The Story

This summer at Risen Life Church
we are doing a special sermon series entitled “The Story.”  If you have been involved in recent evangelical conversations on theology then you have probably heard about “The Story” or maybe you have heard it called something like the metanarrative of the Bible, or a narrative approach to Scripture.  The goal of this recent interest in the big picture story of the Bible has come from a resurgence in biblical theology which seeks to let the Bible speak for itself, using its own language and terms to define and interpret itself.  Biblical theology takes the Bible at its word and reads the narrative of scripture through the faithful eye that the Bible demands, exploring its metaphors, themes, and illusions throughout the entire narrative of scripture.  Biblical theology is concerned with putting the Bible together into a cohesive unit.  For so long liberal scholarship has sought to deconstruct and pick apart every aspect of the biblical text until the unified whole was obscured by its parts.   While I do not agree with many of the conclusions of liberal scholarship, its work on the Bible at a microscopic level has laid the foundation for biblical theology to reconstruct the continuity of the Bible piece by piece.  The result has been an amazing picture of God’s voice speaking throughout roughly forty different human authors over two thousand years.  This summer in our church we will tell the story through four different preachers over ten weeks.

So what is the Story?  The basic story of the Bible is God’s redemption of humanity through the person and work of Christ, but there is no better way to understand the story than to have it told to you.  Below I have included a video that we are using to introduce the story to our church.  I want to thank Trevin Wax of Lifeway for putting together this fantastic video and allowing us to use a version of it in our church.  Trevin has also been the editor of a great Sunday school series called the Gospel Project that explores the story of scripture week by week.

The Story of the Bible can be told in many different ways depending on the time one has to tell the story.  For our sermon series this summer we are using the following outline that I have put together as a by-product of the influence of many of my professors at SBTS (Including Drs Jim Hamilton, Jonathan Pennington, & Charles Halton) as well as lots of reading.  I believe this outline gives us a framework to talk about what God is doing in humanity and how he has revealed his plan to us in His word the Bible.  Think of this outline as a closet with dividers for different color shirts, pants, dress clothes, etc.  Whenever you open your Bible you should be able to place the selection of scripture you are reading somewhere in this framework.  This framework helps us to understand the context of what we are reading within the overall story of the Bible and more aptly apply God’s word to our heart.

I. Creation
II. Fall
III. Redemption
            A. A People
            B. A Nation
            C. A Kingdom and Divided Kingdom
            D. Exile and Expectant Waiting
            E. Christ and the Gospel
            F. The Church
IV. Restoration and New Creation

The four major movements of scripture are Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration.  While these are the major movements they actually take up far less scripture than all the subdivisions of redemption.  This is because God wants to communicate to us a worldview to live in, yet wants us to focus on the most important part of his epic which is the redemption of humanity in Christ. 

Creation lays the foundation of our story with the major point that God speaks.  In fact it is this reason alone that anything we know exists.  In addition it is this reason alone that we live life, do church, and strive to follow Jesus.  The Fall gives an answer to the problem we all see and feel everyday.  There is something wrong in this world and the Bible recounts the problem as our sin.  It is the rebellion of each and every human heart, just like our father Adam, against the rule of God.  In an attempt to write our own story instead of taking on God’s story as our own we have alienated ourselves from God and placeed ourselves in subjection to the very creation we were meant to rule.  But God does not leave us there.  He begins his plan of redemption.  This is prefigured in the flood as a story of salvation that will come through judgment.  The next major piece is God’s choice of a people.  This comes through the choice of Abram as the seed of a new people that will have God as their king and no one else.  God makes good on his promise and multiplies this people into a great nation that is led out of Egyptian captivity and takes on the promises and covenants of God in the Exodus.  They are to be God’s holy people living under His divine theocracy.  But this nation rejects God as their king and wants a human king like all the other nations.  God relents and gives them their desires.  Yet even in this judgment God will use the picture of human kings, particularly David and Solomon, to prefigure His coming perfect king Christ.  The people and the kings rebel against God and the kingdom is divided.  More than half the kingdom and people are lost forever, but God preserves a remnant that is sent into exile.  There they realize their sin and return to their God.  God brings his people back into their land, yet everything is not as good as it once was.  They are awaiting this new king, this perfect and just king to come and rule His people.  Then God is silent.  He stops speaking through his prophets.  His word still speaks but the people are left waiting until the coming of Christ.  But God is not idle, He is preparing a world to receive redemption.  Christ is an unlikely hero, but to those with the eye of faith He is God incarnate.  He will live the perfect life and die on behalf of His people.  Everyone who believes in Him will become His and will be saved through God’s judgment upon Christ.  Christ births the church through the twelve and they begin to tell everyone in the world about God’s plan of redemption.  Those that believe are also included in Christ as God’s people in the church.  And all of God’s people wait, some alive, some in tombs and graves, for the glorious restoration of all things, the new heavens and new earth, God remaking the world, dealing out justice, and ultimately dwelling with his people.

Knowing the story is so important because it gives us the only true view of the world and all things.  While it does not answer all of our questions about the world it gives us the most important details about our world; God is God, we have rebelled against God, and there is forgiveness in Christ.  Knowing the story also helps us to identify those things and beliefs that don’t fit in.  It is easy to be a Christian apologist if you know your story well.  Cults, evangelical fads, and heretical theology, can all easily be identified if you know the story God has revealed.

I encourage you to join us as we walk through the story.  You can listen to the sermon series here or you can go to the resources page on my blog to hear the sermons as well.  Bryan Catherman of and I also did a podcasts series on the story that can also be accessed on my resources page.

Here is also a list of books that helped me understand the story:

Popular Level:
The Explicit Gospel, Matt Chandler with Jared Wilson, Crossway, 2012.
Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church, Michael Lawrence, Crossway, 2010.
According to Plan, Graeme Goldsworthy, Intervarsity, 1991.
Creation Regained,  Albert M. Wolters, Eerdmans, 1985, 2005.

Biblical Theologies:
God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment, James M. Hamilton Jr., Crossway, 2010.
Kingdom through Covenant, Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum, Crossway, 2012.

More Themematic Explorations in Biblical Theology:
From Eden to the New Jerusalem, T. Desmond Alexander, Kregel 2009.
New Studies in Biblical Theology, D. A. Carson, Intervarsity - Series
– This is a whole series that is very good, particularly:
                        -The Temple and the Church’s Mission, G. K. Beale.
                        -Sheperds After My Own Heart, Timothy S. Laniak.
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