I want you to see what is ultimate, true, and good in your life. And before you jump to conclusions, let me just say – it’s not you. Ultimately, what is most important in your life is not your home or health, your family or finances. These things are certainly important, but the universe will go on if these things don’t. What is ultimate is God Himself. And while much could be said about God, what must be said is that He is completely satisfied in Himself, filled with life, as a communion of three persons, a unity of three – or Trinity. The Trinity is not a complex math problem or philosophical conundrum; it simply means that the Father loves the Son in the Spirit.[1] And because God, as Trinity, is complete in Himself, He needs nothing to make Himself happier or more satisfied or more complete; He always is full of life and full of love.

The Father’s love for the Son is so full in fact, that it overflowed to create all things after the likeness of His Son – so that the whole world would be filled with the beauty of the Son! Each aspect of creation perfectly reflects the Son’s resplendence in its own unique way. In this way, the Father was showcasing what He admires most, His Son! The world would be filled with perfect reflections of the Son, the very image of God, and the Son would be magnified throughout the world as His excellencies shine forth to the ends of the earth through all things. The Father intended all of creation to be a gift to the Son, expressing His deep delight in the Son and displaying in great detail the intricate beauty inherent in the Son through creation.[2]

And, when He created all things, we can know that His actions were completely altruistic – or completely unselfish – because there is nothing that creation could have offered Him that He didn’t already have. He simply desired everyone to see and everything to show how good it was to love the Son.

And the Bible says the Son acted with the Father in creation, working inseparably with the Father and the Spirit. His creative work was fueled by love, because He knew that in creation the great love of the Father would be displayed for all to see, and everyone would know how great it was to be loved by the Father. And the pinnacle of creation was man and woman, Adam and Eve. They were designed to be God’s representatives on earth to carry out this divine mandate of establishing His garden paradise as the beautiful showroom where the full display of His love would be evident for all to see. Adam and Eve were meant to extend this paradise to the ends of the earth so the whole world would be filled with the image of God as they bore fruit and multiplied and cultivated the earth in light of this divine mandate; and in turn, all would experience the magnitude of His love.

This is what is ultimate, that we would find our life in the divine life of God, participating in the very life and love of the Trinity.

And this is the way the story of time began.

Adam, having received His command, was placed in the garden to begin his good work. Upon successful completion of his mission, he as mankind’s representative would usher all of humanity into an eternal age of knowing and enjoying God as their source and foundation for eternal bliss and happiness, like we were meant to.

If he failed, though, and disobeyed the High King’s command, the punishment was exile – separation from Him who is the source of all things good, true, and beautiful, which would result in death – not only for Him, but for all His posterity and descendants after Him. As they say, “As goes the king, so goes the people.” And if our experience tells us anything about reality, we know which path our representative took (the same one we would have!).


In a cosmic rebellion, Adam and Eve committed treason against God as High King. Refusing to enjoy eternal communion with God as their source of all things good and happy, they took their happiness into their own hands. They failed to realize though, that the happiness they sought was unattainable apart from Him. God designed humans in such a way that all that our heart most truly desires can only be satisfied through communion with Him. Fullness of life can only be found in Him; and now, Adam and Eve had detached all of mankind from the only source of life.

This reminds me of learning to drive stick shift on the bush roads of Madagascar. Our vehicle was designed to be operated in a specific way; only then would its purpose truly flourish. No matter how hard I tried to shift the stick to the next gear, the subsequent grinding noise told me that I was only damaging the vehicle (and frustrating the stew out of myself!). My failure to operate the vehicle the way it was designed had twin effects: an internal dissatisfaction and a path toward destruction for the vehicle (which I can unfortunately attest).

The same is true of our lives. God designed our lives to be lived in a specific way – namely, in communion with Him – and only in this way will we experience human flourishing. All other paths lead to a lack of fulfillment, dissatisfaction, and ultimately the destruction of death.

Adam and Eve failed to realize that their mistake not only plunged them into separation from God, but, as the representatives for all mankind, they plunged the entire human race into separation. If we probe our hearts enough, we intuitively know that we are cut from the same cloth as Adam and Eve, constantly seeking to base our happiness and source of life on things much lesser than communion with God.

And since God is holy, sinners cannot dwell in His presence and live. Just as a bright light extinguishes all the darkness in a room, God would effectively extinguish, so to speak, all sinners if brought into His presence.

To say it another way, the severity of our punishment for sin is in direct proportion to the value of the One sinned against.

For example, say I keyed a car. My action of scratching a brand-new BMW at the car dealer would invoke a greater punishment than the same action against a beater at the junk yard. In a much more infinite way, then, the slightest sin against the One who is most holy and infinitely valuable would rightly invoke an equally infinite punishment. The punishment fits the crime.

So infinite is our punishment in fact, that our finite selves can’t hope to pay it back to God for our redemption. Our problem is God-sized; and a God-sized problem requires a God-sized solution.

This is where the good news comes in.


The good news is Jesus Christ Himself. Out of no obligation in Himself or to us, God sent Jesus Christ into this world to save sinners. Up to this point, mankind had only seen one representative – the first man, Adam. But now the King Himself was coming into the world to renew all things and establish His Kingdom as He intended in the beginning. God was coming into the world to give us a new and better representative, One who wouldn’t fail us and could restore us to the communion with God we were designed for.

This was the God-man, Jesus Christ. As truly God, born of a virgin, He possessed the infinite value we needed for a hope of redemption; and as truly man, He could identify with us and suffer and die for us. Only He could pay the infinite price we owed!

Jesus Christ came into this world so that – in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension – we could be made one with God again. He was restoring us to the life and happiness we experienced with Him in the garden, and continuing His original plan for this world to be filled with the glory of God.

The saying remains true with this new representative, “As goes the King, so goes the people.” But rather than coming under this new representative by birth, as with Adam, we become His people by faith. And through faith in this representative, we are redeemed. All that is true of Jesus becomes true of us. His perfect life and status of righteousness becomes ours. His death on the cross and its payment for sin becomes ours. His resurrection from the dead and inherent power for a new life becomes ours. His ascension to heaven and presence before God becomes ours. Again, all that is true of Jesus becomes true of us by faith. And all that was true of me; namely my sin and debt and shame, were taken by Christ, paid for, and jettisoned from my life.

Just like a marriage between a prince and a pauper, He takes my debt and shame and gives me His status as a child, access to His bank accounts, and brings me into His home.

And He does all of this by the gift of faith and repentance.


Rather than merely an intellectual exercise as some may claim or a matter of willpower, faith is seeing and savoring all the excellencies of God in Christ and resigning yourself completely from all other pursuits for worth, value, and purpose. When you see this for the first time, you begin to realize, “He is all my heart has been longing for.” And rather than trying to continue on in life with your old operating system bent on performing or pretending your way toward an exhausted emptiness, you simply collapse into faith in Jesus and allow Him to be for you all your heart most deeply desires and needs.

This experience of saving faith is so formative that the Bible speaks of it as a new birth. In other words, when this happens for you and you see these things to be not only true, but true for you (and good!), you respond, “my life as I know it is over.” In a very real sense, your old life dies.

And you begin to realize, that “far from this being a sad state of affairs, this turns out to be the best news you’ve ever heard. Nobody can blame a corpse, especially not the corpse itself. Once dead, we are free from the blame speakers and guilt spreaders forever and fire from the messes we’ve made of our own lives. And in this state, God raised the dead, not on the condition of reform, but by sheer grace.”[3]

These phrases the Bible uses – new birth, life from death, sight to the blind – all describe the reality that everything from now on will be different as we live life in light of this glorious, good news.

And now, with this new faith, we follow this man Jesus Christ in all of life. Our new operating principle for life is called faith as a disciple (or apprentice) of Jesus. In other words, a disciple of Jesus is someone who is learning to submit all of life under the leadership of Jesus.[4]

And so, faith is not merely a one-moment decision that impacts eternity, but it’s a life of trust – a moment-by-moment turning to God in trust in our normal, everyday experiences.

The reality is – if you try to build your joy on anything less than Jesus, you will never experience the happiness you desire. But if you reject building your joy on anything less than Him, which the Bible calls idolatry, and instead yield to Him, you will then find the joy you were after in the first place in abundance.

This is the good news of the gospel.

As I’ve heard Tim Keller say before, ultimately, “the gospel is this – that I am more sinful than I ever dared imagine, but more loved and accepted in Christ than I ever dared hope.”[5]

And if you’ve never believed that before, I want to invite you to rest in Jesus who by virtue of His atoning death, is able to forgive and save all those who put their trust in Him. If you haven’t done that, your representative is still Adam – the first man – and your future is an eternal separation from the source of life and all things good.

You need Jesus. And He offers Himself to you. And if you would receive Him today by trusting in Him, you are promised all the benefits of His death secured for His people, and life forever with Him.

In possessing Christ through faith, you possess all things – a new family, a new identity, a new life, a new status, a new power, and so much more. Christ is all your heart most deeply desires, so come to Him by faith and find Him to satisfy every longing you could possibly have.

[1] Inspired from Glen Scrivener’s 3-2-1 Gospel Presentation

[2] Inspired from Michael Reeves, Delighting in the Trinity

[3] Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word

[4] Jeff Vanderstelt, on several occasions

[5] Tim Keller, on several occasions