Jesus Died To Answer Questions About God & Death

Jesus died to help us trust again

A Breakdown of Trust

God has been accused of lying to His children when He said that sin results in death. The problem is that mere claims to the contrary can’t answer these accusations. Only a consistent demonstration of the truth over time can dispel a lie about one’s character. Believing this lie about God did more than merely break descriptive moral laws. It also caused a breakdown of trust, causing suspicion and, more critically, an unwillingness to listen to God.

To make matters worse, we have also jumped to conclusions and believed that God’s words to Adam and Eve contained a terrifying threat: either obey Me or I will kill you. Indeed, I’ll torture you forever in the most painful way possible (the Adventists sanctified version of this threat isn’t much better: I will torture as much as you deserve). Consequently, men have spent thousands of years trying to appease angry gods. Christians don’t do it much better. We appease (propitiate) the unforgiving, offended, and wrathful Father with the blood of Christ. Were it not for Jesus, then He would have destroyed us long since, for He cannot find it in His heart to forgive us without a sacrifice.

God’s Day In Court

Yet Jesus died not to appease the Father or to bring us into better standing with Him, but to clear up important misunderstandings about what God is like. It’s the lies about God that destroy us. Even the Old Testament is clear that God didn’t want sacrifice. What’s more, the Bible nowhere teaches that God even needed a sacrifice to be reconciled to us. Instead, God sacrificed Himself to reconcile us to Him (John 3:16).

So God took His case into court. There was no other way that God could prove the truth about death and sin and sacrifice. The blood of Christ itself doesn’t somehow magically save us. It’s what the blood stands for that makes the difference.

What Questions Needed Answering?

Jesus died to answer the three critical questions about death:

  • Is Death the Result of Sin?

Becoming a human, Jesus died the death that God has said is the natural result of sin. Everyone in the universe could watch and see just how sin works and just how God is involved in the death of the wicked. The lines were drawn, and there could be no slight of hand. Even men could see that God was not lying when He said that death is the result of sin.

  • Do We Die Because God Kills Us?

Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie about God and hid because they thought He was coming to kill them. Men have believed that ever since. Yet, at the cross, all saw that sin actually killed God, proving that God’s warning to Adam and Eve was no arbitrary edict. All saw that God does not execute His wayward children. The death of Christ reveals that God did not kill, torture, or pour out His wrath on His Son at the cross. Instead, the Father turned away, a freeing action that respects the choice of those who rebel against love. God has always loved us, always forgiven us, and always borne the full force of our sin on Himself.

  • Who did kill Jesus?

Jesus, indeed, was tortured and killed, but not by the Father. He was killed, as Graham Maxwell says, by “the most devout group of Sabbath-keeping, tithe paying, health reforming, Bible-quoting Adventists the world has ever known.” Sin killed Christ. I like what Jeremy Myers says, “Jesus ‘stepped in front of the bullet,’ but humanity, not God, held the smoking gun.” The death of Jesus did not reflect divine violence, though Isaiah 53 predicted the men would think so, that men would “esteemed Him smitten of God.” No, the death of Jesus reflected human violence. He was killed by the very disease that had infected men.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth… Therefore God gave them up… For this reason God gave them up… And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up..” Romans 1:18, 24, 26, 28

“Jesus cried with a loud voice,…’My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'” Matthew 27:46

Why We Need the Answers of the Cross

All intelligent beings needed the cross because believing that the Father executes His children produces the service of fear, and the service of fear produces rebellion (which is essentially what sin is). The real shocker is that rebellion is no respecter of persons. It can even turn those who are dedicated to obedience into traitors who will even murder God.

A non-violent view of the atonement clears up the reputation of the Father while still teaching that Jesus died a substitutionary death. Jesus died in our place, both to reveal the truth about Satan’s lies about death and to heal humanity by establishing a new human condition. Men needed both of these: the truth so they could trust God and God’s perfect human life to enable them to be able to overcome sin.

The magic accomplished by the blood of Christ is not the splattering of red corpuscles on a mercy seat somewhere in space. Its magic lies in the truths that it tells about God. It’s magic lies in a death sealing the development of a perfect life that God offers to us as a free gift. This is the true godly magic that can change a rebellious heart into one that trusts.

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