(Following is a short summary of the third and final part of the story I tell the pastors in each conference. I usually take one or two hours to develop what I’ve summarized below.)
The final part of the story of redemption, which started in Genesis 1:1 and continued through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, found its culmination in the rest of the New Testament. The disciples Jesus trained took what they had learned and spread the message of Jesus and redemption to whomever would listen. Peter, the first leader of the early church, was filled with God’s Spirit and courageously preached the good news of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Despite great persecution and opposition, the church kept growing in quality and quantity. Stephen was martyred for his faith and many believers scattered, taking the gospel with them. The disciples scattered in various directions preaching and teaching about Jesus and the free redemption He offers to all who will receive it. Philip as well traveled and preached.
Even Paul, the great persecutor of the church, came to saving faith and became a great church planter traveling throughout the Roman Empire starting churches and writing letters which would later become part of our New Testament. In them he explains and applies all the aspects of Christ’s saving work on the cross for us.
As the early church grew, so did Satan’s opposition to it. Severe persecution broke out, driving the church underground in many places. Great numbers of believers were martyred, including Peter and Paul. But the truth could not be stopped and the gospel continued to spread. Even when the Roman Empire itself faded and fell the gospel continued to spread. Its effectiveness was slowed during the Dark Ages, but exploded out again following the Reformation. The growth, and persecution of the church, has continued to this very day.
The next even on God’s program is the rapture, when Jesus appears in the sky to take His children, the church, home to be with Him forever. While we are celebrating in heaven with Jesus, the terrible 7 year tribulation will take place on earth. God will begin judging unbelieving mankind. It will be unbelievably bad, but also will be done in such a way as to show man his need of God’s redemption so man will turn to Him and escape the judgment. Unfortunately very few will do so, and most of them will be martyred.
Then at the end of the seven years Jesus will return defeat and destroy Satan and all who follow him. This final battle will culminate what started in heaven before the creation of the earth and came to the earth in Eden. Jesus will assert His victory at the cross and reestablish His Kingdom on earth forever, as foretold so often by the prophets. We will live with Him in perfection forever and ever and ever. I could say that is the end of the story, but it really isn’t for this story never ends, and neither will our time with Him!
Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no othername under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Ephesians 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace
Think about this greatest of all stories today. Keep bringing your thoughts back to this part of it. Meditate on it. Thank God for it over and over and over. Think where your life would be without it!