ONCE UPON A TIME

 

I still remember the first line of many children’s stories I read as a kid years ago. Quite often, it went like this: “Once upon a time, many years ago, there was…” Do you remember reading any such stories? The stories were always things that happened in the past and the lessons that one could learn from them. Most often, the stories ended with a happy-forever-after.Let’s see how that format would work with the God-story!

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was God, His Son Jesus, and His Spirit: the three in One. “And God said, ‘let us make human beings in our own image, to be like us.’” (Genesis 1:26)  He still is, and will always be. Nothing else existed at that point (see Genesis 1:1). With no physical resources, He created everything you see today, and much more. He created the heavens, the earth, the sky, the seas, vegetation, and animals. Then He created man, Adam, and then his wife Eve, in His image and gave man authority over all that He had created, including the responsibility to name them. He placed man in a beautiful garden He had created--the Garden of Eden- and instructed him to take care of it, and to eat the fruits for food. There was only one tree that was off-limits to man—the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the center of the garden (Genesis 2:16-17).

Satan, envious of God’s position as LORD, tampered with God’s plans; he tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. God was heart-broken, man felt guilty for the first time, and God’s judgment fell. Man died spiritually: he was kicked out of the garden, losing fellowship with God. Consequently, sin passed on to every descendant of Adam and Eve (see 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

This means everybody starts life as a sinner and God’s enemy, but God, out of His love for us, put into action His plan to redeem us unto Himself. (See John 3:16) He sent His One and only Son, Jesus Christ, to be our substitute: to die in our place for our sins. Jesus died a cruel death at the hand of sinners, and whoever repents and declares their faith in Jesus is saved and their relationship with God is restored. The resulting relationship is a Father/child relationship. Unlike human parent/child relationships, we never outgrow our relationship with God. We’ll never be so grown that we are independent of Him. We’ll always have to submit to Him, depend on Him, and serve Him!

Having heard the story, we have a responsibility to respond. God doesn’t force us to accept His grace and love, but He makes it clear that death (eternal separation from God) waits at the end of a Christless-life (see Romans 6:23). If you’d like to spend eternity in heaven with God, you need to repent today, and ask God for forgiveness through Jesus. Timing is important! Planning to do something is not the same as doing it. If you procrastinate and die before getting around to doing this, your situation will be just like the person who didn’t care about the gospel message. There is no such thing as an almost-child of God: either you are or you’re not. Think about it!

The God-story can have an ending like the children’s stories, with a happy-forever-after.  Anyone who puts his or her faith in Jesus for salvation is promised an amazing hereafter- life, forever in the presence of the Almighty God. According to the Bible, there’ll be no more pain, tears, or death; we’ll live in mansions, and darkness and sin will be things of the past. No sinners will enter heaven; only the saved will, and we will reign with Him forever and ever, never again to be separated from Him or from our loved-ones.

A shorter version of the story looks like this: “Once upon a time, man rebelled against God, and was thrown out of God’s presence. Through the one sinner, all people became sinners. God sent His Son Jesus to die in payment for man’s sin. Through Jesus, all who believe will become God’s children.” Don’t delay; repent and call on Jesus today, and be assured that your name is written in heaven before it is too late!