The Big Story

The 6C's by Chad Nuss (www.the6c.com)

The Bible is more than a story written by people about God. It is a story written by God through people. Each page, proverb, and parable reflects the personality and culture of the author while remaining free from error and consistent with the entire collection of Scripture. The Bible was written and assembled over thousands of years of time by multiple authors from differing backgrounds and cultural situations. It contains several volumes of writing of varying genres, styles, and purposes.

The Bible is composed of 6 main parts:

Creation: Genesis 1-2

Curse: Genesis 3

Covenant: The Old Testament–Genesis to Malachi

Christ: The Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

Community: The New Testament Letters–Acts to Jude

Conquest: Revelation

However, there is a central overarching story tying the entire collection of writings into a unified whole. This single story is the gospel, or the good news about how God has rescued us from the curse of sin and renewed the creation from its brokenness through and for His Son Jesus Christ.  Because the Bible is inspired and superintended by God as its ultimate author, it carries divine authority by which we are to submit and evaluate our entire lives. Thereby, the Bible and its gospel story is sufficient in providing a comprehensive worldview that enables us to know God personally and accurately interpret all of life. Psalm 119, Luke 24:27, 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:16-21

Creation

God created everything. All things seen and unseen, from the smallest particles to the largest galaxies, everything that is was made by God. (Genesis 1-2, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1, Revelation 4:11) He brought everything into existence out of nothing simply by speaking. By His command, all reality was formed, shaped, and given purpose. He was and is and will continue to be intimately involved in every aspect of creation from the most distant reaches of the universe to the daily course of life. (Genesis 1:1-3, Job 36-41, Psalm 139) God created everything to provide a witness of His existence. Creation tells us something about who God is and what He is like. Ultimately, everything exists to declare the majesty, beauty, perfection, and glory of God. Creation originally operated with harmony, order, and purpose. God also created people uniquely to bear His image as a testimony to His glory and goodness. God charged His people with the privilege of sharing in His rule and care for the world by filling it with offspring. God provided everything needed for them to fulfill their purpose of organizing the world into a sanctuary of intimate fellowship with God. (Genesis 1:26-28, Psalm 19, Acts 14:17, 17:26-28, Romans 1:19-20, 1 Corinthians 10:31) God has authority over what He has made. This authority extends to everything, including every person who has ever lived. Everyone will give an account to God for the life they were given and how they used their words, deeds, thoughts, motivations, and desires to bring glory to Him. (Psalm 29, Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 2, 3:19, Revelation 20:11)-15

Curse

Despite God’s goodness, care, and provision for His people, they decided to disobey Him and live under their own authority. This decision effected everything. God brought immediate judgment upon the original man and woman and a curse was put upon the entire creation. Sin, death, disease, frustration, shame, decay, and brokenness entered into the creation and continually plague our experience of life to this day. (Genesis 3, Romans 8:18-23) This brokenness fundamentally changed humanity, the creation, and how we relate to God. Whereas before men and women freely chose to worship and relate to God, now we are enslaved to sin and by nature do what we are not supposed to do. The creation itself experienced a deep fracture in which death and disease, decay and pain now permeate everything. Finally, our relationship with God was severed so that we no longer experience intimate fellowship with Him as originally intended, but live under His imminent judgment for our sins. (Genesis 3:22-24, Exodus 23:7, Psalm 51:5, John 8:34, Romans 6-7) As a result, no human being is inherently righteous or morally good. Though we can perform isolated acts of charity and selflessness, our bent is to continually do what we should not. No amount of resolve or good intentions can reverse the effects of sin or erase our guilt. Instead, our sin and brokenness has affected us beyond our actions to the very core of who we are. Apart from God, we are without hope in the world. (Genesis 6:5, Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 3:9-20)

Covenant

Despite all the brokenness of the world and the rebellion of His people, God planned from before creation a way to restore all things to Himself. This plan was revealed throughout history in promises, or covenants, God made with His people. (Colossians 1:19-20, 1 Peter 1:19-21) These covenants were initiated by God and motivated by His grace to restore us into intimate fellowship with Him. They serve as the framework upon which the history of God’s people and the storyline of the Bible is built. God made covenants with the world through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jeremiah. These covenants had specific applications to the specific times and people they were made with, but have ramifications for all people of all times and places. (Genesis 3:15, 9, 15, Exodus 20-24, 2 Samuel 7, Jeremiah 31:31-40) Every promise, covenant, commandment and prophecy of Old Testament Scripture foreshadows, points to, and finds its fulfillment in the Messiah, the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Matthew 5:17-20, Luke 24:27, 44-49, 2 Corinthians 1:20)

Christ

God provided a way of salvation not through offering complex religious ceremonies to be observed or moral requirements to be fulfilled. Instead, God provided a way of salvation by offering Himself. The Old Testament includes detailed instructions regarding religious ceremonies, sacrifices, and moral laws. However, these instructions were never intended to save, but to foreshadow and identify the One who would come to offer Himself as our salvation. (John 1:1-14, Hebrews) Jesus Christ is this One–the Jewish Messiah who came in fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. He is the One in whom all of the covenants, prophecies, sacrifices, and commandments find their conclusion by serving as the ultimate High Priest, eternal King, and divine Prophet. He is God who became a Middle Eastern man and lived during the reign of the Roman Empire. Although fully God, He lived as a human being experiencing all of the same temptations, emotions, difficulties, and joys we do. Although fully human, He never sinned in any way, but perfectly obeyed the commandments and requirements of the Scriptures. (Matthew 5:17-20, Philippians 2:5-11, Hebrews 4:14-16) Jesus Christ was an innocent man sentenced to Roman crucifixion. He willingly submitted to this sentence in accordance with the plan of salvation initiated by God from before creation. On the cross, Jesus Christ took our place by becoming a sinner before God. He received all of the judgment we deserve for our sins. Having exhausted the full wrath of God, He died and was buried in a tomb. Three days later, He physically rose from the dead and appeared to multiple witnesses. Afterwards, He ascended to heaven to reign over all things. (John 19:30, Acts 3:17-26, 4:23-31, 1 Corinthians 15:3-11, 2 Corinthians 5:21)

Community

God loves community. He is in the process of transforming not just individuals, but a people for Himself made up of men and women from different races, nations, and languages. The reason behind this love for community is the very nature of God Himself. He exists in community as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is one God revealed and self-relating in three persons. (Genesis 1:26, Matthew 3:13-17, Revelation 7:9) The Bible begins with a relationship between God and the people He created. He commanded the first couple, Adam and Eve, to multiply and fill the earth. From this family, God chose a nation, Israel, to be in close relationship with and to represent Him to the rest of the world. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s relationship with Israel. Out of this nation came the Messiah, Jesus Christ, through whom God chose people from every corner of the earth to join in relationship with Him in the Church. The New Testament details the history and story of the Church. At the end of time, all of His people from all of history will join with God in the New Creation. What began with a family alone with God in a Garden ends with a city filled with people in intimate fellowship with Him forever. (Genesis 1:28, 17:4, Exodus 6:7, Ephesians 1:22-23, Revelation 21-22) People who follow and identify themselves with Jesus Christ gather together for worship, discipleship, accountability, fellowship, and service in local churches. Jesus gives each of His followers spiritual gifts to minister in the church and to serve the poor, the dispossessed, and widows and orphans. He also commissions His people to go throughout the entire world to tell every person about Jesus Christ and invite them into a forever, intimate relationship with Him. (Matthew 28:16-20, 1 Corinthians 12, James 1:26-27)

Conquest

At the end of time, Jesus Christ will return literally and physically to our world. When Jesus Christ returns, every remaining unfulfilled promise and prophecy, every longing for hope and justice, every anticipation for renewal finally will be realized. All that is corrupt will be made right; all that is broken will be fixed. Heaven and earth will come together into a new and final reality. (Matthew 24-25, 1 Corinthians 13:8-12, Galatians 5:5, Revelation 21:1-2) Every person who ever lived will be subject to a final, ultimate judgment. All of our words, actions, intentions, and inner thoughts will be measured against the perfect law of God. We all will be accountable both for what we have done and what we should have done. Unfortunately, in and of ourselves, we will be found guilty before God. (Matthew 12:33-37, Romans 3:9-20, Revelation 20:11-15) However, those who have turned from their sin and by faith trusted in Jesus Christ in this life will receive the final forgiveness promised them when they first believed. They will enter into sinless and eternal fellowship with God in heaven. Those without Jesus will be left in their sin and guilt and cast out of the presence of God forever. This separation will be a final and continual experience of God’s justice and wrath alongside unending expressions of selfishness, defiance, self-pity, isolation, and frustration in hell. (Luke 16:19-31, 17:20-37, 1 Corinthians 1:20-22) Jesus Christ also will renew all of creation by removing every mark of sin and brokenness. Every experience of pain and sadness, disease and sickness, and corruption and futility will be removed and replaced with a new creation. Those in Christ will receive their resurrected bodies and enjoy an ever increasing experience of joy in God surrounded by the beauty of a perfect creation filled with the presence of Jesus. (Romans 8:18-25, 1 Corinthians 15, Revelation 21-22)

What do I do Now?

Our lives have value and meaning and purpose, but we can only truly understand this within the context of God’s overall plans for the world. Unfortunately, all of us live like we are in charge of the direction and purpose of our lives. We attempt to find our significance and morality apart from God’s story. However, this pursuit is more than simply individualism–it is rebellion. We can continue in this way our entire lives, discover a purpose for life, and even experience a measure of success and happiness, but in the end we are only eroding the very foundation of what gives us significance. As a result, we alienate ourselves from God and experience an increasing emptiness and spiritual death. God offers us Himself in order to reconcile our broken relationship with Him by forgiving our sin and cleansing us from unrighteousness and to provide the meaning and significance for which we long. This offer demands a response. Indifference or procrastination is nothing short of rejection, but full acceptance results in a new life and intimate fellowship with God. We respond to God’s offer with both repentance and faith. Repentance involves recognizing our sin problem and separation from God and turning from it with disgust. Faith completes our repentance by turning to the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ as our only means of forgiveness from God. Repentance and faith are partners in our response of salvation. Repentance without faith leads to self-righteousness and morality. Faith without repentance leads to license and hypocrisy. Both repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ are needed for salvation. God’s offer of salvation is more than a one time transaction of forgiveness. Instead, we are invited into an ongoing relationship with God by becoming disciples, or followers of Jesus Christ. When we repent of sin and turn to Jesus by faith, we become new people with new desires and abilities and identify ourselves with Jesus by being baptized. The Holy Spirit moves into our lives, empowering us to fight sin and obey God, and gifting us to serve others. Not only is our relationship with God restored, but our relationship with other people changes so that we now desire to gather with other followers of Jesus in local churches. We also are sent out to serve the world and tell everyone about the salvation of God offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. John 3:1-8, Acts 2:37-47, Romans 10:9-13, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21, Galatians 2:15-21