"If the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher, the life and death of Jesus Christ are those of a God."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher
"I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history."
H. G. Wells, world historian
Why Did Jesus Have to Die?
What Did His Death Accomplish?
1) Why does forgiveness of sin by God require the shedding of blood by Jesus?
2) Has God overreacted in providing such a drastic solution?
3) Why did Jesus have to actually die to pay our debt in full?
4) How does His resurrection assure our debt has been completely forgiven?
Take an in-depth look at the most creative legal transaction that has ever occurred: the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Is there a risk too great to take?
True security is freedom from fear and doubt. Freedom from fear and doubt only exists if we are secure in our relationship with God. Being united with Him in this life and in the life to come is the ultimate security. Being separated from Him in this life and in the life to come is the ultimate exposure: a risk too great to take.
Every man is born into a state of separation. Every man can be united. God has provided the solution. To accept the solution, one must accept the fact that God is holy... and man is not.
Picture of God
Why must He punish sin?
He is morally perfect and part of being morally perfect is to react against evil. Our own morals, even though less than perfect, are offended when we see evil. To be offended is a proper reaction. We even call our reaction "righteous indignation." We are offended morally by what we have seen. What we fail to understand is this is infinitely more true of God because He is morally perfect. He is offended by our moral evil-our sin-and He reacts with a holy, righteous indignation. He cannot look the other way anymore than a just judge in a court of law can ignore the crime before his court. He must execute justice without compromise and without partiality. The guilty must be punished. The question now becomes: am I one of the guilty?
Why am I guilty?
I am guilty because I am not perfect. God did not give man the Ten Commandments to tell us to try harder to be good, but to show us we can't be good enough. He is morally perfect and only a life that is morally perfect is considered morally good in His eyes. (No one is good, except God alone (Mark 10:18)).
This is how He measures moral perfection: if I break one commandment, I am as guilty as I would be if I broke all of them (James 2:10-11). It is all or nothing. I keep all or I keep none. There is no in-between. The issue is not whether my good deeds outweigh my bad deeds. The issue is this: do I have one bad deed? If so, I am considered a transgressor (lawbreaker) and I am guilty of breaking all the commandments.
One additional truth drives home even further the helplessness of my situation. The commandments must be kept from the heart. Lust is committing adultery from the heart. Hate is committing murder from the heart (Matthew 5:21-28). Although I may restrain my outward actions (murder, adultery), my inner thoughts (hatred, lust) are not so easily controlled. An x-ray exposes a problem and I see I need a doctor. The law exposes my sin and I see I need a savior. It convinces me of my guilt before God and lays me at the feet of Christ.
Why is death the penalty for my sin?
The Bible teaches that death is separation, not termination. This is the penalty for man's sin: spiritual separation from God in this life and in the life to come. Understanding God's moral makeup sheds light on this issue of separation.
Sin must be expelled from His presence. God's moral character is so pure, anything less than moral perfection cannot survive in His presence. In fact, moral impurity is so foreign to God's makeup, if it were to come into His presence. He would react like someone swallowing poison. He would vomit it up. This level of moral purity is foreign to us; yet, it explains why the consequence for man's sin is separation. Sin cannot come into the presence of a holy God. He will spew it from His presence.
Sin must be judged by Him. Society enforces the most severe penalty for the crime it deems the most offensive. In the same way, God enforces the most severe penalty for the violation He deems the most offensive. He is morally perfect. He is the most offended by the breaking of His moral law. There is no higher law. There is no greater crime. The ultimate crime is punishable by the ultimate penalty: eternal death... eternal separation from His presence.
How did He pay my penalty for me?
He became a man…to live the life I couldn't live to pay the debt I couldn't pay.
Society is so offended by some crimes, it requires the person to pay with his life. God is so offended by our sin, He has said only the sacrifice of a sinless life will pay our debt in full. No man can live a sinless life; therefore, no man can pay his debt to God.
God became a man to live the life we couldn't live to pay the debt we couldn't pay. This man is Jesus Christ. Only the sacrifice of Jesus' life is precious enough, costly enough, valuable enough in the eyes of God to pay our debt in full (1 Peter1:18-19). This is the saving love of God: what He has required, He has provided. To pay the debt of sinful man, He gave His only Son.
What did His death and resurrection accomplish for me?
His payment paid my debt in full. During Jesus' day, when a prisoner paid his debt to society, the judge would write a word across a piece of paper that listed the prisoner's violations. The word was tetelestai, often translated, "It is finished." Another translation is, "paid in full." It signified the person's debt to society was cancelled because his penalty had been paid in full. When Jesus hung on the cross, the second to last thing He said was, "Tetelestai" paid in full. The debt He paid in full was yours and mine.
His resurrection proved His payment was acceptable to God. At one time, England had debtors' prisons for those who owed more than they could pay. If a debt became due and the debtor could not be found, the third party who guaranteed payment could be imprisoned for him. The third party could not be released until the debt was paid in full. If the debtor reappeared and saw the guarantor on the streets as a free man, he would know his own debt had been retired because the one imprisoned for his debt was now free.
Jesus is our third party guarantor. He was imprisoned for us. He died in our place. He was raised from the dead. We are free because He is free: the One imprisoned for our debt is alive from the grave.
Death Row Decision
How do I receive His pardon?
Years ago, a court of law held that a pardon issued for the prisoner is not effective until it is received by the prisoner. Jesus Christ purchased a pardon for each of us on the cross; but each of us must individually receive this gift for the pardon to be effective.
Prayer is simply expressing the faith you have found in Him. "Lord Jesus, I know You died on the cross for my sins. My sins were placed upon You and You took the judgment I deserve. I open the door of my heart and ask You to come in and be my personal Savior and Lord. Thank You that the pardon You purchased for me is now applied to the debt of my sin. Thank You for giving me eternal life. Thank You for the forgiveness of my sin."
If you prayed that prayer, you just transferred your trust. You are no longer trusting in the works of your life in hopes that your good deeds will outweigh your bad. You are now trusting in the work of Jesus Christ on your behalf: His payment for your sins. You are trusting in the promise-keeper. You will not be disappointed.
questions & answers
Q: How do we know Jesus really existed?
A: By examining the evidence. No reputable scholar really doubts Jesus' existence. Even his enemies never attempted to dismiss him as a myth. Jesus was a real person whose life and historical impact is irrefutable. In fact, according to leading historians, no one has had a greater impact on our world than Jesus. (read article)