I asked a friend and Pastor, Adam Masterson, to put together some foundational truths from a Tim Keller study our women did recently in Genesis. My purpose for this was to ensure that our women in leadership have a unified understanding of what the bible is and is not, thereby giving them a solid foundation from which to lead our women. These principles for understanding the Bible are so basic and yet sadly elusive in many churches today.
1. The Bible is first and foremost the story of men and women who are great sinners and God who is a greater Savior.
2. To read, study, or teach the Bible as a collection of moral stories is to miss the point. There are men and women who are at times courageous, faithful, or brave in noteworthy and remarkable ways but they are also men and women who are big sinners.
The Bible is not an encyclopedia of people doing great things for God but the unfolding story of God in his radical grace doing great things for us, culminating in the person and work of Jesus.
3. The Bible’s central focus is Jesus Christ. He is not the main character in Act Two of some divine play, but rather the point of the whole drama. The Old Testament conceals his identity – at times offering shadows, glimpses, types, and prophecies – but the New Testament reveals him fully.
4. Jesus came to set the captives free by proclaiming the gospel – “good news” – in word, deed, and in his very existence.
The good news (“gospel”) is precisely that – news – an unconditional declaration of what God has done for desperate sinners. What has God done? God sent Jesus to live the life we can’t live (satisfying the demands of his perfect Law), to die the death we deserved (paying the penalty we owed for Law-breaking), and rising from the dead to show the curse of sin and death has been broken. Forgiveness, reconciliation to the Father, salvation, and abundance of life are now ours – not through human achievement of any kind, but faith in the one God sent, namely Jesus.
5. We are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone, yet it is true that saving faith doesn't remain alone but will result in good works and newness of life.
When speaking of these things though, the order is vitally important. Imperatives in Scripture (things we are commanded to do to live a God-pleasing life) are always grounded in the indicatives (what God has done for us in Jesus). If we teach the imperatives apart from the indicatives, we’re not teaching the gospel but moralism and ethics. Therefore when teaching, it’s practically important to always end with good news – the reminder of what God has done – for this is the only proper fuel for a changed life.