If you were to ask your students to describe the Bible, what would they say? Would they describe it as a collection of moral stories that are examples to follow? Would they say that the Bible is a collection of Gods do’s-and-don’ts for life? Would they see it as an integrated whole from Genesis to Revelation?
Speaking from experience, my own childhood and adolescent years, while filled with a reverence for God’s Word, were filled with misunderstandings about God’s Word. Sure, I was growing through those stages of cognitive development where clarity takes some time. But my scales of incomplete understanding fell fast from my eyes when I arrived on campus at Geneva College and Geneva’s trusty team of Bible Professors laid out the four-chapter flow of Scripture in ways that transformed my life and my faith. Suddenly, the Bible began to make sense in ways it never had before. When Dr. Jack White excitedly spoke about “the history of redemption,” well, everything changed!
What was Dr. White talking about? And how, specifically, is the Bible a four-chapter narrative from start to finish? Beginning in Genesis and flowing through Revelation runs a thread of God’s grace from Creation, to Fall, to Redemption, to Restoration (or Consummation).
What does this matter for us and for our students? Simply stated, knowing God’s plan for redemptive history gives us a clear perspective on what’s happening in the world and how we are called to live as disciples of Jesus Christ. In addition, it clears up and eliminates the many mis-understandings we carry with us about God’s Word.
The summer following my graduation from Geneva College, I embarked on a three-year journey of doing youth and campus ministry with the Coalition for Christian Outreach. One of the first books we read during summer training was Albert Wolters’ Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview. Oh my! Transformative again as Wolters lays out the same Biblical narrative. Since then, I’ve required Creation Regained for undergrad and grad students and consistently the response is one of being blown away in ways that transform their own lives and their ministries to kids. In our CPYU parent seminars I consistently direct dads and moms into understanding God’s Story as a step that’s transformative for their parenting. And every time, scales fall from eyes as people see the unity and directives of Scripture in new ways!
For the last decade or so, the David Arms painting, “God’s Story”, has sat at the top of this blog page, with a link to Scotty Smith’s narrative for the painting sitting on the right. I use this painting in my teaching as well, and it’s an eye-opener for people. Framed copies hang in our home and in our CPYU office as reminder of what God is up to in His world. In many ways, I live in this painting for the simple reason that I live and minister in the midst of this story!
God’s story is the Gospel. . . the Good News! And, we want to be able to teach it to our students in all of its glory and implications for life in our world. That’s why I am so excited about the four-part summer series that our The Word In Youth Ministry podcast team – youth workers Kyle Hoffsmith, Linda Oliver, and Matt Beham – put together to help you understand and teach Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration (Consummation).
This series is now out in its entirety and I’ve embedded all four 30-minute episodes below. I can’t recommend this enough, especially as you are getting ready to begin another year of youth ministry teaching and programming. Please listen. . . as I promise you, scales will fall from your eyes! . . .