The Storyline of Scripture

Scene 1 & 2: Creation and Fall

The Bible is a true story about God making the world, man messing it up, and God becoming a man to fix the world by not messing up. It is a story of Eden—exile—repeat. It is not until the true Adam, the true and righteous Son of God comes that this process is put to an end. All of Christ’s predeceases fell short; Adam, Noah, Abraham, Saul, David, Solomon, and the lambs, priests, and prophets could not fill Christ’s rule.

From the beginning of time and the beginning of God’s word, the Word has been a prominent character in the script of history (Gen. 1:1ff; Jn. 1:1ff). At first, the promised offspring (Gen. 3:15) is vague, in fact, Eve rejoiced because she thought she had the offspring (4:1) but it was all for naught for Cain was of the offspring of the serpent and killed his brother. However, now we have seen that which even the prophets longed to look (Matt. 13:17), we know that all Scripture finds its fulfillment in Jesus who is the long awaited Messiah (2 Cor. 1:20).

When Jesus came the first time, He had no beauty or majesty (Is. 53:2). When He comes again His face will shine like the sun in full strength (Rev. 1:16). We were cast out of the Garden in the beginning but as Jesus said to the thief on the cross, we will be with Him in paradise in the end. Jesus is the linchpin among all the cogs of Scripture. “The trajectory of the arrow shot from the Hebrew Scriptures finds its target (fulfillment) in Jesus of Nazareth.”[1]

The Storyline of the Scripture has all sorts of twists and turns, conflicts and resolutions, but the overarching story can be summed up: creation, fall, redemption, and new creation.

Through the creation part of the narrative we see that God made everything (Gen. 1:1ff; Jn. 1:1-3) and it was good (Gen. 1:4; 10; 12; 18; 21; 25; 31). There was no sin, no death, and no problems before man sinned. Man had perfect fellowship with God (cf. Gen. 3:8).[2]

However, the plot thickens. A cosmic problem is introduced. Through man’s fall, we see the collapse of the creation, which explains why everything is no longer good. Man disobeyed and rebelled (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6) and this brought spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:17; 3:19), pain (3:16-17), difficulties (3:18-19), and separation from God (3:23-24). This is the bad news. We deserve death and hell.

Scene 3 & 4: Redemption and New Creation

This is not the end of the story. There is good news. Even at the beginning of the story, God promised that He would send someone (i.e. the Messiah/Christ) to defeat the “bad guy” (i.e. Satan) of the story (cf. Gen 3:15). In a similar scene, seen throughout the Bible, man’s nemesis is once again at it with him. Satan is tempting not Adam but the second Adam in the wilderness (Luke 4). However, unlike Adam in paradise, the second Adam does not give into the serpent’s temptation, although He is in the desert. Jesus was tempted in every way that Adam was, and we are, yet He did not sin (Heb. 4:15) and still He bore our sin upon Himself.

Jesus became man so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power over death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Jesus’ heel was “bruised” at the cross but through that same cross, where He received the bruising, He struck the serpent with a definitive death blow to the head (cf. Gen. 3:15). From the cross, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” In Jesus’ death, the devil, and death are defeated! He has delivered us from the domain of darkness (Col. 1:13). He disarmed the demonic rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them through the cross (Col. 2:15).

Jesus is the Promised One (Luke 24:27, 44-46; Acts 13:23, 27; 17:3; Rom. 1:2-4; 1 Cor. 15:3-4;) who brings the redemption of all things (cf. Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:20; Titus 2:14; Gal. 3:13; Eph. 1:7, 10).[3] He secures for us an eternal redemption by means of His own blood (Heb. 9:12). Jesus Christ is the solution to the problem; He takes our sin, our problem, upon Himself on the cross. This is the good news; Jesus is the good news![4] Jesus reversed the curse of sin by becoming a curse for us (Gal. 3:13). Jesus was cast out of the garden so that we could be welcomed back in. Through the one man Adam we all have condemnation yet through the one Man Jesus Christ the grace of God has abounded for many (Rom. 5:12-21).We deserved to be crushed under God’s wrath because of our sin but instead Jesus was crushed in our place (Is. 52:13-53:12). Jesus is the solution to our problem of sin, the sole solution (Jn. 14:6; Act. 4:12). Jesus is the Lamb of God, without blemish, that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; Heb. 9:14)!

Jesus is the good news but the good news is not static it goes on and on and on; those in Christ live happily-ever-after (see endnote 3). In contrast, God “will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers” (Matt. 13:41) and cast them into the pit of eternal fire (Rev. 20:14-15). “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thess. 1:9). However, for those in Christ the story of history will have a happy ending (Rom. 8:29-39).[5]

I concur with what C.S. Lewis says in The Last Battle,

“We can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”[6]

I believe we, upon arrival to the new Eden, will exclaim with Lewis’ Unicorn:

 “I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it to now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia [“old creation”] is that it sometime looked a little like this.”[7]

Through Jesus the Christ we have the unwavering hope of a new creation (2 Peter 3:13). “The creation was subjected to futility” in Adam (Gen. 317-19) but in Christ “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rom. 8:20-21). As Isaac Watts put it in “Joy to the World,”

“No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found.”

The problem (all of them!) will be fixed and there will be no more sin (Rev. 21:27; 22:3; Matt. 13:41). Everything will be more right than it was ever wrong. We will see that God did, in fact, work all things together for good (Rom. 8:28). Christ will make a new creation and we will be like Him (1 Jn. 3:2; Rom. 8:29; 2 Peter 1:4). “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49). God will fulfill our deepest desires and we will finally love the LORD our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength when we receive our glorified bodies (Deut. 30:6; Jer. 31:33-34; 32:40; Phil. 3:20-21)! There will be no more pain or problems and God will wipe away all our tears (Rev. 7:17; 21:4). We will once again be in Paradise, the New Jerusalem, and we will have fellowship with God (Rev. 21:3)![8]

Epilogue

This story by its nature, by the fact that it claims to be true, does not leave us alone but calls for a response. We can receive this story or we can reject it outright. God can rewrite us, as it were, into His marvelous script or He can cast us, the unruly “cast,” into hell. We must respond to this story, will we respond rightly? Will we strive to obey the God who reveals Himself?

I can’t say it better than Michael Hortan. Those of us who have believed this story and are found in Christ,

“God has ‘rescripted’ us and recast us in his story. No longer trying to fit ‘God’ or the gods into our own life story, we become characters in his unfolding drama: seated at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. From God’s perspective, our own script was wrong. Regardless of the role we thought we had, our inherited character was that of ‘strangers and to the covenants of promise” who were ‘having no hope … in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). But God calls us, as he did Abram and the disciples, away from our dead-end character. In God’s, our old character dies and a new character emerges who is now given a supporting role in a plot that centers on Christ. As the casting director, the Spirit gives us not only a new identity with new clothes but a new script, with new lines.”[9]

This is the gospel, the story of all the woes of existence finding there solution in Christ.

 ________________________________________________

[1] Emlet, CrossTalk, 47.

[2] Perfect in sense but not like it will be in the new creation; Adam and Eve related to God as creation to Creator and we will relate to God in the new creation as the redeemed to the Redeemer. Therefore, we will enjoy a consummated perfect fellowship with God. 

[3] Jesus has inaugurated the Kingdom of God but there is an already/not yet aspect to it. Although the Kingdom has been ushered in through Christ it will not reach its zenith until Christ’s second coming and the culmination of the new creation. Jesus has saved us and “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26) and yet there is still a future aspect to our salvation; He will save us (v. 28).

[4] Luke 2:10-11 says, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people… a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (or even, LORD!). Matthew 1:24 says, Immanuel (which means, God with us)! Notice the genealogies point to Jesus as being the Christ that was promised to defeat “the Serpent of old” (Matt. 1:1-18; Luke 3:23-38 says, “Jesus… the son of Adam” who will crush Satan under His feet as promised).

[5] Sadly, those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ will be cast into the lake of eternal fire (Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:46; John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:12-13). It should be understood that this is part of God’s reconciliation of the world, but not in redemption, but in recompense. The story for those in Christ is happily-ever-after, even more so than can be imagined, but for those not in Christ the story does not end nicely; in fact, it never ends, but is incomprehensible torment-ever-after. We should never take this part of the story lightly but we must seek to spread the good message of Christ and the hope of a “happily-ever-after.” Look at the difference between God’s people in Isaiah 65:17-25 and the rebellious in 66:24.

[6] C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle (New York: NY: Harper Collins, 2002), 228.

[7] Ibid., 213.

[8] Jesus is surly coming soon (Rev. 22:7, 20), may we be found ready (v. 12; 3:23; Luke 12:47-48; Matt. 16:27; 1 Cor. 3:14-15) and may we respond with John: “Come, Lord Jesus!”

[9] Michael Hortan, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, 643.

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