The Gospel: God's Story
The purpose of the Bible is to tell God’s story. It’s the author of a book who creates characters, gives them purpose and uses their circumstances to propel the storyline forward. This is the same with us. Only the author of our story can tell us what we were created for, how to live and how to fill our lives with significance and happiness. Wouldn’t it be silly for a character to tell the author how the storyline should go from their perspective? The author sees it differently than the characters. God sees the big picture from beginning to end. Like a character in a book we can’t even see to the next chapter or the next page for that matter. The author simply would say to one of his characters he has created, “That’s a good idea but I wrote you in this book and I’m going for a bigger plot line. You may not be able to see it yet but you will.”
This is what it is like for us. God, the author of our story, is working out a grand plot of the events on the pages of our lives.
Do you know God’s story? The gospel is most clearly seen and summarized in the suffering death of Jesus, his burial and his resurrection. However, the life and death of Jesus fits in a greater story God is writing. The day Germany and Japan signed their documents of surrender officially ending WWII was good news for the whole world. Knowing how many died and what was at stake in the world makes the signed surrender incredible news. This is true with Jesus also. Jesus is good news only when we see the whole story - why we are here; what we are here for; what happened and how can it be made right?
Often the way the gospel gets shared to others is more of bullet-point facts instead of the over arching narrative the Bible shows us. It goes something like, “You’re a sinner. Jesus came to die for your sin. Ask him into your heart. He’ll forgive you. Start going to church and stop sinning.” That version of the story isn’t incorrect but it’s not the whole story. Like a book there are chapters and the gospel story has four chapters. I certainly didn’t create the divisions below but I think we should spend our lives becoming familiar and fluent with them. Remember the gospel is the only story once shared, by which God ordains to save people from sin, hell, shame and guilt. He thought it. He told it. We believe it. We live by it. We share it.
Many people think God created out of some need he had. Some think God must have been lonely or bored. This isn’t the case. Do you know why God made our world, universe, and us? It was so that he could share himself with his creation and that what he created could enjoy him. It wasn’t out of need but out of a desire to share himself. This is where God’s story begins. It begins with God. Our three-in-one God (God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit) was perfectly happy and in perfect unity with each other. They were not lonely, bored, lacking anything but content and eternally happy in themselves. Out of their eternal happiness they created our world. The opening pages of the Bible tell us the world God created was good. It then tells us God’s greatest creation- man- was very good. Unlike every other created thing, Man was made in God’s own image.
Adam and Eve experienced the kind of unity the Trinity experienced for eternity; perfect happiness, unity and contentment. Adam and Eve literally walked with God around the garden. God and his garden he gave them was more than enough and they were happy. There was perfect harmony, total rest, contentment and joy. Nothing was lacking between them and God; them and each other; them and nature or within themselves.
(Genesis 3; Romans 1-3; 6; Ephesians 2:1-3)
The story of creation helps us see how far we have come or rather fallen. Obviously this isn’t Kansas anymore. When God’s adversary came in and tempted Eve with the fruit of that tree his goal was to undo her confidence, happiness and contentment in God her father. He was crafty with his words and caused Eve to doubt God and believe better things were being held back from her. In a second, the once satisfying garden became empty. She was convinced her marriage with Adam was no longer enough and even God himself was lacking. She fell for the lie. It only took a second for this thought to be formed and once acted upon, what was, would never be the same. When they ate, everything broke. All that was very good between God and his people broke. The first marriage and friendship broke. The nature they were to reign over would reign over them making life and work difficult. Even their understanding of themselves broke. Their soul went into hiding from God instead of walking with him. We can trace every broken thing in our world and in our lives to that moment and we have fallen with them.
(Genesis 3:15; John 3; Romans 5-8; Ephesians 2:4-10)
Here’s where the news gets good. The garden has left us broken rebellious sinners who are hiding and running from God. We have been content to live without God but God is not content to live without us. God’s story he is writing would be about more than a garden. It would be about a garden and son lost. He would redeem his wayward people.
The Bible has this plot on every page. God would send a savior not to judge the world but to save it. Jesus was always plan “A”. He would do this not by ignoring the rebellion of his creation but by holding his Son personally responsible for it. It was through the perfect obedience of Christ’s life and through the suffering in his death that God has pursued and saved his people. Everything God required of us to fix all that was broken in the garden was completed in Christ. His death for my death and his life for my life gave me his righteousness for my unrighteousness. This is why we need to know the first part of the story; we need to know what we are redeemed to. Jesus suffers and dies to undo all that happened in the garden. Through Jesus we actually are redeemed back to our one and true Father. Not partially but fully because Jesus fully accomplished it all.
(Jeremiah 31:31-34; Mark 1:14-15; John 4; John 14:1-4; Hebrews 11:13-16; Revelation 21-22)
Most people end the gospel story with Jesus and our need for his forgiveness from our sins but that cuts the story short. The whole story is that God does more than save us; he restores everything spiritually and physically. All that was lost in the garden will be ours again. This is why we wait for Jesus to come again and when he does, all the brokenness of our world will be completely and forever undone – restored.
The Bible makes a lot of promises and through Jesus they all become ours now and in the future. God’s promises are not like a carrot dangling in front of us subversively telling us to work harder. Once redeemed by Jesus all the promises of God’s word are ours. Promises like never dying, being filled by the Holy Spirit, a new family, peace and joy. However, some of the promises are not yet. It’s like buying concert tickets to a favorite band. The ticket promises you will be at the concert but you still have to wait for the show date. In one sense you are there already. You are assured entry and the concert is yours. You mark your calendar and save the date. It’s not a maybe you will be at that concert, yet having a ticket is not like being there. You have to wait for it and when you get there it’s far better than what you imagined. That is what it looks like for those who are redeemed by Christ. Through Christ there is 100% certainty of all of God’s promises for his people however some, like the life after this life in God’s kingdom, is ours now and not yet.
(John 3:16; John 11:25-26; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10)
At the same time God is telling this story he is reminding us of our story. We are Adam and Eve, rebellious and discontent with God, living a life of competition for worship and glory. Remember it’s God’s story. It’s about him and every part of what he created was created to enjoy him. This is why Jesus died. To bring us back to God and the enjoyment of him. Believing in Jesus is trusting this story is true as the Bible has told us it is. God is better than I think. I am in a worse situation than I know. Through Jesus I am given life and restored to every promise God has made while I wait for God to restore all things back to himself. There is not another way. The Bible is clear it’s through Jesus or not at all. Our only response to God’s grace is to repent of our sin, place our faith in Jesus alone and join the storyline of making much of him.