The following is an excerpt from What You Need to Know About Heaven.
Let’s imagine the impossible. Let’s say a person is born, lives a full life, and dies without violating any of God’s commands. Let’s say the person never utters a falsehood, never harbors a millisecond of ill will toward another person, and never gives God less than 100 percent devotion. Let’s say the person’s every thought, attitude, word, and deed honor God.
In the context of eternal life, such a sparkling résumé would still fall immeasurably short of the standard required for atoning for sin and restoring the relationship with God. Even if no sin were committed, the person would still have an inherited sinful nature to answer for. No one born of man and woman could offer the perfect sacrifice that God requires for the atonement of sin.
A person conceived by the Holy Spirit and delivered by a virgin, on the other hand, would have no inherited sinful nature. If that person could manage the impossible—live a sinless life with absolutely no offenses against God—he would be a fitting candidate to bring about atonement.
Of course, this perfect candidate would have to agree to endure unprecedented agony—the kind of torture and death that would be unimaginable to anyone else. This innocent, blameless specimen of perfection would be subjected to the totality of God’s holy wrath and judgment for the sins of the world. The suffering and pain we deserve would instead be heaped on him. He who knew no sin would, in effect, become sin in God’s eyes—and be punished accordingly.
Only One could satisfy those demands. But in order to do that, he had to leave his idyllic existence in heaven for a life of rejection, ridicule, and betrayal on our sin-ravaged planet. He had to give up his autonomy and become a helpless baby. He had to lay aside his perfections and make himself vulnerable to pain, sickness, and exhaustion. He had to submit to physical limitations, such as hunger and thirst. He had to squeeze his infinite presence into a container of flesh roughly five-and-a-half-feet tall.
Only Jesus could have bridged the gap between God and humanity. Only Jesus did.
The above article appears in What You Need to Know About Heaven, which is on sale where magazines are sold within the United States and Canada.
Genesis 26:5 "I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed"
Imagine how overwhelmed Abraham must have been when God laid these promises on him. The sheer grandness of them caused Abraham to fall to the ground. Of course, God kept these promises. God multiplied Abraham’s descendants beyond what he could imagine. Kings did come from Abraham—most importantly, the King of kings, Jesus Himself.
God has also made promises to us throughout His Word. Sometimes these promises can seem too grand to be true: eternal life in a perfect place with streets of gold? How could this be? But God does not lie. God keeps His promises. If God kept His promises to Abraham, we can be confident He will keep His promises to us. If we find ourselves doubting, all we have to do is return to God’s Word to find the truth: that He has been faithful to His Word, over and over, throughout time, no matter how impossible His promises may seem.
The above devotion is taken from an upcoming project to be published by Barbour Publishing. It will appear in the KJV PROPHECY STUDY BIBLE.
Understanding God's forgiveness can release you from guilt and free you from shame. If you need to better understand God's forgiveness--or if you need to take a step toward forgiving someone else--then subscribe below.
This free series lasts 5 days. Each day you will receive a link to a 2-3 minute video and a PDF to a Bible study that can be completed in 10-15 minutes. This study will cover the following topics:
Day 1: Sin, Confession, and a Holy God
Day 2: What is True Repentance?
Day 3: No Condemnation
Day 4: Stop Trying to Earn God's Forgiveness!
Day 5: How Can I forgive Others if I Don't Feel Like Forgiving?
What's the catch? There is none. Like forgiveness the study is completely free and made available to anyone who needs it.
If we claim to be without
sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all
unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8–9)
To confess our sins means
to admit to our sin and also to agree with God that we need forgiveness. When
we genuinely confess our sins to God, he is faithful to forgive us. When we
repent, he purifies us from our sins.
doesn’t mean that you need to keep a diary of every bad thought you think and
every bad deed you do and then name them to God one by one. But it does mean
that, as Christians, we need to continually acknowledge that we are sinners, in
need of God’s saving grace.
we do this, God makes us new. He wipes the slate clean and gives us a fresh
start—every time. We do not need to return to our sinful habits. We do not need
to be slaves to our sin. Through the blood of Jesus, God sets us free from our
sin. Free and forgiven.
The name Immanuel means “God is with us.” Is there any single more comforting word in all of Scripture? The birth of Jesus marked an unprecedented moment in human history. God himself, the eternal I AM, came to dwell with his people in a physical form that was familiar to us. No longer was he guiding the people of Israel with a pillar of cloud or fire that moved ahead of them. No longer was he a disembodied voice who spoke from a burning bush or a storm-lashed mountaintop. In the person of Jesus, God came to live with us, just as the Old Testament prophet Isaiah had foretold.
The above article was adapted from JESUS which my team created for Time Inc. It appears in the winter of 2014-2015 as a special edition magazine within the USA.
Anna was a widowed prophet who ministered in the temple in Jerusalem. Day and night she worshiped in the house of God, praying for his promised Messiah. Anna recognized the answer to her prayers the moment Mary and Joseph entered the temple with their young son. She praised God for allowing her to live long enough to see the Savior. Then she embarked on a one-woman crusade to help others in the temple recognize the truth she’d been given. Anna wanted everyone to know that the child Jesus was God’s promised King—the One who would deliver Israel.
Two years later Magi arrived from the east. The fact that these wise men referred to Jesus as the “king of the Jews” suggests they were Gentiles. The book of Matthew doesn’t tell us how these God fearing non-Jews knew about the world-changing birth that had occurred; Matthew only reveals that they followed a star.
When they got to Jerusalem, they asked everyone they saw where they could find the young ruler. They must have been stunned to discover that no one knew who they were referring to. How could the Jewish people be unaware that their King had been born?
Jesus’ birth may have been largely disregarded, but someday every person who has ever lived will fully acknowledge Jesus as the powerful King that he is (Romans 14:11). In today’s world, wealthy or influential people are often viewed as the wielders of power. Industry magazines and websites love to publish lists of the “most powerful people” in a given business universe. These lists are wildly subjective, of course. Quantifying a person’s power and influence is hard enough. Ranking people’s relative power is nearly impossible without resorting to bias or guesswork.
What’s indisputable, as the apostle Paul asserted, is that absolute power is found only in Jesus. Any comparative analysis between Jesus and those who top the “world’s most powerful” lists will be decidedly one-sided. The most powerful ruler or most influential person in all human history will pale next to Jesus.
More to the point, every powerful or influential figure who ever lived will one day kneel before Jesus in absolute submission.