Do you know the basic message of the Bible?
1. GOD IS THE CREATOR AND RULER OF ALL EXISTENCE.
More than a myth, an impersonal “force” or a summation of all the spirit energy in the world, God is a person who willed creation into being out of nothing. Since God is the creator of life and all existence, He is accurately described as a King, the rightful Lord of all (no, He’s not one of the “masters of the universe”).
As created beings, we are absolutely dependent upon God. Just like the children’s song says, “He’s got the whole world in His hands,” and it’s only because of God’s incredible mercy and grace that He chooses to uphold the world, sustain and care for it. Reality continues to exist because of grace.
Even more surprising than His general goodwill to mankind, the Almighty God who created space and time and has no beginning or end greatly desires to have a personal relationship with you and I. As gigantic as our egos are, a visit to the Grand Canyon or Yosemite quickly reminds us how insignificant we are in comparison to a National Park let alone the world or God Himself. Yet the God who is creator of the cosmos wants to know us.
2. ALL ARE SINNERS UNDER THE JUST WRATH OF GOD.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
To sin is to break the law of God. Sin is different than the occasional mistake, a bad habit, or a form of fun that makes old people angry. Sin is a refusal to acknowledge God as the rightful King.
We’ve rebelled against the rightful King and declared war upon Him. In our heart of hearts, all of us would kill and replace God if we had the power to do so. We want our lives and the world around us to run the way we want it to run. We want others (people, circumstances, even God Himself) to acquiesce to our whims and are deeply offended when others don’t help us get what we want (respect, pleasure, success, comfort, self-esteem, etc.). This is the source of all of our conflict with people and with God.
In the midst of our violently hostile insurrection, our relationship with God has been severed. As God is perfect and holy, we are separated from Him by our unholiness and sin. Sin has alienated us from God, and exposed us to His wrath. God is just and justice would dictate that traitors and insurrectionists deserve death (“The wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23). God is serious so our most important need is for a restored relationship with Him.
3. JESUS CHRIST IS GOD’S ONLY SOLUTION FOR SIN.
Jesus Christ is God the Son. No, Christ is not Jesus’ last name. It’s a title. The Christ is the Messiah, or promised savior of the world. This Jesus, God Himself, became a man to save sinners. He did not shout from afar or throw rocks at us from heaven, but entered into a world of time and space and sin and pain to find his lost children and bring them home.
“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8)
Christ came before we asked Him to come. We did not even want to be reconciled to God, yet still He came knowing that we could not save ourselves. We would have been content establishing our own sense of righteousness based on arbitrary rules that coincidentally emphasized all the things that we do and love and neglect the things we’d rather not focus on.
But God didn’t leave us alone, knowing our efforts could only impress other humans and never reach His perfect standard. Jesus lived as man so that He might die as a man for men. He was crucified, dying in the place of sinners. In His death, Jesus bore the punishment for sin.
Three days after his death, Jesus rose from the dead, declaring that sin and death had been conquered. He later ascended to Heaven where He is exalted. Christ has been enthroned and made King, and lives to save all who acknowledge His Lordship.
Jesus, the only conqueror of sin and death and the one true God, is the only solution for sin.
“Jesus said to them, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” (John 14:6)
While we wasted time trying to bargain with God (“If I give you my Sunday, you owe me eternal life.”) or threaten Him (“That’s not fair! God, you’re totally getting the silent treatment.”), God took the initiative and did what it took to save us from ourselves.
4. WE MUST RESPOND WITH FAITH AND REPENTANCE.
Beyond good advice or good suggestions, God brings us good news. In declaring that good news, He calls us to respond in faith and repentance.
Genuine faith acknowledges and depends upon Jesus as Lord.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Again, faith trusts in the work of JESUS – not our good works, good sense of humor, good education, good morals, or good anything. Not our “good” but Jesus’s good.
“not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.” (Phillipians 3:9)
Through faith, we receive Christ’s righteousness while Christ takes our sin. In faith, we believe what God says about Himself, His Son Jesus Christ, and ourselves.
In repentance, we acknowledge that our sin against God is wrong and turn from it. Believing in Jesus leads to a radical break from one’s old life, a turning from sin to Jesus.
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me…whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Matthew 16:24, 25)
Christianity is not a recreational activity to squeeze between our other hobbies, but an all-consuming devotion to the person of Jesus Christ.
All who repent and believe experience complete forgiveness for their sins and thus reconciliation with God. God’s Holy Spirit lives in believers and and believers are adopted into God’s family as a new creation. More than a new way to live or even a new mindset, God grants believers a new heart – a heart that delights in God and is able to enjoy all His peace, joy, and love.
As wonderful as all of these gifts are, the most important is a restored relationship with God. More than a desire to have a positive, encouraging, safe for the whole family religion or insurance against hell, God asks us whether we genuinely desire a relationship with Him. This is the gift of God to us when we repent and believe.