The Story Begins

 

The story opens: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” By His powerful and creative word, God spoke into existence the universe and everything in it. Of all that he created, the pinnacle of his creation was a man and a woman, Adam and Eve.

 

God made Adam and Eve in his image, to reflect in a limited way who He is. And they were created with a purpose: that they might display God’s worth by honoring, serving and fellowshipping with him. All mankind, who descend from Adam and Eve, exist for this same purpose. Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

A Fatal Turn

 

God placed Adam and Eve in a garden called Eden where he gave to them the responsibility of watching over His creation. He placed only one restriction upon them: although they could eat from any other tree in the garden, they were not to eat of one particular tree in the midst of the garden.

 

One day, Satan, an angel who had rebelled against God in heaven and was cast out, took the form of a serpent and deceived Eve into taking of the forbidden fruit. Having convinced Eve that God did not have her best interests in mind, she took the fruit to Adam and he knowingly in defiance of God ate of the fruit also.

 

Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

A Just Condemnation

 

The consequences of their actions were devastating. All of creation was affected by Adam’s choice. But most significantly, their act of rebellion not only brought condemnation upon them but also plunged the entirety of the human race into sin and brought about sin’s awful but just penalty: physical, spiritual, and eternal death.

 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death

A Required Sacrifice

 

Adam and Eve tried to deal with their sin on their own by making coverings for themselves of leaves. They would learn shortly that their feeble efforts were worthless because nothing short of death would satisfy the debt for their sin.

 

The Creator, however, who is not only a God of justice but also a God of great mercy, provided for Adam and Eve a temporary substitute foreshadowing the final substitute who in due time would come to die for the sins of the whole world of humanity.

 

Hebrews 9:22 …without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

A Divine Provision

 

Throughout history, man has attempted to atone for his sins and gain eternal life. Every attempt, however, has fallen far short of God’s standard which is perfect obedience to his desires and commands. God, however, provided a way for man’s sin to be forgiven centered in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, God in the flesh. He was the ultimate revelation of God’s glory, the perfect image-bearer of God on earth. God came to dwell among men.

 

John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

A Perfect Obedience

 

For thirty years, Jesus lived a quiet life as the son of a carpenter. Then he revealed himself publicly as the one sent from God as a fulfillment of the promises given of a redeemer. During his ministry Jesus gathered followers and taught with authority both privately and publicly. He came with a message of hope, offering forgiveness and rest to those burdened and wearied with sin.

 

He claimed divinity and oneness with God which he proved through numerous and varied miracles and modeled a life of perfect love to God and man, always honoring his Father and extending mercy and compassion to broken people.

 

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The Sinless Substitute

 

But his claim to be one with God led to his death. Jesus of Nazareth was sentenced to death by crucifixion – the most degrading and agonizing form of capital punishment at that time. He died outside of Jerusalem around 30 A.D., and was buried in the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. His disciples were disillusioned and discouraged, and many of them in fear denied and forsook him during the last hours of his life.

 

Philippians 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

The Conquering Savior

 

But three days later, mourners discovered that His tomb was empty. Jesus had come back to life and risen from the dead! For forty days, he appeared again and again to his disciples and over five hundred others, comforting them, commissioning them, and promising them the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Then he ascended into the heavens, with the promise that one day he would return again.

 

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

A New Creation

 

The apostles and followers of Jesus emphasize in Scripture not only the fact of Jesus’ death, but also the reason. He died for our sins. The apostles realized that the death of Jesus resulted not just from the insidious plot of wicked men, but from the eternal plan of God to rescue men from their sins. Jesus himself said that he came to give his life as a ransom for many.

 

The sinless life, substitutionary death and physical resurrection of Jesus was the divine remedy to the problem of sin. Through his crucifixion, Jesus absorbed the wrath of God against sin, so that God could be just in forgiving sin and declaring sinners righteous in his sight. By becoming a curse for us, Jesus delivered us from the curse of the law we had broken. The righteous one (Jesus) died for the unrighteous (us), so that we could be restored to a right relationship with God

 

Jesus’ resurrection was proof that he had conquered sin and death once and for all. Death could not hold him in its grasp. Jesus defeated Satan, who had the power of death, and offers resurrection life freely to all.

 

Hebrews 2:14-15 …he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

A Just Remedy

 

Someone once said that there are two kinds of people who go to hell: the unrighteous and the self-righteous. Living a moral life will not rescue you from sin, nor will baptism, confirmation, giving to the poor, doing good deeds, or attending church. Religion is simply a more respectable pathway to eternal destruction. The only candidate for salvation is the person who realizes his utter helplessness to save himself. Self-salvation is utterly impossible.

 

But what is impossible with man is possible with God. The God-man, Jesus of Nazareth, has done for sinners what we cannot do for ourselves. When the Pharisee Nicodemus asked Jesus what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus responded, “you must be born again.”

 

In order to be born again, you must turn from sin (repent) and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (believe) for forgiveness of sin and the only hope of eternal life.

 

Believing in Jesus includes more than acknowledging the fact of his existence or the truthfulness of his claims. Believing in Jesus is trusting in him. Trusting in Jesus involves turning – turning from sin and self-righteousness to Jesus as Savior and Lord and the only way to have your sins forgiven and a sure hope of eternity in heaven.

 

Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

A Necesary Response

 

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This is true for everyone who has been rescued by Jesus from sin. If you have repented and believed in Jesus, you now have a new relationship with him. This relationship is made possible by the presence of the Spirit of God who now lives within you.

 

The Holy Spirit gives you power to follow Christ, grants you access into God’s presence through prayer, and enables you to understand the significance of Scriptures for your life. This, in turn, leads you to a new relationship with the Scriptures. The Bible should be to you what milk is to a newborn baby. God’s word is spiritual food, your source of both nourishment and delight. As you read and meditate on the Bible, you will become spiritually healthy and strong. Regular reading and study of the Scriptures is crucial for your spiritual well-being.

 

A third evidence of your new life is a new relationship with the saints – other followers of Jesus. When God rescued you from sin through Jesus Christ, he made you part of a new family. God became your Father, you became his child, and other believers in Jesus become your brothers and sisters. This new relationship with others offers special privileges and responsibilities such as worshiping God together, encouraging one another, and learning from his Word. It is your responsibility to meet with others regularly for both encouragement and help in your walk with God. It should be a high priority for a new believer to become a part of a larger group of people committed to following Jesus called the church.

 

Hebrews 10:25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The Story Continues

 

The story of God’s glory isn’t over yet. Jesus has accomplished the decisive work in God’s plan to rescue the world from sin and death, but there is more to come. Jesus will return again. When he does, our salvation will be complete. The New Testament reminds us that: “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body.”

 

God will also restore the world. The entire Universe will be reordered under the lordship of Jesus Christ and God his Father. In the intervening time, believers have a mission from Jesus to complete. We have the incredible privilege of taking the good news of the gospel to the world so that others may understand and believe and become followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And some day very soon, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

 

Revelation 22:1220 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.” … Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

These images and the related content are property of First Baptist Church of Troy, Michigan, and have been copied with permission. Special thank you to that ministry for so generously sharing this great presentation of the Gospel with us.