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Wondering What to Believe?

  1. Does Nature Give Proof of God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  2. Can I Hear God's Voice?
    8 Digging Deeper
  3. Who is God?
    8 Digging Deeper
  4. Who Wrote the Bible?
    8 Digging Deeper
  5. Can I Trust the Bible?
    7 Digging Deeper
  6. Is there a Right and Wrong?
    7 Digging Deeper
  7. Why Does God Allow Evil?
    9 Digging Deeper
  8. Who Am I?
    7 Digging Deeper
  9. What is the Meaning of Life?
    7 Digging Deeper
  10. Does God Love Me?
    5 Digging Deeper

Since the beginning, animal sacrifices have been a part of religious devotion. In earliest times in Genesis, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob offered animal sacrifices in worship to God. Later, in the Law of Moses God gave rules for various animal sacrifices. Animals are living creatures with warm blood flowing in their bodies. To sacrifice them and shed their blood represented man giving to God something valuable to him that showed his love and devotion to God. The man was a sinner and instead of the man dying for his sins, the animal died in his place. The blood shed in death was viewed as a substitute or replacement for the man’s punishment of death that he deserved. The innocent animal died for sinful man (“on his behalf,” “in his place”).

God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac was for the purpose of giving Abraham an opportunity to express his total devotion to God. Abraham loved Isaac. For Abraham to obey God in giving him up would show how much he loved and trusted God. This would show that he loved God more than anything else in the world, even more than he loved his son. The value of this sacrifice is emphasized by the way God phrased the command: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love” (Genesis 22:2). After Abraham showed total willingness to obey God, God said, “Now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son from me” (22:12).

God sent Jesus into the world to die as a sacrifice for our sins. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15). “Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3). “Christ himself suffered for sins once. He was not guilty, but he suffered for those who are guilty to bring you to God” (I Peter 3:18, NCV). “Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live. 5 All glory to God forever and ever!” (Galatians 1:4-5, NLT).

In reality, no animal sacrifice could forgive our sins. The book of Hebrews contrasts the gifts and sacrifices of the Law of Moses with the sacrifice of Jesus. The writer states that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4). Since “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (9:22), and the blood of animals cannot cleanse man’s conscience, then Jesus “has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sins by the sacrifice of himself” (9:26). Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (9:28). He “offered himself for all time as a single sacrifice for sins” (10:12).

The offering of Jesus was a one-time sacrifice sufficient to forgive the sins of all mankind forever. “God so loved the world”—the entire world of lost and sinful humanity. This is the gospel (“the good news”) of how God puts men right with himself. This message is the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:17). The Apostle Paul explains:

God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same: 23 Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard, 24 and all need to be made right with God by his grace, which is a free gift. They need to be made free from sin through Jesus Christ. 25 God sent him to die in our place to take away our sins. We receive forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus’ death. (3:22-25, NCV)

The one-time, perfect sacrifice of Jesus for our sins demonstrates how much God loves us. “For God so [‘to such an extent’] loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). All of heaven praises Jesus saying, “Worthy are you. . .for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9). No wonder, Paul, realizing the magnitude and fullness of God’s precious grace, can exclaim, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).