The Bible is a big book and can be difficult to understand. It can get complicated when there are differences of opinion about what the Bible says. Through the years, I’ve found that it’s helpful to have the Bible explained with a big-picture overview. We’ll take this approach in this article.
The Bible starts with the creation of Heaven and Earth. The Bible ends with a New Heaven and a New Earth being joined together. In between is God’s plan of how to get us there through what Jesus does. The big picture really is as clear and simple as that.
What is the Main Message of the Bible? The main message of the Bible is that God wants to restore a broken and hurting world to His original design. God unfolds His plan through people and events in history. The Bible explains how God invites people to become a part of that restoration process through Jesus Christ.
The Main Message of the Bible
If you keep the main and plain things in the Bible as the main thing, the essence of the Bible’s teaching is quite clear. The diagram above can be used as a big-picture guide to explain the entire Bible.
Before we dive in, is there a verse or two that summarizes the entire Bible? There is! Ephesians 1:9-10 summarizes the whole Bible.
Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Eph. 1:9-10)TWO VERSE SUMMARY OF THE ENTIRE BIBLE
The overview of the Bible is that God wants to restore Heaven and Earth and bring them together through Jesus.
If you’re want to know more about how the Bible ends, you might be interested in this article: How Does the Bible End? (Link opens in a new window). In it, I share a chart that brings out even more similarities between the book of Genesis (the first book of the Bible) and Revelation (the last book of the Bible).
Creation: God Created a World Without Brokenness
Let’s look at each section in more detail. The first verse in the Bible is Genesis chapter 1, verse 1.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
After God created the heavens and the earth, He says: “It is good” (Gen. 1:31). God created heaven, the realm where He dwells. God also created earth, the realm where man lives.
God created Adam and Eve, the first man and woman and placed them in the Garden called Eden. God leaves them in charge of ruling over the earth as His representatives (Gen. 1:26).
Fall: Man Choose to Depart From God’s Ways
Although God created a world according to His design, mankind chose to depart from God’s way and go their own way. This is referred to as the Fall.
Mankind rebelled against God and rejected His plan. As a consequence, man was separated from God (Gen. 3:23-24). Yet, God decides to save mankind and restore what was lost. The rest of the Old Testament is God’s dealings with the people of Israel to set up for what Jesus would come to do in the New Testament.
New Creation: New Heaven & New Earth
Jumping over to the end of the Bible, the last 2 chapters of the book of Revelation, we see what the world will be like when God restores it. The Bible ends with a New Heaven and a New Earth (Rev. 21-22). It’s paradise restored, where there is no longer any brokenness and death. The Garden scene of the first chapters of the Bible is repeated in the last chapters of the Bible. (Rev. 22:1-2)
Rev. 21:3-4 describes how all the things that are broken in our world will be restored. The negative and evil things will be completely removed. Not only that, heaven and earth will be united. This has been God’s plan all along (Eph. 1:9-10).
The Cross: God’s Plan of Redemption
So, how do we get from Creation and the Fall to New Creation? It’s through what happened on the cross.
Jesus’ name (a rendition of the Hebrew name Joshua) means “Salvation is of the Lord.” Mankind rejected God’s heart and plans. Jesus came to redeem mankind so that God, the Creator’s high purposes would be restored and fulfilled.
The Gospels in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) record the life and ministry of Jesus. God, Himself enters into our brokenness by sending His Son, Jesus, to be born as a man. Jesus lives a perfect sinless life, dies on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sin (our decision to rebel against God and His ways). Jesus is raised to life again to prove that what He said was true.
John 3:16 is possibly the best-known verse in the Bible because it summarizes what God did. God demonstrates His love by sending His Son to die for the sins of mankind.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.John 3:16 (ESV)
What does God want us to do now? He calls us to turn from our ways (repent) and believe in Jesus – who He is and what He has done for us (Mark 1:15).
Let’s come back to the big picture and fill in a few gaps in the storyline of the Bible.
Israel’s Place in the Storyline
In between the first 3 chapters and the last 2 chapters of the Bible is the unfolding of God’s plan to redeem the world. God starts by choosing one nation to be His own, the people of Israel.
The rest of the Old Testament is about God’s relationship with the people of Israel. God chose Abraham and his descendants. The people ended up as slaves in Egypt. God delivered them and made them His people who will follow His Law. Israel becomes a nation but eventually is divided into 2.
God sent numerous prophets for 100s of years to warn the people of Israel from turning away from God’s ways. Yet judgment eventually caught up with Israel and they are conquered and most of the people are deported to foreign lands.
God’s relationship with Israel sets us up for the rest of the Bible in the New Testament. Jesus doesn’t show up on the scene right away. The setup takes a few thousand years.
Jesus Fulfills the Old Testament
The Old Testament sets the scene for the New Testament, for what Jesus would do. The Bible is ultimately about Jesus (Matt. 5:17; Heb. 1:1-3) – who He is and what He has done through the cross. The Old Testament looks forward to Jesus and the New Testament talk about His finished work.
The rest of the New Testament explains how Jesus established His Church to continue to live and spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God through faith in Jesus.
Jesus’ first coming was as a suffering servant to die for sins. The last book of the Bible, Revelation reveals how Jesus would return in His second coming as a King and Judge to remove everything that hinders love and return for His Bride, His people, the Church.
The Bible’s Uniqueness in History
The English word “Bible” comes from a Latin word that means “books.” The Bible is a collection of 66 books written by about 40 authors over a period of 1600 years in various places and includes many literary genres.
Even with the incredible variety that’s seen in the Bible, it’s helpful to understand that there is a plot or storyline as we’ve seen.
“The Bible is not a random collection of books and stories – it’s God’s story.”
Of course, much more can be said about the Bible and its message. Yet, the main message, the big picture of the Bible, is quite simple and clear.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)
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|If you enjoyed this article, here’s one that I think you’ll love: Difference Between Old and New Testament: With Simple Charts (link opens in a new window). In it, I share a diagram that gives another perspective on the big-picture overview of the Bible. It’s a great compliment to this article.|