(written by Alvin Reid and George Robinson)
Teaching at Southeastern offers many rewards: multitudes of students who passionately pursue knowing and serving Christ, the mission of God compelling us upward and outward, and our location in beautiful North Carolina, to name a few. One of the greatest blessings comes from the collegiality we enjoy among the faculty. We not only teach together; we genuinely love one another and enjoy both our fellowship and our co-laboring here.
The two of us also have the joy of going from teacher and student (Alvin, the older guy, once taught George, the young gun) to colleagues. A few years back while leading a mission trip to New York, George found the little booklet called The Story by Spread Truth (www.viewthestory.com). It shows the gospel from the perspective of the overarching metanarrative of Scripture: Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration. George, having researched and written a chapter for Bruce Ashford’s book Theology and Practice of Mission focused upon evangelistic reductionism and the need to communicate the gospel in the context of the entirety of the Bible, this little booklet seemed to communicate those same truths in a simple format. Alvin discovered this approach helped him to lead several previously unchurched young adults to Christ, so we both thought this was just the thing we sought to help our students better understand the comprehensive nature of the gospel – how it is for both the lost and the saved. The booklet briefly highlighted how the whole Bible points to Jesus and His work on the cross and the subsequent New Creation that awaits those who believe. We have seen ourselves the impact of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in churches, which emphasizes the Bible more as a book of morality than a book displaying the reality of the great God we serve and His redemptive work.
We met with the leaders of Spread Truth over time, in particular Jerry McCorkle, J.D. Bridges, and Josh Jeffries, to help develop The Story Training materials (www.thestorytraining.com). Many gifted friends helped us with the videos for the project including J.D. Greear, David Platt, and Ed Stetzer. For several years now we have been piloting and using this training in our classes and in our own personal outreach. The feedback that we’ve gotten from students and churches that we’ve trained has proved to be invaluable in making helpful edits in subsequent editions of the booklet and training curricula.
And now we are pleased to announce the publication of The Story ESV Bible (http://gospel.spreadtruth.com/TheStory/) as another amazing, high quality tool for evangelism and discipleship. SpreadTruth partnered with Crossway Books to produce this visually attractive, theologically rich, low-cost Bible. The genius of the resource is this: just inside the cover of the Bible one can read in full color The Story booklet, which in effect offers a simple and effective means for the reader to explain centrality of the gospel as the overarching message of the entire Bible. Then, each book of the Bible has a brief one-page introduction showing how that book fits into the larger story of Creation, Fall, Rescue, and Restoration. We were both blessed to serve on the editorial team along with JD Bridges and Dane Ortlund. In addition to the two of us, other SEBTS contributors to the book intros include President Akin, Tony Merida, Ben Merkle, Heath Thomas, and Tracy McKenzie, as well as pastors who relate closely to Southeastern: J.D. Greear , Jerome Gay and David Platt.
Beyond the shared joy of teaching at Southeastern, we love opportunities like these to collaborate on such an important project as this. We have already begun giving copies of the Bible to unbelievers and are engaging them to help them understand the beauty of the gospel from all of Scripture.
Just the other day Alvin sat in a coffee shop talking to a young man. This young man represented many with whom Alvin and George have spoken over the past several years. He had experienced more than a little success in his young adult life both personally and professionally. Yet, something seemed to be missing. As Alvin told him about the great story of the gospel, how Augustine got it right when he prayed, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee.” The young man listened intently, understanding the weight of this story and his own need.
He had no Bible, so Alvin gave him a copy of The Story ESV Bible he had just received. He pointed out the Story overview of the Scripture in the opening pages. He pointed the young man to the Gospel of John, which his younger friend agreed to read. This young man did not in that moment begin to follow Christ. But he had what he needed: the Word, in a way that makes clear the gospel, a friend with whom he can continue to dialogue, and the Holy Spirit Who is at work in his life.
In George’s desire to live with missional intentionality, he has been sharing the gospel over a two-year period with the lady who cuts his hair. Just two weeks ago as George sat in the chair they discussed the way that the Bible is truly one story that has Jesus as its hero – the Rescuer. At the end of that appointment George was able to walk her through the gospel and how to understand the Bible. Her response? “This is just what I’ve needed! I’ve always struggled to understand the Bible but I think this is going to help.”
Across America we meet pastors, student pastors, and other leaders who see the need to recover a view of the gospel as big as the Bible itself. We encourage you to use these tools and to discover as we and our students have the glory and the story of the gospel in its greatness and in such a way as to help people see how the gospel changes all of life.