As you can tell, the Bible is a large book telling the stories of people who lived long ago. Yet, within these stories, we read the Bible’s big story– the story about God and humans, what went wrong, and how everything can be made right again.
The Bible begins with the story of creation– how God created the heavens and the earth, and human beings as the masterpiece of creation (Genesis 1:1-31). God created humans in His image– able to think, reason, create, and have their own identities– to build a relationship with them (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:1-23). Everything God created was very good (Genesis 1:31).
Unfortunately, things went wrong soon after– the first man and woman did what God told them not to do, and pain, suffering, and death entered God’s creation as a result (Genesis 3). The relationship between man and God changed, for humans thought, felt, and acted in ways that were not good and that did not honor God (Romans 3:20-23). These bad thoughts, attitudes, and actions, called sin, separate people from their God, the Source of all life and all that is good (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Humans find themselves in a bad condition. All of the good they do cannot make up for the evil they have done, for once they break God’s law, they stand judged as lawbreakers, and there is nothing they can do about it (Romans 3:20). We will all pay the penalty of physical death because death is in the world (Romans 5:12-14); those who remain separated from God because of their bad deeds suffer spiritual death, separation from the Creator God, and stand to suffer eternal condemnation (Romans 6:23). Everyone who has done bad things deserves this terrible fate!
But God loved humans and His creation even though they did not love Him as they should. He first chose one man, Abraham, through whom He would bless all people (Genesis 12-24). Through that man and his children came the people of Israel, the tribe through whom He wished to bless all people (Exodus-Malachi). Finally, in order to fully rescue humans from the penalty of their bad deeds, He sent Jesus of Nazareth, His Son, God in the flesh, the descendant of Abraham and Israel, to earth (Matthew 1, John 1).
Jesus of Nazareth taught people about God through how He lived and spoke. He taught others about how to love one another and to do good for other people. As the ultimate demonstration of love, He suffered execution at the hands of the authorities even though He did nothing wrong. Since He did not do anything bad in life, His death could pay the price for those who had done bad things (Matthew 22:37-38, Romans 5:6-11). Since He suffered terrible evils without doing evil in return, He was able to overcome evil!
Jesus overcame evil fully on the third day after His execution when He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). God then gave Jesus power over heaven and earth, and He now rules as Lord (Matthew 28:18). God also promised that Jesus would return to judge every person according to what they did in life– those who do what God said to do would live, but those who did not do what God said to do would suffer pain eternally (Acts 17:30-31, Romans 2:5-11).
This is the message that the first followers of Jesus spoke: Jesus died so that things could be made right again between God and man, and God made this Jesus King. Jesus’ death and resurrection show that God has power over sin and death, and that we can defeat sin and death through Jesus. God now calls everyone everywhere to change their ways and follow His Son Jesus so that they can overcome sin and death through Him and live eternally. Those who do not change their ways and follow Jesus will be judged as rebellious and disobedient and will suffer condemnation (Acts 2, 10; Romans 8:1-10, 1 Corinthians 15).
When people first heard this message in the first century, many not only accepted it and understood that Jesus is King, but also trusted in Him and sought to do what He wanted them to do (Acts 2:37, Romans 1:5). They declared that Jesus was the Christ, which means Messiah and King, and that He was the Son of God (Acts 8:37). They began to change the way they thought and acted, trying to be more like Jesus and less like the world around them (Acts 2:38, Romans 8:29, 12:2). They were then immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins, to join Jesus in His death to end their lives in sin and to begin their new lives following after God (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:3-7). After that, they were known as disciples, or followers, of Jesus, and came together often to learn about God and to strengthen one another as fellow followers of Jesus (Acts 2:42, 11:26). They kept on following Jesus and doing what He wanted them to do until they died, always cherishing the hope of rescue from sin and death within them (Matthew 10:22, Romans 8:1-10).
We believe that we can share in the same rescue, joy, peace, and hope in which those first disciples enjoyed and cherished so long ago if we would do just as they did. While the Bible has been finished for over 1900 years, God’s big story continues, and we have our chance today to be a part of that story, follow after God, and to make sure that we are right with Him. God has already done what is necessary for us to be rescued from sin and death– let us trust in Him and follow after Him and share in Jesus’ victory!