God’s True Story of Redemption

Books open on a table

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 NIV

The Bible is a narrative, but even more precisely we can say the story of the Bible is a drama. The Books come together to tell God’s true story and his plan to set the world right again. A drama is an activated story. The Bible was written so we could enter into its story. It is meant to be lived.

All of us, without exception, live our lives as a drama. We are on stage every single day. What will we say? What will we do? According to which story will we live? If we are not answering these questions with the biblical script, we will follow another. We can’t avoid living by someone’s stage instructions, even if merely our own.

The drama begins (in the first pages of the book of Genesis) with God already on the stage creating a world. He makes man and woman, Adam and Eve, and places them in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. God’s intention is for humanity to be in close, trusting relationship with him and in harmony with the rest of creation that surrounds them. In a startling passage, the Bible tells us that human being are God’s image-bearers, created to share in the task of bringing God’s wise and beneficial rule to the rest of the world. Male and female together, we are significant, decision-making, world-shaping beings. This is our vocation, our purpose as defined in the biblical story.

Tension and conflict are introduced to the story when Adam and Eve decide to go their own way and seek their own wisdom. They listen to the deceptive voice of God’s enemy, Satan, and doubt God’s trustworthiness. The disobedience of Adam and Eve – the introduction of sin into our world – is presented in the Bible as having devastating consequences. Humans were created for healthy, life-giving relationship: with God, with each other, and with the rest of creation. But now humanity must live with the fracturing of all these relations and with the resulting shame, brokenness, pain, loneliness – and death.

We see the direction of God’s redemptive plan when he calls Abraham, promising to make him into a great nation. God narrows his focus and concentrates on one group of people. But the ultimate goal remains the same: to bless all the peoples on earth and remove the curse from creation.

“He is the god made manifest… the universal savior of human life.” These words, referring to Caesar Augustus (found in a Roman inscription from 4 BC in Ephesus), proclaim the gospel of the Roman Empire. This version of the good news announces that Caesar is the lord who brings peace and prosperity to the world.

Into this empire a son a David is born, and he announces the gospel of God’s kingdom. Jesus of Nazareth brings the good news of the coming of God’s reign. He begins to show what God’s new creation looks like. He announces the end of Israel’s exile and the forgiveness of sins. He heals the sick and raises the dead. He overcomes the dark spiritual powers. Jesus renews the nation, rebuilding the twelve tribes of Israel around himself in a symbolic way.

Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel’s story and a new start for the entire human race. Death came through the first man, Adam. The resurrection of the dead comes through the new man, Jesus. God’s original intention is being reclaimed.

God wants the victory of Jesus to spread to all the nations of the world. The risen Jesus says to his disciples, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” According to the New Testament, all those who belong to Israel’s Messiah are children of Abraham, heirs of both the ancient promises and the ancient mission. The task of bringing blessing to the peoples of the world has been given again to Abraham’s family. Their mission is to live out the liberating message of the good news of God’s kingdom.

Forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God can now be announced to all. Following in the steps of Jesus, his followers proclaim this gospel in both word and deed. The power of this new, God-given life breaking into the world is meant to be shown by the real-world actions of the Christian community. The Bible is the story of the central struggle weaving its way through the history of the world. And now the story arrives at our own time, enveloping us in its drama.

God’s saving action continues. We are all invited to take up our own roles in this ongoing story of redemption and new creation. God himself is calling you to engage with his word.

So the challenge of a decision confronts us. What will we do? How will we fit into this story? What role will we play? God is inviting us to be part of his mission of re-creation – of bringing restoration, justice and forgiveness. We are to join in the task of making things new, to be a living sign of what is to come when the drama is complete.

Here are three key steps to finding your place in the drama:

  1. Immerse Yourself in the Bible: The more you immerse yourself in the script of this drama, the better you will be able to find your own place in the story.
  2. Commit to Follow Jesus: Turn from your wrongdoing, acknowledge that Jesus is the rightful ruler of the world, and commit to follow him and join with God’s people.
  3. Live Your Part: Life’s choices can be messy, but God has given us his word and promised us his Spirit to guide us on the way. You are God’s artwork, created to do good works. May your life be a gift of beauty back to him.

Which step are you choosing to take today?

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