A tool to present the Gospel, help people to grow and reach maturity in their faith
by Chris Child
- 1 Introduction to the Chronological Storytelling
- 2 Which stories to tell?
- 3 Personal Experience
- 4 Further Material
- 5 About the Author
Introduction to the Chronological Storytelling
If you had to share the Gospel where would you begin? Genesis.
Why tell the bible stories chronologically?
(Or: What is it that is so important about Genesis?)
God created the universe to reveal something of HIS character and describes what HE did. These historical events are designed to unfold the character of God step by step.It is right here with God and his creation that the gospel begins-
In sharing the gospel people often start with man’s need. ‘You need purpose in your life’; ‘You need meaning’; ‘God will give you a financial breakthrough’; ‘He will give you a miracle’. - All these things may be true but they are man centred.
The Gospel does not begin with man and his needs but with God and HIS Character particularly his holiness.
Why tell stories as a tool for evangelism?
How does God reveal himself?
- One of the major ways that he does this is through the historical events that are recorded in the Bible, through the things that HE does and says. God does not reveal himself through ideas but through real and practical events in history and life and these things are revealed through the stories of the Bible.
Why are stories so important?
- Stories bring truth together and show how it works out in practical life.
- Stories knock gently on the heart and allow people to think for themselves.
Traditionally we have been in a rush to get people saved but God is not in a rush. ‘Decide for Christ and now’. If you rush laying a foundation when building a house, the house will be in trouble a few years down the road.
You cannot rush someone into becoming a Christian. Rushing has been and still is our problem. It is one reason why we are having difficulties raising up strong Christians who fear God.
Before planting seeds in a field what do you do?
- Plough before planting. - People’s hearts need to be ploughed before you plant the seed.
- The Bible has been divided into the Old Testament and New Testament.
We have often been taught that the NT is the foundation of our faith. But we cannot understand the NT without first understanding the first half of the Bible. If you begin with the NT and work backwards you will confuse the people. Everything we need to help us understand the NT is found in the OT.
If you tell a story it is important to begin at the beginning, which is common sense. But traditionally we start two thirds of the way through with Jesus. No wonder people do not understand our message particularly Muslims, Hindus and Africans and now the Post Modern generation in the West.
If we start with Jesus they do not understand who Jesus is. They do not understand why he came and they do not understand what sin is.
⇒ We need to start in Genesis!
The Bible is a big book and we cannot tell them every detail at the beginning.
It is like walking through a forest if you show them the whole forest at once they will get confused you need to find the main footpath or river through the forest and follow that at the beginning. If we follow the main footpath we will begin to see how everything fits together.
So, we are looking to find the main footpath through the Bible. How do we do that? By finding the main story line running through the Scripture.
So, we follow this story line from the beginning to the end tracing through the most important stories.
Then having gone from the beginning to the end you then return to look at more details.
So, we are following the main storyline from Creation to Christ and in this way we lay a basic foundation that will help to lead someone to Christ and give them a basis for life after they get saved (that is a Biblical worldview).
It can take up to three months to tell the main stories but this will vary from group to group. In this way the foundation is laid slowly step-by-step it is a progressive revelation and the idea is that the people themselves will see the need of a saviour without being pressured directly to respond.
The story line has a three-fold purpose.
The OT stories:
- To show the people the Holiness of God.
- To show the people their total helplessness and Hopelessness.
The NT stories:
- To show them that Jesus is their only hope
Please note that the N.T stories are designed to build faith in Jesus and sweep away the ingrained unbelief in his person and work. This is particularly true of Muslims who have a deep and even unconscious unbelief of Jesus as they have been taught from an early age that he is only a prophet and not the greatest prophet at that so do not rush this part of the process it is very important, faith comes by hearing. But they are not able to clearly see this without first seeing the character of God particularly the holiness of God and their own helplessness in the light of that holiness. It is true that all of this is wasted without the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. His work is vital for the effectiveness of the word. We see this clearly in the first chapter of Genesis where the Spirit and the spoken word of God are brought together in creating the heavens and the earth this is also true when bringing people to God.
How does God lay foundations?
- Chronologically (telling the stories in the order that they happened)
- Progressively - God does not reveal everything about Himself at once he reveals Himself step by step.
For example we see the grief of God over sin in Genesis 6:5-6 before we see His anger in fact we do not see the anger of God until the book of Exodus 4:14. It is interesting to note that this anger is first shown to a believer, Moses, not an unbeliever. The foundation emotion is God’s grief over sin and HIS anger is built on his grief it is important to remember this. When God judged Sodom and Gomorrah it does not say that he was angry though he was. The focus instead is on his merciful judgement. God has a priority in what he wants to reveal about himself.
First we have the revelation of the Father and then the Son and finally the Holy Spirit. If we do not study in God’s order we miss the progressive build up. It is not possible to understand the Son without first some knowledge of the Father and it is not possible to understand the Holy Spirit without first understanding the Son. So we need to begin with God and move to Jesus.
A theology that tries to first understand God in the light of Jesus will be confused, we must first understand Jesus in the light of God then and only then will we be able to truly understand God in the light of Jesus. Jesus’ training of the disciples focused first on revealing the Father to them so that they could then understand who HE (Jesus) was.
Some practical advice: Storytelling
God has designed us to most effectively pick up truth through stories told to us by friends that we trust. To be effective these stories need to be told in the context of friendship. If they trust you they will believe more easily!
It is true that Jesus taught his disciples topically but they were all Jews and already knew the O.T. stories well. You can only teach topically if you have first laid the foundation chronologically. In the West we have been able to teach topically and be effective because of the powerful influence that the Bible has had on our nations. Many, even non-Christians had a basic foundation but this is fast ebbing away as both Europe and America drift away from that Biblical heritage and this means that topical teaching at least at the beginning is becoming less and less effective.
Each story links with the next story to form one big story. Each story builds on the next story so the order is important. To teach the stories out of order is to loose the connections. To teach salvation on its own is to take one of the stories and disconnect it from the rest. The death burial and resurrection of Jesus and your response to it in repentance and faith is only a small part of the total story. This story only has meaning as it is linked with the rest of the stories.
- The stories together form a Biblical way of thinking that affects the whole of our lives it shows us the relevance of the Gospel to every part of reality. The whole story answers the four basic questions of life:
- Where do I come from?
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- Where I am going?
It is holistic! - To focus only on the salvation part is to divorce the message from the rest of life and that is exactly what has happened.
Knowing how all the stories fit together enables us to understand history, the present events on a worldwide scale and the future events. So, Christianity is no longer private and personal but public and international in its influence. Its message not only speaks to us personally but it speaks to all that happens in our life and in society as a whole. The Bible is rooted in history and the history of personal lives. It is rooted in international and national events mainly related to the Middle East, certainly at the beginning and this later spreads to the whole world. God reveals himself not through concepts and ideas but through events and actions in history. So, our theology must be rooted in biblical history. To divorce truth from such events is to destroy the truth as it only has significance, as it remains connected to the real life events that revealed it.
Traditionally we focus on training new believers in prayer, worship, missions, leadership and so on. But it is interesting to note that there is very little direct teaching on any of these topics in the Bible. There is a lot of indirect teaching coming out of the activity of personal lives and historical events but little theoretical teaching. - Why? - The answer is very important. Prayer, worship, mission and leadership are the fruit of laying an effective foundation. To focus on these things is to focus on trying to produce the fruit but instead we need to focus on laying an effective foundation. Once the foundation is in place the fruit, prayer, mission, leadership and worship will almost appear as a spontaneous outworking. So, we need to re-focus our training away from ‘Fruit Production’ to foundation laying.
What is the Gospel foundation? The Gospel foundation is the Creation to Christ story line at least that is the beginning of the foundation. Such a foundation begins with the Character of God through Creation. Everything needs to be built on God’s character and this is probably the most important statement of all. To development the fear of the Lord we do not need to simply study scriptures about the fear of the Lord we need to know HIS character that will bring the fear of the Lord in other words the fear of the Lord is the fruit.
The whole story line moves through eight main areas:
- God’s character
- The law
- The Prophets
- The Holy Spirit
- The church
- New Creation
There are about sixty stories running from creation to Christ story line and it is important to present the second coming but not in detail so that the people hearing the story see how things finish and in this way see more of the whole. As we have already mentioned the story line is made of little stories all connected together and that one story builds on the next. So it is important that when we are discussing the story we only explain the truth as revealed up to that point.
In Genesis 1 it says “Let us make man in our own image.” - Well what does that mean? We cannot talk about the Trinity as nothing in the passage to that point has mentioned this. All we can say is that God is not alone HE is working with others in a team but at this point we cannot say anything more. If people want to know more it is vital that you tell them to wait and see what the other stories say. It is very important that we do not run ahead as truth is built line upon line, precept upon precept. This is why the footnotes in our Bibles are unhelpful at the beginning.
Let’s give another example in Genesis 3:1: we have the first introduction to the serpent. Who is this serpent? - We are not told at this stage! All we know is that it is something evil and that evil is coming from a person. The main thing that we are told is that this serpent is subtle. (Please remember that usually when a subject is first mentioned in the Bible, whatever is said about it at that point is usually foundational!) - Before God even tells you who this serpent is he wants you to know that he is subtle as this is one of the most important characteristics of our enemy. It is not until 1 Chronicles 21:1 that we are directly introduced to Satan by name and only in detail when we reach the New Testament. So when you get to Genesis 3 and people want to know more about the serpent tell them to wait as the other stories will reveal more. This is a real discipline but an important one.
Now why does God do it this way? God does not want you to know about the enemy’s character before he has carefully introduced important details about HIS own character. First he wants to reveal HIS character and then the character of wicked man before he reveals the character of the enemy. - I hope we see something of the importance of progressive revelation and taking people through that progressive revelation, as this is how the foundation is laid.
Let’s take one final example to make sure that we grasp this very important principle in storytelling. When we get to Genesis 4 we are told about the story of Cain and Abel. We are told that God did not accept Cain and his sacrifice but why? We are not told ‘Why’ at this point. In fact we do not find the answer until Hebrews 11:4 so we need to tell the people to wait. If one reads the Genesis 4 passage carefully the offerings that Cain and Abel brought to God were not sin offerings but probably a thanksgiving offering. In Genesis 4:7 we have the first mention of sin in the Bible please note what is said about it. Adams disobedience was not called sin though of course it was but we are not told that in Genesis 3 it is only later that we learn that. It is so important that we keep within the discipline of progressive revelation and don’t out of excitement and curiosity run ahead.
Now when telling the stories you obviously need to know them well. Read the story as many times as possible so that you get the details as told in the passage thoroughly in your mind. All this needs to come out of the overflow of your personal relationship with the Lord and be covered in prayer particularly before and after. We are in a spiritual battle and only the Holy Spirit can remove the veil that the enemy has put on people hearts and minds.
Tell the story as dramatically as possible using visual aids or whatever material is to hand. I was telling the story of the fall and grabbed a stick from a fire and used it to illustrate the seed of the women bruising the serpent by stamping on the stick. This really caught the people’s attention. There are many ways to do it so rely on the Holy Spirit to give you creative ideas. Having told the story then give the people a chance to ask questions and usually they have plenty of them. These questions become the basis for discussion and they also tell you what the people have grasped and what they have not grasped. Take this discussion time as an opportunity to teach around the story but only as much as they can take. After the discussion stop but do not include prayer and singing!! It is simply storytelling and discussion not religious activity. Prayer and singing will come when the foundation has been laid but not before as these two things are often a form of merit making and appeasing the spirits particularly in African and Asian cultures. So it is good to avoid these things.
It is good to try and aim for two or three story sessions per week. Once a week is not enough, as they tend to forget the details. Each time one tells a story, begin by recapping over the last story so that they are able to see the connections between one story and the next. This also helps re-enforce the details. There are certain things that one needs to bring out more than others such as the character of God and how he keeps his word also keep connecting the stories back to the original promise in Genesis 3 that a deliver would come but do not tell them who the deliver is they will find out for themselves as one goes through the storyline.
As you go through the story the people who are open will start to become helpless and hopeless about their state and this is good and they might even say what can I do. Do not be quick to give them the answers; leave them to struggle in their hopelessness because they need to fully discover that there is nothing they can do to save themselves. But this takes time. Allow the stories under the power of the Holy Spirit bring growing conviction but do not be tempted out of zeal for the Lord to rush the process but of course be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
One of the amazing things about the story line is that it is non-comparative: we are not aiming to attack the beliefs of those listening to you. If a Muslims says ‘what about Mohammed’ simply refer him back to the teacher at the mosque. All you need to do is tell the stories and let them speak for themselves. You do not need to attack anything the stories themselves will speak and bit by bit as each story connects with the next their understanding will grow. At times people may disagree with the stories but tell them to wait and listen to all the stories first and then make a judgement.
Finally it is important not to tell these stories to everybody but first ask God to lead you to those that are open. Luke 10:1-9, and particularly verse 6, tells us to look for the man of peace, the person that opens their home and is hungry to know more. In the context of healing the sick and casting out devils tell these stories. Others will join not because you advertise but because the people themselves talk to each other about what is happening. Included in this booklet is a copy of a story line. It is designed to be flexible in that not all the stories need to be used and other ones can be added in depending on the needs of the group and what God is telling you.
Once a person realises and believes that only Jesus’ death on the cross paid for their sin that is what leads to salvation. But this faith that arises in their heart usually comes slowly as they hear the stories it is not something that we can make happen by using a formula of words. Out of this people will respond and move through the process of repentance, Baptism in water and receiving the Holy Spirit. But these later three things do not save them they are simply the vehicle through which they receive the salvation. This is why these last three things are only brought in at the end when the people have been fully persuaded that nothing can save them except what Jesus did otherwise they will tend to think that repentance and baptism save them of course these things are necessary because true faith always expresses itself in commitment.
Once they are saved do not rush to teaching them about what they must do as a new believer go back through the story line but this time emphasis how the stories point to Christ. In this way you will increase their security in Christ and avoid the trap of creating legalism but this is the subject of another booklet.
Which stories to tell?
The Story Line from Creation to Christ (Stage 1)
|1.||Creation||Genesis 1:1 – 31; 2:1-25|
|3.||Cain and Abel||Genesis 4:1–26|
|4.||Flood - Part A and B||Genesis 6:1–22; 7:1–24; 8:1–5; 8:14–22; 9:1-19|
|5.||Cursing of Canaan not African people||Genesis 9:18-29|
|6.||Tower of Babel||Genesis 11:1–9; 11:27–32|
|7.||Call of Abram and clash with Lot||Genesis 12:1–5; 13:5–18|
|8.||God’s covenant with Abram & promise of a son||Genesis 15:5–6,12–16; 17:1-5,15-20; 18:20–21|
|9.||Judgement of Sodom and Gomorrah||Genesis 19:1–17, 24–26|
|10.||Birth and offering of Isaac||Genesis 21:1–3; 22:1–19|
|11.||Birth of Esau and Jacob; Jacob steals the birthright and blessing||Genesis 24:67; 25:20–34; 27:41–44|
|12.||Jacobs’s flight to Haran & Vision of the ladder||Genesis 28:10–15; 29:1|
|13.||Return from Haran with family of twelve sons & Joseph sold into slavery||Genesis 31:12–13; 32:28; 37:1–35|
|14.||Joseph in Egypt and sexual temptation||Genesis 39:1–23|
|15.||Pharaohs dreams and Joseph’s promotion||Genesis 41:1–8,14-16,25–49|
|16.||Joseph brothers come to Egypt and Joseph reveals himself||Genesis 42:1–20; 43:1–5,11–17; 45:1–11,25–28; 46:5–7|
|17.||Formation of Hebrew nation & Moses and the Bulrush Basket||Exodus 1:1–22; 2:1–25|
|18.||Moses and the Burning bush||Exodus 3:1–22|
|19.||Miraculous signs for Pharaoh||Exodus 4:1–20,27–31|
|20.||Meeting Pharaoh & The first plagues||Exodus 5:1–2; 6:1–8; 7:4-5,20-21|
|21.||Eight more plagues||Exodus 8: 1–6,16–17,24; 9:3,6-7,10,23-26; 10:13-15,21-24,28-29|
|22.||Moses and the 10th plaque, Passover||Exodus 11:1,4-7; 12:1-7,12-13,22-23,28-36,46,51; 13:20-22|
|23.||Miracle of crossing the read sea||Exodus 14:1-31|
|24.||Bread from heaven, Water from the rock||Exodus 16:1-3,11-16,34-35; 17:1-6|
|25.||God of Fire on the mount, Giving of the 10 commandments||Exodus 19:1-25; 20:1-17|
|26.||Making of the tabernacle||Exodus 24:12-18; 25:1-11,17-22; 26:31-37; 27:1-3; 28:1|
|27.||Golden calf-Idolatry||Exodus 32:1-20; 34:1-9|
|28.||Raising up of the tabernacle||Exodus 40:17,34-38|
|30.||Striking the rock, Serpent in the wilderness||Numbers 20:1-12,23-28; 21:4-9|
|31.||Death of Moses appointment of Joshua and events in Judges||Deuteronomy 34:1-5,9; Joshua 1:1-2; 11:23|
|32.||Disobedience of the people, Judgement of God||Judges 2:7-19|
|33.||Raising up of King Saul and then King David over Judea only||1. Samuel 11:14-15; 13:13-14; 16:1-7,11-13|
|34.||David anointed King over all Israel, Plans a Temple, Building Temple||2. Samuel 5:1-3; 7:1-3,12-17 1. Chronicles 22:5-6; 29:26-28 2. Chronicles 2:1; 5:1|
|35.||Jonah and the big fish||Jonah 1:1-17; 2:1-8; 3:1-10|
|36.||The prophets foretell the coming of the Deliver / Saviour||Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; 11:2; 50:6; 53:3-7,9,12; Hosea 11:1; Micah 5:2; Zechariah 11:12-13|
|37.||Angel foretells the birth of John the Baptist, Angel tells of the birth of Jesus||Luke 1:3-17; 24-38; 70-80|
|38.||Birth of the Messiah as prophesied/ visit of the wise men from the East||Matthew 1:2,18-25; 2:1-23|
|39.||Ministry of John the Baptist and Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness||Matthew 3:1-17; 4:1-11|
|40.||Jesus’ ministry begins, meeting with the first disciples, healing of a leper.||Mark 1:14-28,34-42|
|41.||Jesus heals a paralysed man, Call of Matthew the tax collector, Purpose of the Sabbath||Mark 2:1-17,23 - 27|
|42.||Healing the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath,Appointing the first disciples,Parable of the sower||Mark 3:1-19; 4:1-20|
|43.||Demon possessed man healed, Girl raised from the dead||Mark 5:1-42|
|44.||Jesus rejected sending out the 12 disciples, Feeding the five thousand - A Picnic||Mark 6:1-12,30-56|
|45.||Pollution of sin comes from within||Mark 7:1-11,14-23|
|46.||Feeding of the four thousand, Jesus predicts his death||Mark 8:1-10,32-31|
|47.||Jesus transfigured on the mountain, Removing what offends||Mark 9:2-8,47-50|
|48.||Jesus blessing the children, The rich young ruler, Healing of a blind man||Mark 10:13-16,17-23,44-51|
|49.||Jesus entry into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus cleanses the temple||Mark 11:1-10,15-19|
|50.||Parable of the wicked vinedressers||Mark 12:28-33,35-43|
|51.||The ‘first’ commandment of all, Jesus’ relationship to King David||Mark 12:28-33,35-43|
|52.||Jesus foretells the destruction of the temple||Mark 13:1-13|
|53.||The plot to kill Jesus, Judas agrees to betray him, The Betrayal||Mark 14:1-2,10-26,43-65|
|54.||Jesus faces judgement, Crucifixion, Death||Mark 15:1-20,21-47|
|55.||His resurrection||Mark 16:1-20|
|56.||He will come again in the clouds||Revelation 1:1,7,9-11|
|57.||Signs of the nearness of his coming and his actual coming||Matthew 24:3-14,30-31,37-41|
|58.||Casting out of the devil and the judgement day||Revelation 20:10-15; 21:1-8|
|59.||A new heaven and a new earth, Only worship God, Walk in obedience||Revelation 22:8-9,12-17|
Christ the Redeemer (Stage 2)
This phase of the chronological storytelling comes after laying the initial foundation of the Creation to Christ story line (Stage 1). The purpose of stage 1 is to slowly lay a foundation that will lead to the salvation of those hearing the stories. If people do not respond then go back through the story line again simply repeat stage 1. If they do respond, that is they believe that only the death of Jesus on the cross can save them and nothing that they do then they should be baptised and prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit.
Now move onto stage 2. But in all this be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. This involves going back through the story line, but not all of it, to build on the foundation already laid. The aim of stage 1 is to bring salvation but the aim of stage 2 is to bring security. So the key stories are retold but this time showing how they point to Christ for example in the story of the fall. God promised a deliverer who would bruise the serpent’s head and the serpent would bruise his heel. - Who is this deliverer? Well it is Jesus and how did he bruise the serpent’s head? By taking away the power that he had through death.
Another example is the flood. The ark was shut by God and all the people who did not accept the offer to come into the ark died. The emphasis is on God’s judgement. When we retell the story this time we emphasise how those who entered the ark were shut in and saved from the flood. The ark is a picture of Jesus and if we enter into Christ by believing in him we are kept safe and delivered from the judgement of God. Each story that is retold should have this emphasis so that the faith of the believer is strengthened.
Normally when someone gets saved we immediately rush to teach them what a Christian should do. If we are two quick to do this they then tend to fall back into thinking that these activities will save them. So rather than doing this we should first focus them on what Christ has done by going back through the story line and showing them how it points to Christ. Now as well as doing this we should begin to bring in more teaching about the Holy Spirit so that the believers are being introduced to the work of the Holy Spirit, which they will see later in Acts. This will give them further understanding of what happened when they received the Holy Spirit.
References and Notes
Note: The number in brackets is the number of the story in the Creation to Christ Story line (Stage 1) so that you can easily refer back and see where it comes from. Remember to retell each story and then add the teaching that is given in the notes below. All of this is a guide line so please feel free to develop and adapt the teaching to fit the situation that you are in. If you get new ideas please tell us so that we too can improve.
Genesis 1:1-31; 2:1-25 (Jesus the creator)
Having retold this story ask the people where is God in the story? He is there at the beginning and through all the steps of creation. Where is the Holy Spirit? He too is right there at the beginning ‘hovering over the waters’, rather like a hen sitting on its eggs or a bird gently flying over the water. It gives the idea of a farmer helping things to grow he brings life. So where is Jesus? To get the answer we need to go to John’s Gospel chapter 1:1 and it says in the beginning was the word and the word was God. So Jesus was there with God right at the beginning as well. So when it says ‘Let us make man’ whom is it referring to? It refers to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So God works as a team he is not on his own.
Genesis 3:1-24 (Jesus the seed and deliverer)
Look closely at verse 15. When it says, “He shall bruise your head” whom is it referring to? It is referring to Jesus. Jesus is the one who bruised satan’s head. Jesus bruised satan’s head by taking our punishment for sin and overcoming death and so taking away satan’s authority. Satan bruised Jesus’ heel this is a picture of how satan was allowed to attack Jesus on the cross through the people bruising his body.
Please note that Jesus is the seed of the women He is the promised seed that would bring salvation. – (Don’t go too deeply into this, as it will come up again later when studying the epistles so build slowly.)
3. (4). Flood Part A and B
Genesis 6:1-22 (Jesus the Ark)
Look at verse 3 as we see another aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit (‘Spirit of God’). He ‘strives’ with men this means that he shows them what is wrong and urges them to do what is right even when they resist him.
Look carefully at verse 13-16. We see that Noah and his family go into the ark and then the animals come into the ark and then God shut them in. Now the ark is a picture of Jesus. When we become a Christian we enter into a right relationship with God and Jesus this is described as being ‘in’ Christ just like Noah and his family were in the ark. When the floods and wind came Noah and his family were kept safe. In the same way we are in Christ safe from the floods the judgement of God on sin and from death (read John 5:24).
Ask does God keep his promises? Did Noah and his family escape death?
4. (7) The call and Abram
Genesis 12:1-5; 13:5-18
You don’t need to explain much about this at the moment this will come when you get to the book of Romans.
5. (8) God’s covenant with Abram and Promise of a son
Genesis 15:6 tells us something important. How did Abram become righteous in God’s eyes did he do anything? No he simply believed what God said he would do concerning the bringing of the promised seed. - Can we do anything to be righteous in God’s eyes? No. We need to believe but what do we need to believe? We need to believe that only what Jesus did by dying on the cross can save us from our sin. Point out that they have believed and are therefore righteous in God’s eyes.
6. (10) Birth and offering of Isaac
Genesis 21:1-3; 22:1-19 (Jesus the offering)
Notice how Abraham offered his only son. Did God accept it? Why not? What did God provide instead? He provided a ram. God provided his own Sacrifice. Can an animal sacrifice save us? No. So the ram is a picture of Jesus. Jesus was God’s only son and God provided his own son as a sacrifice. So Jesus is our sacrifice the one and only sacrifice that God accepts for our sin. We cannot provide a sacrifice for our sin.
Note in verse 14 that it says ‘God is our Provider’ but this is not talking about God providing for our needs as it says, “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided” It is talking about God providing a sacrifice for sin which HE did when Jesus died on the cross on a hill called ‘Golgotha’ or ‘Calvary’ both words mean ‘Skull’. It is interesting that Jesus was on top of the skull another picture for us to see that Jesus on the cross was standing on satan’s head. - The witchdoctor cannot provide a sacrifice and you cannot provide a sacrifice, the spirits cannot provide a sacrifice but only God himself can do that and he did it by sending his Son his only Son Jesus.
7. (12) Jacobs flight to Haran and Vision of the ladder
You will need to explain a little bit of the background to this story for the listeners to understand.
Genesis 28:10-15 & 29:1 (Jesus the ladder to heaven)
Note verse 12: Jacob had a dream of a ladder with angels going up and coming down on the ladder. What does this mean? John 1:51 tells us. Jesus is talking to a certain man and explains that HE is the ladder to heaven on which the angels go up and come down. We can now understand what Jacobs dream means. It is talking about Jesus who is the only ladder to heaven no one can get to heaven without Jesus. Jesus is the only and sure way to heaven.
8. (17). Moses and the Bulrush Basket
Exodus 2:1-10 (Jesus the Basket of safety)
In this story Moses as a young baby is put in a basket, which is then left to float on a river full of crocodiles. The baby is kept safe in this basket until he is delivered out of the waters (verse 10). Now again this speaks to us of Jesus in Jesus we are kept safe and delivered from the waters of Judgement and death. Moses means saved from the waters.
9. (18). Moses and the burning bush
Exodus 3:1-22 (Jesus is the ‘I AM’)
At the burning bush God reveals himself to Moses as ‘I AM’ what does this mean. John 8:58 reveals the answer. Jesus says, ‘Before Abraham was ‘I AM’. Jesus is ‘I AM’. Jesus tells us that he existed even before Abraham and that the person speaking to Moses in the desert was in fact Jesus because Jesus is God.
10. (22). The 10th plaque, death of the firstborn
Exodus 11:1,4-7; 12:1-7,12-13,22-23,28-36,46,51; 13:20-22 (Jesus our Passover Lamb)
This is a very important story as it talks about the killing of the lamb on the 14th day of the month and then taking the blood of the Lamb and putting it on the doorposts and on the top of the door. Everybody in the family was to stay in the house that night. The angel of death would pass through and if he saw the blood on the doorpost he would pass over but if there was no blood then he would enter the house and kill the firstborn son. What do we learn from this? That there is only one place of safety that is to be in Christ he is our house our place of safety. But Jesus can only be our place of safety because he shed his own blood for us.
We will learn more about this when we get to the book of Hebrews so do not go into too much detail at this point. Emphasis that we do not need to put blood on our houses or our land only the blood of Jesus is powerfully enough and we cannot put HIS blood on our houses or land we do not need to.
Now the children of Israel went into the wilderness and spent a long time here and so they needed food and water.
11. (24) Bread from Heaven & water from the rock
Exodus 16:1-3,11-16,34-35; 17:1-6 (Jesus the bread of life)
These two stories tell us how God provided special food like bread from heaven for around 2 million people every day (this would be about 18,000 X 50 Kilogram bags or 900,000 kilogram daily) and 7.6 million litres of water per day just for drinking and all this in a desert!!
They called the bread from Heaven Manna, because they did not know what it was. But what is the water and bread a picture of? In John 6:47-51 we see that Jesus is the bread of life and HE came down from Heaven so that HE could die for us and rise again that we could trust in HIM for salvation. Jesus is the true bread the everlasting bread it does not feed our stomach but feeds our relationship with God. Now what about the water what is that a picture of? John 7:37-39 tells us that if we are thirsty, that is thirsty to get rid of our sins and have eternal life Jesus will give us the waters of life. The water is a picture of the Holy Spirit whom we receive when we believe in Jesus and HE gives us life when HE comes to live inside us.
In the wilderness God told Moses about building a tent that he was to make so that God could come and live with the people.
12. (26) Making of the tabernacle
Exodus 25:1-9 (Jesus is our tabernacle or tent)
The tabernacle or tent that God told Moses to make is a picture of Jesus and we can find this out by looking at John 1:14. The Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt amongst us, that word means ‘tabernacled’ or in other words made HIS tent amongst us. So God came in the body of Jesus to live amongst us just as God came down to live amongst the Israelites in a tent. But when Jesus came God was living amongst people in a real person not a tent made of animal skins.
The tent that Moses was told about could only be built by skilled men and these men need to be filled with the ‘Spirit of God’ in order to do the work as God wanted. So we again see the Holy Spirit at work this time filling some of the people so that they could work with wisdom and skill.
13. (30). Striking of the rock and the serpent in the wilderness
Number 20:1-12; 21:4-9 (Jesus the Rock and deliver)
The rock is a picture of Jesus and we will find out more about this when we get to the Epistles. Now what about the serpent? Again we get the answer in John’s Gospel. We see in John 3:14-15 that just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so Jesus was lifted up on the cross. Jesus is not a serpent but through being lifted up on the cross HE was able to take the serpent and destroy his power. The serpent on the cross is a picture of how Jesus destroyed the serpent’s power through HIS death. Serpents bit the people in the story and many died those that looked to the serpent lifted up on a stick lived.
We too have been bitten by satan and will be eternally separated from God but because we looked to Jesus who was lifted up on the cross for us we are saved from the power of satan’s bit just like the children of Israel were saved.
14. (31) Death of Moses and appointment of Joshua
Here we see that the Spirit of God (Holy Spirit) that gave Moses his authority and ability was passed onto Joshua by the laying on of hands. So we need the Holy Spirit to do the work that God has called us to and in this case the Holy Spirit came through the laying on of hands.
Through Joshua they entered the land that God had promised them and settled down. As time passed they wanted a King so first God gave them Saul and then King David and this is what happened.
15. (33) David anointed King
1 Samuel 16:1,7,11-13
We see that the Spirit of the Lord came upon David and through this he was given the authority and ability to do what God has called him to do.
16. (35) Jonah and the big fish
Jonah 1:1-17 (Jesus our Saviour)
There are many good listens to learn from this story but Jonah is also a picture of what happened to Jesus. In Matthew 12:39-40 we are told that just as Jonah was in the stomach of the big fish for three days and three night so Jesus was in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights after he died and then he rose again. (At this point it is not necessary to explain why Jesus went into the heart of the earth this can wait until you get into the epistles). Jonah was thrown into the sea to save the lives of the other sailors and in the same way Jesus died to save our lives.
17. (36) The prophets foretell the coming of the deliverer/Saviour
(The birth of a Saviour)
Isaiah 7:14: The prophet Isaiah said that Jesus would be born of a virgin and that Jesus’ name would be Immanuel (God with us) 700 years before it happened. See Matthew 1:18-25. Please notice that it was the Holy Spirit that made it possible for Mary to have a baby as she had no relationship with a man.
Micah 5:2 tells that this ruler in Israel was to be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah out of the tribe of Judah. Again this prophecy was made 700 years before it happened as Micah prophesied around the same time as Isaiah. We see this fulfilled in Matthew 2:1-15.
Isaiah 9:6-7 We see that this verse is referring to Jesus, HE is the child that was born, the son that was given and he is the counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of peace. This is the one that we have trusted in to be our Saviour. God’s rule and authority is resting on his shoulders.
We will refer to the other prophecies later.
18. (39) Baptism of Jesus and all three present Father, Son and the Holy Spirit
Matthew 3:1-17; Luke 4:1-14
It is interesting to note what happened at Jesus’ baptism. The Holy Spirit came upon him like a dove and a voice spoke from heaven. So we have Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father altogether at Jesus’ baptism and this is same as it was in Genesis. We have God the Father speaking we have Holy Spirit hovering over the waters and we had Jesus all working together. So the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus at his baptism.
19. Jesus fulfils Isaiah 61:1
To whom does this scripture refer to? Well we get the answer in Luke 4:16-30
The Spirit of the Lord came upon Jesus after HIS baptism and HE was anointed to preach, heal and set the people free that were bound but it was through the power of the Holy Spirit so fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah said. The people in Jesus’ Hometown rejected the message that he gave.
This is demonstrated in Luke 5:17-26 through healing of a paralysed man.
20. (49) Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey
This was a fulfilment of the prophecy in Zechariah 9:9 and it is exactly fulfilled as it says that the donkey had a colt (a baby Donkey) with it Just as the prophesy said. God keeps his word exactly.
21. (53) The plot to kill Jesus and HIS betrayal
Emphasise the significance of the Passover meal that Jesus ate with them ask people what does this meal refer back to? - The Passover in Egypt and what Jesus was about to do by dying on the cross.
Now notice they beat him just as it said in Isaiah 50:6. God’s word is fulfilled perfectly.
22. (54) Jesus faces judgment, crucifixion and death
Read Isaiah 53:3-7 and ask people who is this talking about? 700 years before Jesus died Isaiah prophesied in detail how Jesus would suffer. This prophesy tells us what happened to Jesus on the cross: Verse 4: He carried your sorrow Verse 5: He was wounded for our sins, he was bruised for our sins, he was whipped for our wrong doing. He took the punishment for us. Verse 6: He took our sin upon himself. Now we see a little bit more of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Get feedback from the people about what they understand.
Ask the people who is this referring to and why? This Psalm was written 1000 years before the birth of Christ and describes in great detail what Jesus went through on the cross.
23. (55) His resurrection
Now look at Psalms 16:8-11. This is King David prophesying about the resurrection of Jesus. It says his body will not decay in the grave and his soul will not stay in the heart of the earth.
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead shows that he overcame sin, satan and death. It is a powerful sign that we can truly trust Jesus because not only can he heal the sick and cast out evil spirits he has overcome death itself.
Now this is the end of stage 2. Now you can proceed to Stage 3, which will carry on exactly where you stopped here.
The Storyline through Acts (Stage 3)
Stage 3 is about telling the stories of Acts in order to build a bridge in the minds the people between the Gospels and the Epistles of the New Testament. The stories lay the historic and geographically background to the epistles giving an understanding of the political and religious world in which the writers and receivers of the letters (Epistles) lived and worked. It will also show them how the gospel was preached in the power of the Holy Spirit and spread from Jerusalem to Rome.
It will be necessary to bring in some simple maps of the Middle East and Europe and explain where some of the main places are. They will also need to see where their homecountry is in relationship to these places. This will help in bringing a solid foundation into their lives.
|1.|| Final appearance of Jesus to the disciple, his ascension and outpouring of the Holy Spirit
(Note: Tell them that Luke wrote both his gospel and Acts)
|Luke 24:36-49; Acts 1:8-14; Acts 2:1-4|
|2.||Response of the people to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and Peters Sermon||Acts 2:5-18,22-24,32-33,36-39,41-46|
|3.||Healing of the Lame man||Acts 3:1-19|
|4.||Peter and John arrested and the Believers pray||Acts 4:1-31|
|5.||Sharing all things and lying to the Holy Spirit||Acts 4:32-33,5:1-16|
|6.|| Provision for the widows and persecution and killing of Stephen
(Summarise the main points of Stephen’s sermon, as this will be a good revision of the main O.T stories)
|Acts 6:1-15, Acts 7:1-60|
|7.||Persecution and scattering of the believers/Witchdoctors conversion and Conversion of the Ethiopian||Acts 8:1-40|
|8.||Road to Damascus Conversion of Saul. Aeneas healed and Dorcas restored to life||Acts 9:1-25, 32-43|
|9.||Cornelius’s Vision and the conversion of him and his household||Act 10:1-48|
|10.||Peters Imprisonment and miraculous escape through an angel||Acts 12:1-19|
|11.||The call of Barnabas and Saul and their first missions trip to Cyprus||Acts 13:1-12|
|12.||Preaching in Asia/Turkey in Iconium and Lystra||Acts 14:1-28|
|13.||Division between Paul and Barnabas second trip to Asia and God’s call to Europe; Baptism, deliverance and imprisonment||Acts 15:36-41; Acts 16:1-34|
|14.||Preaching about the ‘unknown’ God||Acts 17:1-34|
|15.||Did you receive the Holy Spirit since you believed? Special miracles and burning of witchcraft medicine||Acts 18:24-28, Acts 19:1-41, Acts 20:1|
|16.||Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem and arrest||Acts 21:1-40, 22-24, 30; Acts 23:11-24|
|17.||Paul’s trials and eventual appeal to Caesar.||Acts 24:1-27; Acts 25:1-12|
|18.|| Paul’s journey to Rome and the Shipwreck.
(Break the story here as it leaves a sense of excitement about what will happen next)
|19.||Ministry at Malta and finally Paul arrives at Rome||Acts 27:38-44; Acts 28:1-31|
Summarise at the end the main events of the book and the main things that they have learnt.
See this movie from Act Beyond which illustrates how powerful it can be to let the bible tell the story.
There is now sunday school/children material based on this concept: "Firm Foundations", edited by New Tribes Mission: http://www.ntmbookstore.com/children-s-christian-ed-part-1-teacher-p/335001.htm
About the Author
Chris Child worked as a nurse before going into missions (hew was 11.5 years in Malawi, see also Church Planting in Africa). He comes from England and now lives together with his German wife in Germany, serving and teaching both locally and worldwide. His heart is to train others in order to "stand on my shoulders" and to "do things that I could never have done".