Every passage has a unique main idea. But are there thousands of completely different main ideas in the Bible? Haddon Robinson said several times that there are basically variations on roughly ten big Big Ideas in the Bible. We students kept trying to get a list out of him, but to no avail.
So I’ve decided to suggest my own ten. As you read through the Bible you may come up with a different list, but I suspect these macro main ideas are recognizable to all who are reading the Scriptures.
1. Everything is defined in relation to the triune God whose relational nature overflows into all that He has made.
The Bible doesn’t argue for the existence of some generic divine being, but assumes the existence of the one true God. He is a God who exists in the loving communion of Father and Son and Spirit. God is not only inherently good, His loving bond is the very measure of goodness.
It is out of this relationship that creation comes, the unrequired but unsurprising act of a loving and giving God. Creation reflects His creative artistry, His generous power, and His delight in blending diversity in beautiful unity. Even creation in its present corruption demonstrates the pervasive power of relationship.
Yet creation is not all God gives to enable us to know Him. His nature and character is revealed definitively by the Son who always reveals the unseen Father to us, and His Spirit who points us to the Son. Both the Son and the Spirit are given into a fallen world in an act of deep generosity.
It is out of God’s nature that the whole human story makes sense. Created as loving responders, humanity has a wondrous capacity for love and joy and delight and response. Equally, as true heart-driven beings, humans have an equally profound capacity for hate and grief and sadness and diverted affection.
It is not possible to make sense of creation without seeing it in the context of God’s goodness and the profound impact of creaturely rebellion. It is not possible to make sense of any human without seeing him or her in the context of their relationships, especially the pre-eminent relationship with God himself.
Not only is every aspect of creation, and every human, defined by their response to God, so is every event only understood in light of God’s role. So every narrative in Scripture is primarily a narrative about God, even when He is not mentioned. Every character is either trusting Him or not.
Consequently every biblical sermon has to be, above all else, a sermon about God. Technically this is called Theocentric preaching. The term doesn’t matter. God does. And not just any God, or even some assumed generic God of human speculation, it must be the triune, covenant making and keeping, self-giving God who is love.
Let’s be sure to preach every passage with a profound prayerful awareness of the God whose Scripture it is.