The Bible is made up of sixty six books, written by around forty different people, and yet it tells one overarching story.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible explores God’s unfolding plan to reconcile humanity to Himself.
It is very easy to become worked up about nuances in doctrine or Ancient Greek grammar when we’re studying the Bible. These things are important, and they help us to understand the God we serve, but they can tend to get blown out of proportion. We can’t see the forest for the trees. The big story of the Bible – its main, recurring, compelling message – is of great encouragement to us. Let me share some reasons why.
1. God has a plan for us.
Despite all the books, authors, and genres, the Bible fits together. It tells one overall story, which is the story of God restoring sinful humanity. It was written over approximately 1500 years, but throughout it all God and His plan remain the same. The consistency of the Bible is one of the hallmarks of its authenticity. Its Divine Authorship is indicated by how perfectly it fits together.
Look at the whole Bible: creation, fall, Israel as God’s chosen people; the judges, the kings, the exiles. The Messiah arrives, He teaches, He dies, He is raised back to life in glorious victory. The church begins in Jerusalem and spreads across the world. And our continuing hope: that one day Jesus Christ will return and make all things new.
This is not a random collection of stories. There is a purpose to the Bible. It is telling us about God’s plan. He has not abandoned us in our sin but forged a highway for us to cross from death to life (Isaiah 35:8).
There is a sense of unfolding in the Bible.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were set apart as God’s holy people (Deuteronomy 7:6), although it is clear that God’s ultimate plan extends to all people. This plan can be followed throughout the Bible. Israel was meant to be a light for the nations (Exodus 19:6), the vehicle through which God would make Himself known to the whole world.
Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 66:18-21:
The time is coming to gather all nations and tongues…and some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.”Isaiah 66:18-21 ESV
This is realised in the New Testament, when the church expands to all people and nations, and Gentiles are given full participation rights. Paul tells us in Ephesians 3:6:
The Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.Ephesians 3:6 esv
Similarly, the Israelites did not understand exactly how and when the Messiah would arrive. Jesus was not accepted as Christ by most of His contemporaries. But the Bible records for us the way in which this came about so that we can see God’s undeniable plan throughout history.
In Genesis 3, when humanity gave into the temptations of sin, He offered us hope.
In Genesis 3:15, He says to the devil:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.Genesis 3:15 ESV
Paul – over a thousand years after these words were recorded – picks up on this language in Romans 16:20, and attributes them to Jesus. He signs his letter with the following salutation:
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”romans 16:20 ESV
The promised Messiah had come and fulfilled God’s plan, which had previously been unclear.
Even though there are many things in this life that we don’t understand, the unified story of the Bible shows us that God does have a plan. He is not idle in this world. He is distinct from His creation, but actively involved in it. When we face sorrow and hardship, we can find comfort in knowing that we serve an active God, and that – one day – all things will be made right when His plan is complete.
Related: How Was the Bible Put Together?
2. God has not given up on us.
God’s Story is love. He so loved the world that He has put in place the greatest rescue mission to bring us back to Him again. With the privilege of 21st century eyes, we can look back through history and see how He has been at work to bring that rescue about.
It is encouraging to recognise the unity of Scripture, because it shows that God has never given up on us. He is unceasing in His love; long-suffering towards His people even though we have strayed from Him over and over.
Personally, I have drifted away from God so many times. We break His heart when we choose sin instead of Him, and yet it’s a choice many of us make daily.
The book of Judges exemplifies this behaviour. It tells of the Israelites’ initial time in the promised land. Time and again, they drift to apostasy, ignoring God and doing what is evil in His sight. In response, God allows them to be oppressed by neighbouring nations. The people cry out to Him and He raises up a leader who liberates them and brings them back to God. But before long, the cycle begins again and they forget what He has done for them. The book ends with the hauntingly relevant verse:
“In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”Judges 21:25 esv
And yet, God has not given up on us. The Bible continues.
God did not need to save us, He chose to. It is “according to His great mercy [that] He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).”
He enacts this great salvation plan because He loves us. Even though we are sinful, disloyal people, He loves us. We can only stand in awe at this outpouring of love.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”1 John 3:1 ESV
3. God invites us to be part of His story.
Not only can we know the story of the Bible, we have also been given the privilege of participating with God as He unfolds His plan.
I think of the story of Jonah: God’s will will be done regardless of our contribution. But because He loves us, and because we are His children, we are given a place in this Great Story.
We know that God uses all sorts of people to accomplish His purposes. He is not bound by our circumstances. The widow of Zarapheth was so poor she had planned her last meal when she met Elijah. Moses had a speech impediment, Gideon was the ‘least’ in his family, and Mary was an unmarried teenager when she bore the Messiah. God uses ordinary people for His extraordinary purposes. He could accomplish His plan without us, but by His grace, we are welcomed to partake.
Therefore we are not our own. If we truly give our lives to Him, if we take up our crosses daily to follow Him, then that completely and totally changes how we live. We no longer live for ourselves; we give up our wills and desires for His. Our purpose in life becomes to glorify Him, not ourselves.
As Paul tells the Corinthians:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 Corinthians 10:31 esv
When we see the overarching narrative of the Bible, we view the world through its lens. Our sense of justice, morality, and identity becomes shaped by what the Bible teaches. Our everyday way of living takes on new meaning because we recognise that in all things we are participating in God’s plan to further His kingdom on Earth until Christ returns again.
Corine Bourke loves Jesus, rocks, and books. She is a geologist by trade, and also enjoys writing about God and sharing what she’s learning in her faith journey. She lives in Ireland with her husband. You can connect with her on Instagram @corineoggbou.