The God Who Is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story

It’s written in three different languages. It took approximately 1500 years or so to write. It has sixty-six major subdivisions. It has a host of different authors. It concerns itself with a wide variety of historical circumstances. It uses several different kinds of literature to communicate.

No wonder the Bible is often viewed as an intimidating and difficult book.

And yet it contains an overarching plot, complete with dramatic tension building to a shocking climax and an epic resolution. It boasts a large and intriguing cast of characters interconnected with one supremely compelling hero. At root, it is one long and wondrous story.

Why is this important? Because it’s entirely reasonable to say that, if you have a solid understanding of the biblical story—The Story—and its enormous significance, you’ll be well on your way toward a solid understanding of the Christian faith.

That’s why D. A. Carson has done us all a great service with his recently published The God Who is There: Finding Your Place in God’s Story (not to be confused with Francis Schaeffer’s classic The God Who is There, which I’ve mentioned on this blog before). A professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity school (which counts our own Keith Simon and Shay Roush among its graduates), Carson is one of the most capable and prolific biblical scholars in the world. Here, though, his purpose isn’t to wade deeply into technical scholarly waters, however important they may be. Rather, as he says in the preface:

If you know nothing at all about what the Bible says, the book that you are now holding in your hands is for you.

If you have recently become interested in God or the Bible or Jesus but quite frankly you find the mass of material rather daunting and do not know where to begin, this book is for you.

If you have been attending a Christian church for many years in an indifferent fashion—it’s a nice extracurricular activity now and then—but have recently come to the conclusion you really ought to understand more than you do, this book is for you.

If you have quite a few of the pieces of the Bible stored in your mind but have no idea how the exodus relates to the exile or why the New Testament is called the New Testament, this book is for you.

If in your experience the Bible has lots of data but you do not see how it conveys God to you or introduces Jesus in a fashion that is utterly humbling and transforming, this book is for you.

This book is not for everyone. The person who does not want more than a bumper sticker introduction to Christianity may find this book a bit much. What I have tried to do here is run through the Bible in fourteen chapters. Each chapter focuses on one or more passages from the Bible, unpacks it a little, and tries to build connections with the context, drawing the lines together to show how they converge in Jesus. By and large I have assumed very little prior acquaintance with the Bible. What I do assume, however, is that a reader will get a hold of a Bible and have it near at hand. In the first chapter, I will tell you how to find your way around in a Bible.

Carson is on my “If He Wrote It, It’s Gonna Be Worth Reading” list. And having just browsed through the book this morning, my hunch is that it will be a great resource for just about anyone who picks it up. Consider the first chapter, “The God Who Made Everything.” Focusing on Genesis 1 and 2, Carson draws attention to several truths concerning God, his creation as a whole, and human beings in particular. In doing so, he begins to show their foundational importance for understanding both what follows in the biblical story and how we’re to go about our own lives. Along the way, he even manages to make some short but significant comments regarding the relationship between the opening chapters of the Bible and science—certainly a timely issue.

So if you’re interested in better understanding of the biblical story—and thereby better understanding the what faith in Christ is all about, The God Who Is There will likely be a great place to start.

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