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Was the Atonement to Appease an Angry God or an Angry Race? — 57 Comments

  1. Well said. Just to add.

    God pronounced to the first cople that when they would sin they would die. And Adam and Eve sinned so death was pronounced on them and hence the whole creation was subject to death through one man. We all have sinned and are born in sin and for God to take away that death from us, His Son who also created had to die on our behalf to reverse our death sentence, but to only those willing to follow Him. And that's in simple how I would understand the death of Jesus. Otherwise there are too many who do not even know Christ Jesus to be angry with God.



    • I don't think that death is an arbitrary punishment "pronounced" on sinners. Death is the sure result of sin. But you are correct, if this effect came to us all through one man, God is fair to offer life through one Man that is Jesus Christ.

      I would put it differently to you though--to avoid any appearance of arbitrariness. i would not talk about a "death sentence" being "reversed" but "only to those...". That gives salvation a narrow feel (although that is not what you are trying to say).

      Here is what I would say:

      Jesus' death blasts the doors wide open for anyone who wants healing to get it. He came to arrest the effects of sin in its tracks and make a way back for us all.

    • Ben, be careful about saying the Jesus was created... Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He is from everlasting! Jesus was not created, but God/Father prepared a body for Him so that He could be born and live as a man in order to reach mankind in his sinful state.

      In Christ,

      John C. Williams
      Like me on Facebook

    • Hello Ben,

      In Genesis 3, God passes sentence on the Serpent, so that his head will be crushed by the heel of the Seed. God states that he will multiply the pain of the Woman in birth this Seed and the “rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus [the Seed].” Revelation 12:17. God’s other statements to the woman and the man can be viewed as descriptive of consequence, not proscriptive (that is, a judgement).

      As William points out, the Son of God came to this earth so that we would know without any doubt the intentions of the Father, whose intents were deceitfully misrepresented by the Serpent in the Garden. The Son was offered as a propitiation to mankind. Unfortunately, we were like vineyard renters of Matthew 21:33-39, treating the Father’s gift to us despicably. That the Son faced certain death when he came to this earth is descriptive of human nature and intent. God’s offer of salvation to us is the result of his promise first made in Garden, not some legalistic “life for death” plea bargain. (Think about it: With whom is God making this legal bargain? Himself? You will have a difficult time finding any real case law where someone deliberately kills an innocent person to save the life of a guilty criminal, and does not face significant legal sanction. However, voluntarily risking life or laying it down deliberately for the sake of love to save another person, is an entirely different matter.)


    • I kind of think Ben just left out a word in his sentence.
      Put that word in and it makes awesome sense!

      "For God to take away sin from us, His Son who also created had to die on our behalf to reverse our death sentence"

      Read "For God to take away sin from us, His Son Who also created us had to die on our behalf to reverse our death sentence."

      Only the Creator's death could atone for the sins of all His created beings.
      The Creator took upon Himself the responsibility of our sin!!
      The wages of sin is death, but because He took the responsibility of sin, and the sentence of our sin upon Himself, He opened wide the door of salvation to everyone Who would come to Him!

      There is a legal requirement if law is to be upheld as binding. If the law's demands could be set aside and sin merely excused because the sinner was later changed, Christ need not have died. It is that legal requirement that we could never meet, as even a good character transformation could never erase one sin.

      Christ was fulfilling the demands of the law in our place, taking our sentence, thereby upholding the unchangable nature of His law.
      Justification (pardon) is a legal action, and is just as necessary as is the healing of sanctification. Both are God's gifts to save humanity.
      Yes, I agree, we need the healing, and yes, it is very much part of the salvation plan.

      And no, Christ's death wasn't to satisfy an angry God, it was love of the highest magnitude!
      The only way for God to uphold His holy law, and forgive unworthy sinners was for the Creator to take upon Himself, the sentence His created beings had earned.

  2. Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit, to convict us of sin and our need for accepting His redeeming love. For only through them can we come before God; Awesome is the Love & Power of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost! And all we need do is claim it, believe in Him and we are saved.

    15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (Jn 14:15-21)

  3. Hello William,

    WoW! I like how you can express Biblical ideas in your own words. I have never heard the following, "God provided an atonement not so much for our sin but because our minds and attitude need to be healed. (Salvation comes from the word, “salvo,” which means healing. The Bible states Jesus came to save his people from their sins. What this actually means is Jesus came to heal us by removing Satan’s lies from our minds, which is one of the things he does in his work of cleansing the heavenly sanctuary)." Healing of the mind is a most blessed experience.
    Thanks so much for sharing, Jane

  4. Interesting comments. Sounds similar in parts to a pastor friend of mine who wrote a book about "servants or friends". Sometimes in our way of thinking, we can create an argument that presumptively leads one to believe there has to be an either/or scenario, when there really is none.

    The wages of sin is death. Christ had to die, or else regardless of our feelings toward God, (such as Enoch who walked with God and is in heaven) we would be left to pay the wages of our sins.

    The cross and suffering of Jesus does many things, more than just moral influence, it satisfies the requirements of the law, which the Bible and SOP are very plain about.

  5. William in this article you have gained my respect in two ways. First, I believe you are doing the work that God would have you to do in Florida. Second, to voice an opinion that seems strange to most Seventh-day Adventists takes courage and as you can already see there will be people that will have some trouble with your view of the cross.

    I feel you are essentially correct in what you say and that a lot more could be said on the subject. What was done on the cross is absolutely amazing to me! As usual, God plans things out with an astounding amount of detail that covers everything. While the cross seems simple on the surface it really deals with a whole bunch of problems.

    To me, we are really not the most important reason for the cross - settling the issues of the great controversy is. If those issues were not dealt with then there would be very little reason to be saved. I mean, would we really want to live for all eternity in the same kind of crummy situation we have on planet earth? After all the whole reason for a new earth is to remove the effects of sin and make life what God designed it to be isn't it?

    I also believe we should not discard the forensic concepts of the cross. There are reasons why the Bible tells us that God paid the penalty for our sins and I think it goes beyond our messed up mentality.

    • To me, we are really not the most important reason for the cross – settling the issues of the great controversy is.

      That is EXACTLY right.

      This is why I insist that this is the heart of Seventh-day Adventism. Everything else is just garden-variety Protestantism (a beautiful garden though--even Eden-like).

  6. William thank you for that brilliant view about the cross, I believe we sing burdens are lifted at calvary, we also imply to wrong conceptions with satan placed in the human mind, so our attitude and mindset really needed a make over. We really need healing, this world is sin sick. Lastly Romans 5:8 brings up that God loves the unlovable and cares for the careless.

  7. The death of our beloved Jesus opened the salvation to all who accepts him. It revealed God's character against that of the devil. It is so painful to see there are so many who still do not know the meaning of Christ's death. Let God help us, you and me, who already know so that we can reach them (unbelievers).

  8. This is moral influence theory, winsomely written but still heretical. Yes, Christ did have to die to atone for our sins. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins. Without Christ's death on the cross, we cannot be saved. This is contrary to modern thinking, but it is Bible fact. And No, Christ did not atone for the fallen angels.

    • Thanks everyone for your interest in the cross and the salvation of mankind. David, Christ did atone for our sins. Where is the heresy in my writing and where did I say He did not atone for our sins? This article is dealing with only one small aspect of the cross while there is so much more to the cross. As Tyler commented, it deals with a whole bunch of problems. Too often we narrow sin down to one definition of 1 John 3:4 which is trangressing the law. The Bible also gives us another definition of sin in John 16:9, the sin of unbelief. This is the sin Eve committed in the Garden. She did not believe in God's love. She believed Satan's lie instead, and ate the fruit. The cross wins our faith back in God's love. John 3:16 says when we believe in Him (not a mere belief that He exists but in His love) that we have back the eternal life we lost in Eden when mankind ceased to believe in His love. As a result of our love being renewed we walk in obedience to all God's commandments. John 14:15

      There is a price to be paid for sin and Jesus took our punishment, and was treated on the cross the way we deserved to be treated, so we can be treated the way He deserves to be treated. This aspect of the cross I have already shared in my post about the Gospel Presentation.

      You also comment that Jesus did not atone for fallen angels. I totally agree. Did you pick up something otherwise? I never said that He did. However the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy is clear that the cross did clear up the Great Controversy for the angels in heaven.

      "The death of Christ upon the cross made sure the destruction of him who has the power of death, who was the originator of sin. When Satan is destroyed, there will be none to tempt to evil; the atonement will never need to be repeated; and there will be no danger of another rebellion in the universe of God. That which alone can effectually restrain from sin in this world of darkness, will prevent sin in heaven. The significance of the death of Christ will be seen by saints and angels. Fallen men could not have a home in the paradise of God without the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Shall we not then exalt the cross of Christ? The angels ascribe honor and glory to Christ, for even they are not secure except by looking to the sufferings of the Son of God. It is through the efficacy of the cross that the angels of heaven are guarded from apostasy. Without the cross they would be no more secure against evil than were the angels before the fall of Satan. Angelic perfection failed in heaven. Human perfection failed in Eden, the paradise of bliss. All who wish for security in earth or heaven must look to the Lamb of God.

      The plan of salvation, making manifest the justice and love of God, provides an eternal safeguard against defection in unfallen worlds, as well as among those who shall be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. Our only hope is perfect trust in the blood of Him who can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary is our only hope in this world, and it will be our theme in the world to come. Oh, we do not comprehend the value of the atonement! If we did, we would talk more about it. The gift of God in His beloved Son was the expression of an incomprehensible love. It was the utmost that God could do to preserve the honor of His law, and still save the transgressor. Why should man not study the theme of redemption? It is the greatest subject that can engage the human mind. If men would contemplate the love of Christ, displayed in the cross, their faith would be strengthened to appropriate the merits of His shed blood, and they would be cleansed and saved from sin" (ST Dec. 30, 1889). {5BC 1132.8-9}

      • I would like to add:

        "Jesus came to teach men of the Father, to correctly represent him before the
        fallen children of earth. Angels could not fully portray the character of God, but Christ, who was a living impersonation of God, could not fail to accomplish the work.The only way in which he could set and keep men right was to make himself visible and familiar to their eyes."

        {ST, January 20, 1890 par. 6}

        The Great Controversy supercharges the atonement. Or to be less hyperbolic, it enlarges its meaning.

        However, we will be studying this for all eternity, so we have not even scratched the surface.

        Furthermore, sin is "lawlessness" it is an attitude, which in turn produces acts. I think, more than "another" definition of sin, this is quite close to the only complete one.

      • "You also comment that Jesus did not atone for fallen angels. I totally agree. Did you pick up something otherwise? I never said that He did."

        William, here's where I picked it up:

        "God provided atonement not just for our attitude but also the attitude of all the angels, fallen and unfallen."

        The unfallen angels do not need atonement. They are already at peace, "at one," with God. On the other hand, the atonement provided by Christ on the cross is not available to fallen angels. Jesus said that the fire was prepared "for the devil and his angels" (Mat. 25:41) implying that Christ's atonement on the cross is potentially available to the entire human race, but not to Satan and the fallen angels. Jude speaks of them as being bound with chains and awaiting judgment. (Jude 6) And Paul states that the saints will judge the fallen angels. (1 Cor. 6:3).

        You're correct that the cross is morally influential, but only if the cross was necessary to effect a substitutionary atonement. The problem with moral influence theorists is that they typically deny the substitutionary atonement, or that the death of Christ was demanded by God the father. You say that it was not demanded by God the Father:

        "Did God the Father send His Son to die because He needed to see someone suffer for the rebellion? Do we serve a God that just has to see somebody suffer and pay the price for disobeying Him?" . . . "God did not need to see His Son or someone else suffer in order to be satisfied."

        But Scripture says that it was:

        "Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
        and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,
        he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
        and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand." Isa. 53:10

        "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me, but not my will but thy will be done." Luke 22:42.

        Someone had to suffer for our sins. It was Christ who chose to suffer for our sins, but not if there was any other way to bring about the atonement. There wasn't.

        People dislike substitutionary atonement because it is mortifying. We see that our sins have caused the death of Christ, and that our "righteousness" is worthless, that it is "garbage." (Philippians 3:8) That goes against our nature. We want to be able to merit heaven, but we do not and cannot; we must go to heaven by Christ's merits alone.

        • You are right David. I did write "fallen and unfallen." I have no clue why I wrote that other than it must have been a typo. Possibly, I may have been thinking about every knee bowing and acknowledging that Christ is Lord of all. I have to be honest. I don't know why I had "fallen" in there. I wrote this a while back and it has just recently been published. Thank you for catching that. I honestly did not know it was there. (The post is now corrected.)

          As far as God wanting to see Jesus suffer, He did so because He wanted to provide an atonement, not because He is a sadistic tyrant.

          May I also pass along a hint? In debating ideas and theology in a Sabbath School setting like this, the word "heresy" is a very strong word.

        • At this point I would like to weigh into what is being discussed here. In my last comment on this thread I said that there are reasons why the Bible says what it does about the cross. What I believe we need to do is to keep in mind the purpose of the Bible which is to be a guidebook or a manual so that through it we would know the way of salvation. It was never intended to be a book on science or history and yet it presents those things for the purpose of teaching us how we are saved.

          God could have written the Bible Himself but He didn't. Instead He had humans write the book in their own words for human readers in order to reach us where we are - down in the muck of sin. The communication to us is on our level of understanding with all the twisted and mangled concepts sin has produced. The ideas that are presented are often not perfect but are what is needed for us to make the necessary decisions for salvation. Therefore as I see it what the Bible says concerning what God has done was designed so that we would accept the fact that we are indeed saved.

          The question that has persistently surfaced is whether or not God is truly sovereign, that is, is He able to do whatever He wishes completely independent of anyone or anything else. If He declares that William and David are saved would that be an absolute irrefutable fact? If it would be then why does He go to the bother to come down to earth, live like a man for 30+ years and choose to die a cruel death at the hand of sinners? In my opinion it was because there are many other issues that needed to be resolved and the cross was the best way to do that.

          In my mind one of the issues that I can think of concerning the concept of a substitutionary death was in dealing with situations such as when Satan argued over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9). God has a legal argument there that Satan cannot win on. Jesus redeemed us (bought us back) - we are now legally His once again so that Satan no longer owns us! So there are real reasons why the cross was needed but as far as I can see the necessity for God to be satisfied by a blood sacrifice is not one of them - it was necessary for other reasons apart from Him.

      • William,

        I appreciated reading your article and contemplating the central points you made, as well as many of your followup comments and those of readers.

        Permit me to comment regarding David's concern about moral influence theory. Anyone who is minimally aware of current trends in the SDA church, and in fact in all of Christendom, knows that the heresy of the moral influence theory has resurfaced and is sweeping through our church like wildfire. For this reason, and others, in my opinion it is not (and has never been) best to publish statements about the Cross without some attempt, however succinct, at thoroughness. Failing to do so will be misleading to many readers.

        I beg to differ regarding your John 16.9 comment. Here is not another definition for sin. This is only pointing out a specific/particular sin. Many consider it to be the sin from which all others spring. Wesley comments "16:9 Of sin - Particularly of unbelief, which is the confluence of all sins, and binds them all down upon us." Nevertheless, in the end, it is "a" sin, not the definition of sin. A sin which leads to many others, but still, a sin itself, which by definition, precludes it from being a definition of sin.



        • I must admit that I had to find out what the "moral influence theory" was. I found an article in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_influence_theory_of_atonement) that I feel explains it quite well. I have taken the liberty of quoting a paragraph out of that article that was under the subheading, "Conflict with penal substitution."

          The moral influence view has historically come into conflict with a penal substitutionary view of atonement, as the two systems propose radically different criteria of salvation and judgment. The moral influence paradigm focuses on the moral change of people, leading to a positive final judgment for which the criteria focuses on inner moral character. By contrast, a penal substitutionary paradigm denies the saving value of human moral change. It focuses on faith in Christ and on his death on our behalf, leading to a positive final judgment based on what Christ has done for us and our trust in that - not on any positive moral qualities that we ourselves possess.

          Notice here what the difference is between the two views. The moral influence theory teaches that salvation comes about through a good life (character). To those who believe in it salvation is something internal NOT external as most Christians believe.

          The Bible is very clear - we are rotten to the core (Rom 3:10-18; Isa 64:6; Eccl 7:20; Isa 53:6; Jer 13:23; Jer 9:5, etc.) and are incapable of extricating ourselves. Of necessity, then, someone else needs to save us which is what God does.

          William's article and comments are not teaching that theory. The title of his article says it all, "Was the Atonement to Appease an Angry God or an Angry Race?" and has nothing to do with how a person is saved but rather discusses the purpose for the cross. As I have said earlier if God needs something in order to save us then He is not truly sovereign. He would be as dependant on something apart from Himself as we are. So we need to come up with a better explanation than the pat answer we usually give.

          That being said we still need the cross for a variety of other reasons and one of the best ones for us sinful humans is that, "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom 5:8-11 NKJV)

        • Tyler,

          IMO, how a person is saved, and the purpose of The Cross, are inextricable. You cannot talk about one without having to do with the other.



      • William,

        No, in that comment you talk about the "sin of unbelief in God’s love, which the cross appeases." And you make a comment regarding what you believe is not at issue in God's destruction of the wicked; namely whether or not He demands love from humanity. However, in order to address/refute the moral influence theory one need not define what is not at issue, one must instead clearly state what is at issue. But that is OK, I was not asking for you to address it. I was simply making a point.

        Incidentally, The Cross does not "appease" the sin of unbelief, since the sin of unbelief is a rejection of The Cross and The Cross does not/can not "appease" the sins of those who reject It.



        • Kenneth, while I know many people refuse to believe in the cross, all I can speak for is myself, and it causes me to believe in God's love and see God's character contrasted with Satan's character.Thank you again for clarifying. pressing on....

  9. You see this right here?

    THIS is Seventh-day Adventism!

    THIS is what we have to carry to the world, not that other stuff we were carrying before.

    • Andrew, I have always said, God did not call the 7th day Adventist church into existance just to preach about the Sabbath. The 7th day Baptists were already doing that before we came along. God called the Adventist church into existance to preach the truth about the cross in all of its glory and splendor.

      • Thanks William, in the last part of your comment ...God called the Adventist church into existence to preach the truth about the cross it all of its glory and splendor”....I may also add... in preparing a people for His soon return as king of kings and lord of lords. We have an awesome God!!

  10. How about pondering the three types of sin that David mentions?
    I think the main thing is recognizing our selfishness that is at the bottom of any type of sin.

    Psalm 51:1-5 (KJV)
    1 Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
    2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
    3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
    4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
    5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

    • Jane praise God He saved David from the sin he was born in so he did not continue making the same mistakes over and over. Thank God too, that we too, after being conceived in sin, can be born again of the Holy Spirit.

  11. In an earlier comment, someone referred to the purpose of the Bible.

    Is it primarily a guidebook or manual to holy living, or is it primarily something else?

    Our answer says something about how we view God and salvation, and that ties in with the subject of William's post.

  12. We are created with the freedom of choice. God loves us so much that He gave us a way out, when we make the wrong choice. Jesus stands in for my sin before the Father. That is not a God of anger, my friend that is Love.
    I often hear, the devil made me do it. Wrong, the devil tempts; we choose to sin. Weather, we admit it or not. God knows and He let Jesus, His Son, take our place. Love all the way.
    I will not have to ask God, why someone isn't with Him in the end. They choose not to be there; they choose the lake of fire over the Gift of Jesus. Just as satan and his followers choose rebellion over God's Love.
    Makes no sense to me, to choose death over Life. Thinking anger of God and not love is their choice not mine. Hope to see you you in Heaven and on the earth made new...
    Yes I know satan is suppose to be capitalized but I choose not to respect him in anyway...

  13. I think we need to remember that when Christ died, all died in Him.
    2Cor. 5:14. Jesus didn't die instead of us entirely, we all died in Him, unbelievers and believers. Eternal life is given to all men.
    Rom. 5:18. This is the good news for the world. Do all accept or will all accept? No. The story is true and the best news anyone could ever hear. Thanks so much William for this wonderful blog.

  14. Jesus' sacrifice of dying for our sins was the supreme example of self-less love. Jesus' act of compassion continues to bridge the gap in our lives between us and God so that we can stop running and hiding from God.

  15. Wow... never has this truth been explained to me, I can't believe I always thought other wise... well, we sort of are taught that way but we are not taught the other side of the coin... thanks for this wonderful study!

    • Lourdes, that isn't even the half of it!
      When I first heard this I could not believe that God could actually be that good.

  16. "First of all GOD is (not) angry with us" is a misleading statement. While some are called the apple of HIS eye, or precious jewels, the Bible testifies of HIS righteous anger. David says "GOD is a righteous judge, (margin) and is angry with the wicked every day (Ps 7:11). "And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have of heard" (Micah 5:15). "Behold the Name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: HIS lips are full of indignation, and HIS tounge as a devouring fire" (Isa 30:27) "The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until HE have done it, and until HE have preformed the intents of HIS heart: in the later days ye shall consider it (Jer 30:24). Read Jer 23:16-32 verse 20 adds "in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly". Notice the word shall, not just might or may consider it perfectly. In these later days we should claim this as a promise because "Neither their silver nor gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of HIS jealousy: for HE shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land (Zeph 1:18). Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD's anger come upon you. 3 Seekye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought HIS judgement; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD's anger" (Zeph 2:2,3). Read all the warning in Zephaniah 1:2-18. Zeph. 2:8 declares"... for MY determination is to gather the nations , that I may assemble the kingdoms. to pour upon them MINE indignation, even MY fierce anger: for a the earth shall be devoured with the fire of MY jealousy". The good news is 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies....14 Sing... be glad and rejoice with all the heart..:15 The LORD hath taken away thy judgements...17 The LORD thy GOD in the midst of thee is mighty; HE will save, HE will rejoice over thee with joy; HE will rest in HIS love, HE will joy over thee with singing". Wow. That is a song that will be something to hear!
    We can not truly appreciate GOD's mercy in offering us salvation if we do not understand how terrible sin is, and the just wages that will be given to those of us who reject HIS gracious calls to repentance. This is only scratching the surface.

  17. What kind of God would He be if He was not angry with those who carry out all the horrible things people do to others. think of Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Jim Jones, and the "lesser" sins of those who purposely hurt others either emotionally or physically. Sin, big or small, is disloyalty to Jesus, who has (and since His word is law) commanded us to love one another. Rebellion is, Samuel told Saul, the same as witchcraft. In other words, it origanates with Satan. When our loyalties and love are not directed to God, we are in rebellion. God is not angry with rebellion and all the misery it causes people, and His Only Begotton Son who reaches out in love to save us???

  18. Thank you Herb and Keith for bringing in another angle of the cross. My post was addressing the sin of unbelief in God's love, which the cross appeases. However, I have had friends go so far as to say that God will never actually destroy the sinner, because He does not have a "love me or I'll kill you" mentality. I tell them that when a state which practices capital punishment puts a murderer to death, love me or I'll kill you is not even the issue. Just like when a parent punishes a child for hurting another child, loving the parent is not the issue. There are so many aspects of the cross we will be exploring throughout all eternity, so we will never cover them all on one blog post.

    • William I get a little uneasy when someone explains what God does in terms of what we do because God doesn't think or do as we do (Isa 55:8). In fact the whole subject of how God treats committed sinners is a difficult one for sinful man to deal with.

      For me texts such as:

      But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Mat 5:44-45 NKJV).

      And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. "For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village (Lk 9:52-56 NKJV).

      And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left.
      34 Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots (Lk 23:33-34 NKJV)

      Speak volumes about God's character on the subject.

      We also need to keep in mind that Jesus was and is God and manifested what the Father is like while on earth (Jn 14:8-9; Jn 1:1-3; Phil 2:5-7). As for the texts that Keith refers to, they form one great inconsistency with what we see in Jesus that I personally feel we need to deal with as a church. In fact there are very few subjects in scripture that do not have at least some contradiction within the Bible. Because of this, it is my conviction that the problem is not with God but with the writers of scripture and with us as interpreters of their writings. So I believe we, as a people, have a lot to learn about God and apply in our own lives because He is our ultimate example.

  19. I appreciate William's comment that we cannot, in one discussion, touch on all aspects of God's character. We know that the essence of God's character is love, and it is most fully revealed on the cross. This love is defined by God, not our human understanding, and the cross demonstrates that there's more to love than our usual human understanding.

    I believe that everything William wrote is correct, and many need the understanding of God's character that he provided. Furthermore, I don't think that, rightly understood, the texts regarding God's anger and judgments are out of harmony with the picture William presented. These two aspects of God's character are in apparent opposition because we tend to choose one over the other, when they need to be kept together in order to understand both justice and mercy. Sometimes, however, there is good reason to focus on one aspect or another to correct an incorrect understanding of the character of God.

    I see the apparent dissonance between some Bible passages and the gospel accounts of the life of Christ as our lack of understanding. We see justice (which demands the death of the law breaker) and mercy (which forgives the law breaker) as irreconcilable opposites. But both are essential aspects of God's character that complement each other -- as some of our readers have pointed out. We need to hold both in balance in order to understand both justice and mercy and what God's love is all about.

    For an interesting exercise, check out Bible references to "justice" and "mercy." Here's a start: "Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face." (Psalm 89:14 NKJV) " 'Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.'" (Matt 23:23) Also see "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other." (Ps 85:10) If justice is the foundation of God's throne, it would seem to be at least equally as important as love, would it not?

    Also see Desire of Ages, p. 762:

    God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, and the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10.

    By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed. Satan’s charges were refuted. God had given man unmistakable evidence of His love.

    Justice does not destroy God's mercy and love, and neither does love destroy God's justice, which demands the life of the lawbreaker. It may take us eternity to understand how this can be so, but through the aid of the Holy Spirit we may begin now.

    I recommend a couple Youtube videos recorded of my good friend Pastor Leroy Moore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbqsU3thN74 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZP773KfvHws in which He deals with the paradox of truth as revealed in Scripture. Please forgive him for not giving the full definition of "paradox" but only the application he intends to make of it in his lectures.

    • I do agree Inge. For without the end of the wicked the righteous would be eternally tormented by their lawless deeds. So love toward the righteous demands an end to sin and sinners. I see no inconsistency here between justice and mercy but I do question our understanding of how justice will be carried out.

      Because this is getting off topic a bit I choose to end any further discussion of this on my part. I feel I have said enough, maybe even too much.

  20. Hello William,

    I like one of your recent postings about “I like simple”, in the context of this posting and in response to other shared thoughts, I would like to share my take on your approach to this very relevant topic:

    God loves us but for us to love Him.
    Proverbs 8:17
    “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.”

    I appreciate the aspect of choice on our part to love Him as described in this verse. The choice we make is our reward!
    Proverbs 18:21
    “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

    The convicting power of the Holy Spirit is an individual “thing” for he lives within us; no one but me can choose for me, but He guarantees He is going to come to me!
    John 14:15-18
    15 “If you love Me, keep[d] My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

    Jesus is the Conqueror and has the keys to life or death but for us to choose Him – I especially love this verse, the very warming assurance that satan it “done & dusted”, period!.
    Revelations 1:18
    18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

    We know what God unconditional love looks like, Jesus died to Redeem us but for us to believe – through Faith, a “freebie”! The great good news of the Gospel!
    John 3:16
    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    Thank you again William for your insightful and thought provoking postings. I do find they bring me closer to Jesus as I contemplate the essence of your messages: PRAISE GOD FOR HIS LOVE AND THAT HE LIVES SO YOU AND ME AND OURS ALSO MIGHT CHOOSE TO LIVE.

    GOD’S RICH BLESSINGS WITH YOU BRO! IN JESUS. I look forward to your next contribution to my learning more about Jesus awe inspiring love!

  21. Thanks again everyone for your contributions as we look at the cross together and help one another get a clearer view of God's love. Ian you don't know how happy it makes me that the Holy Spirit is bringing you closer to Jesus! That is what this life is all about! It is also what this website is all about.

  22. Thanks for all the contributions that emphasised facets of God's love for us through the cross.
    How can we not be changed?

  23. Dear William, Thanks so much for this article which I found to be such a clear explanation of the reasons for the cross that I have made a PowerPoint presentation of the essential points to share with the Sabbath School. I did use the photo and gave credit to Mr. Preston and then to you for these ideas. Again thanks so very much.

  24. Interesting that this should surface again. I would see what Mr. Earnhardt has said to be part of moral influence theory. It looks to me from my distant vantage point to be one of the important controversies in the church whether Christ died as our substitute or whether He died to influence our morals and our behavior. What small part of the conflict I see has been those who believe in the substitutionary death of Christ attacking the opposition as promoting heresy. What I don't understand is why? If heaven is to be a happy place and we stop doing the things which have made this world unhappy, it seems only logical to me that we must behave differently. In other words, we be convinced to have a different moral standard and something must influence us to do so. The condition of this world and the suffering and death we all experience should be enough to convict anyone of intelligence of the need for change. The cross is God's chosen method to convince us that He cares and that He believes His plan to fix the problems that sin has caused will work. Certainly One does not allow Themself to be beaten, spat on, whipped and then crucified unless They have a deep conviction that Their plan will be successful. So in the cross is God's hope to convince us of His love for us and His certainty that He can save us. I use salvation here as a very broad term that includes a "change of heart and mind" that David wrote of in Psalms 51. If Christ is only our substitute, then what happens if we get to heaven only to continue the same course of rebellion and deviance from God's law that caused all the trouble in the first place? There must be more than just a remedy that fulfills a legal obligation. I know that some will quote texts like Hebrews 9:22 "Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin." My question is: who required this? Was it God, or is it us? Does God have to pay God so that we can be saved? Or are we so hardened that only by seeing Jesus dying on a cross would we be softened and wish to have our sins remitted. The latter seems the far more likely proposition. Interestingly, i looked for and could not find a Bible verse that describes Christ as out substitute. Ellen White has repeatedly written that He is "our substitute and surety". I would accept her authority on this, but it seems reasonable to think that if Jesus dying as our substitute were the primary purpose of the cross, the Bible would explicitly say so. God bless everyone. steve

    • Thanks Steve for your thoughts. Ellen White says in Great Controversy Page 652, "The cross of Christ will be the science and the song of the redeemed through all eternity." I believe we will be learning new things about the cross for eternity! That means there will be limitless themes and lessons from the cross. One does not cancel out the other. I don't feel a correct theology subscribes to just one view of the cross. Some "camps" of thought are not wrong in what they teach, but in what they fail to teach. The fact that Jesus died to assure us that He loves us does not cancel out that without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. I am looking forward to studying the cross with you for all eternity!

  25. Another lovely observation along the same lines is that whether one believes Christ was our substitute or whether He died to morally influence us, He must have foreseen the necessity of the cross when He made us. If he has all foreknowledge, then the inevitable conclusion is He would have known that by creating man, He would one day have to die on a cross to rescue us. The corollary would have to be that He thought it would be worth it. Despite whatever differences we might have on the particulars. we have a wonderful God who thinks that being crucified is not too great a price, if He can spend eternity with us. Happy Sabbath all

  26. Thank you, Steve, for your observation. Certainly "moral influence" is part of the effect of Christ's death on the cross. But that is only one aspect.

    As William suggested, the problem with a lot of "camps" of doctrine is not so much what they teach, but what they fail to teach. Fanaticism and other aberrations are usually a matter of taking a particular truth or aspect of truth and focusing on it to the exclusion of others.

    The plan of salvation is so broad and deep that we shall study it for eternity. The concept of substitution - of Christ dying the death that we deserve so that we can have the life that He deserves is embedded in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, particularly in the sanctuary services. (Considering the Passover lamb is a good start.) While the concept is foundational, is only *one* aspect of salvation. You observe astutely that part of the plan of salvation must be to restore in us the image of God in which our first parents were created. Thinking of the plan of salvation as merely a substitution obscures this fact.

    Rather than pitting one aspect of truth against another, let us all seek to study deeply into all aspects and see what they teach us about God and our relationship to Him.

    • Yes. Moral influence and substitutionary atonement are just two of the many, many reasons for the cross. I believe both to be correct, and neither encompass all that was accomplished there. I expect there are easily a thousand questions answered at the cross that I haven't even thought of yet. Thank you again for the kind replies. steve

  27. Thank you William for this excellent article. I am presenting the lesson 9 study on End Time Deception in our local Sabbath School, and would like to quote your line 'Jesus came to heal us by removing Satan’s lies from our minds,'. I like that, and even though I suspect a lot of us knew this intuitively, we have not seen it in print.

    Also a message to Kenneth, please do not use initials for the sake of people like me ? on the other side of the world who do not know what you mean so miss an important part of what you have to say.
    Godbless today, Mrs A Stolz.

  28. Thank you William
    by the way, did you catch up with the bird watcher at Avondale?
    Blessings, Mrs A S.


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