Want to know the basic point behind the complex message of the Bible… without reading the whole thing?
I can tell you what it is in three simple words.
But you have to promise me something…
You have to promise me you’ll dig deeper beyond this simple cheat sheet.
You have to promise me that you’ll learn why you find it hard to understand the Bible…
What the five behaviors of people who study the Bible are…
And what the curious secret to understanding the Bible is. Promise?
The Three Words
Okay. Here are the three words that explain the basic meaning of the Bible: Redemption. Adoption. Glorification.
Simple, yes. But profound.
What the Bible describes is that God took the initiative to pick a people for himself–and to pledge himself to be their God.
And in that pledge, he promised to redeem, adopt and glorify them. In other words, He established a covenant with them.
God’s Promise to You
Covenant is a legal term that signifies an agreement…a promise. It is more like a last will and testament. In fact, the English word and are interchangeable.
It’s the promise of God to his people.
Now, it’s important to grasp that this promise–to redeem, adopt and glorify His people–is the same throughout history. It applies to all people. It applies to Abraham to Christ to you.
So, as you will see, when we talk about redemption, adoption and glorification the message delivered to the Israelites enslaved in Egypt 4,000 years ago is the same message delivered to you in the 21st Century.
In the Old Testament you find God rescuing people from physical, political and geographical bondage…
When Abraham is called from Ur of the Chaldees…when the Israelites are delivered from Egyptian bondage…and when the Israelites are freed from Babylonian captivity.
In the New Testament landscape, however, our alienation and bondage are spiritual. It’s our sin–our rebellion against God’s authority–that’s enslaved us and separated us from God.
But into this situation of helplessness and despair came Jesus Christ.
He’s our redeemer. He purchased our freedom and recovered us–by His death–from bondage. This is the essence of redemption, which is the first stage of the unfolding message of the Bible.
The second stage of the unfolding message of the Bible is adoption.
Redeemed from slavery, we are now adopted into sonship–that is the glorious double privilege of those who put their trust in Christ. We go from redemption to adoption.
Adoption in the Old Testament was plain. The formula was “I will be your God, and you shall be my people.” This covenant was often referred to as a marriage covenant. Redeemed people became God’s own possession. His special treasure. Yahweh was the husband of his people.
In the New Testament, the marriage metaphor is expanded. For example:
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
However, the New Testament more often describes the relationship between God and his people in terms of family–a Father and his children. The children of God make up his family, the church.
And as the church, we carry four special privileges.
1. We are the dwelling place of his Spirit.
2. We are united in brotherhood to all other Christians.
3. We are the ambassadors of Christ in the world.
4. We are Christ’s fellow heirs. This means we inherit what Christ inherits. This leads us into my next point.
Although in the past we’ve been redeemed from sin by Christ and are now enjoying the privileges of sonship which adoption bought us, there is still far more to come.
This stuff that is “still far more to come” substantiates our Christian hope. It’s a joyful and confident hope. Rooted in reality. Established on an invincible pledge…
Anchored by an unbreakable covenant.
This hope sustains us as we travel like pilgrims to our eternal home. It comforts us as we mourn tragedy. It lifts us when we fall.
What IS this object of our hope? Paul calls it .
Glorification is the promise of the return of Christ. It’s the promise of the resurrection. It’s the promise of the completion of both salvation and judgment. And it’s the promise of the new universe.
In the new universe, what Peter called “the restoration of all things,” gone will be sorrow, tornadoes, overdoses, war, drownings and suicide.
Instead, in full view will be the central, dominating presence of God.
So we come full circle.
The Bible begins with the creation of the universe…of God choosing for himself a special people to enjoy and worship Him.
Then Bible history travels through the to an epoch of bondage and alienation where the people of God are severed from God’s presence…to the rescue of these people…and finally to the the second coming of Christ, resurrection and re-creation of the universe.
In other words, we’re returning to Genesis 2.
The Garden, baby.