1 – Creation
2 – Fall of man
3 – Redemption of man
4 – Future, eternal and complete reconciliation of man to God
The primary Person in the story of Redemption is Jesus Christ (the Gospel). Christ created all things and all things are held together by Him.
All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. (John 1:3)
Christ left heaven to come to earth in order to redeem man from his fall.
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him, and gave unto him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
He accomplished our salvation by destroying what Satan had accomplished in the Garden of Eden by offering Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sin.
…but when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4)
…he that doeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. To this end was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
Redemption is the message. We can’t “self-help” ourselves into heaven or a relationship with the creator. The main point of the Bible; the “Gospel” message of Christ’s redemption and salvation has been marginalized by too many Christians. Instead of seeing the Bible as a worship book, they have bought into the notion that it is a “self-help book.” A new Gospel has emerged leaving the saving grace of Christ’s redemption for all mankind as secondary to our own inner power to effect change. Some of these new Christians would have us believe that the Bible has some good philosophy for life but its message is no longer life changing.
This whole self-help phenomenon has been gaining popularity for the past 50 years and has not only infiltrated the church but it has changed the message of man’s inability to save himself to the popular notion that “God helps those who help themselves.”
As a result, what is now being preached from many pulpits is this notion that the Gospel is for our salvation, but not for our sanctification. Historically, the Gospel has always been the means to salvation AND the means to sanctification. From where I sit and from what I have seen, the psychological community seems to have embarrassed mainline Christianity into this new notion of sanctification by implying that the message of the Gospel is too foolish for thinking people to actually believe. The Gospel as presented biblically is more for the weak minded and uneducated.
Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; (1 Corinthians 1:22-23)
Most academics will tell you that the Gospel is not sophisticated enough for a “self-help” world or a “self-help” church. Look at what the world offers the “self -help” Christian. To them the Gospel seems foolish when put up beside some of our culture’s heavyweights like The Road Less Travelled, Your Erroneous Zones. Good heavens, how can the Gospel compete with that kind of brilliance? And not to be outdone, the liberal church provided us with the The Power of Positive Thinking, In Search of Significance, and Your Best Life Now. How much of this drivel have you seen promoted for the past 25 years of the Oprah Winfrey show?
So the conservative church is left holding this “foolish” Gospel bag. I would point out that seeing the drift the self-help market was carrying the church into, the conservative church entered the fray with some outstanding works, “An Outline of an Anglican Life”, Louis Tarsitano, and “The Call” by Os Guinness, just to name two.
Then comes the modernist, contemporary, evangelical community with books from the Rick Warrens and the Joel Osteens of the world who decided our salvation by grace was not the main point of the Bible. Their books have helped to further bury the church into self-help-ology.
It is even worse because at this point in the game the liberal church offerings and the conservative church offerings have become so integrated that it is hard for the average church member to discern more clearly between conservative and liberal and why the difference matters. And trust me, it matters.
This “Christianized” self-help mania movement has turned the Bible into just another “positive life force” book. With a few out of context verses in hand, our psychologized church, trained by our culture’s self-help gurus, have created what they believe is the world’s best self-help book. The Bible used to be a book about Him, but now it is a book about me and for me. Worship used to be centered on Christ and His redemptive sacrifice. Now it’s a rock concert complete with a speech about how you can be a more complete person. Just follow the twelve step program booklet available for purchase in the lobby.
Christians do not need another self-help book. Christians need Christ. Marriages need Christ. Families need Christ. Churches need Christ. Worship needs Christ. Any book that does not root the change process of salvation by Grace in the Gospel should be passed over. The notion that God helps those who help themselves is a lie. God helps those who ask. He can save; He can forgive; He can renew.
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. (Galatians 2:21)
Now is the time for the church to get back to its roots: The main story of the Bible is Christ! He is the only one who can change us.
Be changed by Christ,