Here's a riddle for you: what death brings life?

Answer: the death of Jesus Christ in our place.

But how could Jesus' death bring anyone life? Why did particularly Jesus have to die in our place? Why die in our place at all? Finally, how should we personally respond to his death? Our eternal destiny entirely lies in knowing the answers, so let's discover them together.

First Man, First Law, First Sin, First Penalty

God, whose personal name is "Yahweh" in the Hebrew language, created two people--Adam and Eve--who were perfect and sinless. Back then, God established that death will be the penalty for sin. (Sin is an offense we commit against God, just as a crime is an offense we commit against one another. Many crimes are actually sins, too, because God doesn't want us to treat one another badly. When we treat one another in a bad way, we are actually sinning against God.)

Yahweh gave Adam and Eve--and all humans after them--a precious gift called "free will." That means we have the absolute freedom to make moral decisions for ourselves on our own, to choose between right and wrong. If God hadn't given us free will, we would be robots, doing the will of God, not our will.

Along with free will, Yahweh established one simple rule for Adam and Eve. The rule gave them the opportunity to exercise their free will. How they use their free will and the extent of their obedience would demonstrate the extent of their loyalty and love for God. That single command was to not eat from only one tree, out of the numerous fruit trees in the Garden of Eden where they lived. If they kept it, they would live forever; if they didn't keep it, Yahweh told them that they would certainly die. God could have made any other law to give them the opportunity to express their obedience to Him. He could have commanded, "Don't jump for five days," if He wanted to. Was jumping itself evil? No, but when it became a law not to jump, then breaking that law would result in sin. Likewise, the tree itself was not evil; but when it became a law not to eat from that tree, it would result in sin if humans broke the law.

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve broke God's single law by eating from the tree, so God punished them with death just as warned. To not punish them the way He warned would make Him a liar. God promises both blessings and curses; He always keeps His word according to what He promises. Enforcing promised disciplines is how He can get His messages and orders taken seriously.

After Adam and Eve sinned, all their offspring and their descendants to this date have followed in their footsteps by sinning as well; consequently, everyone dies since death is the penalty for sin. So "sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12, WEB)

Will sin and death poison the human race forever? Thank God, the answer is a definite "no!"

The Solution for a Sinning World

Sin is humanity's gravest problem. It's worse than our most feared diseases, because sin is the root cause of death; if humanity hadn't sinned, no cancer or heart disease would be able to take away our lives. We grow old, get sick and die only because we have sinned.

Worse yet, sin alienates us from God. Yahweh is a holy God; He cannot live among a sinful world, so sins separate us from Him. We cannot have fellowship with Him as long as we are sinning. Every person is a sinner with no exception, so all deserve God's eternal wrath and condemnation. We all are hopelessly doomed! But wait, this is where God's pure grace kicks in:

Yahweh has made provision for everyone's forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ: Jesus' death in our place to save us from sin and the penalty of sin--eternal death.

Why Did Jesus Have to Die in Our Place?

It is necessary for Jesus to die and shed blood in order for us to be forgiven, to save us and give us eternal life after our future resurrection. But why? And why particularly Jesus, and not anyone else?

How could Jesus' blood let our sins be forgiven and give us eternal life? To understand this, we need to know how God's sacrificial system works. The books of Exodus and Leviticus in the Bible extensively talk about sacrificing livestock, such as cattle and sheep, to cleanse the people of their sins so God could forgive them. Animals used in the sacrifice must be without any defects (they must be physically perfect), and priests must perform specific steps during the sacrifice, including pouring out their blood upon the altar for atonement.

Why is the pouring out of blood necessary? What is important about blood? Yahweh answered this question in the Bible: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life." (Leviticus 17:11) Blood represents the life of a human or an animal, so when the life of a perfect sacrifice is poured out, the sacrifice dies in your place and pays the penalty for your own sins. Simply put, the substitution dies so you won't need to die for your own sin. This is called substitutionary death for atonement, the forgiveness of sin.

Hence, in order to wash away the sins of a great multitude, God chose His Son to die in sinful humanity's place. No other man ever lived could be perfect enough to take our place, because no one is perfect or sinless as Jesus. This was why Jesus had to be our substitutionary sacrifice: only he was perfect enough. Ultimately, the life--Jesus' blood--was poured out as a ransom to redeem our own lives.

The sacrifice for salvation had to be perfect for another reason. In Yahweh's justice system, the restitution had to be of equal value as the original (Leviticus 24:17-20). Therefore, when Adam was a perfect human being, another perfect human being had to be sacrificed to set things right.

Even so, after an explanation of God's sacrificial system, you still may not comprehend it fully; you may find it too extreme for God to have sacrificed Jesus, and to me, it was. But as mere creations, do we have the capacity to completely understand Yahweh and His ways? Yahweh Himself best said it: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Salvation: How You Can Receive It

Now, we're left with the most important question: how can we have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life. Yes, Jesus died in our place, but does that automatically give us a ticket to eternal life?

While Jesus' sacrifice for us is the most important thing he has done for us, his sacrifice doesn't automatically ensure us salvation. Each person has to personally respond to it. A person is saved the moment they 1) repent of anything bad they have ever done and 2) accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord means to accept his teachings and diligently apply them to our lives. Simply believing in Jesus (a passive belief without works) does not give us salvation. If belief is all that's needed, then Satan can be saved, too!

Once a person comes to trust in Jesus alone as their Lord and Savior for their salvation, believing that he is the Son of God who came to Earth, died for our sins, was buried, resurrected on the third day, and ascended back to heaven, God will forgive that person of all their sins, impute Jesus' righteousness on them, and give them the Holy Spirit that helps them live a whole new life that's pleasing to God. Then in the future, all True Christians will be resurrected whereupon they will live forever with God and Jesus in God's Kingdom of sheer bliss, love, and security. On the other hand, those who willfully reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will also be resurrected, but they will be judged and then sentenced to eternal death, with no chance of a resurrection ever again. Without Jesus, every person is lost, helpless, hopeless, and destined to eternal death.

As you can see, each person's eternal destiny is up to that person. Each of us has one decision to make: eternal life or eternal death? This decision is the most important decision we'll ever make, as it determines our eternal destiny. We mustn't delay, for upon our passing or when Jesus returns (whichever comes first), the door of opportunity for us to decide and repent will close.

What decision will you make? Will you accept Jesus as your Savior and Master?

Jesus died for us and was resurrected unto eternal life so we can die and be resurrected unto eternal life as well. This is the precious gift he has given us. Will you accept his gift?

Will Jesus' death bring you life? That's entirely up to you.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Shirley Cheng (b. 1983) is a blind and physically disabled award-winning author with twenty-seven book awards, proclaimer of Yahweh God's good news of salvation through Jesus Christ, Bible teacher, founder of Ministry, summa cum laude graduate with Doctor of Divinity, motivational speaker, poet; and author of nine books (including "Do You Love Jehovah?"), contributor to twenty-five, and an editor of one. Shirley has had severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis since infancy. Owing to years of hospitalization, she received no education until age eleven. Back then, she knew only her ABCs and very simple English; other than that, her book knowledge was non-existent. However, after only about 180 days of special education in elementary school, she mastered grade level and entered a regular sixth grade class in middle school. Unfortunately, Shirley lost her eyesight at the age of seventeen. After a successful eye surgery, she hopes to earn multiple science doctorates from Harvard University.

Do you have questions about the Bible? Something you don't understand? Do you need a bit of guidance in developing a relationship with Jehovah? Then Shirley would like to help you! Please contact her via her site at and she would be more than glad to do her best to answer your questions! Never hesitate to ask questions, for no question about the Bible is ever too small or stupid.