Greg Koukl helps listeners discover, develop, and nurture a Christian worldview by examining the story of the Bible. Based on his book The Story of Reality, Greg Koukl offers believers a glimpse of the bigger picture, along with their role in the overarching Christian Story. By examining God, Man, Jesus, the Cross, and Resurrection, Greg gives us a solid foundation of the Christian worldview. He answers questions about our purpose and why evil exists. He helps us understand our value in God’s eyes, despite brokenness and sin. He explores the life and death of Jesus and why He came to our rescue.
perfect Mercy is forgiveness for everything we’ve ever done wrong. And God mrs nothing. That’s the good news and those who received the gift who accept the forgiveness are made a member of God’s family forever and then they are able to spend the rest of eternity with God in the kind of world that our hearts have always yearned for. Welcome to the focus on the family broadcast, helping families thrive. You know, john a phrase we often use in the christian community is to have a christian worldview and that’s not to intimidate, it’s not complicated actually. It’s just a way of looking at things, the way God would look at things. What’s the lens that he sees it all through? And we’re going to talk today with a guest who really brings clarity when we’re talking about that lens of that christian worldview. And I’m looking forward to the conversation. Greg Koegel is here, he’s been with us in the studio before. In fact, our conversation with him last time was the best of 2021 episode of the Program. Greg is an apologist founder and is the president of stand to reason ministries. He’s also the host of a talk show and the author of a number of books, including one will be really dialing into today. It’s called the Story of reality, how the world began, how it ends and everything important that happens in between, Click the link on your screen or give us a call to get your copy. Our number is 800. The letter a and the word family. Greg, welcome back to focus, I had such a such a treat to be back with you guys. Again, it just seems like yesterday, you know, it’s good. Thank you so much. I like the mic drop title of your book, The Story of reality that kind of says it all right there, right? Because we’re always in this constant battle with the world about what their story is and they think it’s offensive to say, well actually we’ve got the real story and that is that is kind of the contrast between worldviews. That’s right. Look at when it comes to understanding the nature of reality. Everybody’s got their point of view and everybody thinks their point of view is accurate, but it turns out it’s only the christian, it seems for being faulted for thinking that their point of view is accurate. The title to me is really important. I was having a conversation with a stockbroker once was sitting next to me on an airplane. I fly a bit. So I have these conversations, he asked me what I did for a living and so I told him um a writer, I do radio and he wanted to know what I write about and talk about and I I’m at a crossroads now because I want to tell him I write about religious topics, especially Christianity and making the case for Christianity, but I don’t want him to think about my view. The way most people think about religion and the way most people think about religion is a kind of a religious fantasy club and that’s not my view. We’re not just following something that makes us feel better. We’re not choosing that. We’re believing the christian view of the reality because the christian worldview, because we think it is the accurate view of reality, it’s true in the sense that gravity is true. We’re not talking about our christian fantasy, we’re talking about events that really took place and people who really lived or events that are going to take place. So we’re talking about history here now, of course we need to defend that. Um and that’s what apologetics are for. But the key here is communicating the kind of message that we’re trying to defend? This is true and we mean it’s true the way gravity is true, not my truth or your truth, but true to the real world. And this is why I chose the title, the story of reality, how the world began, how the world ends and everything important that happens. And yeah, that’s so good. Let’s let’s kind of back the tape up a little bit and talk about how you became a christian. What was the details of that and what was your mind like, you seem like a critical thinker. So before you encountered the Lord, were you a skeptic or what kind of person were you? Well, I was raised in a christian home mama modestly christian, I was raised a roman catholic home. But for us, it it really had no depth to it. And so when everybody grew up all the five kids, we all left and so did my parents. Okay. And then I spent mid sixties a time of engaging the culture. And so for about six years I embraced the ideas of the world and then there’s some dramatic things that happened in my life. One of them is my girlfriend of five years broke up with me and that caused me to face the reality of my own worldviews, which are relativistic. I didn’t believe in objective morality. I I didn’t believe in any ultimate meaning to life, but then I realized if that’s the case, I’m all alone in the universe. And so that created kind of an existential crisis for me, I didn’t become a christian immediately. But what it showed me is that the ideas that I was holding that sounded so cool at the time so popular with the culture. We’re not anything that was going to sustain me through the real challenges of life. And during that time, my younger brother Mark had become a christian through the jesus movement and we were both on the West Coast at this time, we were raised in the midwest, but through different circumstances we ended up in Los Angeles and he just hammered away at me for months and months. And to be honest with me got me thinking and and the Holy Spirit was working on me at that time. And uh, to make a long story short, I just came to the realization that Christianity was true. I know it now, it was the Holy Spirit working powerfully in my life and then in september 28th, 1973 that’s when I gave my life to christ and I’ve been following him ever since. But the thing that made a big deal for me, the big difference is understanding the grace of God, which I never understood before. Oh, I understood the law. I understood all the demands that were on me, but in the system I was raised in before. This was when you, you gotta work your way through those laws and do as best you can and then hope that you’re going to heaven, That is the good news. That’s what’s so exciting about the christian faith and that’s what makes it a joy to share with other people. You know, when you talk about that, all other religions are man trying to reach up to God, Christianity is the only one where he’s reaching down to us. That’s right and see that was news to me. And that was really the good news because I was just sharing with someone the other day who was in a similar circumstance and I said, do you know whether you’re going to have it or not. And he said no, maybe, maybe not. I said, is that good news? He said no, that’s not good news I said, but the gospel is good news. So what you believe is not the gospel. Well, let’s get into that because I think in the book you just raise some outstanding concepts here and let’s, you know, take a look at the pieces of the puzzle as you described in the book first about God and who is God is a first starting point, is God real? Is God there? If yes, then what? Yes, well, I break down the story of reality into five components just to make it easy to follow and easy for christians to communicate with others. And this is the backbone of the story and it is the basically the outline as well. Okay, and those five words are God, man, jesus cross resurrection here, I mean the final resurrection to reward and judgment notice that you have all the components of a good story, you have all the components of a worldview, creation, fall redemption and restoration, but um but you also have our story writ large, so to speak. So our story starts with God, then he creates man to be in friendship with him and human beings get themselves in a heap of trouble. And so god initiates a rescue plan and this is key about the christian worldview, this is the only world view in which man does not rescue himself because he cannot, which is exactly how God would do it. exactly. So God sets up a rescue plan and becomes a human being himself to be able to rescue us and he does that by the way he lives his life. So now we’ve got God, man, jesus and the way he dies on a cross, that’s the fourth point. And what we do about what he did for us determines what happens to everyone in the final resurrection. So we have how the world began, how it ends and everything important. Well, we’re going to hit them. Yes, the concept of God again that God is the beginning and the reason that God is the beginning is because he’s the first person, the first character, so to speak in the story and the reason is is because the story is about God, it is not about us, we come second now, the reason I say this is a lot of people get this confused and when I was a kid, my mom used to say Gregory, you know, she’s speaking seriously now when she’s got my first name or Gregory paul, there you go, right, the world does not revolve, you guys could probably finish around you. So every every parent knows that word, what does that phrase, You know, we, we we learn it then, but we forget it, we grow up, especially I think when we become christians because we think God is now in the equation to make our life perfect, but no, we’re not first, we’re second, God’s purposes are first? And this is where I turn a certain christian slogan on his head a little bit, meaning no disrespect here. I really don’t think it’s about so much about God’s wonderful plan for our lives as it is about our lives for God’s wonderful plan. So we’re expendable in this program, which really well said that’s that’s critical for people to slow down and hear that again. Say it, the culture doesn’t go there. Yeah, so it’s more about our lives for God’s wonderful plan. And so this emphasizes what the bible emphasizes that God is first. So when we start the story out and this is explanation, gentlemen, not just for the christian to get it straight, because for a lot of christians their their story, their picture of reality is like a like a puzzle that’s in a pile of pieces. They’ve never put it together before. And this is what the story of reality is meant to do, put it together in a sequential form. So we can see the big picture and the first part of that story is God. He’s the center, he’s the most important player, the stories about him, not us. Yeah, and you’ve addressed, I think the second, which is man and his or her place in that relationship. Let me ask you a question that’s so common about evil. If God is so good, why does evil exist in this world? Yeah, well that comes up all the time. It’s a classic question regarding Christianity and christian theism. But it turns out that the problem of evil is not the problem for the christian that people think it is. And the reason is Our story is entirely about the problem of evil. It starts in Chapter three, it doesn’t get solved into until 66 books later. Right? I mean if there was no problem of evil, there’d be no story. Our story is all about how how God deals with evil in the world, all right. And the important thing about evil is that is that first of all, it’s part of our story and secondly, our story is not over yet. You read a story like the Lord of the Rings and you get halfway through it and you’re thinking, oh this is a great little story about hobbits and elves and whatever and then everything goes south. Right, you got the big guy looking down at you and you got uh that Gandalf gets whacked and everything’s a mess and you think what a lousy story, Keep reading the story is not over yet. And we find ourselves right now fellas in the middle of the story. And so we see all of these awful things happening, why does this happen? It’s because of something that happens in the beginning of the story, the world wasn’t always like this, God made the world just exactly the way his noble mind intended. It was all good. But what happened, there’s another figure in this story and that figure is a very dark figure who tells our first parents a terrible lie. He says that the king cannot be trusted. He says that he’s holding out on you, do your own thing, make your own rules follow your own way and freedom awaits you. And so they consider the temptation there given to lie and they disobey and in disobeying they betray the friendship that God has made them for and everything changes, the world gets broken. They’re broken relationship with God, their broken relationship with each other, their broken relationship with the environment. In fact, what human beings do there in violating the command of God breaks the entire world. And this is why there is a problem of evil and it happens because God has given something valuable called moral freedom. He were made in the image of God. We have a moral character and because we’re made in the image of God, we are able to have friendship with God. We’re not like the other creatures, but that also has a liability to it. And that is we could do good, but we could also do wrong and man did not use the liberty that he was given well. And this plunged the world into darkness now what everybody knows by the way that the world is in darkness and this is something you can count on. It doesn’t matter who you talk to or when, when they lived or where they lived, everybody knows that something is wrong with the world, okay, And we have a way of explaining why the world is that way, but not just why, how to solve it. And that’s one of the most powerful elements of the christian story of reality, Such good stuff today on focus on the family with jim daly, our guest is Greg local and we’re covering a lot of deep truths. If you’d like to go further, get a copy of his book, the story of reality, how the world began, how it ends, and everything important that happens in between And of course, we have copies of that here at the ministry. The link is on your screen or call 800 the letter a and the word family. That’s so good Greg. And man, it’s really succinct the way you’re laying this out. So God, man, now, jesus, the third part of this story, what is jesus role, what did he come to do? So, here’s the situation, man is, in a terrible circumstance, he has broken off from God, he has no hope in himself, he’s lost. I mean, he’s in trouble, he needs to be rescued, he can’t rescue himself, he’s unplugged from the only source of life that’s available for himself, and he can’t plug himself in. So now what God initiates a rescue plan and it’s the most remarkable idea imaginable God decides to become a man in the person of jesus. And so we have a question now who is jesus? And there’s a lot of speculation about what that is, but there are two things that are really important, who he was and then why he came. Those are the only things that matter for the core. Lots of other things that Jesus talked about, but the person and the work of christ are the critical things. Who was he? Well, he was a human being. I mean, he had all human qualities, had all human emotions, He went through the kinds of things that you and I went through, he was one of us, therefore, he can identify with us as a human, we can identify with him as a human, he knows what it’s like to be in our shoes, as we walk a difficult life day by day. But he was more than that. It’s interesting when you look at the beginning of jesus story, His story starts in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God, all things came into being through him and apart from him, nothing came into being that has come into being, you know what I see there, That’s incredible. Just for people that you can spend weeks thinking about, joe, but here’s what I want people to do. I want people to jump back to the first line of the story where we began a few moments ago with God in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In other words, the beginning of jesus story is the same beginning as the story itself. That is this person that’s called the word is the very same one that was there at the beginning, making everything. And then later it says he became flesh, he dwelt among us and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the father full of grace and truth. In other words, God stepped down and I want you to think about if you have Children or grandchildren and they’re scared, they’re crying, they’re in trouble. They’re frightened. How would you comfort them? How would you meet their need if they were injured or their skin? Their knee, wouldn’t you bow bow down a little bit, wouldn’t you get you get eye to eye? And this is exactly what God did. He came down, he got low, he got small by becoming a human being, so he could be there with us, immanuel God with us is such an important thing. Yeah. And let me just add Greg, I mean, you are really hitting it out of the park. I mean, you’re right there there, there’s so much depth to what you’re saying. You know, we’re not gonna be able to cover it today and that’s one great reason to get the book. But there’s so much in there about covenant relationship and you know, the blood sacrifices that were given, which is part of the jewish culture and tradition and part of God’s relationship to the jewish people. These are things you have to continually dig into to better understand and what you’ll find is it gets more and more awesome. I mean it’s it’s the way it fits together the things that you’re saying at this level right now, the more you dig into it, the more you realize, wow God really did have a plan. It is a mind blower when you think about that, it is we talked about God man, the rescue plan in the form of jesus God coming to be with us and being the sacrifice for us. Let’s move to the cross. Okay, now this is the next step. I asked, I asked the question who was jesus, now what did he came to come to do? And first thing he did is he came to live the life that we never lived. He lived the perfect life for us, okay? And then he took on that cross, all of our bad stuff so that we can get his good stuff. There’s an exchange that took place there okay, and this is sometimes hard for people to understand. So I was explaining to a young lady on an airplane from Jacksonville to Miami, she was muslim, she was a sweetheart. We got into this conversation about God and I was just trying to simply show the difference between her God and our God. And I said and I said if somebody had was a terrorist who came on this plane and was going to drag her off the plane. And of course when I say this word I’m whispering now you know on the airplane but but they’re going to drag you off the plane. But I put my arm in front of you and I said, don’t take her, take me instead, what would you think about that? And she said, I can’t imagine anyone ever doing that for me. And I said that is what God has done for you. Yeah, well not Allah jesus, not Mohammed God came down in the person of jesus and he said to the father, Take me instead, that’s the trade. And that trade took place on an outcropping of rock that the locals called Golgotha, the place of the skull. But we know it as calvary, the place of the cross. And that is where Jesus took the trade. We got his righteousness and he got our sin. Every sin that every every person had ever committed. The weight of that was poured out upon jesus and the wrath of God in those three hours when when darkness shrouded the cross so that at the end jesus could say it is finished. In other words, it’s accomplished. I paid for it all. We are now in a position two release ourselves of all of that guilt, the kind of guilt that I was concerned about as a, as a non christian and then I realized there was grace for me as a christian, we released that to jesus and we received the goodness that he has earned in his own life. That’s the trade, he gets our badness, we get his goodness, it’s called justification, it’s called substitution eri atonement, but I like the word gospel, good news, Greg, this is so good and um I mean what a basic good concept to cover and I’m just you know, I’m bubbling here with things to talk about. We’re gonna wind down here unfortunately with the time. Okay, so we’ve hit God, man, jesus crucifixion, the cross, the need for that. Now we’re going to the resurrection. Yeah. Now what Jesus did on the cross is available to us all we have to do is take it as a gift, put our trust in him and that’s what the story calls faith. Not a leap of faith, but a step of trust and I have soft apologetics all through the book to tell why we should believe these things are actually true, but this takes us to the last step. The final step of the story. God man, jesus Cross resurrection, final resurrection at the end of time, one of two things is going to take place, everybody is going to be raised from the dead, that’s for sure. But one of two things is going to happen. Either perfect justice or Perfect mercy. Perfect justice is punishment for everything we’ve ever done wrong, No atonement, no atonement, and God misses nothing. By the way he’s making a list and he’s checking it twice. But Perfect Mercy is forgiveness for everything we’ve ever done wrong and God mrs nothing. That’s the good news, and those who deny God and they deny his gift and they decide I’m gonna stand before God on my own, this is not going to be a pretty picture and they are going to be banished from God’s presence forever in a place of unspeakable terror and pain. But those who received the gift who accept the forgiveness are made a member of God’s family forever and then they are able to spend the rest of eternity with God in the kind of world that our hearts have always yearned for. I just want to convey for that person that is struggling right at that point, that hasn’t really understood this, that you know that the issue of human pride and flesh and you know, I would never ask God to do that for me if God is real, I mean, I should take care of that stuff myself, right? That and that is a form of pride and I think the hearing you express it the way you did, which is correct and true and right. Some people are going wait a minute, I don’t know why that would be necessary. Um why why would God have to die for me? I mean pull that together a little tighter alright, everybody feels like guilt. Yes, of course. Well everybody knows, I mentioned earlier that there’s something wrong with the world, but there’s something else that everybody knows that the problem with the world is them, that everybody realized. There’s something inside that’s broken, okay. And that thing that’s broken is badness and they hold it from other people, but they can’t get away from the guilt themselves. So we have this need and God loves us enough to satisfy what’s required so that he can forgive us of that guilt paul said he was the greatest of sinners, but God forgave him, which means he can forgive anybody else. And gentlemen, if there’s anyone thinking right now, God can’t rescue me, I promise you what jesus did on the cross on your behalf is fully adequate to forgive even the sins that you have. If you turned to him and asked him to do so, that’s the good news and that will save you so that at the end you will know that you will be with him forever. Just the way he intended in a wonderful friendship with him. Yeah. You know, Greg, this has been probably one of the best half hours in terms of spiritual truth that we’ve done and focus and we always talk here and dr Dobson even would say this so often that you know, we can help a family uh improve their marriage, improve their parenting. But if we haven’t pointed people to the author of the family, we kind of failed. And I certainly have continued that tradition of recognizing that truth that salvation and embracing the gift, meaning jesus, that he is the son of God. That’s what Greg means by that, that you say yes, yes, and you confess with your lips and believe in your heart that jesus is the son of God is God. Um that’s the distinction. And this is why, by the way, jesus is the only way of salvation is the only one who solved the problem. And so when you see the big picture, the story of reality, you realize how God solves the problem of evil in a singular solution through the person of jesus, which is why he is the only way. Yeah, So listen, if we haven’t captured your imagination here, then you know, we’re gonna keep praying for you and ask the Lord to keep opening up your eyes. But if you know somebody or if it’s you that really needs to read this great book, the story of reality, which again, Greg, I love the title. It just kind of lays it out there, um forget the news, this is the real news, the good news, and we want to get it into your hands. If you can support focus on the family monthly would be great. But if you can make a one time gift, that’s great too. And we’ll send you a copy of Greg’s book, the story of reality as our way of saying thank you and all those proceeds go right back into all this effort introducing people to christ, helping a marriage survive and to thrive and helping parents do the job they need to do. In addition to saving pre born babies, I mean, we’re almost near a half a million babies saved through that program, We are about life because God has created each one of us unique and in his image as you said Greg, So we’re going at it every day on every cylinder that we can and Greg, you really have set the foundation for what we do. So thank you. It’s a pleasure to be with you guys again. Thank you. We’ll go ahead and follow up on what Jim was offering, contact us to get a copy of this book. To learn more about, jesus christ and eternal life. We’re here our number is 800 letter a in the word family and online we have all sorts of great resources. The starting link is right there on your screen on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for focus on the family. I’m john fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in christ