The Power of the Story

June 2, 2015

Humans love stories, especially thrilling stories. This God-given love for stories is something we discover early on in our childhood. Stories engage our mind, move our emotions, and capture our heart. Whether fiction or non-fiction, stories teach us lessons and help us make sense of the world.

Our God has chosen to reveal Himself through a story. He could have merely given us a list of His attributes, accolades, character traits, and qualifications for His role as God and called us to believe and trust Him on that alone, but He didn’t. Instead, He told us about His dealings with weak men like Abraham and Moses and King David. He told us about Egypt, the Exodus, and a nation called Israel. He told us about their prophets and poets and singers and songwriters. And then He gave us Jesus of Nazareth, whose personal story is, in many ways, common to every man - yet it is also so utterly unique because of His identity.

Through reading, knowing, loving, and treasuring the story of the Bible - His story - we come to learn the most about what God is like. We see His character “fleshed out” for us as we see Sinai in smoke and fire and then walk the streets of Galilee with Jesus. We perceive His jealous yet compassionate tone of voice as we listen to the message of Israel’s prophets and hear the words of His Son. We take in the full extent of His love as we behold Him bleeding and suspended between heaven and earth on a wooden beam. We discover His tenderness and His ability to conquer a hard heart as we meet people who had been with Him and read the things that they wrote about Him. And we uncover his zeal and jealousy for His reputation as we look ahead to the events at the end of the story.

This is not fiction - this is His story, and we are invited not only to listen and learn, but to participate. In our search for the next book, conference, or teaching series that promises a fresh, unique insight into what God is like, may we not be so hasty to neglect the sufficiency of His story. May we be ones who approach His Word with childlike awe and wonder again. Even as we read and study to seek doctrinal clarity (which is very important!), may we fight overfamiliarity and let it permeate our minds and penetrate our hearts just as a bedtime tale does for a young child. There is a world of wonder within the pages of Scripture just waiting to be discovered.

Isn't it a relief that the world's plot is not limited to the brief span of our lives? We make sense of our days in light of this overarching narrative. The big plot of the Bible, with its guarantee of resurrection and new creation, gives confidence even in the face of death. The Bible's big story opens up the windows on stale, stuffy rooms of deadlines and due dates, deaths and disappointments, and fresh winds of the creation-to-new-creation breezes blow through.

- Jim Hamilton, What is Biblical Theology?

For a series of teachings on the story of the Bible, check out this page.

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About the author

Joshua Hawkins is a pastor, Bible teacher, and content creator for disciples of Jesus from College Station, Texas. He co-hosts The Apocalyptic Gospel Podcast, a weekly audio show exploring how a first century Jew would have understood the Gospel. He's also an all-around tech nerd and enjoys road cycling.

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