on summarizing the theme of the Bible

We made our Bible Study session (11:30-12:15) for the last two Sunday’s a discussion format. After our last two years reading and preaching through the Bible I wanted our folks to give me some feedback as to what they learned.

Last Sunday was a testimony time. I asked our people to come prepared to share one or two major lessons from the project. Our people were universally positive. Perhaps the biggest blessing to all was putting the Bible in context, especially the prophets of the OT.

Today I wanted them to help me come up with a summary statement of the message of the Bible. First we worked on one word that summed everything up. Several suggestions were made, but we settled on this word that covered everything to us:


I asked our folks to think of Bible verses that could stand as summary statements in their own right. As we talked, three verses came out, each of them, I think, quite appropriate. Here they are, in the order suggested.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Galatians 3:22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.

The bulk of our discussion centered around coming up with a summary statement. We wanted to capture every major theme of the Bible as we understand it. The result is the following three sentences which do a pretty good job of summing things up, I think:

The Bible is the history of the fall, redemption, and future of man by the work of God through Christ’s substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection.

The Bible is the record of man’s response to the Holy Spirit’s witness.

The Bible is the revelation of my personal need of repentance and a living relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

For our session today I prepared nothing other than the suggestion of our theme – our people came up with the form of these statements with my coaching, but from their own understanding of the Scriptures. I was pretty proud of them. They show an increased grasp of understanding, beyond even what I had expected (o me of little faith!).

As for a sermon summary for today, I preached a summary message on the Old Testament. The message of the Old Testament can be summarized with these four ideas: Fall (the notion on which the whole Bible and the Christian religion is predicated), Faith (God always offers grace in the form of promises which some men avail themselves of by faith), Failure (in spite of grace and the example of some, the universal record of even the people of God is a record of spiritual failure), and Future (the OT always looks forward to what the Lord will do, even to the book of the Revelation [as seen in Zechariah] for the consummation of all things, especially the promises of the OT covenants). The title of the message was ‘Our Deep Need’, focusing our attention on the need of mankind for grace, we cannot save ourselves, we need the work of God.

For our afternoon service, I had my son Rory preach. He is home from his freshman year at BJU and preached on Jehu, “A Half Hearted Servant”. His message centered around the idea that the devil is satisfied if he can have part of your heart, but God wants all of your heart. Great damage can come to your life (and the lives of others) if you hold on to any idol you harbour in your heart against God.

All in all, a great day!

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3