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One Great Story


The One Story

The Heart of the Story

Key Themes

Historical Overview

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The One Great Story: Key Themes

Through 66 books and two Testaments, Bible tells One Great Story. It is the story of God's first making, then redeeming and restoring the world that he made; the story of God's rescuing, forgiving and restoring a relationship with us his creatures. Its central idea is often repeated promise: "I will be your God and you will be my people" (e.g., Genesis 17:7-8; Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 31:33; Revelation 21:3).

We will understand that one story better if we pay particular attention to twelve key themes that recur again and again throughout the Bible and help us understand its message.

Each time you read the Bible, ask: Which of these themes is present? What light does the particular passage you are reading shed on the way this theme unfolds through the one story of the Bible?

The central character, the one through whom and for whom all things exist. Self-existing and sovereign, creator of all things and redeemer of his people.

People of God
God created human beings to enjoy a relationship with himself. After the fall into sin, God began to (re)gather a new people from every nation, bound to himself by covenant.

A solemn bond between two or more persons. Particularly, the bond of love between God and his people he promises to provide, protect and forgive; they pledge loyalty and obedience.

God's Presence
Because he is their God, God lives with his people [Exod 40:34-38; John 1:14; Eph 2:22], to rule, judge and bless--His presence is their greatest blessing. [Pss 42:1-2; Rev 21:3-4]

The rule and realm of God. Reasserting God's authority over his wayward people is the key to restoring everything sin has spoiled [Rom 8:18-21].

God and his people are opposed by Satan [Gen 3:16], our own sin [Rom 6:12-14], the nations [Ps 2], competing worldviews [2 Cor 10:3-5]. God's final victory is assured.

God orders and directs the life of his people for their good. [Deut 5:29; 6:24; 10:13; 4:6-8]

Sin & Judgment
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. [Rom 3:23].
Sin prompts a holy God to bring judgment [Rom 6:23; Heb 9:27].

God's favor toward us despite our sin.
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. [Rom 5:20].

God rescues his people from slavery and oppression, so that they can know and live for him.

Mediators stand between one person or group and another. Because of our sin, God typically relates to us through a mediator.Theologians sometimes speak of three mediatorial "offices" in the Bible:

    Prophets reveal the will and work (judgment, blessing) of God.
    Priests offer sacrifices and intercedes for sinners.
    Kings rescue from enemies, rules over and through us.

In what or in whom will God's people trust? God? Their own wisdom or strength? Other gods? False prophets? Wealth? Military strength or political alliances?

Other Themes
Scholars have identified other important themes in the Bible. These include: election, holiness, judgment, sacrifice, restoration and renewal. In one way or another, these are included in the twelve themes noted above.

The three Rs of redemption, revelation, and relationship shape the one story as the Bible presents it. The three fit together. The high points of God's actions in redeeming his people and the high points of God's revealing himself, correspond closely. God seldom speaks without acting and seldom acts without speaking (see Num 23:19; Amos 3:7). Revelation without redemption would leave us in our sins. Redemption without revelation would leave us unaware of his care. Both are necessary for us to enjoy a relationship with him.

Read more about the One Great Story.

To find out more about a workshop that will help you understand the One Great Story better, click here.

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