Humanity’s Core Problem
God is love, but there is, sadly, an impenetrable and unscalable wall between us and His love. God is not the builder of this wall; we are, each and every one of us. Human beings have a natural tendency to stay away from the true God. From the very outset of our creation, we have sought every way imaginable to satisfy a natural instinct for our loneliness, lostness, our sense of something or someone who is greater than ourselves. We create gods who we think will give us peace, philosophies that will give us meaning, and/or leaders who will give us strength and security. But due to our naturally errant, selfish, and sinful minds, we are incapable, on our own, to discover the true God, who loves us.
Still, we are amazingly intelligent creatures. Our desire for greatness has no bounds. We can adapt to our environment, build remarkable structures, discover ways to prolong our lives, capture the resources of our earth to better our living standards, be philosophical, build kingdoms to our glory, destroy our greatest institutions, the most important being the traditional family, learn how to kill each other in the most creative ways, while we seek for medicines that will help us to live longer and longer—oh, the desire to cheat death. Whatever greatness we have, our selfishness manipulates it toward self-destructive ends. A world (a life) without God is a world (a life) without lasting peace, joy, kindness, patience and hope. Instead, it is a world (a life) of an endless pursuit for the virtues of life that end in empty theisms, polytheisms, monarchism, deism (God has deserted us), earth worship, philosophical communism and socialism, atheism, progressivism, all of which lead humanity to some form of dictatorship that is always a very bad replacement for God.
Human wisdom and philosophy promises life and fulfillment, but will ultimately end with sadness, captivity, and death. This is the end result of human effort apart from its Creator. The only end for humankind is one of complete devastation and destruction, that is, death (Romans 3:23, 5:12, 6:23, 14:23). In our present state or condition, someone or some creature (a lamb, etc.) has to die so that others may live. “There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12, see Proverbs 12:15a and Romans 6:21). The fact is that humankind cannot resolve its death problem; it just tries to find ways to delay death or to get there more comfortably. In the end, each individual has to face the God of love, justice and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24) whom they ignored, side-stepped, spurned, rejected.
Pointedly stated, there is no human pathway, scheme, or solution that can evade or escape death. Terrifyingly, there is also no divine way to resolve humanity’s journey towards death, for even God demands death as the judgment for the selfish and sinful rejection of His love and grace. Death is inevitable. Someone or everyone must die!
Humanity is unique among all the creatures that God created. Unlike the others, each human being is an eternal being, a being or a soul who has a conscience or mind that can determine right from wrong. In other words, each human being, born into this world, is an image or likeness of God. This gives each person the ability to relate to God, to know Him personally. It also means that we, like God, are eternal beings. Therefore, death, for human beings, can be both physical and spiritual. Not only will each person most certainly lose his physical life, he or she will also die spiritually, the difference being that we each die once physically, but spiritually we live forever in a state of death, permanently separated from our Creator for eternity. “It is appointed for men to die once (physical death) and after this comes judgment” (spiritual death, Hebrews 9:27, see also Genesis 3:19).
God’s Temporary Solution
If this seems rather bleak, it is. It is very bleak. Death is, in fact, eternal, but it does not have to be inevitable. There is a solution that for some will eliminate physical death (rapture), but can, for many, eliminate spiritual death. But this solution is not a human solution. Selfish, and therefore, sinful human beings cannot solve their sin problem. Only a sinless and selfless human being could pay the price of death for other human beings. A temporary and repetitive solution was initiated by God in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy. Regularly (to cover or forgive individual acts of sin) for individuals and annually for the nation of Israel, spotless or blameless sacrifices (their best lambs and bulls, etc. who bore no guilt for sin) were offered to God, that is killed, the blood of which covered the sins of the person or the people annually, so that their sins were not held against them. Sin requires death; the price of death (the shedding of blood) is required to cover the sins of the guilty. Sin is a death sentence! The requirement of death is removed only by the death or sacrifice of another, in this case, the deaths of the best among the people’s flocks. In other words, the death of the lamb was substituted for the death of the person. In this way, God forgave the person or people and interacted (love and teach) with the person or the group of people. As long as they were faithful to this practice, spiritual or eternal death was overcome. These Old Testament believers could have a relationship with God during their physical lifetimes and be assured of life for all eternity. They would experience physical death, but not eternal death. However, the eternal death-free existence of Old Testament believers did depend on one more future and permanent sacrifice.
God’s Permanent Solution
“But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law (as a human being, the Son had to be obedient to the Law), in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law (all people who believe in Him, to include faithful Old Testament believers) that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
God loved the world so much that He gave His own Son as a sacrificial lamb, that whosoever believes in Him will never taste eternal death but will live forever in fellowship with God (John 1:1-3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:3). God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is THE SACRIFICE upon which the faith of Old Testament believers depended on for eternal life. He is also the sacrificial lamb whose death is a substitution for anyone who accepts His death as their own from that time to this and until He returns to take His own, those who believe in Him, home to heaven. Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, in His suffering and death is the death of each and every person who accepts His sacrifice as his or her own. His pummeled and lifeless body bore my sins as well as yours (1 Peter 2:24). I died to sin with Christ, in whom I have put my trust. But this is not enough for me and others, or for all those who trusted in God before the coming of Christ, to gain eternal life.
As critical as the death and burial of Christ is, equally so His resurrection from the dead. If the Lord Jesus had remained in the grave, there would still be only death and separation from God. However, the resurrection of the Lord, the rejuvenation or rebirth of the Lord, is what gives life to me and others who dare to put their faith and trust in Him (Romans 14:9). In Christ we die, and equally important, in Christ we live. Without the resurrection of Christ, there is no good news to celebrate. There is no life for Old Testament believers, no remedy for death, no genuine expectation for eternal life. But now I live in Christ and he lives in me; I am a new creature and born anew (John 4:7, 11:25; 2 Romans 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Philippians 1:21). Jesus Christ, who existed before the creation of anything (Colossians 1:15-23), God Himself Who in the Person of the Son died and rose from the grave so that I, and believers like me, can grow in faith and faithfulness while in my physical body, and live forever in my spiritually renewed body no longer encumbered by or concerned with sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:35-58).
By accepting Christ as one’s Savior through His life, death, burial, and resurrection, and as one’s Teacher, through a commitment to studying and knowing the Word and will of God (2 Timothy 2:14-15, 3:10-4:8), you will find love and all the virtues necessary to live a good, meaningful and faithful life in this troubled and dangerous world (Galatians 5:13-26). Struggles and temptation will still challenge you, but when you fall prey to your sinful tendencies, know that you have a Savior Who will forgive your indiscretions, shortcomings, and failings, that is, your sins (1 John 1:5-10). God is love; He wants the best, not necessarily in possessions, but in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, for His children. He will not forsake His children; His Holy Spirit indwells each and every one of His own (John 14:15-26; 16:7-15; Ephesians 1:13-14). He is yours and you are His forever. No human solution can overcome the effects of sinfulness and death in this world. Only God, in the Persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, can give you peace in the storms of life, joy in the midst of human hatred, patience rather than tolerance, hope when those around you are angry and hopeless, and genuine love in the midst of selfish and secular philosophers and politicians. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56).
The Salvation Prayer
If you would like to know Christ and be saved from the threat of eternal death; if you want to live in this world with eternal hope and lasting expectation for joy and eternal peace, please repeat the following prayer or one that is similar.
Father, I know that I am a sinner and that eternal death is my just punishment. I know that there is nothing in me that can prevent this judgment from occurring. But I now understand that the Lord Jesus Christ came to this world to pay my debt to You by dying in my place on the cross, suffering both my death and my burial. I beg you for your forgiveness and accept His death on my behalf. I also believe in the resurrection of Jesus that gives me eternal life, which starts at this very moment. For this forgiveness and new life, I give you thanks. I also thank you for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whose presence in me will give me the ability to know your Word so that I can serve You faithfully until the Lord returns. Thank you for opening my eyes to Your salvation and for giving me a new life. In Christ my Savior, I pray. Amen!