the LORD”:

1. Being Spoken of as God
2. Bearing the name of Jehovah
3. Speaking as God
4. Possessing Divine Attributes
5. Receiving Worship

But what was the purpose of these preincarnate appearances of Christ? Borland once again is helpful as he provides the following list of possible purposes for the Christophanies of the Old Testament (pp. 102-111):

1. To Reveal Himself in a Personal and Visible Manner
2. To Meet the Needs of Individuals
3. To Accomplish God’s Plan of Progressive Revelation
4. To Predict and Anticipate Christ’s Incarnation
5. To Connect God’s Work in the Old and New Testaments
6. To Reveal God’s Soteriologic and Theocratic Programs
7. To Intimate Christ’s Deity and the Trinity

The Bible is the story of a Special Person who is revealed predictively, pictorially and preincarnationally!

IV. The Bible is the Story of a Special Person Who is Revealed Preparatively.
The Bible is not only the story of a special Person who is revealed predictively, pictorially and preincarnationally. He was also revealed preparatively! What I mean is that there are passages in the Old Testament which neither reveal Christ predictively, pictorially nor preincarnationally, yet they still reveal Christ by preparing for His coming. Everything else in the Old Testament falls in this category. Even passages which have no explicit reference to Christ still point to Him by revealing something about man and/or God which provides and/or requires the person and work of Christ. According to Bryan Chapell there are two questions which we can ask of any text which will “actually place every biblical text within a redemptive context” (p. 277). These questions will allow us to treat Scripture as Jesus treated it, as about Himself. The questions are: “What does this text reflect of God’s nature that provides the ministry of Christ; and/or human nature that requires the ministry of Christ?” (Ibid.)

Let’s try out this theory using a couple of familiar stories from the Old Testament as examples. First, let’s consider the account of Genesis 6-9 of Noah, the Flood and the Ark. Contrary to popular opinion this story is not a cute and cuddly story about a floating zoo. It is the story of God’s judgment upon a sinful world! Do you realize this story is about God wiping out the entire human race, save one family, because of sin! Can we see Christ in this story? We don’t have to do it as many have by seeing the Ark as a type of Christ (though I think this can be done in an appropriate way). We can see Christ on a much more basic level as we see the character of God as so holy that sin must be punished. It is this attribute of God that made the cross of Christ a moral necessity for God if He ever was to be able to forgive our sin. Sin must be punished and the story of Noah’s ark shows this in vivid detail. But this story also shows the grace of God as one, Noah, is described as: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

Let’s consider the book of Judges for a moment. Can we find Christ there? Well, there are a couple of Christophanies in the book of Judges (Gideon, ch. 6 and Samson’s parents in ch. 13). But on a more basic level, we see the repeating cycle of rebellion, retribution, repentance, and restoration in Judges 2:10-19 and 3:7-11. Here we see God as both punishing sin and providing salvation. These seemingly contradictory themes which can be traced all the way through the Old Testament are only ultimately brought together on the cross of Christ where in the words of the psalmist: “Mercy and truth have met together; Righteousness and peace have kissed.” Psalm 85:10

Conclusion:
It is no wonder that Jesus could take as His text the entirety of the Old Testament and declare that it was all about Him in Luke 24:27 and 44. But, not only is all of Scripture centered around the person of Jesus Christ so is this entire universe. Paul teaches in Colossians 1:15-22 that Jesus is:

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, (20) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. (21) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled (22) in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight.

But not only so, He is also the one who alone has the authority to grant eternal life or sentence to eternal death. Hear Jesus’ words in John 5:21-30,

For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. (22) For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, (23) that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. (24) “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. (25) Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. (26) For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, (27) and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice (29) and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (30) I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Finally in Acts 17:30-31 Paul states:

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (31) because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

This preeminent Christ of Scripture is also the Christ of the Cosmos! Every knee will bow to Him (Philippians 2:9-11), either in this life or at the judgment when it will be too late! Have you bowed to the Lord Jesus Christ?

The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise (Message 3 of 6)

If I were to ask everyone here this morning, “What is your favorite text of Scripture?”, what would you say? Would anyone say, “Matthew 1:1-17“? Probably not. Instead, we ask: “Why would Matthew begin his account of the life of Christ with a boring genealogy?” What would you say if I were to tell you that this text is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible?

Matthew 1:1-17 is one of the most important passages in the Bible! It is the thread that binds together the Old and New Testaments. In fact, this text is vitally important if you ever want to properly understand the meaning of the Old Testament. Matthew very carefully links the first part of the Bible with the second by citing 53 direct quotes, and 76 allusions from the Old Testament. Matthew uses the phrase, “to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet” eleven times in his book. This gospel writer clearly identifies Jesus as the promised and long awaited Messiah. Without a doubt, the evidence is overwhelming. Jesus is clearly presented to be the fulfillment of all that the prophets of old were longing for.

But before you can understand how this text ties together the two testaments, you must first understand the huge promise which Matthew’s gospel shows that Jesus Christ has fulfilled. It is a cord of at least three distinct strands. Each strand strengthens the whole. The three strands of this promise is that One who is the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham and the seed of David will crush the head of the Serpent, bless all the nations of the earth and rule as King forever.

This message is the third in a series of six (click here for message 1 and here for message 2) 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 second part of that sentence: “The Bible is a Story of a Special Promise.” This morning we will trace three distinct strands through Scripture which develop the message of the Bible as the message of a promise. As David Helm has written, “The Bible is a big book about a big God who keeps a big promise.” We will see that the Bible is the story of a promise about the seed of the woman, who is the seed of Abraham, who is the seed of David!

For this morning’s text, we will read Matthew 1. In this chapter, the unity of the Bible is seen in God’s faithfulness to keep His ancient promise.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:
Mat 1:2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
Mat 1:3 Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
Mat 1:4 Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon.
Mat 1:5 Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab, Boaz begot Obed by Ruth, Obed begot Jesse,
Mat 1:6 and Jesse begot David the king.
David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.
Mat 1:7 Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa.
Mat 1:8 Asa begot Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
Mat 1:9 Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah.
Mat 1:10 Hezekiah begot Manasseh, Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah.
Mat 1:11 Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon.
Mat 1:12 And after they were brought to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.
Mat 1:13 Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor.
Mat 1:14 Azor begot Zadok, Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
Mat 1:15 Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob.
Mat 1:16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.
Mat 1:17 So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.
Mat 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Mat 1:20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
Mat 1:21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Mat 1:22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
Mat 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
Mat 1:24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,
Mat 1:25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.

I. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of the Woman.
This promise found in Genesis 3:15 is the first Gospel sermon ever preached on earth. Jehovah was the preacher, the whole human race (Adam and Eve) and Satan himself were the audience. There is a sense in which everything in Scripture which follows Genesis 3:15 is a footnote to this great gospel promise. The promise is clarified and expanded upon, but it is this promise which is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.

What is this promise? It is the promise given by God in the midst of His pronouncement of the curse upon the Serpent that one day “the seed of the woman” would crush the head of the Serpent. The promise reads specifically:

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.

I believe that the reference to the seed of the woman is a veiled reference to the Virgin Birth of Christ. But specifically, a descendent of a woman will one day bruise the head of the Serpent (mortal wound) while bruising His own heel (minor wound). The picture is of a champion taking his heel and grinding the head of the serpent to destroy it. The heel of the champion would be temporarily wounded, but the serpent would be destroyed. This is exactly what Christ did upon Calvary. His heel was wounded, he suffered temorarily upon the cross. But His suffering upon the cross was the means by which the head of Satan was crushed and his works destroyed forever.

This promise is expanded upon in Isaiah 7:14 which says,

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.

One day One will come who can best be described as “the seed of the woman” because He will be born of a virgin. This one will be called “Immanuel” which literally means “God with us.” In Galatians 4:4, Paul states, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” And John in 1 John 3:8 declares the purpose of the mission of this One who was “born of a woman” as follows,

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Likewise, in Hebrews 2:14 we read:

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of the Woman who Crushes the Head of the Serpent!

II. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of Abraham.
But the promise that the Deliver would be the seed of the woman is not the only strand of the promise. This promise is expanded upon to Abraham who is told in Genesis 12:1-3 that through him “all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” This promise is then clarified in Genesis 22:18 to mean, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Here we are being told that “the Seed of the woman” who will crush the head of the Serpent will also be the seed of Abraham through whom “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” This same promise is repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac in Genesis 26:4, to Isaac’s son Jacob in Genesis 35:10-12 and to Jacob’s son Judah in Genesis 49:9-10.

But at the end of Genesis this family through whom God has promised to bless all the families of the earth are driven outside of their land of promise into the land of Egypt! But cheer up, it gets even worse! After Joseph dies and a new Pharaoh arises who does not know Joseph, this special family is forced into slavery! As Graeme Goldsworthy states,

The end of the Genesis narrative presents a scenario that in almost every way denies the reality of the covenant promises. They remain just that promises. A people, few in number, find themselves in a land not promised, and soon there unfolds the horror of the oppression that they will suffer at the hands of the Egyptians (Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p. 37).

But God has not forgotten His promise! After 400 years of bondage in Egypt, God raises up a deliverer named Moses to whom He reveals Himself in Exodus 3:6 as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” In other words, “I’m about to keep my promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

God’s faithfulness to His promises toward the nation of Israel in the Old Testament is a much bigger deal than many of us have imagined! God’s faithfulness to the nation of Israel is the byproduct of His faithfulness to the first gospel promise of Genesis 3:15. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is important because the people of Israel are the people through whom the Savior of the world will come! The purpose of the establishment of the nation of Israel was to provide the location for the Messiah to come and the family into which He would be born. God’s primary goal was not to merely have one nation as His special people but to send a Deliverer in order to create a redeemed humanity with whom He could dwell eternally!

As one song writer put it, “One nation rose to bring one man a virgin would conceive. A man who died and rose to life for all who will believe.”

After John the Baptist was born, John’s father, Zacharias prophesied concerning Christ. Zacharias recognized that John was to be the forerunner of Christ and he understood Jesus to be that Christ. He also recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham! In Luke 1:72-73, Zecharias said that the Messiah was coming in order “To perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham.”

The apostle Paul also understood Jesus to be the fulfilment of the promise to Abraham that through his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed in Galatians 3:16. There he plainly states,

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.

Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ! Likewise in Romans 15:8 Paul states, “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.”

But remember, God’s promise was that all the nations would be blessed through his seed. Just how is that promise being fulfilled? Let’s allow Paul to explain (once again in Galatians 3).

Galatians 3:6-9 Just as Abraham “believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (7) Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. (8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (9) So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.

And Paul concludes Galatians 3 with these words, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

When you believed the gospel, God was keeping His covenant with Abraham. Every time the gospel is preached and people respond in faith all over the world, God’s covenant with Abraham is being kept.

So now we know that the one who will destroy the serpent will be the seed of the woman and will be of the family of Abraham. We see that God’s primary purpose in the Old Testament was not to build a nation but to send a Saviour. This one that was preached about to Adam and Eve in the garden and Abraham did come. He did destroy the works of Satan on the cross. By Him all the nations of the earth are being blessed. Revelation 5:9 says,

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.”

III. The Bible is the Story of a Special Promise About the Seed of David.
So far we know that the One who will crush the head of the Serpent is “the Seed of the woman,” the Seed of Abraham” and the Descendent of Isaac, Jacob and Judah. But in 2 Samuel 7 we also learn that this Mighty Deliver will be a Descendent of King David himself. There were hints of the Deliverer’s royal nature before this in the prophetic word from Jacob to Judah in Genesis 49:8-10. There we read:

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s children shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He bows down, he lies down as a lion; and as a lion, who shall rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.

Some might have thought that David himself was the fulfillment of this prophecy, but in 2 Samuel 7:12-14 the prophet Nathan delivers this word from God to David near the end of his life:

When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. (14) I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.

One who can truly be called the Son of the Father (see Hebrews 1:5) will rule forever! This promise to David is expanded upon by the Old Testament prophets. Isaiah writes in Isaiah 9:6-7,

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Likewise Micah in Micah 5:2 predicts the birth of this King to be in Bethlehem with these words:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Luke 1:30-33 she was told,

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. (32) He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. (33) And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of the promise regarding “the seed of David”!

But the Scriptures also reveal that this Reigning Ruler will also be a Suffering Servant! This was a point that was often overlooked by the Jews, but is crystal clear in their Scriptures. For example, King David himself prophesies the sufferings of the Messiah in Psalm 22. This psalm which begins with the words, “My God, My God, Why have You forsaken Me?” includes graphic description of the crucifixion 800 years before it occurred (see vv. 6-8, 12-18). The prophet Isaiah also foresaw the Passion of the Christ when he wrote in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

Fittingly, the placard over Jesus’ head which contained the criminal charge against Him had the title “The King of the Jews.” That was the King of the Jews as God had always planned! But by virtue of His obedient death “God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name!” (Philippians 2:9-11).

It is only at the cross that all the strands of God’s promise are brought together.

  • At the cross, the promise of the Seed of the woman who would defeat the Serpent was accomplished (1 John 3:8).
  • At the cross, the blessing to all nations through the Seed of Abraham was accomplished (Galatians 3:13-14).
  • At the cross, the promise to provide an eternal King of the Seed of David was accomplished (Philippians 2:8-11).

Conclusion:
Now we’re ready to return to Matthew 1:1. Let’s read “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Does that mean anything to you now?

The most important two names in the genealogy are given first. Abraham establishes the racial lineage, and David gives Jesus the royal pedigree. In order to possess royal lineage, one would need to be a son of Abraham and a son of David. The racial line was promised through Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The royal line was promised through David in 2 Samuel 7:16: “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”

The power of this text remains the same as when the 1st Century Jew read it nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus is the Christ, the promised One, the coming King, the seed of the woman, the seed of Abraham, the seed of David. Since this is true His life . . . and death have tremendous significance. As the seed of the woman, He is our deliverer from the power of Satan. As the seed of Abraham, He is the our blessing through faith. As the seed of the David, He is our King to whom we must bow.

The Bible is a Story About God (Message 2 of 6)

Mothers know that children who are raised in church when asked virtually any question about the Bible give the same answer: God. Although this predictable answer is sometimes humorous, the answer is given for a good reason. Children learn early on that God is the right answer to so many questions. Who made the world? God. Who made the trees? God. Who made the sun? God. Who made the stars? God. Who made you? God!

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;

Hebrews 1:1-3
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.”

Conclusion:
The Bible is a story about God! A God who reveals His person, requires perfection, and redeems His people!

The Story of the Bible (Message 1 of 6)

Everyone loves a good story! There is something about the words, “Once upon a time . . .” that capture the attention and the imagination of both the young and the old. We never outgrow our love for a story. This is clearly evident by American’s seemingly insatiable appetite for books, television and movies.

The Bible is often treated as merely a collection of many different stories with a moral lesson. A Christian version of Aesop’s Fables. While it is true that the Bible does contain many different stories and that most of them have a moral lesson, the Bible is much more than what it is often treated as. The Bible is one story, with one overarching message. That story is the most compelling story ever written. Literally, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” It “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.”

This message is the first in a series of six which seeks to tell the story of the Bible and show the unity thereof. These six messages will seek to unpack the following sentence:

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.

Each of the next five messages will take one of the main nouns from this sentence and show how that theme is played out through the entire Bible. For example, next Sunday Morning’s message will be: “The Bible is a Story about God.” The next week’s message will be: “The Bible is a Story about a Special Promise”, etc. But in this morning’s message I want to provide an overview of the entire series, by offering a brief summary of each of the five themes in the sentence:

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.

Before we begin I must confess my indebtedness in my formulation of the above sentence to the works of Graeme Goldsworthy (like According to Plan, Gospel and Kingdom, and Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture) who has very helpfully defined the kingdom of God as: “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.” I am also deeply indebted to David Helm’s childrens book titled The Big Picture Story Bible (one of my favorite books to help me understand and explain the Bible to my children) which describes the Bible as: “A big book, about a big God, who keeps a big promise.” Finally, I am indebted to Mark Dever’s new two volume series on the message of the Old and New Testaments subtitled respectively: Promises Made and Promises Kept.

I. The Bible is a Story About God.
As early as the first four words of the Bible, “In the beginning God . . .”, we can tell that the main subject of the Bible is God Himself. God is both the author of Scripture and its Subject. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. While God’s power and glory are evident in the created order, the fullest revelation of the character of God is found in Scripture. It is in the pages of sacred Scripture alone that the attributes of God are both cogently described and clearly displayed.

Without Scripture we could not know God. God is infinite (unlimited), we are finite (limited). The finite cannot comprehend the infinite. Therefore, if human beings were to ever know anything about God, God had to reveal Himself. Thankfully, this is exactly what He has done. Hebrews 1:1-2 states,

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.

These verses show us that God has revealed Himself in the pages of the Old Testament through the prophets and in the pages of the New Testament most fully in the person of Christ. God has revealed Himself in Scripture by both definition and demonstration. First, the attributes of God are defined as a:

  • God is Holy, Isaiah 6:3
  • God is Righteous and Just, Romans 3:25-26
  • God is Light, I John 1:5
  • God is Love, I John 4:8
  • God is Good, Gracious and Merciful, Exodus 33:19
  • God is Spirit, John 4:24
The attributes of God are also displayed for us in the various stories of Scripture (the subplots that support that major plot):
  • The story of Creation shows God’s power, glory and intelligence.
  • The story of the Flood shows God’s judgment while highlighting His mercy.
  • The story of Abraham shows God’s sovereignty and grace in election.
  • The story of Joseph shows God’s providence and faithfulness.
  • The story of Moses shows that God is faithful and true to His Word.
  • The Life of Jesus shows the glory of God on display for 30 plus years.
  • The Death of Jesus shows the wisdom, justice, holiness, wrath, righteousness, love, mercy, and grace of God. As John Piper once said about the cross, “The wisdom of God has ordained a way for the love of God to deliver us from the wrath of God without compromising the righteousness of God.”
The Bible is a story about God!!!

II. The Bible is the Story About a God Who Makes a Special Promise.
It is in the third chapter of the Bible, Genesis 3, that God first makes this special promise. But before we can understand this special promise, we must first understand the special problem of sin.

Although God created a world without sin and death, it wasn’t long until human beings messed up a good thing. Adam and Eve disobeyed a clear and reasonable command by God to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They had been warned that the day they ate thereof, they would surely die. But instead of believing God, they chose to listen to the lies of the devil and as a result the whole human race was plunged into a state of sin.

God has never taken sin lightly and therefore Adam and Eve received the punishment which God had promised if they disobeyed. They died spiritually and began to die physically that very day! When God appears on the scene, He pronounces curses on each Adam, Eve and the Serpent. But in the midst of the pronouncement of the curses, there is revealed the first gospel promise. The Seed of the woman would one day crush the head of the Serpent.

This promise is developed in many ways as God progressively reveals His plan of Redemption, but at its core, God’s plan is to eradicate Satan on the battlefield of planet earth. This is how three different New Testament authors understood the purpose of the death of Christ. In 1 John 3:8, the apostle John declares:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Likewise, the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:25-27a,

For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.”

Here the imagery is clear. Christ must put all His enemies under His feet in fulfillment of Genesis 3:15. The author of the book of Hebrews pulls it all together for us in Hebrews 2:14-15 when he says,

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, (15) and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Christ destroyed death by destroying the one who had the power of death, the Devil. Death came into the world because of sin and sin came into the world through the devil. Christ came to destroy death by destroying sin by destroying Satan! This work was initiated on the cross and will be finalized at the 2nd coming of Christ. The Bible is the story of a God who makes a special promise!

III. The Bible is the Story About a God Who Makes a Special Promise About a Special Person.
Clearly the New Testament is about the person and work of Jesus Christ. Equally clear is the fact that Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 5:39,

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

Similarly in Luke 24:27 Jesus is described in His post-resurrection appearance to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus as:

Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

These verses shows that not only is the New Testament about Jesus, so is the Old Testament! It is easy to see how the New Testament is about Jesus. After all, the first four books (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are basically biographies of Jesus. The rest of the New Testament is clearly dedicated to the explanation of the significance of the life and death of Jesus. But what about the Old Testament? How is the Old Testament about Jesus when His name is unmentioned?

One way to answer these questions is to understand that many passages in the Old Testament are predictive of the work of Christ. These passages explicitly describe something about Jesus in advance through prophecy. The first such prediction is the one we just examined in Genesis 3:15 which calls Jesus “the Seed of the woman”. Other promises include Genesis 12:3 which clarifies that this “Seed of the woman” will be of the family of Abraham in whose Seed (Galatians 3:16) all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Other predictions of Christ include those which specify that Christ will be in the line of Isaac, Jacob and Judah. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses says that one day God will raise up a Prophet like him, but one to whom the people would actually listen. God promised David that one of his descendants would sit enthroned as King forever (2 Samuel 7:12-14a). In Isaiah 7:14, the child called Immanuel (meaning “God with us”) was prophesied to be born of a virgin. In Isaiah 53, the coming “Servant of the Lord” is described as suffering in graphic detail that points clearly to the suffering which Jesus experienced approximately 700 years later. Likewise, the Psalmist in Psalm 22 describes the passion of the Christ hundreds of years in advance. There is even a prophecy recorded in Micah 5:2 that “The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” would be born in a little town called Bethlehem! Then comes the New Testament where the promises made in the Old are finally and faithfully kept! The Bible is the story about a God who makes a special promise about a special person!

IV. The Bible is the Story About a God Who Makes a Special Promise About a Special Person Who Creates a Special People.
The Bible is a story about a special people. From the Garden of Eden where the first two human beings lived in constant communion with God, to the Tabernacle in the Wilderness where God dwelt in the midst of the Children of Israel in veiled fashion because of the problem of sin, to the incarnation of Christ, all the way to the New Heaven and Earth where God once again dwells unveiled in the midst of His people, God has always desired to live among His people. And ever since the beginning of creation, God has been at work to create a people for fellowship. This is clear in Scripture. It is not that God needs mankind in any way. No, God does not create His people out of a sense of deficiency in Him, but as a means of overflowing in His love and glory to others. It wasn’t as if God became lonely and created man, but that God’s love and glory overflowed and people are the result. It was not emptiness in God that causes Him to create His people, but a super over-abundance in God that causes Him to create people in order that He might lavish them with Himself.

God created humanity in Genesis 1 and 2 by forming Adam out of the dust of the ground and Eve from his rib. He created a nation in Genesis 12 with the call of Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees. He created a covenant community in Exodus 19-24 after delivering the Children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. But He created a New Covenant community by the death of His Son on the cross of Calvary.

The very night before Christ was crucified, He transformed the celebration of the formation of the Old Covenant community (the Passover) into a celebration of the formation of the New Covenant community (the Lord’s Supper). When He held up the cup, He said, “This cup is the New Covenant in My blood, which is shed for you!” (Luke 22:20). Christ was declaring that the work that He was about to accomplish the next day by the shedding of His blood was the work that would guarantee the blessings of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 which says:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah– (32) not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. (33) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (34) No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

This is what Christ died to accomplish! He created a special people!

V. The Bible is the Story About 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.
It was the idea of the special place in which God desires to live with His people that first caused me to start thinking in lines of this series. I was talking to my kids the other night after reading their Bible story about the Fall of man in the Garden of Eden when I began thinking about this idea of God’s apparent desire to dwell with His people. It was evident in the Garden of Eden where God used to walk and talk with Adam. It was also evident in the fact that God had a Tabernacle built so that He could dwell veiled in the midst of His people without sinful humans being consumed by the radiance of His holiness. This desire is glorious apparent also in John 1:14 which says that, “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.” The word “dwelt” in this verse literally means “to tabernacle or to pitch one’s tent”. God has always desired to live among His people, but sin keeps God from dwelling among His people as He desires, as He truly is.

But one day our sin will be removed forever and we will have glorified bodies that will allow Him to live with us as He has always desired. We read about the fruition of this desire after redeemed humanity has been restored in Revelation 21:1-7. There John writes,

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” 6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 “He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Satan is defeated, sin is destroyed and God is victorious over all! This is how the story of the Bible ends. It ends with God’s special people in God’s special place, all because of a God who kept His special promise about a special Person!

Conclusion:
All good stories, we are told, must have characters, a plot, a setting, a conflict and a unifying theme. Well, the story of the Bible has it all!

  • For characters, this story has God, the Devil, and a cast of thousands.
  • For a plot, this story has the ebb and flow of the history of the nation Israel, and even the whole history of the world serves as a stage for the action in this cosmic drama of redemption.
  • For a setting, this story has the entirety of planet earth with heaven and hell in the balance.
  • For a conflict, this story has Satan in rebellion against God and God’s active work to destroy him forever. Relatedly, this story also has humanity in rebellion against God and God’s active work to redeem a people out of fallen humanity for Himself.
  • And, for a unifying theme, this story is the story about 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.