THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD
Although the Bible contains a great deal of history, its main purpose is not to be a historical textbook. Though it does contain moral principles and ethical boundaries, the Word of God is not merely a rule book. Although the pages of the Bible hold amazing wisdom, it is not primarily a collection of wise sayings. When you examine the Bible as a whole, comprised of various genres, from forty authors written over the span of a couple thousand years, what you actually discover is the greatest love story that has ever been told. The Bible is the captivating story of a God who desperately loves His creation.The Bible is the captivating story of a God who desperately loves His creation. Click To Tweet
Due to the fact that the Scriptures encompass such a large collection of writings, it is easy to get tunnel vision in a single chapter or a book of the Bible and miss the overall picture. It is like narrowing in on one piece of fabric in an ornate tapestry, and missing the majesty of the entire tapestry as a whole. There are portions of the Bible that can be difficult to understand, and unless you take into consideration where everything fits into the bigger picture, you can miss the importance of it completely. Everything in Scripture is significant. But part of discovering its splendor is having an overall understanding of God’s plan of redemption. It is through this lens that every book, chapter, and verse should be viewed. We see this theme interlaced throughout the Scriptures when we examine them from a “bird’s eye” view.
If you study classic literature, you will discover that a well-written story will follow a certain pattern called the dramatic structure. There are five parts to a dramatic structure, which are as follows:
A.) The Introduction- provides the background information, such as the main characters, the hero, the villain, the basic conflict, and the setting.
B.) The Rising Action- includes various obstacles that frustrate the main character’s attempt to reach his or her goal in the story.
C.) The Climax- the turning point. It marks a change, for the better or the worse, in the main character’s story.
D) The Falling Action- where we see the effects of the climax in the story in the life of the main character.
E.) The Dénouement- the conclusion that ties everything together, bringing the plot to an end.
The Bible contains all of the elements of a literary masterpiece. The Word of God is—hands down—the most thrilling story ever told. Humans have created love stories that have been heralded by the world as epic romance literature, such as Romeo and Juliet. But the Bible easily trumps any man-made attempt to epitomize love. Perhaps you have never viewed the Bible as a love story before. Let us take a look at the whole of the Great Book, and break it down into the dramatic structure used in classic literature.
A.) The Introduction- (Genesis 1-3)
God is the main character of the story and we are introduced to Him in the first verse. We discover that He is the Creator of all things. We also find out something very important about His character: that He is a personal God. He creates Adam and Eve in order to have a personal relationship with them. This is where the love story begins. God created man in His own image as an invitation into relationship. He gives man the freewill to choose whether or not he will obey his Creator. Everything seems peaceful in the garden. Adam and Eve are walking with the Lord in unbroken fellowship.
But the villain of the story enters: Satan. He uses mind games to tempt Adam and Eve to break the only command they have been given: Do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 3:3). Becoming convinced that God could not be trusted, they give into temptation to eat the fruit. That one act of rebellion equates with an affair. But it is not the type of affair between a husband and wife as we would typically understand it, but rather a spiritual affair between a man and his God. Sin enters the world along with death and a myriad of bitter consequences.
In classic literature, there is an element often found called a “damsel in distress.” This damsel is typically a young woman, being held hostage by a villain against her own will. She cannot free herself due to some form of a curse and needs rescued. In the Bible, humanity is that damsel, trapped in the curse of sin and unable to free itself without a Rescuer. But God promises to send a hero that will overthrow the villain and rescue mankind from the curse (Gen 3:15).
2.) The Rising Action- (Genesis 4-Malachi)
At this point, imagine if you did not know the rest of the story. Pretend you were one of the angels, and God had not informed you of His plan. You are looking down on the earth, watching everything God created suddenly begin to unravel. Sin has entered the world, bringing death, rebellion, and sickness. You watch as Adam and Eve are cast out of the Garden. You might be thinking, “That’s it. Everything is ruined. How could God possibly reverse this?”
But the rest of the Old Testament is the exciting story-line of God implementing a dramatic rescue mission. First, He finds faithful men with whom He can establish a covenant relationship. God floods the earth because of the wickedness of the human race, but saves only Noah and his family (Gen 6). Then God finds a man to father His special nation, Abraham (Gen 12). Through Abraham’s family, the twelve sons of Israel are born. God brings them to Egypt to save them from famine and then their population grows vastly, but they end up as slaves. So God raises up Moses as a deliverer (Exo 3).
God wants to give Israel the land He promised them. But along the way, He needs to teach them how to live lives of obedience to Him, so that they can stay in fellowship with Him. He gives them the Law and teaches them the sacrificial system (Exodus-Deuteronomy). Eventually, He brings them into the Promised Land. Israel becomes established and forms a kingdom, where God gives a promise to King David to have his descendants permanently on the throne of Israel (2 Samuel 7:11-17).
Yet the same betrayal that took place in the Garden continues, only now it is on a national scale. God raises up prophets to try to get the people to repent, but they will not listen (Isaiah-Malachi). Finally, He turns them over to their enemies, and they are brought into captivity for a time. Eventually they are brought back into their land, and the Old Testament leaves off with a 400 hundred year gap of silence.
3.) Climax- (Matthew-John)
After four centuries, the silence is broken. The most climactic moment in the history of the world comes about with the announcement of angels and a series of incredible miracles. The Rescuer is born.
The devil does his very best throughout the life of Jesus to have him discredited, misunderstood, and even killed. This is a cosmic battle of epic proportion. The ultimate clash of good versus evil. But the enemy fails time and again to get the Messiah to go off course. So he incites wicked men to kill Jesus, believing they were doing it for God.
When Jesus died on the cross, the entire plan looked like it was destroyed. I wonder if the angels knew what was about to happen. You can only imagine what they might think about the situation. Had Satan actually won the victory? There was no other way to make atonement for sin. And if the Messiah was dead, what hope was there?The climax of all of creation came on the third morning, when the Son of God was resurrected from the dead by the mighty power of God. Click To Tweet
But the climax of all of creation came on the third morning, when the Son of God was resurrected from the dead by the mighty power of God. In that moment, sin, death, and the devil were overthrown. Salvation was made available to mankind. Jesus made the great divide between God and his fallen creation completely crossable. The curse that kept the damsel in distress was broken, and she had been rescued by her knight in shining armor.
4.) The Falling Action- Book of Acts-Jude
After this amazing event took place, we get to join the early church in the exciting adventure of following Jesus after the Ascension. We get a sneak peek into the culture and practices of the church through the epistles. Throughout the remainder of the New Testament, the amazing impact of the resurrection is seen as the Gospel is spread around the known world. Apostles, missionaries, pastors, evangelists, and teachers are raised up to strengthen, encourage, and train the church. Persecution threatens to wipe out Christianity, and yet the more the devil tries to stamp it out, the more the church grows in number and passion.
The epistles are filled with messages to the bride of Christ about her new identity. Though she was once a slave, now she is the beloved bride of Jesus. And specific instructions about the proper way for believers to live are given in these books. We see the work that God began in the Garden of Eden continuing on. The Creator is still pursuing His creation, and many respond to His call to them, given through the Body of Christ.
5.) The Denouement- End time Prophecies
The Bible does not leave us wondering what is going to happen at the end. We are not left to guess how this cosmic love story will conclude. In various prophecies through the Old Testament (especially the book of Daniel) and prophecies in the New Testament (especially the book of Revelation), we are given a glimpse into the world events that take place at the end of all times.
Revelation 19 mentions an event called the Wedding of the Lamb. Here we see the hero of the story (Jesus) at an enormous feast with His rescued damsel in distress (the Church). Everything that hindered their love has now been removed. This is a story in which there really is a “Happily Ever After” ending. This truly is the greatest love story ever told! And the best part about it is that it is not just some tale imagined in the mind of a talented writer, but a true story being played out right now as we speak.
In light of all this, there is only one question to answer: Have you personally responded to the invitation to know this God and His amazing love?
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.