There is a beautiful story that resonates in all of our hearts. It is so compelling that you don’t have to look hard to find it. Consider the entertainment industry which banks on the fact that we are drawn to stories that begin in harmony, transition to conflict, and end in glorious restoration. Additionally, there is always a villain who destroys harmony and a hero who restores it. This is how we are taught to write stories – we are irresistibly drawn to this model.
Consider the possibility that Christianity is not just a set of rules or philosophy on how to live, but rather it is a faith that explains why this story is imprinted on our hearts. The Bible, the revelation of this story, is not just good advice, but rather it is good news. Christianity is faith in that which we have found to be true in our hearts: that we are participants of a grander story in which the author has revealed Himself to us and pursues us!
The story starts with God who has always existed (Ps 90:2). In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). God’s creation was good (Gen 1:31), and everything good in the world today comes from God (James 1:17). God also sustains life and orchestrates all things according to his will (Job 38-39). The fact that God reveals himself through creation is a grace all mankind enjoys. God is holy and worthy to receive all glory and honor (Rev 4:11).
God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We see all three persons present in harmony together at the beginning of the Son’s earthly ministry where “the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:22) God the Father is fully God, Christ is fully God (John 1:1-4), and the Holy Spirit is fully God (Matt 28:19). Yet at the same time, God is One (Rom 3:30), which is a profound mystery to us, his creation.
God made man and woman in his own image (Gen 1:27) which distinguishes us from the rest of creation. We were made to rule over and care for the earth (Gen 1:28). We existed in perfect harmony with God, experiencing Him fully (Gen 2:25).
Although made to live in harmony with God, we rejected God. While in paradise, man rejected God’s law and sinned by putting himself in God’s place (Gen 3:5-7). The harmony was broken and we became sinful by very nature. We are all guilty of sinning against God (Eph 2:3) and have fallen short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23), earning us spiritual and physical death and separation from God (Rom 6:23). We are the villains of our own story and are the reason we need a hero.
Redemption in the Old Covenant God began redeeming mankind by initiating a relationship with the Hebrew people. He revealed himself through the prophets. The Word of God in the Old Covenant is found in the Old Testament which reveals his character, promises, and law. The Old Covenant announces the coming of the Messiah, our hero, who frees us from sin and restores us to God.
God the Son and Redemption in the New Covenant
As prophesied in the old covenant, God the father sent his only son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah. It is through Him all things were made (John 1:1-4). Jesus is the Word of God who, by the power of the Holy Spirit, became man.
Jesus was fully God (Phil 2:6) and fully man (Phil 2:7), one person with two natures. Just as Adam’s sins were imputed to us, Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf and is our only hope for mediation with God (1 Tim 2:5).
Jesus died on the cross and bore the punishment of our sins, objectively satisfying God’s justice (Eph 1:7). Our proper response is to turn from our sins and trust Christ to restore our relationship with God. God showed his love for us by sending his son to satisfy His just wrath, awakening our souls to our condition, leading us to repent, giving us the gift of faith, granting us mercy by attributing Jesus’ payment on our behalf (Rom 5:8), and finally, adopting us as His children (Eph 1:5). Jesus is the hero of our story and we can truly say that salvation is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9).
Before dying, Jesus claimed “it is finished” (John 19:30). As followers of Christ this gives us assurance that his death is sufficient for us.
Jesus rose from the dead and took on a new spiritual body (1 Cor 15:42-44). Just as we partake in his death through faith, we also partake in his bodily resurrection (1 Cor 15:20-23) which affirms the original goodness of God’s creation and our hope for perfect restoration.
Jesus ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of God the Father (Acts 7:55-56) to prepare for us a place (John 14:2-3). This gives us confidence that once again we will be restored in perfect harmony with God, as was intended from the beginning.
Jesus promises to be among us when we gather together in his name (Matt 8:20) and when we serve those in need. (Matt 25:40)
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is the giver of life who is sent by God the Father (Ps 104:30) and by God the Son (Acts 1:8) to make known God’s active presence on earth.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his disciples they would receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon them (Acts 1:8). The Holy Spirit reveals God’s word (John 14:26) and participates with us in our redemption as we grow in holiness (Rom 8:13).
God’s Family-The Church
Christ established the church as his body (Matt 16:18, Eph 1:22-23). There is only one church of God for which Christ died (Eph 5:25, Acts 20:28). Locally, as members of this church, we are called to gather and share life together, to encourage each other, teach God’s word, and take the good news and our hope to the world (Acts 2:42-47). The church is the pillar of God’s truth (1 Tim 3:15) and a light in a world of darkness (Matt 5:14). The church practices baptism as an outward and visible sign of our adoption as God’s children and members of Christ’s Body (1 Cor 12:13). The church observes The Lord’s Supper in remembrance of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and future return (Luke 22:19).
Restoration of All Things
We look to the second coming of Christ in glory and power to make all things new and to judge the living and the dead. Those who have rejected Jesus will face judgment (John 5:29) and eternal separation from God. Those who have accepted Jesus will receive resurrection bodies, thus completing redemption. (Rom 8:23-24). The hero of our story will restore us to perfect harmony, give us new spiritual bodies, reunite us with God’s people, and we will enjoy the full knowledge and love of God for eternity.