The Greatest Story Ever Told
GOD: The story begins with God, who has always been. He has always existed, and He has always existed exactly as He is now. If it seems confusing, it's because He's beyond what anyone can fully comprehend.
CREATION: In the beginning, God spoke and everything came into existence. By His command, the entire universe was created and filled witha dramatic display of galaxies, stars, and planets - including Earth, on which was a perfect garden of paradise called Eden. Of all the beauty He created, the masterpiece was a man and a woman. God made Adam and Eve in His image to reflect Him. They were created witht the grand purpose of worshipping Him by loving Him, serving Him, and enjoying relationship with Him.
HARMONY: By God's design, all of creation was in harmony and was exactly the way it was supposed to be. During this time there was no pain, suffering, sickness or death. There was complete love, acceptance, and intimacy between God and man, between Adam and Eve, and throughout creation. BUT, something tragic happened...
DISOBEDIENCE: Adam and Eve were far from being equal to God, yet He lovingly placed them in charge of all He had created in Eden. He gave them the freedom to make decisions and govern the earth with one rule: do not eat fruit from a specific tree. One day, God's enemy, a fallen angel named Satan, wanted to overthrow God so he tookt he form of a serpent and lied to Adam and Eve. He deceived them into thinking God was not good and did not have their best interest in mind. As a result, they knowingly disobeyed God. In rebellion, Adam and Eve ate the fruit, deciding that they, not God, would determine right and wrong. "None is righteous, no not one." - Romans 3:10
CONSEQUENCE: The consequences of their actions were devastating! Like a virus, sin entered into all of creation and into the hearts of Adam and Eve. Sin, suffering, and pain were passed down from generation to generation; all of creation was distorted from its original design. We have all read or heard the stories of war, poverty, disease, greed, and scandals that plague our world today. Those are all a result of sin. "The entire world is guilty before God." Romans 3:19
NEED: When we think about the perfection and love that existed at the beginning of creation, we realize "we are far more flawed and far more sinful than we can dare imagine." Just think of the grudges we've held, the lies we've told, the thoughts we'd never dare say aloud. An honest glance into our own hearts reveals the truth: we are all guilty. Everyone has sinned, and the ultimate consequence, even worse than physical death, is eternal separation from a loving God, in terrible misery and unhappiness. Because of all this, we need to consider this question: Can anything be done? Is there any hope?
PROMISE MADE: God removed Adam and Eve from Eden as a result of their sin but left them with a promise of resuce and hope. He promised them one of their descendants would someday resuce mankind from sin. Over the next centuries, God prepared the way for this person who would become the Savior of the world. Exact details of His birth, life, and death were recorded in the Bible many centuries before His coming. In fact, the whole Bible ultimately points to this one person as the focal point of all human history. His purpose in coming was "to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). So who was He???
PROMISE KEPT: The promised Savior, simply, was God. God became human in the person of Jesus Christ almost 2,000 years ago, fulfilling all the predictions in the Old Testament. Jesus' birth was miraculous since His mother was a virgin. His life was unique: He perfectly enjoyed and obeyed God without sin. This ultimatley led to His agonizing death on a cross as He willingly, obediently, and sufficiently died to pay for the sins of mankind, according to God's plan. In the greatest display of mercy and grace the world has ever known, Jesus' life and death became a substitute for all who would trust in Him. The perfectly innocent died to rescue the hopelessly guilty from sin and Satan.
But the grave couldn't hold Jesus. Three days later, Jesus emerged from His tomb, fulfilling His earthly mission to defeat sin by dying on the cross and to defeat death by rising from the dead - just as God promised. Forty days later He returned to Heaven where He reigns as the rightful king. "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18) But the story doesn't end there!
ALL THINGS NEW: For all those who trust in Jesus alone, God has also promised He will make all things new. The new heaven and new earth will be completely free of sin and selfishness - a place of perfect friendship with God, others, and all creation. No more shattering earthquakes, devastating tsunamis or violent storms will plauge the earth. No more pain, broken hearts, sickness or death to trouble us. Everything will be restored to the way it was meant to be. The new earthw ill once again be the perfect home Go intended for His creation. God's original purpose will flourish, as those who trust in His resuce will enter into the grand purpose of worshipping Him by loving Him, serving Him, and enjoying relationship with Him forever.
FOREVER WITH GOD: The most wonderful part of this new world is that we will be with God forever, experiencing complete joy. We will be restored to a perfect relationship with the One who created, loved, and died for us. CS Lewis, scholar and children's author, compared the first step into this new world as "Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth... God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor cyring, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:1, 3-4)
Credit given to "The Story" tracts and curriculum.