A lifetime ago I did a Bible study that emphasized four elements that are found in any section of the Bible (and life): Creation, Sin, Judgment and Redemption. The training must have been effective, because it has always stuck with me. I have enjoyed opening the eyes of my children to these elements recently.
First, let me explain each point. Please know this is my interpretation, and the actual study is more thorough, exact and eloquent. The first is Creation. This refers to the world, story or situation as it is. God’s creation is perfect. Since sin entered, it is less so. Keeping that in mind, creation is the ‘once upon a time’ part of life. It sets the scene.
Next comes Sin—of course! As long as we are here, won’t sin always follow creation? As we look at things in story form, this is the part where things go wrong; literarily speaking, it is the conflict.
I would say that Judgment is the most difficult element to pinpoint. I remember in the Bible study, this was defined as the part that ‘brings you up short.’ I guess because that phrase never really resonated with me, I struggled identifying judgment when we hear life stories or studied a particular Bible passage. My less-than description that helps me is to see the judgment as the consequences, or the ‘new normal’ that the Sin brings about.
Finally comes Redemption. Praise Him and Hallelujah! This is the Gospel that is written into every element of the Word and our lives. Even when God decrees the harshest punishments and sin seems to destroy so completely, redemption is there; a remnant is spared. Hope is never extinguished. The element of Redemption is everything; it is the new creation.
Perfectly clear pictures of each element are easily identified in the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah. God created a world with free will, families, provision and prosperity. We sinned by turning our backs to God and seeking our own measurement of righteousness. God’s judgment was to wash it all clean with water and fire, respectively. The redemption is Noah and Lot. God set aside a family for preservation to live on with another chance and hope for a new life.
Yesterday we were studying Luke 8 and 9 for school. At the end of chapter 8 is the story of the man who is possessed by a Legion of demons. Jesus frees the man. The people living nearby are frightened by such power and beg Jesus to leave. This is the sin—people quite literally telling Jesus that he is not wanted or welcome in their lives. You can’t get any clearer than that! The judgment—often the saddest part—is when Jesus complies. What a tragedy it is when He gives us exactly what we ask!
As Jesus makes His departure, the delivered man wants to go with Jesus. Here is the awesome redemption that Jesus never neglects. He tells the man no. Why? I imagine how confused and sad he must have been! But Jesus’ answer didn’t have anything to do with the man who was healed and already saved. It had everything to do with the lost town that sent Jesus from their midst.
Maybe the people aren’t ready to accept Christ, but this man living in their presence, exited to tell his story can serve as a constant reminder to Truth. So, the people are left with hope, a chance to change their minds as seeds are planted by the life of a healed man.
I love to see these redemptions, these ever-present testimonies to God’s compassion and grace in the face of our stubbornness and defiance. What a mighty God we serve! I also appreciate the extra lesson that sometimes the answer ‘no’ isn’t about me. I might be told no for the sake of someone else!