A Play in Six Acts: The Message of the Bible


This outline is adapted from a paper presented by Michael W. Goheen, Theological Director at the Missional Training Centre in Phoenix, Arizona (USA). It is a very brief overview of the biblical story presented as a play in six acts. So when next you pick the Bible to read, ask yourself what act of the play you are reading!

Act One

God calls into being a marvellous creation. He creates human beings in his image to live in fellowship with him and to explore and care for the riches of his creation.

Act Two

Humanity refuses to live under the Creator’s word and chooses to seek life apart from Him. It results in disaster; the whole creation is brought into the train of human rebellion.

Act Three

God chooses a people, Israel, to embody his creational and redemptive purposes for the world. Israel is formed into a people and placed on the land to shine as a light. They fail in their calling. Yet God promises through the prophets that Israel’s failure will not derail His plan.

Act Four

God sends Jesus. Jesus carries out Israel’s calling as a faithful light to the world. But he does more: He defeats the power of sin at the cross, rises from the dead, inaugurating the new creation, and pours out His Spirit that his people might taste of this coming salvation. Before he takes His position of authority over the creation, he gathers his disciples together and tells them: ‘As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’ (John 20:21).

Act Five

Here we learn of the story of the church’s mission from Jerusalem to Rome in the first hundred or so years. But the story ends on an incomplete note. The story is to continue; the church’s mission is to continue in all places until Jesus returns. We are invited into this story to witness to the comprehensive rule of God in Jesus coming at the goal of history.

Act Six

… Jesus the King returns. Redemption is completed!


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