Christ died ...
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.” Romans 14:9
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3
“He (Christ) died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.” 1 Thess. 5:10
“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” 1 Peter 3:18
Central to religious Christian thought is the primary premise that Jesus “died for our sins,” as indicated in the above quoted scriptures. Doing so demonstrated his love for us and also provided assurance of a resurrection from the dead. Since Jesus “died for our sins,” it seems reasonable to ask the question: What are the sins he died for? Without involving any specifics, the obvious answer to that question would be: all of our sins, of course! It appears, though, that a simple answer like that is too inclusive and too noble in nature, especially when thought of in the context of individuals who ask God to forgive them. How often should people ask God to forgive them? Is it possible that God is a little tired of hearing our requests for daily forgiveness? Asking God to “please forgive all my sins” is the ‘blanket confession’ that is used by many and, having done so, is thought to be everyone’s entitlement to a place in Heaven. The following question needs to be asked instead: Is forgiveness the ultimate criteria for entering Heaven? The following statement seems to put emphasis on forgiveness in a different light:
Forgiveness doesn’t transform people from sinners into saints.
And in turn, the above statement seems to beg the following question about forgiveness, whether it comes from God or from one person to another person:
What good does it do to forgive anyone who has drunk a bottle of deadly poison?
The answer to this question is, obviously, none! The person who drank the poison needs medical attention and a cure – quickly! He needs a physician who will give him an antidote, much like people need God, the Great Physician, who will give them an antidote when they have swallowed Satan’s lies.
When it is stated that Jesus “died for us,” does that mean we won’t have to die? The answer to that question would surely be a negative response, because everyone will die, although Jesus is quoted as saying death is like sleep. The episode concerning Lazarus that is found in John 11 states that Jesus told the disciples “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” The disciples did not understand, so Jesus told them plainly “Lazarus is dead.” John 11:11, 14. In these two passages regarding Lazarus, Jesus said that physical death and sleep is the same thing, but this death and sleep are subject to a resurrection which will occur at a later time. In the case of Lazarus, the time period was four days. There is, however, a death that is not like sleep, but is permanent and everlasting in nature. It is the Second Death from which there is no continuance of life and from which there is no resurrection. This Second Death occurs in conjunction with the end of the thousand year reign of Christ and with those who did not participate in the first resurrection. An explanation of this is disclosed in the last book of the Bible - Revelation 20:1-6.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry while on Earth, there were not many instances where Jesus offered any compliments to the religious community, whether as a group or as individuals. Why might that be the case? More times than not, Jesus pointed out their refusal to listen to him, to pay attention to what he was saying, and even for those who did listen to him, many did not agree with what he said. In short, the primary aspect of sin being committed was one of unbelief and an unwillingness to listen to Jesus, the result of which has fatal consequences. An example of this is found in John’s gospel:
Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” John 8:21-24
Jesus said, “…if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” What are their sins? Their sin is they do not believe what Jesus says about God; in other words, their sin is unbelief! Is unbelief the sin that Jesus died for? Unbelief originated in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve preferred to believe the serpent’s lie instead of believing the truth that was presented by God. It was in the Garden that God said: “when you eat of it you will surely die.” Gen. 2:17. That was followed closely by the serpent’s lie: “you will not surely die.” Gen. 3:4. So, who were Adam and Eve going to believe? The outcome of this conversation with God and their act of eating the forbidden fruit reveals that Adam and Eve chose to believe the serpent instead of God. Thus, their unbelief and mistrust of God became their sin.
Unbelief can penetrate a person’s thought system and can eventually become violent; it also can become an aggressively full-blown expression of anger. When left to itself, unbridled unbelief can cause widespread misery and untold calamity. This happens to a greater degree when the fallacy of believing lies and incorrect information about God is pointed out to that person. Unbelief of Jesus’ words is sin, and sin’s response to truth is lies. Lies can lead to the use of force; the use of force can lead to acts of violence; and acts of violence can lead to death. The downward progression leading to death consists of stepping stones which are mired in outward hatred. Developed in a person’s mind, envy can cause a person to retaliate and become vengeful, because it is in the mind where actions originate.
It seems that there are those today who place an emphasis on the aspect that Jesus “died for our sins.” Is it important that Jesus did so? Can salvation or eternal life be attained without Jesus’ death? Did anyone prior to the Cross receive eternal life? Is the death of Jesus the only way man can be fully restored to fellowship with the Father? Consider this scripture verse: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” John 5:24. Since Jesus “died for our sins,” for our unbelief, what purpose is his death for those who choose to believe in him? If unbelief (sin) brings death to Jesus as well as death to the unbeliever, what does belief in Jesus bring to him as well as to the believer?
Did Jesus come to planet Earth just to die? Was that his primary purpose, his mission, in coming? Is that all God wanted Jesus to do? If Jesus would have come to this planet and just died; if Jesus had been killed as an infant by King Herod; if Jesus had suffered a fatal heart attack or had been involved in a fatal accident; or if Jesus had possibly just died of old age, - would any of these deaths have satisfied his Father in Heaven? The importance of Jesus’ purpose and mission cannot be over-emphasized. Jesus called and instructed the twelve disciples; he spoke to individuals and large groups of people; he made known his heavenly Father to everyone who would listen. The words that Jesus spoke caused envy and hatred in the minds of many people, and this, in turn, led to his death.
Jesus’ death was not an act that he completed by himself, but was the result of deeply religious people whose hatred led them to kill him. These people thought Jesus sinned because he healed on the Sabbath; because he claimed to be the Son of God; and they hated him because he told them that Satan, the devil, was their father. These people hated Jesus without reason and were the instigators who were inspired by evil forces to eliminate him. Jesus didn’t just die. People killed him!
Modern theology seems to have accepted a view of Jesus’ death that portrays him only as a suffering sacrifice, to bring people to God. John the Baptist announced to the world: “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. What is the sin that John is talking about and how does Jesus take it away? As mentioned above, sin is the unbelief instilled in the minds of people. This is accomplished because people do not truly know God and also because people have bought into the lies of Satan, the devil. Jesus told them: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44. Jesus takes sin away by revealing truth about his heavenly Father, and he leaves it up to each individual whether to accept or reject that information. If we individually were accused and threatened about our beliefs, and were persecuted near the point of death, what would we do? Would we have second thoughts about our beliefs; would we cave in to the pressure; would we renege in what we believe? When the accuser makes it plain that standing for what you believe will lead to your death, how firmly will any of us remain unwavering and steadfast?
There was no doubt in the mind of Jesus when he was pressed to the limit. He would not deny who he was and neither would he deny his purpose. He stood alone while everyone else fled from his presence, and not even his Father or heavenly angels came to his rescue. The death of Jesus reveals to the world that Satan’s primary goal was to kill the Life-Giver, God!
Jesus’ death and the way he died also demonstrate his character and nature as well as the character of his heavenly Father. Did God the Father retaliate or threaten anyone when his Son died on the Cross? After the Resurrection, did Jesus seek punishment and justice on those responsible for his death? What does this say about their character and the way they treat people?
Jesus’ death on the Cross further demonstrates the most important aspect of the Kingdom of God - freedom. Our Creator allows everyone, angels as well as men, to freely love him or to freely hate him, and he will honor both decisions equally. That choice is ours alone to make.
Jesus died a horrible death on the Cross – physically, mentally and emotionally, but it was unreasonable hatred that caused his death.
Hatred Fit to Kill
Jesus told the disciples:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
“Remember the words I have spoken to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.
“But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason’.” (Psalm 35:19). John 15:18-25
Jesus didn’t just die: People hated him; people killed him.
Jesus didn’t just die: Insane religious people hated him. Insane religious people killed him.
The Cross proves that God doesn’t want to kill people! The Cross proves that people want to kill God!
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