What was the purpose of Jesus’ death? Editor Marvin Moore explains what Signs of the Times® is doing to make sure this purpose is fulfilled.
Down in Texas, where I used to live, they have an expression you may have heard. Texans call it a “waterhaul” when you go somewhere for a specific reason, and when you get there you discover that you basically wasted your time. Maybe you went to see someone and the person wasn’t home, or you went to town to buy something and the store was out of stock on that item. That’s a “waterhaul.”
All the people standing around Jesus’ cross that fateful day 2,000 years ago thought His death was a waterhaul. He’d wasted His life. He’d died in vain.
Did He really?
To answer that question, we need to ask, Why was Jesus born? Why did He come into the world? What was the purpose of His life?
The name Jesus actually comes from the Greek form of the name Joshua (Iesous), and Joshua means “Yahweh [or Jehovah] is salvation.” That’s why the angel who announced Jesus’ birth to His earthly father, Joseph, said, “ ‘you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ ” (Matthew 1:21, italics added).
The purpose of Jesus’ life, then, was to save us human beings from our sins. And the rest of the New Testament backs up that assertion. For example, Acts 4:12 quotes Peter saying that “there is no other name under heaven [than Jesus’ name] . . . by which we must be saved.” And Paul wrote to the Christians in Thessalonica that God appointed us “to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
Indeed, one of the key concepts in the New Testament is that people are saved by believing in Jesus as their Savior from sin. Paul told the jailer in Philippi to “ ‘believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved’ ” (Acts 16:31).
Of course, for people to believe in Jesus they have to know about Him. That’s why Jesus commanded His disciples to “make disciples of all nations, . . . teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19, 20).
The point is this: Jesus died in vain unless you and I share the good news of His salvation with others.
And that’s where Signs of the Times® comes in. We provide a handy way for you to share with others the good news that Jesus is their Savior! Every issue of Signs includes articles about Jesus, how He saves us, and how we can live for Him.
But are people responding to Jesus through reading Signs? Is the magazine really making a difference in people’s lives?
I received a phone call a few months back from a friend—I’ll call him Jim —who was obviously very excited about a recent dramatic change in his son’s life. “Calvin walked away from God and church fifteen years ago,” Jim said. “He was making lots of money in the medical field, and whenever my wife and I went to see him, money and things seemed to be his main interest.”
Jim said this went on for 12 or 13 years. Then Calvin and his wife had a couple of children, and Jim noticed a shift in his son’s interests. Instead of money and things, his interests were the children and their needs. So Jim said to Calvin one day, “Do you mind if I send you Signs of the Times®?”
Calvin said Sure, so Jim signed him up for a year’s subscription.
For years, Calvin read the newspaper faithfully. Often, when Jim called, Calvin would talk about what he was reading in the newspaper. But several months after signing Calvin up to receive Signs Jim called his son, and when Calvin answered the phone his first words were, “Guess what I’m doing right now—I’m reading Signs of the Times®! In fact, I’ve hardly read the newspaper for several months.”
Then Calvin said, “Dad, would you pray for me? I need to get back to God and start going back to church.”
In a conversation three weeks later Calvin said, “Dad, I’ve been reading the Bible, and it’s wonderful!” Then he said, “Several of the articles in Signs were about Jesus and what He went through for us sinners, and this has really increased my love for Him—to know that Jesus died just for me!”
Today Calvin has made a recommitment to Jesus and attends his church regularly. “And Signs of the Times®” he says, “is what got me started.”
Did Jesus die in vain for Calvin? The answer is No, thanks to Signs of the Times®.
Or consider Andy, who shared his story with us in a letter some time ago. “I’ve heard the story of Jesus’ crucifixion many times,” Andy said, “but never have I pictured it as vividly as what I just read in an article in Signs of the Times®. I had no idea of the beatings and torture, both physical and mental, that Jesus endured.
“Then reality set in, and I realized that my whole life I’ve been laughing and scoffing and slamming the door on Jesus. I’m a very weak person, but when I kneel and talk to God, I ask Him to find some purpose for me and a way to save me, because I am hopeless to help myself.”
Andy closed his letter by saying, “Someone has been sending me Signs of the Times® for years, and I read it cover to cover every month.”
Did Jesus die in vain for Andy? The answer is No, thanks to Signs of the Times®.
Signs helps people come to Jesus, and it also helps to ground them in their faith after they’ve accepted Him. Karmin’s story is one of many. Karmin was active in the New Age movement with crystals, mediums, and other occult practices. Then she met some Christians who led her to Jesus. She was baptized, joined a church, and attended faithfully—not just church, but four small-group Bible studies every week! She said, “I was on fire for the Lord!”
Shortly after her baptism, Signs of the Times® began arriving in Karmin’s mailbox, and she says that “Signs has been invaluable to me in my spiritual journey. It helps me to understand Jesus. I know I’m a better Christian because of Signs. I appreciate the fact that the articles are easy to understand. They aren’t over my head.”
Karmin said that after becoming a Christian she was troubled by thoughts that perhaps she’d made a mistake. “But Signs of the Times® was the crucial tool that the Lord used to help me see that Christianity isn’t something to fear but rather to embrace. Signs showed me that Christians are normal people who love the Lord.”
Karmin also said that Signs helped her to understand that all Christians have conflict in their lives, that being saved doesn’t mean having a trouble-free life from then on. “Signs brings Jesus to me in a real way, not something off in the distance, but right up close!”
Did Jesus die in vain for Karmin? The answer is No, thanks to Signs of the Times®.
We receive lots of calls and letters from people like Calvin, Andy, and Karmin. Following are some snapshots from some of these letters, which show that Signs of the Times® is making a difference in people’s lives.
- “During most of my Christian experience my faith was mostly in my head. Then a few years ago I started picking up Signs of the Times® from the news boxes in front of Wal-Mart and the Bi-Lo grocery store. The stories in Signs spoke to me. I could identify with the experiences people shared, because they were addressing my life-issues. I started attending church and eventually was accepted on profession of faith. I’m so thankful for God’s leading in my life. This wonderful journey can be traced back to the Signs news box ministry that some faithful Christian took the time to carry out.”
- “The very day I stopped attending church and ran away from God was the day I began receiving Signs of the Times®. No matter where I moved, no matter what state, there it was! I read them through the 15 years of rebellion, for I do enjoy reading. The interesting [thing about] this is that the day I was rebaptized is the day Signs stopped coming to my house!”
- “I was going through a bad time in my life, and my brother sent me a subscription to Signs of the Times®. The articles really changed my life. That was more than 15 years ago, and now I’m an elder in my church.”
- “Recently, I was giving away Signs of the Times® to people on the street. A few weeks later a man saw me and stopped me. He said the day I gave him the Signs magazine was the day the NASDAQ fell. He lost a lot of money and was planning to commit suicide. But Signs of the Times® gave him hope, and he didn’t go through with his plan.”
Did Jesus die in vain for each of the people who wrote these letters? The answer is No, thanks to Signs of the Times®.
If you’re a Christian reading this magazine, then you too can help to see that Jesus didn’t die in vain. Do you have friends or loved ones who don’t know Him? Do you know someone who’s struggling? Or do you know someone who’s already a Christian, and you just think Signs would help them on their spiritual journey? Send them a year’s subscription.
Who knows. Someday, someone you sent Signs of the Times® to in this life may come up to you in the next life and say, “Thank you! I’m here because you sent me Signs of the Times®!”