Author Archives: Douglas

Where Are You Going?

Where Are You Going?
Jason Fevig – Senior Pastor – Harvest Miami, Florida

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those that enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
—Matthew 7:13-15

Hey, where’re you going? Yeah, you heard me, where’re you going? Do you even know? I talk to so many people every day who have no idea where they are headed. Some don’t even seem to care. Do you? If you are a Christian, you have a clear path to follow. It’s a pretty narrow path, but it’s there and it’s the path that leads to heaven. If you haven’t found it, I suggest you do that right now!

Right now, I’m talking to those who have found the narrow path . . . are you on it? Do you take it seriously? Or are you on the wide road? It’s pretty easy to tell which road you’re on. If you rarely make decisions that people around you think are strange or narrow-minded, you may be on the wide road. If there are a lot of people around you doing things you know are wrong, and you are with them, it’s the wide road. If you find yourself using substances that are illegal and thinking there’s nothing wrong with that, you are on the really wide road. Get off it today! Get on the narrow road that leads to righteousness and fulfillment.

Now I’d like to talk to those who don’t know anything about the narrow path. Perhaps you’re headed down a wide road that’s one way and going the wrong direction. You don’t know how you know it’s the wrong direction, you just know that it is. Well hear me: before you do anything else, you need to get on the right track. Maybe you don’t even know which road to be on or how to find it. Is that you?

So how do you find the narrow road anyway? Well, if you are holding a Bible right now, you’ve got the road in your hands. God’s Word tells us what He would have us do, how He wants us to live, and all the promises He makes about Himself and His way of living. All we have to do is confess our sin to God and receive the free gift of salvation. That’s it!
So, where are you? Don’t know? Go ahead and hit that blinker, make a U-turn. You need to get in line with God’s Word, which is His will AND recommit yourself to following hard after Jesus. So go ahead and do it today!

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Fear

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” —Romans 8:12-15

This is helpful to me: “Fear is the opposite of all that Christianity is to be.” Romans 8:15 says, “You did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear” (nkjv). Paul told Timothy, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Unless you fear God—that’s a completely different thing; the fear of God is a good thing—but unless you’re fearing God, anything else, any other kind of fear, has no place in the life of a believer.

What do we fear that as believers we need to stop fearing? Well in one word, we fear the future. No one’s afraid of the past. The past has other problems. And no one’s really afraid of the present. We can be upset about the present, but we don’t fear it because we know it. Fear involves the future—the unknown.

Now here are two main categories of what we fear about the future: we fear loss and we fear pain. First, we fear loss of people: “Will my husband always love me?” “Will this treasured friendship last?” “Will I lose my kids?” We also fear loss of possessions: “Yes, I’m fine today, but will I always have enough?” “Will I lose my house?” “Will the kids have enough money for college?” And we fear loss of position: “I’m in over my head.” and “People don’t believe in me,” and “I don’t know how much longer I’m going to have this job.”

Secondly, we fear pain. In fact, we very often cause ourselves a lot more pain than we would ever experience in our attempts to avoid pain. We fear physical pain as well as the emotional pain of rejection or failure: “How will I be hurt today?” “Will growing old be painful?” “When hardship comes, can I count on anyone?” These are all fears that can immobilize.
We’re paying a heavy price for fear. Every time God says, “Don’t,” He means, “Don’t hurt yourself.” So when God says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isa 43:1b), we need to firmly declare that truth against any fear that comes against us.

Prayer

Almighty Father, I want to pray with David, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You” (Psalm 56:3). I realize that fears will come. It’s what I do when they come that will make the difference. And I want to trust You in the face of fear. Remind me to exercise my freedom in You, to declare fears unacceptable in my life. In Jesus’ fear-dispelling name, Amen.

James MacDonald – Senior Pastor – Harvest Bible Chapel

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Underage Dating

Nineteen-year-old college student Bryana Johnson joins Interactive to discuss her article “Underage Dating: The Elephant in the Social Conservative Living-Room.”

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National Day of Prayer!

OneNation

Mission

The mission of the National Day of Prayer Task Force is to mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.

Our Values

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mark 12:30/ Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
  • Respect all people, regardless of gender, race, socio-economic status or creed (Mark 12:31)
  • Be wise stewards of God’s resources and provision (Matthew 25:14-30)

Who We Are and What We Do

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.

National Day of Prayer Website

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Every Knee Will Bow!

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth,  and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).

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13 Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

falseconversionChurches divide over carpet color, building additions and budgets. In the meantime, our fellow church members are going to hell by the boat load.

A.W. Tozer said, “It is my opinion that tens of thousands of people, if not millions, have been brought into some kind of religious experience by accepting Christ, and they have not been saved.”

D. James Kennedy said, “The vast majority of people who are members of churches in America today are not Christians. I say that without the slightest contradiction. I base it on empirical evidence of twenty-four years of examining thousands of people.”

Friend, we argue over so many petty things. May I suggest we have lost sight of the most important debate of all, “What is salvation?” My theology teaches that salvation happens when a man repents and places his trust in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

I would like to present thirteen ways that we have re-defined how a person becomes a true convert. Have we done this intentionally? Certainly not. We have simply created lingo that has a grain of truth in Scripture, but it is so open to interpretation that the un-converted understand it in ways that lead to false conversions.

1. Make Jesus your Lord and Savior. We cannot make Jesus our Lord and Savior, He is our Lord and Savior. We are living in rebellion to Him and He commands us to repent and trust Him.

2. Ask Jesus into your heart. Does Jesus come into our hearts? Yes He does. The question is, “How does He get in there?” It is not by simply asking Him in; it is by repentance and faith.

3. Just believe in Jesus. The demons believe and they tremble. We must repent and trust.

4. You have a God-shaped hole in your heart and only Jesus can fill it. We have far more than a hole that needs to be filled so we can feel complete; we have a wretched, deceitful, sinful heart that needs cleansing. Repentance and faith applies the blood of the lamb for that cleansing.

5. Accept Jesus. Whoa. We need to accept Jesus? This is entirely backward. We need Jesus to accept us–and He will, if we repent and trust.

6. Make a decision for Jesus. Decisional regeneration puts man in the driver’s seat of salvation. When we repent and trust, Jesus decides to save us. That puts Him in the driver’s seat…where He demands.

7. It is easy to believe. While the formula of repentance and faith sounds simple, a complete surrendering of self in repentance is anything but easy. It’s hard.

8. God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. The only promises for the convert are trials, temptation and persecution. If that is how you define a wonderful life, fine. Otherwise we must command all men everywhere to repent and trust.

9. Come to Jesus just as you are. We should come to Jesus just as the sinners we are, but He also expects a broken heart and contrite spirit demonstrated in repentance and faith.

10. Come to Jesus and you will receive forgiveness of sins and ________________ (fill in the blank with money, health, a healed marriage). Jesus didn’t promise healed marriages; in fact He promised broken homes because we would divide when one member repents and trusts.

11. Come to Jesus and experience love, joy, peace. Do we get the fruit of the Spirit upon conversion? Yes. But if we come seeking the gifts and not the giver, we will receive neither. Instead, we must repent and trust.

12. Jesus is the missing piece. Um, no, the God of the universe is not the missing piece, He demands that He is the center of our lives when we repent and trust.

13. Jesus is better than fame and fortune. That is an understatement, and frankly, it is insulting. Saying Jesus is better than money is like saying that a steak dinner is better than eating a dung hill. He defies comparison and we trivialize the Son of God. Instead, we should be pleading with all men everywhere to repent and trust.

If I showed up at your door with a can of grapefruit juice and a roll of paper towels and offered to change your oil, you would say, “No thanks.” If we wouldn’t let someone mess with our car using the wrong method, why do we allow the Gospel to be presented so ambiguously?

Would you let a doctor operate on your child who was “sort of” accurate? The salvation of men is far more important than an appendix.

I beg you to consider how you share the Gospel. You and I know what we are talking about when we use these phrases, but do the unregenerate? Is it possible that we have so many backsliders today because they never slid forward in the first place? Is it because they were never told that they must repent and trust?

If we are willing to debate shag verse plush in the fellowship hall, shouldn’t we be more concerned about an issue that has eternal consequences?

Todd Friel

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Captive no More

captive

10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. — Romans 6:10-14

Is there a certain sin that seems to have a foothold in your life? And does it almost seem as though the sin is getting more and more powerful each month, each year, and tragically, each decade?

 

Do you wonder if you ever will gain victory over it? Or worse, are you beginning to wonder if you are really a Christian? Sin is a horrible master, and it finds a willing servant in the human body. Sin wants to dominate you, but the good news is that as a Christian, you don’t have to be dominated by sin any longer.

 

There is a part of us that is drawn to the holy things of God, and there is a part of us that can still be drawn to the unholy things of this world. We all have that struggle. It is almost shocking, especially if you have been a believer for many years, that there still can be an attraction to sinful things.

 

Here is what we need to remember: we will never get to a point where we are temptation-proof. But I do think we can get to a point where sin will not be so alluring. It comes with growing deeply in our faith, learning more about Jesus, and being so enraptured with His love that we see this world for what it is.

 

To overcome sin, we need to know, we need to reckon, and we need to yield. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NKJV).

 

To know has to do with the mind, and it is implied in the phrase, “likewise you also.” These three words refer back to the truths in Romans 6:1–10.

 

To reckon focuses on the heart. The word “reckon” used in Romans 6:11 means “to take into account,” or “to count as true.”

 

To yield deals primarily with the will. Romans 6:13 tells us, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

 

You have more than enough power to live this Christian life. You have the righteousness purchased by Christ with His own blood. So start taking hold of what God has already given you. Live in the newness of life, for which Jesus gave His own. — Greg Laurie

Visit Greg Laurie’s Site at Harvest.org

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Parenting Resource

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Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

Some Helpful Working Definitions

We want to be practical with children. That means that we give specific instructions about what we want them to do, not just what they shouldn’t do. One way to be practical as we help children develop character is to use working definitions. We use these a lot in our counseling to help children understand life more. Here are some examples, but you can be creative and think of many more.

Obedience is doing what someone says, right away, without being reminded.

Honor is treating people as special, doing more than what’s expected, and having a good attitude.

Perseverance is hanging in there even after you feel like quitting.

Attentiveness is showing people you love them by looking at them when they say their words.

Patience is waiting with a happy heart.

Self-discipline is putting off present rewards for future benefits.

Gratefulness is being thankful for the things I have instead of grumbling about the things I don’t have.

You don’t have to use them all. Just choose the one that your child needs right now and teach how to put that character quality into practice. Put them up around the house. This is a very positive way to give kids a vision for what you want.

This tip comes from the book, Home Improvement, The Parenting Book You Can Read to Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

If this tip was sent to you by a friend and you’d like to continue to receive tips yourself, you can sign up at www.biblicalparenting.org.

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Timeline of Jesus’ Final Hours

Note: Many of the actual times of these events are not recorded in Scripture. The timeline represents an approximate sequence of events.

Preceding Events

  • The Last Supper
    (Matthew 26:20-30; Mark 14:17-26; Luke 22:14-38; John 13:21-30)
  • In the Garden of Gethsemane
    (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-45)
  • Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested
    (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:1-11)
  • The Religious Leaders Condemn Jesus
    (Matthew 27:1-2; Mark 15:1; Luke 22:66-71)

6 a.m.

  • Jesus Stands Trial Before Pilate
    (Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5; Luke 23:1-5; John 18:28-37)
  • Jesus Sent to Herod
    (Luke 23:6-12)

7 a.m.

  • Jesus Returned to Pilate
    (Luke 23:11)
  • Jesus is Sentenced to Death
    (Matthew 27:26; Mark 15:15; Luke 23:23-24; John 19:16)

8 a.m.

  • Jesus is Led Away to Calvary
    (Matthew 27:32-34; Mark 15:21-24; Luke 23:26-31; John 19:16-17)

The Crucifixion

9 a.m. – “The Third Hour”

  • Jesus is Crucified on the CrossMark 15: 25It was the third hour when they crucified him. . The third hour in Jewish time would have been 9 a.m.Luke 23:34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do now know what they are doing.”
  • The Soldiers Cast Lots for Jesus’ Clothing
    (Mark 15:24)

10 a.m.

  • Jesus is Insulted and MockedMatthew 27:39-40And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “So! You can destroy the Temple and build it again in three days, can you? Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”
    Mark 15:31The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself!”
    Luke 23:36-37The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine. They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
    Luke 23:39One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

11 a.m.

  • Jesus and the CriminalLuke 23:40-43But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
  • Jesus Speaks to Mary and JohnJohn 19:26-27When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Woman, he is your son.” And he said to this disciple, “She is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home.

Noon – “The Sixth Hour”

  • Darkness Covers the LandMark 15:33At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.

1 p.m.

  • Jesus Cries Out to the FatherMatthew 27:46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (NKJV)
  • Jesus is ThirstyJohn 19:28-29Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, “I am thirsty.”A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.

2 p.m.

  • It is FinishedJohn 19:30aWhen Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Luke 23:46Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

3 p.m. – “The Ninth Hour”

Events Following Jesus’ Death

  • The EarthquakeMatthew 27:51-52At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
  • The Centurion – “Surely he was the Son of God!”
    (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:47)
  • The Soldiers Break the Thieves’ Legs
    (John 19:31-33)
  • The Soldier Pierces Jesus Side
    (John 19:34)
  • Jesus is Laid in the Tomb
    (Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42)
  • Jesus Rises from the Dead
    (Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-9)
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Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

golgothaWhy did Jesus have to die? As a Christian I should know the answer to this but I can’t think of any convincing explanation. No exemplar of any other religion that I can think of ended up getting killed because of his beliefs. Why wouldn’t it have been possible for Jesus to spread his message and gain adherents like Mohammed, Moses and Buddha? Does Christianity only make sense by God deciding that Jesus had to be crucified?”

Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

This incredibly important question involves a matter central to Christianity, yet effectively answering it is often difficult for Christians. We will take a careful look at the question and lay out the answers offered in Scripture.

However, before we answer the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?” it’s also important to understand that Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth involved laying down his life as a sacrifice. In other words, Jesus knew it was His Father’s will for him to die.

He proves his foreknowledge and understanding of his death in these passages from Scripture:

Mark 8:31
Then Jesus began to tell them that he, the Son of Man, would suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, and three days later he would rise again. (NLT) (See also Mark 9:31)

Mark 10:32-34
Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to him in Jerusalem. “When we get to Jerusalem,” he told them, “the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die and hand him over to the Romans. They will mock him, spit on him, beat him with their whips, and kill him, but after three days he will rise again.” (NLT)

Mark 10: 38
But Jesus answered, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of sorrow I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” (NLT)

Mark 10:43-45
Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” (NLT)

Mark 14:22-25
As they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread and asked God’s blessing on it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And he said to them, “This is my blood, poured out for many, sealing the covenant between God and his people. I solemnly declare that I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” (NLT)

John 10:17-18
“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (NKJV)

 

This last verse also explains why it is pointless to blame the Jews or the Romans—or anyone else, for that matter, for “killing” Jesus. Jesus, having the power to “lay it down” or “take it again,” freely gave up his life. It truly doesn’t matter then, who “killed” Jesus. The ones who nailed the nails only helped carry out the destiny he came to fulfill by laying down his life on the cross.

 

Now, on to answering the question, “Why did Jesus have to die?”

 

God is Holy

Though God is all merciful, all powerful and all forgiving, God is also holy, righteous and just.

Isaiah 5:16
But the LORD Almighty is exalted by his justice. The holiness of God is displayed by his righteousness. (NLT)

Sin and Holiness are Incompatible

Sin entered the world through one man’s disobedience – Adam, and now all of us are born into this “sin nature.”

Romans 5:12
When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. (NLT)

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (NLT)

Sin Separates Us from God

Isaiah 35:8
And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it; it will be for those who walk in that Way; wicked fools will not go about on it. (NIV)

Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (NIV)

Sin’s Punishment is Eternal Death

God’s holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. The only penalty or payment for sin is eternal death.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (NASB)

Romans 5:21
So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful kindness rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (NLT)

Atoning Sacrifice

Our death is not sufficient to atone for sin because atonement requires a perfect, spotless sacrifice, offered in just the right way. Jesus, the one perfect God-man, came to offer the pure, complete and everlasting sacrifice to remove, atone, and make eternal payment for our sin.

1 Peter 1:18-19
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. (NLT)

Hebrews 2:14-17
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham‘s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. (NIV)

Only Through Jesus Christ

Only through Jesus Christ can our sins be forgiven, thus restoring our relationship with God and removing the separation caused by sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:30
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (NIV)

The Messiah – Savior

The suffering and the glory of the coming Messiah was foretold in Isaiah chapters 52 and 53. God’s people in the Old Testament looked forward to the Messiah that would save them from their sin. Though he did not come in the form they expected, still their faith looking forward to his salvation saved them. Our faith, looking backward to his act of salvation, saves us. When we accept Jesus’ payment for our sin, his perfect sacrifice washes away our sin and restores our right standing with God. God’s mercy and grace provided a way for our salvation.

Romans 5:10
For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be delivered from eternal punishment by his life. (NLT)

 

In Summary, when we are “in Christ Jesus” we are covered by his blood through his sacrificial death, our sins are paid for, and we no longer have to die an eternal death. We receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. And this is why Jesus had to die.

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