“How,” someone asks, “would you summarize the Bible’s message in a few paragraphs?”
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There is one true God, who made all that exists. He made human beings in his image for fellowship with himself. We humans went astray, choosing to run our own lives without regard for God’s will and purposes. Our sin separated us from God, divided our own hearts, alienated us from each other and threw creation into turmoil. God loves us despite our sin and set out to bring us back to himself. To that end, he chose Abraham and his Jewish descendants to become a model community of justice, mercy and love, and through whom to bring into the world a Savior. Although the chosen people did not live up to their task, God faithfully accomplished his.
About 2,000 years ago, God sent his Son — the embodiment of God himself — in the virgin birth of the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus healed the sick, expelled demons, forgave sinners, quieted storms, restored sight and hearing and life itself, and announced the coming Kingdom of God. The ruling Jewish establishment rejected Jesus and persuaded the Romans to murder him on a cross. Three days later, God raised Jesus from the dead. Forty days afterward, Jesus ascended into heaven — with a promise that he will return one day in person and in power to raise the dead and to judge the world. Ten days after Jesus ascended, his Spirit came from heaven to live in and among his own believing people.
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is God’s Son and trusts God’s love shown through him has forgiveness of sins and receives eternal life. Such people turn from self-rule to acknowledge Jesus as personal Savior and Lord, and they signify this repentance and faith by baptism in water in Jesus’ name. They band together as churches for common worship of God through Jesus Christ and to mutually encourage the development of faith, love, holy lives and good works. Through the Holy Spirit, God supernaturally transforms their character, and empowers them to serve the world and one another until Jesus comes again in person. Then all evil will be destroyed and there will be new heavens and a new earth — a universe without sin or any of its results. God’s resurrected and glorified people, with Jesus, will see God face to face, and they will enjoy his company forever.