Thursday, May 05, 2016

The 400th Anniversary of the Death of William Shakespeare (1)

William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet, and the "Bard of Avon".  He was born in April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon and died on the 3rd of May 1616 again in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was educated in King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon and famous for his poems, sonnets and plays. 

But why should be remember the death of a man? In this man's case we remember his death because of what he did in life and because of what he left as a legacy to the English language. 

If you read my blogs often you will know that I regularly talk about the death of another man - the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christians remember Jesus not primarily because of what he did in life but because of what he did in his death. You cannot separate the death of Jesus from his life. He lived a perfect sinless life for 33 years. That cannot be said of the great bard, or of any other person who ever lived but is can be said of Jesus. The Bible describes him as 'holy, harmless and undefiled', it also states that he is like a 'lamb without blemish and without spot'. 

Jesus death is only of significance because of the perfection of his life.

No one else could atone for your sins. No one else qualified to pay the price we owed to God. No one else is acceptable to God as a substitute. Jesus dealt with the legal consequences of our sin. His death is acceptable to God as a full and final payment for sin. The scriptures say 'Christ died for our sins'. 

The fact that Jesus has dealt with sin does not mean that you automatically will benefit. The Bible describes salvation as 'the gift of God which is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord'. A gift is purchased but doesn't become yours until it is offered and accepted. God is offering you forgiveness and salvation but you need to accept it to benefit from it.

The Bible says 'by grace are you saved, though faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast'. Salvation is 'by grace,' that is, God provides it at full to cost to himself. It is 'through faith,' that is, you accept it by believing what God says and trusting him to keep his word i.e. forgive you, clear your guilt, save you. Becoming a Christian is 'not of yourself,' that means, the only part you play is to accept salvation it is not something you can do for yourself. Finally the verse says 'not of works lest any man should boast'. This emphasises the fact that you cannot work for salvation, it is something that God does for you.

Remembering Shakespeare might be good in terms of your grasp of the English language. It might improve your prose and ability to express yourself but it won't change your destiny. Repenting of your sin and trusting Christ will change your present condition before God and fix your destination as heaven in the next life. 

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