“All Scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16) writes the Apostle Paul. Peter tells us that in the writing of the Bible, “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” (2 Peter 1:21). Whatever we may say about the Bible, it is clear that the Apostles and the majority of those who claim to be their theological heirs and followers are a “people of the Book.” This “Book” has been suppressed, ridiculed, misused and dismissed throughout history, and yet through it all God’s people have remained devoted to believing and proclaiming its message.
Part of the reason for that devotion is simply the belief (often unstated) that the Bible actually contains a message. The Bible is God’s revelation of himself to man in its entirety. It is not merely a record of God’s past revelatory acts toward mankind. It does contain such a record. We see God revealing himself to man at the burning bush, on Mounts Sinai and Carmel, at the birth of Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration, and so on. The Bible records these revelatory events for us. Yet we have more than a record, for the record itself is revelation!
However, we must say more than even this if we are to believe what Jesus, the Apostles, and believers down through history have believed. We must say that the Bible is not merely a collection of revelatory documents. It is, as a whole, the revelation of God to us. There is a unified message, a single story that runs through the Bible. There is a metanarrative, or “big picture” story. We see a sovereign Creator bringing into existence all things through the power of his Word. We see man, in the image of God, rebelling against this good and sovereign Creator. We see God enacting a plan to redeem mankind from their rebellion. He re-establishes his covenant with creation at the Flood and then chooses Abraham and covenants with him to bless all the peoples of the earth through his Seed. We next see him making a covenant with Israel and setting the descendants of Abraham apart to serve him and obey his Word. Like Adam, they rebel against their gracious Creator. Yet in the midst of the sad history of Israel we see God again making a covenant to bless all peoples – this time through his chosen King – the Seed of David. We see God calling his people to repentance and to a renewed commitment to the covenants through the prophets. Finally, we see God clothed in flesh, fulfilling Israel’s (and Adam’s) covenant obligations on their behalf. He fulfills all righteousness and then bears the burden of the covenant curses so that his people might receive all of the covenant blessings. We see God the Son rising in victory and promising to draw his people into that victory at his return in glory.
This Story, in all its detail, with all of its highs and lows, is God’s Story. Every step of the way God proves his love; he demonstrates his faithfulness. Every story points to the hero of the Story – Jesus Christ. When we read all of the Bible in the light of this grand narrative, we begin to more fully understand why Paul would say that “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” No other account can be given for the remarkable unity of the Bible in the midst of such diversity of authors, literary genre, cultures, and even languages. These are not the imaginings of men, but the writings of men “carried along by the Holy Spirit,” directed to participate in God’s unfolding revelation of himself in the Story of Redemption.