By Tim Wildmon
For Christians around the world, today is Easter Sunday. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead 2,000 years ago. For those who have trusted in this biblical story to be authentic and accurate, the name “believers” is commonly used because we believe in the claims of the Bible about Jesus and his purpose for leaving heaven and coming to earth.
For everything Jesus accomplished with his life, the central purpose for his coming here was to become the atonement for the sins of each human being who has ever lived or ever will live. He bore the sin of the world on the cross, the Bible says.
We are separated from God due to our sin and we cannot save ourselves from that sin which – here is the part no one wants to hear – is deserving of death and hell.
A sin, in case you are wondering, is any violation of the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount and everyone is guilty of sin either by action or by attitude.
The book of Romans in chapter three expounds on this is in verses 23-25: “…for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood , to be received by faith…”
The word propitiation basically means to “pardon.”
The Bible says it is God himself who sent Jesus to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind. John 3:16-17 quotes Jesus as saying: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
This is where the term “saved” comes from in Christian theology. It is not just a Baptist word, as many have come to believe. It is a biblical word that Baptists correctly use to describe someone who has trusted in Jesus Christ and therefore has been “saved” from the consequences of their sin.
If you have never understood the doctrine I have just described, I encourage you take some time and consider the claims of the Bible seriously. I recommend you read the Gospel of John first to get a basic understanding of the Christian faith and then read the book of Romans.
While there is much mystery to the Bible and some of its contents, there is also much reason, consistency and what some call “systematic theology.” (There are also divisions or denominations within Christianity over the interpretations of different verses.) That is to say, while one may choose not to believe the Bible, it at least offers a reasonable explanation of life on earth. It does give meaning and context to our existence both collectively and individually.
C.S. Lewis said for a person to have said the things that Jesus said about himself he would have to be either a liar, a lunatic or Lord. Here are some of the assertions Jesus made of himself: He claimed to be the Son of God. He claimed that the angels obeyed Him. He claimed to be the ultimate judge of all men. He claimed to possess all power in heaven and on earth. He claimed to have the power to forgive sin. He claimed that He could raise people from the dead. He claimed that He could raise himself from the dead. He claimed to be one with God. He claimed to be the only way to God. He claimed to be the giver of eternal life.
If Jesus was not was not who He said he was, these claims he made about himself would certainly qualify him as delusional.
I have concluded that the Bible is too sophisticated and historically accurate to have been made up by men alone. I have concluded that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God. That is a determination every person, confronted with these facts, has to make on their own.
In his book “What A Christian Believes,” Dr. Ray Pritchard recounts a quote from Napoleon Bonaparte after he was exiled. As he contemplated his exploits in Europe versus the legacy of Jesus, he came to this stunning conclusion: “I know men, and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world, there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I founded great empires; but upon what did the creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions would die for Him.”
Happy Easter everyone.
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.