For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:38-39
God’s story of salvation teaches us that the cosmos was created out of overflowing love, and this world we are given is very, VERY good! In an act of supreme generosity, each one of us was crafted with a spark of the divine within us. Even though we have strayed, God remains steadfast, assuring us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Read below for the story of salvation in Ten Words in the Bible.
Out of love, God created the universe and made humankind in the divine image. When God finished, God rested and declared it very good!
Original Sin (time unknown):
Humanity rebelled and was expelled from paradise, and creation suffered from the disconnection. Our perfect relationship with God and with one another was severed. [Genesis]
Patriarchs and Matriarchs (about 2000):
Despite our pride and neglect, God remained faithful and continued a loving relationship with humankind. God did this through a certain couple, Abraham and Sarah, their child (Isaac), and grandchild (Jacob). Through Jacob's twelve children rose the nation of Israel, and through them, God will restore and reconcile all of creation. God chose them out of abundant grace, and Abraham's trust in God. [Genesis]
God's people, the Israelites, because of a famine, were forced to go to Egypt. At first, they were welcomed, but then the Pharaohs turned evil and enslaved God's people for 400 years. God heard the cry of the Israelites and freed them to the promised land. The land [called Palestine, Canaan, and Israel] is a sign of their good standing with God and is intimately connected with their identity as a people. [Exodus]
When the nation of Israel arrived at the promised land, it was inhabited. Through various battles, Israel possessed Canaan. The nation of Israel was a loosely knit group of 12 tribes (named after the sons of Jacob) that shared the belief in God but had no leader. The nation as a whole constantly disobeyed God at this time and went through a cycle of success, apostasy, defeat, repentance, and reinstatement. Certain Hebrews emerged from the tribes, called judges (Gideon, Samson, and Deborah), who helped them through these crises. [Joshua and Judges]
The Hebrew people, because of constant wars and fear of neighboring countries, wanted a king to unify their nation and make it less vulnerable to outside attack. God had been their king up to this point, but reluctantly, God agreed to give them a king (God was reluctant because God knew that human kings would abuse the power given to them). At first, despite the kings' deficiencies, it seemed the nation was stronger, but soon there was an argument about who the successor would be, and the nation split into two countries called Israel and Judah. [I, II Samuel; I, II Kings; and I, II Chronicles]
Many of the kings were extremely wicked and led the people away from God. Because of this, the prophets arose to tell the people to return to faithfulness in God or else their nation would be destroyed. [Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Hosea]
The prophets were right, and the Hebrews were taken away from their promised land given to them by God and exiled to Babylon. They were now a people without a home. [Ezekiel and Lamentations] After about 50 years, they were returned but were no longer in control of their own land. [Ezra, Nehemiah and Daniel]
Messiah (0-30 A.D.):
The entire history of God's people is a continual story of humankind's disobedience, disaffection from God, repentance, and reinstatement. The prophets and others realized that this would always continue unless something or someone could stop this cycle. They recognized that only a change in the nature of a person could effect a more permanent change, which could avoid continual separation. Thus, they prophesied that one would come who could permanently fix humankind's sin and separation from God. This Messiah who came was God's very Son. He died that we might be permanently restored to a right relationship with God.
Apostles (30-70 A.D.):
Before Jesus ascended back into heaven, he charged a group of people, the apostles, to spread the good news not only to Israel but to everyone. Thus, through Israel, all of the world was restored into a right relationship with God if they say "YES!" to the person and the work of Jesus. It was through the work of the apostles that Jesus' name was spread throughout the Earth, particularly the work of Paul. [Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians]
Prayer of Confession
Lord, You have loved us immeasurably through Your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. He has blessed us with salvation but we have sought other paths to find meaning and hope. We have allowed our fears to erode our trust in You and the path to life that You have given us. Give us strength to live as people of Your way, filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Amen.