The Bible is an amazing book. Not merely because it contains a vast number of powerful and inspiring stories but because throughout the sixty-six books of the Bible, one great story is being told. This fact is even more remarkable when you consider that those sixty-six books were written over a span of 1,600 years by over 40 different authors on three different continents. Through all that diversity, the Bible has one major story flowing throughout it. The Bible is unified in its story because God is its author.
Simply put, the story of the Bible is the greatness of God displayed in His rescue and restoration of all things. The story of the Bible is the story of God's good news for all who believe in Him. It's a story about the Father sending His Son to save us, and the Son sending the Holy Spirit to keep us. From the first verses of Genesis to the final "Amen" of Revelation 22, the story of the Bible is about God showing His greatness over all things. Like many good stories, the Bible story can be told in four dramatic scenes.
Act I: The Greatness of God in Creating All Things
The first act in the drama of God's greatness is seen in the opening pages of the Bible. God is the main character of the Bible. He is the principle actor in the lead role. The Bible begins, like every good story, by taking us to the very beginning. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1, CSB). His creative power was on display. He spoke; it happened. He formed; it was made. He breathed; humanity was given life.
Not only was God's creative power put on display, but God demonstrated His sovereign authority by setting boundaries for land, sky, water, and creatures. He made humanity in His image and bestowed upon them authority as His representatives over the earth (Gen. 1:26–28). Humankind was given a king-like mandate to fill the earth and rule over it by creating families and creating culture.
God's greatness was seen in His creative power and His sovereign authority over all things. He is the Creator. He is the Ruler. Humanity was created as God's special regents, made to represent Him and rule under His rule.
Act II: The Greatness of God in His Promises
This beautiful, original creation would not last long, though. In spite of God's kindness and blessing on humanity, an outright rebellion occurred. Where God had provided everything humanity needed to fulfill His commission, a deception occurred. God's words were twisted, doubted, and even denied. God's rule was overthrown. Our first parents chose to believe the lie of Satan that they didn't need God; they could be independent and rule over all things on their own. They took the one thing God had forbidden them to take, and in so doing brought upon themselves the penalty of their disobedience. Trying to be like God, they sinned and became less like Him.
Genesis 2:17 tells us that disobeying God brings death (physical and spiritual), because true life is found in Him and His truth. The inevitable conclusion of every human being's story is now death. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, died, and so did every successive generation after them. Their original sin spread to the entire human race and so death now reigns and rules (Gen. 3).
Act II of the Bible reveals God's creation in disarray. Sin and death infect and destroy everything. Beginning in Genesis 4 and through the entirety of the Old Testament, the storyline of the Bible displays that sin is not just an outward problem—it's a heart problem that corrupts everyone and everything. The Psalm writer was correct in saying, "There is no one who does good, not even one" (Ps. 14:3, CSB).
Yet, God did not abandon or destroy His work. Throughout the devastation of Satan, sin, and death in humanity, God was and is at work. He promised Eve that one day a son would arrive who would crush the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15). He promised that Abraham would become a great nation, that He would be blessed, and that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed through Him (Gen. 12:3). He promised David that He would have a son who would sit on His throne and rule and reign forever (2 Sam. 7:16). God promised that He would deliver His people from their sin, forgive them, and give them a new relationship with Him forever (Ezek. 36:25–29).
God's greatness is seen in the face of the horrific tragedy of sin. Instead of abandoning or destroying humanity, God has made incredible promises that display His greatness. He is kind, forgiving, patient, loving, gracious, just, and faithful.
Act III: The Greatness of God in Redemption
The climactic Act of the story of God revolves around the fulfillment of His promises to redeem His people. Beginning with the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the drama of redemption unfolds as the promised Hero arrives on the scene. This Hero was the promised one who would destroy Satan, bless the nations, rule as King forever, and deliver His people from their slavery to sin and death. This Hero was unlike other humans who had tried to accomplish salvation by their own means. Jesus Christ, the God-man, would step into the muck and mire of our broken world to unbreak it.
Although He was fully God, He humbled Himself and became a human being. Although He was a human being, He was still fully God the Son. He lived as a servant, faithfully following God's Law and living a life without sin. He taught, healed, rescued, rebuked, and restored. He was perfect, guiltless, innocent and holy in every way. He forgave sins and told dead people to wake up.
And because He claimed to be God and to save humanity from their sin, He was rejected by the religious leaders, betrayed by one of His own disciples, denied by His own friend, and handed over to the government authorities where He was tried, condemned, beaten, and murdered. He was buried in a tomb. All hope seemed to be lost. Yet, Jesus came "to give His life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). He came as a sacrifice to take our sin and to deliver us.
In demonstration that Jesus's work was accomplished and that His death was sufficient to rescue us from our sin, He was raised to life again by the power of God three days later. The Hero triumphantly rose to life again to be King and Savior for all who trust in him. God's greatness is seen in His gracious work to rescue sinners and fulfill all His promises through His Son, Jesus. The Hero has defeated Satan, sin, and death and calls everyone everywhere to turn from their sin and trust exclusively in Him.
Act IV: The Greatness of God in Restoration
The story of the Bible from Acts through Revelation is the working out of the new reality of King Jesus's victory. He is the King. He is the Hero. As a result, all things will be made new in Him. This new Kingdom and new way of life are already showing itself in the midst of the old, sinful Kingdom and way of life.
As people place their trust and faith in Him, He begins to change and reorient their lives to His greatness. As God's people, "He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves" (Col. 1:13, CSB). We are rescued from being objects of God's wrath, now being adopted as loved children in His family. We who believe in Jesus have been made alive together with Him, no longer facing judgment for our sins.
The Kingdom is coming as well. Its reality is not yet fully seen. All things in heaven and earth have not been brought under Jesus' rule and reign. So today the church is called to take the good news of Jesus to every corner of the earth and make disciples of all nations. Just like Adam and Eve, we are still commanded to multiply God-worshipers across the globe (Matt. 28:18–20).
There will come a day when Jesus returns again and finally and totally makes all things new through the establishment of His forever Kingdom. The Bible speaks of this day when God will establish His dwelling with His people: "God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away" (Rev. 21:3–4, CSB). As we wait, we hope and say "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
God's greatness is seen in the restoration of all things. Order comes; righteousness is established; all things are made new. He displays His magnificent and full glory. He redeems. Mankind is no longer at war with God and each other—there's total peace. God's greatness is seen not just in His awesome power, but in His ferocious love.