The Bible: The Story of Redemption
John 3:16-17 (NIV)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
~John 3:16-17 (NIV)
John 3:16 might be the most popular verse in the Bible. Turn to any NFL game on any given Sunday, and you will likely see a sign referencing that verse. In-and-Out Burger has John 3:16 printed on the bottom of all of their soda cups. Why is this verse so popular? In my opinion, it’s because John 3:16 succinctly summarizes Christianity.
The Bible is a redemption story. God created us, in His image, to live in complete dependence on Him. He gave us the Garden of Eden, a place where humans shouldn’t have known, shame, embarrassment, isolation, etc. It was a paradise designed for us to live in constant relationship with God, a place where we would never be separated from Him. The Fall, however, separated man from God. The Fall prevented us from enjoying the intimacy Adam and Eve previously experienced with God. Thankfully, God, through His grace, gave us another opportunity to enjoy a relationship with Him. He gave us an opportunity to be reunited with Him. The cost for this second chance is a greater cost than any of us would ever pay. God sent Jesus, His only Son, to come into this world and die a criminal’s death for our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross redeemed us in God’s eyes. Jesus’ death and resurrection makes it possible for us to experience the unity God designed for us to have with Him in the Garden.
In addition to the story of mankind’s overall redemption through Jesus’ crucifixion, the Bible is also a series of redemption stories. Hebrews 11 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It really is a who’s who of the heroes of the Bible and those men and women who exhibited immense faith throughout their lives. The thing I love about Hebrews 11 and the “who’s who” list is that you would think all of these heroes should have been disqualified from God using them to do great things. Abraham was an adulterer who knocked up his wife’s servant. Moses was a murderer. Jacob was a con man. Yet, God used all of these flawed and “disqualified” individuals to further His Kingdom. God used these individuals to serve as examples of what faith in action looks like. God used these individuals as examples that God can redeem us no matter what we have done in the past. And like these pillars of the faith, once God redeems us and we live a life in service to the Kingdom, our reputations become more and more about our love of God and less about our failures and flaws when we were living a life in accordance with the flesh.
Today’s Training: Read Hebrews 11 and think about which hero listed most inspires you. Think about what that person did which should have “disqualified” him or her from becoming a member of faith’s “who’s who” list. Reflect about some of the decisions you’ve made or continue to make that should disqualify you from being used to advance the Kingdom. And realize you are a sinner just like the person you identified in Hebrews 11 but, nevertheless, you have been redeemed through Jesus Christ, and you are not disqualified from serving the Kingdom. In fact, your disqualifying features will better help you serve the Kingdom because it may give you insight when walking alongside another brother who thinks he should be disqualified for some of the same reasons.