In the coming weeks, I'm going to host a multi-part blog series on the atonement, the "scarlet thread" that runs through the entire Bible.
This spring, thousands of groups using The Gospel Project in churches across the world are taking a journey through the Scriptures, tracing the thread of atonement from Genesis to Revelation. If you have never seen The Gospel Project, you can download a full month of our Christ-centered curriculum for kids, students, and adults for free.
Trevin Wax, Managing Editor of The Gospel Project, wrote the foreword to the eBook. Here is an excerpt from his foreword:
There's a Story in the stories.
In recent years, evangelicals have rediscovered that the Bible is not simply a collection of interesting stories about morality but one overarching Story about salvation found only in Jesus Christ. Perhaps that's why we've seen an influx of Bibles for kids, like The Jesus Storybook Bible, and chronological Bibles for students and adults that show how the Bible fits together. I'm blessed to work The Gospel Project, a curriculum for all ages that shows how the whole Bible, both the Old and New Testament, points us to Jesus.
We are not the first generation to see the Bible as telling one central Story. For centuries now, scholars and pastors have traced the major themes of Scripture, showing how God's plan of redemption unfolds in history.
A Night of Telling the Story
On December 31, 1961, W. A. Criswell, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX spent several hours walking his congregation through the Bible's grand narrative, tracing the "scarlet thread through the Bible." Criswell repeated this journey on other occasions and added a significant amount of material. But it's the original sermon from Criswell that was later transcribed and published. Together with the Criswell Foundation, the Gospel Project team is pleased to re-release this book in a digital format.
Criswell's Atonement Thread
What does Criswell accomplish in this little book? To begin, he sets up the biblical narrative in a way that envelops world history. For Criswell, the story of the Bible is the story of our world. We aren't examining Scripture in light of world history; we are examining world history in light of Scripture. That's why he places all earthly conflict within the framework of a spiritual battle. "What is the greatest struggle of the ages?" he asks. Not the battle between democracy and totalitarianism, he assures us, but the conflict between the evil of Satan and the love of God.
The story of the Bible is the story of God's kingdom, and the way this kingdom arrives is through the blood of God's Son. Criswell takes the biblical theme of atonement and uses it to weave the stories of the Bible into one single Story of God's redemption through Christ.
"So the story of atonement and sacrifice begins and unfolds throughout the Word of God until finally in glory we shall see great throngs of the saints who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb."
This little eBook will surely be a great help to both those who are just beginning to understand the gospel, and also to those who have walked with the Lord for a long time. Here are a couple of thoughts on the book from Christian leaders:
What a joy it is to see The Scarlet Thread being made available once again for a new generation! W. A. Criswell's classic work beautifully portrays the picture of Christ's redemptive work throughout the canon of Holy Scripture. Readers will be informed, instructed, strengthened and helped in their faith journey. More importantly, they will be moved to a life characterized by worship, praise, and gratitude to our great God.
David S. Dockery
President, Trinity International University
The Scarlet Thread is a classic treatment of the grand story of redemption. Tracing the theme of salvation from Genesis to Revelation, W.A. Criswell tells the old, old story as only he could as a prince of preachers.
Daniel L. Akin
President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina
There is a scarlet thread that runs throughout the Bible and it is the binding that holds the pages of the Scripture together. That great scarlet thread is redemption through Jesus Christ. In this book, Criswell traces the scarlet thread of redemption from the blood of covering after the fall in the Garden of Eden to the blood-washed multitude standing before the throne of God in eternity. The content of this eBook was originally delivered as a sermon by W. A. Criswell at First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas. In his introductory remarks Dr. Criswell said:
The sermon is as if a man stood on the top of a great height and looked over the whole creation of God. As Moses stood on the top of Mount Pisgah and saw from afar the Promised Land, so this message tonight. We are standing as it were on a great and lofty eminence. And we are looking over the entire story of human history from its beginning in the eternity of the eternities, in the unknown distant ages of the ageless past, and as it reaches forward to the great incomparable consummation of the ages that are yet to come.
I encourage you to check out the free eBook. Take a moment, download it here, and learn more about the thread that runs throughout the entirety of the Scriptures.