Here's a riddle for you: what death brings life?
Answer: the death of Jesus Christ in our place.
But how could Jesus' death bring anyone life? Why did particularly Jesus have to die in our place? Why die in our place at all? Finally, how should we personally respond to his death? Our eternal destiny entirely lies in knowing the answers, so let's discover them together.
First Man, First Law, First Sin, First Penalty
God, whose personal name is "Yahweh" in the Hebrew language, created two people--Adam and Eve--who were perfect and sinless. Back then, God established that death will be the penalty for sin. (Sin is an offense we commit against God, just as a crime is an offense we commit against one another. Many crimes are actually sins, too, because God doesn't want us to treat one another badly. When we treat one another in a bad way, we are actually sinning against God.)
Yahweh gave Adam and Eve--and all humans after them--a precious gift called "free will." That means we have the absolute freedom to make moral decisions for ourselves on our own, to choose between right and wrong. If God hadn't given us free will, we would be robots, doing the will of God, not our will.
Along with free will, Yahweh established one simple rule for Adam and Eve. The rule gave them the opportunity to exercise their free will. How they use their free will and the extent of their obedience would demonstrate the extent of their loyalty and love for God. That single command was to not eat from only one tree, out of the numerous fruit trees in the Garden of Eden where they lived. If they kept it, they would live forever; if they didn't keep it, Yahweh told them that they would certainly die. God could have made any other law to give them the opportunity to express their obedience to Him. He could have commanded, "Don't jump for five days," if He wanted to. Was jumping itself evil? No, but when it became a law not to jump, then breaking that law would result in sin. Likewise, the tree itself was not evil; but when it became a law not to eat from that tree, it would result in sin if humans broke the law.
Unfortunately, Adam and Eve broke God's single law by eating from the tree, so God punished them with death just as warned. To not punish them the way He warned would make Him a liar. God promises both blessings and curses; He always keeps His word according to what He promises. Enforcing promised disciplines is how He can get His messages and orders taken seriously.
After Adam and Eve sinned, all their offspring and their descendants to this date have followed in their footsteps by sinning as well; consequently, everyone dies since death is the penalty for sin. So "sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12, WEB) (For more on the spread of sin, read the Q&A section below.)
Will sin and death poison the human race forever? Thank God, the answer is a definite "no!"
The Solution for a Sinning World
Sin is humanity's gravest problem. It's worse than our most feared diseases, because sin is the root cause of death; if humanity hadn't sinned, no cancer or heart disease would be able to take away our lives. We grow old, get sick and die only because we have sinned.
Worse yet, sin alienates us from God. Yahweh is a holy God; He cannot live among a sinful world, so sins separate us from Him. We cannot have fellowship with Him as long as we are sinning. Every person is a sinner with no exception, so all deserve God's eternal wrath and condemnation. We all are hopelessly doomed! But wait, this is where God's pure grace kicks in:
Yahweh has made provision for everyone's forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ: Jesus' death in our place to save us from sin and the penalty of sin--eternal death.
Why Did Jesus Have to Die in Our Place?
It is necessary for Jesus to die and shed blood in order for us to be forgiven, to save us and give us eternal life after our future resurrection. But why? And why particularly Jesus, and not anyone else?
How could Jesus' blood let our sins be forgiven and give us eternal life? To understand this, we need to know how God's sacrificial system works. The books of Exodus and Leviticus in the Bible extensively talk about sacrificing livestock, such as cattle and sheep, to cleanse the people of their sins so God could forgive them. Animals used in the sacrifice must be without any defects (they must be physically perfect), and priests must perform specific steps during the sacrifice, including pouring out their blood upon the altar for atonement.
Why is the pouring out of blood necessary? What is important about blood? Yahweh answered this question in the Bible: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life." (Leviticus 17:11) Blood represents the life of a human or an animal, so when the life of a perfect sacrifice is poured out, the sacrifice dies in your place and pays the penalty for your own sins. Simply put, the substitution dies so you won't need to die for your own sin. This is called substitutionary death for atonement, the forgiveness of sin.
Hence, in order to wash away the sins of a great multitude, God chose His Son to die in sinful humanity's place. No other man ever lived could be perfect enough to take our place, because no one is perfect or sinless as Jesus. This was why Jesus had to be our substitutionary sacrifice: only he was perfect enough. Ultimately, the life--Jesus' blood--was poured out as a ransom to redeem our own lives.
The sacrifice for salvation had to be perfect for another reason. In Yahweh's justice system, the restitution had to be of equal value as the original (Leviticus 24:17-20). Therefore, when Adam was a perfect human being, another perfect human being had to be sacrificed to set things right.
Even so, after an explanation of God's sacrificial system, you still may not comprehend it fully; you may find it too extreme for God to have sacrificed Jesus, and to me, it was. But as mere creations, do we have the capacity to completely understand Yahweh and His ways? Yahweh Himself best said it: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)
Salvation: How You Can Receive It
Now, we're left with the most important question: how can we have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life. Yes, Jesus died in our place, but does that automatically give us a ticket to eternal life?
While Jesus' sacrifice for us is the most important thing he has done for us, his sacrifice doesn't automatically ensure us salvation. Each person has to personally respond to it. A person is saved the moment they 1) repent of anything bad they have ever done and 2) accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord means to accept his teachings and diligently apply them to our lives. Simply believing in Jesus (a passive belief without works) does not give us salvation. If belief is all that's needed, then Satan can be saved, too!
Once a person comes to trust in Jesus alone as their Lord and Savior for their salvation, believing that he is the Son of God who came to Earth, died for our sins, was buried, resurrected on the third day, and ascended back to heaven, God will forgive that person of all their sins, impute Jesus' righteousness on them, and give them the Holy Spirit that helps them live a whole new life that's pleasing to God. Then in the future, all True Christians will be resurrected whereupon they will live forever with God and Jesus in God's Kingdom of sheer bliss, love, and security. On the other hand, those who willfully reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will also be resurrected, but they will be judged and then sentenced to eternal death, with no chance of a resurrection ever again. Without Jesus, every person is lost, helpless, hopeless, and destined to eternal death.
As you can see, each person's eternal destiny is up to that person. Each of us has one decision to make: eternal life or eternal death? This decision is the most important decision we'll ever make, as it determines our eternal destiny. We mustn't delay, for upon our passing or when Jesus returns (whichever comes first), the door of opportunity for us to decide and repent will close.
What decision will you make? Will you accept Jesus as your Savior and Master?
Jesus died for us and was resurrected unto eternal life so we can die and be resurrected unto eternal life as well. This is the precious gift he has given us. Will you accept his gift?
Will Jesus' death bring you life? That's entirely up to you.
~*~Q&A with Dr. Shirley ~*~
Question: Why is every person a sinner?
Answer: To answer this question, we need to understand how sin entered our world by reviewing the spiritual condition before and after the first man, Adam, sinned.
When the first man Adam was made, he was perfect and sinless since he was made in the image of God. His spiritual condition was "very good." (Genesis 1:31) So he was sinless before he broke God's law. But when he broke the law by eating from the forbidden tree, he sinned. This sin is called the "original sin." After he sinned, Adam no longer was spiritually perfect. His spiritual condition was smudged. The spiritual likeness he had of God got ruined, yet not destroyed. Think about a brand new car. When it was first manufactured, it was perfect. But when the driver of the car crashed it, the car got dented. It no longer was perfect, yet it was not destroyed either. Likewise, Adam's spiritual condition got "dented" when he sinned. That dented spiritual condition is a sinful spiritual condition. Now, he possessed a sinful nature, and reflected God's likeness imperfectly.
When Adam had children, he passed down his sinful spiritual condition or nature to all of his offspring. Then his offspring passed down that sinful nature down to their own offspring, and so on. So every one of Adam's descendants, from his firstborn to you and me, has inherited his sinful nature. We inherited this sinful nature from our parents in just the same way we inherited physical features (like the color of our eyes) from our parents.
This sinful nature we inherited causes us to commit sins. The sins we commit are different from one person to another. Some people are liars, while others are thieves. This sinful nature is very powerful. We sometimes are overwhelmed by it, even when we really want to do good and ignore the sin nature inside us. Daily, we struggle with our sinful nature (Romans 7:15-24).
Since everyone has inherited a sinful nature, every person on Earth, past, present, and future, is a sinner. A person does not need to commit any sin to be a "sinner." A person is a sinner because he was born a "sinner." Therefore, a newborn baby is a sinner, even though he has not committed any sin.
In conclusion, every person is a sinner for two reasons:
a) We inherited a sinful nature, making us sinners at birth
b) And our sinful nature causes us to commit sins, making us sinners who commit sins
What a terrible situation we are in! But thank God for providing us a way out of our miserable condition! Anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will be rescued from our misery. A Christian, once resurrected in the future, will be sinless, and will live forever, for the penalty of sin (which is death) will no longer have power or control over Christians. This is why the Gospel message is so important and urgent. If we don't spread it and if people reject it, people will die in their sins and will never receive eternal life. Instead, they will all perish (die) forever. So the Gospel message is a matter of life or death--eternal life or eternal death. "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
Romans 5:12 summarizes the passing down of the sinful nature to the whole human race from Adam: "Sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned." This single statement sums up everything, that 1) sin passed down to everyone from Adam, 2) that everyone dies because of sin, and 3) that everyone sins.
~*~Dr. Shirley's Corner~*~
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~*~A Biblical Wisdom Nugget~*~
"Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of Yahweh? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim." (1 Samuel 15:22, 23)
God is happy with us so long as we attend church regularly, sing psalms to praise Him, and donate to church activities...or is He? Does our church activities alone please God, or does He require something else from us? We can learn the answer to this question by seeing how God Himself feels about religious rituals without a godly lifestyle to back it up.
In ancient Israel, people regularly performed religious rituals that God had asked of them. Each day, after they fulfilled their ritual requirements, they resumed their normal lifestyles, which consisted of bribery by the judges, dishonest dealings by merchants, adultery by men and women, and even murder by kings. While committing all such sins, they felt immune from God's judgment because they had performed all the necessary rituals. Certainly, God must be pleased by their pious customs, right?
Wrong! This was how God Himself responded to their religious yet ungodly lifestyles:
"What are the multitude of your sacrifices to me? I have had enough of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed animals. I don't delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of male goats. When you come to appear before me, who has required this at your hand, to trample my courts? Bring no more vain offerings. Incense is an abomination to me; new moons, Sabbaths, and convocations: I can't bear with evil assemblies. My soul hates your New Moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to me. I am weary of bearing them. When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourself clean. Put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes. Cease to do evil. Learn to do well. Seek justice. Relieve the oppressed. Judge the fatherless. Plead for the widow." (Isaiah 1:11-17)
Yes, our religious and worship rituals are all vain to God if we do not obey His commandments or do His will. Our religious performances will not and do not grant us permission or the right to live our lives however we want in rebellion to God's will. When we go to church on Sundays and lie and cheat on our employees, friends, and family during the other six days of the week, would God nod and smile just because we have paid Him respect on Sunday? If we think our religious obedience alone make us God's good buddies, then we must think again!
Do you truly want to worship Yahweh? Then worship Him the way He wants to be worshipped. Worship Him in His way, not in our way, however clever that may be. For proper worship, heed God's words:
"I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you by the way that you should go. Oh that you had listened to my commandments! then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea." (Isaiah 48:17-18)
Worship should be the life we live, seven days of the week. Seeking justice for the wronged, caring for needy family members, and showing respect to others equally, are all forms of worship that God desires from us. When we do such will of God, we glorify Him. This is true worship.
So whether we eat, or drink, or whatever else we do, let's do all to the glory of God! (1 Corinthians 10:31) Amen.
May the grace and peace from Yahweh God and Jesus Christ be with you.!
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Dr. Shirley Cheng
Award-Winning Author with 27 Book Awards
Founder of Ultra-Ability Ministry
Proclaimer of Yahweh God's Good News of Salvation through Jesus Christ
Author/Contributor/Editor of 35 books by age 27, Bible Teacher, Poet, Motivational Speaker, Self-Empowerment Expert, Advocate
Board member of World Positive Thinkers Club
"Although I'm blind, I can see far and wide; even though I'm disabled, I can climb high mountains. Let the ropes of hope in Yahweh God haul you high!"
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