When you are helping someone discover God for themselves in His Word, where do you start? Well, when you open any other book, where would you start?
Many times we start with Jesus as we’re introducing someone to the Bible, but most people don’t know who Jesus is, let alone why His death and resurrection are important. In “The Case for Creation to Christ” on the CDM Podcast, Paul and Rebecca address why we use the Creation to Christ Scripture list to disciple others in a Discovery Bible Study context. This list is a compilation of 26 passages that begins in Genesis 1 and ends with Christ, His life, death, resurrection and ultimate ascension. Continue reading to learn how the story journey from Creation to Christ can build a strong foundation with those you’re discipling and lead to movement!
Choosing the Right List
The Scripture list we choose to disciple others with matters! It’s not a decision we should take lightly or be cavalier with, which is why we need to exercise discernment and wisdom when it comes to crafting Scripture lists that we will use to help people know God.
For all these reasons, we at CDM suggest using the Creation to Christ List. It’s 26 passages, it starts in Genesis and it ends with Jesus.
Now, you may be thinking, “Great. I can find a hundred Creation to Christ lists online and all of them are different, so which one am I supposed to use?”
We are referring specifically to the list detailed in the book Contagious Disciple Making. You can access this list for free through the CDM App here!
Why This Particular List?
This Creation to Christ list tells the entire story.
So many people in this day and age do not know who Jesus is because they don’t come from a Judeo-Christian worldview.
When we tell people things like “Jesus loves you,” or hold up a sign that says “Jesus died for you,” there are so many blanks in their understanding and worldview that they have no way to know what those things mean. They just think, “Okay, well that’s nice, I guess. Who’s Jesus and why did he have to die?”
The “why” is so important, especially when it comes to that question of why Jesus had to die.
The “why” behind that big term we use called “Substitutionary Atonement,” which we ascribe to Christ and His work on the cross, is actually set up way back in the Old Testament in stories like Abraham and Isaac, the Passover, and the Levitical law.
God gave us His infallible Word, and by going through it from beginning to end — from Genesis to Jesus — the way it’s written, God fills in a lot of the blanks so people actually understand what sin is, why Jesus had to come, why He had to die and why they need Him.
This list counteracts syncretism.
Syncretism is the combination of different forms of belief or practice. It’s something we tend to think just happens overseas where we see the melding of different cultic or Buddhist practices with the Christian faith put inside.
The reality is syncretism happens just as much in the US as well. In the US, people blend Christianity with secular humanism, which teaches that we are all born good or basically good. Obviously then, that distorts how they see God, the Bible, and their own behaviors. If they’re inherently good, what need have they for a Savior to redeem them from their sins?
To counteract this, we start in the Old Testament where it shows that — no, humans are not inherently good, at least not anymore. In fact, we are inherently sinners and our sin makes us deserving of death before a holy God.
Once people realize they’re sinners, it prepares them for repentance.
How Was This List Formed?
A lot of time, effort and experimentation went into creating this Scripture list and tuning it to where it is now. It was an international team of practitioners, including our very own Paul Watson, who met together across multiple locations, wrestled with different Scripture lists and applied and tested them all over the world.
A keystone question that Paul and the team had to be answer was this: “What are the attributes of God that someone needs to understand in order to be able to say ‘yes’ to Him — to value who Christ is and not only give their life to Him, but maybe even give their life up for Him?”
God is the Creator
God is holy
God is righteous
God is powerful
God punishes sin
God keeps His promises
God is merciful and gracious
God is everywhere
Show, Don’t Tell
Essential to the Creation to Christ list is this idea of showing and not telling. It’s a principle that works in fiction writing and is equally effective (and essential) in disciple making.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a story about a knight and a dragon, and you want your reader to root for your knight and be terrified of your dragon. You have a couple ways you could do this.
You could just tell them that the knight is good and chivalrous and that the dragon is very evil and dangerous, and hope they believe you.
Or, you could write scenes that show the knight repeatedly putting his own life and interests on the line to help people, and the dragon effortlessly incinerating legions of the knight’s equally brave friends and throngs of screaming village folk.
Anyone who’s ever read a book or watched a tv show knows that the second way will be far more effective at driving the point home for your reader that your knight is a good guy and your dragon isn’t to be trifled with. This is because you showed them and didn’t just tell them.
This same principle of showing and not telling works wonders for helping nonbelievers discover Jesus. That’s why this Creation to Christ list is made up of narrative passages that tell stories and demonstrate the various attributes of God we listed.
By showing Who God is and who people are by what they say and do in stories like the Garden of Eden, Noah’s flood, God’s covenant with Abraham, and the Passover — instead of just telling who they are in a generic gospel presentation, or pointing them to Romans — attributes of God and human nature are discovered by the reader for themselves little by little and not only transfer more easily, but also become more personally significant.
Each story in this list adds to the scope of an unfolding narrative filled with drama and humanity on a scale that leaves people in awe. And once that base foundation of personal discovery is laid by the Genesis to Jesus stories and they become disciples of Christ, the truths revealed in letters like Romans become so much more glorious and real for people than they would be otherwise!
One of my friends who I did a DBS with marveled, after making it to the passage on Christ’s crucifixion, that the Bible seems to be the most interconnected story ever told. He realized how Christ’s death connected to and fulfilled other passages we’d read, such as Isaiah 53, the sacrificial system in Leviticus and the Passover, which in turn connected to the Abraham and Isaac story, which brought him even further back to Genesis 3 and God’s proclamation about Eve’s offspring and the serpent’s. He said it’s like Wikipedia in book form, where you have all these passages with prophecies and events that connect like an intricate web of hyperlinks to other passages.
In other words, because we read the stories from Genesis to Jesus like we did, my friend got the big picture of who Jesus is, why He had to come and why He had to die!
Don’t Take Shortcuts
Disciple makers often ask, “Can we shorten the list? What if we don’t have time to go through all of the stories? What if my non-believing friends won’t want to go through the whole list?”
Sometimes (not always), these questions can come from a place of thinking the goal of DBS is merely to get nonbelievers to say a certain prayer and become a convert. In actuality, we’re looking for people who will become disciples worth multiplying equipped to make disciples worth multiplying.
People need to know that following Jesus is not something to be undertaken lightly — that it’s dangerous and it costs us everything. That’s why each story has been carefully chosen to display character attributes of God that a person needs to understand if they’re truly going to make a choice to give their life to Him and/or lose their life for Him.
If we shorten the list, the people we disciple are going to miss key concepts, which may inadvertently set them up for a weaker faith or a weaker understanding of God later. So, don’t take shortcuts.
Trust the process and trust that God will show people what they need to learn.
Take It One Story at a Time
Here is a helpful tip in response to the question of, “What if my friends won’t want to go through the whole list?”
Don’t tell a person that they are signing up for a 26-week-long study. That can be overwhelming.
While we do want to be transparent with people about what to expect from a DBS before they say ‘yes’, we should also be shrewd and remember that how we word the invitation could be the difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’.
Instead, start by inviting them to one meeting. Afterwards ask them, “Hey! Was this good for you? Would you like to do it again?” And just go one story at a time.
If you found this blog helpful and would like a more comprehensive dive into the Creation to Christ list, be sure to check out “The Case for Creation to Christ” podcast here! Paul and Rebecca address concepts not covered in this blog — like how nonbelievers relate to the Old Testament, when to add passages, how to break up longer stories, and more! You can find the podcast at the link above or on the CDM App under podcasts!