Chapter One: The Universe's Creator
The first wonder of the
Word comes in the first verse of the Bible: In the beginning God created the
Heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). The universe in all its vastness and
complexity did not happen by random chance, but by the supernatural creation of
an infinite and eternal God. Think of this: we have already discovered billions
upon billions of stars in the universe and we aren't done yet! How awesome God
must be . . . he created it all!
But even a more astounding wonder is this: At the pinnacle
of all his creation, God created us . . . men and women. And God made us
"in his own image" (Genesis 1:26-27) for a personal relationship with
him. God created us with a capacity for a deep and everlasting bond with the
Creator of the Universe. Every person has an innate yearning to somehow
experience a connection with this Eternal God (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
At the outset, the
original man and woman enjoyed a close walk with God, a great relationship with
each other, and an environment that was wonderfully suited to their happiness
and contentment. It was absolutely perfect! (Genesis 2)
Chapter Two: Humanity Falls
The second wonder of the Word is equally astounding,
although tragic. Scripture records that although the original man and woman
(Adam and Eve) enjoyed a wonderful relationship with God and a paradise of a
home, they trashed it all when they chose to disobey the God who had made them
and blessed them so much.
The unthinkable happened:
the man and the woman chose to reject the Lord and to pursue their own course.
Immediately, they experienced a lifestyle cut off from the constant flow of
God's goodness and love. As the book of Genesis tells us, they and their
descendents would all experience the tragic consequences of sin: loneliness,
rebellion, fear, anger, hatred, discouragement and finally, death. And worst of
all, the human race was separated from God and the relationship was broken
On that very day, the
headline would read: "Humanity Falls." Fallen--from the highest peak
of God's creation to the pit of despair and sadness. And perhaps saddest of
all, the headline of today's paper reads no differently. All of us have fallen
through sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Chapter Three: The Great Divide
Perhaps you have been to
the Grand Canyon and scanned the expanse between the north and south rims. It
is an awe-inspiring experience. The span between the two sides seems almost
uncrossable. How could anyone get to the other side?
there is an even greater chasm that now separates the children of earth from
the God of heaven. Sin is the Great Divide between humanity and a loving and
just God. Scripture declares bluntly: "Your sins have separated you from
your God" (Isaiah 59:2). Because of sin, the whole human race is justly
condemned and separated from God. This great divide threatens to continue not
only in this life, but in the age to come. The chasm seems uncrossable, but
it's not! There is hope that we can cross the great divide.
Chapter Four: The Miracle Child
On a specific day in
history, God himself crossed the great divide and came over to our side of the
chasm. We call that day Christmas.
The celebration of
Christmas in our culture is lavish, extravagant, joyous and noisy! But perhaps
in the midst of the excitement, we lose the true reason to celebrate. The
wonder of Christmas is that God actually humbled himself and became one of us!
Yes, Jesus, God's own Son, took on human flesh and lived among us on Planet
Earth. Talk about a miracle!
The details of Jesus' birth are equally miraculous. The
Bible spells out that he was born of the virgin Mary, a humble Jewish girl from
Nazareth. In perhaps the most astounding event in all of human history, the
Spirit of God caused a child to be conceived in the womb of Mary. On the day of
Jesus' birth, Mary and her betrothed husband Joseph found themselves in
Bethlehem. And on that very first Christmas, the Son of God himself arrived in
the humblest of surroundings . . . born in a stable.
This miracle would be but the first of many to
follow in the life of Jesus. God's plan was to bridge the great divide caused
by sin through the work of his only Son. Jesus' mission was to rescue sinners
from the separation caused by sin. He would be a Savior, as the scriptures
foretold: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the
name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." And the angels declared: "Today in the town of David a
Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."
Chapter Five: Sacrifice Hill
But the question is
raised: "How will Jesus save people from their sins?" The answer to
this question is yet another wonder of the Word of God.
problem" is a central issue in the New Testament. God created us for a
relationship with him, but our sins have separated every person from God. God,
in his great love and mercy, desires to forgive our sin and to give us a
personal and enduring relationship with him as his children. But God's justice
and holiness demand a punishment for sin. The Word says, "the wages of sin
is death." That is, our sin earns us both physical and spiritual death.
How can God be both loving toward us and carry out his just punishment for sin
at the same time?
Is there any way out? The
Bible answers a resounding; "YES!" For someone has been sent as the
mediator between a holy God and a sinful humanity. His name is Jesus. The scriptures proclaim: "For there is one God and one mediator between
God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all
Jesus, who himself never
sinned, took upon himself the punishment for the sins of the whole world. When
he was crucified on the cross, he satisfied the justice of God by dying in the
place of sinners. At the same time, he demonstrated the immense love of God.
The New Testament explains: "This is how God showed his love among
us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as
an atoning sacrifice for our sins."
Chapter Six: The Empty Tomb
The message of
Christianity is unique. For no other belief system, world religion, or
religious faith makes the claim that its founder actually rose from the dead!
But that is precisely what the Bible teaches. In fact, this truth is truly the
"heartbeat" of the whole Bible. The essential good news is taught in
the Bible: "For what I received I passed on to you as of first
importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he
was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. After that, he appeared
to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are
still living, though some have fallen asleep."
Read the dramatic ending of each of the four gospels in
the New Testament. Jesus is crucified and buried on Friday, but on Sunday he
rose from the grave! His tomb is now empty forever. Over 500 eyewitnesses
confirmed his resurrection. What's more, there is no record of a single one of
these eyewitnesses ever recanting or denying their testimony even when tortured
and put to death.
resurrection is the only explanation for the explosive growth of the Christian
church. From a rag-tag collection of disciples to a vibrant movement of God,
the Christian faith spread to the entire Roman empire within a few years.
Why did Jesus have to
rise from the dead? First, God vindicated Jesus' claims to be the perfect Son
of God by raising him from the dead, forever proving that Jesus is Lord of all.
Second, his resurrection shows that his sacrifice for sin (on the cross) was
acceptable to God to pay for the sins of the world. Third, Jesus defeated both
sin and death by rising from the dead. Fourth, Jesus now offers the same hope
of eternal life and resurrection to all who trust in him.
Chapter Seven: The Bridge to Life
The seventh wonder of the
Word is simple, but astounding. The Bible makes it clear that we could never
earn forgiveness from God or earn our own way to heaven: "Therefore
no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather,
through the law we become conscious of sin." Trying on our own will be as
futile as trying on our own to build a bridge across the Grand Canyon! We will
But God has built a
bridge across the Great Divide. We can cross over to the other side! Jesus
said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him
who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over
from death to life."
The good news is this: God has provided a way out by
sending his own Son to die on the cross in the place of sinners who deserved
his punishment. He calls on everyone, even you, to turn from trying to achieve
your own self-righteousness, and to trust entirely in Jesus Christ. Will you
trust in Him completely? Will you give your life, your destiny, yourself to
Him? His love is so immense that he can forgive all your sin and give you
eternal life... TODAY! One of the most well known Bible verses tells the story:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that
whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Jesus Christ is Lord of
all. He calls on you to trust in Him and to follow him. He calls on each of us
to come in faith to him and not to ignore his love and his sacrifice on the
D. James Kennedy tells
this true story of sacrifice: Back in the days of the Great Depression, a
Missouri man named John Griffith was the controller of a great railroad
drawbridge across the Mississippi River. One day in the summer of 1937 he
decided to take his eight-year-old son, Greg, with him to work. At noon, John
Griffith put the bridge up to allow ships to pass and sat on the observation deck
with his son to eat lunch. Time passed quickly. Suddenly the shrieking of a
train whistle in the distance startled him. He quickly looked at his watch and
noticed it was 1:07 - the Memphis Express, with four hundred passengers on
board, was roaring toward the raised bridge! He leaped from the observation
deck and ran back to the control tower. Just before throwing the master lever
he glanced down for any ships below. There a sight caught his eye that caused
his heart to leap poundingly into his throat. Greg had slipped from the
observation deck and had fallen into the massive gears that operate the bridge.
His left leg was caught in the cogs of the two main gears! Desperately John's
mind whirled to devise a rescue plan. But as soon as he thought of a possibility
he knew there was no way it could be done.
Again, with alarming
closeness, the train whistle shrieked in the air. He could hear the clicking of
the locomotive wheels over the tracks. That was his son down there - yet there
were four hundred passengers on the train. John knew what he had to do, so he
buried his head in his left arm and pushed the master switch forward. That
great massive bridge lowered into place just as the Memphis Express began to
roar across the river. When John Griffith lifted his head with is face smeared
with tears, he looked into the passing windows of the train. There were
businessmen casually reading their afternoon papers, finely dressed ladies in
the dining car sipping coffee, and children pushing long spoons into their dishes
of ice cream. No one looked at the control house, and no one looked at the
great gear box. With wrenching agony, John Griffith cried out at the steel
train: "I sacrificed my son for you people! Don't you care?" The
train rushed by, but nobody heard the father's words. No one cared.
Today, if you hear
the Father's words, respond to him in faith and love.
"For God so loved the world that he gave
his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have