The Bible is the account of how humanity and the creation itself came into being, fell into destruction, were redeemed by God in a decisive event in history, and will be renovated by God spiritually, materially and eternally. It is God’s view of the human story from creation through eternity future. It ends well. A brief outline of the biblical message is as follows: Creation; Fall; Redemption; Renovation.
- Creation: God created a good world with good people in it, rightly related to and receiving life from Him. It was good because it was rightly related to God in a covenant of creation. Gen.1-2
- Fall: Man decided to trust himself instead of God, thereby rejecting God’s authority, love and relationship and separating himself from God’s eternal life. Death began because of rebellion against God, the author of goodness and life. Ultimate judgment (hell) is required by God’s justice and humanity seems to be bound to it. Genesis 3
- Redemption: God initiated a plan to rescue humanity and the material universe from the now inevitable divine judgment for evil. Genesis 3:15 through Revelation 20
- Renovation: God creates new heavens and new earth; both invisible and visible realms are completely re-created in perfect beauty and harmony. Revelation 21-22.
How the plan of redemption unfolds in the Bible.
- God promises from the beginning to someday crush evil and rescue humanity. Gen.3:15
- God initiates a redemptive covenant with Abraham based on Abraham’s simple trust in God and His promise (Genesis 15:6); through Abraham comes Israel; from Israel comes Christ (the Seed) and through Christ the entire human population will be offered entrance into God’s plan of redemption by shear grace. Genesis 12-15 and the rest of the Old Testament. John 1:1-18; Matt 28:18-20
- As Messiah (Christ), God in human form allows Himself to be killed under His own wrath, in humanity’s place, as a sacrifice for the sin that humanity has committed. This allows God to embrace any people who trust Him (like Abraham did), releasing them from the penalty and power of their sin, effectively grafting them into the Abrahamic Faith Covenant. John 3:16; Rom 3:21-30; Gal 3:29
- Christ is raised from the dead and demonstrates that death has been defeated by appearing to several hundred people over a period of about six weeks. Luke 24; Acts 1:1-11; 1 Cor.15:1-11.
- Christ explains that He is now the true King in God’s creation, bringing God’s kingdom into this dark and doomed age. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-49; Colossians 1:13-14
- Christ pours out His own spirit on repentant believers, regenerating them, forgiving them and insuring their eternal life. Acts 2; Titus 3:5-8
- Christ returns to judge the world and condemn all evil and people who have refused to turn and trust Him. Hell was created for Satan, but many people will join him there. Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 19:1-20:15
- God in Christ recreates the entire universe in righteousness and goodness and dwells among his redeemed people forever. Revelation 21-22
Sobering facts about the human condition.
- We have sinned and done evil in more ways than we can possibly comprehend. Rom 3:23
- God will judge every thought, word and deed. Rom 2:16; Heb 4:12; Matt 12:36-37; Luke 12:1-3; John 5:25-29
- We cannot, in our own power, alter our emotional and spiritual slavery to the evil that we live in because we deeply love the darkness. John 3:19; Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3; Rom 6:16; 7:14-24; 8:3.
- God rightly responds to evil with wrath and a determination to destroy it all. Matt 10:28; Rom 1:18-32; 6:23; Rev 20:11-15.
- His wrath (Hell) is real and the greatest threat to the human soul. Matthew 10:28; 13:36-43; 25:41; Mark 9:42-48; 2 Thess 1:5-10; Rev 20:11-15.
The Gospel: Jesus Christ is the risen Lord of all creation—God in Christ offers free salvation to all people today by bringing them out of the kingdom of evil and into the kingdom of God. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24: 46-47; John 20:30-31; Acts 17:30-31; 26:18 Rom 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10; 8:1-2; Col 1:13-14.
- He calls us through the message of the gospel, the news of who Christ is and what God has done for us. Rom 1:16-17
- We exercise simple, repentant faith in Christ. Mark 1:14-15; Jn 3:16; Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8-10.
- He declares us righteous immediately and begins to renovate our souls, transforming our character and eventually our bodies to be like Christ. Rom 6:5-7; 8:1-2; Gal 4:14; Phil 3:20-21; Titus 3:3-7.
- He adopts us and makes us a family under His grace and in His name, thereby bringing us into His eternal kingdom, under His reign, right now. Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7; Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13-14.
- He uses us to bring many more from all over the world into His grace and kingdom. Matthew 28:18-20.
People respond to the message of God in one of three ways. Only the last one brings a person into God’s plan.
- Crass Idolatry: Outright rejection of God in favor of worshipping the Self or some created thing. Rom 1:18-32.
- Self-worship/creation-worship often presents as simple “neutrality” in people. It does not appear as blatantly idolatrous as it really is. If pressed though, this position is seen to be an unrepentant unbelief in the Creator Himself.
- Humanized Religion (refined idolatry): Human-centered attempts to earn God’s favor or appease and avoid His anger by a system of human works, religious or otherwise.
- This is sometimes done in the name of Christianity, but is not the actual message of Christ. Matt 5:20-48; Rom 2:1-3:20; Gal 1:6-10.
- Gospel Faith: Repentant personal faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as the risen and reigning Lord of creation and the Savior of the fallen universe. Jn 3:16; Rom 3:23, 6:23, 10:9-10, 8:1-2; Heb 1:1-3; 11:1-6.
- This is a complete rejection of any and all human achievement with regard to becoming a part of God’s plan of redemption, His kingdom. It is throwing oneself utterly on the mercy of God in Christ. Eph 2:1-10
- It results in a transformed and transforming life of loyalty to the real King, the Lord Jesus Christ and his purposes. Matt 28:18-20; Eph. 2:10; Phil 2:12-13.