In the spirit of continuity, here’s part three of our Bible 101 and to be even more consistent, let’s start the same way we did with part 2: How would you summarize the message of the Bible if you had only one sentence? Now, if you know your way around syntax, you can easily keep going for a couple of hundred words before you run out of that one sentence, but for the average person, an ideal sentence has between 10-20 words, in fact, some suggest that a written sentence should never have more than 14 words to ensure the highest level of comprehension. As you can see, this sentence just now had a lot more words.
So, what about the message of the Bible? Well, some might say the Bible is all about God’s love for us. Others might say the Bible is all about how to live right. The super spiritual ones would insist that it’s gotta be about Jesus. After all, that’s the answer that gave them the most brownie points in Sunday school. Granted, all three answers are true, but only to some degree. We want to describe the Bible in terms of its overarching theme, the one theme that contains all others, even Jesus.
In my few years of studying the Bible, I have come to see this theme to be the following: the kingdom of God among man, or the rule of God over humanity. I believe this is the one central message that runs through the entire plot of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. It’s the glue that holds everything together. This kingdom has been defined as God’s people under God’s rule in God’s place.
At the risk of being reductionistic, this kingdom has two major eras: creation (Genesis 1-11) and re-creation (Genesis 12 – Revelation 22). Re-creation because of the catastrophic rebellion of the fall (Genesis 3). These two eras essentially deal with what has gone wrong with the world and how it can be set right again. The embodiment and actualization of this kingdom were anticipated in the Old Testament and achieved in the New, with the coming of Jesus, who said: “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15).
So how would I answer our question? I would say this:
“The Bible tells us about God establishing his loving and just rule over all who believe through his son Jesus.”
20 words. Now, we could go ahead and unpack this, and see how everything else is included in this kingdom theme. But let’s save this for another day.