Reading the whole Bible as a whole Bible

  • Sumo

The whole of God’s word centres on Jesus. The New Testament is all about Jesus and what it means to follow him. Jesus himself explained the the Old Testament as a three-point sermon about the Christ (Luke 24:44-47 – the Christ will suffer, rise again, then his servants proclaim repentance and forgiveness).

At church, we want to help people keep joining the parts of the Bible together. This appreciation for the whole story of the Bible is known as ‘Biblical Theology.’ (To learn more about Biblical Theology, I recommend the books of Graeme Goldsworthy.)

To help this, we ran a sermon series called Old Foundations. Old: because the passages were all Old Testament. Foundations: because we chose some of the Old Testament passages frequently-quoted in the New Testament. They are the bits of the Bible that the Bible itself highlight as having special power to explain the work of Jesus.

I usually think there are two types of sermon series. Number one – in priority! – is the exposition. That is, we read through one book of the Bible, or a series of texts in sequence. Perhaps Daniel, or Luke 1-9. Number two is topical, in which we seek God’s word to address issues. Perhaps ‘What does God say about the cross of Jesus?’, or ‘Living as a Christian in my workplace.’ The topical grows directly our of the textual, and is obviously very important.

Old Foundations kind of fits both types of series. It was textual, as you can see below. We sought to understand what the passage says. But it did not stick to one Bible book. It was also topical/theological, because we were intentional about making Bible-wide connections.

Here are the passages I chose, along with the title for each talk.

  1. Genesis 11:27-12:9
    God: obsessed to bless
  2. Exodus 3:1-22
    The great ‘I am”
  3. Deuteronomy 6:1-25
    Listen, learn & love
  4. 2 Samuel 7:1-25
    God’s son & God’s house
  5. 1 Kings 8:22-53
    Will God dwell on earth?
  6. Psalm 2
    Kiss the son
  7. Psalm 118
    This is the day
  8. Isaiah 40:1-17
    The Lord’s word forever
  9. Ezekiel 37:1-28
    Can these bones live?
  10. Daniel 7:1-28
    Everlasting dominion

(If you would like to listen to any of these, there are recordings available under the tag Bible Talks on the Albury Bible Fellowship web page.) (Edit: make that, Albury Bible Church web page. We’ve changed our name!)

The benefit I could see is twofold. Firstly, we were reading the Bible as God’s word about Jesus! That’s what we always do – but it is always how God transforms us by his Spirit. Secondly, as a church I know we have many more who have seriously read some of the ‘frequently quoted’ part of the scripture. I think we have even more of the common language to talk to each other about God’s ways.