The place is New York City
It is opening night for the most anticipated Broadway production in years
You arrive at the theater and take your seat – It is a full house
Standing room only
The sound of people chattering as they wait adds to the great excitement in the room.
The lights flicker. A hush falls over the crowd.
You don’t know how it’s done, but it feels as if you’ve been elevated, somehow transported, and are watching from a distance.
The curtain goes up.
**ACT ONE BEGINS
The Scene – The God of ancient of days is surrounded by heavenly hosts: seraphim, cherubim, angels.
He speaks. What a voice! With a word, He creates the heavens and earth but they are formless and empty; next the Spirit of God hovers over the waters. It is very exciting to watch!
“Let there be light.” God says, and there was! He speaks again and creates the sky.
“Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Then God said “Let the land produce vegetation.” Plants appear bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. It is hard to describe the splendor before you!
Then God made two great lights – the greater to govern the day and the lesser to govern the night. He also made the stars. It is simply awesome!
Then God creates living creatures to fill the waters, great creatures of the sea; birds that fly above the earth; and then livestock and wild animals – to move along the ground. The diversity is mind-boggling!
Finally, God makes man – in His image – to rule over all He had created and puts him in the garden in the east, in Eden, to work it and take care of it.
There are some instructions given.
God said to the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Then God causes the man to fall into a deep sleep and takes one of his ribs and makes a woman from the rib and brings her to the man.
The man says, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’.” They are as beautiful as the world in which they are living.
And God blesses everything and says, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky.
I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
God sees all that He has made – and it is very good. And the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
Then God rests from all His work and blesses the seventh day and makes it holy.
The curtain goes down. It is the end of Act One
The audience roars with applause.
The special effects were out of this world!
The curtain goes up. Enters the serpent. A narrator explains that this serpent is craftier than any of the wild animals.
What is this serpent up to, you wonder?
The narrator continues: This serpent was created before the earth was formed, but because of his pride, fell from Heaven.
He is called by many different names, which give a fuller picture of who he is and what he does. Beware of the –
Accuser, Antichrist, Beast, Deceiver, Devil, Evil One, Father of Lies , Lucifer, Power of Darkness, Roaring Lion, Ruler of This World, Satan, Tempter, Wicked One
You now see the serpent talking to the woman and you get a glimpse into his deviousness.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman replies, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but not from the tree in the middle of the garden or we will die.”
The serpent responds, “You will not certainly die. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Ahh – this serpent is truly a deceiver . . .
Then it happens. The woman takes the fruit and eats it. Then she gives some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
They are instantly aware that they are naked and they are ashamed. They cover themselves.
Then they hear the sound of God walking in the garden and they hide. He calls out, “Where are you?”
The man says, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” It all begins to unravel – The blaming starts.
God is angry and delivers dire consequences. It is clear, the time of peace and prosperity is over. Adam and Eve are told there will be no end to the struggles and hardships ahead. Death enters their future.
This loving God provides a covering for them and the man and the woman are driven out of the Garden. Cherubim are placed, along with a flaming sword flashing back and forth, to guard the way to the tree of life.
The mood in the theater changes as the drama continues. You watch Cain kill his brother, Abel, and the wickedness of the human race swells until God regrets that he had made them and purposes to destroy the entire earth by a flood.
But there is hope.
A man named Noah finds favor in God’s eyes and he and his family are saved; God makes a covenant that He will never again flood the earth. The most brilliant rainbow appears. The audience gasps – a second chance!
Sadly, man’s sinful nature is still evident. You see it reappear starting with Noah’s own son. Then the Tower of Babel is built by an arrogant people; a hard lesson – they are scattered over the earth and their language is confused.
Then Abraham is tested by the most painful and challenging assignment-the sacrifice of his own son; Abraham proves to be a shining star, not without fault, but he does well; others do not. Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed.
And you watch:
- Isaac wrestle with God and is renamed Jacob, but he is something else.
- Joseph is betrayed by his brothers and sold; but is strong to the end.
- Moses kills an Egyptian and challenges Pharaoh. In a most dramatic fashion, the red sea parts and Moses leads God’s people as they flee from their captivity.
- Samuel is strong but foolish and naïve. His life ends in tragedy.
- David is a man after God’s own heart, a hero and a warrior, but he is vulnerable and makes serious, unfortunate choices.
- Then, the reign of the Kings – some who are righteous; some wicked.
- And then you watch a people returning to their homeland; sons and daughters under strong leadership, overcome obstacles, and rebuild their temple. There is celebration and rejoicing!
The lights go down.
A spotlight draws your focus back to the heavenly realm.
Angels have come to present themselves to God. With them is that evil Satan, who has been roaming throughout the earth. It is evident that he has it out for one of God’s children, Job, and he suggests that Job only loves God because of what God has done for him.
Satan is given permission to take everything from Job, to test him. Job loses his children and all that he owns, but does not turn his back on God.
Satan again has access to the throne of God. God speaks of his servant Job: “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
Satan seeks permission to continue his attack on Job, suggesting bodily harm will cause him to turn from God.
These interactions are intriguing – a view into an entirely different dimension than the world that you know!
Satan implements his plan and great pain is inflicted on Job. To make matters worse, his friends are unkind. You sympathize with his suffering; he speaks:
“If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery be placed on the scales! It would surely outweigh the sand of the sea. . .”.
The distressing conversations among Job and his friends continue until God makes His presence known. The audience is taken aback by the magnitude of His presence, power and authority. In no uncertain terms, God sets the record straight. God shows grace and Job is then blessed more than even before.
**ACT TWO ENDS.
The mood in the audience is much different – it is more somber.
**ACT THREE opens and the tone changes with a delightful reading of wisdom literature and the Song of Songs, all of which capture the hearts of the listeners, who are moved and inspired.
Next you witness the maturity and character of Daniel and are awed by what transpires in the lion’s den.
The Minor Prophets foretell of what is to come.
Quite unexpectedly, a brilliant star appears –A child will be born – He will save the people!
You wonder if the Serpent will be taken care of once and for all.
And you meet this Jesus, the Christ child, born in a manger. And you learn that his mother, Mary, ponders much in her heart.
He grows up and miracles take place – water turns to wine, a few fish feed the multitude, people are healed, dead are brought back to life.
The people follow him. This Jesus is certainly the next King!
Jesus picks twelve to learn His truths. He teaches – all are drawn to what he says:
- be aware of the powers and principalities of this world and their agenda
- If you believe in this me, eternity will be yours
But there are warnings of things to come. The Evil One will continue to reap destruction, but his influence will be pervasive and the impact more severe, and horrid than can be imagined.
Jesus speaks to Peter, one of His followers. It seems this Devil has again been working behind the scenes. Jesus tells Peter that Satan has asked for him, but Jesus has prayed that Peter’s faith will not fail and tells Peter that he will turn back.
Turn back you wonder? From what?
You see Jesus praying in the garden; suddenly soldiers appear – there is fighting and confusion. Jesus is tried and unfairly condemned – beaten, put on a cross.
It is grueling to watch! He dies like a common thief.
You question your perception, was He not the king you thought He was?
But all is not what it seems – He is raised from the dead and appears to his followers; in front of their very eyes, they watch as He is taken up into the Heavens!
His people embrace the truth – Christ is the Savior, the sacrificial lamb who has made atonement for their sins. He is their Redeemer!
While they are all together, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind comes from heaven and the Spirit of God fills and enables them. They are sent forth in strength to continue to share the good news. They will be His witnesses to the ends of the earth!
The best news of all – eternity awaits those who know Him – God’s creation will be restored to wholeness!
The new heaven and earth will be a place where God dwells with His children again. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain. What an inheritance!
Satan, the Evil One, the Serpent, the Deceiver, will be cast into the Lake of Fire – destroyed forever!
You see the new city, which is built of jasper, sapphire, emeralds, rubies and other gems; the gates are made of pearls, and the streets of gold! The city does not need the sun or moon, for the Glory of God gives light and the Lamb is its lamp. There is no night and nothing impure will ever enter.
**THE CURTAIN CLOSES AND THE PLAY ENDS.
The audience jumps to their feet! The applause is deafening and continues longer than any production you have ever seen. Everyone is getting eager for the cast to appear.
The curtain opens, but it is as if the back of the theater has been removed – the stage is expansive – yet, there is no one on it.
You are asked to take your seat.
What’s going on?
This is the strangest thing you’ve ever seen.
Where are the performers?
The theater becomes eerily quiet.
The audience is told the play is, in fact, not over; but the characters have changed.
The new cast is comprised of those of you now sitting in the theater. You will have a key role in how the drama continues.
There is one thing though; everyone has a decision to make; you must choose whom you will follow – either Jesus or Satan.
You may have additional opportunities along the way to decide, but you may not.
It is in your best interest to choose now.
You don’t like this turn of events and decide to leave the theater.
What a disappointing ending to the best play you have ever seen! You move toward the exit.
But wait, the doors are gone?
You look around. There is no way out.
You are forced to either stay in the audience or step onto the stage. What will you decide?
What if this story were true and you were an audience member?
I am assuming that all of us have made a decision as far as whom we will choose.
I hope it’s the right decision.
But have we fully considered our role in finishing the story?
CCM’s vision is ‘an authentic Christian community that reflects the love of Christ’.
If we have not fully committed to stepping onto the stage, then we are merely a passive audience member.
In that position, we cannot contribute toward CCM realizing its vision, let alone fulfilling God’s call in our own lives.
God is not finished with His work in this realm and the Evil One still roams the earth seeking whom he can devour.
Scripture tells us to choose this day whom we will serve.
IT’S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO BE A KNOWER
WE NEED TO BE A BELIEVER
IT’S NOT ENOUGH JUST TO BE A BELIEVER
WE NEED TO BE A DOER OF THE WORD AS WELL
THE NEXT ACT IS ABOUT TO BEGIN. . . ARE YOU