Big Idea: How does the true story of all the world begin? By giving us our identity in relationship to God and the world.
The story of this world tells us who we are in relationship to God and the world.
Purpose: To understand the Bible as story, and our place in that story.
"The church can’t live without the Bible, but doesn’t have much of an idea on how to live with it." (N.T. Wright)
Do you see the Bible as a:
- tool to be used for a variety of reasons and to meet innumerable needs
- help desk for finding an answer to a pressing problem
- hammer to drive home a doctrinal position
- safety deposit box holding a depository of information and knowledge that can be collected when needed
There is some validity to all of these approaches, but they are all insufficient. Leads us to mine Scripture, highlighting some parts and quietly setting others aside.
I’d like to suggest an alternate and better way of reading Scripture that can not only change the way that you see the Bible, but that will change how you see your life.
The Bible as Story
Instead of seeing the Bible as a collection of genres, characters, letters, and writings, what about if we saw it as a story, the story, of the world?
- Our whole lives are shaped by some story. (e.g. humanist story – big bang, leading to better world through science and progress; postmodernism – no grand story, we are limited to our perspectives, no conclusion)
- The Bible tells a story to challenge and subvert all other grand stories.
- It is not a collection of stories. It is a single, comprehensive story.”The whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story which is the story of the whole world." (N.T. Wright)
- This story changes how we live our lives.
"I can only answer the question”What am I to do?" if I can answer the prior question”Of what story do I find myself a part?" (Alasdair MacIntyre)
"The way we understand human life depends on what conception we have of the human story. What is the real story of which my life story is a part?" (Lesslie Newbigin)
- We do not try to make the Story relevant to our lives. We make our lives relevant to the Story. (Example: scenes cut from a movie. The scenes are often brilliant, but they aren’t relevant. The director does not change the big story to make these little stories relevant. The little stories have to be relevant if they are going to fit in.)
Over the next couple of months, we are going to tell the Story. God invites us into that story, and it reads and shapes us.
"And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself." (Luke 24:27)
I’m going to suggest that it’s a Six Act Play. Part of Act Five is not written on purpose. We are like Shakespearean actors, who learn the rest of the story so well that we can improvise our role in Act Five.
Act One: God establishes His Kingdom (Creation)
Genesis 1 and 2 are not primarily concerned with how God made the world. It’s a passage that shows us God’s original intention for creation, and introduces us to three main characters:
His name is given in 2:4. Yahweh: Israel’s Redeemer; Elohim: World’s Creator. The God who created the Universe is our God. He is distinct from Creation, King over Creation, powerful, involved, and personal.
It is very good (1:31). The world isn’t something we escape from. We read later in the play that the world is also our future destiny (new heaven and new earth).
God encounters us in the world. We are not detached from or superior to this world of space and time and matter. The world is the theatre of God’s glory. We are world-affirming when we understand the Story.
God is continually praised for His creation:
"You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being." (Revelation 4:11)
Who are we?
- made in God’s image (1:27) – likeness of God; inherently like God
- made for relationship (1:27; Garden)
- to do God’s work (1:29-30) – Imagine being a 15th century sculptor. Michelangelo calls you in and asks if you would be willing to complete a piece of the sculpture he has begun.
Jesus asked Peter,”Whom do you say that I am?" That is also a good question for us. God’s answer: You are made in my image, made for relationship, and to do God’s work in the world.
Goal: To shape our lives by the story. Invite you to do two things: begin to see Scripture as a Story, and to understand our place within that Story.
- N.T. Wright on the idea of the Bible in five acts
- BiblicalTheology.ca -“The purpose of this website is to promote the reading of Scripture as one unfolding story by providing resources for reading and teaching."
- The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story -“This is a marvelous book that everyone in the church would benefit from reading! Written by two professors at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada, it tells the whole biblical story from Genesis to Revelation as a drama in six acts with an interlude in the middle."