miércoles, 17 de agosto de 2016

Jesus Christ defeated sin and death


Who is God?
In these days many people have a concept of God, but they are confused on who is really God. Some say that God is “mother earth”, or “mother nature”. But they confuse what is created with the Creator. Obviously the earth or nature does not have a mind and neither could have created anything. Others even think that the sun is God. But the sun is simply a star that burns, and does not have a mind, and therefore it could not have created anything. 
Others believe that there is the “soul”, but they deny God, who is the Creator of all souls. Obviously if the souls are existing, they cannot be the “First Cause”, because they are equal in rank. And in this case we should have a lot of “first causes”. In this case no soul should derive from others. Simple logic affirm that if souls do exist they must have a common origin, who is the Creator of all souls, God. But who is God?
In many different religions God created the earth. For example in the ancient Sumerian religion he was Marduk; in the Egiptian religion, Ra; in the hindù religion, Visnù; in the greek religion, Zeus. But only Jesus came on earth claiming to be the Only Begotten Son of God.
According to the Bible, Jesus, the Son of God, appeared on earth aproximately 2000 years ago in Israel. 
Who really was Jesus? And what was the purpose of his mission on earth? 
Let’s do a step back. Many persons today consider that Jesus was a great man who fought against injustices and was condemned to death in Jerusalem. But we dont have any historical christian evidence that shows that Jesus was a great man who fought against injustices. Others persons think that Jesus fought in order to get the independence of the Jewish people from the Roman rule. But we dont have any historical evidence (including non-christians evidences) that shows Jesus as a fighter against the Roman rule. 
The followers of Jesus, the Apostols, the Evangelists and others disciples spread the Gospel everywhere, affirming that Jesus is the Son of God. They said that he died on the cross to take away the sin of the world (the origin of evil, and therefore the origin of all injustices); they said that he was buried; they said that he rose from the dead the third day, conquering death. When the followers of Jesus were spreading the Gospel they put their lifes at risk, because the majority of the Jews did not accept those facts and they considered it blasphemy to affirm that Jesus was the Son of God. Followers of Jesus put their lifes at risk even in front of the Romans, who had a “civil religion”, they infact worshipped the emperor, and whoever did not was condamned to death. 
These facts make us think: why did the followers of Jesus put their lifes at risk, saying the Jesus is the Son of God? The same situation did not happen in other historical periods. We never heard about a Resurrection of any other historical person. But the followers of Christ, not only testified his Resurrection, but also the fact that trrough dying on th cross, Jesus has forgiven all sins and taking them away. 

Which are the two most important problems of humanity?
Today man has achieved many technological advances. We have explored the oceans, we have sent men to the moon, we have sent probes to other planets, we have built powerful computers. We have studied the cells and amino acids.
But there are two problems we can not solve or overcome. Let's see what they are.
In our society there are many people who commit crimes and offenses, in order to make money quickly. There are people who sell weapons to groups of men to grow opposing ideologies that end in bloody wars, in order to get profit and gain power. The crime spreads. Many people say: "evil dominates the world." But, what is the origin of evil?
Besides this, man has studied the human body in order to defeat disease and try to live longer. But despite this, new diseases have been developed and no one has been able to overcome death.
According to the Bible, the origin of evil is sin, and the consequence of sin is death. Sin and death remain the two biggest problems of humanity. How to overcome them? It is seemingly impossible. In the article that follows I will explain why Jesus came into the world, why Jesus died on the cross and why he rose from the dead on the third day.

Jesus Christ defeated sin and death
This article is dedicated to agnostics, Muslims, Buddhists, the Hindus, the new era and all the people who think they are saved through the mercy of God or who think that, after death, God makes a balance of good and bad deeds, and if the good prevail, they believe they can reach God’s presence.
First of all I explain why Jesus Christ died on the cross, and then prove that with other faiths or philosophies is not possible to reach God's presence. 
To understand why Jesus Christ died on the cross, we must make a premise and describe the biblical event of the creation of man, as well as narrated in Genesis.
According to the first book of the Bible, man was created in the image and likeness of God, Genesis 1, part of verse 26: 

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. 

This means that man was made immortal and sinless, in the image and likeness of God. After the creation of man, God allowed him to live in peace and abundance, but he said that if the man ate the fruit of a particular tree, he would die. Consider the corresponding passages, (Genesis 2, 16-17):

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[d] of it you shall surely die.

Then Satan, in the form of a serpent tempted Eve saying the next lie, Genesis (3. 4-5):

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Then the man, disobeying God, committed sin. It is the first act of arrogance, not humility committed by man. The first act by which man demonstrates his desire to be like God. After this act, sin was introduced into the human mind and caused the proliferation of evil. But there is another important point of Genesis to understand why Jesus died on the cross. At one point God addresses the serpent and says, Genesis (3, 14-15):

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat  all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head,  and you shall bruise his heel.”

The offspring of the woman is Jesus Christ, who overcomes sin, and thus defeats Satan on the cross. During the following centuries, the Jews temporarily expiated sins by sacrificing animals (usually sheep or rams). Why were these sacrifices made? The sinner saw a dying animal in the herd itself, an innocent animal that died to atone for his sin. These sacrifices were repeated to remember sins rather than to remove them. Let's look at this purpose this passage of the book of Hebrews (10 1-4):

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

These sacrifices, thus anticipating the final remission of sins that would be made by God incarnate, that is through Jesus Christ on the cross. Indeed, during the period of the Old Testament, the Jews knew that only God could forgive sins; we see this verse in Isaiah (1, 18): 

Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.

And when Jesus said, in the Gospel of Mark (2, 5):

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

And the scribes answered: Gospel of Mark (2, 7): 

Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Several prophets during Old Testament had predicted the saving mission of the Son of God, such as Isaiah (53, 3-9):

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

When the Word became flesh in the womb of a holy woman, Mary, then came to the light the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, true God and true man. His main purpose on earth was to "take away the sin of the world". Indeed, in the Gospel of John (1, 29): 

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

But how could a man, even if was perfect, forgive the sin of all mankind? First of all we must remember that Jesus was tempted by Satan. Also Adam and Eve were tempted and fell. But Jesus was tempted and did not fall. He did not sin. Jesus, being the incarnation of the Word is true God and true man. He came in human form because as a man could suffer on the cross, but as God could forgive all sins, from the sin of Adam to the end of time. Remember that only God can forgive sins, Gospel of Mark (2, 7), but also remember that God said, in the Garden, Genesis (2, 17):

but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

It is as if God had said, "if you disobey me, or if you sin, you shall surely die."
Paul of Tarsus took up this phrase of God and wrote in the Epistle to the Romans 6, 23):

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, we see that God, being infinitely merciful, would forgive all sins. But God is also infinitely sacred, and nobody can reach his presence full of sin. Even a small stain, if not forgiven, does not allow man to reach God's presence.
God is infinitely just and should be able to condemn all sins. The only solution to this triple reality of God (infinite mercy, holiness and justice) is the sending of the Son, who had to atone for our sins on the cross.
Therefore God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, on order that all sins were imputed to him and to die in our place, Second 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.

Remember, however, that according to the Epistle to the Hebrews (9, 22): 

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

Jesus Christ, therefore, to forgive all sins, had to die shedding his blood. How can we obtain the forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ?
Being God omniscient, therefore, on the cross he saw past, present and future sins. His sacrifice, being a sacrifice of infinite value, (God is infinite), was enough to "remove" or forgive, every sin on earth until the end of time. We obtain the forgiveness of our sins if we repent and if we recognize that Jesus Christ atoned for our sins on the cross for us. In practice, the righteousness of Jesus was given to those who believe in him, who were justified by him, and the sin of whoever believes in him was transferred to him on the cross. It is the final and perfect sacrifice.
Now let's analyze the defeat of Satan. Jesus was tempted in the desert, but he did not succumb. When Jesus was on the cross, Satan tempted him for the last time asking him ro get down from the cross. Indeed, the Gospel of Mark (15: 31-32):

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

If Jesus had come down from the cross, it would have been a defeat for him and a victory for Satan. Indeed, Satan wanted the sin was not canceled and that Jesus did not atone for all sins with his blood. But Jesus did not come down from the cross and wanted to obey the Father to the last, until his death on the cross. Before dying, he said, Gospel of John (19, 30): 

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

What does this phrase mean? Jesus was ready to die and atone for the sins of the world. Just at the moment of his death, Satan was defeated forever. Sin introduced by Satan in the world had been conquered, overcome with the death of Jesus. Death on the cross of Jesus Christ was the ultimate victory over sin and Satan. At that time, Jesus struck in the head Satan as had been anticipated in Genesis (3, 14-15).
Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, in addition to overcome sin with his death, Jesus overcame death with his Resurrection.
Therefore, anyone who has the desire to reach God's presence without obtaining the forgiveness of sins by God Himself, based only on justice or good works, can not do, because we are all sinners and even a little sin, if not washed by the faith that Jesus took i ton the cross, prevents the access to the Father, because God is infinitely holy.
Therefore no other faith or philosophy allows us, humans, to be cleaned from sin. With the mercy of God, as Muslims believe, it is not possible. Through nirvana, which is reached after numerous rebirths, or reincarnations, it is not possible because reincarnation, instead of solving the problem of sin, multiplies it to infinity. Indeed, if one committed a morder in the next life he has to be the victim of murder, so that another sinner is needed, and so sin continues. 
The only way to reach the presence of God is through Jesus Christ. Indeed, he said, Gospel of John (14, 6):

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.No one comes to the Father except through me.

YURI LEVERATTO
Copyright 2016

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