The God-Centeredness of the Bible

When I say that the Bible is God-centered, what I mean is that God is the central figure of Scripture; His nature, character, works, plan, and purpose are the central foci of Scripture.  This being the case, the purpose of the Bible is to bring glory to God and draw us to Him.  The Westminster Shorter Catechism has nicely captured this God-centered nature of the Bible in its third question and answer:

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.[1]    

This is an important question, and the answer we give to it is even more important.  It helps to know what the Bible primarily communicates to us.  It gives us a better sense of direction in our reading and studying of Scripture if we know what we’re looking for.  If we confuse the principle teaching of Scripture for something other than its primary emphasis, then our studying and theological formulation will become skewed—perhaps not heretical, but at least weak and lacking.  If I believe that the Bible principally teaches what we are to believe concerning the “heroes of the faith” (i.e. Old and New Testament saints), and what moralistic duties are required of us in light of these heroes, then my studying of Scripture will center on these men and my theological formulation will tend to have a man-centered and legalistic nature about it.  What we must understand is that the Scriptures principally teach us about God—His character and works—and what He requires of us as His redeemed people.

God’s Majesty & Wonderful Works
I absolutely love Psalm 145:5!  It has become somewhat of a theological beacon to me, and I reflect on it daily as I study the Scriptures and continually improve upon my theology.  We must keep this central focus in our hearts and minds.  The psalmist, David, says to the LORD: “I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”  In this verse we see the content of David’s meditations.  The object of these meditations is God.  The two things about God that occupy David’s mind are His majesty and works.  In short, David is meditating on what we would call the doctrine of God; for the doctrine of God is the summation of who God is and what He has done/is doing/will do.  David is absolutely caught up in God’s greatness and goodness; and it is essentially this—God’s majesty and wonderful works—that we see throughout the entire Bible.

From Genesis to Revelation
From the opening of Genesis to the closing of Revelation we are confronted with the nature, character, plan, and works of God.  The Bible begins “In the beginning God….” (Gen. 1:1a; emphasis added).  No time is wasted in getting to the point.  God is central; He is primary; He is preeminent.  We are immediately confronted with the eternal, self-existing God.  But how does the first verse finish?  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1; emphasis added).  We are not merely presented from the start with the self-existing God, but with the self-existing God in His creative power and sovereignty.  The first two chapters of Genesis are spent explaining the historical account of creation—God creating by the sheer power of His word (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24), and exercising Lordship over His creation (2:15-17).  So, in Chapters Two and Three of Genesis we primarily see God as eternally existing (self-existent), powerful, sovereign Lord, and Creator.

Chapter Three, however, brings to the table a new emphasis and revelation about God that will penetrate just about every page of Scripture from here on out, even to the close of Revelation.  In Chapter Three we find Adam and Eve together in the garden of Eden.  All is well until the serpent—Satan—deceives Eve into eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (3:1-6a).  Eve also gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate (3:6b).  The immediate consequence of their sinful action—disobeying God’s command not to eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (2:16-17)—was spiritual death.  God could have, right then and there, condemned them to eternal punishment; but He didn’t.  God had a plan; He had a purpose.  God is not only Creator, but He is also Redeemer.  In His judgment upon the serpent, God gives a promise of a future Savior from the seed of the woman.  In bringing redemption and restoring what was lost through the sin of Adam and Eve, this Savior would bring a crushing blow to Satan; but He himself would receive a fatal wound in the process (3:15).  Moving further along in redemptive history, we now know that this promise was a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His redeeming work on the cross.

Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15)

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.  And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.  Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:13-15)

God lovingly sent His Son to die in the place of sinners, bearing the sin of His people on that cross, and delivering a crushing blow to the devil.  Such is the lovingkindness, mercifulness, graciousness, and faithfulness of God; and this is emphasized throughout the entire Bible.

The Bible not only begins in a gloriously God-centered way, it also ends in a gloriously God-centered way.  We have just looked at the God-centered beginning of Genesis, and the God-centered nature of the gospel.  Let us now look at the God-centered ending of Revelation.  We are merely standing back here and observing and admiring some of the emphases of God in this letter.  No matter your eschatological[2] interpretation of Revelation, you should be able to find hardy agreement with what is said.

Revelation is said to be the Revelation of Jesus Christ, from God, to His servants, concerning the things that would soon take place (Rev. 1:1).  It is a book that is intended to prepare and fortify the Church in steadfastness of hope and holiness, despite the attacks of the enemy.[3]  The ground of this steadfastness of hope and holiness is grounded in the victory of the slain Lamb of God—Jesus Christ.  The Church need not fear, for God has the victory through His Christ (Messiah).  This is perhaps the greatest emphasis throughout the book of Revelation.  Though it may seem, for the time being, that Satan has the upper hand, it is God who is in control and who has the victory in and through Christ.  All of this is accompanied with praise and worship of God and the Lamb.  Dennis Johnson has noted this emphasis well:

Revelation is a book permeated by worship and punctuated throughout with songs of praise and celebration.  Its worship not only extols God for his eternal attributes and creative power (Rev. 4:8, 11) but also especially celebrates God’s redemptive triumph through the Lamb over the enemies that have threatened his church and challenged his supreme worthiness.  Preeminently the scenes of worship and songs of praise celebrate the victory of Jesus the Lamb of God, the defeat and destruction of his and our enemies, the vindication of his martyrs, and the inauguration of the new heavens and earth (5:9-10, 12, 13; 7:10-12; 11:15-18; 15:3-4; 16:5-7; 19:1-7).

Though the enemies’ might is portrayed in all its hideousness, Revelation’s last word is not about the destructive power of the ‘prince of darkness grim’ but rather about the joyful celebration of those redeemed by Jesus, the Lord’s Messiah.  This hope motivates the suffering church to endure tribulation and the tempted church to remain a pure bride for her Groom.[4]

The primary figures in Genesis are God and His Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  This God-centered emphasis is not in Genesis and Revelation alone; it permeates the entire body of Scripture.  Throughout the Bible we are confronted with the nature, character, plan, and works of God, especially in regards to redemption.  Every book of the Bible is to be approached, read, studied, meditated upon, preached, taught, and obeyed with this God-centered perspective.  It is the God of the Bible that we must primarily see as we read, study, and meditate upon it.

Conclusion
What does all of this mean?  All of this means that Christianity is itself God-centered and Christians are to be God-centered people.  If we align ourselves with the Holy Scriptures and ever seek to sit under its authority, then such will be the case.  As we read, study, meditate upon, preach, and teach God’s word, let us do so with a deep-seated conviction of the God-centered nature of the Bible.


[1]   Lee, Dong Hee. Understanding and Application of Westminster Shorter Catechism (VA: Xulon Press, 2002), 8.

[2]   Eschatology, which comes from the Greek eschatos (last) and logia (saying) or logos (word), is the theological term that refers to the study of last things, or end times.

[3]   Johnson, Dennis E. Triumph of the Lamb (NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing, 2001), 16.

[4]   Ibid., 21-22.

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