Suzanna’s Innocence and the Woman Caught in Adultery’s Guilt

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All three of the readings for mass today are very powerful.  In the first reading, a young boy Daniel defended an innocent woman against those who accused her of adultery and had her sentenced to death.  In the gospel today, Jesus defended a woman who was guilty of adultery and was also sentenced to death.  They are both very powerful stories and each story is beautiful in their own way.  One woman was falsely accused and sentenced to die, but placed her life in God’s hands and trusted Him. The other woman was justly accused and was sentenced to die. She did not have any hope because it was the law that she was to die for her sin.

Jesus Christ did not come for the righteous, but sinners though. Christ’s compassion for the adulteress surpassed all of the rules of the past.  (Mt 9:13 / Mk 2:17 / Lk 5:32)

We can also understand Suzanna’s innocence in the first reading from the book of Daniel.  She was innocent of the charges against her and was unjustly sentenced to death.  All she had left was her faith in God, which she clung to as she was being led to her execution.  Can you imagine that walk?

While Suzanna was walking toward her execution, it must have felt a lot like Psalm 23 in our readings for mass today.  “Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side.”  And, this was true.  God was literally by her side.  Many people do not realize that the Holy Spirit existed and was active in the old testament too.  Today’s reading shows that He was definitely present and walking beside Suzanna, because the young boy Daniel felt the Holy Spirit’s presence so strongly, that he spontaneously stopped everyone and said that he would have no part in Suzanna’s death.  How could he know that Suzanna was innocent?  How did Daniel come up with the wisdom to pry the truth out of her accusers?  As a young boy, he could not have possessed this wisdom on his own.  The Holy Spirit inspired him to speak the truth, and then guided him on what to do to prove the truth.  All of this was unexpectedly accomplished while Suzanna was being led to her execution.

Actually, the same thing happened with the adulteress who was being led to her execution as well, except Jesus went over the top in his compassion for her.  Who would have expected this either?  This woman clearly committed adultery and deserved to be put to death according to their laws at the time.

Jesus-AdulterousWoman

Did you notice how Jesus wrote in the sand and seemed to ignore the scribes and Pharisees even while they continued questioning him?  This is a good thing for us to pay attention to.  Tempers were flaring, emotions were high, and demands were being made. The accusations flung toward the adulteress were dominated by self-righteousness, even if the woman caught in adultery was guilty of the crime.

Sometimes the punishment can be worse than the crime.  Even justifiable consequences can mushroom out of control and end up doing more harm than good sometimes.  This is something young parents should really pay close attention to.   Children have to be corrected when they do things that are wrong, but it is very easy to allow your emotions to get out of hand.  In one split second you can say or do something that your child will remember the rest of their life, if you allow your temper to get the best of you.  A small word of praise sticks with them forever, but so does the actions and words that we say in anger.  Elderly people often go to their grave never forgetting the hurtful words their parents said to them when they were little children, even if they did forgive them for it.  None of us want to be remembered for our worst moments.

Jesus diffused the whole situation in today’s gospel by doing nothing until everyone’s emotions calmed down.  Slowly writing in the sand may have distracted everyone from the problem at hand, and given them something different, something neutral to focus their attention on.  His calm, neutral response diffused the explosion that was on the verge of happening.  Jesus stepped back and separated himself from the situation for a moment until everyone could get control of their emotions.  This is good advice for everyone, but most especially parents of small children.

The rest of the gospel tells us how Jesus turned this very explosive situation, into a very healing and restorative thing for everyone involved.  People are actually more important than the rules.   Sometimes an infraction of the rules is so bad that they have to be set aside for the moment, in order to love the person, apart from their sin.  People change because of love, not rules.  Rules were made for love, or out of love for one another.

The person is more precious to Jesus than the rules they have broken, or the sins they have committed.  This should be true for us as well.

TheCatholicWord.com

Do Not Be Afraid

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Today the Liturgy talks about raising the dead. This gets me to thinking, am I really ready to accept God to the point I’m not afraid of my own death. I think it takes a truly strong person to admit with any sincerity that he/she is ready to accept death for the Lord. There is still the fear of the unknown.

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The fear of death is like a cloud, a terrible shadow that falls over human life and experience. All of our proximate fears are reflections of, and participation in, this primordial fear. It cramps us, turns us in on ourselves, makes us defensive, hateful, violent, and vengeful.

Further, most of the structures of oppression in the world are predicated upon the fear of death. Because a tyrant can threaten his people with death, he can dominate them; because a dictator can threaten people with killing, he can perpetrate all sorts of injustice. Whenever the strong (in any sense) overwhelm the weak, we are looking at the ways of death.

But what would life be like if we were no longer afraid? What if death had finally lost its sting?

Then we would live as the saints do–not immune to suffering, but, if I can put it this way, unaffected by it. We would know that we are loved by a power that transcends death, and this would fill us with an exuberance beyond measure.

Jesus came to inaugurate this fearless and death-defying love. Therefore in the great words of John Paul II, which were really the words of Christ, “Do not be afraid.”

Sin

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WHERE DOES SINFUL HUMANITY GO WHEN THEY DIE?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

HOW DO WE ESCAPE?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask

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To My Readers:

I have neglected my blog for some time now and this is not fair to those who follow me. I aim to be more diligent in my blogging, and as always I am open to your suggestions and feedback. Since my last post in December, I have opened a new website, thecatholicword.com as well as wilm4life.org .

I now manage both of these sites, please check them out and again your feed back is very important. I appreciate your patience in my lack of writing. Thank You and God Bless.

Paul

Not Only Christmas Day

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Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.

And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.
Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You’ve done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
“Come, good and faithful servant,”
Your Master says, “Well done.”

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day

God’s Gift of Salvation

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HOW DO I PLEASE GOD?

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

WHAT IS HUMANITY’S TRUE CONDITION?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

WHERE DOES SINFUL HUMANITY GO WHEN THEY DIE?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

HOW DO WE ESCAPE?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

WHAT IS GOD’S WAY OF SALVATION?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

WHAT DID JESUS CHRIST COME TO ACCOMPLISH?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

HOW DO I RECEIVE THIS FREE GIFT?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

IS SUNDAY MASS NECESSARY?

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A REFLECTION ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SUNDAY MASS                           

“I don’t need to go to Mass every Sunday. It’s not that important.”

No doubt we’ve all heard this from time to time. Is it true? Or is Sunday Mass necessary for salvation? To answer this we must first ask; Did Christ say what was necessary for salvation? In fact, He did:

On one occasion a lawyer stood up to pose to Jesus this problem: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus answered him, “What is written in the law?…” He replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you shall live” (Luke 10:25-28).

Thus, love is the key. But, how do we love God? Christ, God and man, answered this as follows:

“The one who obeys the commandments he has from me is the one who loves me” (John 14:21).

Now did Jesus give any commands about the Mass? Yes. At the last supper, the institution of the Eucharist, Christ said:

“Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).

What is it we remember in the Mass? Merely some meal Christ celebrated the night before he died? No. Something much more wonderful than that.

WHAT IS THE MASS?

In the words of pope John Paul II, “The Mass is above all else a sacrifice.” (On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist, or Dominicae Cenae, henceforth “DC”)

[In the Mass] Christ perpetuates in an unbloody manner the sacrifice offered on the cross, offering Himself tot he Father for the world’s salvation through the ministry of priests. (Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, henceforth “EM”)

We re-offer in the Mass the body and blood of Christ, separated as they were on Calvary. We re-present the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the event which saved us and opened the gates of heaven which had been closed by Original Sin.

Just as the Jews offered and partook of the unblemished lamb to celebrate Passover, the saving act of God who released them from their slavery in Egypt to journey toward the promised land; so we offer and partake of the unblemished “Lamb of God” to celebrate the new Passover, the saving act of Christ who released us from our slavery to sin to journey toward the promised land of heaven. Indeed, all the Old Testament sacrifices, the lamb, the scapegoat, and various other animals slain as offerings for sin, were prefigurements of the sacrifice of the Mass, the “consummation and perfection of them all.” (Council of Trent, Doctrine on the Mass, chapter 1)

This central mystery of our faith is alluded to in Eucharistic Prayer III.

A REFLECTION ON EUCHARISTIC PRAYER III

We read in the Third Eucharistic Prayer:

“Father, calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, His glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet Him when He comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this Holy and Living Sacrifice.” 

The sacrifice is Holy because it is Christ, truly Christ, miraculously present in the form of bread and wine, not just a symbol. It is living because it is a divine sacrifice and what is divine lives forever.

We read on in Eucharistic Prayer III:

“Look with favor on your Church’s offering and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself.”

Christ is the “Paschal “Victim,” the “scapegoat,” who took our sins upon Himself so we could be “reconciled” to the Father.

We read on:

“Grant that we who are nourished by His Body and blood may be filled with His Holy Spirit, and become one body, one spirit in Christ.”

The great miracle of the Eucharist is not only that bread and wine become Christ, but that we become “others Christ’s” by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, animating us to express to the world through our own unique personalities, the goodness and love of Christ.

We read on:

“May he make us an everlasting gift to you…”

It is not enough that we offer Christ to the Father in Mass. We must offer ourselves on the alter of sacrifice with Him. We too, are to be victims for the sins of the world. The Church confirms this:

“The Church, the spouse and minister of Christ, performs together with Him the role of priest and victims, offers Him to the Father and at the same time makes a total offering of herself together with Him…” (EM, C 3).

The magnificence of the Mass is reflected in the following:

 Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ, the priest, and of his Body, which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its effectiveness by the same title and to the same degree. (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 1963, para 7)

Elsewhere the Mass is called the “source and summit of the whole Church’s worship and the Christian life.” (EM, C 5)

Thus, to remark which is often made; I don’t need to go to Mass. I can pray to God just as well in my room or under a tree!” We reply, “There is no way you can offer the sacrifice of Calvary, the `source and summit` of the whole Church’s worship and the Christian life in your room, or under a tree.” The Mass is the only divine gift we can offer God.

SACRED BANQUET, COVENANT MEAL

The Mass is secondarily:

…a sacred banquet in which, through the communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the People of God… renew the New Covenant which God has made with man once for all through the Blood of Christ, and in faith and hope foreshadow and anticipate the eschatalogical banquet in the Kingdom of the Father. (EM, C 1)

When we receive the Eucharist then, we renew our covenant of love with Jesus.

Did Christ say anything about the necessity of receiving the Eucharist? Indeed He did:

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His Blood you have no life in you” (John 6:53)

In other words, if we willfully and knowingly refuse to partake of the Eucharist, which Christ called “real food… real drink,” we cannot maintain a spiritual life. Without spiritual life, grace, we will never live in God’s Kingdom; we are headed for eternal ruin. This is a strong statement by Our Lord.

Saint Paul warns us, however, that we must approach the Eucharist worthily:

Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 11:27)

Pope John Paul II wrote in 1980:

…we must always take care that this great meeting with Christ in the Eucharist does not become a mere habit, and that we do not receive Him unworthily, that is to say, in a state of mortal sin. (DC)

We must not only make our peace with God before receiving the Eucharist (by sacramental confession if we are in a state of mortal sin), but as part of this peace, we should make peace with our neighbor since the Eucharist is a “sign of unity, a bond of love.” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n 47)

HOW OFTEN ARE WE TO ATTEND MASS?

It should be clear now that we must participate in this most marvelous gift of the Mass, and partake of its meal, the Eucharist, in order to be saved. But, how often are we to attend Mass?

The answer is found in the third commandment:

“Keep holy the Lord’s day.”

By a tradition handed down by the apostles, which took its origin from the very day of Christ’s resurrection, the Church celebrates the paschal mystery every seventh day, which is appropriately called the Lord’s Day or Sunday. For on this day Christ’s faithful are bound to come together into one place, so that, hearing the word of God and participating in the Eucharist, they may call to mind the Passion, Resurrection and glory of the Lord Jesus… (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, n 106).

The 1983 Code of Canon Law states (c1247) “On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in Mass…”

Who could say he was keeping the Lord’s day holy if he didn’t offer God his most valued gift on that day? Who could claim to love God if he refused (without a serious obstacle) to offer “summit,” the high point, of the Christian life at least on the day God commanded us to keep holy? What holier action is there?

Furthermore, if Christ’s flesh is real food and his blood real drink, sustenance necessary for spiritual life, should we be satisfied partaking in this sacred banquet just once a week (or a year, as is required)? And, dare we enter this bodily communion with our God without sharing in a daily intimate communication of love with Him in prayer?

Would spiritual life of Sunday Mass, a few prayers morning and evening, and confession three times a year constitute loving God with all our “heart, soul, and mind?” In fact, if we do only these things, are we are not just hanging on to our faith by our fingernails? And, if we knowingly refuse to offer the “summit” of these at least weekly, could we seriously think we are headed for God’s Kingdom?

Thus, to the original question, “Is Sunday Mass necessary for salvation?” we must answer, given that we know the above, Yes!, and a great deal more: A life of deeply committed love. What better time than now to face this?

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

“He who made you without your cooperation, will not save you without your cooperation”

Saint Augustine

Paul Tanner  — Paul@thecatholicword.com

 

God’s Gift Of Salvation

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How Do I Please God?                                                                                Image

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

What Is Humanity’s True Condition?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

Where Does Sinful Humanity Go When They Die?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

How Do We Escape?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

What Is God’s Way Of Salvation?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

What Did Jesus Christ Come To Accomplish?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

How Do I Receive This Free Gift?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

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