Christians believe anything about the suffering and death of Jesus from between it being a punishment from God for our sins to it being a mere example. The Church says that Jesus has dealt with sin in the universe and robbed it of its power. That is a shameless lie for it is obvious that sin has been with us for centuries and shows no signs of being diminished never mind destroyed. No greater hatred for sinners can exist except in the one that gives them false hope and won't take responsibility for the results.


Does Jesus forgive us because he died for us or does he forgive us BY dying for us?  Many feel that if it is not true that Jesus forgives us by dying for us to atone for our sins then that is not forgiveness at all.  The argument makes no sense for there is no such thing as forgiving people by doing something for them.  Forgiveness is an act by itself.  The argument confuses forgiveness with how it is expressed.  The Bible never says that we are forgiven by the death on the cross but that it purchased our salvation for us.  The argument is really an attempt to mask the barbarity of a man offering his death to God for sins and the barbarity of a God who accepts such a sacrifice.

For the most part, the Christian Church holds that Jesus earned our salvation for us by his perfect life and his death on the cross. He not only removed our sins by his death but he also infused righteousness into us and made us righteous according to Paul. If he just takes sins away then we are left without sin but we have no virtues. We are in a negative state. So we need somebody to put virtue or righteousness in us. That can only be done if the person transfers his righteousness to us by a legal fiction so that we are justified when we receive Jesus. The Catholic Church holds that Jesus wiped our sins away with his death and suffering and obedience and that he imparts his righteousness to us not imputes it. That is, he makes us like himself in goodness and virtue rather than making a law that pretends that we are good because he did good for us in our place. That is crazy because if Jesus gives us some of his virtue then he is sinning for he is reducing his and if he duplicates the virtue in us he is not giving us his righteousness. So all he can do is impute his righteousness to us by means of a legal fiction.

The Bible says that man lost God’s blessing and favour through sin. So Jesus had to take our place by experiencing the loss of God’s favour. But this is silly and would imply that Jesus had to repent of our sins in which case there is no need for us to do it at all - ever. The reason we lost God’s favour was that he wanted payment for our sins – the payment is repentance and the repentance is expressed in doing good works or taking punishment to make up for the damage done – and we could not meet this payment for sin is infinitely evil. But Jesus could have made that payment without losing God’s favour himself. Since we had already lost the favour Jesus had no need to lose it for us. All he had to do was to atone. The loss of favour was only a consequence of the need for payment and was not part of the payment. When somebody rips up your new coat and pays for it you don’t say that you have to rip up theirs as well.

There are basically two types of theory about what is meant by Jesus dying for us. The main type says that it is a vicarious atonement for sin and the other says that it is not.

Let us see what the Bible says.

The Bible says that animal sacrifice must be offered before sin can be forgiven. See the Book of Leviticus. The New Testament says the rite pictures the redemption won by Jesus’ suffering and death. When God refuses to forgive until a sacrifice is offered regardless of how sorry the person is and is more interested in the sacrifice it shows that he cannot forgive until the penalty is paid. He cannot forgive unless Jesus gives him the supreme sacrifice for the sins of the world. Jesus was called the Lamb of God who removes the sins of the world (John 1:29) for lambs were offered in sacrifice. The parts of the Bible where God says that sacrifice is no good also say that a humble and contrite heart is needed so sacrifice is no use without these so they are more important. So by implication, Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice and so he had to be perfect at that time. Some would say his being perfectly repentant would do.

The New Testament loves Isaiah 53 which speaks of a man dying for transgressions which it thinks is about Jesus. The writer of Isaiah says this includes the sins of his own generation. Now, these people, living centuries before the birth of Jesus would not have known of the prophecy or what it was about so how could the death help them unless it gained merits for them regardless of their ignorance? Remember, the few Jews who interpreted it in a vicarious sense could not prove it so nobody was bound to believe in their interpretation

The New Testament says that Jesus gave his life as a ransom for sinners (Matthew 20:28). The Greek word for ransom that is used means corresponding price (page 13, Why God Permits Evil, Dawn Bible Students). A ransom is what is paid to kidnappers to set their victims free or what is paid to slave-masters to purchase the freedom of their slaves. Did Jesus pay his ransom to God or the Devil? Or, poetically, did he pay it to sin to set the sinners free? This is incorrect for he paid it against sin for sin did not want to let sinners go. Whatever way Jesus’ death was a ransom it is not identical to a real ransom in every respect. God gave Jesus up for us (John 3:16, 17; Mark 14:36) and God can’t pay a ransom to himself. The ransom was not to the Devil or to sin (literally) for neither own us by right anymore than a man owns his wife or a wife her husband. So Jesus’ use of the word ransom to describe his death just means that it is like a ransom in some ways rather than a real ransom. If Jesus ransomed us we only know this and so cannot build any particular theology of the atonement on the word for he never said how it was like a ransom. But we can be sure it is poetically a ransom paid to sin the slavemaster.

We see from the book Jesus The Only Saviour that when Jesus said he had to give his life as a ransom for many that the words were lutron anti pollon. In the New Testament and classical Greek the word anti means in place of or instead of (page 197). So Jesus gave his life instead of sinners as a ransom from sin. The use of the word antilutron which is in 1 Timothy 2:6 where it is said that Jesus gave himself as an antilutron for all shows that Jesus was a substitute for sinners because the word is literally substitute ransom (page 198). The book says that lots of scholars support all this.

The New Testament goes into some detail about the temptations from the Devil that Jesus Christ had to face. God would not have let Satan tempt Jesus unless Jesus had to reject sin in our place as a substitute.

At the Last Supper on the night before he died, Jesus said that the cup symbolised his blood which he would shed for forgiveness of sins. It would not have been for the forgiveness of sins if there had been another way but for his own masochism. So, it must have been for vicarious atonement.

The Bible says that Jesus died for sins (1 Corinthians 15:3) and to demonstrate God’s justice (Romans 3:25). He would not have done this had he died merely to show what God is like so he died for a great reason. He must have died then to make up for our sins.

Jesus’ death was to justify us or have God consider us in a right relationship with him (Romans 5:9, 10). We would not need it if it were a mere example. If we do need it then God must have hated the people who lived before Jesus. Jesus’ work must somehow be credited to our account before God.

Jesus could not have died for the world (1 John 2:2 – where the “our” is the Christian Church and the “whole world” is everybody destined for salvation outside it) unless he made some kind of vicarious atonement, that is, paid the penalty God demanded for our sins. A man who died as an example could not be said to have died for all people because only a fraction would be aware of his death. If Jesus died as an example that was not a reason for dying but an excuse. Suicide was not an example for anybody.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says that Jesus was made sin for us so that we could be holy (5:21).  Christians say this refers to the doctrine of how Christ was made guilty of our sins by imputation though he didn't commit them.  But if Christ lets that happen surely Christ sins for that is not fair?   And if he is really guilty despite being innocent then he is a sinner. 


Does Paul mean that God pretended that Jesus was responsible for our sins and made him pay? Can we be sure that he meant what the actual words say? I would have argued that “when Paul was writing to a people who had a bad grasp of his religion for the letter was written to counteract heresy and liberalism it makes it most likely that he meant it literally for that is the way they would have had to take it to be on the safe side. It is always best to follow the literal meaning when in doubt”. But they certainly knew that God was just for that was a very basic religious proposition and might not have contradicted it by holding that Paul meant that Jesus became responsible for our sins though he wasn’t. But then Christianity is not a coherent religion so who knows? When the Bible is such a bizarre book and is difficult for reason to accept it is obvious that the literal interpretation must be the right one. Paul said that the cross of Jesus was philosophically absurd to the rationalistic Greeks – an admission that his God could command things that were anathema to human reasoning. The Greeks knew that the divine could command evil things for a good that only it can see so the cross was not absurd for that reason but deliberately flouted reason. All the theories of the atonement require acceptance of the notion that God pretends. Even the theory that the cross was just about setting a good example has God pretending that this was necessary!

Peter says that Jesus bore our sins on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus bearing our sins might mean that God imputed our sins to him though he was impeccable or that he just bore the penalty they deserved. The latter would be a non-literal interpretation. It is just the one meant because the apostles held that the gospel was beyond reason and because Peter would have written “carried the penalty of our sins” if he meant the other. Jesus would not have carried our sins if he died as an example because then he would have died for no reason. It is silly to contend that as a result of our sins Jesus had to die as an example or demonstration of what we deserved especially when Jesus could have done it at the dawn of sinful humankind to benefit everybody.
The New Testament denies that Jesus's sacrifice on the cross was a mere example.




Some scholars like John Dominic Crossan claim that when Jesus in Mark said he would give his life as a ransom for sinners that it was a challenge to Roman and Jewish domination and would save by bringing judgement as in darkness coming all over the land and the temple curtain ripping. For him Mark did not think Jesus was dying in some kind of atonement for sinners but saving sinners another way. This seems to be far-fetched rubbish for while it might be right, the gospel allows for that interpretation, but does not ask for it. And it is definitely not the main point of what Jesus did. And if you deny miracles then the temple veil did not rip and the darkness did not come. A Jesus who dies for the reason those scholars say is not one who dies for all humankind. The darkness and the ripping could happen without Jesus dying.The fact is that scholars are relativists and don’t think sin is real and that prejudice is creeping into their “scholarship.” 



Most Christians claim to believe that God punished Jesus for our sins just like A being found guilty of a crime and B being sent to jail voluntarily in his place and A being free to go about his daily business as if nothing had happened.

Hebrews 7:27 says that the Jewish priests offered daily sacrifices to atone for sinners as substitutes to make up for and pay for their sins but Jesus did it only once by offering himself. This clearly teaches a vicarious atonement. The blood of Jesus has the power to purge the conscience from sin (Hebrews 9:4). Purge means to punish sin and remove it. Jesus punished it by taking it on himself to remove it from us and cancel it out.
Hebrews 9 and 10 speak of how the sacrifices of the Old Testament had a hidden meaning - they were really about showing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross which takes away sin in the light of God's teaching that only blood atones for sin (Leviticus 17:11). The Hebrew term kaphar which means covering is used in the Old Testament texts on the subject and the Greek term katallage which means making peace, referring to the peace between God and man after an account has been settled, is used in the New. Both words refer to an exchange - where compensation is made.

In Romans 5, we read that because of Adam the whole human race sinned and is subject to sin. Adam sinned in our place because if he did not then though he sinned it was not over him but God that these things happened to humankind. God could have prevented his sin harming us and death from spreading to us. So it was God’s fault unless Adam sinned in our place. That is what Paul taught. He said that in the same way Adam destroyed us Christ brought us back to God and gave everlasting life to all who were fit for it. This means that Christ offered himself to make up for our deficiencies and sins.

Paul wrote, “For by the death He died, He died to sin [ending his relation to it] once for all” (Romans 6:10). Paul did not believe that Jesus had been a sinner (as Romans 5:19 proves). His Jesus did not die to the possibility of sinning for it was not good to do that. Better to be able to sin and not to do it than to be able is the Christian philosophy. So Jesus died to everybody else’s sins. He was made guilty of them though he was innocent until he died.

Death is an act of degradation and it was a sweet reprieve to Jesus. It is not terrible if you live on or if you are scheduled for resurrection a few days later. Yet Jesus allegedly died for the world. It was not dreadful for Jesus even though it was an act of debasement. So it was not a sacrifice as far as he was concerned except in so far as it was making dirt of him. Nevertheless, it did not feel like a sacrifice. So if God did that demeaning to his own Son for the sins of the world it means that the Son was being degraded in the world’s place and was treated by God as a sinner. That would only be right if the Son was being punished for the sins of others. If the atonement sacrifice was voluntary then Jesus degraded himself. He permitted God to degrade him. And if God unavoidably had to degrade Jesus that was not real degrading for it has to be done for some good reason. It is really ennobling.
The atonement accuses God of demeaning Jesus. But if Jesus was God or as good as God in power and dignity then how could he be really degraded for he is boss and consenting to the whole thing by not using his supernatural power to guard himself?

Jesus said that there was no salvation except through him (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Now, that means that without him there would be no possibility of salvation. God had to have Jesus to save us for simple forgiveness without an expiating human sacrifice was not an option. If a lifeguard can save a drowning child by throwing her a lifebuoy or by swimming out to her you don’t say that the lifebuoy was the only way she had to life. If Jesus did not need to become the only way to God then it is not right of God to refuse salvation to anybody who rejects Jesus. God has no right to enforce senseless commands for he cannot invent right or wrong for right is right and wrong is wrong whether he approves or not. So if Jesus is the only way to God then Jesus is absolutely necessary for pardon meaning that he must have made atonement.

John Stott says that his case for the salvation won by Jesus atoning for us “does not rest on proof texts, but on a synthesis of the total teaching of Scripture. After all, there is no plain statement for plain people that ‘Jesus was God’, but taken as a whole the Scriptures indubitably affirm his deity” (Essentials, page 162). Stott wrote this after saying that the doctrine is plainly in Romans and First John but at the same time the quote is useful because it shows that no plain statements are needed if none can be found.

Jesus' sacrifice was said to be a propitiation or something to appease God. David Edwards holds that the verbs hilasterion, hilaskesthai or hilasmos which are translated propitiation may mean the place or way to atonement “since in the only other use of hilasterion in the New Testament the word clearly refers not to any particular sacrifice but to the ‘mercy seat’, the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, on which sacrifices were offered in the Jerusalem Temple (Hebrews 9:5)” (Essentials, page 134). If Jesus’ death was the way to atonement then it was not the atonement or a propitiation. But he admits that it may mean expiation. The verb may still mean propitiation in the other places. It is most likely to. The Bible does not see Jesus as the way to expiation but as the expiation for it calls him the Saviour in a special unique way.

In fact the word does mean propitiation for in Romans 3:25 we are told that it put away the wrath of God which is what propitiation is for.
The Bible is no proof for the veracity of the atoning death notion because the doctrine implies that this death was both absolutely necessary and unnecessary – the doctrine does not agree with itself. A Bible that says Jesus was a fake and not a fake! Interesting…
The Bible should be burnt for spouting such a barbaric and unholy doctrine as the atonement of Christ. Jesus was evil for being called Jesus which name means saviour or God saves.

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