12 weeks ago we began a series of posts about a project we're working on called The Story, and today we've made it to the finale! So far, we've seen how:
In the beginning, it was good… until it wasn’t. And with that choice to leave the Lord of life, we found ourselves mired in brokenness. Yet from the rubble, God called forth a family with a promise to bless the world. And even though we’d falter, God still continued to deliver. But despite his faithfulness, we soon forgot him and chose to follow lesser things. The result? Despair and hopelessness.
But then, to our cries for God once more, breaking into the silence, was heard the sound of a baby crying. God has a face and his name is Jesus.
And walking among us, dining with us and sharing in this life’s journey, his path led him to a cross to die. But in his hands, even a dead tree can sprout into a tree of life.
And now, because he lives, we can too! And he invites us to join him in his kingdom work of renewal that is taking place on earth as in heaven until the day he comes again.
So here we are now in what has been called the “already, but not yet.” Christ’s kingdom is here already, but not yet in its entirety. Yes, Jesus is Lord now, but there is this tension we experience today caught in the middle of where we are and where we shall be. And there is still work to do.
There is still work to do.
The author of Acts, a physician by the name of Luke, tells us that in his first book (the gospel of Luke), he chronicled all "Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). This suggests there is more to be done. Read through the book of Acts sometime, and you will find that God’s vehicle of choice for the continued work of Christ is the church—that is, the redeemed people of God from every tribe, tongue, and time.
The apostle Paul elaborates on this great mystery in Ephesians 2:21-22, that we, together built on Christ, are growing into “a holy temple in the Lord….a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” And as the Spirit dwells within us, just as the world used to encounter the glory and grandeur of God in the temple in days of old, now they encounter God through us.
One Thing The veil between your people and your presence No longer stands, it’s been torn by perfect love Your Spirit broke forth to set the captives free No longer bound; where you are there’s liberty
There is only one thing I desire, there is only one thing I need It’s to dwell in your presence and gaze on your beauty
Now as your church, we join in what you’re doing Here on earth, we declare that you’re not done Your Spirit breaks forth still to set the captives free A life unbound; in you we find liberty
You are holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty
Dr. David Martin Lloyd Jones describes this well:
That is the final purpose of [Christ’s] dying, not merely that we might be forgiven, or that we might be saved from hell. Rather it was that a new people might be formed, a new humanity, a new creation, and that a new kingdom be set up, consisting of people like Himself.
In this way, we become a foretaste of the glory that is to be revealed. And what a day that will be!
John the Revelator describes it in bright and vivid hues.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and 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 crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:1-6a
Can you envision it?
A resurrected world! A resurrected humanity! No more tears! No more shame or pain or fear!
And best of all, no more death!
But can I tell you, without the rest of verse 6, I wouldn’t stake too much on this.
“Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Revelation 21:6b
Hope for hope’s sake means very little, but if it is trustworthy and true? Now that is a hope worth hoping in! And we can know this to be true, because the One we have put our hope in has proven himself to be trustworthy. Consider God’s track record as it relates to prophecy:
Throughout the Old Testament, there are over 150 prophecies all pointing to the first coming of Christ. Many of which are outside his control (born of a virgin, crucified with no bones broken, etc), but don’t just accept that fact; really consider the odds. The odds of one person fulfilling just eight of those prophecies would be 1 in 100 quadrillion (100,000,000,000,000,000). Take a look at that number again. 1 in 100…million? billion? trillion? Nope, 1 in 100 quadrillion.
Josh McDowell has a great illustration of this. If you somehow managed to collect that many silver dollars, you could cover the entire state of Texas two feet deep in them . Now imagine someone painted one of those silver dollars red, threw it randomly into this two-feet-deep Texas-wide pile of silver dollars, blindfolded you and told you that had to find that red silver dollar…on your first try.
Your odds are the same as 1 person fulfilling eight of those prophecies. I did the math: you are 12% more likely to win both the Mega Millions lottery and the Powerball at the same time. But consider: Jesus didn’t just fulfill 8 prophecies, did he? Not 48. Not even 88. Jesus fulfilled 150. Let those odds sink in.
Add to this, there are more than 300 references throughout the New Testament (so double the Old) that speak of Christ’s second coming—that is, of his return when all of this future hope will take place and take effect. If God was good on his word about the 150 that referenced His first coming, don’t you think we ought to consider that maybe there could be something to all this about his return?
And so, we hope, because it’s not a fool’s hope. And we trust that when Jesus says, “I’m coming soon,” he means it. And we work, in faith, knowing that when the apostle Paul called Jesus “the firstborn from among the dead” (Col. 1:15), it’s because there is an entire cosmos about to rise too.
So what are you waiting for? There’s a resurrection coming for us all! Let’s join Jesus together now in the work that he has promised to complete! Because he always makes good on his promises.
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So now what? Well, we're heading to Nashville! Each of these 12 songs will be featured on a professionally recorded album with a full band. And we're writing a book! Putting the finishing touches on a devotional that incorporates all the art and music from this project along with some reflection questions to go deeper personally into the Story.
We'll be launching a Kickstarter soon so you can get in on it early with incentives spanning anywhere from the album, to prints, to a live house concert, and beyond! More info to come, so keep an eye out for it. And if you know someone who might be interested in this, please spread the word! We are confident God wants to share his story, and this is just one way we can work together to join him in it!
Much love to all!