Quest. 17: What is the central message of the Bible?
Ans: The central message of the Bible is the redemption of sinners through the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ for the glory of God.
2 Cor. 5:21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Gal. 3:13. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.
See also: Gen. 3:15; Isa. 9:6; Matt. 1:21–23; Lk. 24:25–27, 44–47; Rom.3:21–26; 8:28–39; 1 Cor. 15:20–26; Gal. 4:4–5; Eph. 1:3–14; 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:16; Heb. 1:1–4; 7:23–25; 9:12; 10:10–14; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Jn. 2:1; Rev. 4:11.
The Bible is not a book about history, although it comes to us in an historical format. The Bible is not a book about ethics or morality, although the moral self–consistency [righteousness] of God is predominant and the Christian ethic is a necessary element. The Bible is not a book about science, although it speaks concerning creation, the universe, the earth, the heavens, plants, animals, man and spirit–beings. The Bible is not a book about philosophy, although it deals with (1) epistemology [the science of knowledge and meaning], (2) metaphysics [ultimate questions concerning God, reality, meaning, life, death, etc.], (3) a distinct world–and–life view and (4) Ethics [a standard of conduct and moral judgment]. It also speaks about and gives operative principles concerning such diverse issues as civil government, the environment, monetary inflation, sanitation and public welfare. The Bible is essentially about salvation—the history of the eternal, redemptive purpose of the triune God to save sinners from the curse, the reigning power of sin and its ultimate consequences.
The doctrine of salvation or redemption in the Scriptures is a true and complete salvation, not merely something potential or theoretical awaiting the ability of the sinner to make it effectual. The scriptural doctrine or message of salvation must be entirely of free and sovereign grace alone because of the awful sinful state and spiritual condition of man. If salvation derives from God, then it necessarily comes to man wholly by grace [undeserved and wholly unmerited favor].
The scriptural message of salvation must deal fully and finally with sin and its effects and consequences—the guilt, penalty, pollution, power and the very presence of sin. Salvation is from sin with all its effects, consequences and potential. Because the salvation revealed in Scripture derives from God in content and effectiveness, it is a complete and effectual salvation. See Question 36.
The doctrine of salvation in the Scripture must necessarily redeem the sinner from the reigning power of sin and truly and actually reconcile him to God, restore him to a right standing [imputed and imparted righteousness], and transform his soul, mind and body. See Questions 92 and 94. The scriptural truth of salvation is not fragmented, but rather a unified whole, which is necessarily complete.
God cannot arbitrarily set aside sin (Cf. Rom. 3:21–26). His moral self–consistency [absolute and perfect righteousness] forbids it. Sin must be fully and finally dealt with either in the person of the sinner or in the person of an innocent substitute. All Scripture points to the Lord Jesus Christ: the Old Testament by type and prophecy; the New Testament by realization and fulfillment. In his Person and work the Lord Jesus meets every requirement as Mediator, Redeemer, Lord and Advocate [Great High Priest]. See Questions 72 and 92.
This message of salvation––redemption and forgiveness of sin through the Lord Jesus Christ and reconciliation to God––is to be declared throughout the world. The God–ordained means is through the preaching of the gospel. See Questions 138–139. Has this message of salvation from the reigning power and ultimate consequences of sin become your hope and rejoicing?
By Dr. W.R. Downing