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[NOTE: Throughout the text, you will see bracketed purple text insertions that begin with “Discussion”. These are suggested discussion questions for small group leaders, who would like to review these topics in an interactive group setting.]
Did you think the Bible is a hodgepodge of random stories and developments? It’s quite the contrary. As you may have noticed, there is a line that connects the dots in the Old and New Testaments.
[Discussion: What do you think is the red line, the common theme, that shines through everything in the Bible?]
Starting from Adam, the common theme is man’s moral failure, his inability to keep God’s law, and a promised savior, who would redeem mankind, dealing with its sin. Every story of The Bible is ultimately all about Jesus and, more specifically, about the redemption through Jesus.
It’s about redemption through a savior when Adam and Eve fall into sin and the first death occurs. God kills an innocent animal to provide a covering (animal skin) for Adam’s and Eve’s nakedness, while promising them a future redeemer through the woman’s seed (Mary was a virgin, not impregnated through man’s seed). It’s about redemption through a savior, when:
I could go on and on. Redemption, redemption, redemption, throughout the millennia of Bible history. This, is also your story. This is what God is offering you today: redemption from your sins and from an eternity apart from him.
The Old Testament prophesied the coming of a savior, millennia in advance. Around the year 0,
Jesus came saying he was God. He claimed he would be put to death and rise again three days later. Unbiased analysis of history shows this is what happened.
This filled his followers with such confidence that the previously timid and shaky disciples became ready to proclaim Jesus’s word in the face of death, which most of them suffered one by one. However, the message they proclaimed, the good news about the New Covenant, the Gospel, kept on spreading throughout the Roman empire, in the midst of severe persecution, until in the fourth century. That is when the Empire itself converted, not through the power of the sword or might, but through the message’s power and example of faith shown by its followers.
[Discussion: Do you know how many human writers the Bible has?]
The 66 books of the Bible were written by some 40 people of different backgrounds over about 1,500 years. For example, Luke was a doctor, Ezra was a priest, Matthew was a tax collector, Solomon was one of the greatest kings of all time, while John was a fisherman.
It’s quite amazing how such different people, with mixed levels of education, across years and cultures, wrote a cohesive story.
This brings us to an important question: Can we trust the Bible? It’s one thing to write a cohesive or interesting book, but that doesn’t mean its contents are true.
Stay tuned for part 3.
10 Historians typically estimate Jesus was born between year 3 and 6 A.D.
11 See Josephus; Tacitus; Pliny the Younger; Fox, Robin Lane (2005), The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian, Basic Books, p. 48; Strobel, Lee, The Case for Christ.
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