A position paper from Trail Christian Fellowship, Eagle Point, OR
The Bible relates how humanity and the creation itself came into being, fell into destruction, are redeemed by God in a decisive event in history, and will be renovated by God spiritually, materially and eternally. It is God’s view of the human story from creation through eternity. Note: even though it is the story of the creation, including humanity, the main character is God.
- Creation: God created a good world with good people in it, rightly and lovingly related to and receiving life from Him. The world was good because God created it in a contingent, covenant, life-sustaining state morally, materially, spiritually, with God himself as its source. Gen.1-2.
- Fall: Man decided to trust himself instead of God, thereby rejecting God’s authority, love and relationship and separating himself from God’s eternal life. By doing this at the spiritual and moral level, humanity effectively severed the relationship of covenant love with God. Death resulted in every texture of human life, moral, spiritual, relational, material. God’s goodness and justice require a judgment against evil in all forms and humanity now seems to be bound to that ultimate fate (hell). Genesis 3; Revelation 20:11-15.
- Redemption: God initiated a plan to rescue humanity and the material universe from the now inevitable divine judgment for evil. Genesis 3:15 through Revelation 20.
- Renovation: God creates a new universe out of the old one, a new heavens and new earth. He totally renovates both invisible and visible realms in perfect beauty and harmony. Revelation 21-22.
How God’s plan of redemption unfolds in the Bible.
- God promises from the beginning to someday crush evil and rescue humanity. Gen.3:15.
- God initiates a redemptive covenant with Abraham based on Abraham’s simple trust in God and His promise (Genesis 15:6); through Abraham comes Israel; from Israel comes Christ (the Seed) and through Christ the entire human population will be offered entrance into God’s plan of redemption by shear grace. Genesis 12-15 and the rest of the Old Testament. John 1:1-18; Matt 28:18-20.
- As Messiah (Christ), God in human form allows Himself to be killed under His own wrath, in humanity’s place, as a sacrifice for the sin that humanity has committed. This allows God to embrace any people who trust Him (like Abraham did), releasing them from the penalty and power of their sin, effectively grafting them into the Abrahamic Faith Covenant. John 3:16; Rom 3:21-30; Gal 3:29.
- God raises Christ from the dead. Jesus demonstrates that he has defeated death by appearing to several hundred people over a period of about six weeks. Luke 24; Acts 1:1-11; 1 Cor.15:1-11.
- Christ explains that He is now the true King in God’s creation. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:44-49; Colossians 1:13-14.
- Christ pours out His own Spirit on repentant believers, regenerating them, forgiving them and insuring their eternal life and membership in His kingdom. Acts 2; John 3:1-16; Titus 3:5-8; 1 Peter 1:3, 23.
- Christ communicates to the world the good news of His gracious lordship and salvation by his Spirit, through his people, the church. Mtt.28:18-20; Luke 24: 46-48; Acts 2:1-11;
- Christ returns to judge the world and condemn all evil. Matthew 25:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 19:1-20:15.
- God in Christ recreates the entire universe in righteousness and goodness and dwells among his redeemed people forever. Revelation 21-22.
Sobering facts about the human condition apart from God’s grace.
- We have done evil in more ways than we can comprehend. Rom 3:9-20; 23; Mtt.7:11.
- We cannot, in our own power, alter our emotional and spiritual addiction to the evil that we live in. John 3:19; Eph 2:1-3; Titus 3:3; Rom 6:16; 7:14-24; 8:3.
- God rightly responds to evil with wrath and a determination to destroy it all. Matt 10:28; Rom 1:18-32; 6:23; Rev 20:11-15.
- Though he loves us, God must and will judge every thought, word and deed. Rom 2:16; Heb 4:12; Matt 12:36-37; Luke 12:1-3; John 5:25-29.
- His wrath (including hell) is real and the greatest threat to the human soul. Matthew 10:28; 13:36-43; 25:41; Mark 9:42-48; 2 Thess.1:5-10; Rev 20:11-15.
The Gospel: Jesus Christ is the risen Lord of all creation; God in Christ offers free salvation to all people today by bringing them out of the kingdom of evil and into the kingdom of God. Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24: 46-47; John 20:30-31; Acts 17:30-31; 26:18 Rom 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10; 8:1-2; Col 1:13-14.
- He calls us through the message of the gospel, the news of who Christ is and what God has done for us (Rom 1:16-17). This news involves at least these six realities about Jesus:
- The incarnation of Christ (the life God as a real human).
- The atonement of Christ (the death of God as a real human).
- The resurrection of Christ (the victory of God as a real human over evil and death).
- The session of Christ (the rule of God in Christ over the universe).
- The renovation by Christ (His tangible return, judgment, and creation of new heavens and new earth).
- We exercise repentant faith in Christ. Mark 1:14-15; Jn. 3:16; Rom 6:23; Eph 2:8-10.
- He declares us righteous immediately and begins to renovate our souls, transforming our character and eventually our bodies to be like Christ. Rom 6:5-7; 8:1-2; Gal 4:14; Phil 3:20-21; Titus 3:3-7.
- He adopts us and makes us a family under His grace and in His name, thereby bringing us into His eternal kingdom, under His reign, right now. Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7; Acts 26:18; Col. 1:13-14.
- He uses us to bring many more from all over the world into His grace and kingdom. Matthew 28:18-20.
People respond to the message of God in one of three ways. Only the last one brings a person into God’s plan.
- Crass Idolatry: Outright rejection of God in favor of worshipping the Self or some created thing. Rom 1:18-32.
- Self-worship/creation-worship often presents as simple “neutrality” in people.
- Humanized Religion (refined idolatry): Human-centered attempts to earn God’s favor or appease and avoid His anger by a system of human works, religious or otherwise.
- People sometimes do this in the name of Christianity, but it does not represent the actual message of Christ. Matt 5:20-48; Rom 2:1-3:20; Gal 1:6-10; Eph.2:1-10.
- Gospel Faith: Repentant personal faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, as the risen and reigning Lord of creation and the Savior of the fallen universe. Jn.3:16; Rom 3:23, 6:23, 10:9-10, 8:1-2; Heb 1:1-3; 11:1-6.
- This is a complete rejection of any and all human achievement with regard to becoming a part of God’s plan of redemption, His kingdom. Eph 2:1-10.
- It results in a transformed and transforming life of loyalty to the real King, the Lord Jesus Christ and his purposes. Matt 28:18-20; Eph. 2:10; Phil 2:12-13.