Our message begins and ends with Jesus, the risen Christ. He is the savior of the world sent by God to redeem us to himself, to restore his image in us and thus recover our human identity, to gather us into his family, the church, and to commission us to represent him as his ambassadors in this world in anticipation of his return.
In the beginning God made men and women in his image and likeness. That means many things, but in some way we resemble God and, with our capacity for language and reason, are capable for a special relationship with him. His intention then was for humans to be like him, to have a relationship with him, and to represent him as overseers of his creation.
The notorious “fall” of Adam and Eve is emblematic of what every individual experiences when we choose to ignore God’s wisdom and strive for blessing independent of him. In our self-orientation, we fall from our divine potential, the image and glory of God that he intended. As a consequence, we also experience diminished relationships first with God himself, then with each other, and finally, the rest of creation. God calls the consequence “death,” and all of us know the consequences of alienation, slavery, exile, and death.
Jesus is many things—God incarnate, the perfect man, our redeemer. He is God’s ultimate answer to the human dilemma. Jesus lived the full life of man in submission to God, the Father, to demonstrate perfect humanity. He died on the cross as our atoning sacrifice to take God’s wrath, to provide a path for reconciliation with God and each other, and to restore us to our intended purpose of glorifying God.
God’s Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, now works to regenerate humans, that is, to give them spiritual birth. He does this through leading us to recognize our sin and guilt and the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrificial death in our place for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, then to make us a new creation giving us a new nature that desires and effectively does God’s will.
Jesus said that his works were what the Father did through him; likewise, the Christian recognizes that he is uniquely able to glorify or reveal God. Through the redemptive work of Christ the image of God is restored to humanity. We are again spiritually alive, able to commune with God, and are his ambassadors in this world representing the Kingdom of God.
Certainly, a “now and not yet” aspect to salvation exists—we are restored to God’s image and live in relationship with him now, but await a coming day, the "not yet," when Jesus will return to make all things new. In this time of transition, we experience God’s nature and presence and represent him. We are maturing now from one degree of glory to the next as we anticipate then our complete transformation through a bodily resurrection when we will follow Christ to live with him in eternal bliss.
Our message at ReachItaly emphasizes the saving life of Christ, that we do not have to wait to die to experience the power of the resurrection life. Paul emphasizes that those who trust Christ and have experienced spiritual birth, have also been crucified with Christ and raised up with him. He lives in us! We are already glorified and reflect the image of God. We seek to capture this teaching of life change now that leads to cultivate communities marked by love and evangelistic ministry to bring the lost into a saving relationship with Jesus.