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Posts Tagged ‘why did Jesus die’

Prayer-doubt 2.16No doubt about it: prayer is often a mystery, even to people who believe in it and practise it.

So I was intrigued by this graphic (found in an atheist internet community) because it asserts a viewpoint I haven’t seen before.

Indeed, doing a Google search of the question “Is prayer an act of doubt?” brought up almost no links. Apparently, most people (even those who doubt God’s existence) have never thought to pose the question.

So is praying an act of doubt? Blogger Juanita Ryan (www.JuanitaRyan.com) puts it very well when she writes: “We want to trust God. We want to have faith. But we have so many questions. So many things are unclear and uncertain.”

In western culture, doubting there even is a creator is common. So wondering if God is watching over everything is hardly rare.

But watching over everything is not the same as arranging everything. If you believe in God, then you probably believe in freewill. And that’s part of the mystery. How, when and where does freewill mix with God’s will? And how does all that work in His plan for this planet, for you and for me?

There are no definitive, truly satisfactory answers to those questions  And I’m fine with that. Questions like these are a powerful and necessary reminder that God is God. And I am NOT.

So are my prayers an act of doubt? Sometimes. Remember, as a man of faith (I follow Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son), I’m surrounded by people — including my parents and brothers — who think praying to our creator is a joke, a quaint throwback to a time when Christianity was influential in my country (Canada).

Then I think about this point made by Juanita Ryan: “Where do we take our doubts if not to God? Where do we voice our uncertainties if not to God?”

Exactly. Just hours before Jesus was arrested on trumped-up charges, A section of the Bible called Matthew (one of four Bible accounts of Jesus’ physical life on earth) records that He spent anguished time on His own, praying to His Father about His fears and uncertainties.

“Jesus fell to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, don’t make me drink from this cup [of betrayal, torture and death on a Roman cross]. But do what you want, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39).

Right there is the biggest reason I can think of for praying. Jesus prayed. A lot. And he prayed about his uncertainties. And as a result, He was strengthened for the hard road ahead, so much so that He willingly carried out His Father’s plan to reconnect us defiant, sinful people to Him.

By trusting and believing in Jesus — His physical life and work, His death and resurrection — God no longer sees all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. Jesus has paid the price for it all. So when this life is finished, those who trust and believe in Jesus will spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

Sound intriguing? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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2.16Great question, isn’t it? As soon as I saw this graphic on an Internet atheist community, I knew it touched on an important topic that many folks just don’t understand.

First of all, let’s get the facts straight. Nowhere in the Bible does it even hint that Jesus — whom Christians believe is God’s divine Son — died to wipe out sin. Nowhere.

So why did He die? Let’s see what the Bible (which serious Christians believe is inspired by God) does say about that:

Because we broke God’s laws, we owed a debt—a debt that listed all the rules we failed to follow. But God forgave us of that debt. He took it away and nailed it to the cross. (From a section called ‘Colossians’).)
Another version of the Bible translates that excerpt like this:
All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s cross.

In case one excerpt isn’t enough, check these out:

I [Paul, a missionary who spread Christianity through the Mediterranean] told you the most important truths: that Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures [other parts of the Bible] say; that he was buried and was raised to life on the third day, as the Scriptures say. (From ‘1 Corinthians’.)

Christ had no sin, but God made him become sin so that in Christ we could be right with God. (From ‘2 Corinthians’.)

Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself. Do you remember the Scripture that says “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”? That is what happened when Jesus was nailed to the cross: He became a curse, and at the same time dissolved the curse. (From ‘Galatians’.)

Now maybe you’re not convinced. Maybe you’re thinking “that’s just other people talking about Jesus. That’s not Jesus Himself”. So read this, from ‘Luke’, one of four Bible accounts of Jesus’ life:

Jesus took bread and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread, gave it to [His apostles], and said, “This is my body, which is given up for you. Do this to remember me.”

Why would Jesus give up his body if it wasn’t for something truly epic, truly world-changing like wiping out the sins of everyone who believes in Him and follows Him?

In fact, Jesus was fulfilling a prophesy made hundreds of years before his physical life on Earth. Isaiah, a prophet, predicted the future when he wrote this:

He [Jesus] was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain. (From ‘Isaiah’.)

So why is there still sinning? Because God gave us very imperfect creatures the gift of freewill and that means we use it to do wrong and fail to do right.

But as you can see from all the Bible quotes above, there’s a solution: believe in Jesus – His life, ministry, death and resurrection. Become His follower. Then watch how He changes your life.

Interested? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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DawkinsForegivness 2.16I’ll bet there are folks out there who see this graphic (helpfully supplied by an Internet atheist community) and think “ya, why not just our forgive sins?” Maybe you’re one of those people.

First of all, I can confidently write that God is NOT trying to impress anyone. When you’re the creator of time, space and the universe, trying to impress anyone (even Himself) is just silly.

Second, this quote (by one of the world’s best-known atheists) displays a blatant ignorance — or outright rejection — of who God is.

Is God merciful? Yes. Does God want to forgive us for all the wrong things we’ve done and right things we’ve failed to do? Absolutely.

But God is also something else: perfect. And that’s His baseline standard for everything, whether we like it or not.

So why doesn’t He just forgive us? Well, why do we have courts? Why can’t we just ignore the dude who killed that guy in a bar fight? Why don’t we just overlook how she faked having cancer in order to bilk people out of thousands of dollars?

If these examples offend your sense of justice, then imagine how our creator feels about  our greed, our self-centredness, our violence, our willful ignorance and our cultural belief that we “deserve” the good life.

Is God judge and jury? You bet He is. Execution victim? Yes, that too.

If that last point seems strange, then understand that this is how it goes with Christianity: Knowing that we could never do enough or be enough to earn our way into Heaven, God paved the way for us. That way is through believing in and following Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine Son (and also God in the flesh, but that’s a blog for another day).

A section of the Bible, called ‘1 Peter’, describes Jesus this way: “He never sinned, and he never told a lie”. This is important and you’ll soon read why.

Jesus spent three years traveling around the Middle East with a band of followers, telling people the Kingdom of God (represented by Him) was near. He proved it by healing diseases, raising people from the dead and preaching revolutionary ideas like loving your enemies, refusing to retaliate when a wrong has been done to you and praying for those who hate you.

Then Jesus allowed conniving religious authorities to arrest him on trumped-up charges and convince political leaders to hand Him the ultimate punishment: death on a cross.

What they didn’t realize is that this death would pave the way to Heaven for anyone who believes in and follows Jesus. He paid the price that we should be paying.

Now, when God sees any Jesus follower, He doesn’t see the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. He only sees perfection. It’s like Jesus transferred His perfection onto anyone who believes in Him and follows Him.

There. I’ve done my best to explain why God doesn’t just forgive our sins. As you can see, He goes even further than that — sacrificing His son for everyone who believes in Jesus.

Does this make sense? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Sin Eater 11.15While on a plane flight, I watched an episode of the American TV crime drama “The Blacklist”, staring the brilliant James Spader.

Besides enjoying the taut suspense, I was intrigued by an apparent power that Spader’s character had: he could suppress the terrible memories of people he wanted to protect.

“I’m a sin eater,” he tells co-star Megan Boone, who portrays a deeply troubled FBI profiler, in a 2015 episode. “I absorb the misdeeds of others, darkening my soul to keep theirs pure. That is what I’m capable of.”

How’s that for an amazing ability? Imagine if a real person could do such a thing? It certainly didn’t make Spader’s character, FBI fugitive Raymond Reddington, a happy person. So would a real life person use such a power?

Well, prepare yourself for a little controversy because a real person DOES have that power and uses it all the time.

His name? Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe is the son of God.

Stick with me while I explain.

More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus was physically on this earth, walking around Israel with a band of rag-tag followers and telling anyone who would listen that God was not a far-off, angry entity.

He was (and is) in the hearts and minds of anyone who would welcome Him, passionately loving that person and offering them an eternal place in Heaven.

The problem? This perfect God could not, and cannot, stand the “sin” that you and I commit. That means the wrong things we do every day and the right things we fail to do every day. That means turning our backs on God and living like He doesn’t exist.

God sent Jesus to fix that through an extraordinary process: Jesus, who was (and is) as perfect as His Father, became our sin eater, absorbing our misdeeds and taking the punishment for them by dying on a Roman cross.

Anyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him has their sins absorbed and their soul made pure through his sacrificial death and resurrection three days later.

This means when this life is finished and His followers appear before God, the wrong things they’ve done and the right things they’ve failed to do are wiped out. Jesus followers are as pure in God’s eyes as Jesus Himself.

This strikes me as a pretty good deal. That’s why, after much consideration, after reading many books and after debating with some brave Christians, I decided to accept that deal.

So Jesus lives in my heart and mind. The more I listen to His leading, the better my life is.

This same deal is available to you, no matter what you’ve done (or not done), no matter how dark (or light) your soul may be.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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Terribleness Of The CrossMy first reaction when I read this graphic on an Internet atheism community?

Yes, it is TERRIBLE that Jesus Christ (whom serious Christians believe is God’s divine son) had to die on the cross for me and everyone else who believes in Him.

In fact, I’ll go further: absolutely HORRIBLE. Totally AWFUL. Overwhelmingly WRETCHED.

And for us humans, any parent that would send their child to be killed IS a terrible person.

But if you have any belief in a Creator, I think you’ll also agree that there’s a *universe* of difference between us insecure, greedy, self-centred, violent, lying human beings and the Maker of time, space and the cosmos.

Consider this:

Christianity teaches that this Creator hates “sin” (an out-of-fashion word, but it best suits what I’m writing about). Yes, *hates* it. Christianity also teaches that when this life ends, every one of us will be called on to account for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do.

I guarantee you, without a shadow of a doubt, that you will NOT be able to explain everything away. You will not have reasonable, viable excuses. It simply isn’t possible.

The thing is, God knows this. And because the God of the Bible is a just and loving God,  He sought a solution that wouldn’t force Him to deny every person passage into Heaven (i.e., spending eternity in His presence).

The solution is hard, but Jesus Christ accepted it. He paid the penalty for the wrong things I’ve done and the right things I’ve failed to do. And He paid the penalty for every other person who believes in Him and follows Him.

Now, when my life is finished and I appear before God, He won’t see my sins. All He will see is the perfection of His Son.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not suggesting that we can all do whatever we want, declare we accept Jesus’s sacrifice and now follow Him, and simply get off penalty-free. Our Creator has no trouble seeing through this kind of cynical, arrogant thinking.

In fact, a section of the Bible called ‘Romans’ addresses this point: “So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not! If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there?”

If you’ve truly, honestly and seriously accepted the gift of Jesus, then your life will begin to change. You’ll want to be worthy of that gift; you’ll want to live your life so that you become an ambassador for Jesus.

You can be that ambassador because you don’t have to do it alone. In a mysterious way, Jesus comes to live in your heart and soul. Furthermore, you’ll want to surround yourself with other Jesus followers who will pray for you, encourage you and keep you accountable.

Interested? Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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WindowForTruth 3.15Sometimes I’m bursting with appreciation for the graphics that atheist people post on the Internet. They often present Heaven-sent opportunities to tell people what God and Jesus Christ are all about.

This is one of those glorious opportunities. Here we go:

1. God sends NO ONE to Hell. People send themselves to Hell through the wrong things they’ve done and through the right things they’ve failed to do.

That includes kicking God out of our lives and turning our backs on His gift of Jesus (whom serious Christians believe is His Son).

2. Even if you ignore my first point, who says God sends everyone to Hell for having an abortion? This graphic conveniently ignores the fact of forgiveness.

Why do I call it a fact? Because the Bible is quite clear about it (and Christians take the Bible seriously). A section called ‘1 John’ says “if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. We can trust God to do this. He always does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrong things we have done.”

Please note: this isn’t a scam we can pull on a dimwitted creator. This is serious business and I explain it in detail here: http://wp.me/p2wzRb-8n.

3. “Kills His only Son”. First of all, it was Roman authorities who did the killing. They were urged on by manipulative religious authorities who felt threatened by Jesus, His popularity and His disregard for their petty religious rules and regulations.

Secondly, God allowed Jesus to die because a significant part of Jesus’s mission — many Christians would declare it was the most important part — was to be a sacrifice that would make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and all the right things we’ve failed to do. Well, it would do that for everyone who accepts the gift of Jesus.

For the people who accept that gift, who declare Jesus to be their Lord, their Saviour and their best friend, God no longer sees our “sins”. He sees only the perfection of His Son.

Why was a death necessary? Because this “sinning” business is deadly stuff, far more lethal than most of us truly understand. And nothing we can do or say or think or pray can make up for all the wrong things we’ve done and the right things we’ve failed to do. All our efforts will always fall short. Always.

So God did the heavy lifting for us by offering the gift of His Son and His sacrifice. So carefully consider everything our culture tells you about life, about right and wrong, about how we should live and about what happens after this life ends. Does it make complete sense in light of a God that loves YOU, offers the gift of Jesus to YOU and wants YOU to spend eternity in Heaven with him?

Yes or no, post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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George JonasIt’s one thing for me, a committed Christian, to try and explain/justify God. It’s another altogether when a self-confessed, “non-religious” major newspaper columnist like George Jonas tackles the topic.

In a 2013 National Post column, the veteran journalist (1935-2016) wrote about dreaming he was God and encountering a range of challenges from skeptics. Here’s an excerpt from one of those chats:

   Skeptic: “Aren’t you supposed to be omnipresent? I never saw you in Auschwitz, the (Soviet) gulag, Dresden (where so much Second World War bombing took place) or Katyn Forest (site of a Second World War massacre)…”

    Jonas: “You never looked for me. You were busy doing evil things.”

    Skeptic: “Why did you let me?”

    Jonas: “Has it occurred to you that you might have acted without my permission?”

Later, Jonas (still writing as God) noted: “Men doing fiendish things used to prove the existence of evil. Now it casts doubt on the existence of God. Once I punished men for being bad; now men punish me for it. ‘If we’re bad, God, you don’t exist.’ Talk about gall.

To my sometimes-foggy brain, the insight shown here is impressive. We humans were given a mind-boggling gift  – freewill – then tested God by using it to crucify Jesus Christ, whom serious Christians believe to be His son. Not only did God prove freewill was for all time and space by doing nothing to stop this crucifixion, He restored Jesus for us by resurrecting Him.

(If you want powerful evidence for the resurrection, go to a website called biblegateway.com and, in the “passage lookup” section, type this:
1 Corinthians 15:6.)

Sadly, as Jonas pointed out, God’s gift of freewill hasn’t been enough for skeptics. Some may claim they haven’t done the evil that wracks the world, yet they must live with it. To that, I recall British writer G.K. Chesterton. When asked by a newspaper to write an essay on the theme ‘what’s wrong with the world?’, he responded with just this:

    Dear Sirs,
    I am.
    Sincerely yours,
    G. K. Chesterton.

He was what’s wrong with the world because of what he did and what he failed to do. I am what’s wrong with this world for the same reasons. And so are you.

That said, I am sure of this:

  1. For everyone who says the state of this world proves there is no god, just imagine how things would be if He weren’t involved. Would there ever have been peace in Ireland? Would apartheid ever have ended in South Africa? Would the Berlin Wall ever have come down?
  2. There is a price to be paid for the wrong things you and I have done, and for the right things we haven’t done. That price was paid by Jesus. If you believe this and make him your leader and best friend, then forgiveness – and the opportunity for a new, clean start – is yours. Just as it is already mine.

Does this make sense? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.

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