Those who come to church only at Christmas and Easter are not only missing out on fellowship and regular teaching within the body of Christ, they are also missing out on learning more about the whole story—what God planned from beginning to end. It’s like walking into the middle of a movie without understanding the relevance of what is happening.
Even those who regularly attend church and read their Bibles may not get the big picture. In order to understand the significance of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, you have to look at the beginning of God’s story and what we anticipate at the end.
At IFWE, we often talk about this big-picture story as the “four-chapter gospel”—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration.
The Third Chapter: Redemption
The third chapter of the four-chapter gospel, Redemption, gives us a glimpse of the way things could and should be. After the Fall, God did not abandon the human race. He did not leave it to die in the sin and misery that resulted from Adam’s original sin. Instead, out of his great love and mercy, God delivered his people from sin and brought them into salvation by grace through faith, administered by his son Jesus Christ:
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
In our sin and wretchedness, we deserve death—the penalty for our sin—but instead, God graciously gives us the free gift of eternal life through his son, Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23). And so, we have hope.
We live in this chapter today.
Christ’s death paid the price for all of the sin of his children—the past, present, and future. Christ offers us a way to know God by clothing us in his righteousness. God sent Jesus so that we may have access to a restored, redeemed relationship with him.
Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God adopts us as his children, and we receive the eternal inheritance of Jesus Christ (Eph.1:5-6; Titus 3:7). Our status with God changes; we are justified by our faith in Jesus.
In 2 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul gives a vivid explanation of the power of the Lord’s work in our lives when we trust in him. We are no longer defined by our sin; we are defined by Christ’s righteousness. In Christ, we are a new creation. Being made new gives us new life, a life in Christ, through which we have a new perspective of hope and the assurance of our salvation.
Redemption: A Foretaste of the End of the Story
Although we do not enjoy the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve did before the Fall, God still intends for us to attain a certain measure of wholeness and flourishing. He calls us to repent of sin and live lives that show others the way things could be.
We see the remarkable effects of redemption in all our relationships. God gives us foretastes of glory and hope in our lives to show us what is to come when Christ returns in the final chapter, Restoration. The impact of redemption in our daily lives is not just theoretical; it is practical.
- In the midst of great hardship and pain, we experience joy, laughter, love, peace, reconciliation, and beauty.
- We see redemption in relationships repaired, illnesses healed, cities rebuilt.
- Successful businesses provide goods and services to consumers around the world, promoting flourishing and prosperity. Innovation and technology have changed the global economy, communication, health care, finance, and more.
- Communities come together in the face of tragedy to rebuild, support, and care for one another.
- By living lives that demonstrate Christ’s love, we extend God’s redemptive grace to others.
Just as sin affects all of creation, the redemption found in Jesus’ death has the power to redeem all of the creation. Just as his death gives us unmerited access to God, it changes our relationship with the world, and it renews our purpose in life.
T. M. Moore* writes of the greater purpose of our calling made possible by the grace of the gospel:
So the creation has been “subjected to futility,” Paul says, and we who have become the sons and daughters of God, who understand His purpose for our work, have been called in our work to repair, renew, and restore the original beauty, goodness, and truth of God….Our work only takes on full significance when we see it in this light, as part of God’s ongoing work to bring everything to a higher state of goodness (Rom. 8:28). So no matter what your job, or whatever your work might be, God intends that you should devote your labors to something greater than personal interest, economic prosperity, or social good, alone. God intends your work to contribute to the restoration of the creation, and the people in it, to raising life on this blue planet to higher states of beauty, goodness, and truth, reflecting the glory of God in our midst.
Everything we do advances this higher state of goodness, according to Romans 8:28. This third chapter of Redemption represents the beginning of the restoration and fulfillment of God’s original purposes.
Those who are redeemed can fulfill their original calling laid out in the first chapter, Creation—to have dominion over the earth and to create culture (Gen. 1:28). God has uniquely gifted each person to do this, and through redemption, allowed us to fulfill his call even in our sin.
*T. M. Moore’s quote was taken from his column, “Work, Beauty, and Meaning: A Biblical Perspective on the Daily Grind,” published on October 6, 2006, at www.justicefellowship.org/features-columns/archive/1571-work-beauty-and-meaning (accessed May 1, 2010).
Editor’s note: Learn more about the four-chapter gospel in All Things New: Rediscovering the Four-Chapter Gospel.
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