1) The Bible Tells a Compelling Story:
a) Scripture Witnesses to the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
The Old and New Testaments are the earliest and the only comprehensive sources for understanding the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If we are interested in following Jesus, we read his story by reading the Gospels.
b) Scripture Offers an authentic portrait of humanity:
The Scriptures are able to account for both the grandeur and tragedy of human beings. God created people in God’s own image (Genesis 1:26-31). God created women and men as the climax of God’s work of creation. God crafted men and women to participate in God’s mission as stewards of creation, to reflect God’s character to the rest of Creation, and to live in authentic community with God and with one another. God designed people to live as God’s hands, feet, and mouthpieces for the world.
Reflecting on this profound reality, the Psalmist wrote:
NIV Psalm 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Yet, the Scriptures recognize and describe the fundamental flaw of every person:
Romans 3:23 All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
The Scriptures trace this tragic fact back to the first humans who turned away from God (Genesis 3:1-9). Sin then infected and infested every subsequent person (Gen 3-11 cf Romans 5:12ff). From Genesis 3 onwards, God acts to deliver humanity from its own alienation and lostness.
Thus, the Scriptures can account for the “good” that humans are capable of doing, and they account for the flaws and a capacity for evil that is in all people. They point to our need for the salvation that only God our creator can provide.
c) Narrates the Mission of God
The Bible tells us a story that begins with the Creation of World (Gen 1-2) and ends with the description of God’s recreation of a New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev 21). In other words, the biblical narrative moves from Creation to New Creation. In between, the Scriptures tell of humanity’s turning away from God. Humanity’s turning from God fractured humanity’s relationship with God and fractured Creation itself. The Scriptures then narrate God’s mission to bring reconciliation, hope, and restoration to a lost humanity and to a fractured creation. This mission starts with the calling of Abram to serve as the beginning of a missional community through whom God will bless all people (Gen 12:3). The pinnacle of God’s saving activities was the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The New Testament witnesses to what God the Father has done through God the Son. After the Father raised Jesus the Son from the dead, God pours out the Holy Spirit onto all who believed the good news about Jesus in order to redeem, restore, and unleash a New Humanity to serve in God’s mission.
The story of the Bible invites its readers to find themselves in the story as God writes the future.
2) The Scriptures are Generative
Beyond the reality of the Bible’s compelling story, the Scriptures themselves are generative because they profoundly and poignantly serve as God’s Word to humanity.
NIV 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
This above passage is often used as proof-text for the authority of Scripture. What is often missed in the functionality of Scripture that Paul has in mind. The Word of God is powerful to bring about God’s purposes.
a) Power to Transform Lives
The Scriptures open up and describe the salvation that God seeks to bring into our lives. They provide us with a guide to transformation and a road map for living the life God created for us to live.
b) Power to Create and Shape Community
The Scriptures describe and empower communities of faith to embody a God-centered, Christ-formed ethos. The power of a small group Bible study is a testimony to this feature. When we study the Scriptures together, we are shaped corporately into a community of God’s dreams.
c) Mediate the Presence of God
Studying the Bible is not merely about learning information or reading old books. Through the Holy Spirit, readers of the Scriptures encounter God.
If you are interested in encountering God, I want to encourage you to offer this simple pray:
God, I want to know you. If you are real, reveal yourself to me as I read the Scriptures. Astonish me through the riches of your Word. Amen.
© 2015 Brian D. Russell