When I heard a preacher say that the organization of the books of the Bible had no overall plan, I thought “God is never careless like that. You can always see a design in everything He does” so I began looking for it. Jews, ancient and modern, find patterns in their scriptures, something we Westerners do not do as often. For example, there is a pattern in the 10 plagues of Egypt. Two plagues give a warning, then the third does not. This continues up until the 10th. What does that mean? I don’t know, but the pattern is there.
Now about the pattern regarding the arrangement of the Bible.
GODS PLAN for TIME(version 1) If you can, print this Excel spreadsheet out.
You will notice that John 1:1 identifies that eternity begins before natural time begins in Genesis 1:1. God created the entire world system prior to revealing it in Genesis. The Jerusalem Bible translates John 1:1 this way: “Before the beginning began the Word was.”
The first principle of earth is free will. God does not violate our free will; He simply adds a layer of His will accessible to us through our obedience. Our free will limits His authority but He has done this for our benefit. When people ask why doesn’t God step in and fix situations the answer is right here. And many people do not believe in God precisely because they expect an all-powerful deity to make things right. God’s insistence on our free will in this earth limits HIM, and frees us.
But He has provided a solution by giving us Jesus. Old Testament believers were saved by believing that God would work out a plan to rescue us. We, being New Testament people, are saved by believing in that Rescuer, Jesus.
Then time is divided into two parts. The first part is Life under the Law which continues throughout the Old Testament. The ground rules are that Man has abandoned the rule of God and given the world system over to Satan. The rest of the Old Testament sets the rules for profitable and happy living and what to expect in the coming Messiah.
Then we move into the New Testament period which presents both Law and Grace lived through the Messiah. The Law is not done away with, it is simply part of the salvation provided in Jesus. The 1st 3 gospels are about the nature of Christ inside time, then John presents Jesus as an eternal being.
Next is Acts, which should probably be renamed as Acts of the Holy Spirit in the world. The infilling of the Holy Spirit is something only available after the death of Jesus; prior to that time God’s spirit did enter situations but was not a resident in man’s heart.
Romans is the book of Grace as the new profile of the believer in the church and in his personal life. Romans makes it clear that while we lose the ceremonial law, food rites and the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, the moral law stands as is.
The epistles follow with a set of ground rules for church and personal life under the Lord ship of the Lord Jesus. You will notice that the enemies of Man – the world, the flesh and the devil are a constant threat throughout. In due time they will all be taken care of. In the the meantime, we are called to war against their presence in our selves and in our society.