From Eden to Eternity: Pursue Christ Like Nancy Guthrie

pursue christ like nancy guthrie collage

Nancy Guthrie did what Christians are supposed to do: she read her Bible.

And she noticed things, especially things that hinted at more connections between the Testaments than she had been aware of. There’s a second Adam? The blood of Abel gets mentioned in Hebrews?

Her questions led her to a lifelong quest: to understand the big story of Scripture in a way that makes sense of the little details—and culminates in Christ.

Guthrie says, “The Bible is the one book that is worth spending a lifetime to understand in a deeper way. No other book can withstand that kind of scrutiny.”

A woman on a mission

Nancy Guthrie is a wise and passionate voice in the world of female biblical-practical scholarship. In addition to her work as a writer of books and Bible studies, she is a skilled communicator and a sought-after workshop and conference speaker. Her mission: “to infiltrate women’s Bible study in the local church with biblical theology.”

The redemptive thread

When Guthrie first started making connections between the Old and New Testaments—when she discovered the “redemptive thread” that connects references to Christ throughout the Bible—she was already a published author and a conference speaker. But, she says, discovering that the Bible tells one story about Christ was like going back to Bible-reading kindergarten.

There are few published authors in kindergarten, of course. She felt she needed to jumpstart her new Bible study journey, to make some progress she could share with others through her speaking and writing. So she asked her publisher to allow her to take on a one-year devotional project. She chose the theme, “Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament.” And she got to work.

Her heart melted, she says, as Christ spoke to her through his word, authenticating and clarifying the story of the Bible and bringing it to bear on the life of the reader.

Finding Christ

Many people who do not accept the Bible’s authority charge that there is a gap between the God of the Old Testament and the Jesus of the New. Guthrie’s study helped her address this idea head-on. She found that studying the themes of Scripture, tracing them from the beginning to the end of the story, fleshes out that story and puts the Bible’s unity on display. This, in turn, supports the Bible’s authority in the life of the believer and of the church.

Christ used all of Scripture to speak about himself to the two travelers on their way to Emmaus.

Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27 ESV)

The Spirit didn’t choose to tell us exactly what Christ said that day. Instead, through these simple words, he invited us to seek Christ throughout the entirety of the Bible. In fact, Guthrie says, “If we don’t read the Bible this way, then we make the Old Testament a series of moral or faith lessons instead of understanding the Bible as the story of what God is doing through Christ.” As the Spirit illuminates and develops our understanding of God’s purposes for his creation, from Genesis to Revelation, we are urged to respond with God’s people throughout all time. “I’ve got to become joined to Jesus by faith!”

Preparation for pain

Suffering is a deeply personal topic for Nancy Guthrie. At least five of her books focus on offering hope to those who have faced personal loss. She and her husband lost their daughter, Hope, as an infant—and then lost their son, Gabriel, at the same age.

The Guthries now host retreats for grieving families. Thinking about a specific passage that has helped her through her darkest days, Guthrie points to Romans 8—and, in good Nancy Guthrie fashion, she connects it to the Old Testament, to Genesis 3:15.

Genesis 3 tells us that we live in a world that is cursed, every bit of it, because of human sin. This is why we suffer. And Romans 8 tells us what we all can’t help knowing: that we long for release from this curse. Christ, our hope of resurrection, promises restoration and unhindered fellowship with God. We will walk with God; eternity will be, as the title of Guthrie’s 2018 book has it, Even Better Than Eden (see review on page 14).

Guthrie reflects with gratitude on the foundation of biblical knowledge and understanding that had been laid before her faith was tested by suffering. Recalling the story of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7, she comments: “One of them heard him, but the other one made [Jesus’ teaching] a part of the fabric of his life. They had the same storm, but they had different hearts.” As she looked around at her circumstances, straining to understand God’s purposes, Guthrie found that rather than running from God, her faith caused her to “dig in deeper” into the word—to draw closer to God for peace, comfort, and endurance. In the midst of her pain, she found—and has been forever gripped by—the “beauty, necessity, and sufficiency of Christ.”

Resources for the inquisitive teacher

Over the last five years, one of Guthrie’s ongoing projects has been leading the Help Me Teach the Bible podcast, in which she has talked with some of today’s most respected Bible teachers and authors. This valuable audio resource for busy leaders and teachers takes advantage of today’s connected digital world, reaching even as far as a bi-vocational pastor in Nairobi who listens to the podcasts while driving his taxi. Guthrie says her role in the podcast is to “represent the average Bible teacher” who desires guidance and expertise on a particular passage or topic. Every book of the Bible is covered at least once.

In 2019, Guthrie began offering biblical theology workshops for women around the world; during the pandemic in 2020, she took the workshops online. Over three sessions, Nancy’s goal is to help women get a handle on the larger story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. She focuses on tracing particular themes that, she says, “the divine Author has written into his book.” Guthrie contends that, as people develop their understanding of themes that span the Bible, they are more likely to be able to rightly interpret smaller passages in which these themes arise.

Consistent with her passion, Guthrie urges pastors to encourage women in their church to attend the workshops, borrow and read theological books, and take advantage of teacher training opportunities such as the Simeon Trust. She anticipates that church leaders who cultivate and foster in-depth Bible study among their women will find they reap a “theological richness” in church growth.

Methodology and application

Guthrie’s passion for the Bible has not been inhibited by lockdowns during the global pandemic. She recently offered an online workshop for women on “Developing and Delivering a Bible Talk.”

Guthrie’s go-to method for her women’s Bible study groups emphasizes working independently in the text first—to “till the soil” before regrouping to discuss application. As for practical matters, she recommends utilizing chat features to facilitate breaks and encourage interaction in a virtual setting. Not surprisingly, maintaining humility for both teacher and learners is still key to kindling curiosity among group study participants, she says.

Guthrie is burdened especially to see women move beyond the devotional or inspirational type of Bible study to which they may be accustomed. She laments that readers who are conditioned to jump right to the pragmatic, what-does-this-mean-to-me question may miss a passage’s place in the overall storyline of the Bible and its link to the central theme of Christ and his resurrection. Guthrie is confident that with time and practice—and with a healthy dose of sola Scriptura that prioritizes and prizes the authority and continuity of the word—readers will develop an instinct for seeing Christ in its pages.

The deep treasures of the word

Circling back to the idea that Scripture is able to withstand the deepest of examination, Guthrie observes, “To me, God’s word is a treasure to be mined. The deeper I go, the more I see its wisdom.” For her, this wisdom was unlocked when she discovered the indispensable key of the Bible’s storyline and themes (or “biblical theology”). Now, rather than compartmentalizing the Bible into dusty history lessons from distant time periods, she crafts her studies to engage the mind in such a way that “it always gets to the heart, because it always gets to the cross. That’s where the heart melts.”


This article was originally published in the May/June 2021 issue of Bible Study Magazine. Slight adjustments, such as title and subheadings, may be the addition of an editor.

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Written by
Ashley LeBlanc

Ashley LeBlanc is a multilingual freelance editor, writer, and online educator. She serves her family and local church as a wife and mother, musician, Bible study leader, and curriculum developer for women’s and children’s ministries. She is motivated by enabling others to develop their gifts in service to the body of Christ.

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