Are you looking for meaning in life? Are you seeking God? At First Baptist, we are a group of imperfect people from different walks of life with all sorts of different stories. And yet we all find meaning in what we call God’s Story—the living, breathing account of God’s interaction with human beings throughout history (also known as the Gospel). We understand God’s Story as being detailed in the best-selling book of all time, the Bible. And this great (true) story can be summed up in 5 parts: Creation, Fall, Cross, Salvation, and Sanctification. However, this is not just some interesting tale, some ancient narrative from a culture far-removed from our own. Instead, God’s Story also relates to and connects with YOUR story!
God’s Story Part I: CREATION
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…”
(Gen 1:27, 31a)
Have you ever felt like there is something or someone else “out there,” beyond what you can see and touch? Have you ever wondered why the world is less than perfect? Have you ever wondered why there is injustice? Do you long for fulfilling relationships with other people but have found that they often disappoint?
People have asked these sorts of questions and felt these sorts of longings since the beginning of time, and they have arrived at many different conclusions. However, Christians believe not only that there is someone else out there, “God,” but that he has revealed himself to humanity plainly in the Bible. In the Bible, we see that our imperfect world points to a world that was perfect, a world characterized by complete justice, where people walked hand-in-hand, as it were, with God.
However, we all know that this is not the current state of the world. Something happened to change things…
KEY POINT #1: In the beginning, God created people in perfect relationship with himself.
God’s Story Part II: FALL
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
People messed up all this perfection by turning their backs on God and letting go of his caring hand. They broke their perfect relationship with a perfect God. Thus, sin entered the world, along with injustice, pain, suffering, and ultimately death. Sin and death then separated people from God. This is still the current state of our world.
There was no way for people to get back to God by themselves, because the distance was far too great. The distance between God and people is so great, that it’s like the distance between the moon and the earth. Even though some of us may be able to jump higher than others, it makes no difference, from the perspective of the moon. Nevertheless, many people try in vain to bridge the gap by doing good things or living a certain way.
However, God was not content with this situation. Because people were completely unable to do anything about it, God did something…
KEY POINT #2: These days, sin separates people from God.
God’s Story Part III: CROSS
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
God did not create people to be separate from him. He created them to be in perfect relationship with him. Even though people cannot bridge the gap, God can, and he did so. He actually came to earth in human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Though people had fallen away from God, Jesus died on their behalf on the cross, as their substitute. When he went to the cross, Jesus took on himself the punishment for all our sins.
Jesus did not only take our punishment on the cross, he actually defeated death. How do we know this? Because even though he was really killed, he also really rose from the dead on the third day. This shows that his sacrifice was enough to pay for the penalty of our sins and restore our relationship with God, if only we would grab onto his hand again.
The resurrection is not just a nice story; it is historically true! After Jesus rose from the grave, approximately 500 people saw him. Those who saw him committed their lives to his message. These people were so dedicated to Christ that they were willing to give their lives for him.
However, this is not just God’s story. It is also your story. This is a message that calls you to respond…
KEY POINT #3: God came to people in order to restore the perfect relationship which they had broken.
God is reaching out to you…
will you grab onto his hand?
Your Story Part IV: SALVATION
“The time has come…The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Jesus died on the cross and rose again for you! He has reached across the gap to save you from the penalty of sin and he is calling you to grab onto his hand right now!
But how do you grab onto God’s hand?
Simply Believe in Jesus Christ! To believe in Jesus is to trust in him as your only means of salvation. It means turning away from any false notion that you can earn your own salvation by doing enough good deeds, by living any certain way, by acquiring enough wealth, or by relying on anything else. Why? Because on the cross, Jesus has already done everything necessary for you to reconnect with God. That certainly is good news!
After you have grabbed onto God’s hand by simple, authentic believe in Jesus, what’s next?
Get Baptized! Getting baptized is NOT how you get saved, but it is how God calls you to share with others your new identification with Jesus Christ.
Join! Joining a local church is also NOT how you get saved, but it is vital as you grow in faith continuously alongside other believers in your community.
However, that’s not all. God makes many promises to those who grab onto his hand…
KEY POINT #4: People can live in restored relationship with God through authentic belief in Jesus.
Your Story Part V: SANCTIFICATION
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…” (John 1:12)
What does God promise to those who grab onto his hand?
Forgiveness: Immediately, God forgives all your sins, whatever they may be!
New Life: Immediately, God actually enters your life, enabling you to experience eternal, abundant life, in the present, just like God intended in the beginning of time.
New Community: Immediately, God makes you a member of a new community, God’s family throughout the world, known as the Church.
New Mission: Immediately, God gives you a new mission in life. This is the point in your life where God’s story intersects your own story. Just as you have been reconciled to God, God wants to use you to reconcile other people unto himself. This includes sharing God’s story with other people along with how your story is a part of it.
New Destination: After you die, you will go to experience eternal, abundant life in the presence of God forever.
So, what do you need to do now?
KEY POINT #5: When people believe in Jesus, they become children of God with a purpose.
God’s Story…Your Story
If you are ready to grab onto God’s hand right now, you can do so by praying, which is just talking to God, right where you are, right now! All you have to do is repent and believe, saying something like this:
“Dear God, I admit that I am imperfect and in need of your love. I know that sin has separated me from you. You took my place on the cross, suffering the consequences of my sin. I accept your gift of forgiveness right now. Please help me to live for you. Amen.”
Your personal story has an important place in God’s story. If you would like to learn more, if you need your own copy of the Bible, or if you would like to set a time to talk with one of our Pastors so we can encourage you in your journey of faith, please contact us today!