The Essential Gospel Message

The Creation

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  He created everything in the heavens and everything on earth, and He declared them all to be good.

As the pinnacle of His earthly creation, God created man, both male and female, named Adam and Eve.

God created Adam and Eve in covenant with Himself.  He breathed His own Spirit into them, so they would be in constant communion with Himself, bearing His own nature within their spirits.  Then He set them in a position of authority over all the earth and over all the plants and animals that dwell on the earth, instructing them to rule over the earth and subdue it.

Indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, in covenant with God himself, and ruling over the earth, Adam and Eve were created to be God’s perfect representatives on this earth.  They were the living image of God to all the inhabitants of earth.

The Bible often refers to this indwelling of man’s spirit by God’s Spirit as “life.”  The removal of God’s Spirit from man’s spirit is called “death.”  This sense of life and death are of much greater concern to God than mere physical life and death.  The indwelling of God’s spirit is dependent on man’s willingness to submit to God’s authority, and God allows man the free will to choose.

God placed Adam and Eve in a garden called Eden, where all of their needs were met, and they had plenty of fruit to eat.  There was little need for rules of behavior in Eden, as Adam and Eve were each indwelt by God’s Spirit, communing with Him daily, voluntarily performing His will.

The Fall of Man

Since man was created in covenant with God, and since God never uses covenant to enslave, but only to enrich and bless, man was also granted free will to choose.  They could voluntarily wholeheartedly live out their covenant with God, relying on His Spirit for direction, or they could break their covenant with God and go their own way.  This choice was given in the form of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which Adam and Eve were instructed not to eat, and told that if they did eat it, they would surely die (God’s Spirit would be removed from their hearts).

Satan tempted Adam and Eve, convincing them to trust him, rather than trusting God.  At Satan’s prompting, they ate of the forbidden fruit, thereby, not only violating their covenant with God, but also entering into covenant with the kingdom of darkness

Covenant is an inheritance, passed down from father to son.  So, not only were Adam and Eve in covenant with the kingdom of darkness, but all of their descendants were, as well.  This is the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  The race of mankind was now in covenant with both good and evil.

However, since God’s spirit cannot inhabit a heart owned by evil, the Holy Spirit withdrew from Adam’s and Eve’s hearts.  Just as God had warned them, the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, they died.  Man was no longer a living soul, inhabited by the Spirit of God.  Without the continual communion of God’s Spirit to guide them, and with sin to blind them, Adam and Eve ceased to be the living image of God they were created to be.

Satan uses covenant to enslave and abuse, whereas God uses covenant to enrich and bless.  After the fall, Satan had legal claim over the souls of men.  Moreover, since man was given authority over the earth, Satan now had legal claim over the earth, as well.

God is exceedingly more powerful than Satan.  However, whereas God self-restricts His actions to righteousness and justice, Satan does not.  By His own covenant law, God could not justly destroy Satan without also destroying mankind.  Neither could God overthrow Satan’s power over the earth without revoking man’s covenant right to rule the earth.

Although Satan has set himself up as God’s enemy, he is completely dependent on God’s justice, to uphold his legal claim.  This is why Satan continues to come before the throne of God as our accuser, asserting his legal claim over the souls of men.

Blinded by sinful desire, mankind became increasingly wicked.  Rather than demonstrating the love of God to each other, they acted selfishly, pursued personal pleasure, and caused great harm to one another.  Now men were not only the victims of Satan’s unholy covenant of bondage, but also voluntary fellow conspirators with Satan, in doing evil against each other.

With Satan’s sin to blind them, Satan’s legal claim to bind them, and without the Spirit of God to guide them, the situation for mankind appeared hopeless.  If the situation were left unaltered, Satan would retain legal ownership over the souls of men, simply because God follows justice and righteousness, and Satan does not.  Satan uses covenant to ensnare and enslave, while God offers free will.  Mankind was incapable of escaping their covenant with the kingdom of darkness and equally incapable of abiding by their covenant with God.

And yet, God promised a coming Messiah, who would crush the power of Satan.

Revelation and Protection of Messiah’s Lineage

Following the fall of man, the Bible relates a history covering many generations.  While there is much to be learned from this history, one recurring theme is God’s revelation and protection of Messiah’s lineage and covenant inheritance.

Seed of woman…seed of Abraham…of the tribe of Judahheir to David’s throne…

Many attempts were made to obliterate Messiah’s promised ancestors, or to cut them off from their godly inheritance.  Each time, God intervened to protect a remnant, who were not only legal heirs of the covenant promises, but also honored God’s word.

The Messiah is Born

The New Testament opens with a recitation of the ancestry of Jesus Christ…heir of Adam, heir of Abraham, heir of King David… all prophesied to be ancestors of the coming Messiah… each bearer of a critical covenant.

For all those generations between Adam and Jesus, God carefully protected both the line of covenant inheritance and the promised lineage of Messiah.  And yet, for all of those generations, every human child was born into a dual inheritance of both Adam’s covenant with God and Adam’s covenant with the kingdom of darkness…the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God had carefully protected the lineage of the covenant with good.  What was to be done about the covenant with evil?

Jesus was born of a virgin!

Though fully human, and a direct descendant of Adam, Jesus was born with no earthly father and no earthly inheritance.  Jesus was the first human child ever born with no covenant obligation to the kingdom of darkness.  Conceived of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was in covenant with God the Father, but was not in covenant with evil.  For the first time since Adam, here was a man as man was created to be, the living image of God.

As an adopted son of Joseph the carpenter, Jesus had legal right to Joseph’s covenant inheritance.  However, as an infant-adopted son, Jesus had the right to choose his inheritance after He came of age.  For each of Joseph’s inherited covenants, Jesus could choose to either accept both the covenant right and covenant obligation, or not.

In His baptism by John, Jesus accepted Adam’s covenant with God.  He was baptized in repentance, not for His own sins, but for the sins of Adam and Adam’s heirs.  The Father demonstrated His approval by both sending The Holy Spirit and by speaking with an audible voice, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  From then on, throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man,” in reference to his status as heir of Adam’s covenant with God.

Immediately, Satan showed up to tempt Jesus.  Recognizing that Jesus now carried the full authority granted to Adam, Satan tempted Jesus to enter into covenant with him, just as he had tempted Adam.  But, unlike Adam, Jesus triumphed over Satan’s temptation!

For over 3 years, Jesus journeyed around Israel, proclaiming the Kingdom of God, and demonstrating both the love and the power of God.  In writing of Jesus’ life, the Apostle John declared, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

The Crucifixion

The primary purpose, though, in the coming of our Messiah, Jesus, was to save His people from the kingdom of darkness.  With the single exception of Jesus, every human child has been born into the dual covenants with both good and evil.  Satan’s legal claim over the souls of men still had to be dealt with, and it was for this purpose that Jesus came.

Not only that, but there was also the issue of the sin-debt accumulated by the race of mankind, while under Satan’s rule. 

At the end of the age, God will judge Satan and the other fallen angels, for all the harm they have inflicted, and they will be cast into the lake of fire, where they can no longer cause harm to God’s children.  The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels, and was never intended for humans.  God’s purpose toward mankind is to bring out as many human souls as possible from Satan’s dominion before that great and terrible day of judgment.  Yet, He will do this without violating human free will to choose, and He will do it in a manner that is just.

God intends to judge Satan and the other fallen angels for their evil wickedness.  Those humans who cling to their covenant with evil will also be judged, suffering the same fate as their covenant partners in wickedness. 

For those humans who choose their covenant with God, and reject their covenant with evil, God provides both redemption (just and legal divorce) from their covenant with the kingdom of darkness and payment (judgment) for their personal sins.  Because He is a God of justice, God must make provision for dealing with the sins of the righteous before He can pronounce judgment on the wicked, for their sins.

God has made that provision in the person of Jesus Christ, our Messiah…our Redeemer…our Deliverer…our Savior!

At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus went to the cross to be tortured and killed.  As the only human with no covenant with the kingdom of darkness, only Jesus could redeem us from that covenant.  As the only human with no personal sin debt, only Jesus could pay the price of justice for our sins.

Through His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus brought about the essential requirements for our salvation.  He made just payment for the accumulated sin debt of mankind, past, present and future.  He brought about our just redemption (divorce) from the kingdom of darkness.  And He cut a new covenant with the Father, through the rending of His own flesh and the spilling of His own blood.

That new covenant allows us, through faith in Jesus Christ, to place ourselves under His Lordship, thereby becoming beneficiaries of the redemption and debt payment He has already enacted on our behalf. 

Through accepting His new covenant, we are reconciled to the Father, and the Holy Spirit takes up residence within our hearts, beginning the process of healing us from the blindness of sin, so our hearts may be conformed to the image of Christ, as we were created to be.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent His son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

 

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