We believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God. It contains all that people in any age need to know for their salvation. We call the Bible God’s Word, believing that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, God speaks to us through this book.
The Bible has two major sections that at first glance seem quite different from each other.
The Old Testament records God’s work through centuries of Israelite history until about 400 B.C. The New Testament picks up with God’s work through the life of Jesus, the coming of the Holy Spirit in power, and the subsequent spread of the church over the first century A.D. You could also think of the Bible as a library of sixty-six unique books of various kinds by many authors in different contexts over thousands of years. But it is only one book: the whole of it forms one richly textured story of God’s loving purpose in relation to humans and the whole creation.
Reformed believers summarize this biblical story in four major chapters:
Creation - In the beginning God created a world where everything was in perfect harmony. Relations between God and humans and the creation were good and whole.
Fall - Through pride, humans were enticed by Satan into rebelling against God. Their disobedient act opened the door for the “sin virus” to enter the world. This virus contaminates everything: no person, no creature, no institution, no relationship or individual action is free from the totality of this contamination. The results of sin are evident in such things as greed, violence, and oppression as well as pollution, sickness, death, and weeds. The most devastating effect of sin is alienation from God. Still, sin cannot obliterate the “image of God” in us that longs for God and for wholeness.
Redemption - But God did not allow sin have the last word in this story. Because of his great love for humans and for the whole creation, God set out to redeem the world from its sinful condition. God called Abraham and Sarah and their descendants, the people of Israel, to be his partners in blessing the whole world. Finally, he sent his only Son, Jesus the Messiah, to live a fully human life and then die, thus paying the price for humanity’s sinful actions. But death could not defeat Jesus. God raised him from the dead to show that he had conquered sin and death. Now God’s kingdom is growing and spreading in this world, and Christians are part of that great work.
New Creation - One day, Jesus is coming back again to extend God’s reign on earth completely. He will do away with any traces of sin and its effects. There will be no more sickness, no more suffering, no more alienation from God, no more death. Evil will be eradicated. God himself will dwell with humans and all creation will be fully restored. Praise God!
The text above has been excerpted with permission from a brochure entitled The Christian Reformed Church: Who We Are and What We Believe, © 2009, Faith Alive Christian Resources, Grand Rapids MI. Print copies are available for purchase. No part of this may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher.