Even as an adult, I love the back-to-school season. All the pretty journals, gel pens, colored highlighters, and the wonder of a new backpack fill me with expectation. As a new school year starts, I pull out my planner and begin filling it with the sense of normalcy the fall brings: carefully scheduled activities, fall Bible studies, and, most importantly, the excitement of learning to come (sorry, just a nerd talking over here!). Despite the busyness of the season, I enthusiastically open new books, indulging in scholarly reading and feeding a desire to learn more. This sentiment lasts about three weeks; then fall actually arrives, the due dates start looming, and all I long for is that first long weekend.
We approach the Word of God in a similar manner. If we begin with a desire for more of God through his Word, but quickly this desire is transformed into a sense of duty, another task to check off our to-do list. We lose the wonder of opening the Word to know God. Our hearts grow cold instead of being captivated by the gospel that saved our souls. When we focus on the individual stories of the Bible, we get lost. To keep our wonder, we need what Gretchen calls “gospel glasses” to help us see the gospel story throughout the entire Bible.
Why Should We Seek To Learn About The Gospel In Our Bible Study?
Because the news of the gospel changes our lives. The gospel tells us that we have been given a new life when what we deserved was death. We have been reconciled to God and have been given a new identity in him as his daughters. The gospel heals our brokenness, and it gives us hope for the future. This is what we are always longing for, and it’s available to us through studying God’s Word.
How Do We Actually Find the Gospel?
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Here’s a simple system for identifying gospel threads in your Bible study: highlight key verses, use stickers to help themes visually stand out, and take notes. You might use this system exactly as I lay out or simply use it as a starting point for developing your own. What’s important is that you take note of where you see the gospel narrative—creation, fall, redemption, and consummation—peeking through the pages of your Bible.
Assign a different color highlighter to each portion of the gospel narrative, so you can easily see the themes by color throughout the entire Bible. Use Bible study stickers to mark passages where you learn about the gospel in unexpected places, so you will stop and remember what you’ve learned in future time spent in God’s Word. Finally, when you’ve finished reading a passage, write the key verse or summary in the margins of your Bible.
The threads of the gospel are on every page of the Bible—all we have to do is look for them. Here is what to look for:
In the beginning, with his word, God created the heavens and the earth from the void. God created men and women in his image to be in perfect communion with him in the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve experienced the fullness of God, enjoyed unhindered access to him, and delighted in his faithful provision (see Gen. 1–2).
Key concepts: creation, God’s word, in God’s image, the garden, seven days
Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve with lies and questioning God’s goodness and provision; they ate of the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world (Gen. 3). Because of this, we are all born under the curse of sin and are in desperate need of a Savior (Rom. 3:23).
Key concepts: serpent, death, hard hearts, sin, transgression, inequity, suffering, failure to love God, failure to love people, disobedience, passions, the flesh
From the first pages of the Bible and the first moments in history, God began his redemptive work through covenants, promises, and prophecies.
The gospel’s redemptive story has its culmination in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Born of a virgin, Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live. He died on the cross on our behalf and paid the cost for our sins by enduring the death we deserved (Rom. 5:8; Phil. 2:8).
Key concepts: covenant, altar, sacrifice, temple, prophets, king, priest, Jesus Christ, Messiah, Immanuel, cross, resurrection, blood, conquering, new life, death to sin, kingdom of God, the lamb, Holy Spirit
We currently live in the “already but not yet” stage of this redemption story. Jesus has already saved us, yet we continue to live in a broken world. One glorious day Jesus Christ, who is sitting on the throne, will bring his kingdom into completion (Rev. 21:5). The consummation refers to God bringing into fulfillment all of his promises.
Key Concepts: second coming, kingdom of God, death conquered, new heaven and earth, end times, throne, restoration
There Is Something In Gospel Study For Us
Now that you know what to look for, put on your gospel glasses and grab your highlighters, stickers, and pens. Open your Bible and start taking note of creation, fall, redemption, and consummation concepts throughout the biblical narrative. The knowledge of Jesus Christ changes everything about our lives, and we don’t want to miss it! As you open the Word of God, may you find Jesus on every page.