In the beginning God created everything, and He created that everything with nothing but His voice. As God began to sing: the light appeared, the oceans roared, the trees grew, and every animal began to move from nothing more than His words. But then something interesting, something different, something amazing happened. The song stopped.
And in that silence, God dug His hands into the earth, and from that clay, He crafted and formed the man from the ground. Making each detail and line as a skilled artisan bringing form and shape from the clay that ran through His hands. Then stooping down to the lifeless form that lay before him, He did the unthinkable. He pressed His mouth against man’s mouth on the ground and breathed life into him. As the man’s eyes fluttered open – his first exhale the very breath of God – he came alive. .
Yet God was not finished. As the man slept, He took a rib from that man’s side and formed the woman. When the man woke up, God brought this woman to the man, this creature formed from the very place that protected the breath given to the man. As he saw her he said, “At last! This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman, for she was taken from man.” In other words, she was like him both inside and out. It was obvious they were for each other and now they were with each other.
God made both the man and the woman in his image and he blessed them and gave them work; to rule over the creation He had made. They were his image, His picture to the world of what He was like. There was a complete intimacy and harmony between God and His creation with human beings serving as the wise and good stewards over the creation he had made.
All of that beauty, all of that intimacy would be shattered the day the man and woman rebelled. God had placed two trees in the center of that garden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were told that as long as they ate from the Tree of Life they would live. But the day they took from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would surely die. It was as if they were presented with a choice – God set before them Life and Death. He wanted them to choose life, but they chose death.
The serpent crafted a great lie. One that told them that they were not loved. That God was actually holding back a greater life from them by not allowing them to eat from the other tree. So they reached up with their hands and took the fruit from the forbidden tree. As they sank their teeth into that fruit, they turned their backs on God and turned against each other.
The Bible phrases it,”Then their eyes were opened.” It was as if for the first time they saw their flaws, their failures, and they realized their shame, their nakedness. So they did what we all do when we fail – They ran and hid. They hid so deep and so far that the Bible could only use one word to describe the condition man would now find themselves in — Lost.
As this lost humanity fell deeper and deeper into her brokenness, she became just a fragment of the Image of God she was intended to be. Murder. Sorrow. Rape. Betrayal. Lies. Abuse. Death. Mourning. Crying. Shame. All became part of her broken existence. She was cursed.
In the midst of all of this chaos and cursedness, God comes to a man named Abraham and makes a very interesting promise. He says, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Did you catch that? God was going to bless the entire world through Abraham. He would use this man Abraham to rescue the entire world! He would be the blessing to undo the cursing!
Well this part is a really, really long story and one that takes almost the entire Old Testament to tell. Suffice it to say, Abraham has a son Isaac, Isaac has a son named Jacob, and Jacob’s name is changed to Israel. What an interesting name change. See… Israel means, “Struggle.” Perhaps this is because this rescue promised to Abraham would only come through great struggle. The entire Old Testament ends, not with the whole world being blessed, but with Abraham’s family enslaved, broken, and unable to be the people they were intended to be. They were supposed to be the people who rescued the broken world. Instead they ended up the broken ones, lost, enslaved, and looking for rescue.
Out of the ashes of Israel’s slavery would come one true and faithful Israelite. A descendant of Abraham and the one in whom their destiny would be fulfilled. When the fullness of time came, God sent his son to redeem and rescue a broken world. Jesus came, Scripture says, not to condemn the world but to save the world – to rescue the world. That was his mission.
But how does God end a world full of sin and death? And more importantly, how do you end a world cursed with sin and death without ending everyone of us? After all, we are the ones who are full of sin, we are the ones who bring death and live in death. This is the beautiful rescue of Jesus. This is the story of the Cross.
On the cross, Jesus went forward as the one true King to represent us all. But He was a King unlike any other. His crown was not one of gold, but one of thorns, his robes were not refined, but torn. Those who sat to his right and his left were thieves. Jesus was King of the Broken, King of the Rejected. King of Us all.
On that cross 2,000 years ago, God poured out all of His wrath against evil, murder, adultery, lies, deceit, and everything wicked on His son. God could not simply ignore the pain in our world, nor could He pretend it did not happen. He had to deal with it. He had to pay for it. God chose to pay for it Himself.
But it is not enough to simply deal with sin. He also needed to undo all of its effects. The death of Jesus put an end to sin, but the resurrection of Jesus was the undoing of all the wrong. The resurrection was the defeat of death and also the promise that the brokenness would be restored. Sin had done it’s worse and Jesus had overcome. The resurrection was the restoration of all the wrong that had been done and a promise to all of us that our rescue was on the way.
Do you see? The story of Jesus is the story of the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham all those years before. In Jesus, God was beginning to undo the curse of sin and bless the entire world.
After the resurrection, Jesus comes to his disciples and says, “As the Father has sent me, so now I am sending you.” He had a mission for them. But first, he does something that seems very strange … He breathes on them. Remember the story of the first creation when God breathed life into Adam? Now Jesus breathes life into this New Creation, into his disciples and says to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” He is sending them on a mission of New Creation. A mission of forgiveness. A mission to announce to the world that Sin has been defeated and Death has been overcome.
This is the Mission of the Church. We are the ones in whom and through whom God is rescuing the world back to himself. It says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.”
What a precious mission we have to carry out as heaven and earth – ripped apart since that day in the Garden – are now being brought back together as one.
The end of the story is nothing less than God himself returning with the promise to erase humanity’s brokenness and make her new again. At the end, heaven itself descends to earth and the two are united as one in a beautiful healing of all of creation. The Story of Scripture ends with these words…
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
This is our Story.
God is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. He has eternally existed in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three are co-equal and are one God.
Genesis 1:1,26,27; 3:22, Psalm 90:2, Matthew 28:19, I Peter 1:2, II Corinthians 13:14
Man is the image bearer of God and is the supreme object of His creation. Man was created to have fellowship with God but became separated in that relationship through sinful disobedience. As a result, man cannot attain a right relationship with God through his own effort. Every human personality is uniquely created, possesses dignity, and is worthy of respect and Christian love.
Genesis 1:27, Psalm 8:3-6, Isaiah 53:6a, Romans 3:23, Colossians 1:21, Isaiah 59:1-2
Jesus Christ is completely human but, at the same time, completely God. He is the only plan for bringing people who are far from God back into a right relationship with God. He lived a perfect life, so that He could be a substitution for us in satisfying God’s demands for perfection. He defeated death in His resurrection so that we could have life.
Matthew 1:22-23, Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-5; 14:10-30, Hebrews 4:14-15, I Corinthians 15:3-4, Romans 1:3-4, Acts 1:9-11, I Timothy 6:14-15, Titus 2:13
Salvation is a gift from God to man. Man can never make up for his sin by self-improvement or good works. Only by trusting in Jesus Christ as God’s offer of forgiveness can man be saved from sin’s penalty. Eternal life begins the moment one receives Jesus Christ into his life by faith.
Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 14:6; 1:12, Titus 3:5, Galatians 3:26, Romans 5:1
Holy Spirit assures us of our relationship with Christ. He guides believers into all truth and exalts Christ. He convicts people of their sin, God’s righteousness, and the coming judgment. He comforts us, gives us spiritual gifts, and makes us more like Christ.
II Corinthians 3:17, John 16:7-13; 14:16-17, Acts 1:8, I Corinthians 2:12; 3:16, Ephesians 1:13, Galatians 5:25, Ephesians 5:18
The Bible is God’s Word to all His people. It was written by human authors under the supernatural guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because it was inspired by God, the Bible is truth without any mixture of error and is completely relevant to our daily lives.
II Timothy 3:16-17, II Peter 1:20-21, II Timothy 1:13, Psalm 119:105,160, Psalm 12:6, Proverbs 30:5