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Tuesday: The Substitution — 51 Comments

  1. Dotted throughout the universe are objects we call black holes. They are objects that are so heavy and dense their gravitational force is so strong that nothing escapes from them. Once an object is caught in the sink of a black hole it cannot escape. For a long time, we did not know that they existed because even light and electromagnetic radiation cannot escape from them. It wasn't until the invention of X-ray astronomy that we were able to detect the objects just caught on the edge of their web sending out high energy radiation just as they started their spiral path into oblivion. Black holes are objects of destruction. Once caught in its gravitational field any object is destined for its dense core, incapable of escaping. (There is a lot more to the theory of black holes but I will spare you the other 200 pages of summary!)

    Sin is much like a black hole. Once caught in its web there is no escape. The end is destruction. Unlike the physical black holes, there is a way of escape and that is the sacrifice of Jesus. We do not have to follow the inevitable path to destruction because Jesus takes us out of the gravity field of sin, not by standing on the edge and pulling us out, but by substituting for us.

    We often get ourselves knotted, trying to provide a legal forensic case for salvation, but salvation is not a study in forensics. It is an act of unselfish love and sacrifice that trumps law.

    For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son so that anyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 TLB

    I like how Paul describes this to the Philippians:

    Don’t be selfish; don’t live to make a good impression on others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself. Don’t just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and in what they are doing.

    Your attitude should be the kind that was shown us by Jesus Christ, who, though he was God, did not demand and cling to his rights as God, but laid aside his mighty power and glory, taking the disguise of a slave and becoming like men. And he humbled himself even further, going so far as actually to die a criminal’s death on a cross.

    Yet it was because of this that God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name which is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil 2:3-11 TLB

    • No local SS this week, so this is my SS "discussion" today.

      "...salvation is not a study in forensics. It is an act of unselfish love and sacrifice that trumps law."

      May I suggest that salvation, as you describe it, IS the law in the language of living actions. The law handed down to a fallen world through Moses(and before that, through the patriarchs) is in the language that will convict sinners who are inflicted with a strange "blindness", but if read from the position of sanctified reasoning, will lead the obedient learner to "live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world"(Titus 2:12). Jesus' life/death reflects the character/will/law of God perfectly, and so will the life of all who "follow the Lamb withersoever He goeth"(Rev 14:4).

      Concerning black holes, and a lot of the theories "out there", I wonder what actually seeing up close will reveal compared to the conjectures of science? I expect surprises due to the explanations on closer objects(Moon, Jupiter, etc) and what resulted from each closer view in recent decades.

  2. It is true that Atonement by Jesus lies at the heart and soul of Christianity. While the Bible does not use the term substitute to refer to the Atonement of Jesus, there is a way in which Jesus is our substitute - and there is a way that He is not our substitute.

    Have you stopped to consider how life works? What is necessary for life?

    There appear to be 2 core elements - and both are needed:

    1) A source that provides the 'breath' of life - or 'life force'. From Genesis 2:7 we learn that Source is God. And Acts 17:28 conveys the sense that this is an ongoing act.

    2) Living in harmony with the mechanisms/principles/constants/'laws' that underpin and maintain life and living. And what is the nature and character of all of those mechanisms? Self-giving beneficence!

    Living in harmony with is the functional description of what it actually means to live in 'obedience' with. Conversely, to live in 'disobedience' or 'rebellion' functionally means to be out of harmony with what is necessary to sustain life.

    Now if we keep the lesson's overarching theme of Covenant in mind, we see that to be in Covenant means to live in ongoing connection with The Source of life and to live in harmony with the mechanisms that promote and sustain that life. And this is precisely the state that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to Genesis 3: abundant life! And as long as they stayed in harmony with these 2 essential necessities that enable abundant life, they would live that abundant life ongoingly/eternally.

    What happened in Genesis 3? Adam and Eve were seduced by a maleficently crafty one - The Serpent - into mistrusting God's true motives. And in doing so they severed their connection (broke Covenant) with God and therefore also severed their connection with life. In that moment, their condition became terminal. This is what God had tried to warn them about in Genesis 2:16,17.

    So, if we keep this reality in mind, we then need to ask ourselves the question: "what is going to actually fix/reverse this situation"?

    A considerable proportion of Christianity believes that punishment is necessary to fix this situation - someone has to pay. And that view is based on reasoning along the lines that when someone is 'disobedient', there needs to be a punishment otherwise it isn't just or fair. This is the way our world operates - on the principle of 'just retribution'. But we need to ask ourselves the question: "can punishment actually fix and repair what has become broken? Can punishment reverse a terminal condition?"

    As Isaiah 55:8,9 informs us that God's reality and way/s of being are not the same as ours - they don't operate on the same basis as the ways of this world.

    Here is what the Bible teaches. Death (and all adverse consequences short of that death) is the direct, inherent result produced by sin itself (Galatians 6:8; James 1:14,15; Romans 6:23). Said another way, sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4) - being out of harmony with the law/s or mechanisms that enable life. And 'sin's' core nature and character is self-seeking.

    Thus, as Genesis 3 reveals, it is hearts that have exchanged self-giving beneficence for self-seeking - and in doing so broken Covenant - that is the problem that needs fixing.

    What is the solution? As Romans 5:12-14, 1 Corinthians 15:50 and John 3:3-6 confirm, humanity that has descended from the 1t Adam is incapable of fixing and repairing itself. While it was able to change its heart from beneficent to self-seeking, it cannot change it back the other way. David was well aware of this truth (Psalm 51:10).

    So, without someone else intervening, humanity was terminally doomed. Knowing this from eternity, God had already covenanted to step in and actually fix the core problem. How?

    What the 1st Adam needed to have done, but unfortunately failed to do, Jesus as the 'substitute' 2nd Adam stepped in and did. He became a valid human and actually lived a life of unwavering holding ('obedience') to beneficent living - no matter what. While the 1st Adam fell at the first temptation, Jesus did not. So The Serpent/Devil kept tempting Jesus with stronger and stronger and stronger temptations - trying to get him to go the same way as the 1st Adam. And what was the ultimate temptation that the Devil subjected Jesus to? Death on a cross and the feelings that he was abandoned by God at the Darkest hour! But Jesus would not let go of beneficence - He would not break Covenant. And thus, He laid down His life for his brothers and sisters of humanity (Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; John 10:17; John 15:13).

    Thus, Jesus became the victorious 2nd Adam and in doing so retained connection with Covenant - abundant life. And because He did this as a member of humanity - both a Son of Man and Son of God - He is able to share His inheritance of life with all who agree to be 'reborn' (John 3:3-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Ty Gibson covers this in detail in his book "The Sonship of Christ: Exploring the Covenant Identity of God and Man".

    What is this rebirth? It is the actual realignment of our heart back from self-seeking to self-giving beneficence - exactly as David prayed (Psalm 51:10).

    So, was Jesus our substitute because he paid a punishment that had to be paid otherwise 'it's not fair'? Or was He our substitute because He actually fixed what was broken - actually restored Covenant-beneficence back within humanity?

    Some might say that all of what I have said doesn't really matter - that it's just 'theology-speak'. I wish I could share with you the lives that are changing when people grasp that it is not punishment that God must require - but that God has has only ever been about trying to bring forgiveness, healing and actual restoration.

    My hope is that you too may catch a glimpse of a God who - despite the highly successful misportrayal that The Serpent has relentlessly undertaken to the contrary - is nothing but pure omni-beneficence. And that glimpsing this, you might begin to fall in love with God afresh in restored Covenant. And that you might then also see that Salvation is not about avoidance of punishment that must be paid - but actual restoration of our hearts and characters back to living in harmony with the mechanisms of abundant life.

    • Phil, Thank you for your in depth explanation. It sure makes a great deal of sense and there is much for me to consider.

    • There are two ways to rid your kitchen of ants.

      1. Change their appetite to something that is NOT in your kitchen.

      2. Exterminate the ants if solution #1 doesn't work.

      Likewise, God's perfect plan/covenant to change repentant sinners to saints is not going to work with the vast majority of sinners who will reject that plan/covenant. The judgment reveals who is changed and who isn't as the lives of every individual is revealed through their own words and actions. The unchanged sinners will be removed from existence. Death, the wages for sin, is required by the violated law of love/liberty/life, and for repentant sinners, this means a substitute was/is required. God in Christ paid an infinite price(we cannot understand this "infinite") to forgive sinners, but the impenitent will receive the "wages" themselves, having turned down the offer of the Substitute.

      Curing sin and exterminating sin are not the same thing, and require different solutions. Jesus doesn't use the word "punishment", but "reward", which is what both saints and sinners will receive(Rev 22:12). Notice Isa 26:21, and the use of "punish" in nearly all of the English translations. The Hebrew word paqad may be translated as: punish, visit, bring wrath, attend to, appoint, and clearly reveals the intent of God to deal with the lawless who would ruin His creation if left "unvisited". He has no other choice when solution #1 is rejected by those allowed to exercise their free will to "choose this day".

      The same One who says: "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world", must also say: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels", if the meek who inherit the earth are to "delight themselves in the abundance of peace"(Matt 25:34,41, Ps 37:11).

  3. Yes, what saves us is Jesus... but what matters the most for us to claim Him as our Savior is WHAT HE DID. The blood itself does not save us, the blood signifies an attitude! The ultimate attitude of love, love that is expressed through the sacrifice for His creatures, creatures that totally denyed this sacrifice (and even spit on it)! What saves us is CHRIST'S ACTION! Not even His intentions, but His concreteness! Not even His words (although He had the power to do it), but in the meekness of such a love He decided to become mortal, like any of (stupid) us! If it wasn't so absurd (terrifying, actually) Jesus Himself wouldn't have to quote "the mothers who are capable of forgeting their children", but even for these He died! How come, Oh, God, a LOVE that sacrificed His LIFE for the sake of its enemies?

  4. “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father” (Galatians 1:4).

    The Substitution
    People substitute everyday for other people in several situations and circumstances. When we speak about taking another place and dying for that person sins only a sinless Creator who created humans can do such a thing because sin is a very, very bad thing.
    We sing about the Power of the blood of Jesus. There is truly power in the blood of Jesus but we must believe by faith that his blood is powerful. But whether we believe or not, His blood will never loose its power.

    'Meditate upon the text for today and then answer these questions: Did Jesus volunteer to die? For whom did He die? What would His death accomplish?'

    Ans- it is written clearly written in the text.
    Did Jesus volunteer to die? 'Who gave himself'.
    What would His death accomplish?'
    For whom did He die? 'for our sins'.
    What would His death accomplish? 'deliver us from this present evil world.

  5. Jesus prayer was “not my will, but Thine be done”. How could He have died for sinners against His own will? He would not have prayed that prayer in Gethsemane. He knew that without His sinless death for sin, Adam's whole race would be lost. Jesus also said that no one was taking His life, but that He was laying it down of His own will(John 10:18).

    Blood = Life. The law demands the life of the sinner, and this price Jesus paid with HIS own blood/life.

    "What hope do you have because of the blood of the new covenant?"

    Scripture tells me that God set Jesus forth as a propitiation for sinners IF they will believe in His sacrifice for them. God provided the substitute(John 3:16, Rom 3:25) and accepts this in place of our death, as deserving as it might be. Without faith and repentance on my part, the substitute death will be meaningless for me, and I will have to propitiate for my sin with my life(Eze 18:4, Mark 1:15, John 8:24).

    • Hi Robert

      I make this request of you so I can better understand where you are coming from - not because I want to challenge you here.

      Would you mind outlining the best/strongest evidence you have that supports your statement “the law demands the life of the sinner”. For example, which law are you referring to?

      Thank you in anticipation.

      • Hello Phil,

        Ok, I'll share just a few of the scriptural reasons, of which there are many. Regarding which law, it would be the one spoken by God and written in stone by Him, resting in the ark of the covenant, which is a broader definition of the 2 great commandments, written in the language of fallen mankind, so even the blindest sinner can understand it and realize their peril.

        The first reference would be "do not eat of this tree, or you will surely die". The only reason for death would be the restriction in place to not eat from just one of many fruit trees. The cause for death would be the violation of law/command established by the Sovereign.

        Consider Eze 18:4, John 8:24, Rom 6:23, and 1 John 3:4 together, and what is the obvious conclusion?

        In Leviticus 16, we see the atoning blood sprinkled where? Why?

        For me this brief evidence is sufficient to carry the argument.

        • Thank you, Robert.

          I have also noted your other comment below where you outline that:

          “In God's government, which His law is the foundation of, no one sins with impunity, because the law cries for justice (Gen 4:10, Rev 6:9,10), which is no different than human laws that carry a death penalty, or even those that only carry a fine or imprisonment. Justice demands a "price" for violation of the rights of others.”

          This helps me understand the premise you are coming from when you read the verses you have cited (as examples of the many). If you believe I am misunderstanding you, please correct me.


          • I would add this Phil, that Solomon's "conclusion of the whole matter" gives us wise counsel to follow, and notice what is the central focus(Eccl 12:13,14). The commandments of God are merely the expression of His Sovereign will(Ps 40:8) for Adam's race on this fallen world. In the judgment, only commandment keepers will receive the "reward"(wages, hire) of eternal life, while those who violated God will/law will receive eternal death(Rev 22:12,14; 20:11-15).

            Any violation of this Sovereign will is rebellion against the Sovereign, His goverenment, and every subject who obeys the Sovereign will. This demands justice, no matter how great or small the violation. God is just(Rev 15:3) and "will by no means clear the guilty"(Ex 34:7).

            • Did the translators of the KJV & NKJV or those who translated the ESV,NLT or NIV mistranslate Revelation 22:14(....do his commandments..../
              ....who wash their robes....).
              I believe the translators were faithful in each.
              The difference is to be found in the manuscripts, one which God in His providence, buried in the sands of Egypt for a thousand years.

            • Yes Peter, the two have the same meaning. One is literal, the other a metaphor, which I assume you know.

      • There are at least two reasons given for the necessary “death” of God:
        The heirs “inherit” only upon the death of the Testator (Heb 9:14-28).
        To demonstrate His Righteousness so that He would be just while justifying believers (Rom 3:21-26)

        The death sentence on the sinner, Adam, was God’s judgment. Sin is not a thing. Sin originated in the minds of creatures. Those creatures will never condemn themselves. It is God who determines good and evil, right and wrong. Adam coveted and sought for the capacity to determine good and evil and incurred the wrath of God in his rebellion. It is the blood of Christ that saves His people from that wrath, of the last day (Rom 5:9; 1 Th 1:10). God’s people were chosen from among the world (Jn 15:19) and since they’d become enslaved in sin under Satan, their redemption was necessary in order to enter their inheritance. They were all condemned to death, including the last/second death. All the physically dead will be resurrected either to eternal life or to condemnation (Jn 5:28,29). There is no resurrection from the second death, the wrath of God executed on sons of disobedience, Satan’s people (Eph 5:6; Col 3:6…).

        The just righteous Judge cannot pass over the sin of His people without themselves or someone else bearing the just death penalty. But there was someone who met the character and holiness of God and who met the need of the sinner for removal of sin, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He bore the full wrath of God for believing “sinners” thus redeeming them.

  6. I hate the term we deserve to die. we were doomed to die because of Adams decision. does a baby deserve to die just because it was born? God in his great love saw our hopeless condition and said if I don't do something they are doomed,I have a plan to rescue them from certain death. I had no choice but to be born a sinner. I am not responsible for lucifers original sin nor am I for Adams choice. But I am forever thankful for Gods decision to save me from my hopeless condition.

    • If it's any comfort, I don't see God ever saying that humans "deserve to die," although Ezra implies that in Ezra 9:13.

      Instead, I see death as the natural "wages" of sin (Rom 6:23), which is separation from God, the LifeGiver. If beings choose to be independent of God, they will die. Period. Yet, even at that, God does not allow sinners to reap the full consequences of their choice but gives them a time of probation during which He may win them to trust in Him and thus form a life-giving relationship.

      • If someone kidnapped your young daughter, did the unthinkable, then killed her and hid the body, would they deserve nothing from society? Will their horrible deed lead to their destruction naturally, or would they just eventually die of old age, cancer, or COVID?

        Notice the words of Jesus: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"(Matt 25:41). Study the context of this decree and it should make perfect sense that it is just. Notice that these are people who list all their good works in reply to receiving this sentence.

        What do we find concerning those who rejected the sincere warnings of God through Noah? Did their unbelief destroy them or was the deluge the cause of their death, as God intended for all who were impenitent? In other words, after 120 years of rejecting God's warning, were they all dead and the flood not needed? The evidence is that there was a violent flood that has erased all evidence of their existence. Same with Sodom and Gomorrah.

        I find this whole discussion perplexing that it even exists. Where did it come from? Not Scripture. According to Jesus, there is only One who can destroy the soul, which only One could create, and it is not the devil, who is only able to destroy the body, if allowed.

        • Another thought to consider, Robert, is this:
          In the Bible the first death is consistently called a "sleep." It is the second death that is exclusively "the wages of sin."

          Almost everyone who ever lived died the "first death" which, though only a "sleep," is also a consequence of sin.

          You ask "where did it come from?" and I assume you mean the statement that death is a natural consequence of being separated from the LifeGiver. Does it not follow logically from the fact that only God can give and sustain life?? (See not only Acts 17:25 but the very fact that God is the Creator.)

          The "natural consequences" do not preclude God choosing to shorten the probationary life He gives, nor do they preclude judgments in the here and now before the final judgment and disposition of sin.

          The bottom line still is that separation from the Creator and Sustainer of all has the natural consequence of cessation of life.

          • Some clarification on my part, "where did it come from" means the argument I have heard that God never destroys. I wasn't real clear on that meaning. Not saying you were suggesting it or believe it, but similar thoughts are brought forward in that discussion by those who feel God is "too good" to bring a flood, burn up cities, drown an army, etc. A good sovereign always protects against evil doers, eventually.

            Just to come back to Calvin's comment above, no one in this fallen world are born deserving either death or eternal life, but to have opportunity to make that choice for ourselves, hopefully to seek the Lord and Life with Him(Acts 17:26-28). The soul that sins will die if refusing to repent and believe(Eze 18:4) in the Gift of God.

  7. I still struggle with the idea that a price had to be paid. Is that not the same as all the pagan gods? I understand that Christ death was necessary, but I have to ask myself why was it necessary? I understand that his death was for sinners, but what about the rest of the universe? Did it not do something for them?
    I have to start at the beginning to fully understand what the death of Christ accomplished. His death laid bare to the universe, the real intentions of Satan. His life showed them that yes, humans, with a constant connection to their Heavenly Father, can obey Gods law. Jesus, as a human, perfectly obeyed Gods law, which fully understood, also showed the universe that Gods law is a law of love, it keeps us in harmony with Him and with each other. That law is a law of unselfishness. As Jesus was being tortured and mocked, He had the power to with a thought, destroy those inflicting this pain upon him. He put self aside so that all the universe would see that God forces no one to love or obey him. He allowed His created beings, the ones He knelt down and formed with His own hands, to torture and kill him, rather than take away their choice to reject him. They separated themselves from him. When we, and the rest of the universe understand that, will we not want to be with a God that will do that for us? This is my understanding of the purpose for Jesus death.

    • Thank you, Karen. I believe we have far too narrow a view of the Atonement. I understand we will be studying it for eternity, and we can only begin to comprehend some of it now. I believe there are aspects to the Atonement, like the facets of a diamond, and God used a number of analogies in the Bible to help us to understand, according to our abilities and background.

      Now I'm wondering just where in the Bible the "price paid" analogy is found, if it is. Perhaps someone can help with this ...

      I recognize that the term "redeem" carries with it the payment of a price, but it's a bit different than the usual "price paid" analogy. Christ redeems us from slavery to sin, into which we have sold ourselves. And, yes, He did pay the ultimate price to do this ...

      • Inge, how about Rom 6:23? Also, in Rev 22:12 "reward"(misthos) is also translated as wages/hire.

        If repenting, our sins(the transgression of the law) are forgiven due to the propitiating death of Jesus(Rom 3:25,26, Isa 53) who received the "wages" of our sin. So the price/wages/reward of sin is death, which Jesus took for all who will repent. In God's government, which His law is the foundation of, no one sins with impunity, because the law cries for justice(Gen 4:10, Rev 6:9,10), which is no different than human laws that carry a death penalty, or even those that only carry a fine or imprisonment. Justice demands a "price" for violation of the rights of others.

        To me it is clear, simple, and makes perfect sense.

      • There are a few verses that specifically use the term: 1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; 2 Pt 2:1; Rev 5:9; and implied in 1 Pt 1:18,19.
        Like you wrote, it’s implied in the Law of Redemption of slaves in Lev 25.

        • Kenny, here is another text about purchasing with His blood.
          Acts 20:28
          So guard yourselves and God’s people. Feed and shepherd God’s flock—his church, purchased with his own blood—over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you as leaders.

          Interesting that Paul continues with this warning:
          Acts 20:29-31
          29I know that false teachers, like vicious wolves, will come in among you after I leave, not sparing the flock. 30Even some men from your own group will rise up and distort the truth in order to draw a following. 31Watch out! Remember the three years I was with you—my constant watch and care over you night and day, and my many tears for you.

        • Thanks, Kenny, for looking up those texts.
          The references in 1 Corinthians are especially good because they use both "bought" and "price" together.

          And the "redemption" and "ransom" analogy of the atonement certainly implies a price. (Rev. 5:9; 1 Pet. 1:18, 19.)

          I'll play the devil's advocate for a bit:
          To whom was the price paid?
          (I just want us to examine our thinking on this topic.)

          Shirley, the verb translated as "purchased" in the KJV has these meanings, in order of frequency of use, according to Strong's Concordance:
          Outline of Biblical Usage
          1.to make to remain over
          2.to reserve, to leave or keep safe, lay by
          3.to make to remain for one's self
          4.to preserve for one's self
          5.to get for one's self, purchase

          Thus the text is not a great one for demonstrating the concept of a "price paid."

          Robert, while the verses you quote are relevant to the subject, the concept of "price paid" is not necessarily there, and a different interpretation is possible. (For instance, sinners deserve the "wages of sin," but God graciously gives them eternal life.)

          • How a person interprets the texts cited depends on their underpinning premise/s.

            Two key inter-related underpinning premises are:

            (a) what sin actually is, and

            (b) what 'justice' involves.

            If I believe that sin is something that needs to be punished because that is what justice requires, then I will see such texts through that perspective. And this is the pervasive paradigm that our society operates under.

            But if sin and justice are something entirely different to that, then I will see these same texts through a very different perspective.

            I recall the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). There was no punishment applied to the son - he was forgiven and reinstated as a son. The son was fully anticipating that there would be 'punishment' involved - the loss of his sonship - which is why he prepared himself for returning as a hired hand. But we find that the father did not share this view and instead not only reinstated his son's sonship, but elevated that sonship. This really bothered the older brother who felt that 'justice' was not done.

            I wonder why this older brother perspective was incorporated in the parable?

            The other interesting observation is the father's comment regarding his returned son: "this son of mine was dead and is alive again" (Luke 15:24, 32). These are strong words - unless perhaps they are reflecting the reality of sin - not sin as behaviour that must be punished, but sin as a terminal condition. So, how did the son come alive again? Was it possibly his change of heart - from self-seeking (a terminal heart state) to self-renouncing (a life-promoting heart state)? All indication is that, in the father's eyes, 'justice' had been fulfilled - his son was alive again.

            Whose sense of 'justice' was true justice: the older brother's or the fathers.

      • Inge, if I may further expand on something you have said regarding Jesus 'paying the ultimate price'...

        What if we enlarge our view of the dimensions of the ultimate price that was paid to include:

        * the ultimate price of the divine '(con)descending' to become human - not at the point at which humanity was created in perfection, but at the point at which humanity had suffered from 4000 years of degeneration.

        * the ultimate price of the relentless assaults/temptations by Satan in an effort to get the 2nd Adam to 'fall' like the 1st Adam had.

        * the ultimate price of heart-wrenching grief over each and every individual who Jesus tried so hard to 'woo' or gather as a hen gathers her chicks when danger is imminent - but they were not willing (Matthew 23:37).

        * the ultimate price of seeking nothing but the best interests of all via freeing people from the Kingdom of Darkness - yet being accused of being a member of the Kingdom of Darkness (Mark 3:22)

        * the ultimate price of being exposed to emotions such as an overwhelmed soul (Matthew 26:38) and feeling utterly alone in Darkness (Matthew 27:46) - while facing the most excruciating execution-method of the time: the cross.

        * the ultimate price of working tirelessly to offer the abundant life inheritance that He successfully achieved as the 2nd Adam to who-ever would believe that it is freely available (John 3:16) - only to see most harden their hearts in determination to self-seeking (Matthew 7:13-14).

        I am coming to see more and more that the ultimate 'price' that Jesus 'paid' in the undertaking of Redemption/Atonement encompasses the 'entire package' from start to ongoing completion. And, that every point on that spectrum is equally as important as every other point and no single point is more important than any other point because the entire spectrum is essential to Redemption/Atonement (as per Philippians 2:5-8).

        It is also interesting to reflect on the other parallel metaphor used in scripture - that of ransom. In our world, ransom typically involves 'paying' a monetary 'price' to have someone set free. Yet scripture tells us that Jesus ransomed us - not by paying anyone a 'price' - but by 'paying the price' involved in accomplishing the spectrum of things needed in order to metaphorically 'tie up'
        - render powerless (Hebrews 2:14) - the strongman and metaphorically 'plunder' - liberate (Luke 4:14-21) - the captured possessions in the strongman's house (Matthew 12:29).

        • Yes, Phil, Christ's "ultimate price" includes all you mention *and* His death on the cross. Note that Christ went through a particular struggle unlike any other recorded of His life when He faced the cross. See Luke 22:39-45. To me this certainly implies that His death on the cross was of fundamental importance to the Plan designed in eternity.

          • Thanks Inge

            Yes, I agree that the ultimate price includes Christ's death.

            Whether the death was more fundamentally important than other aspects (eg, resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:17) is something that could be discussed at some point. My main point in this instance was to broaden awareness beyond the typical sole-focus on the death - as per what Philippians 2:5-8 and Romans 5:19 are hilighting.

            • Phil, without Jesus' death, the resurrection is irrelevant isn't it? No death = no life for sinners. No ability to repent, be justified/sanctified. You sin, you die.

              Jesus received the condemnation of the law, while living a life in perfect harmony with it. (I have heard from the pulpit that Jesus died guilty, but if that were the case, He would have remained in the tomb forever. He only died FOR the guilty, as Paul states in 1 Cor 15:3.)

              Regarding the "ultimate price", I think there is something far beyond all you mention, something we cannot even imagine, which affect the Godhead for eternity. Why else the hesitation in One who exhibits perfect love?

      • In John 18:36-37, Jesus was talking to Pilate. His very own words were that his kingdom was not of this world and that the reason he was born into this world is to testify to the truth. What truth is that? Was it the truth that God was not as Satan has claimed? His death, as I mentioned above, proved that truth. The price paid was eternal. Jesus will for eternity be human, he is still God, but did he not give up things that we don’t really understand?
        It’s certainly going to take an eternity to understand all of it, but while we are still here on this earth, we can trust that The Holy Spirit will teach us as we seek to know more about God.

      • Inge, I endorse your belief when you wrote, " I believe we have far too narrow a view of the Atonement." I believe we must ever keep in mind the two fundamental components of the atonement provided in Christ's ministry--the price paid (Gal 3:13) AND the relationship restored (Gal 3:14; 2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:5).

        We cannot allow ourselves to be distracted from that which triggered the disastrous explosion that has severely damaged God's "very good" creation (Gen 1:27,31). It was Eve's MIND, operating under the deceptive lie of the serpent, that lead her to act contrary to what God desired (Gen 3:6; Rev 12:9). Adam's MIND, perhaps in despair (I have no Scriptural support, but isn't unreasonable), joined in and consented to anti-Creator THINKING and, subsequent, anti-Creator ACTION (Jam 1:14-15). This led to God's judgment (Gen 3:22). Therefore, everyone--whether we like it or not--comes into this world a slave to SIN (i.e. anti-Creator THINKING) by Adam's choice (Rm 5:12,14). Our messy MIND CONDITION is as much our choice as is our skin tone (Jer 13:23), or height (Mt 6:27 (NKJV). Our good actions/behaviors NEVER negate God's precise knowledge of who we are. But, that's the bad news.

        The day's key text (Gal 1:4) focuses our attention on the price, once paid, that accomplishes our DELIVERANCE from MIND mess (Gen 6:5), to ONENESS (Col 1:21-22). Only with our restoration to health, which is a free gift (Eph 2:8), are we outfitted for service to God (Heb 9:14; Act 15:8-9). God--and Him alone--determines when health is achieved (Heb 12:9). All must wait through the purification process that achieves "at-ONE-ment" and transport into the "Presence behind the veil" (Heb 6:19 (NKJV) for His service alone.

        It is my current understanding that "at-ONE-ment" is a structural support within His "tabernacle" (2 Cor 6:16; 1 Pt 2:5; 1 Cor 6:14,19-20). Without "at-ONE-ment", which is achieved by the "cleansing" of His "sanctuary", God's stated purpose for His "sanctuary" in Ex 25:8 is thwarted (Dan 8:13,25). God's "sanctuary" must have His Immanuel (Mt 1:23) in His place as High Priest on His throne (Heb 6:20; Zech 6:12-13).

    • I totally understand your struggle, which you are not the only one that struggles with the concept of a “price had to be paid” for our sins. Over 20 years ago, when I first decided to do more research on this concept (instead of just accepting what many pastors at church had said), the Holy Spirit led me to write down every verse related to prophecy of the Messiah in the Old Testament, then write down in the next column, beside each verse, the verses from the New Testament that shows how Jesus Christ fulfilled each prophecy. I had over 200 verses from the Old and New Testament in a notebook, that showed my research (I had a great study reference Bible to help me with my project). For some reason, I can not find that notebook that I wrote down all of those verses (maybe there’s a hidden reason why I can’t find it, lest I boast).

      Anyway, my struggle was “how can a man die for the sins of the world, and our Heavenly Father accepts His sacrifice?” My research showed, and proved, to me that Jesus was not a mere mortal man, He was and is “The Lord”, the Lord of the Old and New Testament. The same Lord in Genesis 3:8, that “walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day”. That same ‘the Lord’ that was prophesied in Genesis 3:15, the first messianic prophecy that all the other point to. There’s so much more that I could write about this subject, but I will end with this: Let God, the Holy Spirit, guide you in your study of Him. I also read the book, “Desire of Ages” by Ellen G. White, back then as well. Those two books, the Bible and the Desire of Ages, helped me to understand and become more ground in my faith and beliefs than ever before. 2 Timothy 2:15, King James Version, says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

      God’s blessings to you all!

      • Thanks for sharing, Toni. I have concluded that the Old and New Testaments provide many analogies of the Atonement, and each gives us a little glimpse of the magnificent truth we'll be studying for eternity. I think we limit our understanding and may even wander into error when we focus on just one analogy and make that our main focus.

        Yes, indeed, Christ is the Lord Jehovah (Yahweh) of the Old Testament.

      • Toni, and others, for me this question is settled by the fact that God(and all that He is: "merciful, gracious...full of goodness and Truth...", etc.) accepts this propitiation for any/all repentant fallen man, and that Satan, once the highest of the angels, has not uttered one word in protest. Notice also the song of the angels over Bethlehem as they visit the shepherds. How could any question/reject what all these accept?!

      • Robert, I agree with that. Here is my conclusion after reading everyone’s comments on this topic. We are going to be learning about our salvation throughout eternity, so to think that we will have it dialed in before Jesus comes is a silly notion. We each have the same Holy Spirit to guide our studies and the key here is that we are studying, that we are praying for truth. In John 17 Jesus prayer is that we will be one with He and the Father. Scripture and prayer are our only hope of being one with Them. Romans 14 actually says it in an understandable way for me, and verse 5 seems to say it clearly, “let each be fully convinced in his own mind”. I don’t believe that’s saying that anything goes. To me that says that we each have to study and understand as we are able, some of us it’s with baby steps, but as long as we keep moving forward and learning, we will continue to grow in our understanding.

  8. The lesson states

    There is no question: one of the key themes (if not the key theme) of the New Testament is that Jesus Christ died as the Sacrifice for the sins of the world. This truth is the foundation of the entire plan of salvation.

    I wonder if it would not be much better stated that "Jesus Christ died as self-sacrifice.

    • Inge, the thought is implied by the fact He was sinless, and verified when claiming that He was laying down His life(John 10:18).

  9. 1Now, brothers, I (Paul) want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, and in which you stand firm. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures 1Cor 15:1-3

    As per the author of the study guide Jesus Christ's substitutionary death is the foundation of the plan of salvation. It is also one of our community of faith's fundamental beliefs as follows:

    In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will, His suffering, death, and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and the whole creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow. (John 3:16; Isa. 53; 1 Peter 2:21, 22; 1 Cor. 15:3, 4, 20-22; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15, 19-21; Rom. 1:4; 3:25; 4:25; 8:3, 4; 1 John 2:2; 4:10; Col. 2:15; Phil. 2:6-11.)

    • What does "atonement" mean to you?

      ["Expiatory" is defined as "having the power to make atonement. So it seems that "atonement" is the important word for us to consider.]

      • My opinion is not important, the Word of the LORD explains:
        2Cor 5:21
        God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
        1Peter 2:24
        He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

        • This is how Jesus explains atonement:
          Matt 26:26-28
          26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
          27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

        • Shirley, we cannot have a discussion by quoting texts at each other. You quote certain texts because you ascribe certain meanings to them. (Those are interpretations/opinions.)

          I asked, "What does atonement mean to you" and I believe it's a concept worth exploring. The texts do not answer the question.

          • Inge, I agree we should not quote texts at each other, however I feel the ones I used express my opinion. I believe Jesus' life, death & resurrection are to take my place and endure the wages of sin instead of me - substitutionary, to reconcile me to God the Father and to enable/allow Him through the Holy Spirit to transform my nature, in other words my justification, sanctification and glorification.
            Maybe you were looking for a discussion on the various theories to which different people ascribe, namely Ransom theory, Satisfaction theory, Moral Influence theory, recapitulation, governmental view, penal substitution view, and substitutionary atonement - which can all be found online in wikipedia for those who are interested in them. Atonement However I have not studied them and cannot express an opinion on which one is best.

            What does atonement mean to you?

            • Shirley, do I understand you correctly that to you, the word "atonement" means mainly substitution, and that that substitution prepares the way for reconciliation and transformation? When you mention, justification, sanctification and glorification, you appear to summarize the plan of salvation ...

              No, I did not ask for a discussion of various theories of the Atonement or a link to the same. I would like to know what the actual word "atonement" means to you.

              I will also share what I believe "Atonement" means. 🙂

      • I would suggest that atonement means no more violation against the Sovereign will. Perfect agreement(Amos 3:3). The repentant sinner now loves as Christ loved, having the law written upon his heart.

          • Inge, as I read Lev 16, this gets a little tricky to explain. This is the ceremony where the blood of the Lord's goat is sprinkled on the "propitiatory"(mercy seat) to "make atonement for the holy [place]", which has been polluted by the sins removed from the repentant and transferred to the holy[place] via the sin offering.

            It seems to be possible to read this more than one way. Kaphar, which means "appeasement"(Strong's) is one word from which the entire phrase "And he shall make an atonement" is translated. This seems to mean "make pure", or "purify", which is the meaning I was trying to describe in my previous reply. Free of sin is the result being "made" by the appeasing blood, which in another place is called "propitiation". So which translation(of Lev 16:16) is more accurate?

            Not sure how to accurately define this, not being fluent in ancient Hebrew.

  10. Write what my heart fills about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His shed blood as my substitute. I have no words to sum it up; so, I’ve copied the second verse of the song, ‘He’s been Faithful’ by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (listen to the full song on YouTube when you get a chance):

    “When My Heart Looked Away
    The Many Times I Could Not Pray
    Still My God Was Faithful To Me

    The Days Are Spent So Selfishly
    Reaching Out For What Pleased Me
    Even Then God Was Faithful To Me

    Every Time I Come Back To Him
    He Is Waiting For Open Arms
    And I See Once Again

    He's Been Faithful
    Faithful To Me
    Looking Back He's Love And Mercy I See
    Though In My Heart I Have Questioned
    Even Failed To Believe
    Yet He's Been Faithful, Faithful To Me.”

    Jesus died on the cross, as our substitute, knowing beforehand that half of His people (now and back then) would not acknowledge or accept Him as their Messiah, and the other half of the half would be ungrateful, but He went to the cross anyway, sob. But my heart is sad and overjoyed at the same time that He made the decision to die on that cross for me and for all of us. Hallejah, and Amen.


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