Thursday, April 15, 2021

Chapter 1: The Story of Salvation 6

This would finish the first chapter of a "read through the Bible in a year" and "learn how to read the Bible" book. Posts in the first chapter include:

continued from here

... Jesus casts out demons. This fact not only shows Jesus' power. It indicates that the kingdom of God is arriving. If Sin and Satan have been running wild on the earth, then the arrival of the kingdom of God is the reclaiming of that territory for God. Jesus puts it this way: "If by the finger of God I am casting out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20).

Every demon Jesus casts out not only shows that the power of God is flowing through him. It not only shows that Jesus has power over the spiritual realm. It also shows that God is restoring the earth. Jesus is the Normandy invasion to retake enemy territory occupied by Satan.

12. Mark does not talk explicitly about another very important aspect to Jesus. Christians call it the "incarnation." It relates to our Christian belief that Jesus existed before he came to earth. "In-carnation" means "into flesh." Jesus took on our human flesh when he was on earth. For this truth, we best turn to the fourth book of the New Testament, the Gospel of John.  John 1:14 says, "The Word became flesh and tented among us." 

The Gospel of John is the clearest book in the Bible in relation to the fact that Jesus existed before he came to earth. In fact, Christians believe that Jesus was actually God come to earth. Although it took a few centuries of discussion to work through the details, Christians believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully human, the eternal Son of God the Father.


13. This chapter had three main goals. The first was to get acquainted with the overall flow of the story within the Bible from a Christian perspective. We suggested you might think of the story as having six acts. In Act I, God creates the world and humanity. In Act II, Adam and Eve disobey God, leaving us with death as our lot and the power of Sin as our reality.

In Act III, God begins his mission to reclaim, to "save" the world. This is the story of Israel in the Old Testament, to which we will turn in the next chapter. It culminates in Act IV, the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. Act V is the in-between time in which we currently find ourselves, the age of the church and the time of the New Testament. We are waiting for Act VI, when Jesus will return and the world will be made as it was originally meant to be.

The second purpose of this chapter was to introduce us to Jesus, the hero of the story and the focus of Act IV. This week we read the Gospel of Mark to get a basic sense of what Jesus did when he ministered on earth. Jesus is the solution to the story's problem. He is the mechanism of "salvation," which is both escape from the power of Sin now and escape from death and God's final judgment in Act VI. As we turn to the Old Testament in the next chapter, we should keep in mind that Jesus is where the story is headed.

The final purpose of this chapter was to begin to give you a sense of what it means to read the Bible in context. The study of how to interpret the Bible is called "hermeneutics." It is the study of interpretation. We do not usually start reading the Bible with an awareness of the "glasses" we are wearing. By default, we read meanings from our world into the biblical text without even realizing it. Seeing the Bible in its own contexts is a journey that we have only just begun.

A key hermeneutical concept we introduced in this chapter is the idea of "paradigm shifts." A paradigm shift is when your perspective on a particular topic fundamentally changes. In particular, we discussed four such changes in this chapter:

  • First, we mentioned that the Bible was not originally one book. It is a library of books, written at different times and places to people who have been gone for thousands of years. When Revelation 22:19 talks about taking words out, it was only talking originally about the scroll of Revelation, because the rest of the Bible was not yet attached to it.
  • Second, what a book is about does not tell you when it was written or who wrote it. Why would a book about Joshua have to be written by Joshua? And why would it have to be written at the time of Joshua?
  • Similarly, the books of the Bible are not arranged in the order they were written. Paul's letters were written before the Gospels about Jesus, and Paul's letters are arranged from longest to shortest.
  • A final paradigm shift is the realization that the books of the Bible have a perspective. They are not videotapes or transcripts of what happened. They tell the stories with a purpose.
These hermeneutical shifts are just the beginning.

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