By Tim Stratton
Nothing is more exciting than examining the historical evidence of the resurrection of Jesus. Most people are shocked to realize that by employing the historical method, one can conclude that Jesus not only died on a Roman cross but was raised from the dead as well. This is compelling evidence not only that God exists, but also that Christianity is true!
However, with that said, we cannot discuss the resurrection without first discussing the crucifixion. After all, Jesus cannot rise from the dead, if he was not killed in the first place. This raises questions not based on history, but rather, philosophy: Why did Jesus have to die? Why is the wages of sin death? Why can’t the wages of sin be five bucks or seven years of hard labor?
Why did Jesus have to die?
Before addressing that all-important question, first understand two things: 1- who we are, and 2- who God is. According to Westminster Confession, the objective purpose of mankind is to know and enjoy God. I like to “tweak” it ever so slightly, and state: The objective purpose of mankind is to grow in our knowledge of God, to grow in love with God, and to enjoy a personal relationship with our Creator for all eternity (Hosea 6:6; Luke 10:27; Col 1:9; 1 Tim 2:4).
Scores of humanity have considered the meaning and purpose of life. The fact remains, if God does not exist, then there is no objective purpose in life (Atheism Catch-22). Christians, however, do not suffer from this sort of conundrum. In fact, we have a ready answer. We know the objective meaning and purpose to life: God created every human to know, love, and enjoy God. This is why God created the universe and all of its contents. This is why you exist, so that you could know him! We were created on purpose and for that exact and specific purpose!
Like Oil & Water
By definition, God is necessarily perfect in every way. Moreover, God created you to enjoy a perfect, holy, and pure love relationship with him. However, we have a problem — a big problem! As a result of sin, now we as humans are anything but holy and pure. Now we are guilty, alienated, and corrupt in nature. Since we are corrupt and imperfect, we are unequally yoked with a perfect God. Like oil and water, now, we are “unmixable” with God. He is necessary perfection and we are infection. The two simply do not mix and that is a major problem for humanity.
Therefore, humanity needs a savior. With a savior we can be justified instead of guilty, adopted instead of alienated, and have a purified and regenerated nature instead of a corrupt nature.
We were created for one objective purpose – to be the Bride of Christ (Eph 5:25-27) in a perfect and true love marriage. We were created to love and to be loved by our Creator. However, now, because of sin, we are infected and do not mix with necessary perfection any longer (i.e., oil and water). As a result, we are necessarily separated from God.
Our hearts were created to be “pointed” to God, but now they are dysfunctional, sick, and twisted because of this separation. Our hearts are now “curved in” on themselves, they are self-centered, selfish, and sinful. We have completely “missed the mark.” This is literally what the word “sin” means in the original Greek. The “mark” is God, but we are separated from him; we do not even know God exists apart from his revelation. Due to this separation, we cannot even “aim” at God and of course we will “miss the mark” and sin.
We are infected, self-centered creatures – but we are not supposed to be. God created you and gave you a job description: BE HOLY! Being holy means to be God focused instead of self-focused. The problem is, all of us have “missed the mark,” and have become “infection.” Therefore, we have a damaged relationship with perfection – God!
Is Restoration Possible?
The question remains: how is a broken relationship restored? Two things must occur if a damaged relationship is to be restored: 1) The offended party must choose to bear the harm. 2) The offending party must choose to confess and repent. In our relationship with God, he is the offended party as we sinned against him. We are the offending party, and are thus powerless to restore this relationship on our own. Our works are meaningless unless God, as the offended party, chooses to bear the harm. Left to our own devices, our work does not work (Isaiah 64:6).
God is life! He is the author and giver of life. He invented it and life comes from him! In the well-known Bible verse, John 14:6, Jesus claims he is “the life.” If God is life, then separation from life is death. Since sin separates us from God (like oil and water), then, consequently, sin equals death. Therefore, in every aspect that you have life, you will die if you are separated from the source of life. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
If our relationship with God is to be restored, then God must bear the harm as the offended party. If the harm is death, then, God must die. One small problem though: it is logically impossible for a necessary being to die! God cannot die physically because he is immaterial and spirit. God cannot die spiritually because he cannot be separated from himself.
You are a soul with one set of cognitive faculties. God is one soul with three sets of cognitive faculties. Just as your cognitive faculties cannot be separated from you as a spiritual substance (soul), God’s cognitive faculties (all three of them) cannot be separated from his “spiritual substance.”
If God is going to bear the harm, he has to die because the wages of sin is death. God cannot die as God. Therefore, if humans are to be saved, God had to become human so he could bear the harm and experience death. We need Christmas, we need Good Friday, and we need Easter to have a restored relationship with our creator (Happy Holy Days)!
Why do we need Easter (the Resurrection)? Well, it took more than just executing Jesus, because if death was punishment, if Christ is still dead, then he is still being punished. The Resurrection is proof that God is satisfied with Jesus’ atoning work. Therefore, Christianity is true!
Remember, we were created for the objective purpose to love God with our entire being. We see this demonstrated in multiple Bible verse such as, Luke 10:27, and Matthew 22:37, we are to love God with all of our mind/soul, and body/strength. If we ever choose not to love God in any way that we have life, then our lives ought to be terminated because we are objectively broken. This is an appropriate outcome. If something breaks, we either throw it away, or we fix it. Now, as far as our broken relationship with God goes, we have the choice to either be “thrown away,” or to be “fixed.” Because of the work of Jesus (The Atonement) all people can be “fixed” if we choose to be.
Justice is Good
Consider the nature of God to gain understanding of these issues. Psalm 97 states, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” This is not referring to God’s chair; rather, this is stating the essential attributes and the essence of God. This is who God is! In other words, if God did not exist, there would be no such thing as objective righteousness, goodness, wickedness, or justice. God is perfectly good. Thus, perfect justice must be part of his essential nature as well. After all, justice is good.
When someone escapes justice, we intuitively know that it is a bad thing. God created the universe, and part of the fabric of His creation is a moral universe. There are also natural laws, mathematical laws, and logical laws that govern the universe. Similarly, there are moral laws that we are obligated to obey (Paul says they are “written on our hearts” in Romans 2:15).
Perfect justice demands punishment, or it is not really justice. God cannot turn a blind-eye to our sin and say, “Oh well, boys will be boys, girls will be girls, humans will be humans.” That is not justice; it is injustice and ignoring crime and ignoring sin is bad. Therefore, God cannot ignore our sin and remain worthy of worship.
If a criminal commits a crime, we know that he deserves to be punished. We also know that the punishment should be fair and that it ought to fit the crime. If a seventeen year old shoplifts a pack of bubblegum from the gas station, there should be an appropriate punishment – we don’t give him the death penalty! However, moral monsters like Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh, and Osama Bin Laden deserve a much greater punishment than the bubblegum burglar.
Now think about our crimes; we might not be a Ted Bundy, or a Hitler; however, we have all committed crimes against the very essence of morality, goodness, and justice – God! Because of this fact, we do not “mix” or relate with God. One may object and state that they are generally a “good person.” This may be true; however, they are not perfectly good, and cannot “mix” with a necessarily perfect God. Our lives are broken and infected, and therefore, we need a savior so that we can have a relationship with our creator. This brings us to Jesus; this brings us to the cross.
Some have falsely accused God the Father of some form of “cosmic child abuse” because he took out his wrath on his innocent son, because we sinful humans made him so angry. This is bad theology (remember the Trinity). We worship one God (not three); Christians are monotheists. Jesus is God. It logically follows that Jesus *is* the offended party. Therefore, Jesus, at the cross, satisfied his own righteous wrath – his own justice (which is good), for us! This is amazing love! This is amazing grace!
Do you see the beauty? The offended party (a sinless, holy, pure, and morally perfect God) became human to pay our gruesome debt, to bear the harm, to satisfy his morally perfect justice. Wow! Because God has chosen to bear the harm, now, we have a choice to make. We can either choose to accept God’s act of love on the cross, or we can choose to deal with his justice (separation from God and all that is good). Do you want perfect justice or perfect love? Perfect love is Heaven and perfect justice is separation from the Creator of the universe (Hell)!
Because of what Jesus has done, we can have a restored relationship with our Creator. All you have to do, as the offending party, is freely choose to confess, repent, and follow Jesus. This is the essence of the message of the Gospel. Have you put your trust in Jesus?
In Christ alone,
To read more articles like: Is the Cross Cosmic Child Abuse? visit Tim’s site at FreeThinkingMinistries.com
1- A special thanks to Dr. Kevin Lewis from Biola University. Most of the content in this article was gleaned from his Essential Christian Doctrine classes.
2- Click here to listen to a sermon I gave on this topic.
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