In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.Genesis 1:1 ESV
Before mankind walked the earth, before there were birds in the air or fish in the sea, before plants sprouted from the earth to give food to the animals, before there was an earth from which plants could sprout, from eternity past into eternity yet future, God exists. God is an almighty, all-powerful being, in whom is no imperfection, who never changes, who has no body, or parts, or human-like emotions, and who exists from himself. He was never created; he has always existed. He is perfect in his being and thus exists without need of anything or anyone. Yet, this God created all things, from the farthest star in the outermost galaxies to the tiniest particle in the atom; the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth itself, and everything in it, was created by him. His crowning achievement was the creation of mankind in his very image, that is, to think and behave like him, to commune with him in an intimate way.
And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.Genesis 1:31 ESV
We are told in the Scriptures, which are the words of God to mankind, that everything was created “good.” There was no sin to speak of, no illness, no tragedy, no disaster, no pain or torment; all was well on earth, as God and man lived together in peaceful harmony, walking together and sharing in God’s infinite being and holy nature. One day, however, our first parents, a man we call Adam, and his wife, called Eve, were tempted to disobey the one command they were given by God. They transgressed his law. They brought sin into the world, and with it, condemned themselves and their offspring to death forever apart from God. This is the state in which we find ourselves: separated from our God who created us, reveling in our sin and misdeeds, continually running away from what is good and right and seeking only to do what ought not be done. Sickness, death, turmoil, wars, plagues, natural disasters–these are the results of our rebellion against the God who loved us and walked with us. Worse than that, God is holy; since we are not holy, we cannot live with him, so we are forever condemned to live apart from him even when we die.
The wages of sin is death…Romans 6:23a ESV
After the first sin, however, God initiated a plan to redeem mankind, to save them from this awful plight. This was his idea all along, in fact, from before he created the world. The Old Testament portion of the Bible tells the story of the establishment of the nation of Israel, from whence would come a man called the Messiah, or the Christ. This man would be God in human flesh, born of a virgin, a perfect person, incapable of sin and wrong-doing. It was prophesied that he would suffer, and take the sins of his people upon himself, bearing the judgment due for them. All this was fulfilled in the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish carpenter born to a woman named Mary in a small city called Bethlehem. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the life story of this individual, and include many of his teachings and discourses. He amassed a rather large following, with crowds gathering and listening to his teaching wherever he went. Yet he was hated by the religious leaders who saw his teachings as usurping what doctrines they held dear.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.Isaiah 53:6 ESV
The central event in the gospel is the death of Jesus. After having lived a blameless life, completely sinless in all his actions, Jesus was wrongly condemned by the religious leaders of his day, and sentenced to die on a cross, a popular Roman form of execution. He was crucified on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem in Israel, between two common criminals. The Gospels tell us that a rich man named Joseph, who was one of the religious leaders who believed in his message, placed his body in a nearby tomb and sealed it with a large rolling stone. His followers were distraught and confused, even though Jesus had told them that this was going to happen.
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.Matthew 28:6a ESV
On the third day, that is, the first day of the week (Jesus was crucified on a Friday), something marvelous and miraculous occurred. Jesus was raised to life. He did not remain in the tomb, but was instead resurrected, and appeared to many of the disciples throughout Israel, before he finally ascended into heaven again, where he now sits at the right hand of God.
…but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23b ESV
What does his death and resurrection mean for you and me? Jesus bore the punishment of our sins on himself. He took away the wrath of God that was hanging over us, defeating death, and redeemed people from all over the world. Those who repent of their sins, that is, turn away from doing them, and who believe in Jesus, trusting that what he has done is sufficient to take away wrath, are made right with God. Their relationship is restored. Once again, we can walk with God together, if only we will put our trust in Jesus’ work on the cross.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”Revelation 21:5 ESV
Not only this, but God has promised to restore and renew all things. All of creation will one day be made new and perfect. One day, Jesus will return for those whom he has saved by his death and resurrection. These ones, who trust in Jesus, will dwell forever with him on this new earth. We will live in perfect harmony and peace. There will be no more death, no more pain, no more suffering, no more disaster or turmoil. All will be right. That is the gospel. God has made all things right through Jesus. This is good news indeed.