In order to understand what the Bible teaches, three perspectives must be considered:
- The Bible as a complete story including the relationship of the Old Testament and the New Testament. This is called Biblical Theology. As you look across the whole, you’ll notice specific themes that carry from Genesis to Revelation. A good book to use as a starting point to learn more about this is Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldsworthy. As an example of the type of material in the book, he does a good job providing a brief summary of Old Testament redemptive history; Also look at his OT timeline and book summary half way down the article.
- God’s complete revelation on a particular topic such as forgiveness or money across the whole Scripture. This is called Systematic Theology. Reviewing a confession or catechism like the Westiminster Shorter Catechism is a good place to start.
- The study of how to interpret a particular Scripture passage based on its genre, passage context and historical situation. This is Hermeneutics. How to Study the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordan Fee and Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks are great options to begin with.
- Practice the discipline of summarizing what you learned during your study time to better retain the lessons
As you read through the Bible look out for the following themes that follow the full narrative of the story across books:
- Nation and land
- Promise and fulfillment
- Fall and sin
- Holiness and consecration
- Offices of prophet, priest and king
- Tabernacle and temple
- Blessing and curse
- Faith, hope and love
A pdf Overview of the Four Gospels summarizes the focus of each book in how it tells the story of Jesus life.