We exist to make more and better disciples of Jesus Christ together. Four Reailities The Four Realities represent one way of summarizing the storyline of the Bible. They are called “realities” because each of them is true whether we believe them or not. The fact that they are true shapes our understanding of life, sin, Christ, the future, and ourselves. Creation We are someone else’s idea, placed in a wondrous world swirling through a vast cosmos that someone else designed and spoke into existence out of nothing. He was very pleased with what He had made. All of this is the result of God’s handiwork and we are the crown of His creative expression. He fashioned us in His very own image and gives each of us the gift of life that we enjoy. He knit us together. He decided when and where we would be born. Every day of our lives is lived under His providential care; from the air we breathe and the food we eat to the relationships we enjoy. This has profound implications for our lives. It means, among other things, that we belong to the One who created us. Life involves stewarding someone else’s property and giving an account of ourselves to Him. It means that I am here for a reason. I have purpose. I am not an accident or the product of random chance. God wants me here. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, designed by Him for His cause. My identity is tied to my Maker and His purposes in the world He created. Because I was made by and for God, I will never find lasting satisfaction and personal peace until I experience a relationship with Him. Anything less leaves me hollow at the core. Fall Even as we celebrate all the wonders of our world, we are aware that something is seriously wrong. Things are not as they should be. From injustice and oppression, interpersonal conflict and terrorism, despite being capable of extraordinary feats of kindness and heroism, human beings display a persistent and horrific evil. The Bible traces the source of our problems back to the initial act of rebellion by the very first man and woman. Instead of trusting the Creator’s goodness enough to follow His instructions, they chose to act according to their own limited and self-serving reason. Their disobedience introduced sin into paradise. Like dark ink dumped into clear water, the contamination spread until all of creation was infected. The consequences for the man and woman included corruption of their own hearts. Not only were they besieged with feelings of guilt and shame for the first time, but sin had now twisted their desires. Their natural inclination became resistance to God rather than glad surrender to His authority. Although I was made for God and the crown of His creative expression, as part of the human race, sin has corrupted my heart, too. I am discovering, often through relational pain and self-generated difficulty, that I am incapable of living up to even my own standards of what is right. I know that I am made for so much more than this, but also increasingly aware that I cannot get there on my own. My problem, then, is at least two-fold: I am guilty before a holy and just God…and I am powerless to live as I know I should. Hopeless and helpless. This is reality, but need not be the final reality. Gospel God, our Creator, has become God, our Savior! The Good News is that God is not only holy and just, but He is also merciful and loving. His love impelled Him to act on our behalf. Through Jesus Christ, God upheld His holiness and justice while at the same time opened the way for His mercy and love to reach us. When Jesus died on the cross, our sins were punished through His sacrifice (justice), thus bringing about the way for us to be acceptable to a holy God (mercy). Jesus lived a perfect life. He died on the cross for my sins as my substitute. He was buried in a grave. Three days later, He was raised to life again demonstrating that God had accepted His sacrifice. He then ascended to heaven and has assumed the position of all authority over all creation. One day soon, He will return to fully establish His Kingdom forever. Those who believe this message admit their sin and turn from it. They trust Jesus Christ to save them from the condemnation they deserve. Jesus rescues them and now leads them. While this gift of forgiveness and acceptance cost Jesus His life, it is offered for free to anyone who will rely upon Him by faith. Whoever cries out to Jesus gets saved. Restoration One day everything will be made right under the reign of Jesus Christ as King. Those who are trusting Jesus live with an assurance that justice is coming in the form of a Kingdom. It will break into history unexpectedly and cataclysmically when Jesus returns. When this happens, the prayer Jesus taught His followers to pray will be fully and finally realized: “May your Kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This age to come will truly be heaven on earth: No more tears or pain or sin or death. Nothing will ever again disturb God’s family. He will be their God. They will be His people forever. Because Jesus is alive, this hope is alive in all who follow Him. It is based upon the events of the Gospel and its arrival is only delayed so that others may trust Jesus before it is too late. This adds an urgency to the Gospel message but a deeply sustaining peace as we wait for Jesus to return. Four Pursuits The Four Pursuits represent key disciplines in Christ-centered living. They give definition to our faith, the action and the direction of believing Jesus. Word of God God reveals His will to us through His Word. It is the highest authority for what we believe and practice. Our faith is clarified and nourished by meditating on Scripture. It is not just true but truth itself. Spirit of God In studying the Bible, however, we are after more than mere intellectual understanding. We seek to welcome all that the Bible teaches and so we read with our hearts open to the Holy Spirit. He is our ultimate Teacher, Counselor, and Guide. We continually pursue complete surrender to Him, longing to be so filled by Him that our lives reflect that fruit produced by Him. People of God We were not designed to live the Christian life alone. We need other believers. We are only one part of the Body of Christ. All the “one another” commands of Scripture become the regular practice of our lives. We confess our sins to each other, bear each others’ burdens, pray for one another, encourage one another, etc. Mission of God Jesus Christ has chosen to continue His mission of advancing His Kingdom through us. We are the means He uses to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, and preach the Good News. Every follower of Jesus has been gifted to serve the mission. God’s mission becomes our mission.