The whole Bible story (in 500 words or less)
It’s a story that begins in a garden. A perfect garden that God Himself planted. It’s beautiful and bountiful and human beings flourish there in elegance and simplicity – recognizing they are purposed for something great. God calls it all “very good”.
It obviously isn’t that way anymore, but in it’s original state, creation was good… really good. No conflict or cancer – no LIES or violence or tears. Love and peace and beauty prevailed.
It wouldn’t last. Evil tempts the fist couple to disobey God and pursue their own interests. Suddenly perfection is corrupted – there’s thistles where flowers once grew – and humans come into conflict with creation and each other and with God Himself. People become selfish and no longer walk intimately with God. The world is broken.
But even then, God in his mercy makes a promise that brokenness won’t LAST forever. As early as Genesis 3 God promises that one would come that would make all things right again, even though we’re the ones who rejected the love of God. Already, we feel the first tremors of a Savior.
God continues to initiate relationship with people so that they would be a light to the whole world. But, as is the case with humans, they grew selfish and forgot their Deliverer and so God responded with silence. Until one day He shattered the silence when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem.
Jesus is fully God and fully human… the God-man. His perfectly lived life becomes an example of what it means to image God. Every moment of His ministry is spent with the sick and poor and hurting and he leaves healing and restoration in the wake of wherever He goes.
However, His mission wasn’t just to live a good life and preach wise lessons, it always was to offer Himself up as the sacrifice for humanity and in Him hundreds of specific prophecies would be fulfilled.
So Jesus dies for every sin from the garden to now and every sin that will come. He dies when it should have been us. He suffers when it should have been us. The righteous for the unrighteous. The Bible says He became sin who knew no sin. Martin Luther called it the great exchange. We deserved death, not Him. Jesus paid it all.
It wasn’t just the sacrifice of our sin that makes this the good news, it’s the resurrection of Jesus proving that He is greater than death and disease and evil. In fact, Paul the Apostle says; “if the resurrection DIDN’T happen than you might as well put a FOR SALE sign on the church. Your faith is tragic and useless and you’re all fools. But the truth is, He did rise again and it’s changed everything.
And since Christ says that He can, through the Holy Spirit, take up residence in us, we too can have victory over evil and death. And we have the hope and knowledge that He’s coming again, this time not as a sacrifice but as a King and a warrior and a judge who will finally make all things right.
He’s given us more than an eternal future home, God has commissioned us to share His story and become conduits for blessing and healing to this world and its residents. Christ followers have the privilege to partner in the restorative work of Jesus until He comes again.
All In The Family
I (Jonathan) am I sometimes reader/subscriber to the magazine “Christianity Today”. I came across this provocative paragraph that might challenge you as it did for myself
Rebecca McLaughlin doesn’t sit with her husband at church. After reassuring her church friend that her family’s seating choices had nothing to do with the status of her marital relationship, she felt compelled to explain why.
“Every Sunday, my husband and I walk into church and see someone new sitting alone. If possible, we go and sit with them. If there are two people, we divide. It’s often awkward and uncomfortable but nonetheless worth it. Why? Because the gospel is a story of juxtaposition in community: Jesus sat with a Samaritan woman and asked her for a drink. Phillip got into the chariot with an Ethiopian eunuch. The early church ate together.
“I don’t for a minute question that we should sit together as a family at church, I’m questioning what family is. It seems to me that the New Testament drives a truck through our modern, Western conception of family as being a mom and dad and 2.4 kids.”
Prayer - Can you hear me now?
When Jesus entered the temple and saw all the nonsense going on with exploitative buying and selling of sacrificial animals, He declared, “It is written, …. ‘My house will be called a house of prayer’” (Matt 21:13).
Notice that He didn’t call God’s house a “house of teaching,” even though Jesus taught a lot in the temple. Nor did He call it a “house of healing,” though Jesus definitely healed in the temple. He also didn’t call it a “house of fellowship, although the temple was a major gathering place for God’s people. He called it one thing: a “house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17).
There has been no great work of God that didn’t first begin with prayer.
In the coming months, you will see NAC have a more comprehensive prayer strategy, but did you know there are already a few weekly corporate prayer opportunities?
Every Friday at 7:00A.M in room 106 there is a group that meets to pray for the church. You can even join afterwards for breakfast at McDonalds where Steve Briggs might just buy you a hash brown.
Also, every Sunday morning at 9:00A.M in room 106 we meet to pray for the service and for our people. For some reason these regular Friday & Sunday prayer times have had the reputation of being open to Elders only. This has never been the case. If either of these opportunities work in your schedule, we invite you to join us.
I also know there are people at NAC faithfully praying -- individually and in smaller groups. I am so grateful for this vital “behind the scenes” ministry. Please don’t “weary in doing good” (Gal. 6:9)” for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Converts or Disciples?
Forgive me if this sounds cynical but sometimes I’ve been suspicious of the numbers communicated from rally’s, services and evangelistic events of those who have been converted. Sometimes high-pressure or misleading means are used to get people to “raise a hand” or “come to the altar”. Having said that, some of the most committed Christians I know made a transformative decision at one of those events.
My point though is this; Jesus never called us to “go and make converts” – in some ways that’s much easier – what He called us to is to “go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19) and that is something that takes TIME.
A few weeks ago, someone in our community led another to Christ. Last Sunday several people raised their hands, for all intents and purposes, to begin the adventure of following Jesus. And it really is just that… the beginning! Make no mistake, your salvation is secure – there’s no need to “re-receive” Christ in the future – but the real work of discipleship is only beginning. The fancy word is sanctification, which is a lifetime of obedience that day by day transforms us into the likeness of Christ.
Perhaps you’ve recently made a choice to follow Christ. Please tell us so we can celebrate with you, give you a Bible and assist you with “next steps” that will deepen this decision.
Most of all though, Congratulations. You have made a decision of eternal consequence and you won’t regret it.
Now, go BE the church
When I was in residential youth counselling, our go-to resource book was called “The Other 23 Hours”. The premise being that our teens might spend an hour on the Psychiatrist’s “couch” but it was that other 23 hours where real-world application and change took place.
Perhaps you’ve noticed I end our services with the marching orders to “go BE the church”. Make no mistake, I’ll always be a big champion of the weekly “gathering”. We reorient our lives and priorities in community around Christ at Sunday Services. So if that’s approximately 2 hours a week, what of the other 166 hours? That’s where we BE the church – LIVE the application of what we’ve been taught and believe. Your neighbours, co-workers, family and realm of influence don’t need to attend NAC to SEE that you live and love differently than the culture. You’re in places that I’ll never have any reach or influence – schools, rinks, constructions sites, fancy office towers – living out the truth of the hope we have in Jesus.
Louis Palau said “The church is like manure. Pile it together too long and it stinks up the neighbourhood. Spread it out and it enriches the world”
Remember the Sabbath
It has been my desire to keep predictable office hours. I’m so grateful for the new office that’s been built and has been a perfect fit. Already there have been providential drop-in visits, calls and gospel opportunities just from being present. It is always preferable of course to book meeting time in advance to ensure availability and I’d encourage you to avail yourself of that.
Pastor Glenn – part time – can be found around NAC on various days but consistently all-day Tuesday. Pastor Kris has for years observed a Monday sabbath, as well as some work hours from home. In trying to ensure that there is Pastoral availability every day, I have been taking a Friday Sabbath. Therefore, I typically don’t check my phone or email on Friday’s just in case your wondering. I’ve learned that being very protective of my Sabbath is good not only for me and my family, but for the church in the long run. That’s not to say there won’t be some necessary Friday exceptions (funerals, emergencies, Good Friday etc.) but I’ll humbly ask that – where possible – you help me try and keep my Sabbath.
In fact, while we’re talking about it, have YOU guarded and maintained a Sabbath faithfully? It’s no longer assumed in this culture with crazy shift work that Sunday is your Sabbath day - regardless everyone A DAY. God lovingly modelled it and commanded it for our good.