I am preparing to deliver some sessions of Bible overview. I really want this to be a spiritual act of worship not a technical comprehension exercise. I hope that some of the thoughts below on how the Bible is the story of salvation through mighty acts, by the greatest person demonstrating infinite grace to his people will go some way to helping:
God is the Greatest Person
God is the greatest person. His glory and his name are the most precious and valuable things. He is doing everything for the sake of his glory. But what does he actually do in redemptive history, in his greatness, to demonstrate and celebrate that greatness? He starts by freely choosing to create people and to make Old Testament Israel his treasured possession, showing his glory by his infinite love and faithfulness.
When we later get to the New Testament we read in Ephesians 2 that we were disobedient and dead in transgressions before God rescued us in Christ. We all followed Satan and the world and were under judgement. But God, made us alive with Christ when we were dead. By grace. He seated us in the Heavenly realms.
Why Does the Greatest Person Lavish Grace on Us?
The astonishing answer in Ephesians is in order that his kindness will show his supremacy through all ages. In order to show the glory of his grace. Wasn’t it because he loved us? Yes, he loved us, but he loved his glory more. Yes he did it to save us, but he did it to show his glory more. He didn’t do it so we can enjoy ourselves, he did it so that we are able to enjoy him.
He did it to share his glory. In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, saying “Glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world began. And for the disciples "I pray that they may be with me to see my glory, glory I have shared with them.” Jesus is the glory of God, the perfect representation of his being. What does he want most for his followers? That we rejoice in the glory of God. Romans 5 says that we have access by faith into grace and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. The glory of God is our glory and our hope because it is the best thing. God wants us to receive it and to live in it, enjoying the greatness of the greatest person.
Great Bible Words
Receiving and living in the glory of the grace of God is what we mean by “the kingdom of God.” All the best Bible words describe getting into the Kingdom or being in the Kingdom. Words like salvation, forgiveness, reconciliation, adoption as sons, redemption. They are all about relationship with the Glorious One in which we enjoy his glory. The Parable of the Talents ends with people being invited into the joy of their Lord. It makes no sense to say “I don’t want to, I would rather have my own joy.” His joy is supreme and so much better than ours. If we settle for delighting in ourselves rather than delighting in him we settle for rubbish. Which is why the Apostle Paul said I consider everything rubbish in order that I may have Christ.
The worst Bible words are all about refusing the King. Sin, alienation, rebellion. Putting yourself outside the house. The house is where you want to be. Remember the prodigal son, who comes home when he finds that the home of the Father is the best place. There is singing and dancing and feasting. But the older brother stays outside in the dark and will not come in, though the father begs him. Paul says of Christians:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Eph.2:19-22
When we talk about the kingdom, this is what we mean: being in the household and family of God, sharing his glory, being redeemed by his son, enjoying his light, being like him in holiness, having the fullness of worship and perfect submission which is complete freedom. Being built together with other believers into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
One Thing Will I Seek
The kingdom of God, dwelling in the house of God, is the reason we were created. King David said – one thing I will ask of the Lord, this will I seek, that I might dwell in his house.
The reason God wants a kingdom, is the display of his glory and the enjoyment of his glory by us, which is the best thing.
The reason he wants to conquer and rule over people is so that those who submit will enjoy the greatest person.
The reason he punishes those who won’t is because they deny the infinite goodness, faithfulness and glory of God. They take the most precious thing and declare it to be worthless to them. That is why sin is serious, not because it is bad, but because it is an offence to infinite goodness.