The Bible: Narrative


The Promises and Mission of God


Genesis 12:1-9 ESV

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy- five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb.


God giving us grace, today we begin our journey through the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. The Bible is God telling us his story in human history. It is a story about his glory and how he displays and invites us to share in the blessings of his glory. The main character or hero of God’s story is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible primarily is made up of the narrative storyline and God’s commentary upon that. It is important that we know this, or else we will view the Bible as a collection of morals or rituals or as a theological fact book.

In choosing a passage from the various books of the Bible, I attempt to select one that will shed light on the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. Usually this will require that we know the place of the passage in the context of the story. Over the weeks, this will involve some repetition, but this will help us know the various people and themes that God uses in his story.


I.The setting of God’s promises and mission – a brief overview

A.The account of creation (Gen 1-2)

1.The action of the all-powerful, personal living God. He is so majestic and glorious that he speaks the universe into being by his word. Note the recurring “And God said.” Everything is created by his will (Rev 4:11) in a manner that communicates wise design. Everything that God creates is good; in fact, all is very good (Gen 1:31).

2.This goodness includes Adam and his wife. God makes them in his image and likeness. God places them in a garden that is like a temple in all its imagery. God tells Adam and Eve to exercise dominion over the garden and the whole earth. They are to serve him as royal priests—an important idea in God’s story.

3.God blesses the people he created. Overflowing with glory and goodness, God chooses to bless people. God is telling us about his mission. And God also asserts his authority to order and command the way of life of people. Adam and Eve receive one prohibition and a consequence for disobedience that tells them that God can set limits on human behavior (2:15-17). The creation account closes with the man and the woman living in God’s blessing with harmony.

B.The account of the Fall into sin and death (Gen 3; cf. Rm 5:12-21)

1.Mankind falls into sin and death because Adam and Eve rebelled against God and his authority when Satan tempted them. (The rest of God’s story makes clear that the tempter was Satan or the devil (cf. Jn 8:44). Adam did not exercise his authority over creation and order the serpent to stop his lies. Instead, he sinned, became guilty, was afraid, and hid from God.

2.God acts to judge all three sinners, and pronounces curses upon them and their world. Yet at the same time, in the midst of the curse on the judgment, God gives hope. He tells that one day the seed of the woman would be victorious over the serpent and his seed (Gen 3:15). So then, in the midst of destruction, there is a promise of blessing, but it will come through the seed. This is an important idea in God’s story.

3.God spares mankind from immediate physical death, but drives them from the garden temple where they had lived. The way back into God’s presence can only come through a blood sacrifice.

C.The account of the spread of sin and death (Gen 4-11) – The Bible never tells us the extent of time from the expulsion from Eden to the call of Abraham, but it took thousands of years.

1.Adam and Eve have two sons, whose relationship shows the ruin that sin brought on the human race. Cain murders his brother Abel, showing that he was of the seed of the evil one (cf. 1 Jn 3:11-12). His line builds a civilization of godless violence. God grants another son to them, Seth, and through his descendants come people that call on the name of the Lord (4:26). Yet their priestly activity is unable to rebuild the world. Instead, humanity is filled with evil and all suffer the curse of death. Note the gloomy refrain in Gen 5: “and then he died”. Human wickedness becomes so terrible that God decides to destroy mankind (Gen 6:5-7).

2.However, God also gives us hope by telling us about his grace—his unmerited favor for those who deserve God’s wrath. As he prepares to destroy the earth, he selects one man and his family to make a new beginning—Noah. He provides Noah and the land and air animals with a way of rescue or salvation—the ark. After the Great Flood that killed all outside the ark, God leads out Noah and the rest to a world that he has remade. God makes a covenant promise with humanity and the rest of the world not to destroy it again by a Great Flood (Gen 8-9). Yet God’s words tell us of the continuing reality of sin, conflict, and death.

3.Noah and his family quickly demonstrate sin’s evil in their lives, and Noah as God’s priest pronounces a curse on part of his family while blessing the Lord God and pointing them to the Lord God for hope. However, mankind quickly rises in rebellion against the Lord and builds a civilization contrary to God’s orders. In their folly, they attempt to “make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). God easily ends this part of human rebellion by dividing humanity by various languages and then by scattering them across the world. For many, many years human history is the story of untold millions living and dying in the darkness of the “evil exchange” (cf. Rm 1:18-32).

II.The proclamation of God’s promises and mission (Gen 12:1-9) – the call of Abraham (cf. Heb 11:8-16)

A.God’s sovereign grace shines brightly in the story of Abram or Abraham.

1.God took the initiative and called Abram to follow him. Abram was not looking for God; instead, God brought him out from a family who worshiped other gods (Josh 24:2). The line of Seth, Noah, and Shem had hit a dead end in the “evil exchange”. Abram’s wife Sarai (Sarah) was barren. The man whose name meant “exalted father” had no children. They looked cursed instead of blessed.

2.God spoke to Abram to change him: “The Lord had said…” (Gen 12:1). The God of glory appeared to Abraham (Ac 7:2) but he performed no signs and wonders to convince him. Yet the Lord (Yahweh) gave him faith to trust him and to show that faith by obedience. God’s story involves people that trust his promises and act according to God’s words.

3.God’s call involved commands and promises (Gen 12:1-3). As Abram believed God’s promises, he would do God’s will. God gave him two commands at this point and three promises connected with each command.

a.“Leave… and go….” Abram must set himself apart from others and rely on God’s direction. God encourages him by promising: (1) to make him a great nation, (2) to bless him, and (3) to make his name great. God is going to do something new and it involves a large group of people. Regardless of how bleak Abram’s present situation might be, God promises to bless him. Note the connection back to Gen 1:28. It is the beginning of a new humanity. The Lord God also promises to make Abram’s name great. He would do for Abram what the builders of Babel could not do.

b.“Be a blessing.” God gives Abram a mission. Abram and his seed are to act to bring blessing to the world. God involves the new people in his global mission. God encourages him in this mission by promising: (1) that God would bless those who bless Abram, (2) that God will curse those who curse him, and (3) that all the people groups of the world would be blessed through Abram and his seed. Notice that God links blessing and cursing of the world to the interactions of his people with other people. His people will be priests to bless the world, but the peoples must receive the blessing his people bring. This eventually leads to the Great Commission and the eternal state.

B.Abraham believed and obeyed (Gen 12:4-9).

1.God promised Abram the land. Since the Fall, God had not dwelt with people in a place. But now God starts the process of bringing people back into his presence. At first, it is only a small area that Abram could easily walk around. It is not the end of the story. But it is the start of something new and good, because God would choose a place in that land for his temple and live among the people there. When Christ comes, something better would happen. This is an important idea in God’s story.

2.Notice how the promise is made to Abram and his seed (12:7). God started with the seed of the woman, and now it is the seed of Abraham. God’s story is progressing! As Paul much later explains, Abraham’s seed is the Lord Jesus Christ (Gal 3:16). The rest of the story in Genesis does more to identify the seed. Read all of Genesis to see Christ!

3.Abraham responds with worship (Gen 12:7b-9). He does not try to create a new city, but rather waits for the city of God, living in tents, waiting for God to fulfill his word. As Abraham worships, we see the father of believers returning to the calling to worship God. A godly people are reestablished.

Apply: Are you part of this godly people that worship the true and living God? Or are you still pursuing idols? Turn from idols and serve the living God. This will only happen when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will you belong to Abraham’s seed and be an heir according to God’s promise (Gal 3:29).

~ Dave

Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

Filling Out the Christian Life

2 Peter 1:5-7 ESV


David FramptonImagine being handed the keys to a new house. It is yours as a gift. You can move in and enjoy it. But you have to live in it; you have to furnish it. But that is also no problem. You have a line of credit to purchase everything you need; again, it’s a gift. This is what we enjoy because we are in the Lord Jesus Christ. “This is a very good beginning, but it is not to be rested in, as if we were already perfect.” [Henry] In other words, we must live the life of faith that God has called us to, as set forth in 1:4.


I. Foundations of this command

A.The necessity of a proper order of experience in the Christian life

1.We need to possess spiritual life before we can live a spiritual life. This is a failure of most current emphasis on spirituality.

a.Those who attempt to live the Christian life without a vital union with Christ will surely experience frustration, because it requires supernatural power.

b.The apostles always teach a life of godliness from the foundation of justification by faith. The gospel begins with life, and then tells us how to live.

c.Peter is speaking of adding qualities to one’s faith. But first and foremost, you must have a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! You can’t add to something that isn’t there!

2.What Peter says here is connected with his remarks in the preceding verses. Here is the sequence of thought: “because all things necessary for life and godliness have been given to us, for this very reason, add….”

3.The logical goal of grace received is grace reigning (cf. Rm 8:4).

a.God has called us to holiness (cf. 1 Pt 1:15-16). The Father wants his regenerate children to display his character (cf. 2 Pt 1:4). God is not desperate to get a rowdy bunch of worshipers who care nothing about the God whom they claim to worship. He saves and changes people who delight in holiness.

b.Christianity is different from legalism, because it sees the necessity of God’s supernatural grace at every point. It is different from lawlessness, because it sees grace changing hearts and lives.

Illustration: God gives us a new house, and he surely expects us to live in it, but he also wants us to use it to display his surpassing worth. But we can only do this as we rely on his grace to “pay the bills for the upkeep”. We are new people, but our resources are insufficient. If we try to do it on our own, the house starts to run down (cf. 1 Cor 3).

B.The attitude required to obey this command—zeal.

1.Zeal is earnestness, fervency or enthusiasm. We could translate this command like this: “making every zealous effort, add….”

2.Zeal is not taken seriously in our day. Instead, laziness permeates our culture. “What is the least that I can do and keep my job?”

Apply: Each of us should ask ourselves, “Am I becoming godlier? More than that, am I making every effort to be more Christ-like? How much progress have I made this year? How much progress has our church made? What can we do in Christ’s strength for his glory?”

II. The explanation of this command

A.The meaning of “add”

1.“This word… was used for fitting out the chorus in connection with the Greek plays. It was a word that was used to describe the action of one who paid the cost of supplying, or fully furnishing with everything that was necessary, the chorus, which was always such a vital part of a Greek play.” [Lloyd-Jones, p. 25]

2.We are to fully furnish or abundantly supply our faith with the following seven qualities. God wants us to be extravagant in drawing upon the saving riches of Jesus to be a person who attracts others to his Son.

B.The scope of this command

1.The character our faith should show

a.Goodness – This means goodness in action; the practice of concrete deeds of excellence. We should be reflecting Christ, who lived a life of goodness (Ac 10:38). The point is that our faith is to be positively active.

b.Knowledge – We need knowledge of God’s will, of what he wants us to do. We need this knowledge to avoid false zeal. Involvement in activity is not the same as working for Jesus Christ. To gain this knowledge, we must be avid readers and students of the Scriptures. Our Bibles should be well-worn from fellowshipping with God in the Word.

Comment: The evangelical community has been filled with activism—but of what kind? The creed of some has been “do, don’t think.” Of course too many react to that by having the opposite creed, “think, don’t do.” We ought to be “think in agreement with the Bible and do.”

2.The attitudes our faith should display

a.Self-control – This is bringing the emotions and will under the control of godly thinking (cf. Rm 12:1-2). It is “submission to the control of the indwelling Christ.” [Green]

b.Perseverance – This attitude springs from faith, knowledge and practical experience of God and his ways (cf. Rm 5:3). God wants us to go forward with him, though greatly opposed. We can expect the adversary to hinder us (1 Th 2:18), but God expects us to persevere through hindrances and hardships. Some times the way gets very rough, and that is when perseverance must kick in.

Illustration: Climbing up the “Bubbles” by Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park

3.The relationships our faith must develop

a.Godliness – Preeminent must be our relationship with God. We are to be people walking in fellowship with our Father in heaven. We are not to be godly in order to be mere knick-knacks on display. Godliness is for the purpose of walking with God.

b.Brotherly love – The assembly or family of God’s people is the community where love is to be shared (1 Pt 1:22; Heb 13:1; 1 Th 4:9; Rm 12:10; 1 Jn 5:1).

c.Love – The love in Christ’s new community is to overflow to all people. Christ sends us on mission to be instruments of his love (Mt 5:13-16; Gal 6:10).

Apply: These are not optional qualities! This is a command. Fill out your faith with every one of these seven qualities. We hear much about “spiritual disciplines” in the emerging church. It would be better to see these qualities of faith in Jesus Christ emerging from the church.

~ Dave


About David Framptom
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.