There is Always Hope + Giveaway!

hope

 

There is always hope.

 

Living in this world, we see so many people every day. Actors, musicians, models, friends, family, enemies, you name it. And towards all of them, we all tend to have the same preconceived notions.

 

They have their life together, and I don’t.

 

They are happy and fulfilled, and I’m not.

 

They have great relationships with others, and I don’t.

 

They don’t have problems like I do, and they don’t know how I feel.

 

Everyone loves them, but nobody cares about me.

 

Have you ever thought that way? It’s easy to look at Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, and say, “Wow. That person has no idea what my life’s like.” Well, you know what? It’s not true.

 

Everyone faces difficulty. We live in a broken world. We’re are all real people with real problems.

 

And as tough as it is to accept, becoming a Christian doesn’t mean that our problems go away. No matter who we may be, accepting Jesus doesn’t mean we’re happy all the time or life is easy. But what it does mean is that we don’t have to face difficulty alone.

 

There is always hope for us. And the Cross is proof of this.

 

Let me explain.

 

Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). This was all because of His grace, and none of us deserved it. I love the first part of 1 Corinthians 15:10.

 

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”

 

Because of His grace (and His grace alone), we have been brought to a point of renewal. We no longer are condemned by our sins, but we are counted righteous in His sight.

And when we consider how much He loves us – enough to send His Only Son to die for us – how much more will He help us in our daily lives?

 

When we consider the power He possesses – enough to raise His Son from the dead – how much more will He then take on our small problems as His own?

 

Philippians 4:13

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

 

When we have difficulties, and we make it, it is God’s power working in us. His strength. His grace.

 

1 Peter 5:7

“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”

 

We do not have to carry our burdens, for God will carry them. He cares for us more than we realize, and all we have to do is cry out to Him.

 

We are never without hope. We can never brush off Jesus’ sacrifice for us, or God’s love. His peace, and joy, and renewal are free for the asking. Hope has come to us, and we must never forget that. God wants us to accept the hope that He gives us, of the saving of our souls and of the taking of our burdens.

 

Now as a reminder of these things, I’m giving away some downloadable wallpapers. I’ve been trying my hand at graphic-making. The first one is a desktop wallpaper, and the second one is a phone wallpaper. Enjoy! Feel free to share on social media with your friends.

To download the desktop wallpaper, click here and you’ll be taken to Google Drive. Click on the download icon at the top of the page, and the image will be saved to your computer.

There is Always

NEVER LOSE HOPE

*aj

“Is That a Sin?” How to Live in Freedom

 

Is That a Sin

Being a Christian, I’ve stumbled across oh-so-many blog posts, websites, questions, etc. asking, “Is such-and-such a sin?” or “Is it okay for Christians to __?” and “Should I do xyz?”

 

And honestly, I’ve wondered quite a few of these questions myself.

 

But I’m not here to tell you what’s right and wrong. I want to address what we’re really asking.

 

When we ask, “Is consuming secular media wrong for a Christian?” we are focusing on the bondage of legalism, not freedom.

 

When we try to contemplate, “Is depression a sin?” we focus on our own struggles as opposed to what’s already been done for us.

 

When we tell people, “You’re a Christian, you shouldn’t get tattoos,” we bind people to a law that they do not have to follow anymore.

 

And that’s not right.

 

I’ve heard arguments for all sides of controversial topics. And I’ve come to this conclusion:

 

We have freedom in Christ.

 

There is no commandment in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt not listen to pop music.” There is no verse that says, “You are unforgivable if you are ever depressed.” There is no passage that warns us, “Marking up your body with permanent ink-art will make you forfeit your salvation.”

 

Because you know what? We’re free from the bondage of the law. We’re free from condemnation. We have a new nature inside of us. Asking questions about the specifics of what sin is or is not really do not profit us.

 

Our sins have been totally, 100% forgiven. There is no way that we can will ourselves out of sinning enough to attain perfection. Heck no. Salvation is forgiveness by believing, and then an internal transformation – our desires change, our attitudes change, and our actions will change.

 

No longer will we want to know how much we can get away with (though I know that does creep up on us at times), but we will ask the question, “how much can we live for God?” And I don’t mean out of compulsion, I mean out of joy.

 

We shouldn’t spend hours puzzling over what is a sin and what’s okay to do. If it’s not a sin, cool. But if it is, well, it’s forgiven. That might seem like a terrible way to put it, but read these verses.

 

Galatians 5:1 says this:

 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

 

So the point isn’t for us to say, “Hey! We’re free! We can do whatever we want!” but to live according to our new nature.

 

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

 

Our sin nature doesn’t have to control us anymore. This is what it’s saying. We were slaves to sin, but now we are free from falling into those traps of condemnation. Now we can live life fully – not go back to that slavery of sinful patterns that we were rescued from, but living lives pleasing to God.

 

Galatians 5:13 says later,

 

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

 

We have been called to freedom. This means that God does not punish us for our deeds that we do now. We’re all going to struggle with something here on earth, because we’re undeniably human. But we can’t let our struggles take advantage of us, because God is greater than those struggles.

 

Going back to the string of questions we all ask, every Christian wants to know what’s okay to do and what’s not okay. I totally understand that, because the Bible’s not totally clear on those gray areas. But that’s why they are called gray areas.

 

We can’t focus on the what’s-a-sin-am-I-doing-this-wrong aspect of the Christian life. Like my Dad says, “If you’re looking for dirt in the ground, just dig deep and you will definitely find it.” If you’re trying to convict yourself of sin and you look hard enough, you will find it. And dirt ain’t pretty.

 

So you know what we do? We don’t abide by a list of “Christian Rules” in order to try to be perfect. Jesus is our holiness. And so we pursue the understanding of His incredible grace, and out of that flows grateful love and a life pleasing to God.

 

I’m not saying we can’t use common sense to try to figure out what we should and should not do for our own benefit. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look to the Bible for wisdom. But what I am saying is that we shouldn’t stress so much over trying not to sin, because we are free in Christ. And if we seek God in our freedom, wanting to live out His will for us, He will reveal it to us and empower us to carry it out.

 

*aj

How Simple is The Gospel?

How Simple is The Gospel?.jpg

 

The older I get, the more I realize how complicated the world is. In areas of worldviews, politics, education, and religion, there is such a diverse spectrum.

 

A few nights ago, while watching the news, I was informed of a religion that holds the view that spaghetti created the universe and therefore spaghetti is the center. A lady’s driver’s license picture was taken with a strainer on her head, because apparently, if she was prohibited from doing so, it would be considered discrimination. All due respect to these people, but that’s slightly crazy.

 

Anyway, that’s not really my point here. My point is that the world is complicated. Things are diverse. And we tend to listen to the craziness at times.

 

What I’m trying to do here is to direct our attention to all the different sects of Christianity, and those that complicate the Gospel.

 

A lot of people claim that all “true Christians” look alike – we all can perform miracles, be excellent leaders, be really good people, and so on. Therefore, it is concluded that if you can’t or don’t do any of these things, you’re not really a Christian.

 

While I do believe that some can do these things and show themselves to be good people, salvation can’t come from these things. Rather, these things are examples of what can pour out of a Christian’s life.

 

This is where simplicity comes in.

 

The Gospel is beautiful because it isn’t dependent on us. Because we are sinful, we do not deserve heaven or any kind of forgiveness. Nevertheless, salvation is a free gift to all who would accept it.

 

I heard a story a few weeks ago that really made me think. Oftentimes, skeptics ask the question, “If God truly is good, why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?” But the speaker came back with the question, “If we truly are sinful, why does God allow good things to happen to [us] bad people?”

 

Implied in this story is what we all know deep inside – we aren’t perfect. As much as we can strive to be good people, we can never measure up to God’s standard of perfection. (Romans 3:23.) God knows this, and that is why He made the Gospel so simple.

 

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

 

Eternal life is life to the full now and life for eternity in heaven. But how do we get it? Believing in Jesus.

 

John 14:6

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

 

By believing, we accept that our goodness can never measure up to God’s standard, but that Jesus’ can and did. That He is the only way to Heaven, the only atonement for our sins, and by accepting Him and Him alone will we find eternal life.

 

Romans 10:9-10

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

 

Salvation is so easy. We believe and we confess to that belief. Even though we do not deserve it whatsoever, it is freely given to us.

 

Acts 4:12

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

 

I know that people claim that Christianity is intolerant because we say that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. I’m not intolerant of others at all. In fact, I respect all people because they were all made and are loved by God. But I can not go against what I believe to say that there is more than one way to be saved, for that would be contradicting what I believe. And if you’re tolerant of what I believe, why are you intolerant to my so-called intolerance? Wouldn’t that be discriminating against me?

 

I know, it sounds ridiculous if I argue it that way. Simply put, though, there is no other way to Heaven but by Jesus. If you want to argue…don’t argue with me, but the One who wants to save your soul.

 

Or maybe…just accept it.

 

I’m not trying to step on toes here. I know that Christianity can seem complicated, just like so much of the world is. What I’m here to say is that it’s not that complicated. God loves everyone and wants to save every one of us; if He didn’t, why would Jesus have come?

 

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31, paraphrased).

 

*aj

The Problem With The “Christian” Label

The Problem With The Christian Label

We people of earth tend to put a label on things to categorize it. “Clothing.” “Food.” “Books.” “Electronics.”

What we all know (or at least should) is that not everything in the same category serves the same purpose.

For example, when you go clothes shopping in preparation for the cold winter, you’re (hopefully) not going to buy crop tops and short shorts. When you go food shopping for a nice dinner party that you’re hosting, you’re not going to buy circus peanuts for an appetizer. When you want to buy a bookworm a book for their birthday, you’re not going to buy them a textbook on quantum mechanics 401 (unless that’s exactly what they want, of course). When someone wants ‘a portable electronic device,’ you probably will not buy them a bulky desktop computer.

We have discernment when it comes to these things, and obviously use common sense. Think hard about what you want to get, and then get it. Get the right thing, not some imitation or replacement. Get the real thing.

Here’s where the mistake comes in.

We tell ourselves that anything with the label “Christian” on it must be good.

And then we are led so far astray from truth, that we confuse ourselves greatly.

Going back to the previous analogy, if you want clothes for winter, make sure you know what you need and exactly what you want to get, and then get it.

As Christians, this happens all too often.

Friend: “The podcast from so-and-so’s church is so great! Go listen to it!”

Us: “Seriously? That sounds nice. What church is it?”

Friend: “It’s really popular here in [thisbigcity] and they definitely believe in Jesus and stuff. All I know is that it’s Christian, which is all that matters.”

Us: “Popular? And Christian? Cool. Where can I find the podcast?”

This is a huge mistake. When we hear the word Christian, our guards go down and we have a tendency to just accept it because if it’s Christian, well then obviously it must be true.

But that’s not how we treat food! Just because it says “food,” doesn’t mean we should eat it. What about cat food or plant food? Of course you would not eat that. I would not eat that. “Food” is taken way out of context, and of course we have to be discerning when it comes to what kinds of food to eat and not to eat.

Even when it comes to filet mignon versus circus peanuts. They’re both food, yes. Are they both equal? NO WAY.

What we do is we hear the “Christian” label slapped on anything that mentions Jesus, and we accept it as if it’s from the mouth of God Himself, as if anything mentioning God gets His approval.

Let’s face it.

We go to conferences with our youth groups, soaking up every word because of course He’s preaching the Bible (all the while listening because He’s the top youth speaker in the country, of course, and a good Christian!).

We listen to sermons, expecting that everything the preacher says is going to line up with the Bible 100%.

We turn on K-LOVE or Air1 (or Christian music on Pandora, or whatever), and expect every song to be biblically based, because we assume that everybody who proclaims the name of Jesus must have it all figured out.

We go into Christian bookstores and let ourselves grab whatever book we so desire, because if the Christian store carries it, then it must be totally right and absolutely trustworthy.

That’s like us walking into Macy’s and buying clothes because they’re in the clothes department.

We go in with good intentions, but come out a confused and worse-off mess.

Christianity is about being saved by Jesus, absolutely. But as a Christian, you’re not constantly in the process of being saved, because Jesus has already saved you­. After you’ve accepted Jesus, it’s time to grow.

You need the right kind of food to grow, not just any food. Candy does not have nutritional value, honestly, and if you expect to grow because you’re liking what you eat, well, good luck with that.

As naïve people, we tend to flock to shiny and nice things. Think of those “name-it-and-claim-it” preachers, the ones that say that “if you just have enough faith, you’ll be a millionaire in no time flat!”

Excuse me, but where exactly in the Bible is that taught? And if this world is my temporary home, how will being rich and living the dream let me “set my mind on things above” (Colossians 3:2)?

I’m saying these things because false doctrine is really sneaky.

Doctrinal misleadings are subtle, most times. Some can come in the form of denominations that are heretical and yet claim to follow the Bible. Some are evangelists that say you have to earn your salvation, when it’s already been established that salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). Yet others are those who command that you must confess every single sin to God, even after you’re a Christian and God has already forgiven your sins through Jesus. Sin isn’t just forgiven, it’s forgotten and cast away (Micah 7:19, Hebrews 10:17). Those who force us via preaching, books, music, etc. to live seeing ourselves as sinners in the constant state of repentance instead of children of God that are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:6) mislead us.

These are incredibly important distinctions to make.

“Christian” doesn’t mean guaranteed to be biblical. Just like “food” is not guaranteed to be healthy.

There are even some blogs I follow that I don’t completely agree with doctrinally. This doesn’t mean that I throw out everything they say, but that I filter through it. So many people have good points, which shouldn’t be discredited. What we should do, however, is view everything with discernment.

The more we read the Bible, the more we’ll be able to see things clearly.

We can’t afford to listen to everything under the sun that claims to be Christian, because that’s not using wisdom. We can, however, get to know the Bible better – in context and knowledge of proper audience, too. In turn, we will learn to discern the truth from the lies, and grow up to be healthy, wise believers.

*aj

I’m Just Contemplating The World, Among Other Things.

I’m Just Contemplating The World, Among Other Things.

I don’t know what you’d call me. A thinker, perhaps. I think about things on a really big scale sometimes and people look at me like I’m weird when I make analytical and philosophical comments.

Nothing new there.

Anyway…I’m that weird friend that likes to talk about why things are the way they are. The meaning of life, the measure of success…all that jazz.

But I rarely stop there.

When I think, my life gets put into perspective.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about religion.

Usually, “religious” people have a normal life. School. Work. Play. Family. And on top of that, church and spiritual things once a week or so.

But that bothers me. If our lives are so-called “religious,” why isn’t it integrated into our lives?

That’s a question that has been weighing on me lately, as you probably read in my post about Church Camp Christians.

Honestly, though, my thoughts have been going even deeper than that.

These philosophical contemplations hit me at random times.

I few weeks ago, I was sitting around in my own little head (like I do most days), and thinking.

Why is Jesus the only way?

 

Why do I really live the way I do?

 

Why does God deserve my worship?

 

Could I just pick some other religion if I wanted to?

 

Why?

 

And I mean, I do know the answers to those questions.

I realize that I don’t have too much of a choice. This is God’s universe. He created it. He has existed forever and ever.

Now, when I say that I don’t have much of a choice, please don’t take it the wrong way.

It’s just like this.

I either choose to love God and be saved by Him, or I don’t.

I choose His way, or I choose mine.

At first, this might seem unfair. Who put God in charge?

Well, that’s the thing. This is HIS universe. He didn’t have to create us, but He did anyway. He knew we’d rebel against Him, but He created us and loved us anyway. He knew that we would rebel and therefore break our relationship with Him, but He still sent Jesus for us. He still forgives our sin because of His grace. And He deserves our worship because He is God. It’s not really explainable.

God has always existed, and always will exist. Earth is just a smudge in all of eternity.

So, why is Jesus the only way? Well, if there was another way to God, one that was easier, then why would Jesus have come in the first place?

Simple. He wouldn’t’ve. There’s no point in an unnecessary sacrifice.

When I look at the world, my thoughts are provoked.

When I see people walking in the streets. When I see people in stores. When I see people writing books or making movies.

What are they living for?

 

Do they realize that we are made for more than just going through boring old life?

 

Do they realize that God is at the center of the universe? That He is in control? That He wants to have a personal relationship with them, no matter how far gone they are?

 

Do they realize that they’ll never be satisfied until they get to know God for who He is?

 

Just a simple shift in perspective makes me realize that it’s not about me.

It’s not about how good I am, but about how good God is. He loved me, and gave Himself for me.

I don’t live out of guilt, obligation, or drudgery.

I live because I don’t deserve grace. I don’t deserve love. I don’t deserve hope.

And yet, I have been given it. It’s beautiful, really. Inspiring.

If you consider Christianity a religion, then I want my religion to bleed into my everyday life.

No, actually, I want it to take over.

I want my relationship with Jesus to be the thing that I live for. The thing that makes my heart beat. The thing that inspires me.

And you know what?

It sure does.

*aj

That Scary Thing Called Waiting

Misty Mountain Top

Being a Christian can be scary.

Scratch that. Being a Christian is quite scary.

But it’s exhilarating. And so, so, worth it.

Life…it’s an adventure. Need I say more?

And sometimes it’s not very clear what we should do. And that feels scary, doesn’t it?

To me, it sometimes does. Because, to put it plainly, I’m not the one in control. Most times, when things seem bleak, it’s totally not in my power to change any of it.

So before you say that life is hopeless and all that, wait. Because as uncomfortable any and every aspect of life may seem, and we are totally not in control, we know who is.

We Christians have something that the rest of the world does not. What’s that, you ask?

Peace. Assurance. Hope.

And the scary part?

God calls us to wait on Him.

The excuse that “patience is a virtue that I don’t have” doesn’t go far with God.

Isaiah 40:28-31

“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Psalm 27:14

“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

Lamentations 3:25-26

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Psalm 37:34

“Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off.”

Does anyone else feel like it’s a bit scary to wait on God? I’m pretty sure we all do. But here’s the interesting thing.

Waiting is associated with strength, and goodness, and salvation, and exaltation.

Whoa. That is quite mind-blowing to me.

Because as tough as it is to be a Christian, and as hard it is at times to wait, our waiting is not in vain.

Like those verses say, God is faithful! Our strength shall be renewed; we will be saved; we will be exalted.

It might feel at times like God doesn’t know what He’s doing.

But that’s never the case.

A favorite quote of mine says this:

I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know the One who holds my future.

So, I’m realizing this more and more: waiting is the good part. It’s only scary if we let ourselves be afraid. God has it all under control. It’s His universe, after all. His will, His plans, and we are His people.

Should we let ourselves be afraid, though?

Isaiah 41:10

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Suddenly, this whole Christianity thing isn’t looking as hopeless, dark, and scary as before…

*aj

What is The World’s Biggest Problem?

  

Good morning, everyone, and Happy Saturday! I hope you’ve had a good week and are enjoying the beautiful day.

This week, I had to write an essay and I thought it turned out pretty well. I had to write it in response to the question, “What is the world’s biggest problem and how would you work to solve it?” Enjoy!

What is the world’s biggest problem and how would you work to solve it?

There are many problems in the world. It is no surprise to Christians, however; we live in a fallen world. The world is full of sin, death, and seeming hopelessness. But the biggest problem in the world is not only sin. Because of sin we have this problem: the problem of incorrect biblical teaching.

What is incorrect biblical teaching? There are many ways to expand upon this question because it is such a huge issue in this world, and not always recognized. If the Bible is not taught correctly, it will not encourage thriving, growing, and real change in the life of a believer. First of all, many people believe that a Christian’s life will be easy, pain-free, or full of health, wealth, and prosperity. This is the furthest from the truth! It is not easy to live a life that will be full of persecution. It is not enjoyable to be tortured for one’s faith. However, just because a life is difficult, does not mean that it is not worth it. Because God wanted to have a personal relationship with us, His children, He promised never to leave us nor forsake us. And the eternal glory that is waiting for us — heaven for believers — is completely worth everything that we will have to endure in this world.

Another form of incorrect biblical teaching is the concept that we (as Christians) have the obligation to work hard to add to our salvation, or we will lose it. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Salvation is a gift! Because of our faith alone, we are saved. Our “good works” that we do in this life are simply an outpouring of the joy that we have, coming from the amazing free gift of salvation from God. God does not force us to work for Him, but we should desire to give Him glory because of the thankfulness that comes from our freedom from sin and death!

To solve this problem of incorrect biblical teaching in this world, I would make sure that every spiritual teacher was taught correctly. Theology cannot come solely from a book written by a respected person in authority. It must come directly from the Bible, from someone who understands the Word of God and can reflect the Inspired Truth in how they teach. Without Christians living in light of Truth, how can those who are unsaved ever come to know the Truth?

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 1

  

Happy
Saturday everyone, and happy early Easter again! I’m just so excited about Easter.
Yay! So, in honor of my favorite holiday, I’ve decided to do a mini-series for
the first time on 1 Corinthians 15 (a chapter about the Resurrection) leading
up to Easter (that’s 4 posts). I hope you enjoy!

 

For
today, I’m going to be focusing on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Here it is so we can
read it. 

 

Now
I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

 

For
I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that
 Christ died for our sins in
accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the
third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,
then to the twelve. 

Then he appeared to more than five
hundred brothers at one time
,
most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared
to James, then to all the apostles.

 

 Last
of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of
the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
 But by the grace of God I am
what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. 

On
the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the
grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and
so you believed.

 

In the first section, we
read about this AMAZING gospel that we have been saved by and what it means for
us. First of all, we have received it, we stand in it, and we have been saved
by it if we truly believed. Now, I find that exciting.

 

 

Let’s spend some time on the second section now.

 

1)      Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. I just find that amazing, so let me explain.Jesus wasn’t just some guy. He was blameless and holy and perfect, the only person who could have paid for the sin of the world. And this wasn’t just a random occurrence; it happened in accordance with the scriptures, planned from eternity backwards (the beginning of infinity) and foretold thousands of years beforehand in the Holy Scriptures. IS THAT NOT AMAZING?!

2)     
He was buried, and he
was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Alright,
let’s talk about the “he was buried” part. Joseph of Arimathea wouldn’t give up
his tomb to a non-dead person. Read my…uh, 
words. Jesus. Was. Dead. He was
beaten 39 lashes, lost just about all of his blood, his heart burst, his side
was pierced…you get the horrifying picture. Jesus
did not just pass out; he died, and was rightly buried. But then, something
happened. Something only God could do. He raised Jesus
from the dead. And not just that, but
in
accordance with the scriptures
. This was yet another miracle
that was planned and foretold from eternity backwards. IS THAT NOT MIND-BLOWING?!?

3)     
He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve, then to more than 500
people, then to James, and all the
apostles.
The twelve disciples couldn’t have stolen the body
and pretended he was alive. Why would they have done that? That would have
hindered Jesus’ message from going
out. And 500 people couldn’t have hallucinated that Jesus
returned all at the same time. Just saying. HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD, PEOPLE! AND THAT IS EXCITING!

 

I saw a play a few years ago of Godspell, a play aboutJesus’ life. Don’t get me wrong, the play was great. But there was one thing that got on my nerves. At the end of the play,Jesus died. The end. He didn’t rise from the dead. And ifJesus didn’t rise from the dead, our salvation is null and void, because the point of his rising from the dead was to show His conquering of death. The only person in the universe who could have conquered death would beJesus. If our Lord could not conquer death by His resurrection, nobody could have. Without Easter, we would have no hope. Without the resurrection, we are still lost.

 

And now to the last section. I just want to touch on a piece here. I love verse 15:10a, which says, But
by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”
Essentially,
Paul is saying this: “Look here. I’ve
gotten to preach to you because of God’s amazing grace that He has poured out
on me through Jesus. He has given me
the chance to tell you about salvation in Christ
because of who He is, not who I am. And I am taking advantage of every
opportunity He gives me to share this grace with you, because of this amazing
thing He has done for me.” Now, is that not so WONDERFUL?!

 

So here is something to think about: if there’s more than one way to be saved, why did Jesus– the son of God – have to die and rise from the dead?

 

*aj