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This topic is adapted from the Bible Project YouTube channel. This is part 2 of the How to Read the Bible series.

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The Bible is a collection of books written over a long period of time that tells one unified story. Learn that story here.

[Related Series: Bible Themes]

Video Highlights:

  • The Bible begins with God taking the chaos of the uncreated universe and bringing about the order and beauty of life in the Garden of Eden. As his crowning achievement, God created humanity, who are made in his image (Genesis 1:26), and gave them the privilege of ruling over the rest of God’s creation.
  • Humans are given free will and a decision, represented by a tree: humans could partner with God, live in submission to him, and adopt his vision of good and evil, or humans could seize God’s power and seek to define good and evil on their own terms. God warned them that if they sought their own way, they would die (Genesis 2:15-17).
  • After being told by a serpent to take fruit from the tree to rule on their own terms, the man and woman do so (Genesis 3:1-13). The results are deadly, shown in the immediately following story of Cain and Abel – the first murder (Genesis 4:1-16). Humans strive against one another and are self-protective. Fractured relationships, violence, power-grabs, and a whole civilization, Babylon, that redefines evil as good (Genesis 11:1-9) comes about. So God scatters the people.
  • The story then turns to two people called out of Babylon by God in Genesis 12: Abram and Sarai (later Abraham and Sarah). God promised that a new people would come from Abraham and Sarah, a nation that can make the right choice, unlike the first man and woman. If they succeed, it will open a new way forward for the rest of humanity. The rest of the Bible story is about Abraham’s family, who become the nation of Israel. The rest of the story does not go well.
  • Abraham’s family gives in to the temptation to redefine good and evil on their own terms. Israel’s prophets were sent by God to warn the people that if they did not return to following God, they would return instead to Babylon as conquered captives. Even with God’s guidance, the people still failed, but the prophets said the story wasn’t over.
  • To transform the people’s hearts and minds so they could follow God and make the right choices, God would send a new leader to Israel. And so the Old Testament ends.
  • The biblical story picks up in the New Testament (NT) with Jesus of Nazareth, a descendant of Judah’s (the southern kingdom of Israel)  line of kings. Jesus came to bring the prophets’ promises to completion. He resisted the tempting evil Adam and Eve had given in to. Jesus taught that God had arrived to rule the world through himself. He taught about God’s definition of good and evil, that real power is serving, not conquering, others.
  • The story goes on to show that Jesus is God become human. Jesus became for all humanity what we could never be. He took the punishment for our sin onto himself and proved that he was more powerful than evil and death itself. Humanity now has a new choice represented by a new tree (Jesus’s cross): follow the old human story or death and decay, or follow Jesus into the new one. People who are loved and forgiven by God can show love and forgiveness to others.
  • The Jesus movement spread quickly across the Roman Empire, forming new communities of Jesus-followers. They faced persecution from the outside and strife and sin on the inside. The Christian community’s leaders, called Apostles, sent letters to different communities to encourage them and help them remain faithful to the way of Jesus.
  • The Bible ends by pointing to the future day when heaven and earth are united, and humanity can finally rule together with God as it was always intended.

Each Bible book contains different literature that contributes to the story of the Bible in a unique way, forming one continuous, coherent story of God’s desire to redeem and have fellowship with his creation.

Written content for this topic by Daniel Martin.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. What role did God give Adam and Eve before they sinned? How do humans still live out – or fail to live out – that original role today?
  4. What choice did God give Adam and Eve in the garden? What did this choice represent? How do we still make this choice today?
  5. In what ways do we personally seek to “redefine” good and evil? Why are we tempted to do this?
  6. Read Genesis 9:1 and Genesis 11:1-4. In what ways do cultures or societies at large seek to redefine good and evil?
  7. What purpose did God have in choosing Abraham and Sarah? What happened to their descendants, and why?
  8. According to this video, why did Jesus need to save us? What does this mean for us today?
  9. How does the NT show God’s answer to the ongoing issue of humanity rejecting our God-given role in the garden and redefining good and evil?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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