Christianity is unique in that:
- It is a religion that does not know that the name of God YHWH occurs 1000s of times.
- They believe in a mystery i.e. they do not understand because of their obfuscated theories
- A religion that is ignorant of their God and Jesus’s God.
The story of salvation for Christians require Jesus to be a divine God who dies for the sin of the world. This may sound obvious as it has been repeated over a million times over 100s of generations. This theory makes few fundamental assumption:
- YHWH God cannot forgive & YHWH God requires blood to forgive
- All humans are destined to hell as if Hell was created before human creation
- The justice of God demands that a human should suffer in hell for ever – as an infinite God demands infinite punishment
- To bear the infinite punishment, God stepped down and his death brings about infinite justice.
Based on the above points a theory of atonement is believed that demands a God must die to atone for sin.
But what if God could forgive without blood?
What if God does not require infinite punishment for our sins?
Let us turn to Jesus’ epic parable of the prodigal son. Jesus described the Father’s attitude to a sinner thus:
Luk 15:20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Contrast the blood thirsty God of the Christians verses the God of Jesus. Christians have fought hard to undermine the Father to assert the superiority and equality of Jesus.
What religion condemns their God? This is the difficulty with polytheism – One God will be favoured over others and there is a constant battle for the favourite.
Now Christians emphasise John 3:16 to demonstrate the compassion of the Father but that is skewed. The compassion of the Father is again expressed only in the context of an perpetually angry Father. Contrast to Jesus’ teachings of his Father:
But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Refer to these earlier posts on the character of YHWH God:
The parable of the lost son is one of reconciliation i.e. the Father and the son were reconciled because of the son’s renewed state. Unfortunately, Trinitarians like the elder brother are unable to accept this reconciliation and the attitude of the Father.
The story of salvation cannot be simpler that is void of any mystery given the story of the Prodigal son is a pastor’s favourite and the believers delight of testimony.
Mercy v/s The demand for blood sacrifice – David’s example
When David got Uriah killed, his sin could not be atoned or forgiven through sacrifices. The law did not prescribe a sacrifice for Murder, but rather the death penalty for such sins.
Examples: Before the law:
“Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. (Genesis 9:6 ESV)
In the Law:
“Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. (Leviticus 24:17 ESV)
Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death. And you shall accept no ransom for him who has fled to his city of refuge, that he may return to dwell in the land before the death of the high priest. (Numbers 35:31-32 ESV)
So, clearly David is trapped! His power as King could keep people at Bay from getting executed, but his sin could not be atoned for. He had no solution from the law. God confronts David via the prophet Nathan and gave him few curses:
2Sa 12:10,11 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.
When David realized where this was going and his conscience was struck he made no delay to confess his wrong (worthy of the death penalty) thus:
2Sa 12:13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”
And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
So, David received forgiveness and did not die. (But he would eventually die of old age as a great and forgiven King.)
David himself wrote about this incident in Psalm 51
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalms 51:16-17 ESV)
I.e. He pleaded to God outside the sacrificial system:
Psa 51:9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Psa 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
If we can accept the Father’s attitude towards the prodigal son and towards David then we may perhaps see a different YHWH God?
Is your God after blood?
Hell & the supposed justice of God
Another important question to consider is:
- Is eternal torture compatible with God’s justice. The law that God gave to Moses stated justly that punishment must be proportionate to the crime: “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.“ [Exodus 21:24-25]
Is eternal torture a punishment that is proportional to man’s crimes?
- The second question is whether eternal torture is compatible with God’s mercy. Can a merciful God put his own creation in burning fire to suffer eternal pain?
Though Hell is not a subject of the article this uncomfortable topic will be dealt with in a future post.
Repentance v/s Examining the claim for infinite punishment
In the zeal for the atonement theory which is foundational to Trinity the Christian goes overboard with the rigidity of the law but Jesus taught:
Mar 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
Psa 103:10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
In your zeal do not turn make YHWH God a monster. That is a lie. God does not require infinite punishment for sins. He always opens with an outstretched arm. In fact heaven feels like this towards sin:
Luk 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents
The keyword is repentance. Just like a human Father has much joy over a son’s obedience so it is with our Father in heaven.
God’s merciful attributes are spoken of as beyond comprehension even before the blood of Jesus was shed:
Psa 103:11,12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Modern evangelical movements based on Calvinism are a gross religion that teaches evil against the Father and encourages sin in the believer. A core message of repentance is looked down the very attribute over which there is JOY in heaven. Repentance an attribute that provokes compassion in the Father’s heart is grossly undermined.
Jesus’ example v/s Substitution Atonement
The theory that God substituted the sins of the world though his death is core to Trinity.
Let us examine few passages from Isaiah 53:
Isa 53:4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
Is the above verse talking about the death on the cross?
Does the verse imply that all of human past and future sorrows were dumped on Jesus?
As Mathew points to the fulfilment of the above words in the context of the healing that Jesus provided to the distressed. Jesus fulfilled the above verses by sharing in the distresses of the people and brought about a solution i.e. healing.
That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17 ESV)
Like Moses bore the children during his time we see Jesus bearing the burdens of the children of God during his time.
Isa 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
This passages can be understood as:
- God laid on the shoulders of Jesus the burden to bring a solution to the sins of people.
- Jesus was specifically chosen to open the way to eternal life but to achieve this he had to endure the scorn of wicked people.
- We are indeed healed by his stripes but this still does not spare the believer also of stripes. The disciples were also flogged and persecuted for so Jesus testified:
Joh 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
Mat 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.
So, Jesus stripes were passed on to the disciples even though it healed them. There is then a sharing of stripes and not a substitution with the reconciliation that come through Jesus.
The work of salvation of Jesus was to overcome sin and death. Death of God was not the reason for salvation, rather the obedience of a human being. Trinitarians hardly think of Jesus as a obedient man rather as a mysterious God obedient to another God of the trinity.
Of Jesus’ work of salvation it is testified:
Jesus himself required salvation:
Heb 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
‘because of his reverence or fear of God‘
I.e. salvation has come about because Jesus submitted to the feat of God that led to perfect obedience and in the process he was ‘crushed’ and ‘wounded’:
Heb 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.
Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,
I.e. Jesus brings out salvation by example.
Jesus the lamb of God
Joh 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John draws an analogy of the old covenants sacrifices that took away sins to the Jesus as a lamb that will take away sins.
Now the law forbade human sacrifices:
Deuteronomy 18:10 There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,
Trinity finds a solution to this problem by stating that Jesus death was not of a human but of a God. But this has issues as Hebrews state that Jesus work of salvation required him to be human:
Heb 2:14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,
Heb 2:15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
Hypostatic relationship is false and it took trinitarians nearly another 100 years to come up with the misleading doctrine of a Hypostatic Christ since the council of Nicaea:
The Council of Ephesus in 431, under the leadership of Cyril himself as well as the Ephesian bishop Memnon, labeled Nestorius a neo-adoptionist, implying that the man Jesus is divine and the Son of God only by grace and not by nature, and deposed him as a heretic. In his letter to Nestorius, Cyril used the term “hypostatic” (Greek, kath’ hypostasin) to refer to Christ’s divine and human natures being one, saying, “We must follow these words and teachings, keeping in mind what ‘having been made flesh’ means …. We say … that the Word, by having united to himself hypostatically flesh animated by a rational soul, inexplicably and incomprehensibly became man.”
Jesus’s salvation is based on a sinless life and absolute obedience including to the point of enduring the death of a cross:
Php 2:8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Php 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Php 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Jesus as the ‘Lamb of God’ draws parallel in the old testament but the lamb of the old testament sacrifices were also not a substitute. For the Christ himself testified regarding literal sacrifices:
Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
I.e. doing his will or obedience was critical for pleasing YHWH God. Jesus death and resurrection does bring about significant reveals of curses in that he opened the path to the tree of life that was shut by Adam on account of disobedience.
The sacrifice of the lamb was that of obedience and faith in YHWH God and not the physical shedding of Blood.
The golden principle was:
1Sa 15:22 Samuel said, “Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying Yahweh’s voice? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.
To conclude, (as this is a very huge topic) – Jesus was chosen not because he was God who stepped into a human womb, but that he was an obedient human. The prophecy was Jesus life (not the trinity essence) would be ‘pleasing’ to God:
Mat 12:18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
Jesus was the SERVANT of God with whom God was well pleased.
Christ’s Ministry of Reconciliation
2Co 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
2Co 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
2Co 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
‘God was in Christ’ means the mediatory role of Jesus even as Moses was the mediator of old and also the prophets. As God led the people through the human Moses to the promised land so also God leads the people to eternal life through Jesus.
not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
I.e. like the Father did not treat the prodigal son as he deserved but freely forgave and celebrated so also the Father rejoices over his creation when they respond to the message of repentance in Jesus.
The ministry of reconciliation by the apostles was:
We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
How? By following in the footsteps of Jesus as the apostles did.
2Co 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin
This does not imply substitution though the figure is expressed but the implication is that we ought to respond to the message of salvation by following the example of Jesus. Salvation is not by word alone but by word and action.
that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Not that his sacrifice makes us auto righteous but following his way makes us righteous. For Jesus is the template for man to mimic. The righteousness of Jesus defeated death so also his followers will. The sacrifice of the Old covenant was a representation or symbol of a perfect man by virtue of the sacrifice being unblemished. But, Jesus has replaced the sacrifice as he is now a human example to mimic compared to ‘perfect’ bulls and lambs.
Consider the work of the ambassadors of Christ:
2Co 6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
2Co 6:2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2Co 6:3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry,
2Co 6:4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities,
2Co 6:5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger;
2Co 6:6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;
2Co 6:7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
2Co 6:8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;
2Co 6:9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;
2Co 6:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
2Co 6:11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.
2Co 6:12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.
2Co 6:13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Rom 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Joseph the man who bore the burden of Israel and delivered his people from famine
When Joseph was young he was blessed with dreams. This led to a jealous feeling amongst his brothers. This is the same reason Jesus also got murdered. Jealousy has been the root cause of such murders beginning with Abel.
Joseph escaped but was sold to slavery. He rose and fell again when he was sent to Jail, He was falsely accused. Jesus was also falsely accused and was executed.
Later Joseph explained:
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
Now when God gave Joseph the dreams he did not include the suffering bits but only the glory parts. But Joseph in his life had the faith to accept the suffering that preceded his glory:
Gen 45:9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not
So, here we see Joseph bore the burden of his family to save/deliver them from famine i.e. death by starvation. In the same spirit we see Jesus who suffered even though he was not at fault.
Ezekiel and the theory of substitution
Literal sins were not transferred to Jesus. Every sins man has ever committed or to be committed were not transmitted to our Lord. The language of the prophet is allegorical. Jesus was not a man of incredible Sin. Let us consider the allegory of transfer of sins as imposed on Ezekiel:
Eze 4:4 “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. For the number of the days that you lie on it, you shall bear their punishment. Eze 4:5 For I assign to you a number of days, 390 days, equal to the number of the years of their punishment. So long shall you bear the punishment of the house of Israel. Eze 4:6 And when you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah. Forty days I assign you, a day for each year.
KJV uses ‘iniquity’ instead of ‘punishment’
Eze 4:4 Lie thou also upon thy left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel upon it: according to the number of the days that thou shalt lie upon it thou shalt bear their iniquity.
Eze 4:5 For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.
Eze 4:6 And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.
Did God literally transfer sins of Israel and Judah to Ezekiel? While the prophet suffered, people could be liberated if they heeded to the symbol of punishment inflicted on Ezekiel – the language of appeal. It is important to note that God was not angry with Ezekiel but used him to warn the people. As much as Ezekiel was innocent of the sins of the people so also was the Messiah. But, Jesus would accomplish more than Ezekiel, he would open the way to eternal life. When a leper touched Jesus the leper was cleansed i.e. Jesus was not defiled by the touch of healing.
If the allegory of Ezekiel is understood then it becomes easy to understand the symbol of atonement from Jesus. Did Ezekiel become a super sinner after the transfer?
Now Ezekiel does not bring about a reconciliation like Jesus i.e. Eternal life but he was a symbol of suffering for the sins of the people. The allegory of substitution is more of a participation that should lead the observer to change.
Zachariah’s murder contrasted with Christ’s
The gospel records bear testimony that Jesus was murdered even though he was innocent. We find a similar story with the prophet Zachariah who only testified to the truth by the Spirit:
Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’” But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!” (2 Chronicles 24:20-22)
- Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada the priest
- Jehoiada had guided King Joash in doing the right thing and had saved his life and made him king.
- Joash repaid the kindness by killing Jehoiada’s son – Zechariah.
- Now “God’s Spirit spoke to Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest,” – what was the outcome?
Why did Zechariah had to suffer so brutally for bearing witness to the way of righteousness? So it should Not be a surprise that when truth is witnessed to wicked people you can loose their lives. Then why bother witnessing to the wicked – So that even the wicked are given a chance to change. Infant God takes extreme measured to witness to the wicked – at the cost of the lives of his loved ones. Jesus, John the baptist and Stephen were also victims of being bearers of truth and righteousness to the wicked.
So, the death of Jesus was not unique in suffering but his death was a result of his witness being a preacher of righteousness that pleased the Father.
Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame
Jesus had HOPE and FAITH and therefore endured the cross. Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith not as a substitute but as an example.