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Beyond the Metaphors – Ultimate Sacrifice — 28 Comments

  1. Dear brother William,
    It was the first time this week I came to this website and I read with interest your articles... I really appreciated the article about making disciples of Jesus or clones of ourselves, though a church at a certain point has to present a common "creed"...
    About the article 'Beyond the metaphors' I'd like to ask you one question... If Jesus died of the second death (at our place!?) why did he raised?

    I would be glad to receive your answer!

    Daniele Pellegrini from (Savona) Italy

    • I came across your comment, and saw the question you gave at the end of it.
      Well to answer that I want to say that Jesus Christ rose from the dead inorder to show us that death is not the end of a true christian...he will live again if he dies in this earth before the second coming of christ.Again, Jesus Says 'I can lay down my life and take it back and that is really a mystery of the regenerative power of God.

      • Thank you for answering to my message: I've really appreciated you did it. I agree with what you say but my question was a little different: why, if Jesus died of the second death (the eternal death), he rose again? Isn't the second death the one of the wicked who refuse the grace of God?? What evil did ever God impute to His Son Jesus in order to condemn him???
        Thank you for taking in consideration my questions!

        • Daniele,

          The "second death" is the "wages of sin" - what naturally accrues to every sinner who rebels against the Law of Life for the universe. Separation from the Source of life = death. In that sense, the Law of God "demands" the death of the sinner.

          As I understand it, God did not "impute" anything to Christ, but God in Christ, voluntarily bore the sins of mankind on the cross. It caused Him to experience what every unrepentant sinner will eventually experience - complete separation from God the Father. His anguish was greater than any sinner will experience (even greater than that of Satan) because His relationship with the Father was so much deeper. His sense of abandonment and loss was greater in proportion to his greater union with the Father.

          Christ experienced the second death as a man in His incarnate body.

          As God, Christ could not die, because He has life in Himself. And since there was no taint of sin even in His incarnate body, He had power to take up His life again in His incarnate human body which He took on for eternity.

          The second death is eternal for sinners, because they separated themselves from the Source of Life. Not so for Christ.

          We can understand enough of it to appreciate that it must be love beyond our comprehension for the Creator to lower Himself to become a creature like us and to live a lowly life and than allow Himself to be maligned and tortured and die the death of a sinner on a cross, a Roman instrument of torture.

          As I understand it, the cross did not kill Christ. He died from the weight of sin on His shoulders - the sense of separation from God and the exquisite pain of experiencing the horribleness of sin - something from which His whole nature shrank.

          We certainly cannot fully understand the incarnation with our frail human minds, and to make it comprehensible for our limited minds inevitably makes God less than He has revealed Himself to be.

          On things He has not revealed, silence is golden.

    • A simple answer can be: Because as God He had the power to lay down His life and take it up again which is exactly what He did.

  2. Thank you for your question Daniele, and welcome to SSNET. Nice answer James. Daniele this may answer your question. https://ssnet.org/blog/the-god-forsaken-god/ Also, remember there is a big difference between feeling and knowing something. My mother knows planes are more safe than cars, but you put her on a plane and she sure doesn't feel more safe. The point is Jesus suffered and tasted the second death by not feeling He would be resurrected even if He was. That is how his Humanity experienced it. Like James says, in His divinity He could lay it down or pick it up anytime.

    • You might wish to add that Jesus died for our sins, but had no sins of His own. He died our death for us; meaning that He felt the wrath of God toward sin in our place. This being done, His own righteousness allows Him to live again, and having suffered the wrath of God toward sin for us, can forgive all who repent and turn from sin, accepting His death in their place and His righteousness as our own by faith. The unrepentant sinners must pay the price themselves, and having no righteousness, cannot live again.

      As I read further, I see the question is; who demands the death of sinners? It would be the law/lawgiver. The demand of Justice. In any land, insubordination against the Ruler during a time of war is considered treason and worthy of death. We read that there was war in heaven, and Satan was able to tempt Adam and Eve to rebel by disobeying God's direct command. This deserves death. The only suffering in death is before death occurs, for once dead, there is no more awareness. Jesus suffered the death that His Law demands of the transgressor, and this is just.

      For mankind, Jesus was willing to pay the penalty Himself, though sinless, and suffered the agony of God's wrath against sin.(God's "wrath"; another subject to understand) This being done, and having no sin to condemn Him, Jesus could live again since there is no suffering after death occurs. Those who remain in rebellion cannot live again since they would need to die yet again, and God is merciful. There are some aspects we must accept without a perfect understanding, and realize this: God accepts Christ's death on our behalf and will grant us eternal life with Him because of this death. Who would question that?!! Even Satan will acknowledge that God has been just in granting salvation to those who receive Jesus, and the destruction of those who reject Him. If God forgave without the penalty being paid, Satan would protest and with good reason. So even Satan demands justice.

      This is God's offer, any takers?

  3. Oh dear Father...Lord of lords...King of kings...bless Williams ministry....William, Father has given u the gift of the Spirit and it is clear that you have walked miles to have a broad understanding of the character of our dear Jesus. This article is a Home run! Thank u brother for such a vivid panoramic view of the depth of sacrifice Jesus made for me and everyone in this world. 'When I surveythe cross on which Prince of glory died, I pour contemp on all my pride'. This gospel IS the heart fo the "everlasting gospel" . God teach us all to become vessels of your amazing love and to live the life of true children who walk after the Spirit. I so long to see Him face to face. Thank you and God bless you.

  4. I wonder if Daniele's question might not be answered by the fact that Jesus died the death of a sinner to satisfy the law that says "the wages of sin is death". The second death, we believe. The law doesn't address the senario, that a sinless human being can assume that obligation. Because He was sinless He did not deserve the second death and so His character was used in place of ours. Something like a metaphore. If Jesus had not been able to do that we would have nothing but the second death to look forward to. Many of us do not fully understand ALL the reasons for creation and the plan of salvation in connection with the controversy between Christ and Satan.

  5. I understand your point.

    Let me put it that way. Biblically speaking "the second death" is an eternal death, am I right? If yes, the question is: if Jesus died of the second (i.e. eternal) death why did he rise to life?

    The second death follows a sentence of condemnation: what evil did the rightly Father attributes to His Son Jesus??

    What you mean by "on the cross Jesus was being treated the way we deserved to be treated"??? Must we believe that at the end of times the loving and heavenly Father would or should (consider it just to) spit at me, make fun of me, slap me, torture me and than hung me on a cross because I deserved it cause of my sins???

    The fundamental question is: why did God wanted His Son to die? It is because He needed a sacrifice in order to forgive considering it faire and acceptable that an Innocent pays at the place of the guilty (disqualifying in that way all of His teachings about justice) OR because accepting the (unjust) cross he would have empathized till the end with the lost humanity both good and evil, considering it better to suffer even an offence in order to win the heart of the worst who was striking him to death?
    There is a very big difference between planning an ignominious killing and accepting it. Only the second one can be considered morally acceptable and worthy of inspiration and admiration.

    I stop here. What do you think?

    • Daniele,
      Your question is a great one. How does God use his power? To kill or to save?
      One of the biggest questions in the Great Controversy.

    • Hi Danielle (and William). One helpful thing for me is to realize is that a solution can't be found until the original problem is understood. It seems to me that the original problem in the universe is a breakdown of trust and harmony, caused by Satan's lies about God's character and His government (i.e. what He asks of all of His creatures: the service of love, which is the basis of His righteous law; the service of fear is unacceptable and even disruptive to the spirit of harmony and peace and trust). That's why for me Romans 3:25-26 is so significant. Jesus' death was to demonstrate God's righteousness because in the beginning Satan said that God lied about death being the result of sin. But how can a universe that has never seen death not misunderstand how inevitable the natural consequences of death. Some would have thought of that death as arbitrarily imposed by God and then serve Him from fear. Romans 3:25-26 explains that Jesus' death demonstrated the righteousness of God, because until Jesus, no one had ever died the death that is the natural result of sin. In other words, God is not arbitrary, but right, truthful, righteous and completely trustworthy. So for me the cross demonstrates not only that God is loving, self-sacrificing and unselfish, but that He is truthful--"just" (righteous) and the "justifier" (the one who makes right) those who choose to trust Him because of Jesus' life and death. So I believe, to answer your original question, that the point of Jesus' death was NOT to die the second death eternally, but demonstrate God's trustworthiness, loving character (to win us back to trust) and that death is the natural result of sin."

    • Daniele, very good question. I think he rose after that second death to take the keys of death and hell from the enemy and to make null and void the ultimate consequence of sin to humanity, to give man hope of living after this earthly experience. If Jesus did not rise none who sinned would have had the hope of living again. And ultimately we would have to question the love, the forgiveness, the power and very nature of God. In essence, I believe, we would have to agree with Satan and question the character of God. The second death will be "eternal" only for those who have not accepted Christ and renounced sin. Simply because Jesus rose it is not eternal for those who will come forth in the first resurrection or be caught up with Him in the air when He returns.

    • Daniele, you have again brought up a very good question. I think this post may answer your question about Jesus being treated the way we deserve. It is definitely not the Father's desire to see His Son or anyone else suffer. https://ssnet.org/blog/atonement-to-appease-an-angry-god-or-an-angry-race/

      And you are correct again Daniele, the second death is an eternal death. Of course Jesus did not die eternally, but He was willing to and thought He was going to in order to save us. Just knowing He was willing to is enough to make me love Him and want to serve Him. Again the point of the cross is to heal our rebellion and distrust of God. Knowing Jesus was willing to say goodbye to life forever heals us from that rebellion. There is a story, (Don't know if it is true or not) about a girl who needed some blood or she was going to die. Her brother was the only one around who had her type of blood. They asked if he would give his blood, and after hesitating he finally said yes. After they took what blood they needed he asked when he was going to die! He thought he was going to have to give all of his blood! He did not have to die after all, but he was willing to and that makes him a hero who his sister always loved and appreciated. In a sense he did taste death in that he was willing and thought he was going to die.

      In Mark 14:33 KJV it says in Gethsemane that Jesus became "sore amazed". How could God every be amazed? You are amazed when you learn or experience something you never knew before. God knows everything. Yet in His humanity Jesus when Jesus could not see "through the portals of the tomb" He was amazed as He was experiencing something in His humanity that He never had before. People with children say you don't really know what it is like to have children until you actually do. Well Jesus in His humanity was sore amazed when He felt the weight of sin, and at that point could not see past the tomb. He was indeed resurrected, but the fact that He still went through with it while not seeing past the grave makes me love and trust Him!

    • @ Daniele, The second death is eternal for sinners, because it is the "wages of sin" - the "wages" God willingly bore Himself in His incarnation as Jesus Christ.

      It seems to me that you are seeing a false dichotomy between the Father and the Son, when Jesus said, "I and my Father are one." (John 10:30) And Christ says clearly that He lays down His life of His own initiative. (John 10:18)

      All your questions are based on this false distinction. Again I say, Christ willingly took on Himself the sins of humanity and willingly experienced the death that should be ours so that we may experience the life that is His. He was treated as we deserve (the second death) so that we might be treated as He deserves (eternal life).

      "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." (2 Cor 5:19) He did not "want His Son do die," but in His Son, God experienced the second death that every sinner will experience.

      @ Larry: See 1 Samuel 2:6 for a direct answer: "“The Lord kills and makes alive." The words of Hannah are corroborated by the word of God Himself in Deut 23:39 NIV. The thought is stated in a gentler form in Job 5:18, and the words of Christ in John 5:29 have similar implications.

      You see, you are posing a false dilemma: It is not either/or but this/and.

  6. Dear William and everyone, thank you for your answers.
    I agree that incarnation could have brought concrete risks to Jesus and everyone. Even if He knew the future since the beginning he never experienced resurrection on himself: death could have been eternal; and the risks for Him to sin were real: we could find ourselves with a worst god instead of the beautiful One we have!

    Relating to the article suggested me I believe that the exact opposite of the Aztecs (who sacrificed their children to their gods), is that God doesn't need sacrifices at all in order to forgive. He has already forgiven because it is in his loving nature to do so! There is no need for His justice of sacrifices of any kind to be satisfied.
    The Jew who used to go to the temple to sacrifice went to testify (not to obtain!) a forgiveness that God already put at disposition.
    The leper used to go to sacrifice after or before being cleansed? Before. We receive salvation after or before been baptized? Before. The same is for pardon: Jesus forgave us after or before death? If the answer is "before" than technically death was not necessary in order to save (with this I don't absolute say that His death has no meaning: absolutely not!).
    So, who wanted the death of Jesus, who planned it? God or humans/Satan? If God: his justice is not so far from the culture of the Aztecs' gods; His Grace is moved not by love but by what it receives...

    • Your conclusion that God's justice is not so far from the culture of the Aztecs gods is one reason why Jesus died - to show the love of God - which has both justice and mercy.

    • Just one observation, Daniele,

      You wrote that "I agree that incarnation could have brought concrete risks to Jesus and everyone."

      As a matter of fact, incarnation did have eternal consequences for Christ. After the incarnation He was/is forever limited to a human body and thus gave up His omnipresence, among other things.

      I want to caution you that in countering the substitutionary aspect of the atonement, you are opposing one of the most explicitly and clearly taught doctrines of the Bible. From the gates of Eden in Genesis to Revelation of Jesus Christ at the end of the Bible, the substitutionary atonement is taught in type, symbol and direct statements.

      The offerings of the sanctuary clearly taught that an animal was accepted as a substitute or the sinner's life. And the Bible makes clear that that animal was a type of Christ - something John the Baptist recognized when He cried, "“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29)

      In Hebrews we read that in the sanctuary system, "the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Heb 9:22 NIV)This blood represented the blood of Christ, which He corroborated when He said, "“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:20 NKJV)

  7. Dear Paul Blanke,
    I believe that the text "for the wages of sin is death" can be intended only as one (maybe the worst) of the many NATURAL consequences of sin.

    If we consider it as a law of God that must be satisfied (anyhow) [in order to save men and the righteousness (?) of God], we must admit that it does not express exactly the Grace/Pardon of God.

  8. Yes Daniele, we believe opposite of the Aztecs. It was Adam who ran from God and God provided the sacrifice to win Him back. This is a theme we will be studying throughout all eternity. Many questions will be answered in heaven as the plan of redemption is revealed more and more. I would like to invite you to http://www.williamdearnhardt.com where I have a lot of information on the cross. I love studying the cross and the love of Jesus! Thank you for your comments!

  9. The death Christ suffered was not eternal death because He was resurrected but this death was enough to pay the price for our eternal death. 1 Tim 2:6 says, "who gave himself a ransom for all..." In other words, our death penalty does not require as payment an eternal death of Christ. It is on the ground of this Christ death that pardon is granted to us sinners. What a love/grace? Thank you Lord!

  10. The question, "Why did Jesus have to die?" is an excellent one. In order to truly answer the question, the challenge is to go beyond the metaphors and beyond the common cliches. Thank you, Danielle, for sharing your thought-provoking perspective. I agree that God didn't need the death of His son in order to love or forgive. Instead, His love and forgiveness are communicated through the life and death of Jesus. My own perspectives have been so strongly influenced by the chapter "It Is Finished," in the Desire of Ages, which seems to me to go far beyond the typical reformation view prevalent in Adventism today. There, Satan is the one represented as demanding punishment for every sin, which is his version of justice: retribution and vengeance. On the other hand, God's justice is a fruit of His love. God's law and His justice are one and the same, which is His righteousness; His love always does what is right. It's never arbitrary. So since the law requires righteousness--love--which we don't have, God, through the life and death of Jesus, provides us the forgiveness we need, but also lifts us up out of the mud and transforms us, heals us and restores us into harmony. What a God!

  11. The plan of salvation is something the angels desire to fully understand but do not and will spend eternity trying to comprehend. 1 Pet.1:12. God is an infinite being and His righteousness is as infinite as He is. Angels are superior beings, yet being finite, cannot fully understand the plan of salvation and need the eons of eternity to investigate it although they will never plumb its depths. We humans are lower than angels for now and will have to bow at the throne of the Infinite God and confess that no matter how long we have and how smart we become there will always be an eternity beyond. I don’t think that some things of the plan of redemption we will ever fully understand yet Daniele’s question is a great one.

    We may need to consider the following in trying to understand the answer.

    1) One of the implied accusations of Satan in his warfare against God’s law is that mankind as created by God is incapable of fully obeying this law of self-sacrificing love. Jesus proved him wrong by keeping God’s law in humanity after four thousand years of the degeneration of man’s physical, mental, and moral powers.
    2) The other is that for God to be just He must give fallen man the same punishment as the fallen angels. In other words God could not be just and at the same time justify the sinner. Jesus took the punishment for sin of all mankind and showed that God was not removing the punishment for sin.
    3) I am beginning to see that while the wages of sin is death (the second death) the wages of righteousness is life (eternal life).
    Sin cannot exist in God’s presence. When Moses asked to see God’s face, the pre-incarnate Jesus told him, “You cannot see My face, for no man shall see Me and live.” Ex. 33:20. Ellen White was told the same thing when she inquired about the glory and form of the Father when she saw “a cloud of glorious light” covering the Father on His throne. Jesus said to her, “If you should once behold the glory of His person, you would cease to exist.” EW p. 54. Yet Adam and Eve had unfettered and complete exposure to the full glory of God before they sinned.
    Righteousness cannot be separated from God. Just as sin cannot come into God’s presence righteousness cannot be excluded from God’s presence. Since Christ was fully righteous without sin nothing could separate Him from the Father when the Father stopped separating Himself from His Son.

    When Christ was treated as sin, his humanity died because of separation from God. But because of our need to be justified He was raised. While Justice demanded the death of the sinner it also demands life for the righteous. Christ having no sin in Himself had to be given life because of His righteousness. (I am extrapolating from one concept to another.)

    We say that Jesus came back to life even though He died the second death. The question I ask is this. Do we not see the Jesus is severely restricted in some way for all eternity because of His humanity that He retains forever? If we could comprehend who and what the almighty, everlasting God and His substance are then and only then would we understand what Jesus left in the grave after He died on the cross for us. Something between the Father and the Son will be forever different because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to the human race not for time but for all eternity. He is for all eternity Immanuel, “God with us.” “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on that we should be called children of God and that is what we are. … Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 Jn. 3:1, 2.

    All this and more, much more than I can provide goes into the answer to Daniele’s question I believe.

  12. Just some thoughts on the first and second death.

    God is the source of all life.
    Sin separates the sinner from God and the source of life resulting in death.
    When Adam and Eve sinned there was only one thing looming in their future and that was death. There was no "first" or "second" death, just plain death -- the end with nothing beyond.


    "The instant man accepted the temptations of Satan, and did the very things God had said he should not do, Christ, the Son of God, stood between the living and the dead, saying, "Let the punishment fall on Me. I will stand in man's place. He shall have another chance." {FLB 75.3}

    "As soon as there was sin, there was a Saviour. Christ knew that He would have to suffer, yet He became man's substitute. As soon as Adam sinned, the Son of God presented Himself as surety for the human race, with just as much power to avert the doom pronounced upon the guilty as when He died upon the cross of Calvary. {FLB 75.4}

    Christ took our sins upon Himself. He took the sins of the whole world upon Himself. As He hung upon the cross with those sins crushing his heart, the darkness and guilt of those sins hung over Him like a thick cloud blocking out the hope of any resurrection. The separation from His Father which those sins caused was terrible. It seemed He could not possibly rise again the sins He was bearing were just too great. Yet He trusted in God the Father, and willingly yielded up His life.

    If Christ would not have risen, the first death would forever be the final death, no one would have any hope of living again.
    But Christ broke the power of death and the grave.
    Because of His sinless life, death could not hold Him.
    Colossians 1:18 says He is the firstborn from the dead!
    Because He lives EVERYONE will be raised from the dead.

    Some will be raised to life everlasting, but some will be raised only to die again because they have chosen sin and its wages, instead of their Savior and the life He freely offered them.

  13. I appreciate what sister Unruh has written. The key statement which she put more succinctly than I did is that because of Christ's sinless life the grave could not hold Him. Paul says the same thing regarding those who accept the forgiveness of Christ and live righteously through the Spirit. "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life." Rom 6:22, NKJV.


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