Jesus isn’t just part of the Bible story; He is the point of the Bible story.
by Ed Stetzer
There are great stories in the Bible…but it is possible to know Bible stories, yet miss the Bible. – Ed Clowney
This quote should caution us as preachers, teachers, and church leaders.
Sure, all of us believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of life-transformation and the foundation for spiritual growth. However, many Christians miss this basic premise of the Christian life. Instead of finding the power to live for God in Christ, they try and muster it up in themselves. This always fails.
Part of the reason for this misunderstanding is rooted in how one reads the Bible.
The Bible is not a help book showing us what God needs us to do. The Bible is about what God has done for us. The Bible is the redemptive history of God’s work culminating in Jesus Christ. Once we realize this, the Christian life becomes a response to His grace, not a perpetual attempt to earn His favor.
It’s not about us—and that might be hard to hear—it’s about Him. It involves us, but it is not about us. It’s about Jesus.
In other words, Jesus isn’t just part of the Bible story, He is the point of the Bible story.
How to Understand the Bible
Jesus is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Therefore, I believe that interpreting God’s word must be mediated through Jesus Christ. He is the lens through which we see the scriptures.
I have often asked preachers, would your sermon work if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? If so, there may be a problem.
If a sermon or teaching is not grounded in or filtered through the person and work of Christ, is it even distinctively Christian? I have come to believe that this Christ-centered hermeneutic is what Jesus and the Apostles advocated for (John 5:39; Luke 24:27; Luke 24:44-45; 1 Corinthians 2:2; Colossians 2:2-3).
Graeme Goldsworthy said it well:
The Old Testament does not stand on its own, because it is incomplete without its conclusion and fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. No part can be rightly understood without him. In this sense it is about Christ. God’s revelation is progressive, moving in stages from the original promises given to Israel, until the fullest meaning of these promises is revealed in Christ…Thus Christ, interprets the New and Old Testaments. (According to Plan, 52)
The trajectory of the Bible points to Christ. The goal for Christ-centered preachers and teachers is not to look for Jesus behind every bush, under every rock, and around every corner, but rather to find out how a particular text fits into the whole redemptive story that culminates in Him.
Jesus isn’t just part of the Bible story, He is the point of the Bible story.
Churches can teach this in multiple ways, but need to find ways to do so.
One is curriculum. This approach was a central focus in how we structured The Gospel Project. This Christ-centered study of the Bible approaches all of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in order to understand how the entire Bible reveals God’s plan of redemption through Jesus Christ.
You can do that through sermons. Spurgeon would say, “I take my text and make a bee-line to the cross.” You just need to be sure that it is done responsibly, but consistently—by pointing people to Jesus.
Where from Here
It is essential that this is how we teach the Bible—in our curriculum and in our messages.
Sixty six books. Dozens of authors. A holy canon thousands of years in the making.
Yet, every story casts His shadow. Every word, every verse, bears His testimony—the Holy Messiah. Jesus Christ. Eternal King.
If you enjoyed the video, feel free to download a free full month of The Gospel Project for kids, students, and adults.
Ed Stetzer is the Executive Director of LifeWay Research Division.
Originally posted at christianitytoday.com/edstetzer.