…God has a unified plan for all of history. His ultimate purpose, ‘a plan for the fullness of time,’ is ‘to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph. 1:10), ‘to the praise of his glory’ (Eph. 1:12). God had this plan from the beginning.
-Vern S. Poythress
I believe that while I was growing up my parents and my church did a very good job of teaching the Bible to me. When I went to Bible college, I realized that the depth of my Bible background was not the norm, even among the other church-raised Christian students. For this I am and always will be extremely grateful.
One thing that I did not understand, however, was the idea of biblical unity. I knew the Bible as 66 different books by different authors, each with its own story or teaching. I knew that they all fit together historically and theologically and that they were all important (though I admit I struggled to see how Leviticus was particularly useful).
What I didn’t grasp was that they were all really one story, one narrative inspired by God for us to learn and grow from. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us, not in a segmented, disconnected collection of parts but in one beautiful whole that we look at and understand as a single story. And this story is about a good and loving God who makes a way for His rebellious creations to be brought back into relationship with Him through the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. The entire Bible, Genesis through Revelation, is about Jesus Christ, whether it comes in the form of a story about his life from the gospels; through psalms and poetry showing God’s character and pointing to the work He is doing to restore His creation; or through a book like Esther that does not directly mention God but constantly points to His provision during a time of hardships to bring the people of God back to Him.
Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible does a very nice job of going through the Bible from Old Testament to New and showing the theological and historical unity of each part. Reading it is a little like reading a low-level Bible class textbook, but the writers do a great job of presenting information in a very personal and heart-felt way; they make learnin’ fun!
This probably isn’t the kind of book everyone will jump at, but it is the kind of lesson everyone should learn. There is a big picture, a unified story that the Bible tells, and if we do not see that these pieces we have fit into a whole, we miss out on the amazing picture that God has given us.
Contributors: Vern S. Poythress, C. John Collins, Gordon Wenham, David Howard, David Reimer, Paul House, J. Julius Scott Jr., David Chapman, John Delhousaye, Thomas Schreiner, Darrell Bock, and Dennis Johnson