I am a Christian because God has shown himself to me in many ways. It is because of his self-revelation that I not only know that he exists but that he cares for me. Bible stories that some call fantasy, fiction, myth or fairy tales are actually methods by which God shows his qualities and characteristics to his creation. Without a doubt, the stories are fantastic; they are needed to demonstrate God’s power.
Taken by themselves, it might be hard to swallow but when one considers that the stories are contained within a book of extreme accuracy and verifiable truth, they become an understandable part of the Revelation of God. Each great event tells us something about God. For example, when God walked through the garden of Eden looking for and speaking to the first couple, we understand that as demonstrating the very close and personal relationship he enjoyed with his people before sin. But let’s look at some specifics of the revelation of God.
Paul knows God exists because there is evidence of his existence. Read carefully his words from Romans 1.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who, by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world. (Romans 1:18, 19)
The apostle charges that men are without excuse because they have ignored the obvious signs of God in nature. Even before they read a word of Scripture the are already lost because they have ignored fundamental evidence of a creator and “suppress the truth.” They have pushed the very idea of God from their minds. They have rejected, ignored, discounted, scandalized, laughed at and hidden the truth from themselves. Therefore, there is little the Bible can do, in that mental environment, to convince, convict, change and convert their hearts
David was well aware of the presence of God apart from anything other than nature. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). Is it not common for mankind to be taken aback by the stunning beauty of nature? Consider the ever changing sunset, the always rolling sea, the delicate curves of a rose, the exquisite beauty of a star-filled night sky or the immensity of the great mountain ranges. There was one who designed it all and gave it existence. Although some scientists suppress the truth and try to replace it with their theories; the design of nature shouts the existence of the mighty God of heaven.
While nature tells us there is a creator it falls to that creator to reveal the details of his nature. We call this, “special revelation.” As we read through Scripture we believe its grand stories to be true because we have already come to believe in a mighty creator of some sort by observing nature. What we read in Scripture is consistent with, and does not in any way conflict with, what we have observed in nature. This combination of reading and observing is the foundation of faith upon which we stand. Read with close attention, Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” While we may believe in a creator of some kind apart from Scripture, it is the reading (or hearing) of Scripture that actually builds faith.
Let us think for a moment of the great flood of Genesis in Genesis 6-9. In summation we are told that the world was wicked and that God chose to destroy all life on the planet except for a few who were saved through his instructions in a large boat or ark. While this is a fantastic story and stretches the imagination, it is perfectly consistent with what we observe about God in nature. Our reasoning might look something like this:
There is evidence of a creation force which we know because we observe such evidence in the world around us;
this force must be incredibly powerful to have created the world from nothing;
this same force could easily destroy what he made with his own hands.
Therefore, the story of the Noahic flood is believable.
You see, once we accept the concept of an almighty creator the rest simply flows forward. We believe there is a creator and we believe he has revealed himself to us.
To be honest, this is a simplification and maybe even an over-simplification but it is nonetheless true. So much hinges on the belief in a creator as seen in nature. But a fuller discussion is beyond the scope of this article. I only want to show that the grand stories of the Bible become very real and acceptable to those who have not accepted the suppression of the truth.
I Learn Great Things from Great Stories
What follows is a very fast listing of some of the things I know about God from the magnificent stories found in Scripture. The list is not intended to be exhaustive instead it is a quick way to demonstrate how we learn from the narratives in the Bible.
Noah and the Ark teaches me that God hates sin, loves righteousness and saves those who obey him.
The 10 Plagues of Egypt teaches me that God always makes good on his word and will save those who honor him while punishing those who reject him.
The Crossing of the Red Sea/Crossing of the Jordan River teaches me that God is able to deliver his people.
The Giving of the 10 Commandments teaches me of God’s holiness and my inability to approach him on my own.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace teaches me that I will suffer for obeying God but he will deliver me.
Daniel and the Lions Den teaches me that kings and governors are no match for the living God.
The Crucifixion of Jesus teaches me that God has deep fountains of love just for me and was even willing to sacrifice his own son for me at a time when I was especially hard to love.
The Resurrection of Jesus teaches me that death is temporary and in the control of Jesus Christ.
Yes, the great Bible stories teach me much!
I wonder what stories are special to you? Share it with us below and tell us what it means to you!