The Bible vs. Other Religious Books Part 5 – The Grace of God in Four Acts

One of the most astonishing things about the Bible is that despite being a collection of 66 books, written by more than 40 people, over a period of 1500-plus years, it is united by a single theme. We’ll summarize that theme by calling it The Grace of God in Four Acts.

Act 1: Creation 

Act 2: The Fall 

Act 3: Redemption 

Act 4: New Creation[1]

Creation

The story of God’s grace begins in Genesis 1 by telling us where we come from. In Genesis 1:26-27 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

We also learn the basic reason God created us—to act as His agents in caring for the world that He had created. But more than that, the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer? “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” 

  • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
  • Romans 11:36 – For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
  • John 15:14 – “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Whether we understand it or not, when we obey God, we glorify Him. And when we glorify Him, we are fulfilling the purpose for which we have been created.

The Fall

But humans, beginning with our first parents Adam and Eve, have made a lifelong commitment to not obey God. It began when the serpent (Satan) tempted Eve into eating from a forbidden fruit. That was more important to her, and then to Adam, than obedience to the God who had created them and who had come to walk with them in the garden.  

That act of rebellion broke the fellowship between God and the people He had created. That broken fellowship continues to this day. As Romans 3:23 tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and Romans 6:23 explains, “the wages of sin is death.”

Redemption

Immediately after God confronted Adam and Eve with their sinful rebellion, He gave them a picture of how He would redeem them—and us. In Genesis 3:21 God “made garments of skin” for Adam and Eve. The animal died in their place to “cover” them. God immediately put into place a system of sacrifices that would substitute the death of an animal for the death of people. Sound cruel? It was meant to be. Adam and Eve, as well as all of us down through history needed the reminder of how awful sin is in God’s eyes. They (and we) needed to be reminded that sin leads to death. They needed to be reminded that God does not take sin lightly. 

In fact, those sacrifices were merely a picture of the immense sacrifice God Himself would make to atone for our sins. You see, some 2,000 plus years ago God Himself came to earth as a man. He lived among us for about 30 years, teaching all who would listen about the God who made them, and what God required of them. 

Then an amazing thing happened. Many religions of the world demand a sacrifice from those who follow their teaching. Some of those sacrifices might be quite cruel. But Christianity is the ONLY religion where God Himself became the sacrifice.  The Apostle Paul tells us that “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Further, the writer of Hebrews explains that all those sacrifices could never take away our sin. Rather, this is what happened when Jesus went to the cross and died:

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:11-14) 

We are living in a time now when God is graciously waiting for you to come to Him and receive His gift of salvation: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

New Creation

The time is coming when God will restore this world to the way it was immediately after He created it. When that time comes, we who have received His gift of salvation, those of us who have been bought with the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:19), will be invited to live with him forever in the New Heaven and the New Earth. In a full circle moment:

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4).

When that day comes, we who are with Him will be free to “glorify God and enjoy Him for ever,” just as God intended.

How about your holy book? Does it tell you why you are here? Does it tell you what your god has in store for you? Does your holy book give you a sure promise of eternal life in the presence of your God in a world without death, mourning, crying or pain? 

If not, may I invite you to seriously consider that incredible gift our God has promised to those who believe in Him? “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” (John 3:16).

  1. This outline is based on Stephen Wellum’s article, “The Story and Message of the Bible,” at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-story-and-message-of-the-bible/#:~:text=The%20Bible%2C%20as%20God’s%20Word,love%2C%20and%20faithfulness%20to%20Christ.

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