Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
He had to die because there was no other way to satisfy the righteous demands of God. God plays by his own rules, and His rules state: “The soul that sins shall surely die,” and “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
In the Old Testament, all those animal sacrifices only foreshadowed something to come—or should I say, someone to come. That someone was Jesus.
Calvary shows how far men will go in sin and how far God will go for man’s salvation.
From the very beginning, Jesus knew He was going to die, and He spoke of it often. In fact, technically no one took His life from Him; He laid it down of His own accord. He lived in the shadow of the cross from the moment He entered our world.
For some, the cross seems like an aberration, a mistake, a tragic turn of events. That is how it must have seemed for the disciples as Jesus was arrested and murdered. How could this be a part of any plan? How could something so senseless, so cruel, have any purpose?
Answer: It has the ultimate purpose and meaning.
God was the Master of Ceremonies at the cross.
• “[God] did not spare His own son, but gave Him up for us all” (Romans 8:32 NKJV).
• “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin” (Romans 3:25 NLT).
• “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief” (Isaiah 53:10 NKJV).
In what sense was God the Father “pleased” by the death of God the Son?
• He was pleased by the redemption that was accomplished.
• He was pleased by the eternal plan of salvation that was fulfilled.
• He was pleased by the sacrifice of His Son, who died so others might have eternal life.
For all the evil in the crucifixion, it brought about an infinite good. In fact, here was the most evil act ever perpetrated by sinful hearts—the torture, slaughter, and heartless murder in cold blood of the sinless Son of God—and yet, from it came the greatest good of all time: the salvation of countless souls—your salvation and mine.
As Joseph said to his brothers, “You mean it for evil, but God meant it for good.” What the devil and those behind the crucifixion meant for evil, God meant for good.
In a rare moment in human history, God and Satan moved toward the same event. Satan wanted Jesus killed to put a stop to His life and ministry. God accepted Jesus’ death because there was no other way to bring reconciliation.
We need to remember this when we are facing our hardships in life—when things don’t make sense: God is in control and He has a plan.
It’s the most well-known religious symbol in all of the world. You see it on churches. You see it in jewelry. You see it as a fashion accessory. Some love it. Some hate it. Many have no idea what it even means.
I heard about a woman in a jewelry store who was looking at crosses. She asked the salesman, “Do you have any crosses without this little man on them?”
That’s what some people want: a cross without Christ.
By the way, the cross was not always a popular symbol. During the days of Jesus, the cross was a symbol of shame, warning, and terror. The Romans crucified thousands of people and hung them on crosses.
The early church did not wear crosses. It would be like wearing an electric chair or hangman’s noose around your neck. That’s because the cross was a symbol of death, and a cruel death at that.
We need to know how important the cross is.
When you get down to it, from the moment we get up in the morning, to the moment we lie down to sleep at night, the cross affects us.
• It compels us to study the Word each day to know God more.
• It inspires us to resist temptation’s strong pull.
• It influences the friends we choose and the things we do.
The story is told of a little boy who was lost, sitting on a curb. A policemen saw him and asked, “Son, where are your parents?” The little boy responded, “I don’t know. I’m lost. Could you take me home?”
The officer began naming streets, trying to help the boy remember where he lived. He named shops, hotels, anything that might be close to his house.
Then the officer remembered that in the center of town was a well-known church with a huge white cross towering above it. The officer pointed to it and asked, “Do you live anywhere near that?”
The boy’s face brightened. “Yes, take me to the cross. I can find my way home from there.”
Indeed you can.
It’s in this time that we focus our thoughts on the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for each one of us as we look at his suffering, death, and resurrection.
Here at Harvest we have many opportunities for you to remember with us.
Thursday night at Harvest/Orange County.
Tonight I will be sharing a message titled, “What the Cross Means to You.”
That will be followed by a Communion service
Friday in Riverside
On Good Friday, there will be services at 12:00 noon and 6:00 P.M. Both services will include a time of Communion.
On Easter Sunday, we will be having five services at Harvest Riverside.
6:00/8:00/10:00/12:00 and 7:00 PM.
My message for these services is “What Easter Means to You.”
Special musical guest Phil Wickham will be with us in Riverside at the 6:00AM and 8:00AM services only.
The Harvest worship band will play at all other services.
10:00 at the Bren.
Then, for Harvest Orange County, we will not be meeting at our church, but instead will have one service only at the Bren Center in Irvine. For more info on that, go to easter.harvest.org.
That starts at 10:00 and Phil Wickham will be playing there live. My message will be “What Easter Means to You.” So that is the flyover of Passion week. Most of these services will be webcast live as well.
By Jonathan Laurie
We all grew up—most of us at least—imagining Satan from what we saw on TV and in comic books:
red suit, pitchfork, pointed tail, and horns. But the Bible pains a different picture: Satan takes on the form of an angel of light, we’re told. Satan can disguise himself as a beautiful and glorious being; he’s the great imitator!
Satan is most effective in the church when he comes not as an open adversary, but as a close friend; not when he openly persecutes the church, but when he joins it and infiltrates our ranks. Satan will always use the approach that will succeed.
Peter warns us of false teachers in his second epistle:
“There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” (2 Peter 2:1–3 NKJV).
This is not a pretty picture he paints here, is it? He leaves no wiggle room for heresy, because Peter knew that the truth of God’s Word and the false doctrines of heretics could not coexist. There could be no compromise on his part.
If you had a cold and someone gave you a glass of water with some EmergenC in it, that would be good. But if they added a couple drops of cyanide to it, you obviously would never drink it or allow anyone around you to.
A couple of drops of anything doesn’t seem like much, but I did the math. To kill a person of my weight, it would require 116 milligrams of cyanide. That’s less than one coffee bean. False doctrine is like that—seemingly harmless and insignificant, but in reality quite deadly.
Poison and medicine don’t work together. Good medicine is completely nullified if it is combined with a lethal substance. As Christians, we cannot have an ongoing relationship with God if we have unconfessed sin in our lives; the two cannot coexist. “He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13 NKJV).
The word heresy today is defined as a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religious doctrine, but the word in Greek originally meant to make a choice. That is what false teachers do, they force you to make a choice between their doctrines and the doctrines of the true Christian faith.
Not only were these false teachers’ messages false; their methods were too. They came into the church giving the impression that they were true to the Christian faith. Then, they lay their false teachings alongside the truth, giving you the impression that they believe the fundamentals of the faith. Then they remove the true doctrine, leaving you with the false doctrine.
Warren Wiersbe said, “False teachers use our vocabulary, but they do not use our dictionary.” Well said.
Against All Odds
Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord; and from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.
— 2 Chronicles 20:3-4
Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, faced a dilemma. His enemies greatly outnumbered him. To make matters worse, his enemies had joined forces with the other enemies of Israel and were coming to destroy him. One day, someone came to King Jehoshaphat and warned him that a gigantic army was headed his way, bent on his destruction. It was hopeless. There was no way that he could meet this army with what he had. He was going to be destroyed. What did Jehoshaphat do? The Bible says that he “set himself to seek the Lord.” He prayed, “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chronicles 20:12).
The Lord told Jehoshaphat, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (2 Chronicles 20:15-17).
Jehoshaphat and his army went out to meet their enemies, but they put the worship team out front. The Bible says that when they began to sing and praise the Lord, the enemy started fighting among themselves and destroyed each other.
Maybe you are facing what seems like an impossible situation right now. You may not be able to see a way out. But God can. Call on Him. Then stand still and see what He will do.
The problem is, we cannot celebrate with him, as he is in heaven and we are still on earth.
We miss him with all of our hearts and of course think about him every day. But we believe that God will one day restore all things.
By that I mean relationships that were cut short this side of heaven will continue later. After Jesus was crucified and then rose three days later, He effectively picked up where he last left off with His disciples. I believe we will do that same with our son.
There are many conversations we’ve longed to have with him–many experiences, many joys to share together. But one day, we will pick up where we last left off with him.
I don’t know if they celebrate birthdays in heaven or not. If they do, I’m sure they are a lot better than our celebrations on earth.
But we will see our son again. I am certain of that, because God told me in His Word that I will.
The apostle Paul wrote:
“For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died. I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).
I am counting on that.
Someone who had just done a public talk asked me for some tips about speaking. They asked me if I ever had panic attacks when addressing a crowd. My answer was no, and that is for two reasons:
1. I have confidence in my message. I know that God’s Word, which I am proclaiming, will not return void. I know there is power in it and I expect it to do its work.
2. There is an urgency to what I am saying, as life and death hang in the balance.
Compare it to the talk they give you on the plane before takeoff. They are calm and collected as they tell you what to do in case of an emergency landing.
“In the event of an emergency, please assume the bracing position. A life vest is located in a pouch under your seat or between the armrests. When instructed to do so, open the plastic pouch and remove the vest. Slip it over your head. Pass the straps around your waist and adjust at the front. To inflate the vest, pull firmly on the red cord, only when leaving the aircraft. If you need to refill the vest, blow into the mouthpieces. Use the whistle and light to attract attention. Also, your seat bottom cushion can be used as a flotation device.”
What if the flight attendant just found out that three of the four engines were not working? This time, as they told you what to do for an emergency landing, there would be urgency! Because life and death are now in the balance.
That is the difference between public speaking and preaching the gospel—the urgency of the message.
My reply? Nonsense.
Let me ask you these questions:
1. After you were “converted,” did you begin to study and memorize Scripture? Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” Paul exhorts us in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show yourself approved unto God . . .”
2. Did you actively and regularly get involved in a church? Not sporadically, but on a regular basis. We should “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together . . .” (Hebrews 10:25).
3. Did you get baptized? I’m not saying this is essential for salvation, but it is commanded in Scripture! “Repent and be baptized, every one of you” (Acts 2:38). Why would you not do what God has clearly commanded you to do?
4. Did you turn from all known sin? “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18).
5. Did you develop a prayer life? “Pray without ceasing . . . for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
6. Did you deny yourself and take up the cross? Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).
7. Did you keep His commandments? “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3–6).
If “it” didn’t work, it’s you own fault—because we’re not dealing with an “it” but a “Him”!
The Bible promises “that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6). Do you want your life to change? Jesus is saying to you, “Take your stand! Follow me!”
“But I’ve tried and failed!” No, you haven’t. Jesus doesn’t work for some and not for others. He will change any person just as they are, immediately! G.K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and not tried!”
People offer up many excuses as to why they will not come to Christ . . .
Why they won’t come to church with you . . .
Why they ask you to not even talk about Jesus.
Want to know what it really is?
They don’t want to turn from their sin.
John 3:19–20 says, “Their judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into the world, but they loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want to sin in the darkness. They stay away from the light for fear their sins will be exposed and they will be punished” (NLT).
History tells the story of a castle-like prison in Paris known as the Bastille. They decided to destroy it, for it had outlived its usefulness. A prisoner who had been kept confined in a dark, dingy dungeon in this prison for many years was brought out. But instead of welcoming his new freedom, he begged to be taken back in! It had been so long since he had seen the sun, he was blinded by its radiance. His only desire was to go back and die in the murky dungeon where he had been a captive.
This pattern continues until eventually these people who hate the light become so hardened in their sin that they prefer the dark ways of eternal death.
As Oswald Chambers said, “Sin enough and you will soon be unconscious of sin.”
Here are a letter and video I recently received. I love it!
Recalling back in 2007, deployed to Iraq for the second time, when I really started to come out of the world and live my life for our Lord Jesus Christ, I started to listen to Greg Laurie, as it was something I could download and listen to on the roads of Iraq from my Ipod. My fellow soldier and I would listen to his preaching before every mission and often I would lead our convoy in prayer before going out into danger on the roads of Iraq. My nick name was reverend Turner, it was given to me and I had no choice but to take it. I look back, smile and laugh thinking about those moments with my fellow soldiers. We were family, we watched out for each other, didn’t always like each other but we did love each other to the point of giving our life for each other if necessary.
I think that we, as believers in Christ, should have that same love for one another. God wants us to have that kind of love for our brothers (believers in Christ). Why is it so hard? It’s not, if we are in Christ and we love Jesus Christ, we will love those who are in Christ with us. It’s a tell tale sign of being saved.
One night before a mission we were sitting in our truck listening to Greg Laurie, I told my buddy we should record ourselves singing the song that’s always played before Greg starts teaching. He agreed but when I started to sing I guess he changed his mind because it was only me singing in the video. Well I’m attaching this video for your enjoyment. God bless you and keep you and shine His face upon you in Christ Jesus!