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Was Jesus Raised from the Dead?

Posted in Do You Know Jesus? with tags on April 6, 2009 by evangelist
This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. – Acts 2:32

Some might ask what it matters. Some might think it is a given that Jesus was raised from the dead. Others may think it doesn’t matter either way – maybe His body is still in the grave, maybe not. So what does the Bible say about the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

Buried in a Borrowed Tomb

The Scriptures are clear. Jesus Christ died for the sins of His people. He acted as their substitute. And after He died He was buried temporarily in a borrowed tomb (Matt 27:57-61). He was buried in haste for the sun was setting and the Sabbath day was about to begin. Those who loved Jesus were planning to come back after the Sabbath and prepare the body for a proper burial, but this could not be done with the Sabbath approaching, so they waited, and laid His body in this tomb, on loan from Joseph of Arimathea.

Day one was the day of the crucifixion. Day two was the Sabbath day. Day three was Sunday, the first day of the week, and by the time they arrived at the tomb to prepare the body for final burial, He was not there! The stone was rolled away, angels were present, the guards had fainted and fled, and Jesus was not there. On the third day, just as He promised, He had risen from the dead (Mark 9:31).

Believe in Your Heart that God has Raised Him from the Dead

So was His body moved? Was it stolen? Was it taken away by the disciples so that they could pretend He was alive and create a new religion? Or had Jesus not really died on the cross, only swooned, fainted, and passed out? All of these lies have been perpetuated through the ages as the devil himself knows the danger of the truth of the resurrection. You see, the cross may have bruised Jesus’ heel, but it also bruised Satan’s head – meaning it was a death blow for both. But Jesus did not stay dead and the devil only has dying forever to look forward to in the lake of fire!

Before we explain what happened and how important the doctrine of the resurrection is we have to make one note, a note above all else. The doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is so important that it is an essential element of the gospel message! When you trust Christ, you must be believing in a living Jesus, a Christ who has conquered death. Romans 10:9-10 states clearly:

Because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

The resurrection is central to the gospel. Why? Because if Jesus had only died for our sin and not been raised then we would have no hope of salvation. It is not enough that Jesus took the penatly for our sin upon Himself. If He had only taken our sin away, we would still die one day. And then where would we be? You see, by being raised from the dead, Jesus not only took away our sin, He also gave us life! He overcame death for us. He died and lived again so that we too, though we may die, will live again with Him.

If we have no sin, but also have no life, that gets us nowhere. But if we have no sin, with death conquered, that gives us heaven!

Combating Heresy

Since we see that the Bible makes belief in the resurrection a necessary element of the gospel, we need to understand that all these other views about what happened to Jesus after He died are heresy. That is, to say that Jesus was not raised from the dead is to proclaim a powerless gospel, another gospel (Gal 1:6-9). So let’s answer the heretics and see what really happened to Jesus on that third day. Here are a few of the lies that have been told about the resurrection:

1. The Swoon Theory.

This is the idea that Jesus did not die on the cross. He merely swooned. They thought He was dead because He was so near death, but through all the blood and gore and the darkness and earthquakes and all that happened that day they just missed that He was still barely breathing when they took Him off the cross.

This idea is really just stupid. It discounts the facts that the Romans were efficient executioners. They crucified thousands upon thousands of people. It was their most brutal form of execution. They were professional killers and knew when a man was dead. They broke legs to be sure, they pierced bodies through to the heart with a spear to check. The torture of crucifixion was so horrible that many victims died before ever being nailed to a cross. The Biblical testimony is clear. Jesus “gave up His Spirit”, He “breathed His last”, He died on the cross (Luke 23:46). And the Romans in charge of the crucifixion verified He was dead by piercing His heart with a spear. Had He not already been dead, this alone would have killed Him. But the spear did not kill Jesus, neither did the scourging, or the cross. He had already given up His life willingly into the Hands of the Father.

2. The Stolen Body Theory.

This idea was fueled by the Jewish authorities after the guards fled from before the angels who opened the tomb to reveal that Jesus was not there. They paid the guards and told them to explain that while they slept His disciples came and stole the body. Imagine trained Roman guards, posted at a sealed tomb, told to expect trouble by the third day because of the prophecy of the resurrection, falling asleep while a few disciples rolled that huge stone away and took the body. The stone in front of the tomb would be a huge round rock that would have to be rolled uphill in a groove to remove it from the entrance. It was a concern even as the women were coming to prepare the body. “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?”, they asked one another on the way.

Further to believe the Body was stolen and buried elsewhere is to believe in a massive conspiracy. Why? Because hundreds of people claimed to have seen Jesus after He was raised from the dead. In order to make this conspiracy work, Mary and Mary Magdelene, the Apostles including Paul, five hundred people on one occassion, and many others all had to lie (John 20:14-16, 26-29; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:6, 8; Acts 9:3-17).

3. The Hallucination Theory.

This idea is based on the premise that those who thought they saw Jesus were hallucinating. They all saw the same thing at the same time. This is easily debunked even if we ignore the Biblical evidence. Hallucinations are not group activities. They are individual occurrences induced usually by drugs or by deprivation from sleep or food and water. All of these people mentioned already saw, talked to, touched, and ate with Jesus on many different occassions in different settings.

4. The Resuscitation Theory.

This interesting take on things suggests that Jesus passed out on the cross, was mistaken for dead He was so near death, but just like a patient shocked back to life after his heart stops on the operating table, Jesus was somehow resuscitated and never actually died. And then, after having not slept for days, endured the beating, the blood loss, hanging on a cross for 6 hours, having His heart pierced by a spear, and having been wrapped up and put in a tomb – somehow Jesus had the strength to get up, roll away the stone from the inside of the tomb, break the seal, and then fight off the Roman guards standing watch. Please. Reality TV and Professional Wrestling are more believable.

The Report of Eye-Witnesses

These theories require blind faith, but the truth of Scripture informs our faith with the reports of eye witnesses. The idea that God raised Jesus up from the dead is fundamental and foundational to our faith. So how do we KNOW Jesus was raised from the dead?

The proof, recorded for us in the Bible, includes these facts:

1. The tomb was empty – Luke 24:2-3

2. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdelene – John 20:11-16

3. Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-27

4. Jesus appeared to 10 of the 11 remaining disciples – John 20:19-24

5. Jesus appeared to the 11 all together – John 20:26

6. Jesus appeared to 500 people at one time together and others – 1 Cor 15:5-8

7. People ate with Him and touched Him, proving He was not a ghost or hallucination – Luke 24:39; John 20:27; 21:1-14

8. Jesus appeared later to Paul and to John – 1 Cor 9:1; Acts 26:14-18; Rev 1:12-13

The Ramifications of the Resurrection

So what happens to our faith if there is no resurrection? What if we fall for a lie and deny that Jesus was raised from the dead? What are the consequences and ramifications of the doctrine of the resurrection?

First we strip the gospel message of truth, for Paul declares that the gospel includes the resurrection. See 1 Cor 15:1-8:

1Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.

Secondly, if Christ is not alive from the dead then our faith is vain, our preaching empty and useless, and those who have died have perished with no hope. See 1 Cor 15:14-18:

14And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.

Thirdly, if there is no resurrection, what is the point of suffering for Christ? And let’s be clear, the disciples who in fear fled and abandoned Jesus when He was arrested in the Garden, denied Him while He was on trial, and hid for fear of their lives in the Upper Room, after seeing Jesus became bold, turned the world upside down with their preaching of “this Jesus whom God raised up”, and most became martyrs for their faith in loving obedience to the risen Christ. The power of the resurrection transformed them and the world. See 1 Cor 15:30-32:

30Why are we in danger every hour? 31I protest, brothers, by my pride in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die every day! 32What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

Fourth, we have no hope of heaven without the resurrection, for just as Jesus was raised from the dead, so we too will be raised from the dead when He returns. See 1 Cor 15:50-53:

50I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

And last, God by raising Jesus from the dead declared His sacrifice sufficient to pay the penalty of our sin. God was satisified, and as Jesus conquered death now we have the hope of eternal life. See 1 Cor 15:57-58:

57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

This we declare, just as Jesus came and lived a sinless life, just as He died on the cross as our substitute, just as His body was laid in a borrowed tomb, so too is it true that He was raised from the dead. This is our hope. We know by this that sin and death have been defeated, our faith is not in vain, we have the hope of eternal life, and we know that Jesus meant what He said when He declared from the cross, “It is finished.” The price for redemption has been paid in full and we have been reconciled to God through His death and resurrection!

Jesus is alive. He is our Hope. He is coming back. Do you believe this?

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How Did Jesus Die?

Posted in Do You Know Jesus? with tags on April 5, 2009 by evangelist
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? – Psalm 22:1

We have seen Who Jesus is and we have answered questions about why He came, but those answers have led to more questions. We know that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, to live a sinless life and offer Himself as a substitute for us, taking our sins upon Himself and bearing the wrath of God for them, and giving to us His righteouesness so that as we trust Him we are justified by faith before God. But how did Jesus die? We know the why, now we will look at the how!

Sequence of Events

We will examine first the chronological sequence of events that transpired from the time of the Garden of Gethsemane to the Death of Christ. We will also examine what killed Jesus. Was it the scourging, loss of blood, the cross, the spear in his side? What caused the death of Jesus? But first, the chronology and history of what Jesus endured in bearing the wrath of God for our sin.

The Garden of Gethsemane

Time – approximately 11:30 PM to 1:00 AM
Scriptures – Matt. 26:36-56; Mark 14:32-52; Luke 22:39-53; John 18:1-11

Jesus departed with His disciples from the observance of the Passover meal, during which He showed the fulfillment of the Passover by instituting the Lord’s Supper. As they left, singing a hymn, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was going to pray. He left all the disciples except for Peter, James, and John – those that were the closest to Him – and went to find a place to pray.

As He prayed, Jesus knew what He was facing! He knew the death that awaited Him in order that the Divine plan of salvation might be accomplished. He had been born to die and now death was near at hand. Jesus was fully God (the spirit is willing) and knew what He had to do. He was also fully man (the flesh is weak), and He did not want to die! What a fearful thing to be facing the torment of bearing the full wrath of God toward sin.

He prayed specifically, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came and found the disciples asleep! He awoke them and asked them to watch and pray with Him, and He went back to fall on His face before the Father. He prayed again, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” He knew that drinking this cup meant to do what He had come to do, to be humbled as a man and crucified on a cross. And the disciples fell aspleep again, so He left them there and returned to pray a third time, saying the same thing.

The weight of bearing the wrath of God had already begun and while Jesus prayed the blood vessels in His face began to burst due to the stress, and He began to sweat great drops of blood. His face was bruised from the weight of the cross, and He had not yet even been arrested!

Judas and the chief priests and temple guards arrived to arrest Jesus and turn Him over the Romans. The Jews had no authority to put a man to death, though they could bring him before the Romans and they would carry out the sentence. Judas kissed Jesus, a pre-arranged signal to identify the one to be arrested so that there was no mistake. Jesus asked who they were seeking, they replied, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He answered, “I Am He.” With that statement the Book of John records that all there were struck with the power and glory of God – the whole mob fell back away from Jesus as He was revealed as “I AM.”

Then as they got up and moved to arrest Him, Peter stepped up to defend Jesus even if it meant his own life. He drew his sword and tried to strike one of the men approaching. It was Malchus, a servant of the High Priest. As Peter swung the sword and Malchus ducked out of the way the sword missed lopping his head off but did take his ear off! Jesus instructed Peter to put the sword away, for “all who live by the sword will die by the sword.” This was not a statement of pacifism, as Jesus had even told His disciples to buy and carry swords for defense against wild animals and robbers. He meant in this instance that if Peter killed Malchus, Peter himself would be put to death. With that Jesus healed Malchus’ ear completely! And He went to be tried as His disciples and a young man named John Mark fled and ran for their lives.

The Trial before the High Priest

Time – 3:00 AM
Scriptures – Matt. 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:63-71; John 18:12-27

Jesus was taken and brought before Annas and Caiphas, the High Priest, and charged with blasphemy. These men would decide the crimes to be charged against Jesus when He would stand trial before the Sanhedrin. Here they were accusing Him, complete with a list of witnesses who lied, of a crime punishable by death. They were set on killing Him.

Jesus was struck and spit upon, and at one point even blindfolded and hit in the face as those striking Him cried out, “Tell us who hit you.” He was mocked and condemned.

Peter Denies Christ

Time – During the Trial before the High Priest
Scriptures – Matt. 26:69-74; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:54-62

While He was being questioned by the High Priest, Peter stood with John out in the courtyard. Here Peter was accused by a servant girl in the crowd of being a follower of Jesus. He denied he knew Jesus. A little while later another girl saw him and said that she had seen him with Jesus. He swore an oath that he did not know Jesus and had no idea what this girl was talking about. Then again after a time someone accused him of knowing and being with Jesus, saying he talked like he was from Galilee. At this point, the third time Peter denied Jesus, he cursed and said that he did not know the Man.

Immediately after this, the Bible records for us that Jesus saw Peter through a window. They made eye contact. And Peter remembered the prediction he had refused to believe, that he would deny Christ 3 times before dawn. And he had. He fled the courtyard and went out a wept bitterly at having denied His Lord.

The Trial before the Sanhedrin

Time – Dawn
Scriptures – Matt. 27:1; Luke 22:66-71

At dawn, Jesus was taken with the charges against Him from the High Priest and tried before the Sanhedrin, the highest court in Israel. They quickly found Him guilty of blasphemy, and sent Him to Pilate so that He might be put to death.

The Trials before Pilate and Herod

Time 6:30 AM to 9:00 AM
Scriptures – Matt. 27:2-28; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-19:15

Pilate, the Roman Governor of Palestine, representing Caesar and acting as the highest ranking military and civil officer in that area, had to approve all cases demanding the death penalty. He interviewed Jesus and declared that He was innocent! In fact, while questioning Him, Pilate determined that this was not a case for death and so the local officals, namely King Herod, could rule on the case. So Pilate sent Jesus to Herod.

King Herod Antipas, powerful but nothing more than a puppet for Rome, was the son of Herod the Great, who of course had met with the Wise Men after the birth of Christ and had ordered all the male children 2 and under to be slaughtered in an attempt to prevent the birth of a new king! He died before Joseph and Mary and Jesus returned from their flight to Egypt. Herod Antipas though was more interested in Jesus and His miracles. In fact, he was not interested in trying Jesus. He just asked Jesus to perform “tricks” for him! Herod heard the accusations against Jesus from the Jewish leaders, placed a flowing velvet robe on Him mocking Him, and sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate still insisted He was innocent and in order to pacify the crowd and the Jewish leaders, said that Jesus was to be beaten. He thought that perhaps if He was beaten and released that this would satisfy the crowd. The crowd instead cried out for Barabas to be released – an assassin, a terrorist if you will, and the elders of Israel wanted him released. When Pilate asked then what to do with Jesus the crowd cried out, “Crucify Him!”

So the Roman guards took Jesus and scourged Him. They likely used a cat-of-nine-tails. It was a rod with 9 strips of leather tied to the end, and at the end of these leather strips where embedded pieces of bone, sharp rocks, and metal. This whip was used to lash prisoners. A skilled punisher could use the whip to lodge these sharp pieces into the chest of the criminal and then yank it all loose stripping off pieces of flesh from the chest and stomach all the way around to the back.

The guards crowned Jesus with a crown of thorns after this. They did not use a crown like what we see in most artwork. It was like a ball cap without a bill, a hat woven out of the branches of a short thorn bush that produces thorns an inch and a half to two inches long. This was beaten into Christ’s head with a rod.

They took the robe Herod had given Him and pressed it into His bleeding back and mocked Him as a “king.” As the blood from the wounds in His back dried into the thick purple robe, they ripped the robe off aagin, opening the wounds afresh. They spit on Jesus, ripped His beard out, and continued to hit His head with the reed.

The Place of the Skull

Time – 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Scriptures – Matt. 27:29-66; Mark 15:21-47; Luke 23:26-56; John 19:16-42

At this time, Jesus was already weak from the loss of blood. His face was bruised from both sweating drops of blood in the Garden and from being hit, beaten, slapped, and His beard pulled out. He was bleeding from His face, back and sides, and His head. And they took Him to the place of the skull. It was a small hill outside the city gates where people were put to death for their crimes. This hill was called “Golgotha” which means “place of the skull”. It was so named because it looked like it had a skull in its side with caves forming cavities.

He was forced to carry the cross beam that He would be nailed to as He was crucified. He dropped it on the way, and the most amazing thing happened. A man named Simon from Cyrene was pulled from the crowd and forced to carry the cross for Jesus. (Simon’s son Rufus is later mentioned as part of the church in Rome – Rom 16:13.) Look at what is happening here. Jesus is bearing the weight of our sin and even in the midst of the full wrath of God, grace and mercy is shown in that someone else carried the cross!!

Arriving at the place to be crucified Jesus was offered pain killer but refused. He would not find any loss of His senses as He bore the pain of death for our sin. He was stripped of all clothing and nailed to the cross – His hands (through the wrist) and His feet, one over the other with the nail piercing through the top of both feet and exiting the heel into the cross.

The charge against Him was nailed to the top of the cross, identifying in 3 languages that “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” At noon, as He hung on the cross, the sun was hidden and everything was dark until 3:00 PM. During this time, in order to take a breathe on the cross, Jesus had to push up on the nail in His feet and pull up on the nails in His wrists, scraping His already sliced back up and down on that wooden cross. Those who died on a cross usually died of suffocation – not being able to have the continued strength to pull up and take a breath.

While hanging there between heaven and earth, bearing the penalty for our sin, Jesus spoke and said the following things:

1. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

2. “Woman, behold your son.” (Spoken to Mary His mother, identifying the Apostle John as the one who would take care of her in His absence).

3. “Behold your mother.” (Spoken to John about Mary).

4. “Assuredly I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Spoken to the theif who believed in Him and would join Him in heaven that very day).

5. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabacthani – a scream of such pain in being separated from the Father as He bore the full brunt of the wrath of God for our sin that the people who heard Him did not even understand what He said. They thought He was calling to Elijah to save Him. He was in fact uttering the most hideous cry ever uttered by a man.)

6. “I thirst.”

7. Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit.” (He knew He would go to be with the Father upon His death).

8. “It is finished.” (Tetelestai – PAID IN FULL – He had paid the debt we could not pay).

And He died. When He died the veil of the Temple was rent in two – now man had access through the blood of Christ directly into the presence of God. No more High Priest or sacrifices or rituals. He was the High Priest and the sacrifice, once for all.

When He died, He did not die from suffocation, or blood loss, or the beating, or the crucifixion. He willingly gave up His life. He chose the moment He would die! He died not due to the physical torments of the crucifixion. He died willingly as a result of bearing the wrath of God for our sin upon Himself. He tells us He gave up His life willingly so that He could take it up again – referring to the resurrection. He was always God! He was always in control. He chose when to die, and when to be raised from the dead. All to pay for our sin!

A guard standing by would usually break a criminals legs in order to hasten death – he could then not push up and keep breathing. But when they came to do this to Jesus He was already dead. They stuck a spear in His side to check and pierced His heart and both blood and water came out of the wound, a clear sign that He was dead.

Upon seeing Him die, the Centurion in charge of the execution believed that He was the Son of God – fulfilling the prayer, “Father, forgive them.” Surely this man was the Son of God. And He gave His life willingly to pay for our sin and save us. He made of Himself a substitute.

Hebrews 12 tells us that through the pain, the torment, the abandonement, the shame, and all that He did to pay for our sin, through all of that He had one thing in mind!! Joy! Yes, joy!

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. This is how Jesus died.

He had come to seek and save that which was lost, and just as the angel told Mary before He was born, He would save His people from their sin. He had come to do this. He was born to die. And He died to save His people from their sin.

Why Did Jesus Come?

Posted in Do You Know Jesus? with tags on October 19, 2008 by evangelist
For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
– Luke 19:10

In order for us to place our faith in Christ, in order to trust Him, we need to know why He came. Why should we trust Jesus? Seeing our need will answer the question asked today, “Why did Jesus come?”

The Holiness of God

We must start by seeing God for Who He is. He is perfect in majesty and holiness, pure and immutable, incapable of sin and deceit. He is Almighty God, the Creator of all that is. And as a holy, holy, holy God, He created mankind to have fellowship with Him. Not because He needed fellowship, but because He desired it. He, for His own purposes and good pleasure, wanted to fellowship with us.

He created the world for us to live in and tend. He gave us everything we needed for life and godliness. Everything He created was good and perfect.

But then, after creating mankind as male and female and giving them a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17), Satan came in the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat of the fruit (Gen 3:1). He started with the same old lie, “Did God really say?” He went on to tell Eve and Adam that they would be like God if they ate the fruit and that God was afraid that they would become His equals and that was the only reason for the command (Gen 3:4-5). Eve added to the Word of God, by the way. She answered the serpent that God has said not to eat or even touch the fruit (Gen 3:2-3). Did God tell her not to touch the fruit? No. He said only not to eat it. She added to the Word, doubted the Word, denied the Word, and driven by the lust of her flesh (it was good for food), the lust of her eyes (it looked good), and the pride of life (it would make her “wise”) she took and ate the fruit……and then gave some to Adam (who was right there with her the whole time) and he willingly ate as well (Gen 3:6).

Mankind had violated God’s Word. They had disobeyed. They had sinned. And as such they ceased to be holy and perfect. They suffered spiritual death and bondage to sin and then suffered under the curse that the whole world groans under to this day.

Because God is holy and all of mankind, represented by Adam, sinned when he ate the fruit (Rom 5:12), now we all were separated from God. Hence the Bible is true when it states “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23).

As God had specifically warned Adam and Eve, to eat the fruit was to die. And we know that “the wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23). Adam did not die physically at that instant. But he did die spiritually and because that fellowship with the Father was broken and the commandment violated, Adam would now face death physically. And just as we all die, Adam died (Gen 5:5).

That Which is Lost

In seeing what happened in the Garden of Eden, we see that mankind fell into sin and if we were to have fellowship with God, as He intended, then we would have to be restored, or reconciled to Him (Col 1:21). In that sense then, we were indeed lost in the Garden. We lost fellowship and unhindered access to God. We lost eternal life in His presence forever, we lost life and health, we lost our freedom being now dead in sin, we lost our way!

And that is why Jesus had to come! He says that He came to “seek and save that which was lost.” You see, God knew before He ever started creating that Adam and Eve would sin. He knew before the world began that to redeem fallen man would cost the life of His only Son. He knew that it was up to Him to save us because we could not save ourselves. He knew, because this was what He had planned all along to proclaim His glory through the ages!! When Adam and Eve ate that fruit, God was not taken by surprise. He did not make them eat it. But He knew they would. God is not the author of sin. But He allowed it and now uses it for His purposes. Imagine God is powerful enought to take anything that happens in our life and use it for His own glory and for our good! (Rom 8:28).

So Jesus was sent to seek out, find, and save that which was lost. And that is why we must know why He had to come before we can see our need to trust Him. If we tell people to trust Christ they will likely ask, “Why should I trust Christ?” And the answer is, because we need to trust Him if we are to reconciled to a holy God and have our sins forgiven.

The Word of God tells us of our need. The Law of God shows us how far short we fall of His standards and His righteouesness. We see that we have sinned and that we cannot pay for our sin! The Law points us to to our need for Christ (Gal 3:24).

“Oh, but wait,” you say, “will not the lost man pay for his sin in hell forever?” Well there you have it. If we are required to pay the sin debt we owe, it will never be paid! We will pay forever, but never finally satisfy the justice, wrath, and holiness of God. Our sin is so heinous because He is so holy that if we are required to pay for it on our own the debt will never be paid off. Not for all eternity (Mark 9:43, 45).

People who deny the doctrine of a literal hell fail to realise that in doing so they cheapen both the awfulness of sin and the glory of God! We can never pay what we owe. That is why being under the wrath of God for eternity is referred to as the second death (Rev 21:8) – we will all die physically unless the Lord Jesus comes back, and we will all either live forever with God in the new heavens and earth, or we will die forever in the lake of fire! Always dying and never being dead. Flames. Worms. Torments. Darkness and blackness, with pain that drives to the gnashing of teeth to try and seek some relief. But there is no relief. No drop of water. No break. It is forever. Such is the nature of sin in opposition to the absolute holiness of God.

The Substitute

In seeing our need for salvation, for a rescue from the power of sin and death and hell, we see why Jesus had to come. God has to save us for we cannot save ourselves. We cannot be good enough for all we can do outside of Christ is sin (Rom 14:23). We cannot buy eternal life or the fogiveness of sins. We cannot afford the bill that is due! We cannot think that God will balance our good and bad behavior on a scale and if the good outweighs the bad then we will get into heaven. Jesus said there is none good but God (Psalm 14:3; Rom 3:12; Matt 19:17). So there is not a man (except for Christ) in the history of the world that has been good after Adam fell in the garden.

The truth is we cannot keep the law of God. James is clear. To break one commandment is to break all the law (James 2:10). Think of it. If you break one law out of a hundred you are still a lawbreaker. You are still a sinner. And the wages of sin is still death.

So we see why we must trust in Christ, because we need a substitute! Someone to pay the debt that we cannot. Someone to keep all the law without breaking a single one. And that is why Jesus had to come.

He came to be a man. God knew we could not save ourselves so He sent His Son to become one of us. As a man then He kept all the Law of God. He came to “fulfill all righteouesness.” He was holy just as the Father is holy. He, as the spotless Lamb of God, obeyed all the Law, from outward precept to inward motive. He was a righteous man.

As such then He could stand in for us when it came time to be tried for our sin. He could give us (impute to us) His obedience. He could give us His righteousness. And He as a man could also pay our bill. He could offer Himself as a sacrifice and die for our sin. That is just what He intended to do when He came to seek and save that which was lost. He took our sin upon Himself. He paid for our sin before God. He bore the wrath and justice of God that our sins made us deserve. He carried the burden that we could not. He paid the bill we could never afford. And He paid it in full!!

So we see then what the Word of God calls propitiation. Jesus offered Himself on our behalf, taking our sin upon Himself by becoming a substitute for us in death, and at the same time imputed to us all of His righteousness so that we could be declared right with God (1 John 4:10; Heb 2:17; Rom 3:21-26).

How are we declared right with God? When Jesus seeks us and saves us, draws us to the Father (John 6:44), convicts us of our sinfulness (John 16:8) and our need for a Savior, gives us grace and faith (Eph 2:8-9), and we see our need and trust in Him. When we obey the gospel message, we repent, turning from our sin and turn in faith to Christ, we trust Him to save us, to forgive us, to take our sin away and give us eternal life. When we believe in Jesus Christ we are declared right with God (Rom 5:1)! Because of Who He is, and what He has done on our behalf, we can be made right with God.

That is amazing grace!! Tomorrow we will see how it is that Jesus took our sin upon Himself by the death that He died on the cross. Until then here is something to think about – have you seen your need for a Savior? Have you seen your sin and its cost – a bill you cannot pay? Have you repented from your sin and turned to Christ in faith, trusting Him to save you and forgive you – to pay your debt and give you a right standing with God? Have you believed and obeyed the gospel, the good news, that Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost?

If so, rejoice is so great a salvation provided by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

If not, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can bargian your way into heaven. We have nothing to bargain with – God requires absolute goodness and holiness and we are neither good nor holy outside of Jesus Christ. If we take such a gamble we have to see that we have nothing to gamble with, we have nothing good to offer (Isaiah 64:6)!! We are already dead, we are already in debt so far that we will never pay our way out. We must be rescued. Someone must come and save us for we cannot save ourselves! Do you see your need? If you see your need, look to Christ!! Look to Him – He in the only One who can save you!!

Who is Jesus?

Posted in Do You Know Jesus? with tags on October 19, 2008 by evangelist

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

(Matthew 16:16)

We, in order to be saved, must believe in Jesus. We must place our trust in Him. If we are to do that, we need to know Who Jesus is! This then is a basic introduction and reminder for us about Who this Jesus is.

Who is Jesus?

Jesus is identified by many names and titles in Scripture, including the Word, the Way, the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Truth, Immanuel (God with us), the Savior, the Redeemer, the Lord, the Life, the Lamb of God, the Mediator between God and men, and others. So let us see what a few of these names and titles tell us about Who He is.

 Immanuel – God with Us

Jesus is God. That is where we must start as we look at Who He is. Contrary to liberal and non-Trinitarian claims, Jesus absolutely identified Himself to His disciples and to the crowds to which He preached as God in human flesh.

We understand that the Bible presents us with the doctrine of the Trinity, and while the word trinity never occurs in the Scripture we do know that it is a good word used to explain the truth that Scripture clearly presents. The One Almighty Living God exists as Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As such, Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity.

 Second London Confession on God:

 1. The Lord our God is the one and only living and true God; Whose subsistence is in and of Himself 

Who is infinite in being and perfection; Whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but Himself; 

Who is a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions 

Who only has immortality

Who dwells in the light which no man can approach,

Who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, in every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute;

Who works all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory;

Who is most loving, gracious, merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth;

Who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin;

Who is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him;

And Who, at the same time, is most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin and Who will by no means clear the guilty.

2. God, having all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and from Himself, is unique in being all- sufficient, both in Himself and to Himself, not standing in need of any creature which He has made, nor deriving any glory from such.

On the contrary, it is God Who manifests His own glory in them, through them, to them and upon them. He is the only fountain of all being; from Whom, through Whom, and to Whom all things exist and move.

He has completely sovereign dominion over all creatures, to do through them, for them, or to them whatever He pleases.

In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and not dependant on the creature.

Therefore, nothing is for Him contingent or uncertain.

He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.

To Him is due from angels and men whatever worship, service, or obedience, they owe as creatures to the Creator, and whatever else He is pleased to require from them.

3. In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word or Son, and the Holy Spirit. All are one in substance, power, and eternity; each having the whole divine essence, yet this essence being undivided.

The Father was not derived from any other being; He was neither brought into being by, nor did He issue from any other being.

The Son is eternally begotten of the Father.

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

All three are infinite, without beginning, and are therefore only one God, Who is not to be divided in nature and being, but distinguished by several peculiar relative properties, and also their personal relations.

This doctrine of the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and our comfortable dependence on Him.

In God’s plan of redemption, it is Jesus who came to be born as a man through the virgin Mary. He had no earthly father in the sense of genetics or conception. God is His Father. Being born of a virgin, He has not inherited the sin nature and the curse upon all mankind descending by natural means from Adam. He is thus fully human yet without a sinful fallen nature.

Jesus then is truly God in human flesh, Immanuel, God with us. He became a man in order to pay the penalty for mankind – we are conceived sinners, born sinners, and will die sinners, and the wages of sin is death. So Jesus came to be a man and therefore pay man’s penalty – death.

As fully God and as fully man at the same time, Jesus is One Person but has two natures. Therefore He was tempted as we all are, yet He did not sin. This allowed Him to serve as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did not die for His own sin, but for ours. As since He was righteous and sinless, He gave to us His obedience while taking the penalty for our sin upon Himself. What a glorious transaction this is!!

So we start by understanding that the Bible plainly tells us that Jesus is God.

Son of God

By using this term to describe Himself, Jesus was saying to his audience that He was equal with God. In other words, He was God. So as we have already seen the Bible establish, He is God, fully divine. He chose to limit His divinity while incarnate as a man, but is nonetheless still fully God and fully man.

When He used this title the crowd on one occassion they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy – the crime of claiming to be God – punishable by death. When He was crucified it was because the religious leaders accused Him of making Himself to be God.

Son of Man

This was Jesus’ favorite name for Himself. He used it to describe Himself more than any other name or title, using it 83 times in the Gospels. What does it mean to be the Son of Man? It is a title that only the Messiah could claim (Dan. 7:13-14). This title specifically speaks about His suffering as a man. Suffering hunger and thirst, tiredness (physical needs), pain, torment, and eventually death on the cross. It speaks of how He had to humble Himself to become a man in order to be our substitute upon the cross.

The Lord

Jesus is Lord. We do not make Him Lord. We do not crown Him King. He is Lord. This is the plain testimony of Scripture. Jesus is Lord (master) over all of Creation. As such we are His slaves, purchased with His blood, and we owe Him perfect obedience and love and honor! At that final day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess what is true – Jesus Christ is Lord. But only those who confess it NOW, in this life, will have the hope of salvation in the life to come.

Messiah – the Christ

The term Messiah means literally the “annointed one” and is translated as Christ in teh New Testament. He is the Messiah, the one appointed and annointed to save His people. He is the One who was promised all through the Old Testament. In fact, the OT points to Christ, showing us in shadows and types Who this Messiah would be and what He would accomplish. The crowd on the day of the Triumphal Entry professed that He was the Messiah! And a few days later that same crowd cried out “Crucify Him!”

Redeemer

Jesus as the Redeemer has paid the price to buy us for Himself. Many have stated that He paid the devil, but this is not true. If we examine the Scriptures we understand that God does not owe the devil anything. The question must be asked, what did Jesus save us from? As we have discussed here before, Jesus saved us from sin, self, death and hell – but above all, He saved us from God! Yes, it’s true. He suffered the wrath of God for our sin. Wrath that we would have suffered had He not died for us! Wrath that the lost man will bear for eternity if he dies without trusting Christ. So Jesus redeemed us, He paid the price God’s justice, holiness and wrath demanded! He bought us and we are His.

Savior

Jesus is our Savior. He has saved us from our sin. He has offered Himself once for all as the sacrifice that the Father’s holiness and justice demanded and He has become our Savior. In fact, as we study later why Jesus came, we will examine the fact that He came to “seek and save that which was lost.” He has SAVED us from sin, self, death, and judgment. We could not save ourselves, so He saved us!

Mediator

Jesus also is the Mediator of the New Covenant, the Covenant in His shed blood. He is the only Mediator between God and men – the only One who could stand between the two and make peace with the sacrifice of Himself. He intercedes for those for whom He has died. He Mediates the Covenant of God’s Everlasting Grace. Where we would have stood on our own condemned to death for our sin, He now stands as a substitute, giving His own life to atone for ours and presenting that to God the Judge, who declares us right with Him (justified) when we trust Christ to save us.

Prophet, Priest, and King

Jesus is a prophet, declaring to us the Word of God as He presents Himself to us, the very living Word of God. Jesus is a priest in the order of Melchizedek, a new and everlasting High Priest who offered Himself as the supreme sacrifice for His people in order to reconcile them to God. And He is the King of Kings, the ruler of all Creation, in Whom the whole world and creation consists! He is above all and everything was created by Him for His good pleasure.

Rabbi

The disciples referred to Jesus as “Rabbi”, a phrase which means teacher. They were His “disciples”, learners or followers. He was the teacher. Thus He teaches us from the Word about our need for Him and our only hope of salvation.

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Jesus is the only Way to God. The early church in fact was known as “those of the Way.” I kinda wish that had stuck! He is also the Truth. God cannot lie, there is no deceit in Him, He is light, pure, holy, spotless, and immutable. He is also the Life. To know Him is to have eternal life. Without Him there exists but death and judgment. With Him there is life eternal.

Confessing our Faith

The Confession of Faith states this in summary about Jesus, telling us Who He is:

1. It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, His only begotten Son, in accordance with the covenant made between them both, to be the Mediator between God and man; to be Prophet, Priest, and King, the Head and Savior of His Church, the Heir of all things, and the Judge of all the world. To the Lord Jesus He gave, from all eternity, a people to be His seed. These, in time, would be redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified by the Lord Jesus.

2. The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being true and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of the same substance and equal with Him;

Who made the world, and Who upholds and governs all things which He has made, did, when the fullness of time had come, take upon Himself man’s nature, with all its essential properties and common infirmities, with the exception of sin.

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowing her, so that He was born to a woman from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham and David, in accordance with the Scriptures.

Thus two whole, perfect and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without conversion, composition, or confusion;

So that the Lord Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man, yet He is one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.

3. The Lord Jesus, His human nature thus united to the divine, once in the person of the Son, was sanctified and anointed with the Holy Spirit above measure, having in Himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Him so that, being holy, harmless, undefiled, and full of grace and truth, He might be thoroughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator and Surety, a position and duty which He did not take upon Himself, but was called to perform by His Father. And the Father also put all power and judgment in His hand, and gave Him commandment to exercise the same.

4. This office and duty of Mediator and Surety the Lord Jesus undertook most willingly. To discharge it, He was made under the law, and perfectly fulfilled it, and He underwent the punishment due to us, which we should have borne and suffered. He was made sin and was made a curse for us; enduring the most grievous sorrows in His Soul with the most painful sufferings in His duty. He was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead, but His body did not undergo any decomposition. On the third day He rose from the dead with the same body in which He had suffered, with which He also ascended into Heaven, and there sits at the right hand of His Father making intercession, and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.

5. The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up to God, has fully satisfied the justice of God, has procured reconciliation, and has purchased an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of Heaven for all those whom the Father has given to Him.

6. Although the price of redemption was not actually paid by Christ until after His incarnation yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefit arising from His payment were communicated to the elect in all ages from the beginning of the world through those promises, types, and sacrifices in which He was revealed and signified as the seed which should bruise the serpent’s head, and also the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, for He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

7. Christ, in His work of Mediator, acts according to both natures, each nature doing that which is proper to itself. Yet, because of the unity of His person, that which is proper to one nature is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the person denominated by the other nature.

8. To all those for whom Christ has obtained eternal redemption, He certainly and effectually applies and communicates this redemption, making intercession for them, uniting them to Himself by His Spirit, revealing to them in the Word and by the Word the mystery of salvation. He persuades them to believe and obey, governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit, and overcome all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom. This is achieved in such a manner and by such ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation, and it is all by free and absolute grace, without any condition foreseen in them to procure it.

9. This office of Mediator between God and man is proper only to Christ, Who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church. Free Will of God, and this office may not be transferred from Him to any other, either in whole or in part.

10. This number and order of offices is essential. Because of our ignorance we need His prophetic office. Because of our alienation from God and the imperfection of the best of our service, we need His priestly office to reconcile us and present us to God as acceptable. Because of our aversion to, and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue and keeping from spiritual enemies, we need His kingly office to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us until we reach His heavenly kingdom.

And the Chalcedonian Creed of A.D. 451 affirms:

We then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have declared concerning him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers handed down to us.

 

 

Believing Jesus

Posted in Do You Know Jesus? with tags on October 19, 2008 by evangelist

We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:16)

Faith is not just a mental agreement to a set of facts. In the case of saving faith this remains true – saving faith must have an object. We all believe IN something, and what we believe works its way out in how we behave. So when we are talking about saving faith, what is the OBJECT of that faith?

Simply put, the only right object of our faith is the Person of Jesus Christ. HE is what we believe. HE is Who we trust. HE is Who we listen to and obey. HE is Who we are commanded to preach.  
Jesus is the Object of our faith. This is an easy enough proposition to prove from Scripture. In fact, there is more material suporting this claim than we can possible study in one day. But here are a few verses that make the point that we are to place our faith in Jesus Christ if we are to be saved.

Jesus, in His Own Words

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. -John 3:18

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” – John 3:36

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. – John 6:35

And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:40

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. -John 6:47

He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” – John 7:38

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26

I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. – John 12:46

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. – John 14:1

The Apostles, in Their Own Words

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” – Peter in Acts 10:43

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” -Paul and Silas to the Philippian Jailor and His Family in Acts 16:31

“John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.” -Paul in Acts 19:4

“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” – Paul in Romans 9:33

For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” – Paul in Romans 10:11

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, – Paul in Ephesians 1:13

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, -Paul in Philippians 1:29

However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. – Paul in 1 Timothy 1:16

Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, ” Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” – Peter in 1 Peter 2:6

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. – John in 1 John 5:10

This sampling then shows that if we have saving faith, faith that works, then it is faith IN the Person of Jesus Christ. He is the Object of our faith!

Charles Spurgeon preached concerning faith in the person of Christ often. Here is one excerpt from a message linked in full below titled “Faith’s Dawn”:

Now, observe we have called this faith true faith, and we will prove it to have been so. First, it was faith in the person of Christ. It is a great mistake to fancy that to endorse sound doctrine is the same thing as possessing saving faith, for while saving faith accepts the truth of God, it mainly concerns itself with the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and its essence lies in reliance upon Jesus himself. I am not saved because I believe the Scriptures, or because I believe the doctrines of grace, but I am saved if I believe Christ; or, in other words, trust in him. Jesus is my creed. He is the truth. In the highest sense the Lord Jesus is the Word of God. To know him is life eternal.

“Even the demons believe,” though their fate was sealed when they rebelled against God and were cast out of heaven with their master, Lucifer, the devil. They cannot be saved by believing on Jesus. For them it is too late. But they know the truth. They believe the truth. I pray that you believe now,  before it is too late

The Demons Believe.

Do You?