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S. A. J. Lyttek, a multiple award-winning writer, always loved writing, but didn’t arrive at the profession in the typical manner. After college and graduate school, she plunged into government consulting. In this environment, she discovered a knack for writing tests, interviews and other measurements. That soon became the focus of her career—reigniting her love for the written word. Thus captivated, she spent evenings freelancing “fun” writing including short stories, poems, articles and cards. When her eldest was a toddler, she quit full-time work to stay home and write. Eager to spend more time with her children, homeschooling intrigued her. From preschool through high school, she homeschooled both sons while continuing to freelance. An integral part of the homeschooling community, she has developed and taught writing classes to a generation of homeschoolers. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Gary, Mrs. Lyttek loves to share her commitment to homeschoolers and her fascination with the written word.

The Main Idea

9/15/2021 5:06:00 PM BY Susan Lyttek

“This question wants you to discover the main point of the passage you just read.” I say that, or some version of that, several times a week. Whether the kid or teen is working on test prep or basic school skills, the whole concept of decoding the purpose comes up quite often.

“Start,” I usually say next, “by looking at the beginning. If it is a short passage, the main idea is generally in the first two sentences. If it’s a longer essay, look at the beginning and the end. For the sake of analyzing the main idea, you do not need to read the middle.”

Of course, if they can read the middle, that’s good too. But often we’re talking about students who are not fast readers. Or the middle can mix them up and confuse them as to what the real purpose of the author in writing the selection was.

So sometimes, especially with younger ones, they will read the first sentence of a paragraph and I will say, “Stop! Based on just that sentence, look at the answer choices and predict the main idea.” Often that will steer them in the right direction. Sometimes they will need a second sentence, but more often than not, the first will give them what they need.

That’s because that is the traditional way to write. You start with the main idea in your topic sentence or introductory paragraph. Then you explain your supports for that idea. Then you finish it off with a conclusion that takes your main idea and gives it a direction, a takeaway or method for the reader to use what the author wrote.

Therefore, if you can’t find the main idea at the beginning, or if you don’t find it clear enough there, check the ending. Between the two, you’ll get an idea of why the piece was written.

It got me thinking, does that work with the Bible, too? Now the Bible is a whole lot longer than a three-point essay. But what if we use the first three chapters and the last three chapters? Can we decode the main idea from those?

“In the beginning, God…”

With those four words, we get the introduction and the person of focus. There are a multitude of personages and characters throughout the Bible. But make no mistake, the main person throughout is God. God and how he creates. God and how he interacts with his creation. God and his purposes.

How about if we fast forward to the ending? The last verse says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.” So God in the person of the Son ends the book. And “Amen” means “so be it” or even “the end” so we have the document open with an introduction and close with a conclusion.

What about the themes in the first three and the last three chapters? In the first three, God creates, sets the perimeters and enforces them. Light is another key theme. The creation of light separates light from darkness. In the last three chapters, God recreates. We have a new heaven and a new earth. And in the end, light permeates.

In the beginning, humans are God’s crowning achievement. But in the beginning, they also fall away from God’s purpose.

In the end, redeemed humans, saints, are God’s crowning achievement. In the end, they are restored to both their purpose and their holiness.

In the beginning and in the end, we have the tree of Life.

Based on that, what would we deduce is the main idea, the main purpose for the Bible?

God’s intent, always, has been to be involved with humankind as its Creator and as its God. A redeemed humanity living with him forever is the prime motivation for Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Does decoding the main idea help crystalize Scripture? It does for me!

Amen. Come Lord Jesus.