THE STORY… WHERE IT ALL BEGINS
This week we are beginning the journey to discover the greatest love story from the greatest love letter ever written. It’s the story of the Bible. It is not just God’s story, it is meant to be your story. God created you to be part of it.
Imagine you are an actor. You show up to the set, get your makeup and wardrobe ready to go; however, no one gives you a script. How do you know what your part is, your lines, where you go? That’s the way it is in life for most people. They are on the stage of life, yet they have no idea what their part is. They are operating without a script. We aren’t here by accident. We were created to be part in an amazing adventure story. We have this amazing Script-our Bible. It tells us why we are here, where we are going, where history is going. The Bible reveals this amazing plan our Creator and Ruler of all is rolling out and He is inviting us to join Him.
As we go through this journey, we are going to see God’s “big plan” unfold—the “upper story”—seeing things from God’s perspective. We are also going see our own everyday lives—the “lower story”— God speaking into our perspective. It’s like seeing the weather outside and never seeing a rain cloud while the weatherman sees the satellite images and knows rain is coming. Our perspective is limited; God’s perspective is unlimited. God is not far away, He’s in this everyday life with us. He wants us to move into His perspective with Him. He doesn’t want us to just know His Story, He wants us to join Him on the journey of His Story. He wants us to understand the Bible because the more we understand the Bible, the more we understand the plan. The more we understand the plan, the more God can reveal our part in the Story.
… IN THE BEGINNING…
1. The Power
In the very beginning of the Story, we see God revealing His Power. The first thing we see His Power as He creates the earth out of absolutely nothing. We can be “creative”; however, we are limited to what the resources are around us. God took vast nothingness and created with the Power of His Words. I can believe in the big bang theory. God spoke it and bang! It was there! Now, that’s not the same as non-theistic evolutionary theory, I can’t go there!
God creates all of this in six days. His final act of creation is man. When He finishes the final creative act of mankind, God says “it’s all good, it’s very good”. God created universes, galaxies; billions and billions of stars we will never see. Why? For us. The whole point of creation is people. All of it created because the God of the Universe wanted to share it with us. He couldn’t bear the thought of not having us, many sons and daughters, share His glory.
The important thing for us to understand is the power of His Word. God is a God that keeps His Word. His Words have power. Words have the power to speak life over others or death, build up or tear down. When we reflect on the importance of words, we want to align our words with God’s so our words create and do not tear down. There is nothing greater to realize than that God has spoken (upper story) and He does speak (lower story). The two never contradict. When He speaks it is true, it is powerful, it creates, brings to life, it never changes, and it is eternal. “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Word will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33 NIV)
2. The Purpose
First, God created us to have relationship with him. God wants a personal relationship with us. He walked with Adam in the cool of the day. He didn’t create us for what we could do for him; he created us to have relationship with him. His love was first to be with us! We are the apple of His eye, the Magnus Opus of His Creation. He wants your view of yourself, your identity to be what He sees—and He sees that you are good. That may not be how you see yourself; nevertheless, God wants to be with you more than doing anything else!
Second, God created us to rule. God blessed them and said to them, “…Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground” (Geneses 1:28 NIV). God gave us authority to rule. We are to rule from Him, for Him. We are to be victors, not victims. We are to not let life control us, we are to rule our lives using His Words to take authority of every single thing in our everyday life. For us to be established in His will we need to bring into alignment what is true in our lower story with what is true in God’s upper story.
3. The Problem
In the creation story, it’s not happily ever after. Adam and Eve were given free will—choice. God didn’t create puppets or slaves; He created interactive humans with choice because He wanted a relationship with us. Relationships require the ability to choose. Unfortunately, despite all the available information given to Adam and Eve directly by God, they failed a major test. Eve believed the first lie—that God was not being honest with them. God wanted them to choose to trust Him and to know what was best for them. They had a direct relationship with God [He came and walked with them every day!], and ruled for Him [managerial control of every living thing]. Instead, they allowed themselves to be deceived and took rule over themselves. Eve wanted knowledge God told her she really didn’t need. Adam took no authority over Eve or Satan, joined in the lie. Suddenly, sin, death, authority signed over to Satan’s evil, suffering and pain agenda. GOD DID NOT AND DOES NOT CAUSE EVIL, SUFFERING, ETC. WE DID! Don’t blame Him, that was never His plan.
I personally find it extremely interesting that even though Eve choose to cross the line, Adam was just standing there. Adam had been the one who heard the original command. Eve was deceived because she doubted the Word; however, Adam was just simply disobedient. He stood passively by. This is the root of all family dysfunction: a lack of personal responsibility by Adam, a refusal to lead and take a stand that allowed Satan to come into the family and destroy it. Even when confronted by God, Adam still refused to take responsibility and chose to blame Eve instead.
4. The Predicament
God had no choice at this point. Despite what He truly wanted, God had to make sure that Adam and Eve couldn’t do even more damage to themselves because of their choices. God had to remove them from the Garden. Why? Is God just being mean? Since we now have the knowledge of good and evil ourselves, we don’t know what it’s like to see God only as the Holy, Wonderful Creator. He knew that if they stayed, they could eat of the second tree-the Tree of Life. That would mean we would be sentenced to never dying. Life on this earth without the possibility of parole. Eternal Life in heaven—absolutely. Eternal life on planet earth with sin, suffering, never an end to it, forever? Awful! God’s mercy was to send them out.
Mercy? Absolutely. Because God already had a plan to bring us back. He was not going to let Satan have the final say. God was going to rebuild the bridge we’d burned. Amazingly, Jesus was the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. God always has a plan. As God’s parting words in the Garden scene with Satan, God said: “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 31:15 NLT). In other words: You shall bruise Jesus’ heel on Good Friday, He will crush your head on Easter Sunday. This isn’t over! What if we believe in the resurrection with as much fervor and certainty as we believe in the fall, the sin nature and Satan’s attacks? How would we live differently?
In this story we see not only the incredible power of words, but the incredible power of our choices. One man disobeyed and all of us became sinners. How huge would it be to look at both our words and choices every single minute of every single day? I am challenged to ask myself the question beyond what would [this] sin or choice cost me; but even further, what would a choice to sin cost my family, the church, and all the people I love?
But the effects of sin didn’t stop there…
5. The Progression
Adam and Eve’s choices brought their sons Cain and Abel into a now imperfect, fallen world with sin, suffering, evil, and everything that comes with it. Cain, in a fit of rage, murders Abel; and, in a pattern established by Adam, tries to lie to God about it. Sin nature has now been officially passed on to the next generation, and the next, and the next…
Abel actually was murdered because he learned from his parent’s mistakes. He was trying to serve God, to be obedient. It is why he offered a lamb as a sacrifice. Abel heard the story of his parents being kicked out of the Garden and God sacrificed an animal. He heard how God used it to cover his parents with the skins. Abel knew God had declared that act was a symbol; there would come a time when there would be a sacrifice that would bring us back into a right relationship with Him again. Cain didn’t pay attention to that lesson, allowed his jealous nature to rule and he killed his brother. Cain didn’t own it. Ever heard the phrase “Am I my brother’s keeper?” His inability to own his sin caused him to be a marked man, a fugitive without a place to live. The mark of Cain is the curse of living an unrepentant life. In Cain’s choices we see that if we let unforgiveness, an offense, and a secret sin be buried in our life we will live on the run, never at peace. Please don’t do that. Choose a life of repentance. There is forgiveness; consequently, we can remove the mark of Cain from our spirit, from our lives.
Even with all this tragedy we see God bringing hope. God gives Adam and Eve another baby named Seth. Seth is the child through which the line of Jesus will be carried, the Holy Seed, the ancestor of Jesus. Seth means ANOINTED COMPENSATION. When Seth is born, there is a small revival in the land. Genesis 4:16 says “The men began to call upon the Lord...”
6. The Predicament…Again…
Unfortunately, the revival was short lived. The last part of section one of The Story is the familiar story of Noah and the Ark. We see a downhill progression in mankind; things go from bad to worse in the generations that follow. Sin, like a malignant tumor, can take over in a society and spread in a culture. The world went from sinful to depraved. (Romans 1 unpacks the saga). It is interesting to note that in the demise of cultures, Christian historians have noted two sins that go together: Sexual immorality and violence. To the degree sexual sin is justified, violent sins like murder (abortion), rape, and senseless killing escalate out of control.
God, once again, is faced with making a decision that’s hard to understand from our perspective. God judges the world. It’s important that we establish a firm understanding of the character of God right now at the beginning of The Story. God is HOLY; which also includes righteous, just, and sinless. He cannot confront sin with kid gloves. Romans makes the point that in order to understand and receive the grace of God, we must understand the just wrath of God. God is not a good ‘ole boy, the Santa Clause (naughty/nice list) or like the Man upstairs! He is Holy, Holy, Holy. We must grasp the seriousness of sin. If we’re not convicted about evil, we will not grasp a conviction of the need for or the awesome wonder of forgiveness and justification. We will expect God to be passively OK with immoral behavior, we will deceive ourselves and not seek repentance. God warns that just as a tumor must be diagnosed and eradicated, sin must be judged and eradicated if civilization is to remain and redemption is to come.
Amid all this depravity, one man stands out. Noah is a man who chose the relationship and the rule of God. Just like one of Noah’s relatives Enoch, Noah has chosen to walk with God. God sees what judgment needs to be done; however, once again God offers redemption. God makes Noah part of the redemptive story. Noah shows us that you don’t have to be a victim of your culture, God will set you apart and lift you up, if you will walk with Him. Noah, with no frame of reference but obedience, builds an Ark on God’s instruction. Again, in our perspective we might think God was cruel to kill all those people; however, He offered them another way. They chose to laugh at and ignore Noah. They rejected God’s redemptive path. The Ark is a picture of Jesus and the gospel; there is only one way of salvation. Only Noah and his family are saved. God, however, places the first beautiful sign of His promise in the sky. He places the rainbow and promises that He won’t destroy the earth again with a flood.
Though Noah triumphed in obeying God through the flood, the rest of the story is not a happy ending…again. Noah ends up drunk, one of his sons stares on his nakedness-Ham—and pays for his reaction. The other two sons Shem and Japheth cover their Dad’s nakedness. Noah is a classic example of how we can be so close and right with God one minute and then…
7. The Persistence
It would be impossible for humans by any kind of education, psychology or self-help to correct the problem of sin. History has proven, that when you educate a demon you simply wind up with a smarter demon. Our redemption must come through someone beyond the human race. But God is persistent…
One of the things I love about the Story of God is His persistency. In every story, even though sadness and sin abound, and God must bring judgment, God opens a window of hope. Through the whole Bible the message is the same: no matter how bad things are, no matter how much sin abounds, grace is greater. Wherever a door of judgment slams shut, a window of mercy opens. There is a rainbow with a flood, a promise of a seed with the eviction from the Garden. Hope…there is always hope…
Next, God moves forward into the second phase of His great plan of reckless love to bring us back. He picks a man to build a nation. I encourage you to join a life group. There’s a list on the website, through the app, or call the church office. Join with others and go through this Story with us. I guarantee you your life will never be the same again!