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Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Gospel as I See It

This is an article I wrote because I am usually offended by religious literature because of the religious sounding language.  I challanged some friends to present a gospel message in 1000 words with no private christian language.  No one took me up on it but here is my attempt. 

In the beginning God spoke, and everything was created, by His Word.  He put the first man in a beautiful garden and gave him a helper that he called woman.  God gave them 2 rules.  First take care of this garden. Second do not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 Think about this with me.  If you eat something it goes into your body and becomes the stuff your body is made of, plus the waste which is cast off.  I think this has some spiritual connections.  See if you agree.  The tree of the knowledge of good and evil:  Could that also be taking into yourself the idea that you could decide what is good and what is evil?  That is sort of how I see the problem.  Because when man ate that fruit he began to decide what was good and what was evil, he had no more need for God.  That’s when his relationship with God ended and he was spiritually dead.  The spirit of God no longer lived in him. 

 At this time God had to throw Adam and Eve out of the beautiful garden.  It was too dangerous for them.  It was not punishment, it was for their safety.  So man continued for many years doing what he decided was good.  Sometimes he has done what he knew was evil, to get what he wanted.  In any case this has all been done outside of a relationship with God.  As long as man chooses to be the authority that decides good and evil, he is not in a right relationship with God. 

 Now God knows everything.  He doesn’t act to cause a lot of things to happen, but he does know what will happen.  And he is in the midst of everything.  Ok I cannot explain that but somehow I believe it.  When this great calamity occurred, God saw it coming and had a plan ready.

 Over the next several years God chose a man to be the first of a family who would eventually bring to earth the one man who could lead us back to a relationship with God.  The man he chose was Abram.  The Word of God tells the story of how this man heard a message from God and then bumbled around for several years and goofed up a lot.  Because he was trying to work out God’s promise.  Then when all hope was gone.  God came in and said, “Now I will fulfill my word.” Ok that is not a quote, but that is what God did.  He changed Abram and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah, and then gave them a son.  The son’s name was Laughter.  In their language his name was Isaac. 

 They only had one son, but from this one child God grew a nation.  There was a lot of messing things up by the men and women involved.  But God kept things moving forward little by little.  This tiny start grew into a great nation united by a promise from God.  They spoke of him as “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  He was so mighty and frightening that they did not dare to call him their God. 

There are many wonderful stories of how God did act on the part of the children of Abraham.  They are written for us to enjoy and learn from in what is called the Old Testament.  These are stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (who was later called Israel).  There are also the stories of Joseph and his brothers, Moses and many other interesting men and women.  God worked with and through these amazing and amazingly foolish people to bring about the one who would show us the way back to Him. 

One of these people was David.  He was a king of the people of Israel.  He started out as a sheep herder, for his father’s flocks.  He also wrote a lot of praise music.  He was chosen to be king and did a lot of great things in Israel.  He also did some pretty awful stuff by almost any standard.  It is important to realize this as you learn the story of how God made the way for us to get back to him. 
God used men that we call prophets to tell all who would listen that David’s kingdom would last forever.  That is another way of saying one of his sons would be king of Israel forever. 
Several years later, in a little town outside of Jerusalem, a baby was born in a cow shed.  His mother had never had sexual relations with a man, but God had put the child inside her.  She was married to a man who was a direct descendant of King David.  It is very reasonable to assume she was also of the same family though not a close cousin.  They were told to name the child Jesus.  This name means; Salvation from Jehovah. 
Jesus grew up in the land of Israel as the son of a carpenter.  And he learned to obey by surrendering his will to the will of his Heavenly Father.  Because the reason he came was to do the will of God.   
Since the religious leaders were working at other things, they didn’t understand that this one was THE ONE who would lead them back to God.  They became jealous of his popularity and power so they killed him.  Their leader said, “It is right that one should die for the people.”
And so in their selfish arrogance they accomplished God’s will.  When men turn from God, death is the only result.  Jesus accepted that separation and punishment for us.  He Died! 
But God raised him from death.  A record of his life has been given to us so we can follow him and find the way back to God. 
I would like to invite you to join me and many others who have simply chosen to follow Jesus back to our Heavenly Father.