The Story I Bank My Whole Life On

Occasionally, I tell myself the Gospel story. Mostly, because I bank my whole life on this story, so it’s important for me to know what it actually is. And we Jesus-followers can get bogged down with a bunch of religiosity pretty quick, so it’s good for us to shave it down from time to time, right down to the bare necessities. We need to speak it into each other—the pure and naked Gospel truth.

And so today I tell myself again the story. And I tell it to you, because I don’t want to just assume that you’ve heard it before. Maybe someone stopping in here to read has never really heard it. I write this with you in mind.

It all begins with a Holy God. Perhaps the most offensive verse in all the Bible is the very first one. The one that makes the most audacious claim, “In the beginning, God created…” A God who is other-worldly, set apart from His creation. A God who is pure and righteous, all-together lovely and good. A God quite unlike us. So, in order to believe the Gospel, we must first believe that God is real. He is there, He exists and He made this whole place. We don’t get very far into the story before we come upon an actual historical event in which humanity fell. We call it sin. That moment when we turned tail and ran away from our Maker, rebelled against Him and have been running ever since.

Now, some of you don’t like to be called sinners. It’s not exactly flattering. But, more offensive, perhaps than being called a sinner, is that Gospel truth that there is a God who made us and the whole world, and we are not Him. And I’m not sure how any of us can deny that we’ve done wrong things. That we haven’t measured up to a pure, holy and righteous God. We’ve lied and we’ve cheated. We’ve hated and we’ve intentionally hurt. We’ve been greedy and gossipy and selfish and mean. It’s just in all of us. We’ve all committed treason and guiltily ran away from Him. 

So, because God is holy, He cannot be okay with all the evil and wrong. If He brushed it under the rug, He would be some washed out, lackadaisical God. He would not be just. But, God is holy and He is also just.  This is why, I think, that God, in the Old Testament, appears to be so full of wrath. The people He made have committed crimes against Him, have shaken the fist, and grit the teeth and demanded to live our own way, without regard to Him. He is all pure and we have lusted after perverted things. He is truth and we have tangled ourselves in lies. He claims to be the one and only true and living God, and we have worshiped moon and stars, and created things–enticed by glories less glorious than Himself. So God, being just, must punish the evil and condemn the wrong.

But, God is also loving. We see this most vividly and overwhelmingly in the gift of His Son. Though we have rebelled and run away, the Gospel unveils for us a God who aches to bring us back to Him. In the New Testament, we see more clearly this picture of a Creator who has every right to point the sword at evil and injustice. But, instead we find Him placing Himself at the end of a spear. A God, in Jesus, who Himself becomes the payment for all the wrong. Christ takes the wrath. He bears the blame. He lays down His life so that we can be reconciled to a holy, just, loving God.

Maybe it seems all too simple, but this is the Gospel as best as I know it. This is the story I most often preach to my own self. 
There is a real God. I am not Him. The living Lord Jesus is my Rescuer. His love has overtaken me. I bow my heart and give my life to the One who says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  And abundant life is what God, and the Gospel story has always been about from beginning to end.

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