‘The gospel is fascinating!’ said a young man who was attending our church for the first time one Sunday. I was preaching on ‘The gospel – the story’, the first of a four part series entitled ‘The gospel – the story, the person, the promise and the power”. I started at creation and worked my way to Christ and His resurrection. The goal was to explain how it all fits together. The gospel is objectively delightful. It is in understanding the story from the beginning that we grasp the awesome genius of God; that we stand in awe at the miracle of Christ and salvation.
One long story
My premise in this first part is that the Bible is narrative, one continuous narrative made up of different life stories, but from creation to final judgement it is one story, the story of God’s dealings with man.
In so doing i discovered I was not being original, rather putting baby steps in the footsteps of great men. Milton in writing Paradise Lost sought to retrace in fiction, the whole gamut of man’s relationship with God and God’s dealing with man. His avowed intent was to ‘justify the ways of God to men’. Athanasius, the 4th century church father wrote a treatise called ‘The Incarnation of the Word of God’ (De Incarnatione Verbi Dei). The first few pages were devoted to the doctrine of creation and explained why.
He said “You may be wondering why we are discussing the origin of men when we set out to talk about the Word’s becoming Man. The former subject is relevant to the latter for this reason: it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body.”
The Gospel and our sorry state
That basically says it all. Indeed our ‘sorry state’ goes back a long way, as far back as the very creation of man. The first ‘men’ walked away from the relationship of trust and intimacy God offered. They allowed suspicion, pride, greed and desire for self-aggrandizement to overtake them; and they sinned against the Creator. As a consequence, humankind became fundamentally flawed, cursed and separated from the presence of God. The story begins here. And it continues with God’s eternal plan to repair that which was broken and restore that which was lost.
The awesome thing is that even after Adam turned his back on God, God continued to sustain His creation. He would forge covenants with diverse individuals who were willing to walk with Him. Simultaneously humanity was being prepared for the coming of the One who would break the curse and bridge the divide at the appropriate time. He forged covenants with Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, successively. He instituted the law, the tabernacle worship, etc and came as close to His people as they could bear while under the burden of sin.
Through varying seasons of obedience and most often disregard of His commands, He sought by all means to preserve a people. He needed a people through whom the One who would bring a new order would come. The prophets repeatedly spoke of it, everyone awaited it, and one day, it finally happened. Messiah came, but differently from what many had imagined.
How and why He came
He came, not as a king to break the yoke of Roman oppression and restore the earthly glory of the nation, rather as One who equated Himself with God and claimed to forgive sins.
They were stunned, but He knew what they did not know. He knew the human condition was akin to terminal illness. And unless somehow the sick person could have all his ailments transferred to another and take on the healthy body of the other, he was as good as dead. He needed a person to accept the ailments and yet not be destroyed by them. That is what Jesus did in the story of the gospel.
By His death and resurrection:
- He carried the terminal illness of sin afflicting humankind, bore the brunt of it, and dispensed with it.
- He provided the remedy for the sin which impeded the once vibrant relationship and had condemned man to eternal separation from God.
- He broke the curse and bridged the gap. So anyone who chooses to accept Him can experience spiritual restoration, the re-establishment of the relationship with God that was severed by sin, and entry into God’s kingdom.
The value and need for redemption only become obvious as we understand the fundamental flaw of mankind, and the dastardly situation he found himself in after the fall.
As we understand the gospel message,
- we see how we fit into it, we revel in it and in the thinking behind it.
- it broadens our perspective of God.
- it takes us beyond the utilitarian, highly personalised view of God’s interaction with mankind, which sometimes hinders our grasp of the extremely diverse range of His action in the earth.
It is time Christians in our generation grasped the whole gospel story and began to tell it. Share this article and tell it to someone.
Have a great day.
ps : this article was retrieved from the archive, given some tender loving care and put before your beautiful eyes again because it is so important.
Books - An Eye to the Crown; Reborn.
TV - Passion pour Dieu.
Ministry - Abba House church, The Theophilus Company.
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