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The Bible sums up the Gospel in John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God is love and everything that God has done, is doing, or will do stems from this love.
"The history of the great conflict between good and evil, from the time it first began in heaven to the final overthrow of rebellion and the total eradication of sin, is...a demonstration of God's unchanging love." Patriarchs and Prophets, page 33
In other words, the "Gospel" is the whole story of God's efforts to save us from sin and to rid the entire universe of sin. It's the story of how much God loves us. Much of this story is about what Jesus did for us 2,000 years ago and what He is still doing for us today, but this story actually began long before Jesus was born here on earth, because Jesus was not created. He is the Creator of all created things (John 1:1-18).
In short, Jesus created the Earth as a totally sin-free place that was full of peace, but sin came and all that peace left. Jesus then left His peace-filled home to rescue us from the results of sin and to return the Earth to it's original sin-free peace, and to return to us the gift sin had taken away, the gift of peace and everlasting life.
View the What is the Gospel? video (about 4 minutes long).
Summary of these events:
God's Plan of Redemption - The first event in the story, or Gospel, of Jesus was the Plan of Redemption. The Bible says that the Plan of Redemption was made before the "foundation of the world" Rev. 13:8. It was a plan that would be used to rid the whole universe of sin, and to save any who would completely trust God. "From the beginning, God and Christ knew of the apostasy of Satan, and of the fall of man through the deceptive power of the apostate. God did not ordain that sin should exist, but He foresaw its existence, and made provision to meet the terrible emergency. So great was His love for the world, that He covenanted to give His only-begotten Son, "that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16." The Desire of Ages, page 22 (For further study, read The Plan of Redemption.)
Lucifer Created - Lucifer, the one who would become Satan, was created by Jesus to be the highest ranking angel in Heaven. He was created perfect, with no tendency to sin, yet with the ability to freely choose to serve God or not to serve Him. (For further study, read The Origin of Evil. Also, see Ezekiel 28:12-15 and Angels.)
The Origin of Sin - The next event cannot be explained. There is no reason that it happened. Lucifer sinned. (Ezekiel 28:13-19) If there could be found a reason, it would cease to be sin. The highest ranking angel in Heaven began to covet the honor that was given to God's Son, Jesus. Lucifer accused God of being unfair, of limiting the freedom of all created beings by requiring them to abide by a set of rules (God's Laws). He claimed that no one could keep God's rules, that even God Himself couldn't keep them, and that no one needed rules anyway. He claimed that if given the chance to prove that his plan was better, he would. (For further study, read Why was Sin Permitted?)
God takes no pleasure in a forced obedience. If He had done away with Lucifer right away, many would have served God from fear. The only way to erase sin from the universe was to let the results of sin, the results of breaking God's Law, be demonstrated. (This is why a loving God must allow suffering and death today. We are a part of this demonstration.)
Creation - About 6,000 years ago God created the inhabitants of the Earth. (See the Creation Timeline for details.)
First Sin on Earth - Lucifer wanted to be in charge of all of the "stars of God", to be "like God" (Isaiah 14:12-14), but of all the worlds that God had created in the whole universe, Lucifer could only win control of the newly created earth. He deceived Eve (Genesis 3:1-24 & The First Great Deception) and because Adam sinned also, Lucifer gained control of all people. Sometime after that, he and all of his followers were forced out of Heaven (The Bible says that there was war in Heaven - Rev. 12:7-9) and he was bound to this earth. He had wanted a chance to prove that his plan was better and so God is allowing him that opportunity right now, right here on earth. (To view this same information in another way, see The "Theater" of the Universe Timeline. This timeline also shows in more detail why there is so much suffering today.)
"Noah's" Flood - In the next 2,000 years man became so wicked that God sent a worldwide flood. This kept man from living such a long, cruel life, and it also protected many unborn people from having to deal with all this cruelty. (See Genesis 6-8 and the Noah and the Flood Timeline.)
Jesus 1st Coming - About 2,000 years after the Flood, and about 4,000 years after Creation, God became a man. (Also see the Life of Jesus Timeline, the Ministry of Jesus Timeline and the Passion Week Timeline for more details.) To fully understand why God (the Son - Jesus) would want to become a man is to fully understand the Gospel, but the love that God has for the whole universe and even for humans is beyond our ability to completely understand. Yet, we need to try to understand this awesome story, so here are a few of the reasons we know of that Jesus became a man:
1) Satan had claimed that the Law of God was not good, that even God could not keep it. Jesus came to prove that it could be kept, and that it was not only good, but perfect.
2) Satan had so misrepresented God that Jesus wanted to show us (and the angels) what God was really like.
3) If left unchecked, Satan and sin would destroy the earth, and us. Jesus came and died so that we could live, and because of His death, He has a "legal" right to save all who believe in (trust) Him.
Today, because of what Jesus did, the whole universe knows that God really does love us and that the Devil was lying. Satan has proven how much he hates God when he killed His Son, Jesus, on the cross. (See "A Parable of Jesus" & the story of Job.) He, Satan, has also proven to the universe that his way is not better. In fact, he has proven that ANY deviation from God's Law (also known as "breaking the Ten Commandments" or "sin") would not only destroy the earth, but the whole universe. Still, God is giving him even more time to unwittingly demonstrate just how bad things would get if all were under his control.
Judgment of ALL people * - After Jesus rose from the dead He returned to Heaven and according to the prophecy found in Daniel 8 & 9 has already started the judgment of all humans (both the dead and the living).
( * Please note that this is the point in the above timeline where we are right now. According to Revelation 22:11 there will come a time when those that have been made righteous in the Blood of the Lamb will remain righteous, and those who are wicked will remain wicked.)
Jesus 2nd Coming - After some of the devastating effects of sin are shown, Jesus will return to rescue His people from this earth and take them to live with Him for 1,000 years. This will include those people spoken about in the next section. (See the Second Coming Timeline for more information.)
Righteous Raised - When Jesus returns to rescue His people, all those who have died trusting in Christ will be resurrected (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The Bible calls this the "1st resurrection", those who are resurrected here will not have a part in the "2nd death" noted below.
For more information on this period of time, including the "1st resurrection" and the "2nd death", see the Death & Hell Timeline. There is a common misunderstanding that there will only be 144,000 people saved when Jesus comes again, but actually the Bible's book of Revelation not only speaks of the 144,000 (Rev. 7:4) but goes on to say, "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;" (Rev. 7:9) In other words, the Bible says that there will be many more than 144,000 who will be saved. (For further study read: Hope for the Heathen)
Wicked Killed - When Jesus returns, not only will He save those who have trusted in Him, but He will also "destroy with the brightness of His coming" (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10) all those who follow after Satan and "love not the truth". (Notice that Satan, himself, is not killed. See the "Bottomless Pit" section below.)
1,000 Years of Peace - For 1,000 years, the righteous will review what the results of sin have been (much like a jury does today). They will open the records in Heaven, records of every thought, every deed that has ever been done. They will see for themselves that God is just and fair in what He has done, is doing and is about to do. (See Revelation 20:2-6)
Bottomless Pit - During this 1,000 years, Satan and the other fallen angels are the only ones alive on this earth. The righteous are all in Heaven with Jesus who has just rescued them and the wicked are all dead, destroyed by Jesus' return. The earth is in total ruins because of what Satan and sin have done. This is the "Bottomless Pit" spoken of in Revelation 20:1-3. and can be understood as a "bottomless pit" because Satan has no where to go and no one to tempt to sin. His whole focus has been to hurt God, but now he can do nothing except think. Satan will realize that there is no hope for him now, that he has had his chance for forgiveness, but turned it down. Satan is in a cold, dark "solitary confinement", but Jeremiah, the prophet, says that God isn't done with the wicked and has not made a "full end" yet. (See Jeremiah 4:23-27 and also The "Theater" of the Universe Timeline.)
Wicked Raised - The wicked are all resurrected and surround the Holy City and God's people (Revelation 20:5-9).
(It is interesting to note that at this point in time everyone who has ever lived on this earth will all be alive at the same time. The wicked are all outside the Holy City while the righteous are all inside the City with Jesus.)
Sentencing - God's judgment is passed on all humans (Revelation 20:11-15), some to eternal life and some to an eternity without life. Either you will live forever, or you will not live forever Ezekiel 13:22. There is no such thing as an in-between. (For further study, see the Death & Hell Timeline.)
Lake of Fire - God will destroy not only sinners, Satan, and sin itself, but even death will be destroyed in what the Bible calls "the Lake of Fire" (Today we call this "Lake of Fire" either "Hell Fire" or just "Hell". Again, see the Death & Hell Timeline for more related information.). "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Revelation 21:4
Eternity Without Sin Begins - Once sin is forever gone, God will recreate the earth and will make all things new, and through all of Eternity the righteous will attempt to understand the love that God has for them. He wants them to be happy, He has always wanted them to be happy, and now they will be happy, forever. There will be so much to enjoy that the "former things" will not be remembered. (Isaiah 65:17 and Revelation 21:1-4)
What will those who have completely trusted in Jesus do for eternity? Will we just "sit on a cloud and play a harp" as some would lead us to believe?
Here is what the Bible says:
"And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust [shall be] the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD." Isaiah 65: 21-25
"And so shall we ever be with the Lord"
1 Thessalonians 4:17
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