I think sometimes when we tell the gospel story, we don’t begin at the very beginning. Sometimes for us, we begin with “the problem of sin” because we see sin as something that needs fixing, and so the solution is to ‘fix it’ is the cross.
But see, God wrote the beginning of the story, and he made it clear in big bold letters where the story starts. “In the beginning…” (Gen 1:1) And “sin” doesn’t enter the story until Genesis chapter 3. Sin is not the beginning of the story, and if you skip to the end, guess what? It’s not there either.
In fact the beginning is God’s love for humanity and the end is a wedding.
Revelation 21:1-5 (CEB) Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
God chose you before the foundation of the world. Do you believe that? Do you live your life with that knowledge? Or do you believe your life is a scale and that blessing or punishment is based on how the scale tips? Do you believe God is like Santa Claus and that he only blesses you based on how ‘good you are.’ And if you’re bad, you think to yourself, ‘oh no, I bet God is mad at me now.’
The “Santa Claus system” is how every other faith in the world is. But that’s the old sacrificial system, God is mad at me for something I did, so I better do something else to correct it, to tip the scale back in my favor.
But if forgiveness is a system and it’s contingent on what we do, then Christ’s work on the cross is never finished.
God chose you before the foundation of the world; that means before you did anything right or wrong. There is no amount of good you can do to earn forgiveness and there is no amount of bad you can do to push God away. Listen, if you think that Heaven doesn’t want you and hell’s afraid you’ll take it over, you’re wrong! That’s a bumper sticker not a theology.
God does not hate you.
He is not mad at you.
Yes, God hates sin, but he doesn’t hate people.
God sent his son because he loved the world.
God does not hate you.
If your salvation isn’t a completed work, then Christ left too early. If there is more work to do, then Jesus lied on the cross when he said, “it is finished.”
Salvation is not a system.
You know how I know?
Because Jesus didn’t die for a system, he died for you.