When we know God's story, it changes everything.
When we know God's story, it changes everything.
The Story we are talking about is also known as the Gospel. The Gospel is the true and awesome news of God redeeming His Creation. The word "Gospel" means "good news" and it is the good news of how Jesus is the way to God and has reconciled (or made right) those who trust in him with God and is redeeming and restoring not only mankind but also all of creation back to Himself!
Starting: Sunday, Sept 10
The Story is a six week course that will walk through this good news story allowing you to see the significance of the Bible and get a glimpse of the true story of the whole world. If you are new in your faith journey or desire to grow deeper in faith this course is for you! When we know God's story, it changes everything: who we are, what we want, and how we live. Come and discover this Story with us!
The following sections are designed to walk through this great story and were written initially to help parents read this Story to their kids.
It all started with God creating everything that exists. He made heaven and earth. On the earth, he made a garden and placed both man and woman in the garden. When he made man and woman, he designed them to worship Him, to glorify Him, to enjoy Him. This was so good.
He gave man some amazing responsibilities. He made him in charge of naming the animals. He also had the man and woman in charge of taking care of the rest of creation. They were to "rule and subdue" the creation. This means that God entrusted them to take care of animals, trees, plants. God's original design was that we would work and take care of the beautiful earth that He created. You were designed to enjoy God by loving other people and caring for His world.
God's perfect peace was all over this newly created world. The man and woman were named Adam and Eve. They enjoyed this amazing connection with God, with each other and with all of creation. Can you imagine this amazing peace? Another word for this peace is Shalom.
God told Adam that he could eat of any fruit in the garden, except one. If either Adam or Eve ate of that one particular fruit, from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they would surely die. This was God’s promise.
God always keeps His promises.
Unfortunately, the man and the woman ate of this forbidden fruit and disobeyed God. They were tempted by the devil who came to them like a serpent and deceived (tricked) them. They trusted in themselves and not God. Because of their disobedience, sin came into the world and death came into the world just like God had promised. They had to leave the garden because of their choice to rebel against God.
The peace that Adam and Eve experienced in the garden was broken in that moment. The peace with God was broken. The peace with each other was broken. The peace with creation was broken. This was so sad.
As they were leaving, God made another promise. He said that he would fix what had been broken.
When God makes a promise, He always keeps it.
Outside the garden, things didn’t get better, they got worse. The man and woman had children and their children had more children. There were many people on the earth and sin was increasing among all these people. The sin was so bad that God decided to fill the entire earth with water. This would bring death to every person and this was a fair and just thing for God to do. However, instead of bringing death to every single person, God decided to have favor on a man named Noah and his family and saved them through a large boat called an ark.
After this, Noah’s family grew and his children had more children. One day, God spoke to Noah's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson, Abram. God told him that he would raise up a nation from his children and this nation would bless the whole world. The funny thing is, Abram didn’t have any kids yet and both he and his wife were a lot older than they should’ve been to have children. But God kept His promise and even though they were very old, they had a son and they named him, Isaac.
Isaac grew up and had a son named, Jacob. Then Jacob grew up and had several sons, twelve in fact, and one of them was named, Joseph. Joseph was a little spoiled and had some pretty lofty dreams where his brothers would bow down and worship him. These dreams however were from God. This made his brothers mad and they decided to sell Joseph, their little brother, into slavery. As a slave, Joseph was falsely accused of a terrible act and thrown into prison.
God hadn’t forgotten Joseph.
Years passed and Joseph was able to interpret the dreams of the highest ruler of that country. He was called a Pharaoh. He made Joseph in charge of the kingdom. He made Joseph second in command! Joseph used his power to get his family to move to Egypt because a really bad famine—a season where there wouldn’t be any crops or food—was coming soon and they needed to be safe.
Years passed, and several Pharaohs came and went. The new Pharaoh didn’t remember Joseph and his family and decided to make Joseph’s family, his great great grandchildren and their children, slaves in Egypt. Joseph’s family were called Israelites. This was a horrible time. The Pharaoh decided to kill all the male babies of the Israelites. One baby was spared, his name was Moses. God used Moses to save the Israelites from being slaves in Egypt. He freed them and promised them a land that was much much better.
God kept his promise and He showed us that He is a rescuing God.
Even though they were now free, the Israelites began to grumble and complain about having to walk through the desert. So God promised that not one person from the complaining generation would see the awesome land. God kept His promise and they spent forty years wandering in the desert waiting for all of them to die. Moses eventually died and a man named Joshua took the rest of the Israelites into the land that was called “Canaan.”
God kept his promise and gave them this amazing land to be their own.
They took over this land because God was with them and allowed them to win a lot of battles. After they won many battles, they divided the land so that each tribe of Israel would be represented. Remember Joseph? He had eleven other brothers and there was a tribe named after each brother—except Levi, his tribe were the priests and they lived in many different cities. Joseph's two sons, Ephriam and Manassah, each had their own tribe. There were twelve tribes total each with their own land that they inherited and had to fight to take over.
God kept his promise to Abraham and this was part of that promise coming true.
During this time, Israel had no king and they did what was evil. God kept many other people around them that were their enemies, so they would rely on God to save them. Israel fell into a horrible pattern of sinning greatly against God by worshipping other gods and God would allow them to be taken by the other people. Israel would then call out to God to save them from the bad people that had taken them and God would raise up a person, called a Judge, to deliver Israel and save them.
One of Israel's twelve judges was Gideon, who won a battle against a huge army with only 300 men. Another was Samson, who was super strong because God had given him mighty muscles. However, Gideon and Samson both made terrible mistakes. They weren't perfect at all, because Israel was still waiting for someone perfect to come save them.
Even though Israel had all that land, they still didn't think they had enough. They began to look at the other nations around them and saw that they had kings who ruled them. So, Israel began to covet these nations and asked God to give them a king. God answered their cry and gave them their first king, Saul. Saul started out as a good king, but quickly the true state of his heart was revealed and he was wicked.
A little while later, God anointed a young boy as the next king of Israel, his name was David. He was a shepherd from Bethlehem. Saul was very jealous of David because Saul was still the king and people liked David more than they liked Saul. Even though Saul tried to kill David, David never did anything to harm Saul—because David wanted to honor the king that God had put in charge.
Eventually, David became king and ruled over Israel. He was the greatest king of Israel and obeyed God with his life. David was not perfect though, because no one except Jesus is perfect. David made a horrible mistake and stole another man's wife. Then in order to cover his terrible sin, he had that man killed! The difference between David and Saul is that when David was shown his sin, he repented to God for what he had done. He felt terrible. Saul didn't repent and didn't feel remorse for the bad things he did.
Time passed and pretty soon, David's son, Solomon became Israel's king. He was a very wise king and built a huge building for worship to God. Towards the end of his time as king he made some terrible choices to have women from other nations and religions be a part of his family. Because of this, there places set up in Israel so that these women could worship their gods, because they didn't worship the true God.
This did not please God and he divided the nation of Israel into two kingdoms. One was called Judah. The other was called Israel. These two kingdoms had many kings (mostly very bad) who ruled over them. They also had prophets who came to speak the words of God to them. Prophets were men that God used to say correcting things to His people.
God began warning His People through the prophets that if their wickedness and idolatry continued they would be taken away to a foreign land. Sure enough, after many years of not listening to God and worshipping other gods, God took the people of God out of the land He had given to them. First, a mighty nation called Assyria took the northern kingdom, Israel into captivity. Second, a very powerful nation, Babylon, came and took the southern kingdom, Judah away to their Babylon.
This was a very sad time for God's People because God's judgment had come just like he promised.
God always keeps his promises. And through the many years God told his people that there would be one who would save Israel. A Messiah who would rescue them from darkness. A suffering servant who would fully pay for every sin of Gods people.
Do you know who God was pointing to through the entire Old Testament? Jesus!
As God's People were in Babylon, God began to cause them to remember who he was and what he required of them. Soon, they began coming back to the land God had given to them. They began to rebuild what was destroyed and to rediscover the laws and commands of God. The people who returned wept that they had dishonored God through their lives and sought to live faithfully to him.
Many years passed. In fact, about 400 years to be exact. No prophecies were given. No words from God.
During this time, history shows us that the world was greatly changing. The Persian empire which was in power was taken over by the Greek Empire. So, God's People living in Israel were ruled by the Greeks until the Maccabean Revolt (this moment in history is what is celebrated at Hanukkah by Jews today). This revolt gained God's People a momentary glimpse of freedom from the heavy hand of a huge empire. This didn't last very long though and pretty soon God's People were under the rule and authority of a new empire called the Roman Empire.
This is the scene we see when the New Testament begins.
Everything was about to be made new. Two babies were about to be born. One was named John, whose dad was Zechariah, a priest, and whose mother was Elizabeth. Elizabeth was related to a woman named Mary, who a few months later would have a child in her belly and would name him Jesus.
The birth of Jesus is an amazing story in and of itself. Mary was told by an angel what would happen and she obeyed God. Her and her husband went back to Bethlehem because their ruler wanted to count the people from each town. In Bethlehem, they couldn't find a good place for Jesus to be born except a stable where they kept the animals. That is where Jesus, the Son of God, was born.
Well, the 400 years of silence was broken when John grew up and God began speaking through him to prepare people for the coming of Jesus. John dressed really weird. He also ate some pretty strange things. His message was true because God was beginning to pave a clear path for Jesus.
Jesus grew up, like we do. He got older and he learned things just like we do. He learned how to be a carpenter from his step dad, Joseph. However, even though Jesus was tempted to sin, just like we are, he never ever sinned. He was without sin.
When he was about 30 years old, Jesus left his life of being a carpenter and went to fulfill what God, his Father, had told him to do. He started his public ministry. This all started with him being baptized by John in the Jordan river and then being tempted by the devil in the wilderness.
Jesus called twelve disciples to follow him and had many more that came along and listened to his teaching. Some people loved to listen to Jesus. Some people hated what Jesus said because Jesus told people that he was God.
Jesus performed many miracles and healed many people. This showed the power of God in Jesus.
After about three years, Jesus shared a meal with his disciples where he told them about him dying. They didn't want Jesus to die. They thought he was the next great king, but Jesus was a king like they had never seen before.
One night, when Jesus was praying to God, His Father, in a garden just outside Jerusalem, one of his disciples—Judas—brought a group of Roman soldiers into the garden to take Jesus away. Judas was the disciple that kept track of all the money and he was dishonest and for 30 pieces of silver betrayed Jesus with a kiss. This was a very sad night but it was all according to what God had decided would happen.
Jesus was brought before the rulers of that day and they eventually decided to let a criminal go free and in his place to crucify Jesus—which was a horrible and shameful way to die.
They brought Jesus to the top of a mountain called "Golgotha" and there they pounded the nails into his hands and into his feet. Jesus was in great pain. However, the worst pain of all happened when God turned his face away from Jesus. You see, in that moment Jesus took on all the sin and bad choices of all those that would believe in him. He became sin for you and for me. We know that God cannot look on sin, so for that moment God turned away from Jesus and Jesus yelled out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
It's very difficult for us to imagine how painful that moment really was. However, the author of Hebrews tells us that "for the joy set before him, Jesus endured the cross, despite the shame". The joy that Jesus saw before him was the joy of being with the Father and bringing glory to God the Father. This is why we were created: to give glory to God and enjoy him forever.
Jesus was really dead. His heart stopped. His body was laid in a tomb–where they put people when they died. However, things did not stay this way.
God did something amazing! Jesus was God's promise to all of creation and on the third day after being dead, God the Holy Spirit raised Jesus back to life! He was resurrected–this word means that he came back from death or in other words he went through death.
The Bible tells us that if we die with Christ, we will live with Christ. This means that if we are trusting in Jesus, we may die but death won't be able to keep us. Through Jesus, we will live forever with him! This is such good news.
Jesus then went to many of his followers and gave them (and us) our great mission: "Go and make disciples of me!"
After this Jesus was taken up into heaven and today he sits with God and prays for us everyday.
While Jesus was with his disciples, he told them something very strange. He said that it was better for them that he would go away because then The Helper would come. Do you know who Jesus was talking about?
The Holy Spirit!
And right before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for the promise.
God always keeps his promises.
This group of Jesus' followers knew that and so they waited.
When a certain day arrived called the day of Pentecost, what Jesus promised would take place happened. The Holy Spirit came and enabled the followers of Jesus to speak of the mighty works of God and the truth of Jesus to the whole world! They even were able to speak in languages that they didn't yet know how to speak!
This is what God had promised and it was coming true. In this way, God created His Church.
The Church grew rapidly and it started to spread across the world. There were many people that were against the church and they were very mean to God's people.
One group was the Jews. They were upset because this group of people called "The Way" were saying that Jesus is God. They didn't like this and persecuted and even killed many of these early Christians.
However, God had determined that this would happen and we see now that because of this persecution, the Gospel of Jesus spread rapidly not only in Jerusalem, but also in areas and regions outside Jerusalem.
We live in this period of God's Story. It is our mission, while we are here on the earth to do what Jesus commanded his early followers to do: "Go and make disciples". We get to be a part of God's big story!
It is important to know that you're not the main character of God's story. Who is? (Jesus)
How can you, a minor character, point people's attention to the main character with your life?
You might be tempted to think that this is the end of the story...but there's more!
The amazing thing is that God has told us the end of the story! We do have something extraordinary to look forward to that God has promised us. He has promised us that Jesus is able to carry us all the way through this life and to present us before God blameless. We will someday be able to be in the presence of God's glory with great joy because of Jesus.
In fact, at the end of the story God promises to remove all the sin from the earth. In the beginning, the peace of God was broken and heaven essentially was torn away from earth. God promises to restore heaven and earth and bring things back into that awesome peaceful place. However, in the beginning of the story, we were in a garden, but in the new heavens and earth, we will be in a city! The city of God! Where we will live with God forever. This is what God is doing.
God always keeps his promises!