I was raised in a denom- ination that took the Bible very seriously: “We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent!” In many ways, it was a great advantage, because I had quite a bit of knowledge by the time of high school graduation: not only could I name all 66 books by sixth grade, but I could also sketch the life of Jesus, Paul’s missionary journeys, the kings of united Israel and major kings Israel and Judah, the miracles of Elisha, the plagues of Egypt, and the sons of Jacob. Name the twelve apostles? No problem. Find Jerusalem, Samaria, and the Sea of Galilee on a map? I could draw the map.
But I didn’t really know what the Bible was about. I would have said it was about a lot of things–mostly Jesus, right? I didn’t see how it all held together. My first glimmer of the unity of scripture came during my sophomore year in a denominational college, in a course called “Old Testament Literature.” My professor was known for choking up in class. A lot of my fellow students were embarrassed by him, but I will always be grateful for the way he pushed me down the road to salvation. I can’t go into all the insights and convictions of that pivotal class, but the light first came on when he mentioned the two trees. Skimming over Genesis, he paused to point out the description of the garden in Genesis 2. The Tree of Life at the center usually gets little notice, because of all the attention going to that other tree, but he referred us to Revelation 22:2: “on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” I don’t remember whether he implied it or said it, but I got the idea that the tree of Revelation was the same tree that appears in Genesis. The beginning tied directly to the end.
The discovery that the Bible was a unified narrative led to my conviction that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied throughout scripture, and hence, my salvation. Wasn’t I taught that before? Sure, but I wasn’t listening, and the central teaching was surrounded and often obscured by secondary issues. It’s ridiculously easy for the church to tilt off-center and lose sight of what she’s all about. But to this day, I peg my salvation from that class, and the revelation that scripture tells one story. It tells the story.
Our aim for this Bible challenge series is to plant a sense of scriptural unity in the minds of young students, or new students. It’s encouraging that Phil Visshur (creator of Veggie Tales) has produced a new series to teach kids What’s in the Bible? and R. C. Sproul’s book by the same title is selling briskly. We wanted to create something in the middle—for kids old enough to be independent readers, as well as their little brothers and sisters and new Christians of any age who don’t have a clue where to begin. Also, we wanted it to be accessible, easy to use, not too burdensome, and not too long—only a year. Lots of excellent Bible curriculums pace slowly through the depths; we’re frankly going to be hitting the highlights, but building a framework for deeper study.
God’s revelation in history unfolded over time: hints, followed by covenants, followed by systems, followed by types and prototypes, followed by prophesies coming into ever sharper focus before the fulfillment of all bursts through the screen. As the seasons of this year turn, watch His story unfold.
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Every week, on Sunday, we’ll post two printable downloads: one for ages 4-8 (from Emily) and another for ages 9-14 (from Janie). Our strategy and the scope and sequence of the challenges is included in the download for today, so to see where we’re going, just click and print. One more thing: we’re currently talking with illustrators and sponsors who would be interested in working with us on this. If you know of any Christian publishers, writers, booksellers, education organizations, or individuals with a particular interest in biblical literacy, let us know!
Here’s the download: