At our Kid’s KLUB on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, we are working our way through a very nice children’s Bible called, "The Big Picture Bible." Like most children’s Bibles, it contains only a small portion of the Scriptures. And yet, what’s nice about this Bible is that from the start its aim is to capture the Big Picture of the Bible. Stories are left in and stories are left out, depending upon which stories best progress the whole story of the Bible.
So far, we have read about the creation; we have read about the flood; we have read about the big promise given to Abraham; we have read about the slavery in Egypt and the giving of the Ten Commandments; we have read about the continued rebellion of the people of Israel; we have read about King David. We are just now entering the New Testament, where we will read about the life and death of Jesus. We will finish by reading about heaven. We have read through this Bible, because I thought it would be helpful for the kids to capture the big picture of the Bible -- that all of the stories of the Bible might fit nicely into place when they hear come to hear them for the first time..
Catching the Big Picture is something that we all need to do. We need constant reminders of the Big Picture of the story of the Bible, because the Bible tells a story.
Too often people look at the Bible like an encyclopedia just filled with facts about God. Do you want to know what God is like? Look it up in the Bible. Do you want to know what Heaven will be like? Look it up in the Bible. Do you want to know about Jesus? Look it up in the Bible. Do you want to know about the future? Look it up in the Bible.
Too often people look at the Bible like a self-help book filled with helpful advice. Do you want to know how to have a happy marriage? The Bible tells you how. Do you want to know how to raise your children? The Bible tells you how. Do you want to know what God wants of you? The Bible tells you. Do you want to know how to get along with others? The Bible tells you how.
Now, I’m not denying that the Bible is filled with facts like an encyclopedia. Nor am I denying that the Bible is a help to us in how we live. But, fundamentally, the Bible isn’t an encyclopedia and it isn’t a self-help book. Fundamentally, the Bible is more like a novel that tells us a story. It tells God’s story.
The Bible tells the story of God creating a perfect world, only to see His creatures rebel against Him and separate themselves from their creator. But, God didn’t leave us to ourselves. No, He sent a Savior to redeem us from our sins. His name is Jesus. And through Jesus, God will restore the creation to what it should be -- Jesus reigning in the new heavens and the new earth; those who have trusted in Him, surrounding Him, worshiping Him, in perfect happiness and joy forever in a perfect place.
That’s the story of the Bible. That’s what we will spend the next four weeks studying on Sunday morning. I’m calling our series, "The Big Picture." Right up front, I want to give you the outline of our series. Here is the story of the Bible in four words: (1) Creation; (2) Fall; (3) Redemption; and (4) Restoration.
The main ideas of these four words are as follows.
Creation - God created the world, perfect and satisfying.
Fall - Man didn’t believe God, rather we rebelled and fell from the perfect estate.
Redemption - Jesus, our Savior, came to rescue us from our fallen condition.
Restoration - The final state of a renewed creation with renewed creatures in it.
That’s the story of the Bible in four words. Now, to let you know, these words are not unique to me. Many have used them to describe the overall message of the Bible. I feel that they are important enough for all of us to know them and keep them in our minds to describe the overall picture of the Bible. In fact, perhaps you remember a few years ago when I preached a 12-part series entitled, "12 Stages in the Bible." When I was preaching this series, someone came up to me and said, "If you are seeking to survey the Bible, I’m surprised that you didn’t use the Creation/Fall/Redemption/Restoration paradigm. So, these four words are a common way of looking at the entire Bible.
Now, the thing that I love about this particular outline is that it’s so applicable. Not only is this the story of the Bible, it’s also the story of every believer in Jesus Christ. God is our creator. But, we have fallen in our sin. So God sent a Savior to redeem us from our sin. But, our best life isn’t here and now. There will be a day when God fully restores us to everything that we made us to be -- new bodies living on a new earth with Jesus as our king!
Keeping these categories in your mind will also help you in terms of your personal evangelism. As you speak with people, you want to see what they think and see what they believe. Somewhere along the lines, those who deny Christ will miss it, either with the creation or the fall or the redemption or the restoration. Such a framework in your mind will help you focus upon their area of need.
An atheistic evolutionist doesn’t believe that there is one, creator God, so focus your conversation there, upon the creation. A new-ager may not believe that people are sinners, thinking, rather, that people need to look within themselves for power to live. So focus your conversation there, upon the fall. Someone who grew up in church, may have never trusted personally in Jesus, so focus your conversation there, upon His redeeming work. Someone who believes the health, wealth, prosperity gospel, may think that Jesus has saved us for now, not realizing that our true blessings are later. So focus your conversation with them upon the glories of the restoration.
Now, in terms of chapters in the Bible, the creation story is told in Genesis 1-2. The fall (and its effects) is told in Genesis 3 through Malachi, chapter 4 -- in other words, the entire Old Testament, with the exception of the first two chapters. The redemption story is told in the New Testament, until the last two chapters of Revelation (Matthew 1 through Revelation 20). The restoration is told in Revelation 21-22.
And so, here it is over the next four weeks. I plan to preach through the entire Bible. We are starting in Genesis and will continue right on through Revelation. Now, obviously, we are going to be skipping over quite a bit of material. That’s OK. But, catch what my aim is. I’m seeking to teach the main message of the Bible, as best as I can, in four weeks. And in so doing, I’m expositing the Scriptures. This is God’s story, and I’m seeking to tell it.
So, let us begin with the creation. This is how the Bible begins. This is how God’s story begins. So, let's look at Genesis, chapter 1. I want to begin by looking at the first two chapters of Genesis. We’ll read through them, commenting lightly. And then, we’ll launch throughout the rest of the Scripture. Because, over and over again, God reminds us that He is the creator. And such a reality has implications upon our lives.
Beginning in Genesis 1, we see the account of creation. This is how God created the world. Chapter 1 is divided into six sections. Each section represents a day of creation. I believe them to be 6, literal, 24 hour days. That’s the point of the repetition, "there was evening and there was morning." On each day, God speaks, and various portions of the world are created.
On day 1, God created the cosmos.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
God created the heavens. God created the earth. God created the light. And the light was called "good."
On day 2, God created the expanse. The expanse is the space between the waters below and the waters above.
Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.
On day 3, God created the dry land and the plants.
Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.
He created land, trees, bushes, vegetation, foliage, fruit -- all capable of reproducing themselves.
On day 4, God created sun, the moon, and the stars.
Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
On day 5, God creates the fish and the birds.
Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens." God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
The fish filled the waters; the birds filled the air -- all of them capable of reproducing.
On day 6, God created the land animals, and the culmination of creation -- man, himself.
Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Now, one of the things that really stands out in this narrative is the sheer power of God.
God can speak, and the universe comes into existence. Complete with all of the laws of chemistry and physics created and working perfectly -- gravity, the speed of light, electro-magnetics, protons, neutrons, electrons, the periodic table of elements. Scientists have spent thousands of years attempting to understand what God created in a day. In college, I was a physics major. I distinctly remember studying the laws of physics and how I was merely attempting to understand how God established our universe to work. But, God brought them all into a functioning reality in one day.
God can speak and the plants come into existence, complete with all of the workings of plant physiology in place, working perfectly. Plant tissue, photosynthesis, respiration, cellular structures, genetics, cell division, seeds that reproduce, ... all working together to sustain plant life. We are still studying plant life, in attempts to understand what God created in a day with His spoken word.
God can speak and the vast number of stars come into existence. Billions and billions of galaxies, each containing billions and billions of stars and planets, spanning millions and millions of light years. We are still trying to see the end of what God created in a day with His spoken word.
God can speak, and all of the animals come into existence. Complete with all of the workings of anatomy and physiology in place for the various species in the world, and all working perfectly. Skeletal systems, muscular systems, nervous systems, cardiovascular systems, respiratory systems, digestive systems, reproductive systems, endocrine systems, metabolism, DNA, the brain, the ability to speak. Just the anatomy and physiology of human beings is enough to chart the course of a life-time of study. But God created not only humans. He also created sharks and whales and salmon and lobsters, eagles and owls and bats and hummingbirds, tigers and bears and rabbits and anteaters, Each of them unique. Each of them fully functional and able to reproduce according to their kind. And God spoke it all into existence, working perfectly the day He spoken them into existence.
It’s no wonder that throughout the rest of the Bible, we hear verses that describe the glory of God in His creating work.
The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
And by the breath of His mouth all their host.
He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap;
He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.
Lift up your eyes on high
And see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number,
He calls them all by name;
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,
Not one of them is missing.
Now, another one of the things that really stands out in this entire narrative is the goodness of creation which, ultimately, reflects back to thegoodness of God. Seven times in this chapter, we see the goodness of creation mentioned. "God saw that the light was good" (1:4). When observing the land and the earth and the seas, "God saw that it was good" (1:9). When observing the plants, "God saw that it was good" (1:12). When observing the sun, moon and stars, "God saw that it was good" (1:18). When observing the fish and the birds, "God saw that it was good" (1:21) When observing the cattle and creeping things and beasts, "God saw that it was good" (1:25) And then, the climax comes in verse 31, "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good."
We all live on this side of the fall and see the devastation that sin has brought upon the world, and we see how bad it is. We see the poverty and the pain and the wars and the injustice. We can see how bad the world is. The fall hasn’t just affected people. The fall of man has affected the entire creation. Paul said that "the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now" (Romans 8:21). And next week, as we look at the fall, we’ll get into how bad this world is.
But, here’s the point. When the world was created, it was "very good" (1:31). And ultimately, when God restores the world to it’s perfect state, with no sin and a renewed heaven and earth, it will be good once again. No, it will be better that it ever was! Adam in the garden could sin. But, when we are in the new heavens and new earth, we will have glorified bodies and we won’t sin any more. This is a far better state for us to be in. Jesus Christ will be glorified not only for His power and His holiness, but also for His grace -- the grace that will bring us to heaven, sinners though we are. The first creation was a shadow of the new creation, when everything will be restored.
I do believe that we get a little taste of the new earth in chapter 2. In the first three verses, we see God resting from His creating work.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
In these verses we see God resting from all of His creating work. There is a sense of satisfaction. There is a sense of completion. There is a sense of the work being done. This is a foreshadowing of the new creation. God is resting from His work. And in eternity, we will rest from our work. What has begun in the gospel will be completed in the new creation. We will rest from all of our works.
In Ezekiel 34, God promised to be a true shepherd to Israel, "I will feed My flock and I will lead them to rest" declares the Lord God" (Ex. 34:15). Jesus came and promised rest, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). In the last days, we hear the promise from heaven, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘so that they may rest from their labors’" (Rev. 14:13).
Now, it’s not that we will rest on a beach someplace in the new creation, tanning ourselves. But, the labor and the strife that has come with the fall will be finished! One of the curses of the fall is the hard work and labor that comes with a sin-filled earth. Because of Adam’s sin, the ground is cursed (Gen. 3:17). "In toil" we eat of the produce of the ground (Gen. 3:17). "Thorns and thistles" came come because of the fall (Gen. 3:18). It’s not that work is bad. Work was given before the fall. And there will be a day when our task is fully accomplished.
Look at the duties that God has given to mankind. We have been created to rule over the earth, as God’s representative upon the earth. Verse 26 of chapter 1 says, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." Verse 28 gives the task, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." That is our mandate. We are given the mandate to rule and reign in God’s creation as God’s image-bearers.
At this point, I can do no better than Nancy Guthrie, who puts it all into perspective, ...
Here, at the beginning of God’s story, we see the picture of the kingdom of God as God created it originally and the way God intends for it to be into eternity-- God’s people (originally Adam and Eve, later the children of Israel and ultimately the church) living in God’s place (originally the garden of Eden, later the Promised Land, and ultimately the new heaven and new earth) under God’s rule (the word of God expressed originally in god’s instructions to Adam and Eve, later in the Ten Commandments, and most fully in the person of Jesus).
The rest of the Bible is the story of God’s work to restore his original creation to all he intends for it to be forever.
In Genesis 1 we discover the meaning and purpose for which each of us was created--to bear the image of God and fulfill the destiny he has given to us--to be like him, to be with him, and to rule with him. 
Again, in some measure, we are doing this. But, in another measure, something is dreadfully wrong. It’s all aiming for that day when God restores everything to what it should be.
Let’s turn our attention back to Genesis. Genesis, chapter 1, told the big picture of creation. Genesis, chapter 2, focuses upon the creation of Adam and Eve.
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."
Here you see Adam placed in the garden, surrounded by everything that he needs. He has a garden. He has abundant water to cause the garden to flourish. The trees in the garden are pleasing to the sight (2:9). The fruit of the garden is "good for food" (2:9). The tree of life is in the garden (2:9). And God has generously provided for Adam everything that he needs, "From any tree of the garden, you may eat freely" (2:16).
The only negative thing about the garden of Eden was the one, small prohibition, "from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die" (2:17). God gave every tree to Adam, except for one. I trust that you see the overwhelming goodness and kindness of God. He gives Adam everything. Even the work that God gives to Adam seems good. "The LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it" (2:15).
The goodness of God continues in verse 18, as he provides a helper for Adam.
Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones,
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man."
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
The picture that you get here is one of marital harmony. Adam is the perfect man. He is given responsibility over the garden. Eve is the perfect woman. She is given as a perfect help to him. They are naked and unashamed, walking in harmony with each other and with the Lord. What more could Adam ask for?
Such is the original creation of God. It demonstrates His power. It demonstrates His goodness. As you think about the creation of God, if you only remembered those two things -- the power of God and the goodness of God -- you would be doing well.
The fact that God created the universe is the foundation of all the Scriptures. Its reality is the foundation of all of life. God has created this world. We are a part of His creation. God always relates to His creation as the Creator. In other words, never does God act as one in subjection to the creation. God always acts as the one over creation.
Throughout the entire Bible, God reminds us that He is the creator, and that we are His creatures.
"But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1). "I am the LORD, your Holy One, The Creator of Israel, your King" (Isaiah 43:5). "For the Maker of all is He, ... The LORD of hosts is His name" (Jeremiah 10:16).
For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,
In whose hand are the depths of the earth,
The peaks of the mountains are His also.
The sea is His, for it was He who made it,
And His hands formed the dry land.
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.
We are called to joyfully worship this God. Psalm 95:6 instructs to, "Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker." And Psalm 149:2 says, "Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King."
Literally, all over scripture, we are reminded that He is the potter, and that we are the clay (Rom. 9:20). "Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker— An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?" ( Isaiah 45:9).
And when you miss that God is the creator of all things, then you have missed the heart of the story of the Bible. Our God is a great God. Our God is a good God.
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul gives to us a fundamental problem with many people throughout all time: they exchanged the glory of God for the glory of man and they have denied that He is the creator.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
And when you encounter people who deny that God is the creator, tell them of the creator.
At one point in Paul’s missionary journeys, he came to Lystra. There, he encountered those who believed Paul and Barnabas to be gods, come to earth. Paul corrected them, saying, ...
"Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."
He put forth the greatness of God -- He made everything. He put forth the goodness of God -- He has satisfied your hearts with food and gladness. Sadly, Paul didn’t change their minds. "Even saying these things, with difficulty they restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them" (Acts 14:18).
At another point in Paul’s missionary journeys, he came to Athens. There, he encountered some intellectuals who denied the one true God. Paul corrected them, saying, ...
"Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
Some believed in Christ that day. Others didn’t. But, when people didn’t understand that God was creator, Paul brought them back to the very beginning. "God ... made the world and all things in it" (Acts 17:24). It’s the foundational truth of this world. It’s the foundation truth to God’s story.
The simple catechism goes like this, ...
1. Who made you? God.
2. What else did God make? All things.
3. Why did God make you and all things? For His glory.
Indeed, this is the great end for which God created the world. Isaiah 43:7, God says, "Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory." And so, church family, I have one last admonition: "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
November 27, 2011 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.