"We all, like sheep, have gone astray. Each has turned to his own way." (Isaiah 53:6)
You and I were created for God's glory. He didn't have to make us, but he chose to do so because he wanted children with which to share the riches of his goodness. He wanted us to love him and be one with him as a wife is one with her husband.
YHVH (Yahweh), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is holy. This means that he is perfect, pure, righteous, and different than other beings. When YHVH created man, he created him "in his image" (Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were supposed to be just like God in their character, creativity, and longevity (i.e., eternal).
In one of the biggest tragedies of all time, Adam and Eve corrupted the image of God by sinning. They rebelled and tried to become their own gods. They chose independence from God, and God allowed them to have their way. He essentially said, "Go, make your own kingdom. I want nothing to do with your selfish deeds."
It was the world's first divorce. At that moment, a gap opened up between man and God, and it is impossible for man to cross over it. We're on our own so long as we wish to live selfishly and refuse to acknowledge YHVH's sovereignty.
Since then, the world has been an absolute mess. Everyone born of Adam has inherited a spirit that is deadened towards God, and therefore we decide for ourselves what is good and bad. We have a conscience--a gift from God--that tells us otherwise, but it is far too easily silenced (and eventually exiled) as we go about doing things the way our flesh (base nature) desires. The result of operating by the flesh is discord and pain, increasing to destruction--though at first it can feel pleasurable. The apostle Paul said it this way:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Be honest with yourself for a moment. Have you broken God's laws either internally or externally? Have you lusted in your heart? Been filled with hatred? Engaged is drunken revelry? Gossiped or slandered? Stolen anything (even electronic versions of copyrighted material)?
Or perhaps you've done worse things, like committing adultery, or causing serious injury (not out of self-defense). I have, and it caused me and those close to me untold grief.
The truth is, we've all sinned countless times. We tend to justify things in our heads and pretend that we're really not so bad, but we're fooling ourselves. Comparing ourselves to other sinful people doesn't mean squat; we have to compare ourselves to the perfect and holy standard of God. Are we living as he intended? No. Rather, we've earned a death sentence by our actions. The apostle Paul put it this way: "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).
Death is even worse than you might think. It is a three-fold process.
Many of the authors of the scriptures spoke about a day to resolve all accounts at the end of the age. On that day, everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected from the grave and brought before the throne of YHVH God to be held responsible for breaking God's laws. The Book of Revelation describes the scene this way:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (20:11-12)
The books that are opened as the dead stand before the throne contain the deeds of all mankind. Much of what is recorded in those books will be absolutely horrifying to the doers when they hear it read in the light of a holy and almighty God. Sadly, they will have no way to undo the evil that has been done, and they will have to pay the penalty.
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (vv. 14-15)
There is only one way of escape from the Lake of Fire: to have your name recorded in the Book of Life. Those who are listed in that book have had their sins taken away and placed onto someone else's head. The wrath of God was poured out on a substitute, leaving the sinners legally guiltless.
How does one get into the Book of Life, you may wisely ask. It's simple: Repent from your sins and trust in the man that God offered to be executed in your stead (i.e., your replacement, or substitute).
NO ONE CAN BE RECONCILED TO GOD WITHOUT REPENTANCE. THAT MEANS TURNING AWAY FROM YOUR OWN WAYS AND AGREEING WITH GOD's ways.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever trusts in him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
You don't have to be cast into hell. God doesn't want that to happen to you! The apostle Peter assured us of that, saying,
The Lord... is not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
In fact, God loves you and me so much that he chose to sacrifice his only child in order to save us from our sins.
Justice must be fulfilled sooner or later, or else God would be unrighteous for allowing sin to go unaddressed. At the same time, Love wants to extend mercy and see an evildoer restored to righteousness. Both Justice and Love were satisfied at the cross of Y'shua ha-Mashiach (Jesus the Christ).
Y'shua of Nazareth was an Israelite of the tribe of Judah who was born to a Jewish girl named Mary. He is the only man since Adam who did not have an earthly father. Instead, the Ruach ha-Kodesh (Holy Spirit) of God fashioned Y'shua in Mary's womb. Thus he became the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). Unlike the rest of us, Y'shua did not have a sinful nature passed down to him from Adam. Because he was alive to God, Y'shua lived a perfect life and never broke even a single one of God's commandments (1 John 3:5).
Not only was Y'shua sinless, but he was in very nature God. He claimed to be "I AM," which was the designation for himself that YHVH gave to Moses. When Y'shua's disciples asked him to reveal God the Father to them, Y'shua responded, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" (John 14:9). He proved his identity by performing many miraculous works and wonders during his earthly ministry, and by faithfully preaching the coming kingdom of God.
Y'shua and his followers proclaimed everywhere they went that God's kingdom was on its way, and that it would replace all the kingdoms of man (which are actually presided over by fallen angels). But before God's kingdom could come in its fullness, God had to make a way for sinful people to be reconciled to him and enter into the kingdom. To accomplish that, Y'shua allowed himself to be delivered up to the Romans and to a tortuous death by crucifixion. He did not have to die, for he was sinless (and God had often miraculously saved him from Jewish mobs who tried to stone him). Rather, Y'shua chose to die in our place. The sins of the first Adam and all his progeny were laid upon the second Adam.
Y'shua was the Passover lamb who became our scapegoat, taking upon himself the wrath of a just and holy God. He made atonement for us so that we could return to our heavenly father.
"[David] foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses." (Acts 2:31-32)
Amazingly, Y'shua did not stay dead. Because of his righteousness, it was not possible for the grave to hold him (Acts 2:25-28). God raised him up to eternal life, whereupon he appeared to hundreds of his disciples over the course of many days. Then he ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, and poured out the Holy Spirit upon those who had repented and trusted in him as the Messiah.
On that day (Shavuot, or Pentecost), when the Holy Spirit descended as tongues of fire on Y'shua's disciples in Jerusalem, the apostle Peter stood up to address the crowds who had witnessed the miracle. He informed them that they had crucified their own Messiah, but God had raised him up and made him king.
The listeners were cut to the heart and asked, "What shall we do?" Peter said to them,
Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself. (Acts 2:38-39)
This offer of deliverance is a free gift from God. It is available to every man and woman on the face of the earth, but God will never violate your free will by forcing you to accept the gift of salvation. You have to take it willingly, by faith, by renouncing your sinful lifestyle, immersing in water to wash away the old self, and placing yourself under the authority of the Messiah.
Salvation from sins is not something we can earn for ourselves. If we could somehow do it by our own wisdom or power, God wouldn't have had to send his only son to the execution stake. There is but one Way, and it is by the blood of Y'shua.
The story is not quite finished. Y'shua has gone to the Father's side to wait while the good news of the kingdom goes out to all the world, but soon it will be time to start fresh.
Front to back, the Bible is about a wedding. No, really. It's about the marriage of the Messiah to his bride, the assembled believers of all eras. The theme of marriage is found everywhere in the scriptures, and the last book in the canon describes the Messiah's wedding as basically the best party ever. Based on the teachings of Y'shua, Paul, and some of the earlier prophets, we learn that the wedding will take place just before the end of the age, at the "last trumpet." The archangel Gabriel will give a mighty shout, the heavenly shofar will blow, and Y'shua will descend to gather up his people and take them to the ceremony. This is popularly called the Rapture, but it's more properly known as the resurrection of the saints.
Soon after the marriage--just when wickedness throughout earth has reached a fevered pitch--God will give his son the signal to return in the same way that he left, but this time as a roaring lion. He will destroy the wicked from the face of the earth and sit down in Jerusalem to reign as king over all the earth. The prophet Daniel saw it ahead-of-time and wrote:
And behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:14)
"And the angel said to me, 'Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'" (Revelation 19:9)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)
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8 Keys to Personal Moral Excellence While LIving in Spiritual Egypt
"Y'shua told him, 'Whoever has already bathed needs only to wash his feet, and he will be completely clean'" (John 13:10).
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