Why Did Christ Die?

crown of thornsIt is one of the most basic questions of Christian theology – why did Jesus Christ have to die?  From the moment Adam sinned, the story of Scripture becomes a story of God’s attempt to redeem His people.  Paul assures us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and the book of Hebrews tells us that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22).

Under the Old Testament system, rivers of blood were shed to cover the sins of the people.  Levitical law required that a male animal without blemish must be slain upon the altar and burned for the forgiveness of sins.  Animals were slaughtered by the tens, hundreds, and thousands, to atone for the sins of the people.  Year after year, the slaughter went on.

Then one day, John the Baptist saw his cousin walking down the bank of the Jordan River and said thirteen words that would change the world forever: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).  And when Jesus died on the cross, His perfect sacrifice once and for all provided redemption for all who would receive it.  Once His blood had been shed, there would be no need for further blood – the cost of sin was paid, and no further sacrifice was needed.

Jesus died to redeem us – to forgive us for the sins we committed.  But His death means so much more.  In John 10:10, Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  It would be a shame if Christian believers were content to live under the grace of sins forgiven, but neglect the life abundant that Jesus died for us to have.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that just as the high priest carried the blood of animals into the Holy of Holies as a sin offering, but burned the bodies outside the camp, “so Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood (Hebrews 13:11-12).  We are also told in Hebrews that “if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (9:13-14).

Why did Christ die?  Paul tells us that Jesus “gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).  Don’t be intimidated by what God wants to do in and through you.  Instead of kicking back and resting on the assurance of His forgiving grace – an assurance that we certainly can have – let’s allow God to work His best in our lives and embrace the abundant life, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus came to give us.

~ Matt Kinnell, NHIM Board Chairman

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NHIM Board Meeting

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The New Hope International Ministries board met in Wilmore today to celebrate what God did through NHIM in 2017 and approve a budget for 2018.  Please join us in prayer that God will continue to use NHIM to advance His Kingdom.

The World Upside Down

upside down“These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6).

This was the charge leveled against Paul and Silas in Thessalonica. It seems beyond belief that any man or two men could so affect the world that the people said, “They’re turning the world upside down.”  Personally, I might re-phrase it to say, “These men are turning the world right-side up”.

There are people who live their whole life and the world doesn’t even know they’re alive. There are Christians who seem to have absolutely no effect on anything around them. But here are two people of whom the world said, “They’ve turned us upside down.” Somebody once said, “There are people who watch things happen, and there are people who make things happen. Then there are people who don’t know what’s happening.” These two men were people who made things happen. They were unwilling to accept things as they were. They took action.

Could it be that the world is getting worse and worse because so many of us are people who don’t know or care what’s happening? This seems especially true if it is something that doesn’t directly affect us. A life of indifference lowers the moral climate of the world in which we live. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

In this morally upside down world, even our feeble attempts to help are often misdirected. Ezra Taft Benson had the right perspective: “The Lord works from the inside out. The world works from the outside in. The world would take people out of the slums. Christ would take the slums out of people, and then they would take themselves out of the slums. The world would mold men by changing their environment. Christ changes men, who then change their environment. The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature.”

Hear the Lord’s Word for us in this upside down world:  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2 NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

Sky Lift

sky liftIn the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, there is an area of natural stone bridges and arches. The wind and water over eons of time have carved beautiful bridges and shapes from the sandstone. One of the most famous wind-sculpted formations is known as Natural Bridge.

The bridge is located at the crest of a mountain. The trail to get to the bridge is steep and rugged as it twists and turns on its upward ascent to the bridge. In the past, only the strongest and most fit were able to make the demanding trek. The modern era has brought change. The State of Kentucky has developed a state park in the area with many modern conveniences. One such convenience is the Sky Lift.  Similar to a ski lift, the sky lift can transport people two at a time to the top of the mountain. The lift carries passengers above the ravines, chasms, streams, and sheer rock faces. At the top, the passengers disembark and it is only a short walk to the bridge along a relatively flat trail that offers incredible views.

The ascent from this old troubled world to heaven’s blissful shore can also be perilous and steep. But the Lord has a way to lift us above the treacherous terrain too difficult for us to negotiate. The point of departure for the ascension to the top is the new birth. Once on board, the Lord has provided certain helps to carry us above what appears to be impossible obstacles:

  • A church family can support and uplift us in troubled times.
  • Corporate worship and the great hymns of the church can buoy a discouraged spirit.
  • Scripture can guide us and lift us above the uncertainties of life.
  • Prayer can provide the blessed assurance we need when we are beset by great hurdles. It can elevate us above our temporary tribulations.

The Christian’s Sky Lift: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

I rise to walk in Heav’n’s own light,
Above the world and sin,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within.
~ Phoebe Palmer ~

~ Brother Roy

Simplicity in Christ

simplicitySometimes life seems to get so very complicated. In addition,  I also tend to overthink things and make situations more difficult than they really are. At times like these, I tell myself to calm down, take a deep breath, and simplify. Occasionally, my spiritual life also follows that same pattern and I know that I need to simplify. I turn to Paul’s words, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

The words of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark helps me focus on the simple basic truths I need to know: “One of the teachers of the law came and heard Jesus arguing with the Sadducees. Seeing that Jesus gave good answers to their questions, he asked Jesus, “Which of the commands is most important”?  Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these” (Mark 12:28-31).

Recently, I heard an easy-to-remember paradigm that encapsulates what I need to know to help me simplify my spiritual life:

Love Christ Completely

Love Others Compassionately

Love yourself Correctly

Prayer: Lord let me live today by the words of Edgar Stites’ wonderful hymn that embraces simplicity. Simply trusting every day; Trusting through a stormy way; Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus, that is all.”

~ Brother Roy