The Bible’s Sweeping Story

Many Christians know key doctrines or various texts within the Bible, but they often miss the sweep of the Bible’s big story and how it connects to Christ. The Bible tells the true story of the world, and therefore how our lives find their deepest meaning within this story. Every church can become a community of Christians who don’t simply know the various stories in the Bible, but grasp the larger Christ-centered story of the Bible.

But how do we get there? Unfolding Grace orients us to the Bible’s storyline, and it does so mainly with the Bible itself. This volume consists of forty guided readings, each of which consists of about four chapters of the Bible. The readings each contribute to the key movements of the story of Scripture and include introductions that keep the big story in view. Here are seven ways to use Unfolding Grace in your church.

1. Use it as a church-wide Bible-reading plan.

What would it be like if your whole church joined together for a 40-day immersion into the story of the Bible? How might the Lord use this to deepen your grasp of his grace, increase your biblical literacy, and inform your identity and purpose in the world?

Through these 40 days, spouses and families can read the texts together. Friends can get together and share what they’re learning. Groups can send emails or start text-threads to share reflections.

2. Use it as a small group curriculum.

As the early Christians met together in both large and small groups, “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). This teaching wasn’t merely a body of truth, but truth embedded in a story. They learned that Jesus Christ and his kingdom arrived as the culmination of Old Testament story and expectations. These first Christians were quickly immersed in the whole story of the Bible.

Small groups today can saturate themselves in the story of Scripture with Unfolding Grace. They can work through Unfolding Grace in 8 weeks by using the Unfolding Grace Study Guide. This resource guides small-group members to reflect on the readings and prepare for discussion together.

3. Use it to shape a sermon series.

Most expositional preaching will work through books of the Bible. But you may not have considered preaching an expositional sermon series through the whole Bible. A pastor could use Unfolding Grace for a 40-weeks series, preaching on each of the 40 guided Scripture readings in Unfolding Grace.

A pastor could also preach through the Bible in 7 weeks. Unfolding Grace organizes the 40 Scripture readings into these 7 larger movements in the Bible’s storyline:

  1. The Story Begins (Genesis)
  2. God’s People Redeemed (Exodus-Joshua)
  3. God’s Kingdom Established (Judges-Kings)
  4. God’s Kingdom Declined and Partially Restored (Kings-Nehemiah)
  5. The Hope of Restoration (The Prophets)
  6. The Dawning of the Kingdom (Mark)
  7. The Gospel Spreads and All Is Made New (Acts, Ephesians, and Revelation)

If you’re a pastor, consider preaching a sermon on each of the seven larger sections, or choose a key text in each one, filling out the context as the series progresses.

4. Use it as the textbook for a course on the Bible’s storyline.

Classes offer a unique opportunity to use various learning methods to go deep in an area of study. Students learn through reading, discussion, and hearing lectures. Teachers in a local church can offer a class on Biblical Theology or The Story of the Bible, using Unfolding Grace as the assigned reading. This resource also provides a natural structure for lessons through the Bible’s storyline.

5. Use it as an evangelism resource.

In contrast to recent generations in the West, many now grow up with zero exposure to the Bible and teaching about Jesus. They lack a basic understanding of God, sin, Jesus, and salvation. This is why one of the greatest opportunities for Christians today is to reintroduce people to the overall narrative of the Bible. The whole Bible storyline provides the background and context for understanding who Jesus is and why he came.

Churches can encourage Christians to give copies of Unfolding Grace away, to invite unbelieving friends to join them in reading it, and to meet over coffee to talk it through. This can also be used as a foundation for groups or courses on exploring Christianity. Imagine a church filled with members who invite their neighbors, family members, and coworkers to join them in exploring Jesus from all of Scripture.

6. Use it to help new Christians grow.

One of the best things a new believer can do is to read through the whole Bible. But many first-attempts don’t make it past Leviticus. The Bible is a long book, and it can be challenging to read without a sense of where everything is heading. Unfolding Grace provides this overview and introduction to the whole sweep of the Bible, drawing attention to its key movements and themes. This lets them grasp the whole before they begin reading the entirety through, chapter by chapter, for the rest of their lives.

7. Use it for family discipleship.

I vividly remember the evening when I transitioned from reading biblical storybooks to reading the Bible itself to my children. It was a powerful moment—reading God’s very speech to us on the pages of the Bible. Although we still love age-tailored summaries of Scripture in our home, we also daily sense the unique power of hearing God’s voice directly from the Bible.

But where do we start, and what do we do about the large sections of Scripture that young children cannot yet understand? Encourage families to use Unfolding Grace as a family reading plan. Families can slow the pace down and move through the stories over the course of several months.

Living within the Story of God’s Unfolding Grace

This is what our churches need today—a reintroduction to the narrative of the Bible, which shows us the true story we’re all caught up into. We’re all shaped by the stories we think we inhabit—our personal, family, and various cultural narratives profoundly shape how we live. But the Bible tells us the one overarching story that should shape us in the most profound ways. It is the story of God’s unfolding grace to sinners and sufferers through Jesus Christ. Let’s immerse ourselves in this together.

Drew Hunter wrote content for Unfolding Grace: 40 Guided Readings through the Bible. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.

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