By Michael Jakes, Crosswalk.com
“Reading is fundamental.” As a child, this was the slogan that I remember from an organization that was concerned with promoting the joy of reading to children. Well, I must have gotten the message because as a child, to find me without a book in my hand was rare. I spent so much time in the library, which was right across the street from my house. At the kitchen table during breakfast, I was reading the back of the cereal box. If I wasn’t outside playing with my friends, I could be found lying across my bed with a book in hand.
It’s not that it was the only thing I did; I played sports, I watched television — but reading! With history and biographies being my preference, I think it transported me, and opened up my imagination. But when I got saved at the age of fifteen, my already heightened fascination for reading was catapulted to new levels when I discovered the Bible! Here was a new book that I could dig into — and devour it I did! And when I came to realize several years later that the Lord had called me to teach His Word, the desire for His Word was strengthened.
The Bible Is One Grand Story
My story is not special — nor am I. God desires each of His children to fall in love with His Word. Here’s how the apostle Peter put it:
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2).
But other than the benefit of growing spiritually through reading of it, which would seem enough in itself, why else should you and I be drawn to God’s Word? More times than not, I have heard the following words over the years, “I just don’t like to read.” Those words, especially from young Christians, can initiate a life-long pattern of biblical illiteracy, which is simply not knowing or being sure of what the Bible says, and biblical complacency which says that you know enough and just enough to get you by.
Neither approach will allow any one of us to grow properly in the grace and knowledge of Christ. So, if I can, allow me to elaborate on one pivotal reason why we should be drawn to His Word – it is because God’s Word, the Bible, is by all accounts and in every respect one big story: one grand and glorious story. At its core, it is the story of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This means that the entirety of the Bible is the story of the cross; it concerns the redemption of man, who could only be redeemed through the price that Jesus paid on the cross.
“According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11).
The Bible should not be consigned as only good literature, as some have suggested, or just a great read. It should not be palmed off as simply a book of short archaic stories that should be relegated to the proverbial backburner because they have no bearing on contemporary society. The Bible is the inerrant, infallible, unchanging, eternal Word of God that will endure forever. The same people who refer to God as “the man upstairs,” are the very same people who refer to the Bible as “the good book.” Yet, it is so much more than a “good book.” To believe and support this mindset is to undermine and misrepresent the fact that the Bible is relevant, prevalent, powerful, and above all true.
The Bible Is One Unified Story
What staggers the mind and serves to add to the awesomeness of it all is how God has assembled and preserved His Word. Written over a period of approximately 1500-1600 years by 40 different authors from three different continents, and from various levels of society, the Bible is a unified masterpiece. The book of Genesis sets the Bible’s course with these prophetic words:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15).
This pronouncement, traditionally known as the protoevangelium, or first gospel, sets in motion man’s redemption. It speaks of a coming Deliverer who would set men and women free from the clutches of sin and Satan. Every writer and every prophet spoke of Him. Every battle, in essence, was about Him. The Enemy sought at every turn to destroy God’s people in an effort to root out the One who would bruise his head.
Haman, in the book of Esther, serves as a perfect example of one who set out to make an end of the Jewish nation. His actions are a microcosm of Satan’s history. Through approximately 400 years of silence from any God-ordained prophet, which is the interval between the close of Malachi and the appearance of the Christ-child, Satan persisted. Through the despot king Herod, Satan engineers the “slaughter of the innocents,” a detestable and sinister ploy meant to destroy Christ before He could come to power. He of course would not succeed, and even as Christ’s ministry began thirty years later, Satan looked to destroy Him through temptation.
The Purpose of the Bible
In the end, Christ’s ministry on earth is summed up in His words as he emerged from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18).
This “mission statement” of Christ is why He came; it is the overriding reason He alone is the centerpiece of the Bible. It is the reason we go into all the world to reach the world with His story – the story of the Christ who was born, who lived a sinless life, was crucified, and was resurrected by the power of God. This is the gospel.
In closing, when speaking of this “one big story,” it is important to remember that it is a story for all time and for all people. It touches everything, pertains to everyone, and its words soothe and comfort every time. The following words, whose author is unknown but can be found as an introduction in Bibles produced by Gideon’s International, speak to this precisely:
“This book contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, the happiness of believers. Its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is given you in life, will be opened in judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibilities, will reward the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.”
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psalms 19:7-11).
This is the Bible. It truly is one big, bold, and beautiful story. Read it and be blessed.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/krisanapongdetraphiphat
Michael Jakes is a Bible teacher, and co-founder of That’s The Word! Ministries, a distinctly online Cross-centered outreach. He hosts several live weekly webcasts, including 'The Bible Speaks Live', 'The Cutting It Right Bible Study', and the 'Line By Line Webcast'. He has also authored three books, The Lights In The Windows, Churchified Or Sanctified?, and Living In Between Sundays. He and his wife Eddye have been married for over 40 years, and reside in New York. You can follow him on Facebook and Youtube , or listen to his podcasts on Spreaker.