Another question I answered on an application to a ministry position is worth repeating here: “A friend with limited Bible knowledge asks you to describe the basic message of the Bible. What would you say? Reference Scripture to support your summary statement.” This is a great question to think through. How would you respond? Here’s my answer:
There is only one God in all of existence (Deut 6:4); this one God is a Trinity of persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our triune God is holy (Isa 6:3) and made everything to display His glory (Isa 61:3). Humans are made in His image and possess dignity and worth (Gen 1:27); we were made to worship God and enjoy Him forever. While made good and upright, humans—from our first parents up until today—have sinned against God, both actively and passively, and have become sinful, corrupt, and fallen (Gen 3; Rom 3). Sin separates people from the presence of God and makes them guilty and condemned before Him (Rom 5:8). However, this fallen state is not the end of the story, God is not only holy and just, He is also gracious (Eph 2:8-11). God has graciously called and redeemed a people to be His treasured possession (Deut. 26:18; 1 Pet 2:9-10). The gracious acts of God in the Old Testament pointed forward to God’s climatic saving act in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor 10: 6, 11). Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and took on flesh (Phil 2:6-11); he lived a sinless life and fulfilled the mission and ministry of Israel by suffering and dying on a cross for the sins of humanity (Is. 53). In this incredibly gracious event, Jesus bore the penalty of humanity’s sin—namely, God’s wrath (propitiation)—and served as humanity’s substitute on the cross; Jesus took on the guilt and penalty of sin and everyone who repents and places their trust in Jesus is given a righteousness status before God (2 Cor 5:21; Rom 3:21-26). Jesus rose victorious over sin and death and was resurrected on the third day (1 Cor 15:4). He physically appeared to His followers and 40 days later ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3); now He sits at the right hand of God the Father and rules in glory (Col 1:15-20). Before His ascension, Jesus appointed apostles to carry on the work of his ministry, charging them to make disciples of every nation (Matt 28:18-20). The Holy Spirit empowers the church to carry on this task today, a task which involves proclaiming the gospel and making disciples (Acts). Today, Christians live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit and await the physical return of Jesus—a time when Jesus will return in glory to judge the living and dead (Rev 20-22). A Christian has hope that he or she will be in God’s presence in heaven upon death (Phil 1:23) and one day will live forever in a glorified sinless body in the presence of God on the new earth (Rev 21); those who reject Jesus will live forever in the conscious torment of hell apart from God’s gracious presence (Rev 21:7-8). We can know these truths through the Bible, which is God’s inerrant word (2 Tim 3:16).