Keeping the Gospel at the Center of Your Bible Study

The Bible is not a handbook for life or an encyclopedia to which we turn when we don’t know what to do. The Bible is not a love letter from God. The Bible is one continuous story of God bringing about the gospel. As Jen Wilkin puts it in her book Women of the Word, “The Bible purposes to tell us this Big Story in a thousand smaller stories, from its first page to its last.”[3]

Do you struggle to connect the dots in your Bible reading? As you work through the Old Testament into the New Testament, does it feel like there’s a gaping hole between them of stories, events, and laws that don’t seem to fit together?

Maybe you read the Bible like this: The Old Testament is law and wrath, but when Jesus finally appeared in the New Testament, everything became about grace and good news. Then the Bible ends with some rules and promises and a terrifying and cryptic picture of the end times and eternity.

The best we can do is say that we’re not really sure what this means. Perhaps God was angrier back then; Israel is special; you’re David and your problem is Goliath; Jesus saves; follow these rules; and you’re unsure how it will all go down, but you’ll be walking on gold pavement. Sound accurate? Can you relate?

That’s how I understood the Bible. I avoided the Old Testament because I couldn’t make sense of it, and I really didn’t like how angry God seemed. There were times when the New Testament left me baffled and with more questions than answers (for example, the entire book of Hebrews). This disconnect begins when we forget the narrative arch of Scripture: the gospel. We need to read our Bibles with a bird’s eye view that sees how the gospel stretches over the pages of Scripture from beginning to end.

Jesus is revealed from Genesis to Revelation.

After Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples were downtrodden. They thought the Messiah had finally come—they were so certain that they had left everything behind to follow him. Yet, three days prior he was crucified and placed in a tomb. Then something strange happened. The women went to the tomb and found it empty, and an angel announced that Jesus was alive. Peter and John checked the tomb themselves and found only the grave clothes.

Two of these downtrodden and perplexed disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus when their Savior (though with his identity veiled from them) approached them. When they explained their sadness over the events that had taken place, he rebuked them.

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27).

The thick thread that binds the entire Bible together is Jesus himself.

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” What does this tell us about the Bible? Jesus doesn’t enter at the New Testament—Jesus is present throughout the entire Bible. Jesus isn’t the climax or falling action of the story—he is the entire story.[1] That thick thread that binds the entire Bible together is Jesus himself.

Eden wasn’t simply a foiled plan A and the gospel plan B. Before the foundations of the earth, the gospel was already in place. As Michael Brown and Zach Keele write in Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored,

Before the creation of the world, a plan was already in place to send the Son as the second Adam to remedy the disastrous results of the first Adam’s failure to fulfill the covenant of works in the garden of Eden and bring humankind to glory.

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