In the beginning, God created man. When he was created, he was pure and holy. He was created for a purpose. God, the one true sovereign and benevolent being, created man in order to give of His loving nature. But man was deceived by evil and fell into sin. This sin affected man and all of his offspring to the point that he was no longer able to serve God as he was created to. He hated God by nature. . .

But God did not abandon man. Nor did He abandon all the hopes and plans that He had for man. Instead, He made a promise. This promise involved a covenant to redeem man from his fall into sin and restore him to the dignity and hopes that He had originally desired. He told Eve (the first woman) that, despite the fall, He would send One who would crush the head of the serpent, even as the serpent crushed his heel (Gen. 3:15). This promise was to send a Redeemer who would, essentially, clean up the mess by undoing what they had done.

In order to accomplish this, many years later, He made another promise to an idol worshiper named Abraham. He promised Abraham that he was going to bless the world through him. He said that kings and rulers would come from him. Most importantly, He said that the Redeemer would come through his line. Through Abraham, God created a nation and called it Israel. To this nation, God made a covenant to be their God and to spread His Word through them. They were the entrusted vessels of God’s message. Through the nation of Israel, God further confirmed and extended His promise through a young shepherd boy named David. To David, God gave the kingdom of Israel. He also covenanted to send the Redeemer through David’s line.

In spite of the rebellion and constant betrayal of His chosen people, Israel, God covenanted yet again, and, again, further extended the blessing that began in the Garden. This time He said that He was going to change people’s hearts by making them become more like Him. In His words, “I will write my law upon their heart and I will be their God” (Jer. 31:31-33).

Five hundred years later, God sent the One whom He had covenanted to send, and this One, as it turned out, was His own Son. He was both everything that God is and everything that man was, yet without sin. To the dismay of many, He did not set up the Kingdom as they thought He came to do, but He first set up a Kingdom in the hearts of His people by dying on a cross and purchasing their redemption from sin and betrayal. After His death, He rose again, showing that the redemption was accomplished. He undid what Adam had done.

After His resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, who is also everything that God is, to indwell all those who believed and followed the Redeemer, so that they would have power to spread the message of redemption. He entrusted to them the Gospel message, as it came to be known, and called them the Church.

The Church, made up of both Jews and Gentiles, is now the bearer of the Good News of God’s covenanted redemption. They are His representatives here on the earth. God the Son told the Church to tell others about Him until He comes back. When He comes back, He will then set up His Kingdom and destroy all evil and death, the final foe. The Church now eagerly awaits His coming, as they fight for the Kingdom.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    17 replies to "Christianity in a Nutshell"

    • Daniel Doleys

      This is great, I love hearing these. I think one of the biggest things we miss in church is this the big story of God’s redemption and live for his creation. This is one of the best I have heard, simple but also engaging some of the big ideas of Christianity like covenant, sin and redemption. Do you mind I share this with some people at my church?

    • C Michael Patton

      You bet Daniel. Thanks so much.

    • Damian

      It’s funny, a nutshell like this is exactly what I aspired to when I entered the blogging community. I even named the blog after it. What I ended up writing was something very different though.

      It’s good to see some people devising nutshells, though.

    • Leslie

      Great post, Michael. You’re too good!

    • David R.

      Thanks for this post, Michael. In a few paragraphs you summed up everything that’s important and did it in a way that anyone can understand. I would also like to share it with people in my church, and also with some of my coworkers. Maybe you should do more “nutshell” posts on other topics and I could build a handbook from it!

    • Very good post, although the Kingdom stuff could be a little confusing.

      “To the dismay of many, He did not set up the Kingdom as they thought He came to do, but He first set up a Kingdom in the hearts of His people by dying on a cross and purchasing their redemption from sin and betrayal.”

      “When He comes back, He will then set up His Kingdom…”

      So is it already, future, or both?

    • havoc

      That first paragraph bugs me.

      I would start off one step back with “In the beginning, God created the universe, a stage in which the story of creation, the fall and redemption would play out…..”

      The second paragraph, your first, would run along the lines of “God created Man, a free creature, knowing he would fall, but having a plan of redemption…..”

    • C. Barton

      This is great; I’m beginning to believe that there is really no divide between the “Old” and “New” testaments: they are both a testimony to God’s miraculous rescue mission for us and for his pleasure and glory.
      I had to ask myself one day: What does God really want from me? Is it obedience? For me to attempt obedience would be like lying at the bottom of the ocean and saying, “If only I stretch out my hand as far as it can go, I can reach the surface . . .”.
      Is it companionship with him? This sounds more likely, because the Bible says he created us partly for his pleasure, but we absolutely NEED him in every way, so this is probably not the biggest reason, maybe.
      Is it to bear witness, to give testimony? This one ranks high with me as a Christian, because, “It is not I who do these things, but Christ within me . . .”, so I have no claim to fame, in a sense, except that I can give testimony as to what God is doing in my life and in the rest of the world, and what he wants to do for all.
      And this is maybe the most important: God wants a one-on-one personal relationship with each individual, but a lot of the world has completely tuned him out. We need to bear witness about this story-in-a-nutshell so the darkness in the world is swept away.

    • Ruben

      This is a good summary of God’s redeeming plan, I think one thing is missing
      about the Lord Jesus, He did not come only to die for us, He also came to
      reveal God (Hebrews 1). What appealed to me when I first heard the Gospel
      and what most appeals to me still is the person of Jesus, His teachings and the
      way He lived with us (John 1). I think this is part of God’s plan, to reveal
      Himself to us more fully, to be one of us (the incarnation), to show us His
      heart.

      Part of this revelation is to show us the terrifying consequences of sin and
      separation from God, eternal suffering. He also shows us His heart aching
      at our rejection of Him (Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem), how this separation
      causes Him anguish.

    • Sid

      We can call this the Cliff notes translation. hahahahaha

    • bethyada

      Exactly!

      Creation, Fall, Redemption.

      This is foundational to my reading of Scripture. This is exactly how both the Bible and nature are to be understood. It is the only way they can be understood.

    • Aaron C. Rathburn

      I’m working on a similar synopsis, but mine is “Genesis to Jesus: An Introduction to the Bible and its Message.” I started the draft many months ago but never finished it!

      -ACR

    • Susan

      I like this. Maybe I can show it to those not-yet-saved whom I’m having conversations with, as well as new believers. I appreciate the way you conclude with the responsibility of belivers to share the Gospel, as we are impowered by the Holy Spirit to do so…. and also include that this is the mission of the church.

    • C Michael Patton

      Glad you all have enjoyed this…I will try to get more “…in a nutshell” posts soon.

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    • Cannie

      Michael, what do you mean by the phrase “as they fight for the Kingdom”?

      I love this nutshell, by the way, and have passed it on to others over the past few months!

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