One Unifying Epic Story
On Tuesday I welcomed 14 wide-eyed first-year students to Bethlehem College and Seminary. The summer went by way too fast and yet, I am consistently encouraged by the fresh energy that comes with the fall semester and new faces. I started my Old Testament Survey class a little differently this time by declaring that, in my humble opinion, I have the best course offered at the school. I'm pretty sure some thought that's a bold statement, if not presumptuous and maybe a little snobbish. I let them sit with that thought for a second and clarified my statement. I explained that I think I have the best class at BCS, not because of anything I bring to the table, but because my class is about the greatest and most unique book ever written. We are going to spend the next two semesters studying the Scriptures from creation to new creation! We have a saying that floats around the halls of BCS that call students to study “the great books in light of the greatest book for the sake of the great commission.” Now, a good argument can be made regarding whether the PLENTY of books the students will read over their collegiate journey are great or not in their opinion. There is no dispute however regarding the Bible as the greatest and most unique book ever written. Just pause and reflect on this crazy reality for a minute.
The Bible is a library of 66 books written by more than 40 authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit over about 1,500 years on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). The 39 books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C., and the 27 books of the New Testament were between AD 50 and AD 100. The human authors come from diverse backgrounds, including prophets, kings, shepherds, tree farmers, royal officials, tax collectors, fishermen, physicians, and more, who used a beautiful mosaic array of literary genres like narrative, poetry, law, and letters. Of its own testimony, it says of itself that it is Scripture, the Truth, The Law, and the Word of God. It uses word pictures to describe itself as a light, a mirror, food, fire, hammer, sword, and seed. It is the Greatest book of all times because, though it has many human authors, the Bible has one grand divine Author who unites it to tell the Story of all stories and declare the Grand Narrative that makes sense of all the narratives of our lives. Not only is it the greatest book of all time because of its divine Author, but it is also the most unique book ever written because of its divine content. It possesses something that you cannot find in any book, in any place, at any time in all of human history – The Bible is the Greatest Book ever because it contains revelation from God – things that we would not know about if God had not spoken. There is no other book like the Bible.
My hope this semester is to solidify in the first-year students’ young minds that of the many things the Bible is (contrasted against what the Bible is not, like a book of rules), the Bible is a collection of many books telling one unifying epic story from the beginning to the end. My hope for you is the same. My hope for you, Jubilee, is that you would continue to have eyes to see that the Scriptures is the greatest book of all time and contains the greatest story of all time, which we got a glimpse of in Psalm 24 this past Sunday. In a nutshell, with beautiful poetic words, our hearts took in that the Creator of all things (1–2), the King of Glory, intends to dwell among the crown of his creation, his people (7–10). And yet, who can stand in his holy place (3)? This is the massive tension in the story that gets resolved through the loving sacrifice of another in the stead of ruined sinners. This is why the gospel is called good news. Only one person can stand in the Lord’s holy place and ascend his mountain. Only one has clean hands and a pure heart; his name is Jesus the Messiah. Because of the person and work of Christ, those who are united to him can be found in the presence of the King of Glory. What a story!
Much grace to you Jubilee. May you see the story of your life in the light of the greatest story ever told.
P.S. Let me invite you to a new conference at Bethlehem College and Seminary called The Godward Life. It is a two-day conference aimed at interactive sessions geared for high school students, parents and grandparents, pastors, men, and women — basically the whole fam! Our theme this year is the Pleasures of God, and I would love to see you there. Check out this link for more info.