The Big Picture of the Bible

Have you ever missed “the big picture?” Sometimes we need to take a step back and see how all the parts fit into the whole. The same is true with the Bible. The Bible is one epic story comprised of 66 books that was written over a span of 1500 years. Due to the number of books, ancient customs, and difficult sayings, (not to mention difficult names), it’s easy to getter bogged down in the details and lose sight of the big picture of the biblical narrative: the kingdom of God.

Right from Genesis 1:26-28, one may perceive that the biblical story entails the rule (kingdom) of God through humankind. Particularly helpful is theologian Graeme Goldsworthy’s succinct and memorable summary of the big picture as “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule.” At the center of this story is Jesus the Second Adam, the One in whom God’s promises are fulfilled (Luke 24:27; 44; 2 Cor. 1:20). Jesus is God’s Son who perfectly carried out God’s purposes as our representative so that we could live as “God’s people, in God’s place, and under God’s rule.”

Here is Goldsworthy’s summary of the key movements in the biblical story which I have found extremely helpful to comprehend the narrative of Scripture:

  • The pattern of the kingdom is established in the Garden of Eden.
  • This pattern is broken when sin enters in.
  • The pattern is reestablished in salvation history in Israel but never fully realized.
  • The same pattern shapes the prophetic view of the future kingdom.
  • The pattern of the kingdom is perfectly established in Jesus in a representative way.
  • The pattern of the kingdom begins to be formed in the people of God through the gospel.
  • The pattern of the kingdom is consummated at Christ’s return

For visual learners see the graphic below :

Thursday is for Theology - The Big Picture of the Bible
DESIGNED BY IAN MORRISON, CARE OF ENGADINE & HEATHCOTE ANGLICAN CHURCH. ADAPTED FROM VAUGHAN ROBERT’S GOD’S BIG PICTURE (IVP, 2002).

Why is getting the big picture so important?

You can read the Bible with greater clarity and understanding knowing the big picture, the kingdom of God.

You will live with in greater awe of Christ the King who called you into His kingdom.

You will have a clearer understanding of the church’s role in God’s kingdom. Since the Bible is about the kingdom of God, then the Church is to be about the kingdom of God also. The church exists to witness to the power of Christ the King. Just read the book of Acts!

You will have a robust view of the breadth and depth of the Gospel. The gospel isn’t just “Good News” for me as an individual (my own salvation) but holistically too. In Christ, God will “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10).

You will be filled with hope knowing where history is headed: the recreation of earth to make a new Eden in which “God’s people live in God’s place under God’s rule.” That’s the glorious vision of Revelation 21-22.

You will be inspired to work with God towards seeing that glorious vision become a visible reality.

Can you see the big picture? Seeing the big picture of the Bible will make a big
difference in your life.

For Further Reading :

The Big Picture Story Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible

I hope my recommendations don’t offend you. I am recommending materials geared for young kids. Why? The books will help you grasp the big picture of the Bible without getting bogged down in the details. I read these books to my own children and benefited from their simplicity. We literally wore out our copies!

Next week: Are Science and Faith Incompatible?