Dan O’Deens – January 18, 2021

Christianity is not about sin management and the Good News is not just good news about your afterlife. Justice is simply not condemnation.   It is not the ‘mercy’ side of our understanding only.  It also includes Grace.  Justice is restoring the world back to its original intention.   It is the redemptive story.  It is God redeeming what has become desecrated space and making it sacred again.

The Missing Part of the Story

Most of us know that in Genesis 3 the first humans–our great, great, great…great grandparents, Adam and Eve–decide that they could manage life and the knowledge of good and evil, right and wrong for themselves. They turn their back on their loving creator Dad to try and go it alone. It’s as if they tell God, “I think we’ve got this, we can handle life on our own. We’re gonna go off and live a life that displays our glory–show the world what we’re all about.” This, in essence is what the Bible refers to as sin. And all sin leads to separation from God and death.

The pinnacle of this gospel story is when God himself sends his own son, Jesus, to rescue and restore us to a right relationship with his and our Father. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection offers forgiveness for our sin and rebellion, forever puts away death and offers us new restored identities based on who he is not on who we were.

God’s view of us is the standard by how we should view others.  The question:  How do you see people?  Do you see them first as made in the image and likeness of God or do you see them as sinners?   Our response to that question determines our understanding of the gospel and redemption.   Either God comes to love and forgive or to unleash his wrath and condemn.

Then at the end of the story we read in Revelation 21 and 22 that God himself will one day come back and live with humanity again, and all things will be restored back to the way that he originally created them to be. His glory, his reality, will be on full display forever.  Pretty awesome.

But there is a problem. For decades, perhaps centuries now, the dominant teaching and preaching we’ve been exposed to seemingly eliminates Genesis 1 and 2. These are the parts where a great and glorious God creates all things good–including humans in his own image. And it also omits Revelation 21 and 22.

The story is told from Genesis 3, where humans sin, and ends in Revelation chapter 20 where judgment is coming. And that makes the story of God–the entire Bible–seem to focus on human sin and the inevitable punishment that awaits.  We have forgotten that creation began ‘good’ and in the end there is ‘restoration.

The Better and More Accurate Story

The story of God is not about “sin management” and doing the right stuff to please a condemning God. This is a very truncated and distorted version of things, and it is man-centered instead of focused on God’s redemption, glory and his Good News.

The gospel is not, “You suck and you’re gonna pay for it!” 

That does not sound like very good news. No wonder we find it hard to “evangelize” others if this is the story we believe and think we’re supposed to share.  Yikes.

A Bigger Gospel

The better story, the true bigger gospel story is this: You were created in the image of a loving and gracious God, destined for an eternal relationship with him. Though it is true that you have rebelled against God, thinking you could create an identity for yourself, one where you are lord over your own life, God himself came on a rescue mission to restore all people, places and things back to relationship with him (including you), back to the way he originally designed it to be. And there is a day coming when he will once again walk and live and dwell with us in a city that is like a beautiful garden forever and ever.  You are loved by the creator and savior of the world.  You matter to God!

That is a way better story! A much bigger gospel.

It is out of the full story that we understand why we were created; God’s plans for this world and our original, and now restored, identity. It is out of this bigger gospel that we find our life and purpose. We live our lives imitating our Heavenly Father who loved us unconditionally, and we serve others like we have been served as a way of life. Not because we are supposed to, but because this is who we are. We get to extend God’s loving rescue mission to the ends of the earth.

If you’ve been believing a gospel that is primarily about getting to heaven and a life of sin management until then, the next best time to start believing a bigger gospel is now. It will change your life!   All you have to do is accept the gift of the Gospel that has already been purchased on your behalf.  Simply place your faith and trust in the person of Jesus, who loved you and gave His life so that you could have life!

Justice was served.  Jesus paid the price of all of our sin.   He who knew no sin took on the sin of all mankind.   He has turned desecrated space (our world and our lives) into sacred space.  That is redemption.   #justiceisredemption.