Otira Viaduct, Arthur Pass, New Zealand
You’ve never heard a story like the one the Bible tells. The writer Dorothy Sayers pronounced the Christian faith to be “the most exciting drama that ever staggered the imagination of man . . .” It’s helpful to step back and view this drama in one great panorama – a kind of large-scale map from Genesis to journey’s end in glory.
This series of studies called ‘The Big Journey’ aims to be that map. It’s a panorama of the Bible narrative from creation through redemption to new creation. Along the way, it highlights key themes that run through the Bible (for example, the Kingdom of God, the covenants, the Sabbath, the ‘seed of the woman’, etc.). In addition, it introduces some of the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith at appropriate points in the narrative (for example, the Incarnation is explained in study 10 which tells about Jesus’ birth and life).
‘The Big Journey’ comprises 16 studies. Each is an illustrated A4 pamphlet from 12 to 24 pages long, formatted as a PDF. Click on the PDF icons below to download them. Alternatively, you can use the dropdown menus above for more information on each of the series and download the studies from there.
What are the practical aims of these studies?
► To help make the Bible story clearer to you. Many things in the Bible seem rather haphazard and obscure. But when viewed in the context of the whole story, we see their true significance.
► To help you to explain to others what we believe and why we believe it – the Bible makes sense of life, the universe and everything!
► To help you in your own personal walk with God. For as the word ‘walk’ suggests, each of us, too, is on a journey. From conception to dying moment and beyond, God has a purpose for our lives. When we see how faithfully and purposefully God has guided and protected His people through history, we can all trust God to do the same for us.
How might these studies be used? Apart from personal study, these studies might find application for teaching in a local church (which was the original setting of these studies). It’s also possible that they may find use in a Bible school or Christian training centre as a kind of ‘foundation course’ in Biblical Theology.
1 Charting our Course
We’ll explore the basic storyline of the Bible. This is a stand-alone Bible summary in just 12 pages.
2 In the Beginning
From a dark lifeless ball shrouded in water, God creates our stunningly beautiful world lit by sun and moon, and stars that stretch for unimaginable distances into space. How does He do this, and why?
3 In God’s Image
We are very precious to God. Each of us is worth more than the untold wealth of the entire universe – simply because we’re made in God’s image. What does this really mean? What has God created us to do? And what about the angels?
4 The Fall
Where does evil come from, and why did God allow mankind to be tempted and to sin? What has sin done to people and to our world? And what does God need to do to put things right?
5 Cataclysm and Covenant
Sin degrades and corrupts mankind until all hope seems lost – but not to God. Right after the Fall, He promises a Seed that will deal the deathblow to Satan. Through these ancient godless times, God preserves the ancestors of this Seed and begins to unfold His plan to rescue mankind. From Abel’s murder, through the Flood and Babel, we follow the story to the day when God calls Abraham to follow Him. We’ll also sketch God’s actions in history as He counteracts Satan’s plans for this world.
6 God’s Nation is Born
God promises Abraham a land and an innumerable multitude of descendants. Through Abraham, every nation will find God’s blessing. We trace the journeys of Abraham and his descendants until God rescues His fledgling nation from Egypt and leads them into His presence at Sinai.
7 A Wedding in the Wilderness
At Sinai, God binds Himself to His people in a marriage covenant and comes to live among them. God pitches His tent at the centre of their camp, and gives them the Law and the priesthood to enable them to live in His holy presence.
8 From Sinai to Solomon
We trace the journey from Sinai through the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Despite repeated rebellion and idolatry, God establishes the nation and prospers them. King David completes the conquest by taking Jerusalem. God promises David that his royal dynasty will last forever, pointing us forward to Jesus, son of David and King of creation.
9 From Solomon to the Coming Saviour
Ruling over an empire stretching from the Euphrates to the border of Egypt, Solomon is wiser and wealthier than any other Israelite king. He builds a magnificent new home for God – the Temple. But things go wrong. Solomon’s many foreign wives lead him into idolatry. A downward spiral of depravity, though punctuated by a few good kings, ends in conquest and exile. But God doesn’t abandon His people. A remnant returns to rebuild the Temple and the land. And through His prophets, God astonishes His people – and us – with breathtaking visions of glory. Woven through rebuke and warning, God pledges to redeem His people and restore them to paradise!
10 Immanuel, God With Us
When the stage of history is finally prepared, the Father sends His Son, the promised Seed, to redeem us. Jesus fulfils the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah who would save God’s people. We review Jesus’ Person, His birth and His life up to His final entry into Jerusalem, as told by the four Gospel writers.
11 Crucified and Risen
We devote an entire session to the events of the Cross and Resurrection. Here is the great turning point of history. As one writer puts it, “History slows down in the Gospels, until at last all history moves from action to passion, and jerks to a halt before the three hours’ silence of Jesus on his Cross” . Jesus’ death and resurrection strikes the decisive blow against Satan; He rises victorious and is enthroned at His Father’s right hand over all.
12 The Acts of the Apostles
On the Day of Pentecost God sends His Spirit onto a waiting company of 120 faithful Israelites. A new creation springs into being – a body of people born anew by God’s Spirit and empowered to take God’s Gospel blessing out to the remotest corners of the world. We trace the breathtaking growth of the early Church.
13 A New Creation in Christ
The Cross impacted every realm of creation. On the Cross, Jesus defeated Satan. On the Cross He dealt with sin – we see how this is foreshadowed by the Old Testament sacrifices. And on the Cross He brought a new humanity into being. We see how the Cross accomplished all this and what happens when someone is born into God’s new family and becomes a new creation in Christ.
14 God’s New Humanity
We examine the Church, God’s new community that is working out in life and ministry what God intended for mankind from the very beginning. And we see His Church in action – local bodies of believers serving God and each other through His Holy Spirit’s gifts.
15 The Clash of the Kingdoms
Satan was defeated on the Cross. Yet he continues a fierce rearguard action against God and His people. We are at war. We review Satan’s strategy in history – a strategy climaxing in the Antichrist presiding over a godless human society. And we follow the growth of the Church beyond apostolic times – beset by heresy and lifelessness, yet in recent times revived as never before to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth!
16 All things New!
Our journey reaches its destination. Jesus’ Second Coming and the final judgment signal the end of history as we know it. God creates a New Heaven and Earth; a wonderful new phase of history begins. What will this new creation be like? What will life be like there? And what are we to believe about Hell?