The story present in the Bible is often missed amongst the stories of the individuals in the Bible. The reality is the Bible itself is a limited picture of the grand epic of this relational adventure with God. It doesn’t have any objective perspective outside of God, yet even He let’s man choose his own course, permitting God to take the story at man’s pace. The bible does capture a grand “summary” of life though, and it would seem that this fact helps to link us to the individual stories in this cannon of books.
The picture of God is most often perceived as conveyed in the Scriptures, and rightly so – for the Scriptures are thoroughly-critiqued, and time-tested. However, the character of God found in Scripture permits a greater perspective on who God is to be witnessed outside the written word. This is the experiential element of God’s character. You can’t really know God without experiencing relationship with Him. Each person makes steps either towards or away from God. Each person has a story. Just like the Bible, which is a massive compilation of the stories of individuals, and individual nations, each person also has their own personal encounters with God that have long succeeded the closed Biblical cannon.
One important point of good Biblical hermeneutics is to see the “big picture” story amidst all the little stories, and to see the clearly passionate consistency of God. There is a clear introduction (Creation), rising action (Fall + looking forward), a climax (Redemption), and a falling action (Restoration). While this seems like a clear cut, neat, and perfectly-crafted story, the Bible it self implies there is more coming. The Bible chronologically ends with a book of judgement on the earth (Revelation), and it would seem that this is the end of the story. But the Bible also makes here that those who receive the Messiah receive eternal life, in addition to the farther existence of the Creator God Himself. The Bible doesn’t finish the grand story, but it also doesn’t finish the earthly story. At best, it predicts it.
The story of the Kingdom of God never stopped with the early church. That church continued to God, and even though there is no canonized chronicles of those further stories, it grew to it’s greatest swelling after the Biblical cannon was closed. God was interacting with man, and man began reaching others with the encouragement of the stories of those that had gone before. Here are found the stories of Augustine, Origin, Clement, Wycliffe, Ignatius, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa, William Seymour, George Whitfield, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, and countless others. The stories include groups as well, revealing greater diversity while preserving the same, lucid foundation as their spiritual ancestors.
What the Bible holds is a picture, not of God only, but of a relational synergy of God and man in relationship. At times, the relationship requires a separation, which is never healthy. But the separation was always the decision of one side. God has always presented the character of a committed partner. Perhaps the reason the Bible is so attractive is not the elements of separation, but it’s elements of restoration, and such is evidenced with the very last words of the Bible:
“Surely I am coming soon.”
The story of the Kingdom of God is eternal, being unraveled as those in His Kingdom relationally advance it. The story is being written, and there are some prophetic landmarks to look for, but God wants to create the atmosphere of the future with us!