Understanding the Big Picture of the Bible, edited by Wayne Grudem is the resource that I needed as a first year Bible College student in the 80’s. The introduction by Vern Poythress is worth the price of the book. Dr. Poythress reveals the storyline of the Bible and skillfully unfolds God’s plan for redemptive history: “The Bible … makes it clear that God has a unified plan for all of history. His ultimate purpose, ‘a plan for the fullness of time,’ is ‘to unite all things in him [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth’ (Eph. 1:10), ‘to the praise of his glory’ (Eph. 1:12). He continues, “The work of Christ on earth, and especially his crucifixion and resurrection, is the climax of history; it is the great turning point at which God actually accomplished the salvation toward which history had been moving throughout the Old Testament.”
Poythress introduces Christ in the Old Testament and the promises of God. He reveals a fundamental assumption of the Old Testament, namely – that Christ would redeem a people for his own possession and make all things new. The author affirms that Scripture “directly points forward through promises of salvation and promises concerning God’s commitment to his people.”
Warnings and curses are set forth: “Christ at his second coming wars against sin and exterminates it. The second coming and the consummation are the time when the final judgment against sin is executed.” Additionally, Poythress points to the covenants. He adds, “God’s commitment takes the form of promises, blessings, and curses. The promises and blessings point forward to Christ, who is the fulfillment of the promises and the source of the final blessings. The curses point forward to Christ both in his bearing the curse and in his execution of judgment and curse against sin, especially at the second coming.”
The author continues to show how Christ fulfills the promise set forth in the Old Tesatment. This overview of the Bible’s storyline is the perfect set up for the rest of the book. A top-notch host of scholars write from a conservative viewpoint; theologians that include the likes of Thomas Schreiner, Paul House, and Dennis Johnson, to name a few. Part one summarizes the theology of the Old Testament. Part two walks readers through the background to the New Testament, including a brief discussion on period between the Testaments. Finally, part three examines the theology of the New Testament.
This work would be an appropriate place to begin for Bible College students or readers unfamiliar with the flow of Biblical history. The discussion is simple enough to read for beginners but is challenging enough for readers who are versed in redemptive history.