A Transcript Of The Video Study
Navigational tools, such as a map and compass, are used by travelers when taking a journey into an unknown country. Well, I would like to suggest a set of tools which will help navigate your journey through the books of the Bible. The first of these tools is—
1. The Chronological Chart Of Bible Books.
As you know from our first study in this series on Bible Reading, the books of the Bible are not listed in chronological order. Rather, they are arranged in a logical order—the first seventeen books of the Old Testament are grouped together as historical books; the last seventeen are prophetical books; and the middle five are experiential books. And then, for the New Testament, the first four are grouped together as historical books detailing the life of Christ and the origin of the church; the fifth book stands alone as a historical record detailing expansion of the church; the remaining 22 books are all letters, the first nine written by Paul to churches, the last nine written by various men to churches, and the middle four written by Paul dealing with pastoral issues.
Now, the books of the Bible may certainly be read according to this logical arrangement. And that is how many Christians read through the scriptures. However, I would like to suggest another way to read through the books of the Bible. It may be done chronologically. To that end, I drew up a chronological chart several years ago for the church I pastored in London. The chart indicates where each book fits within a historical context. I have done this for the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament. Now, the dates for each book are not an exact science. We do not know for absolute certainty when every book of the Bible was written or where it should fit on the timeline. There should be, therefore, a measure of flexibility on the matter. I hope you will not be put off by this chronological chart if you do not entirely agree with the order in which I have placed certain books. I am not dogmatic on the matter. If you believe a book should be placed in a different order, then make that change in your notes, and use your own chronological order of Bible books. The important thing, and that which I am driving at in this study, is that a chronological chart will serve as an important navigational tool as you journey through the Bible. First, it will unify the biblical narrative of historic events; second, it will more clearly demonstrate God’s unfolding revelation of the Covenant of Grace; third, it will nurture a sense of anticipation and suspense while moving from one book to the next.
So, this is the first navigational tool I suggest will help guide you on your journey through the books of the Bible. You can access these Bible charts through the online resources of the Association of Historic Baptists. You will find it located in the footnotes of this worship service, as well as a dedicated topic on the right side of the homepage.
Let’s now look at the second navigational tool that will guide you on your journey through the books of the Bible:
2. Adams’ Synchronological Chart Of Universal History.
Sebastian Adams (1825-1898), a descendant of President John Adams, was a distinguished educator, statesman and author. As a teacher, Adams came to appreciate the indispensable usefulness of visual aids. It was to that end he produced this illustrative chart of history, not only marking the major events and significant people, but also highlighting the rise and fall of nations, world-changing inventions, significant literary productions and great architectural achievements. What makes this chart of history most helpful to us, is that Adams incorporates the biblical narrative with secular history. Above the timeline is the historic record of the Bible; below the timeline is the historic record of other historians. This means that as you read through the books of the Bible, you will be able to align the biblical narrative with other great events and significant people of that time. I should also point out, Adams follows the dating system of Archbishop James Ussher, which means that Ussher’s classic book, “Annals Of The World”, may also be used as a supplemental guide while reading through the books of the Bible.
I recommend you obtain a digital and printed copy of Adams’ time chart, and while you are at it, get a copy of Ussher’s “Annals Of The World” as well. You can find digital copies via a simple Google search, but be sure to download a high resolution copy of the time chart, so that you can clearly read the text. As for a printed copy of these resources, you can track down second hand copies or reprints through various Christian bookshops and online stores such as Amazon. The last time I looked, both books cost around £30-40 ($40-50) each. Keep in mind, the time chart has 21 full size panels which fold out to a length of 23 feet. That is long enough to surround the walls of a small room. My dear friends, I really believe these resources will prove a great blessing to you, and I therefore hope you will take the advice and obtain a personal digital and printed copy.
Let’s now look at the third navigational tool that will guide you on your journey through the books of the Bible:
3. The Framework Of Sovereign Grace.
The Framework Of Sovereign Grace is a diagram illustrating the main message of the Bible. I drew up this framework many years ago, based on the teachings of Romans 9 and 2 Timothy 2. As you can see, it includes the timeline of history, as we have seen in the Chronological Order Of Bible Books and Adams’ Synchronological Chart Of Universal History, but that timeline is positioned within the broader context of God’s master plan for the ages. The central message of the Bible is this—God is administering, or dispensing, grace to men and women throughout the course of history. That is it—it is that simple! Either, God is administering a common grace unto creation towards the non-elect, or He is administrating a special grace unto salvation towards the elect. Every man and woman recorded in the scriptures is an administration of God’s grace in one or the other of these two ways. Henceforth, every event that has unfolded throughout the course of history is invariably linked with this leading message of the Bible. Everything revolves around this message.
Now, please notice, the first two navigational tools are historic overviews—they deal with the facts of history. This last tool, however, is a theological overview—it deals with the meaning of history. The first two tools answer the question, WHAT; this last tool answers the question, WHY. It is this last tool, the Framework Of Sovereign Grace, which will ultimately teach you how the Bible is relevant for today and how it relates to you as an individual.
You will be able to access the Framework Of Sovereign Grace through the online resources of the Association of Historic Baptists. You will find it located in the footnotes of this worship service, as well as a dedicated topic on the right side of the homepage.
These, then, are the three navigational tools which I believe will serve as helpful guides as you journey through the books of the Bible. In our next study, I hope to give some further instructions on how to use the Chronological Order Of Bible Books.
Jared Smith served twenty years as pastor of a Strict and Particular Baptist church in Kensington (London, England). He now serves as an Evangelist in the Philippines, preaching the gospel, organizing churches and training gospel preachers.