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Tell the Story Article

Why Tell God’s Story?

“The Bible is full of errors and inaccuracies,” an unbelieving relative stated to me. She was reporting these words with such confidence that I asked her how many times she had read it. Her answer: “Never!” So, I responded with, “It sounds to me like you are rejecting something that you don’t understand. Why don’t I tell you the Bible’s story so that you can reject something that you actually understand?” I then proceeded to tell her the Bible’s story using the CBT 14 Era Story Graphic. It took less than 15 minutes to give her an overview of the story the Bible tells.

I first understood the importance of telling the Bible’s story while on a mission trip to Burma when I sat in on an English as a Second Language (ESL) class as an observer. At the end of the meeting I found myself surrounded by a group of Burmese millennials who wanted to practice their language skills on a native English speaker. During our time together they expressed curiosity about the Bible. Before I gave them Bibles I explained the story line of the Bible by using the index page of the Bible. It took about 10 minutes.

The Bible is a story — a story demanding to be told and worthy of being understood. The first chapters (Genesis 1-3), like the early chapters of any book, begin with a description of a geographic location, interesting characters, and a plot. God is the lead Character, and the story begins with His creative acts of forming the universe and filling this world with all kinds of plant and animal life. He then creates image bearers — Adam and Eve — and places them in a luscious garden described as “beautiful to the eye” and loaded with an abundance of fruit that is “good for food.” In the midst of this plenty, He establishes one rule for the garden, requiring a response of faith and self-restraint:

“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’

- Genesis 2:15-17, (NKJV)

The stage is set for the glory of obedience or the consequences of insubordination. An enemy creeps into the garden and deceives Eve into breaking the garden rule. Adam joins Eve in this venture. Immediately after eating from the forbidden tree everything changes. The couple see and cover their nakedness, and they hide from God. God confronts the couple and, instead of coming clean, they blame Him and the serpent. They’ve forfeited God’s presence and the beautiful garden where they’ve walked with God. Before God evicts them from the garden He curses the serpent, promises to redeem them, and covers their nakedness with the skins of an animal that He has highly esteemed as “very good.” A sacrifice is made by God. Substitutionary death has occurred. The plot thickens as the now fallen pair begin to manage their broken lives in a fractured world. How will God restore His broken image bearers?

The remainder of the Bible captures the brokenness of life outside of the garden of Eden and unpacks God’s fulfillment of His promise to defeat death and redeem humanity.

Telling the storyline of the Bible to people has been a game-changer for those hearing it for the first time and for Christians who are bible-lish — knowing bits and pieces of the Bible, but not the story that it tells. It’s time for all believers to own the Bible’s story and to tell it to those who’ve never heard and to those who, like my unbelieving family member, reject the Bible because they view it only as a book of impossible rules and regulations. It’s also time for believers — many who may say on hearing this story, “Why have I lived my whole life in church and never heard this?” — to invest in the only book that tells their story, makes sense of this broken planet, and promises that one Day all things will be made new by the great Storyteller – God.

Christians who’ve heard me tell the story often become angry that they’ve been in church their whole life and no one has explained the story of the Bible to them. They quickly move from their initial anger to anticipation realizing that dividing the story into 14 eras enables them to digest the story of one era before they connect it to the continuing story in the following era. It gives them to pattern to follow so that they too may tell His Story.

So, How Does Someone Learn to Tell the Story?
 
  • Divide the Bible into 14 increments of time — eras — and create a chart. Stand back mentally and look at each era from a distance to capture the big picture of that era. Connect each following era until you have a working understanding of the Bible’s “big story.” This simple activity provides a skeleton to which you may continually add. (Purchase the CBT 14 Era Booklet) Understanding the Bible’s “big story” demands personal sweat equity. Telling its story to another, however, requires courage.
  • Share the simple 14-era layout of the Bible with a friend using the CBT 14 Era Story Graphic (takes less than 10 minutes). The first time that I did so with a friend I was surprised by their astonishment. I had done for them more than any other person had done by introducing them to the storyline of the Bible. I realized three things:
    • I could own the story for myself
    • Those who hear the story desire to learn the story for themselves.
    • I could tell His story to others who would listen enthusiastically and show gratitude for the explanation
  • Read the Bible chronologically. Using the skeletal 14 era outline, begin filling in important details that connect one era to the next. You will start seeing patterns or sub-stories within the story.
  • The Story pulsates with life, so tell the Story, as much as you can remember, at every opportunity.                                                      
  • I met with 12 women desiring to learn the story for themselves once a month for a year. Each woman signed up to tell the story to the group. They had 45 minutes in which to construct the story, identify a specific “thread” (a theme or subject) they connected from era to era, and pull that thread throughout the big story of the Bible. This assignment forced them to own the story for themselves. No one can ever take that from them. Accountability and opportunity are key.

Paul ties hearing and faith together,

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”

- Romans 10:17

Yes, hearing a verse or passage of Scripture energizes hope and produces faith in the heart. Hearing the story produces faith-on-steroids—God looms large and His story invites you to full participation. The Bible’s story becomes YOUR story.