The Bible is a long and complicated book with many different authors, literary styles, stories and ideas. For many people, reading the Bible from cover to cover may seem daunting, and as a result, they never do. This is unfortunate, because to have a good understanding of the message of Christianity one must have a broad knowledge of the contents and themes of the Old and New Testaments, which comprise the Judeo-Christian scriptures commonly known as “the Bible.”
People who grow up in a church may absorb many Biblical teachings through sermons and Sunday school lessons. But what about the many people who come from a non-religious family and have never decided to read the Bible on their own? And what about the huge percentage of the world’s population who belong to a different religion and are unfamiliar with the scriptures of the Christian faith? For such people, a simple distillation of the Bible could be very helpful — and even for those who grew up with it or are already familiar with it, this could be a useful refresher and study tool.
Below, I have compiled a list of what I see as the most important themes of the Bible, with links to verses that present these stories and teachings. Every student of the Bible will have their own idea about what would be worth including in such a list. This list comes from my own spiritual perspective, which could be described as Restorationist Christian Universalism. Therefore, I tend to emphasize Biblical messages that are hopeful and inclusive. To sum it up, my view of the Christian Gospel — and the overall story of the Bible in general — is of a God who has created and loves human beings with a parental love, and who leads us on a journey from our fall into sin to our redemption and exaltation through the awesome, all-encompassing power of our divine-human brother and perfect exemplar, Jesus Christ.
With that introduction, here is what I would encourage all people to take from the Bible as a starting point, to learn the things that matter most in this great book of Christian teachings.