March 24, 2009
How the Bible Is Structured

Psalms 119:103-106

The Bible has an organized structure: it is designed to take readers systematically through God’s plan for redeeming mankind from enslavement to sin. The steps include:

  • Redemption Plan. God foresaw humanity’s need of salvation. Therefore, He was laying the groundwork for Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, even as He created the world in Genesis 1 and 2 (Eph. 1:4).
  • Redemption Need. Over the course of the first nine chapters, people clearly demonstrate how much they need to be saved. Wickedness swells until God must intervene with an animal sacrifice (Gen. 3:21), a flood (Gen. 6:13), and forced separation (Gen. 11:9).
  • Redemption Preparations. The remainder of the Old Testament tells Israel’s story. The nation forms and matures with a two-fold purpose: 1) to proclaim Jehovah as the one true God and 2) to receive God’s Son Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
  • Redemption Achieved. The four gospels document the fulfillment of God’s plan through Jesus Christ. His death fully pays the penalty for all of mankind’s sin.
  • Redemption Shared. The book of Acts tells of the gospel spreading far and wide.
  • Redemption Explained. Jesus’ followers write epistles—or letters—revealing the Holy Spirit’s teaching so that all believers may grow in wisdom.
  • Redemption Realized. Revelation shows God’s faithful followers joining Him eternally in a new heaven and new earth.

Even though God’s Word must necessarily be read and studied in pieces, do not forget that it does function as a whole. Once you understand the Bible’s outline, you can see how the Lord works in individual books and chapters. All of the diverse elements—law, prophecy, poetry, gospel, epistle, etc.—connect to make one exciting story!

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