In Christianity there are many books of Bible exposition. Most of them say that the central thought of the Bible is Christ. But today, according to the light we have received through His mercy, we feel it is insufficient merely to say that Christ is the central thought of the Bible. We should remember the words the apostle Paul spoke: “This mystery is great, but I speak with regard to Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). Hence, we must say that the central thought of the Bible is Christ and the church. The Bible not only reveals Christ Himself; it also reveals the bride and the Body of Christ, which is the church.
No doubt the whole Bible shows us Christ. But at the same time, it also shows us that Christ needs a church, in the same way that a man needs a wife. From the very beginning, the Bible reveals this in a type—that it was not good for Adam to live alone. We know from the New Testament that this typifies the fact that Christ needs a bride. Therefore, at the beginning of the Bible, not only does it reveal to us the one Adam, but it also reveals to us how Eve was produced from Adam to become his bride and how they two became one. There was Adam, and there was Eve. The apostle said that this is a great mystery, but that he was speaking with regard to Christ and the church. In the Bible one cannot just see Christ without seeing the church. Many talk about Isaac and forget about Rebecca. But there was Isaac and there was Rebecca. In the Bible there is the story of God contacting man through Christ, but there is also man occupying a very important position. The central characters in the Bible are not only God in Christ, but also man as the bride of God in Christ. The universal couple is God and man. In the universe God is the only male, and man is the counterpart of God. If man is without God, he is like a widow. If God is without man, He is like a bachelor. In the universe there has to be the matching of God with man.
For this reason, the first scene presented to us in the Old Testament is the story of a man seeking for a wife. This man typifies Christ, and Christ is the embodiment of God. This wife typifies the church, and the church is a group of men saved by God out of mankind to be built up by Him. Throughout the Old Testament, God was all the time standing in the position of a husband toward His people. God treated the Israelites as His wife. Later on, the Lord Jesus came. John, the forerunner of the Lord Jesus, not only proclaimed Him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but also testified that He who has the bride is the Bridegroom. Not only does John introduce the Lord Jesus as the redeeming Lamb, but he also introduces Him as the Bridegroom who has the bride. Then in the Epistles, the apostle Paul says, “I betrothed you [the saved ones] to one Husband, to present a pure virgin to Christ.” He also says that the church is to Christ as Eve is to Adam. In Revelation, at the end of the whole Bible, there is a proclamation that the marriage of the Lamb is come. When the New Jerusalem appears, it is said to be prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. That is the union of God and man. All the redeemed people and the Redeemer become one as the mystery of the universe, which is Christ and the church.
Therefore, the central character of the whole Bible is this mysterious couple. God and man become one in the same way that a man and a woman become one flesh. Man and woman becoming one flesh is a type of God and man becoming one. Christ is God becoming one with man, and the church is man becoming one with God. God comes in His Son Christ in order that He would become one with man. Man is built up in His Son as His church, in order that he would become one with God. This oneness, this mysterious union, is Christ and the church, and is also the union of God and man. This is the central thought of the Bible.
We can speak of the central thought of the Bible another way. Christ is the living word of God, and the Bible is the written word of God. Christ is the living word, and the Bible is the written word. Christ is the content of the Bible, and the Bible is the explanation of Christ. If we take away Christ from the Bible, the Bible will become an empty book, like an empty vessel without its content. At the same time, no one can know Christ well without knowing the Bible, because the Bible is the explanation of Christ. Only when one reads the explanation in the Bible can he understand and know what Christ is. The Bible tells us that everything of Christ is put into the church and expressed through the church. Hence, the central thought of the Bible is Christ and the church. It is insufficient to know Christ only; we have to know the church as well. The Bible shows us that the universal central character has both a head and a body. The Head is Christ and the Body is the church. Hence, Christ and the church are the central thought of the Bible.
I. The Central Thought of the Old Testament— Leading Man to Christ for Redemption
The Old Testament leads man to Christ that man would be redeemed by Him.
II. The Central Thought of the New Testament— in Christ the Church Being Redeemed and Built Up
The New Testament shows us how the church is redeemed and built up in Christ.
(On Knowing the Bible, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)