When we speak of the unity of the Bible, we mean two things:
ONE: THE BIBLE IS UNITED IN CONTENT:
“Scripture interprets Scripture” describes a very important idea for studying the Bible.
Although the Bible was written by many writers over many years, one author does not deny what the others say.
It’s important to learn the history and the culture of that time. We can then take the meaning of the author and apply it to our time and place.
This stops us from trying to make the Bible fit with our time and culture.
When we understand them in their cultures, Peter’s writing does not go against Paul’s.
The Bible talks about many difficult topics which create different opinions.
Yet, the writers of the Bible spoke about them with harmony from the first book of Genesis through the last book of Revelation.
This happened because the Holy Spirit helped the human authors (2 Pet 1:21).
Where we see them disagreeing, we should try to see how the passages fit within the whole story line of the Bible.
In general, the teaching of a New Testament book has more value than a discussion of the same topic in the Old Testament.
Hebrews 12:18‒29 explains this well. Overall, the Bible agrees with itself.
TWO: THE BIBLE IS UNITED IN THEME:
Some people think the Bible is a group of 66 books on different subjects. They do not know that the Bible is united by one major theme.
Redemptive history is God’s plan to save his people and advance his kingdom.
The plan of the Bible follows several patterns of Creation/ Covenant, Sin, Exile, and Resurrection/Restoration (the CSER Structure).
We should read every part of the Bible knowing which of these events had already happened.
This overview of the Bible is a great way to teach your church about the major events in Biblical history [see Chapters then An Overview of the Bible: Creation, Sin, Exile, and Resurrection/Restoration].
From beginning to end, the Bible reveals God’s special purpose:
“God revealed his hidden design to us, which is according to his goodwill and the plan that he intended to accomplish through his Son. This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. We have also received an inheritance in Christ. We were destined by the plan of God, who accomplishes everything according to his design” (Eph 1:9‒11).
The Bible’s main theme reveals God’s creation of the world, his plan to save sinful humanity, and to renew all creation through Jesus our savior.
When Christ was challenged by some religious leaders, he said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for Moses wrote about me” (John 5:46).
What are the main ways the Old Testament points to Jesus?
The first of these is through prophecies of a coming savior, as in Gen 3:15, where the Lord informed the serpent, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (CSB).
Another way is by people, things, or events which remind us of the coming of Christ.
Examples of these are Noah, who built an ark which saved his family and the animals from God’s judgment (Gen 6:17–19 and 1 Pet 3:20–21); the bronze serpent lifted up on a pole that saved people from the bites of poisonous snakes (Num 21:4–9 and John 3:14–15, NIV); and the first Passover feast, when a lamb’s blood saved Israel’s firstborn sons from death (Exod 12:1–13 and John 1:29–30).
On the day of his resurrection from the dead, Jesus met two disciples as they walked to Emmaus.
Since they could not tell who he was, they talked about how sad they were that Jesus died.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets” (Luke 24:13–27).
Later that day, Jesus saw his disciples in Jerusalem.
“Jesus said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.
“He said to them, ‘This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things’” (Luke 24:44–48).
Jesus was saying that the Old Testament contains important clues about him and what he did.
The Old and New Testaments both tell the story of Jesus. The Old Testament makes us ready for Christ’s arrival and the New Testament tells how it happened. This unites the Bible into one major theme.
The people who looked forward to Jesus under the Old Testament were saved from their sins through faith in God’s promise.
For example, Job lived around the time of Abraham. Yet, he said, “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth” (Job 19:25, NIV).
Everyone who looks back and trusts in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ is saved in the same way: through faith that it happened just as God promised.
The Old Testament is like a set of puzzle pieces of God’s plan to renew everything he made.
Seeing how they fit together after reading the New Testament makes reading the Old Testament very exciting.
Image via Wikimedia Commons This is the cover of a Bible which was made in 1550.