The Bible: A Grand Narrative

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler

God gives us his life and helps us to understand himself through the grand narrative contained in the Bible. Though composed over many centuries, with many characters, subplots, and diversions, the Bible is yet a single story--one that tells us many important things about God, ourselves, and the world we live in. It tells us why God created the world, how it became broken, and what his intentions are for fixing it--and us. Without embracing the story God is telling, our lives remain disconnected and purposeless. We are here today and gone tomorrow with no particular meaning to our life.

In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer underscores the importance of knowing about God:

As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him to London, put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business, for those who do not know about God.1

The New Testament carries the biblical story forward, introducing the one Man who makes sense of it all. Though Christians see intimations of Jesus in the Hebrew Scriptures, the New Testament introduces him in the flesh, presenting him as God reaching out to us, becoming one of us, dying and rising from the dead so that our primary relationship can be healed and restored. Because of Jesus we can know the peace of belonging completely to God.

Embracing this story will change your life. It will set your course. It will make all the difference.

But how do we embrace it? Of course there is a moment or a whole series of moments in which we assent to this vital truth, in which we tell Christ we are sorry for our sins, asking his forgiveness and inviting him to inhabit our souls. Some people have always believed. Others come to faith more slowly, more painfully, more dramatically. I remember my own conversion--coming to the end of myself and reaching out my hand to God, hoping desperately he would grasp it but not knowing if he even existed. And then came the peace, a sense of well-being I had never known, an assurance that I was loved, held, and protected, like being bathed in goodness, up to my neck in happiness. That was the moment when my yearning was transformed into faith, when the story became mine to believe--and to live.

1. J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 19.





Originally published December 24, 2019.