A Heavenly Home

The Bible gives clear answers to life’s most important questions: (1) how did I get here, (2) why am I here, and where am I going. The first chapter of the Bible give us the answer to these questions.

The Creation

Notice the following verses from the Bible:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:26 & 27)

The verses above show that God has created all things and that God created mankind in His own image. This means that above all else within creation, man was created to reflect the character of God. Adam was alone however, and God saw that this was not good. Causing Adam to fall into a deep sleep, God took a rib from Adam’s side and formed Eve, the first woman. Thus mankind was brought into existence.

Adam, the first created human being, had close fellowship with God. This fellowship however, would not last.


The Fall

God gave a single command to Adam

…  Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:16 – 17).

Everything that God had created was Adam’s and he had free access to it all, except for the one tree that he was forbidden to eat of

Through the temptation of the serpent, the fallen angel also known as Satan, Adam and Eve both ate of the fruit:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Genesis 2:4-6)

Because the first man disobeyed God, Adam died: immediately he died in his spirit, being no longer able to have close fellowship with God, and he began to die physically! The scriptures present the following penalties for the disobedience of Adam:

  • That Adam would face death: “… for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ” (Genesis 2:17)
  • That their nakedness would now be a shame to them: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7)
  • That there would be pain in childbirth for women: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)
  • That the man would battle the earth for food: “And unto Adam he said … cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Out of all these punishments, death has proven itself to be most destructive! Death has been passed on from Adam to all men: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:” (Romans 6:12) The full reality of this death is the worst news that man can hear.


The Really Bad News

You see, there is a disaster that has fallen all men: they have all sinned! They have all broken God’s law and are deserving of an approperate punishment. Listen to what the Bible has to say about man and sin:

  • All mankind are sinners; they have disobeyed God: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” (Romans 3:23)
  • The penalty for sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death;” (Romans 6:23a)
  • Because sin is the violation of God’s moral character, sin must be punished “Behold, all souls are mine; … the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

Man is in a terrible predicament, he will have to stand before a holy and righteous God to give account for every evil deed that he has done. The bible describes in detail this judgment:

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)

None of us can ever fully under understand the great offense our sin has caused toward a righteous and holy God who cannot allow sin into his presence or even to look upon it with favor: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:” (Habakkuk 1:13). The lake of fire spoken of in Revelation 20 is the final destination for all those who were not written in the book of life.

Right along with this bad news is even more bad news: trying to “work” off our sin is pointless. The things that we normally consider as good such as helping those in need, being a good neighbor, being a good person in society, or even being a good spouse, parent, or child do nothing to help the debt we owe to God. Notice what God says about the righteousness that we can offer God: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags ” (Isiah 64:6). God cannot accept our own righteousness for payment – it is not good enough. It is in fact “disgusting” to the sight of God.

In spite of this terrible position that you and I find ourselves in, there is wonderful news!


The Very Good News

In spite of man’s total failure to live up to the righteous demands of God, man finds himself with a great hope! The gospel is the “good news” of what God has done to make it possible for mankind to have fellowship with Him once again.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (I Corinthians 15:3-4)

Notice the following from the passage above:

  • Christ died for our sins
  • That he was buried
  • That he rose again
  • That all these things were done according to the scriptures

According to this verse, there is only one person who can, and has, faced the punishment you and I deserve and thereby freeing us from having to pay the penalty ourselves.

Jesus Christ – Our Sufficient Savior

The only means of taking care of this sin problem, is if someone who has the righteousness that God demands were to somehow take our place: take our sin upon himself and give to us his own righteousness.

Such a person did such a thing! “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (II Corinthians 5:21)

First of all: Jesus is God!

Of all people who have ever lived upon the earth, Jesus was a special man for He was God come to earth in a flesh body. The Bible tells us that Jesus is God and He is called by the same titles as God. In the following sets of passages,  the old testament passage refers to the God of Israel or Yahweh; the new testament passage is a quotation or reference back to the old testament passage, but is applied to Jesus. In essence, the Bible makes clear that the person Jesus Christ is God.

  • Isiah 44:6 cf. Revelation 1:8; 22:13
  • Psalm 102:21 cf. Hebrews 1:10-12
  • Isiah 8:13,14 cf I Peter 2:8
  • Joel 2:32 cf Romans 10:13

Not only does the Bible use the Old Testament passages about God in the New Testament about Christ, there are other passages that tell us that Jesus is God.

  • Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:5)
  • Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13)
  • Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ: (II Peter 1:1)
  • For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isiah 9:6)

Much more can be shown from the Bible, but it is clear that Jesus is God.

Secondly: Jesus is a man as well!

Jesus is not just deity, but he took upon himself a human body, just as you and I have a body: “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself … ” (Phillippians 2:6-8)

His birth, however, was not like yours or mine. Christ’s birth was a direct result of God’s moving in the life of Mary. His birth was miracleous in nature (for he was born to a virgin) and planned in purpose (for he was to be the savior of his people). Notice the following:

  • He was born to his mother Mary: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18)
  • He was conceived of the Holy Ghost: “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:20)
  • Salvation could only come from God and Christ’s birth united both his full deity and full humanity “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4)

The Bible makes is clear that Jesus is a human being. Many passages tell of his physical body: He got tired (John 4:6), he was thirsty (John 19:28), he was hungry (Matthew 4:2), he suffered physical weakness (Matthew 4:11 and Luke 23:26), and he died (Luke 23:46).

Not only that, but he also had a human mind that increased in wisdom (Luke 2:52) and learned obedience to his parents (Hebrews 5:8). He had human emotions when his soul was troubled (John 12:27; 13:21), he experienced sorrow (Matthew 26:38; John 11:36), and experienced temptation (Hebrews 4:15).

While he lived upon this earth some 2000 years ago, the people around him only saw Jesus as a human being. People were amazed by his works (Mark 2:7, 12), astonished by his teaching (Matthew 7:28-29), marveled at his authority (Matthew 8:27), and were puzzled about his identity (Matthew 16:13-17).

There can be no doubt that the scriptures teach that Jesus was not only 100% God, but that he was 100% man as well!

Thirdly: Jesus lived a life of perfection!

Although Jesus was a human being, he set aside the independent use of his power as God and lived upon this earth as a man with it’s limitations and weaknesses. The scriptures affirm over and over that Jesus was tempted just like we are to sin, but he always did that which is right:

  • He responded in obedience to temptationResponded in obedience to temptation (Luke 4:13; Heb 4:15) –>: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 cf. Luke 4:1-13)
  • He always is doing the pleasure of the father: “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29)
  • Those who examined Him found Him to be innocent: “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.” (John 18:38)
  • The apostle Peter declares that Christ was without sin: “Christ also suffered for us … Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:” (I Peter 2:21-23)

Even though every other man has failed to live up to the righteousness of God, Jesus never once failed to live righteously, in accordance with God’s will. Because of this, He alone is qualified to stand before God as a righteous man.

Finally: Jesus alone is able to provide the means necessary for God to forgive sins and allow mankind into his presence!

Sumarizing the three points above, we see the following:

  • Jesus is God, that is he has the power necessary to take on the sin of all mankind
  • Jesus is man, that is he is able to become our representative before God
  • Jesus lived a perfect life, that is he has the righteousness necessary to be acceptable before God

Jesus – Our Substitutionary Savior

Because Jesus is both God and man, he is uniquiquly qualified to stand in our place and take the punishment that we rightly deserve and give to us the righteousness which we have done everything to destroy. [This section needs rewording]!

The death of Christ was the most cruel and least deserved of any person who had ever lived. He was innocent of any crimes either against the people or against God. Stripped of his clothes, beaten with a whip, and crowned on his head with thorns he was crucified on a cross: the most brutal form of punishment known to man, reserved only for the most heinous of criminals!

Imagine that, the most innocent person being sentenced to the most horrific death! This death, however, was required to forgive sins: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness of sins].” (Hebrews 9:22). Christ’s death is the “propitiation” or rather the means whereby our sins may be forgiven:

  • And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2)
  • Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (I John 4:10)
  • Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; (Romans 3:25)
  • For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)

Why did Christ have to become our substitute? Ever since the fall of man in the garden, mankind has always needed a substitute to cover their sins. The first animals slain were those whose skins covered the nakedness of the first human beings. Throughout the history of Israel, sacrifice was made both night and day to provide a covering for the nation of Israel. But, the final sacrifice was the spotless Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world! What the animal sacrifices could never accomplish though they were done day after day, Christ accomplished once by offering himself for us!

  • God’s justice demands a perfect payment: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:” (Habakkuk 1:13)
  • Human sinfulness demands a sinless substitute: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
  • Jesus presented his death as a ransom or substitute and stood in our place: “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 cf. Matthew 20:28)
  • The wrath of God (his right anger toward sin) is appeased by Christ’s death: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;” (Romans 3:25)The sacrifices of the blood of animals that the human priest offered had to be made year after year. … the high priest alone once every year [went into the temple holy place], not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people […] How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:7; 14-15)

Again, the scripture is clear that the death of Jesus was meant to be in our place! However, man has a responsibility to this knowledge.


Salvation Brings About a Changed Life

Jesus has provided everything necessary for the forgiveness of sins in our lives. This salvation, however, is not the end: it is only the beginning! Notice what the bible says about the results of salvation: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse tells us that the old way of living in areas such as sin, attitudes, and relationships changes when we accept Christ as savior. This aspect of salvation is described is two terms: a separation to God and a purification from evil.

Separation to God

  • Unto the church of God … to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord (I Corinthians 1:2)

Your Response – Faith and Repentance

As has been shown above, you and I are under the condemnation of a holy and righteous God who must punish sin with an eternal death in the lake of fire! However, God made a provision for man to be forgiven sin and God still remain just in his dealing with sin. This provision is found in the God/man Jesus.

Even though the means has been provided, you still have a responsibility: namly to repent and believe. This is how one receives salvation from sin and its penalty death.

Knowledge alone is not enough: You must have more than just a list of facts: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19)

Knowledge and approval are not enough: Just accepting the facts as true is also not enough: “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.” (Acts 26:27 & 28)

Faith and Repentance must come together: Just as knowledge is not enough, faith alone does not save. It is the object of the faith, Jesus, that saves. When one believes Christ, faith requires a change in attitude toward sin: repentance.

  • Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
  • And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)

Repentance is an important aspect of true faith.

A personal decision to depend on Christ is required: You must accept that the facts are true and accept that Christ died to save you. Without making a personal decision to place faith in Christ, all the knowledge of what he has done cannot be applied to you.

  • But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: (John 1:12)
  • For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
  • And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? (John 7:31)
  • Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)

Is God speaking to you about your need to repent and receive Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Take time right now to repent of your sin, place your faith in Jesus Christ, and receive Him as your eternal Lord and Savior. Your sins will be forgiven, your life will change, and you will for the first time be acceptable before God.

For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (II Corinthians 6:2)