"The Big Story - Part 1" preached on 6/30/13. You will find the sermon transcript in the remainder of this blog.
Transcript . . .
I want you to imagine Scripture as a Broadway play. Plays are laid out in “acts”. Each play has a set number of “acts” with an “intermission” in the middle. Within each play there is one plot or story-line with other sub-plots occurring simultaneously. However, these sub-plots never undermine and are always in line with the main plot. Scripture has but one plot with many sub-plots. These sub-plots are always supporting and in sync with the plot.
The Lord God, through His Christ, is graciously building a kingdom of redeemed people for their joy and his own glory.
The Bible is not a mere jumble of history, poetry, lessons in morality and theology, comforting promises, guiding principles and commands; instead, it is fundamentally coherent. Every part of the Bible-each event, book, character, command, prophecy, and poem- must be understood in the context of one “big story”.
Many of us have read the bible as if it were merely a mosaic of little bits – theological bits, moral bits, historical-critical bits, sermon bits, devotional bits. But when we read the bible in such a fragmented way, we ignore its divine author’s intention to shape our lives through its story. All human communities live out of some story that provides a context for understanding the meaning of history and gives shape and direction to their lives. If we allow the bible to become fragmented, it is in danger of being absorbed into whatever other story is shaping our culture, and it will thus cease to shape our lives as it should. Idolatry has twisted the dominant cultural story of the secular Western world. If as believers we allow this story (rather than the Bible) to become the foundation of our thought and action, then our lives will not manifest the truths of Scripture, but the lives of the idolatrous culture. Hence, the unity of Scripture is no minor matter: a fragmented Bible may actually produce theologically orthodox, morally upright, warmly pious idol worshippers!
If our lives are to be shaped by the story of Scripture, we need to understand two things well: the biblical story is a compelling unity on which we may depend, and each of us has a place within that story
Have you ever stopped to consider your place within “the big story”? Have you lived your Christian existence under the delusion that the story did not include you or that it was finished? Please don’t misconstrued what I just said. I am not saying that Scripture is still being written. God closed the cannon of Scripture himself with the word “Amen” in 21st verse of the 22nd chapter of Revelation. Though the cannon of Scripture is closed, the story of Scripture still continues. As we journey though “the big story” we will discover that we are currently in act 11 of our 12 act drama. Act 11, the church, is still unfolding as the Lord continues to direct the story toward the final act of consummation.
In this story of Scripture the Trinity is the main character and we are members of the supporting cast. God is always at Scriptures center. He does everything for His glory which is always for our good. Don’t reverse this order because in doing so you will create a perspective that will make Scripture more difficult to interpret and God more difficult to understand. To understand one’s motivation is to understand one’s actions. When we understand God’s God centeredness then we will, not fully of course but to a greater degree, begin to understand God more.
Let me demonstrate God’s God centeredness. There are many explanation of why God created man last and creation first. However, let me add one this list that I don’t often hear. God’s creation order points to His God centeredness; explanation, only the creation and all that is in it praises God unceasingly. Man is sporadic and most often imperfect in his praise whereas creation is steadfast and perfect in its praise of its Creator (Psalm 148).
"[Lewis] We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way – ‘Praise the Lord,' 'O praise the Lord with me,' 'Praise Him.' . . . Worse still was the statement put into God's own mouth, 'whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me' (50:23). It was hideously like saying, 'What I most want is to be told that I am good and great.' . . . It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. . . .”
[Storms: I suspect this strikes us as problematic, as it did Lewis, because we want to think that God is preeminently concerned with us, not himself. We want a God who is man-centered, not God-centered. Worse still, we can’t fathom how God could possibly love us the way we think he should if he is so unapologetically obsessed with the praise and glory of his own name. How can God love ME if all his infinite energy is expended in the love of HIMSELF? Part of Lewis’s problem, as he himself confesses, was that he did not see that . . .]
“[Lewis] it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the 'fair beauty of the Lord' is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer – there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive. The miserable idea that God should in any sense need, or crave for, our worship like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard him, is implicitly answered by the words, 'If I be hungry I will not tell thee' (50:12). Even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don't want my dog to bark approval of my books.”
“[Lewis] it is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men. It is not of course the only way. But for many people at many times the 'fair beauty of the Lord' is revealed chiefly or only while they worship Him together. Even in Judaism the essence of the sacrifice was not really that men gave bulls and goats to God, but that by their so doing God gave Himself to men; in the central act of our own worship of course this is far clearer – there it is manifestly, even physically, God who gives and we who receive. The miserable idea that God should in any sense need, or crave for, our worship like a vain woman wanting compliments, or a vain author presenting his new books to people who never met or heard him, is implicitly answered by the words, 'If I be hungry I will not tell thee' (50:12). Even if such an absurd Deity could be conceived, He would hardly come to us, the lowest of rational creatures, to gratify His appetite. I don’t want my dog to bark approval of my books.”
“[Lewis] But the most obvious fact about praise – whether of God or anything – strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise unless . . . shyness or the fear of boring others is deliberately brought in to check it. The world rings with praise – lovers praising their mistresses [Romeo praising Juliet and vice versa], readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game – praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars. . . . Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. . . . I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: 'Isn't she lovely? Wasn't it glorious? Don't you think that magnificent?' The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can't help doing, about everything else we value.”
“[Lewis] I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . .
If it were possible for a created soul fully . . . to 'appreciate', that is to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme beatitude. . . . To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God – drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man's chief end is 'to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.' But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”
God’s God centeredness is the key to interpreting and thus understanding Scripture. It magnifies God’s love much like a telescope helps us in beginning to see how big a planet or a star really is.
The Jesus Story Book Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
God wrote, I love you – he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere? Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror – to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing.
And god put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called the Bible.
Some people think the Bible is a book of rules telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.
Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but as you’ll soon find out most of the people in the bible aren’t heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At times they are downright mean.
No, the bible isn’t a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. It’s an adventure strong of a young Hero whom comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne-everything-to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the story, there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. he is like the missing piece in a puzzle-the piece that makes all other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.
And this is ordinary baby. This is the child upon whom everything would depend. This is the child who would one day-but wait. Our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning . . .
a. GENESIS 3-6
a. GENESIS 11
b. MARK 14 – 16
c. LUKE 22-24
d. JOHN 18-20
1. CREATIONa. GENESIS 1 & 2
a. GENESIS 3-6
3. CATASTROPHEa. GENESIS 7
a. GENESIS 11
5. COVENANTa. GENESIS 12-50, JOSHUA-ESTHER
6. CONDUCT & CONSEQUENCESa. EXODUS - DEUTORONOMY
7. COMFORT & CAUTIONa. JOB – SONG OF SOLOMON
8. CONFRONTATIONa. ISAIAH - MALACHI
9. CHRISTa. MATTHEW - LUKE
10. CROSSa. MATTHEW 26 – 28
b. MARK 14 – 16
c. LUKE 22-24
d. JOHN 18-20
11. CHURCHa. ACTS - JUDE
12. CONSUMMATIONa. REVELATION