These are important questions. They involve a matter critical to the Christian Faith. The answer to the second question is also the answer to the first question. In life there are many authority figures that need to be honored and respected and obeyed; parents, teachers, officers of the law, Government authorities and the like. When a rule or law is broken there are consequences and justice must be served.
God is the supreme judge and ultimate authority (sovereign) over the entire universe and everything in it. So when Adam, the first man, sinned and disobeyed God, death was the penalty. God, who is eternal, holy, omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent, omnipotent (all powerful), just, and in control of his creation, did ‘FIX’ the sin problem that man, Adam and Eve, initially created. Disobedience broke the intimate personal relationship God intended for mankind and himself. God’s holiness and justice demand that sin and rebellion be punished. The punishment is eternal separation from God. (Romans 6:23)
The ‘FIX’ was for God to send his son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for man’s sins by his death on the cross (John 3:16). Jesus clearly understood his mission on earth was to proclaim the kingdom of God and to be a sacrifice for the sins of man. He knew it was God’s will for him to die. Jesus willingly laid down his life as an atonement for sin. In other words, Jesus paid the price or the penalty for our sins and in so doing established an opportunity to restore a right relationship with God and become one of his children. It’s called God’s Grace or unmerited favor.
The Bible says, ”without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”(Hebrews 9:22) So it was Christ’s sinless blood that was shed to provide for man’s salvation and redemption and a new beginning with God in this life and in the life to come in heaven. (Romans 4:7,8) Those who put their trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord are ‘Born again’, have their sins forgiven and receive the assurance of eternal life.
Jesus had to die to fulfill God’s requirement for justice because of mankind’s sin. The good news is that the God of all creation is also loving, merciful, and gracious. He fixed this problem with the most expensive and precious gift and way possible, with Jesus Christ his only son. So our sins are paid for, and we no longer have to die an eternal death. This is why Jesus had to die and how the all powerful God of Creation FIXED the sin problem once and forever.
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The Bible verse you are referring to is from a letter that the apostle Paul wrote to fellow Christians in the city of Galatia, in what is now central Turkey.
… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Paul explains that when you ask God’s Spirit to guide your life, you will become more loving of others and know an overarching joy and peace in all circumstances. You will also become more tolerant of those who offend you, and be more willing to show kindness to those who are not kind to you—something that is usually very difficult without the Spirit guiding your thoughts and actions.
Likewise, you will find that doing good and being faithful in your relationships and your work will come more naturally. You will be gentle in your speech and actions, and in all ways you will find yourself better able to control your destructive behaviors.
A tree bears fruit based on its DNA plus water and nutrients it absorbs through its roots. Good genetics, the right amount of water and the correct balance of nutrients will yield good fruit. In the same way, when you allow God’s spirit to infill you, your life will yield wonderful fruit.
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The Bible is the only prophetic book that is absolutely 100% accurate because it is inspired by God who exists outside of our time and space created universe and who sees human history from Genesis to Revelation as if it is already completed. That being so, we can trust that the prophecies contained in the Bible will happen just as predicted even though we are not privileged to know the precise time and day in advance. Timing remains one of God’s many mysteries.
That said, prophecies about Jesus as Messiah are abundant and scattered throughout various books of the Bible. Now to know specifically that Jesus was and is in fact the promised Messiah we need to ‘Dial’ into only a few of the over 300 prophecies about Him.
Think about it this way for a moment. There are over 8 billion people on planet Earth and a vast majority have cell phones. So, if we want to connect with someone, we start with a country code or area code. That alone cuts down the number of people into a specific geographic area. Then say we ‘dial’ in the next three digits and the field of possibilities greatly shrinks again. Finally, as we dial in the last four numbers we find a person we are looking to talk with. So, with only a total of 10 or 12 numbers we get the person. That’s really amazing.
Using that analogy, we can search the “Biblical prophetic phone directory” and search for who might be the Messiah. So, let’s begin the quest and see if we can find Him.
- Country/ Area code. Micah 5:2, Bethlehem-Ephrata in Israel which is a few miles south of Jerusalem. Not Bethlehem, Pa., or the other Bethlehem in northern Israel.
- Male or female? Isaiah 7:14, A virgin will bear a son who will be called Emmanuel, God with us.
- Genesis 22:18 & 49:10, the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and come from the line of Judah or king David. Both Mary and Joseph were from the line of David.
- When will the Messiah have appeared on the planet? Before 70 A.D. as that’s when the Romans destroyed the Temple and the city. Jesus said that would happen and He spent considerable time at the temple. Mark13:2
- How did the Messiah die? Isaiah 53:12 & Psalm 22:16, Romans used crucifixion to kill the condemned. History says Jesus was killed, crucified in 30 A.D. This prophecy was made 700 years before crucifixion was adopted as a method of killing criminals.
So from these six prophecies alone, we have identified the place he was born, that Messiah is a male, from the lineage of David, he lived before 70 A.D. and he was crucified by the Romans in 30 A.D. His death was also reported by the secular historians Josephus and Tacitus.
Now for the logic and the facts. No one gets to choose the place they are born, their gender or parents or ancestors, what time they would live on the planet and how they would die. And remember these six prophecies were made many hundreds of years before the Messiah was born.(Note-He just didn’t appear one day down from the heavens, although He will come again one day that way as He said so himself.)
So, the only person that could possibly fit these few prophecies as Messiah is Jesus Christ. If you are still not convinced, explore another six or so of the 300 other Old Testament prophecies to convince yourself of this truth. God promises to reveal the Messiah to those that diligently want to know Him. Wise men and women still seek Jesus the Messiah for salvation and eternal life. Finally, remember life is full of choices but eternity only two. Choose wisely!
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There is a familiar quote that says, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” We know from life experiences that when something or someone needs gets soiled a bath or a cleaning up is required. We wash clothes, dishes, cars and of course our bodies to keep them clean and get the dirt out. In some fashion we want to be seen as Mr. or Mrs. Clean, just like the character in the commercial.
In most cultures, outward appearances are considered important. What most people fail to recognize is that while ‘man’ looks at the outside God looks and sees the inside, the condition of the human heart. God’s standard of clean is perfection because He is Holy.
In this context, we are not referring to the beating physical heart but to the very essence of a person’s being, or the real self that resides within the human eternal soul. The ‘heart’ defines the individual’s personality and character. In other words, the real you is on full display to God at all times. A person cannot achieve a clean heart on their own efforts. A clean heart is only possible by the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit through a life-transforming personal relationship with the person of Jesus Christ.
So, therein lies the answer. While there is absolutely nothing a person can do to achieve a clean heart on his or her own, God can and wants to do just that for everyone, as all are created in His image. It becomes a matter of personal choice and a decision of the will. In Psalm 51:1-2 we read King David’s prayer, “Have mercy on me O God…cleanse me from my sin…create in me a pure clean heart.”
David is pleading with God to make his heart new, forgive his sin and receive the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to keep it pure so he can have a restored loving relationship with God in the present and for all eternity. God is waiting to cleanse your heart today. All you need to do is ask. It’s that simple. Why wait? No one is assured of tomorrow.
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Yes and yes.
All of Christianity hinges on the answer to this question. If there was no resurrection, there would be no Christianity. Consider this: there were over 500 witnesses to Jesus’ return to life after being crucified dead and buried. The Romans made no mistakes when they killed someone. They were expert at the art of death. Yet, three days later, Jesus appeared to his disciples, to several women, to two men walking on the road to Emmaus, to a doubting Thomas and two others. Jesus was definitely dead and he was definitely resurrected.
His disciples witnessed his ascension into heaven. So yes, Jesus is definitely alive. It is his power and authority that holds every atom in the universe together. One day Jesus will return to earth just like he left it to rule and reign as King of kings. Given the events of these times it could even be soon. Are you ready? (see Matthew 25: 30-35)
In the Bible, there are many references to times where God personally interacted with humans. A few of the examples were Adam, Abraham, Jeremiah, and Moses. God still speaks to us today in many different ways. The most common way now is by reading His inspired Word, the Bible. It’s often said, if you want to ‘hear’ God speak, read the Bible out loud, especially the quoted words of Jesus.(Red Letter Editions)
From the New Testament we know that for 3 ½ years Jesus spoke to us words given to him directly from God. He said,” I only say what the Father has given me to say.” We must realize that Jesus Christ, Emanuel, was and is God with us then, now and for all eternity. So, in addition to the above ways, there is still another way that God speaks to us now.
If a person is a Christian and has accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God, if one is listening, speaks directly into one’s mind and reaches into our hearts. In personal quiet times of meditation and reflection on God’s Word we actually are able to engage in a conversation with Him. The secret is to just be silent and listen for God to speak. Finally, yes, we can say with confidence that God still speaks to us.