Rubel Shelly’s Class for December 16, 2020

Lesson 6 of 7: Reading Scripture as God’s Unfolding Story


Key Scriptures for this Study: Psalm 119:9-16; Matthew 5:17-18; Luke 23:36-49*

1. Religious people have sometimes used the Bible as a patchwork collection of “proof texts” – verses used to teach and defend key doctrines they believe. Why is it important to read the Bible as the unfolding narrative of God’s activity in history?

2. The key sermons in the Book of Acts present the gospel as the story of God as traced through Abraham, Moses, the prophets, Jesus, and the church. Look, for example, at Luke’s short account of Peter’s sermon at Acts 3:17-26. Do you see the “unfolding narrative” in it?

3. This video begins with this quotation from Ivan Illich: “Neither revolution nor reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a powerful new tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into the future so that we can take the next step. . . . If you want to change a society, then you have to tell an alternative story.” How does this help explain why the gospel message came to us in story form? How does it help one understand the Bible as the “controlling narrative” for the church and personal Christian experience?

4. Does the “Living in God’s Story: The Bible as a Six-Act Drama” approach offered in this video help you see how the biblical story fits together to explain the action of God across the centuries?

5. The way both Old and New Testament books are organized is systematic or topical (poetry, law, etc.) rather than historical or narrative (an unfolding timeline). How is that traditional arrangement helpful to us? How is it sometimes confusing?

6. Explain how the call of Abraham (cf. Gen 12:1ff) is a defining moment for the biblical narrative.

7. The “Six-Act Drama” offered here is built around the motif of light. Read Isa 49:6, John 1:9, and 1 Pet 2:9. Do these thematic statements help explain why? Can you think of other texts that emphasize God’s work as the divine work of bringing light into the world’s darkness?

*Suggestion: If you use this video for personal, class, or small-group study, please view the video in its entirety, then read and reflect on the “Key Scriptures” as they relate to the video, and then work through the questions above. This process is likely to generate the greatest value for your study.

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