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The Bible: A Redemptive Historical Narrative

Over the past two years or so I’ve gotten a lot of questions about my thoughts on the bible and what it is and my views on it. From sitting down with concerned pastors, questioning friends, seeking unbelievers to curious ministry partners I’ve attempted to explain my view on the Bible and the place it has in my life.

I’m going to attempt to explain it, maybe in a few posts maybe in one, we’ll see where the length takes me. The point though isn’t to through it up there so you can say ‘see, that’s what Nathan thinks, he’s a heretic.’ Instead it will be put up to challenge and for me to be challenged. So leave comments or challenges on the post and let’s help come to a better understanding of this wonderful book. I also have done a number of posts on the bible before, so I’m going to try and not repeat myself in detail, so you can check those out below. So this is more of a continuance of this series. There is also lots of discussion on those posts as well.

Bible: More than a Category
Bible: The Answer Book
Bible: The Rule Book
Bible: The Christian Britannica Encyclopedia (66 volume set)
Bible: The Word of God

Going to York has challenged my belief on the bible even more than when I was studying it on my own. I am under teachers that don’t believe the bible is anything more than a fantastic story with tons of depth. They believe that it is very one-sided; meaning that whoever the author is was biased to their beliefs and their orientation. They point out contradictions all throughout the bible almost as to rub it in the evangelical face. They show the brutality of some of the stories, the brutality of our God and show how so much of the bible can be found in other ancient texts that have been circulating for much longer than the bible ever has.

Many people in Christian circles call the Bible the Word of God. This I think does not do justice to what the bible actually is. The bible itself never actually calls itself the Word of God, but instead refers to Christ as the Word of God (John 1:1). So it is not the Word of God as a text. However the bible also talks about the word of God as being some sort of message (Acts 11:1, Acts 12:24, 1 Cor 14:36, Eph 6:17, Heb 4:12) or ‘good news.’ This is interesting because if the Word of God is Jesus, well he is also the good news, so that makes sense to call the good news and Jesus, which is a parallel statement the Word of God.

So where does this leave us with the 66 books of the bible; the stories of the Israelites and the Torah. Where does this leave us with the Psalms and the Proverbs and the Prophets? Well if there is one thing that I absolutely love about the bible is that there is such a wonderful message through every single book. The message is redemption. The bible is a book of redemptive history. The bible shows us God’s interactions through history and his plan unfolding to the salvation of humankind. The bible is an unfolding story. The bible shows us God’s work from the beginning to now. If you study the Israel history, or character narratives such as Job or Esther, or study the Psalms or the creation account or the gospels or the Pauline letters it will be unmistakable that there is a point to each book and they each come together to present us with one message; more specifically, one person; Jesus Christ.

The bible points to Jesus Christ in every story, in ever genealogy, in every law. The bible itself is no more than a pointer to the point of itself. The point is Jesus. The point was never to be the bible. The bible has become an idol is so many churches today where we lift up its words higher than Jesus himself. The bible was never meant to be the cornerstone; Jesus was. I love how Rob Bell puts it: that the church suffers from biblidolatry. Where we have got the messenger and the message mixed up. We need to put the bible in its right place in our lives and within the church. Not to a place where we put it on a pedestal overriding all of our actions but where instead we allow it to point us to Christ where he teaches us what it means to truly live a life without the need for a book full of rules but instead live a life that is powered by Him.

5 Comments

  • Gods Word Lives Forever
    Whether it is His written word or any other way God communicates, it is His Word. The Bible is His Word in written form. Jesus is His word in person form. John 1:14 says and the Word became flesh and lived among us. The bible refers to Gods Word being spoken numerous times. The bible is a compilation of the record of that word and has stood the test of time and will be read long after you and I and Mclaren, Zacharious and Sweet, Willard (not that I put myself in their category!) have gone.
    Jesus is indeed the word personified. Nathan, I have never seen any group of people who didnt hold the bible in highest regard, ever amount to anything. A lot of cults have formed over the years because they pushed the bible aside and sought after other ways of communicating truth. And yes as you say, the evangelical church is not off the hook either. I like your point of saying that Jesus is the point. He is everything. The bible is our source for telling us about who He is and what He did and is doing. I just wouldnt place the bible along with any other book. As I was reading it today I was just amazed at the way it grabbed me by the throat and shook me! For example this verse in 2 John 1:9 hit me good; Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son. Where do we find out about the teaching of Christ? The bible. Its a precious book and I know you agree. I see Jesus and the bible as inextricably linked. Who/what is preeminent? JESUS of course! Any honest human being who is a seeker of objective truth would want to be more like Jesus and, unless they were self-seeking, would not just want to have a whole bunch of stuffy bible knowledge. 1 Corinthians 2:14 talks about a person who doesnt have Gods Spirit in him and cannot even begin to understand anything that comes from God including the Bible. It is nothing but foolishness to that person. Do I understand Gods anger and violent side? Do I understand why all of this world is unfolding the way it has/is? Frig no. I dont even know why I just wrote the word frig! Do I want to be on Gods side now and when its all said and done? Freak yeah! I know why I said freak because I didnt want to say frig again. To the guy who said if only more Christians realized the bible is not an answer book and then goes on to say Im struggling hard through issues trying to come to grips with the truth that is out there. The truth that is out there??! Read the bible man! The TRUTH is in there!! Embrace it! Lets all embrace what God has chosen to reveal to us and lets apply it. This is my biggest point as it says in James to apply what we hear and learn. I desperately pray Nathan, that your generation will simply obey what you do know, and set the world on fire with the message of Jesus Christ that we first heard from that redemptive, historical narrative we so dearly love and respect called the Bible.
    Oh, one more thought. If there ever was someone who was raised by a church who thought the bible was a book of rules, it is me. Then one day I began to think for myself and in a split second changed my opinion and began to realize the bible is all about Gods mercy, grace and love to an idiot like me. Does it talk about obedience? Yes. Is full of precepts and principles? Yes. Is my job as a Safety Specialist on a shutdown full of rules, principles and precepts? Yes. Did I get nabbed by a cop for driving too fast and disobeying the law a few weeks ago? Yes. Its life. We all have to get used to it. And I thank God that the cop showed me some grace and mercy that day! Wahoo!

  • Nathan Thank You for the invite to give my comments. First off I would just like to say ditto Ralph, I totally agree with everything that you said. Well except with the frig and freak thing haha.
    I was in church this weekend and it was great, helped me get my mind off the things that this life can through at you and I’m not talking about escapism. It’s just putting it all into the right perspective. Anyway, being with the believers and worshiping the God of all sun, moon, stars, every living being on earth.
    Just so Thankful that at a time in my life 25 years ago that I asked the God of heaven and earth, if I (just me, Brady someone of no consequence) asking the all important question that I’m sure everyone in the world must’ve asked at one point in time or another is, God if your really real do you love me? Do you know that the very next day which was about 5 or 6 hours after I went to bed, someone of who I never meet before in my life came knocking at my door. Please understand the town was only inhabited by maybe a thousand people, so you got to know most of them. Okay so your saying big deal someone knocked on the door was it Jesus? No but like really close, he was the Pentecostal Minister, with a beard and everything. Once he introduced himself, the first thing in my mind after being woken up by the knock on the door was okay God you got my attention. I’m listening.
    You see I meant what I said the night before. You know that if God comes knocking at your door you must be important to Him. And please understand that I’m not arrogant enough to say that it has to be you personally God. So needlessly say that I devoured up anything to do with God and the Bible because even at this point I knew that I knew that the Bible was the Word of God given to men so that we might know who the living and true God is.
    I didn’t know at that time the real meaning and value of the Bible, and who and what great cost it was given to man.
    Just a cool side note, while in church last Sunday we were singing a song that I have sung many times before and you know how that works, when all of a sudden something jumps out at you that you didn’t notice before. While it happen and it was a line that said something along the lines of the voice of God being a whisper. John 20:30-31 Wow. The Bible is just a whisper of what our Heavenly Father wants to say to us. John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written. Also meaning He wants to speak to us more than we can ever imagine. It’s just a starting point. But please it was never meant to be a finishing point, be de be de that’s all folks.
    Not by a long shot or a country mile. Anything that God has done or will do should be held in the highest regard and honor.
    We as fallible humans, we think we know it all, what a BIG joke if we even entertain for a mille second that we could even fathelam the slightest hint of what we are about.
    O and by the way God did write some of the Bible Himself, it’s called the ten commandments. Do we and can we live up to them. No so that’s why Jesus came and gave us a command to remind ourselves to be obedient and the rest has been written, so we don’t forget. You know how we can be sometimes if we don’t write things down. And if we get into a disagreement we can have it settled right away.
    Okay I’ll explain, and put it into perspective for all those of you who care. But please this is just a hint of the awesomeness of God and the anointing of the Word, the Word that was given to us by God Himself for what He knows we need at this time. And if you need more, please just ask I know He will reveal more to you, it says so in the Word. Seriously in Hebrews 11:6 He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
    Okay I’ll entertain your mind for a minute, because unfortunately that is what we have become in this day and age. A society of the information techno ledge, which I might add the Bible says will be a sign of the end of the age.
    Think about this for a minute back in the good old days of about three thousand years ago a guy named Isaiah wrote on a manuscript, (which there are over thousands of them check the dead sea scrolls they have a copy of this book of the Bible that is exactly as it was written 3 thousand years ago except for a couple of periods which don’t change the meaning at all) he wrote that the earth was a sphere Isaiah 40:22. We say big deal, 3 thousand years ago and only up to just about 400 years ago man thought the earth was flat.
    I could give more examples if needed but the point is that the Bible should be revered and understood to be what it says it is the infallible Word of God to a lost and dying world. It tells us who and what we are and where we are going as an individual and as a race. The prophetic of this Word is alone enough to prove it’s authorship. Sure man wrote it down on a piece of paper but hasn’t every piece of paper that was written on been written by a man/woman. So what are you saying, that anything that is written on paper is not true. You can believe another man what he writes on paper but not God through man His loved ones who would only write what they are told to and not change it to look good.
    Can you imagine Matthew Mark Luke and John getting together to write the Bible (Gospels) and Peter says hey guys do you remember when Jesus said to me get behind me satan when he was talking to me about Him not going to the cross, you know guys that I was just thinking of His best interest right. Can you guys like leave that part out. It was all written down because it was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
    I understand that some may worship it but hey it not the pages it’s the one of who is written in there. I like what Joshua said in his first chapter, that this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; but you will mediate therein day and night, that you would observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Who doesn’t want good success? Two things, first it’s not a suggestion of being obedient and secondly mediation is good for you IF you are mediating on what is righteous, Holy and life giving. It gets into your spirit and causes your mind to take heed to what the Spirit says to us. Life and death are on the power of the tongue, so we are to memorize the Holy Word live it and speak it. I want to speak God’s words not my own. We are to line up with what God has said, I mean don’t we want to please our Heavenly Father. So what’s the problem?
    Please understand these comments are geared to the general public, not to any individual.
    Why do we try to complicate things?
    Just a question, are we afraid to obey the Word of God for fear of man or is it to restrictive.
    We are not to be ritualistic. But we are to seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added onto you. Righteousness! Not to many lately are out to seek this or live it.
    I’m so excited right now for what God is doing and going to do to His church. We are moving into the realm of the new with God, but only once our righteousness is fulfilled, will He allow us to partake.
    In total agreement with His Word and not against it but in ways we never thought of. But like I said in agreement with, not instead of. There are prophesies that are still to be fulfilled, which are written in this authoritative book which proves the authorship and the authority of the Bible. Sharper than any two edged sword.
    God Bless everyone.

  • Oh yah before I forget. Nate, I liked your thoughts on the matter. Keep exploring and keeping being you!

    Keep us posted with your thoughts and ideas

  • that the church suffers from biblidolatry

    I totally agree.

  • Throw.

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