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Reading the Bible as a Story

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

I love stories. Always have. And still do.


My almost 16-year-old son, Chase also loves stories. He’s loved them since he was a toddler in a car seat in the back seat of the car when I started telling him stories to keep him occupied whilst driving. He still loves stories today. Reading them. Watching them. Writing them. Watching YouTube vlogs about them.


I think everybody loves stories. They are one of the most powerful vehicles of communication. We find we can relate to them. We can enter the story. Even to escape to a different world. They somehow communicate meaning more accessibly, and yet with greater profundity.


Suppose the Author of all reality, knowing this, chose to convey to us the most important message for all creation by telling a story. What if He chose to reveal to us who He is by telling us a tale. To explain to us who we are, and why we are here, and why our world is the way it is, and where He is taking it and us, by a grand narrative.


And suppose that having received this message we proceeded to read it as anything but a story. As a list of does and don’ts. As a manual for how to live life. As a book of wisdom or philosophy. As a reference text to explain doctrines. As a compendium of devotional stories like Chicken Soup for the Soul. As a container for good verses. As a blueprint or pattern for building the right church. But not as a story.


If we did that, we would miss the ultimate message that our Creator was seeking to convey, about who He is, and who we are, and why our world is the way it is, and about where he is trying to take us.


Sadly, that’s exactly what happens when we fail to read the Bible as a story, no matter how else we read it. Whilst there may be other useful ways of reading the Bible, we fail to unlock its ultimate meaning when we do not read it as a story.


This is because, the Bible is in fact a story. The story begins with a good God who creates humankind and a good world in which to dwell with and bless humankind. Conflict is introduced in the plot of the story when humankind rebels against this good creator God bringing sin into His good world, and by it separate themselves from God and His blessing. The rest of the story is about the relentless effort of this loving God to redeem humankind from its sin and to restore the blessings and relationship with God that was lost as a result. The story ends in Revelation 21-22 with a picture of God finally eradicating the curse of sin, and restoring His blessings upon and relationship with humankind in a new world in which they dwell together.


Although the Bible is written over centuries by many different authors in different times and places, its disparate parts have been weaved together into a composite whole that tells one unified coherent story. God, through His Spirit and in His power and by his grace has done all this to convey a message to us.


If we want to receive that message, we must read the Bible as a story.


Reading the Bible as a story means that we must take the time to read the entire Bible. Yes, that will take some time, and will mean reading the parts of it we find difficult (yikes, yes … including Leviticus?). But we must make the effort to understand the overall storyline of the Biblical narrative and how each of its individual books and stories fit within it.


Whilst we can gain some meaning and understanding from reading the individual parts of the Bible without reading it as a part of the overall Biblical story, we cannot discover their ultimate meaning without reading them as a part of the Bible’s overarching narrative. And perhaps more perilously, unless we do so, we run the risk of misunderstanding them by reading them out of context.


Because I love stories, discovering how to read the Bible as a story has made reading the Bible more enjoyable and compelling, as well as deeper and more meaningful. It is also easier to share it with others, including my son Chase, who finds the Bible more interesting as a story.


At Scripture Window, one of the ways in which we seek to teach people how to read the Bible for themselves so that they can see God is by showing them how to read it as a story. For a primer on how to begin reading the Bible as a story check out our teaching series on this subject by clicking here.

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