The riddle of humanity seems like a hopeless mess. Whether we admit it or not, everyone is broken and has failed the potential of our creation in God’s image. But there is one final piece to the riddle. A scarlet thread provided by God. Included in that fateful moment of God’s confrontation with Adam and Eve is the glimmer of a Messiah, a savior that would crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). God would provide the way for what men and women can not do themselves.
Perhaps what is the most loved verse of the Bible says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB95) Where Adam’s sin brought futility, division, and death to all (Romans 5:12) Jesus death and resurrection brings life to all that will receive Him (John 1:12, John 10:10).
The Bible says that this new life offered through Jesus is a free gift, a gift of grace. The Apostle Paul said in Romans, “But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.” (Romans 5:15, NASB95) And to the church at Ephesus Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NASB95) What we could never do for ourselves or others God freely offers to all through Jesus.
A little over two thousand years ago a baby was born in Bethlehem. That baby born of a virgin was Jesus, God made flesh. God incarnate. The child grew and somewhere around the age of thirty began ministering to the people of Isreal. Healing the sick, casting out evil spirits, doing miraculous things and teaching that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15).
In the third year of His ministry, Jesus was arrested in Jerusalem. Tried, tested, and tortured by the Jewish leaders, the Roman installed king, and the Roman governor Pontus Pilate. Although Pilate declared Jesus not guilty he condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion to keep the peace. It was a slow, painful, and humiliating death. After Jesus took His last breath a Roman soldier thrust his spear into his side confirming Jesus death. At the request of a well connected and wealthy follower, Jesus’ body was removed from the cross and placed in a sealed and guarded stone tomb. About 40 hours later, on the third day, Jesus rose again from the dead.
But Jesus didn’t die simply because of political pressure to keep a fragile peace. Something else was going on, something the leaders of the day couldn’t see. When Jesus was nailed to the cross He was carrying your sin and my sin for us. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NASB95) Our sin, our punishment, our guilt, our shame, our fear was nailed to the cross that day (Galatians 3:13). He died so that we may have life, He lives to make all things right again.
This new life in Jesus is not thrust or forced on anyone, it is offered to all as a free gift. Paul put it this way, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10:9, NASB95) Those who take that step discover a new life filled with purpose instead of futility, unity instead of division, relationship instead of separation, and an abundant life instead of death.
There is, of course, much more to our new life in Christ than we can explore in this article. The important point for the moment is that through Jesus the riddle of humanity is reconciled. The curse of sin is broken. There is, however, an “already and not yet” to our new life in Christ. We are already made right with God yet we are working and growing fully into it. Much of the Christian experience is “working out” what has changed on the inside. We are made alive in Christ but our body will still die and will be resurrected again to eternal life in a new heaven and new earth. The circumstances of our life may not dramatically change but our attitude and purpose towards it are radically changed. Where we were once hopelessly bent toward sin we are now fleeing sin and running toward God.
This concludes this section of The Basics. Our next section looks at the Bible.