Books

Cover Image: God's Big Picture

God's Big Picture:
Tracing the Story-Line of the Bible

Vaughan Roberts (IVP, 2003)

Blurb Review by Dan Steel

Review by Dan Steel

As a pretty much biblically illiterate student I vividly remember a number of years ago benefitting hugely from a day's bible overview given by Vaughan Roberts. Overnight it revolutionized my understanding and handling of the Bible. In this reviewer's opinion, the paper version, whilst a long time coming, has been more than worth the wait!

For many (as Roberts outlines in his introduction) the material within 'God's Big Picture' won't be particularly new or groundbreaking. However it will be an immensely helpful, compact and clear bible overview - as the author says "simple without being simplistic". He leans heavily on Graeme Goldsworthy's 'Gospel and Kingdom' structure although perhaps making it a little more accessible to the average reader.

With his '8-fold kingdom p approach' (pattern, perished, promised, partial, prophesied, present, proclaimed and perfected) Roberts helpfully opens up to the reader the outworking and unfolding of God's plan of salvation history. He clearly shows how the Bible fits together and provides the reader with a solid framework for thinking and contextualising biblical passages in the light of the whole.

Vaughan Roberts is a clear communicator and it's obvious that this book began life as a series of talks: He is logical in his thinking and development of key themes and there are numerous helpful diagrams that build and summarise as the story unfolds. The book is also full of colorful, relevant (and usable!) illustrations and quotes throughout that mean it is very easy to read and understand. I would recommend it both to new Christians (or folk who have little understanding of the unity of the Bible) as well those who are a little further along but would benefit from a 'refresher course'.

Very helpful additions to this overview are the short bible studies at the end of each 'epoch' that seek to consolidate and help the reader to apply a number of the truths that have been expounded within each particular chapter. There are also helpful challenging applications throughout the book - (I personally found those within the proclaimed kingdom chapter particularly good to think through) meaning it's harder just to read it academically without being struck afresh by the challenge from the text.

As is perhaps to be expected from the author's track record this book is clear, faithful and biblical - thoroughly recommended. Vaughan Roberts is also humble and a model in selflessly acknowledging, in his introduction, numerous bible teachers from whom he has learnt and who have shaped his teaching of this material. If you've not already got a copy - go to www.ivp.com now and get one.

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