God’s great project is to make a world fit for his presence. The Bible’s story is the story of our world, and especially of human beings, in relation to God. The story can be summarised under five headings:
1. FIRST DAYS
This is God’s world. He made it and continues to sustain it. He made it to reflect his nature by being a place of life and peace. He made humanity to enjoy his world and to live in thankful obedience and dependence on him.
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.
2. DARK DAYS
From the beginning humans arrogantly asserted their independence from God. Though it broke God’s heart, he let them go. By rejecting the source of life and peace, they opened the door for evil to infect God’s world. Life gave way to death, and conflict came to dominate God’s world. Every human since, including you and me, has been caught up in this. We have all sought to live independently of God. We have all experienced enslavement to Evil. And consequently, we all know the anguish of dealing with death and conflict in our lives.
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.
God is committed to the world and to the people he has made. He is not willing to accept death and conflict as a part of life. And so out of his great love, God sent his Son Jesus to defeat Evil and renew the world he loves.
Jesus lived life as it was always meant to be lived – in thankful obedience and dependence on God, with a deep love for others and a passion for truth and justice.
Jesus’ obedience and love culminated in him dying on a cross for us. He died as a sacrifice for our involvement with Evil and to rescue us from our enslavement to Evil.
On the third day, God raised Jesus to life as the first of a renewed humanity and as Lord of a renewed world.
Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. 19 For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
4. LAST DAYS
As Lord, Jesus will complete God’s renewing work in this world. He will return, and on that day, the reality that Jesus is Lord will be revealed.
Evil will be finally brought to nothing so that life and peace may prevail in God’s world.
And just as Jesus has been raised, so on that day God’s people will be raised to life to enjoy the renewed world with God. But those who continue to assert their independence from God will be excluded from God’s world together with all that is evil.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
Now, as Lord, Jesus has authority to forgive and give new life. Therefore today is a day of hope. God commands all people, including you and me, to turn from a life of involvement with evil and to seek his mercy. God’s promise is that those who turn to him will be forgiven, and will receive the gift of the Spirit to strengthen them for a life of obedience to Jesus. And God’s promise is that those who eagerly await his Son’s return will be raised to share in the life of God’s renewed world.
Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
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