The Bible is the most beautiful love story ever written. Some people believe the Bible to be a list of dos and don’ts. I doubt these people have ever read the entire thing…or even most of it. If they have, they must suffer from severe selective distortion. The Bible is about grace. It is about love. It is about God’s pursuit of us for His glory.
From the very beginning of Genesis, as we found out a couple days ago, sin has permeated the planet. Adam and Eve brought it on the world and it has stuck around. Throughout the first 20 chapters of Genesis, the reader gets a vivid picture of the destructive power of and God’s righteous anger against sin. God said he was sorry for creating man and then let loose a giant flood to wash man and his sin away. The trend continues with Abraham, the man from whom all of Judaism descended, made a bunch of sinful decisions: he prostituted his wife in order to save his life and to get rich (chapter 12), he kick-started a whole nation (and world religion) out of sin and impatience by sleeping with his mistress Hagar (chapter 16), and he tried to pimp out Sarah AGAIN in chapter 20. Once society was up and running again, Sodom and Gomorrah went buck wild and became saturated with sin. God gave them 120 years to repent. They did not turn from their ways, so He sent down burning sulfur from the heavens to consume the two cities (chapter 19).
See, sin permeates the Bible. Adam and Eve’s decision set humanity on a trajectory of pain and stubbornness that continues until grace burst onto the scene. Over and over throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew nation would turn briefly to God and then bail when some shiny new sin came along. God pleaded with Israel over and over and over. He used prophets to try to speak to His children. He used corrective discipline, rewarded His faithful followers, and was grieved time and again for His kids. Eventually, Israel lost the right to be the exclusive heirs of God’s kingdom.
Throughout the Old Testament, God set up the law for Jews to follow. Keeping the law was the way to get to heaven. If a person would sin, he or she would have to offer a pleasing sacrifice to atone for it. The law was cumbersome. It was complete and a tough path to follow.
In the New Testament, after John the Baptist eats locust and preaches the coming savior, Jesus took over. He began to minister at age 30, calling people repentance and belief in Him. He employed miracles, teaching, grace and love in His pursuit of the hearts of God’s beloved. He knew that His path would lead Him to the cross. He gave His life, shed His blood, was beaten to a pulp and hung on a cross for our sins. His sinless life was given as atonement for our sins…for the sins of humanity.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Jesus took the place of the law. He set us free from it. He became sin, enables us to live free from its bondage and to live with the guidance of the Holy Spirit (more on that in the next post). The law was burdensome. But Jesus’ yoke is light. We now have freedom from the sin that so bound Israel in the Old Testament. We are now free from the sin that strangles the life out of this world. Its wage is death. The gift of Jesus’ blood is eternal life. Because of the cross, we all have the opportunity to know Him, not just the Jews. Accept this gift. He offers it because of grace. Through faith, take Him up on His promises. Be a part of this beautiful love story. Be a part of grace and redemption. Fall at the foot of the cross.
We will finish this short abbreviation of grace and the story of the Bible in the next post, where we will examine how to live under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the doctrine of Progressive Sanctification. Until then, remember grace. Remember the great gift Jesus gave on our behalf.
Grace and peace.