By Russ Ramsey
I remember when I first understood the gospel. It was January 21, 1989, at around 7:30 p.m., in a small retreat center in rural Indiana. I was fifteen years old, in love with the pastor’s daughter, and new to the youth group. I had grown up around the church since I was in kindergarten, but Christianity was something my parents were involved with. As their son, I was along for the ride.
But at a youth group retreat in the frozen fields of the midwest, I heard the gospel and it took hold of me. I knew my life was going to be transformed by the simple yet profound message of God’s mercy and grace given through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus.
The gospel follows a basic four-part trajectory: creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. God created the world and human beings as good. We rebelled against Him, breaking our relationship and falling away. The only way for that relationship to be redeemed would be for us to somehow live up to God’s perfect standard of holiness, which we could not do. So God sent His Son to live in our place, pay the wages of sin on our behalf through His death, and defeat the power of death by rising from the grave. Jesus lived the life we’ve all failed to live, died the death we all deserve to die, and offers His perfect record of righteousness as our substitute, restoring us to our Creator forever.
Today’s scriptures focus on the beginning: creation. God made this world and everything in it. And what He made was good. There was a time when things like sickness and death, deception and decay, betrayal and grief and greed had not entered into the heart of man. And the promise of the gospel is that there will come a day when those things will be done away with forever. But for now, we all live with the ache in our hearts that longs for everything that is broken to be made right. We feel this way because we were created to live in a world that is unbroken and untouched by sin. Today’s scriptures speak to that.
I have much to learn and I’m far from perfect, but my life has been transformed by the truths you will read in this reading plan. Millions of others around the world and throughout history share the same story. The gospel, as the apostle Paul says, is the transforming power of God for those who believe (Romans 12:2). I pray your time in these verses from God’s Word would encourage, clarify, and transform according to the Lord’s perfect will for your life. May He do the same in me.
Written by Russ Ramsey