Why The Passion?
The Passion was predicted to occur.
●Isa 52:14-15 …Many were amazed when they saw him— beaten and bloodied, so disfigured one would scarcely know he was a person. And he will again startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not previously been told about; they will understand what they had not heard about.
An article in the March 8, 2004 issue of People magazine about Mel Gibson's Passion, closed with this comment: "Caviezel makes for a manly, one-note Jesus, a willing martyr who knows he's going to a better place."
Was Jesus a martyr? Absolutely not! He wasn't a martyr at all; he was a ransom.
●Matt 20:28 …Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
●1Tim 2:6 …who gave himself as ransom for all.
Webster's defines *ransom as: a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity. There's more than one way to effect a ransom. You could fork over a bag of cash to rescue a kidnap victim, or you could pay off someone's bills and get them out of debt, or you could step up and take someone's place; like this:
There wasn't enough life boats for all the passengers aboard Titanic when she sank on her maiden voyage; not enough by half. If someone already aboard a boat were to give up their seat, they would in effect be sacrificing their own life to save another's. That's what my savior did for me on Calvary. He gave up his own life to ransom mine from the wrath of God.
●Rom 5:6-9 …For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for an equitable person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now rendered innocent by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.
As long as Jesus remains alive and in existence, I will always, and forever, hold a status of innocence; and thus never, ever again, be in danger of Divine retribution because I have been transferred from the realm of The Dead to the realm of The Living.
●John 5:24 …Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever listens to my message, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
What's The Wrath of God?
The Bible's God is primarily cheerful.
●Gal 5:22 …The fruit of the Spirit is… Joy
Usually, when the Bible speaks of the "wrath" of God, it's not talking about His personality nor about fits of rage. It's talking about criminal justice. If you were to meet with your local authorities (cops, judges, prosecutors, jailers etc) at a sports bar, I think they would be very affable and have a good time just like all the regular people. But when you're on the wrong side of the law, then those good-time Charlies can no longer be Mr. Nice Guy. It's nothing personal; it's just the business of law enforcement and criminal justice, which is regarded as "wrath" (cf. Rom 13:1-4).
Justice can be defined as the administration of law without passion or prejudice; leading to the assignment of merited rewards, punishments, and/or acquittal.
Divine justice is very narrow, and no man in his right mind would dare to face it alone if he knew just how severe and complete it really is. Not one single infraction will be overlooked. Man's very thoughts themselves will be scrutinized; even every idle word.
●Matt 12:36-37 ...But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every thoughtless word they have spoken. For by your words you will either be acquitted or condemned.
●Heb 4:12-13 ...For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The wrath of God is not much different than the proceedings of any other criminal justice system. Accused have to stand trial, where they'll either be convicted or acquitted. Those that are convicted receive punishment; viz: wrath.
●Acts 17:31 ...For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
●Rom 1:18-20 ...The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
●Rom 2:5-16 ...But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who seek glory, honor and immortality by persistence in doing good, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.
...All who sin apart from The Law will also perish apart from The Law, and all who sin under The Law will be judged by The Law. For it is not those who hear The Law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey The Law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have The Law, do by nature things required by The Law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have The Law, since they show that the requirements of The Law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men's secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
●Jude 14-15 ...The Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his saints to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
●Rev 20:11-15 …And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done.
…The sea gave up the dead in it, and death and the grave gave up the dead in them. They were all judged according to their deeds. And death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death— the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
What's A Savior/Redeemer?
Why do I call Jesus my savior?
Webster's defines a *savior as one who rescues.
You've seen rescuers in action: New York City fireman, Cops, Emergency Medical teams, snow patrols, mountain rescue units, and the Coast Guard. Rescuers typically help people to safety who are in danger of imminent death, and/or grave distress; and completely helpless to do anything about it.
An enormous number of Christians— among them many Catholics —have no savior; and will face the wrath of God solo, utterly frightened out of their wits; shrieking, yelping, and sobbing, eyes darting about looking for something, for anyone, for anything, to clutch and cling to as the grim reality of their fate begins to sink in when they're dragged off in the grip of powerful spirit beings to be thrown alive into a pool of liquid fire. The one giving the order for their eternal estrangement from God will be none other than the central figure of their own religion (Acts 17:31). The irony of it all is that while here on earth, they were thoroughly indoctrinated with New Testament teachings: yet somehow failed to appropriate the one thing in life that matters most. I fairly cringe with horror just thinking about Christians like that. If only they had spoken with my savior before it was too late.
According to John 3:14-18, 1Tim 2:5, 1Tim 4:10, and 1John 4:14; Jesus is potentially everyone's savior, but he's not really *your savior until you've actually taken advantage of his crucified body as a ransom to effect your rescue from eternal suffering.
Jesus is not only my savior, but he's also my redeemer. A *redeemer is someone who pays a debt for you that you can't possibly pay yourself; e.g. a person who scrapes up enough money to pay your back taxes so you don't lose your home, or comes up with the money to liberate you from slavery or indenture. Jesus is my redeemer in that it was he himself who gave his own life in exchange for mine in order to rescue my soul from the wrath of God.
You may call him the savior if you like, and you will not be incorrect. But I will always regard him as *my savior because what he did for me on Calvary is so personal and beyond the scope of human gratitude. Because of the kindness and sympathy of a man I've never even met— a "good Samaritan" if you will —I'm now safe and secure; and in absolutely no danger of the wrath of God.
●John 5:24 …Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever listens to my message, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life.
●John 10:27-29 …My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
●Rom 5:8-9 …But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God's sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God's judgment.
●1Thes 1:9-10 …And they speak of how you are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven— Jesus, whom God raised from the dead. He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment.
●1Thes 5:9 …For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Man's Future Sans The Cross
Sometimes I wish there were tour buses to the netherworld so people could see what's in store for them down there. The abuse Jesus suffered was child's play in comparison to the horrors, and to the misery of souls in hell. For one thing, his suffering lasted only about twelve hours; not even one whole day. People in hell go day, after day, after day, after day, after day, infinitum. There's no relief from the pain and discomfort, no vacations, no recreation, no reading materials, no hobbies: there's absolutely nothing to do but writhe in fire. The mental atrophy, and the boredom that must result from that kind of mindless existence is beyond explanation. And the din: think of the volume of noise down there with all the wailing and sobbing, and the screams, shrieks, arguments, and fights going on; like an overcrowded mental ward.
Jesus said it is far more appealing to finish out life blind and maimed rather than end up in hell. He even suggested the extreme measure of self-mutilation if necessary to prevent sinning with your eyes and hands. Conditions are really bad, and no one has a good attitude about it. Everyone is sad, blue, and lonely; and many are fraught with anxiety that their relatives— their own children, their grandchildren, their brothers and sisters, their aunts and uncles, their spouses —are all coming down there too and they're utterly helpless to do one single thing to prevent it.
Objection: How do you know that this is what hell is like?
Actually; I don't really know precisely what hell is like. In fact, I probably don't even know the half of it. A lot of the stuff I wrote was deduced from what little data there is to work with. No doubt the full impact of the Bible's hell is a whole lot worse than the model I constructed.
Objection: Some churches teach that hell is merely total separation from God.
Total separation from God would probably correspond to the "outer darkness" aspect of hell (Matt 8:12, Matt 22:13, Matt 25:30). In life, everybody enjoys God's blessings; even the really bad people. We're all breathing His air, basking in His sunshine, drinking His cool water, savoring His tasty foods, listening to His birds chirp, admiring His stars at night, throwing His snow balls at each other in winter, rafting in His rivers, catching His fish, skiing in His snow, tending His gardens, pruning His shrubs, spending days with grandkids He provided for Man with the blessing of fertility; and all that sort of thing. In hell, there are no blessings of any kind at all: only sadness, vexation, despair, and want.
Ever wonder how many people are in hell right today? Let me give you an idea.
According to the International Programs Center, U.S. Bureau of the Census, the total population of the World, projected to 02/24/06 at 11:19am, New York time, was 6,499,728,434. Jesus said that the *majority will not make it to safety (Matt 7:13-14, Matt 22:14).
A simple 51% majority of that number is 3,314,861,501. That's at least 3.31 billion souls who will be in hell before the 21st century is out. And that's only counting the people who are alive right now. That's not counting the ones who will be born and die along the way, and that's not counting all the souls who lived during the past thousands of years ever since the sixth day of Genesis.
Should I feel sorry for Jesus' suffering? Absolutely not! It disturbs me, yes, because I don't do well with bloody violence. But I do not feel sorry for him. No, I refuse to do that. I prefer rather to celebrate and cheer because what that man did for me is beyond the range of human appreciation. Because of him, I will escape a horrible fate, and go to a far better life than what poor souls in hell are experiencing as we speak. And to think that today's hell is only a temporary hell. The eventual fate of the damned is a lake of molten liquid, so that every crevice on their bodies will be soaked in pain (Rev 20:11-15). Let me tell you— and this is from hind sight of course —if I were there, I would be more than happy to beat Jesus' face to chopped liver, and drive the nails in myself.
●Isa 53:5-6 …But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but The Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all.
●Isa 53:12 …And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.
Objection: What?! Are you nuts or do I just not get it? Jesus asked God to forgive them (forgiveness implies guilt) because they didn't know what they were doing. If you were to go back and beat Jesus and drive in the nails; wouldn't that make you an accomplice with his persecutors?
According to Peter, they committed a murder— and not just an ordinary murder of an ordinary man: but they actually murdered their very own long-awaited Messiah.
●Acts 7:52 …Name one prophet your ancestors didn't persecute! They even killed the ones who predicted the coming of the Righteous One— the Messiah whom you betrayed and murdered.
I, on the other hand— with the benefit of hind sight —would not be murdering Jesus. Webster's defines murder as: the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought. The key words in that definition are *unlawful and *malice. There are kinds of killing that are neither unlawful nor malicious; e.g. accidental death, capital punishment, self defense; euthanasia, and assisted suicide.
What I find interesting about Jesus' crucifixion is that on the Jewish side, it's a murder. On the Gentile side, it's a miscarriage of justice. On the redeemed side, it's a ransom to rescue sinners from the wrath of God.
In an act of homicide, motive and meditation are everything— in a court of law, it is motive and meditation that makes all the difference between murder, self defense, manslaughter, and/or accidental death.
If I had to stand trial for crucifying Jesus, I would plead self defense; yes, I would, because in reality it was him or me— Jesus or hell —and I am not going to hell; no sir, I am not going to hell for anything or anybody. And if people in hell could step on somebody right now to get out of there; I guarantee you they wouldn't hesitate to climb up out of there on the bodies of their own children. People up here on the surface just don't appreciate how bad conditions are down there or they would flock to Jesus for safety, screaming, yelping, and stepping all over each other, like a panicked crowd fleeing a burning nightclub, trampling anyone in their way just for a chance to grab Jesus' garment and beg for mercy.
Let me ask you something. What would you be willing to pay to stay out of hell? A million dollars, a billion, a trillion? Would you be willing to have your eyes poked with red hot knitting needles, or even to have your genitals amputated with bolt cutters? Would you be willing to watch as your spouse and children were abused, mutilated, and disemboweled before your very eyes? Well.. none of that would be enough to ransom your soul from the wrath of God. No, none of it. That's just how serious things really are. The only ransom God will accept is the brutal death of his own beloved kin.
●1Pet 1:18-20 …For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, he was sent to the earth for all to see. And he did this for you.
You d_mn right I would beat Jesus' face to chopped liver and drive the nails in myself. Good G_d man, think of the alternative!
Question: What I don't understand is why would God send his Son to ransom sinners?
God was motivated by compassion (John 3:16).
Webster's defines *compassion as: a sympathetic awareness of others' distress, coupled with a desire to alleviate it.
Objection: John 3:16 does not say God was motivated by compassion. It says God was motivated by *love.
So you're saying that the Bible's God is a heartless b_stard? You harbor a very strange concept about the love of God.
According to John 3:16, God loves the world. Does that mean He actually *likes the world? I don't think so. You can pity someone without liking them. My mother-in-law passed away recently. We were not especially friends; but I still felt grief and loss from her passing. That's similar to what God feels for the world because according to 1Cor 13:4-8, true love is compassionate.
If you were to read the New Testament; you would find love often expressed in the sensitivities of compassion and pity; (e.g. Philip 2:1-2, Eph 5:25-29, 1Pet 3:8, and 1John 3:17). One of the more famous examples of love in the New Testament is the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).
Question: The Bible says God is love (1John 4:8). Isn't love an emotion? How can God be an emotion?
Love isn't strictly an emotion; it can also be someone's nature. It is just as easy to say God is generosity as it is to say God is love; and means the very same thing as saying so-and-so personifies love because he's affable and hasn't got a mean bone anywhere in his body.
God is kindness, cordiality, sympathy, courtesy, patience, nurturing, concern, thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and charity all rolled into one. Love is His nature— a nature that defines God just as cruelty is a nature that defines Charles Manson. What's cruelty? It's Charles Manson. What's love? It's God. If you need a picture of love, look at God. If you need a picture of cruelty, look at Charles Manson.
Question: If God is so wrathful then how can He truly be compassionate?
The Bible's God isn't gunning for people like some sort of deranged despot; and He isn't irate as if God were wired too tight and up in arms all the time. Criminal justice is commonly depicted in the Bible as wrath (e.g. Rom 13:4-5). There's nothing personal about it. That's just the way law works. Justice can be defined as the administration of law without passion or prejudice. If you obey the law, it leaves you alone. But if you break it; the law becomes your enemy.
Let me show you a really good instance of the love of God and the wrath of God together.
In the 21st chapter of the book of Numbers, the people of Israel were totally unappreciative of God's kindness in going to the trouble of rescuing them from Egyptian slavery. They began to gripe about the quality of food He provided for them: anon; they grew weary of eating Manna all the time and complained about it. They not only complained; but angrily demanded a better diet. They committed a sin akin to taking God's goodness for granted, and imposing on His hospitality; not to mention their gross ingratitude for His going to all the trouble of liberating them from cruel Egyptian slavery.
That particular kind of sin is bad enough to warrant the death penalty. So God sent a swarm of deadly snakes among His own chosen people— the very people He had only just recently rescued from Egyptian slavery. It was an extremely toxic venom so that everyone who was bitten, died; no exceptions. Whoever got bit, became a dead man walking because death was the result in every case. But when the people realized their error; and begged for relief, God instructed Moses to fashion a bronze effigy of the deadly snakes and hoist it up on a pole where everyone could see it. Whoever looked to the effigy for relief was healed; and spared certain death.
Thus, the God who sent the swarm of deadly snakes in the first place; was the very same God who provided a remedy for the venom. So, the Bible's God isn't a totally bitter, malicious being as some have alleged. No, not at all. He's zealous for doing what's right, yes, but not in a spirit of malice. God takes no pleasure in harming human beings. The Bible's God would far rather bless than harm.
Jesus pointed to that incident (Num 21:4-9) to illustrate both the love of God and the wrath of God in regards to his own crucifixion. Man's default destiny is hell, in every case; that's right, because hell is not the option; no, Eternal Life is the option: and that is not a threat, no; that is not a threat, that is a reality; and hell is where everybody would go unless the Bible's God— the very same God who sends people to hell in the first place —hadn't Himself devised a way to escape it (John 3:14-18).
Question: Why did Jesus have to come down and die for sinners? Why can't the Bible's God just pardon everybody instead of putting His own kin through all that grief?
The fact of the matter is; the Bible's God is stuck with criminal justice just as much as we are because His own conscience is a slave to absolutes. If criminal justice wasn't the right thing to do; you can bet a compassionate God would find a far more humane way to deal with evil. But the Bible's God is a jurist of the highest personal integrity. In a system of absolutes; justice can't be ignored; no, it has to be satisfied, and the Bible's God can't let Himself out of that; so He's forced to inter sinners in hell even though He takes no pleasure in it.
The Bible's God not only has a passion for justice, but also a passion for dignity.
● Isa 6:1-5 . . In the year of king Uzziah's death, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne— lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said: Holy, Holy, Holy, is The Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory. And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke
The source of a law is what determines its measure of dignity. Take for instance a group of boys who build a tree house for a neighborhood boys' club. They elect officers from among themselves, and draw up a charter of rules that members of the club have to observe in order to remain in good standing as honorable club members (and of course the first rule is: No Girls Allowed). Would their charter stand up in an adult court of law? No, of course not. A charter of that nature would merit very little respect in the adult world because its source was just a posse of underage kids.
The principle of "source" extends out into the world of municipal law, state law, and federal law. At each level, the law's dignity increases, and breaking it at each succeeding level becomes that much more serious. Divine law is the ultimate charter; and it's rules, regulations, statutes, and mandates merit far more respect than a tree house, or a municipality, or a state, or a federal jurisdiction because the source of Divine law is Almighty God-- the top of the food chain: The Creator --whose dignity far exceeds that of His creations, including Isaiah's two Seraphim, and that's why non-compliance with His wishes is such a grave matter.
Evaluated from the perspective of dignity; hell isn't punishment enough for people who offend the Bible's God because there's no other God-given way but one for them to personally make amends for their lack of respect except by paying for it forever since the degree of God's dignity is off the scale, and far beyond the limits of time and distance.
Objection: If my puppy merits wrath for going wee-wee on the carpet, why would I vent that wrath on something I hold very dear to me instead of on my puppy?
Well… to begin with, your puppy needs house breaking, not wrath; and to answer your question: it's compassion. The wrath of God isn't malicious and cruel like human wrath is. No; God's wrath is tempered with compassion. And God didn't impose upon Jesus. No, Jesus of his own free will volunteered to take your place. God didn't force him to do it (Ps 40:6-7, Philip 2:6-8, Heb 10:5-9).
And besides; Jesus' death wasn't a permanent loss. The Father got His son back in three days. So when you know something dear to you will be returned; it makes a difference. Just like when Abraham offered Isaac (Gen 22:1-19). Abraham knew he'd get his beloved son back; and that's why he didn't put up a fuss about killing him (Heb 11:17-19). And Isaac was strong enough to have easily overpowered his aging dad and escaped; but didn't. That tells me Isaac consented.
Objection: What you're saying doesn't make sense. How is justice satisfied by punishing an innocent person instead of the person that deserves it?
In normal, rational jurisprudence; it would be a tragic miscarriage of justice to punish the innocent for the crimes of an offender. Even if the substitute were to freely volunteer, it would still violate any sensible person's concepts of right and wrong and be totally unacceptable; most especially in capital cases where the criminal has to forfeit his life in order to even the score.
However, in the military, it isn't unusual for commanders to take full responsibility for the conduct of men under their command (maybe not to the death; but at least to some degree). That principle of a commander's implied responsibility is in the spiritual sphere too. If you were to volunteer to be under Jesus' command; he would then become the captain of your salvation; and in that capacity gladly take full responsibility for your conduct and stand between you and the wrath of God.
In quite a few jurisdictions, parents are legally liable for the crimes of minor children (again, maybe not to the death, but at least to some degree). In the same manner, if Jesus were to become your legal guardian, he would gladly become liable for your sins. The guardians of minor children settle with the law, and then guardian and child settle between themselves at home; e.g. grounding, spanking, and/or the loss privileges and a favorite toy. That way, the child is protected from the fullest extent of the law, and instead faces the music at home; which is usually far more lenient than the criminal justice system.
●Heb 2:10-12 …For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them kin,
●Heb 12:5-8 …And have you entirely forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his children? He said, "My child, don't ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don't be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes those he accepts as his children." As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Whoever heard of a child who was never disciplined? If God doesn't discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children after all.
Being God's kin has its advantages; and the most important one, at least from a sinner's point of view at least, is protection from prosecution to the fullest extent of Holy Law.
It is precisely because of Man's inherently limited humanistic sense of right and wrong why there are so many professing Christians out there who don't believe Jesus' death is an adequate, no-purchase-necessary ransom to rescue sinners from the wrath of God.
●1Cor 1:18-25 ...I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, "I will destroy human wisdom and discard their most brilliant ideas."
...So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made them all look foolish and has shown their wisdom to be useless nonsense. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never find him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save all who believe.
...God's way seems foolish to the Jews because they want a sign from heaven to prove it is true. And it is foolish to the Greeks because they believe only what agrees with their own wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it's all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful wisdom of God. This "foolish" plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.
Objection: You say; "The abuse Jesus suffered was child's play in comparison to the horrors, and to the misery of souls in hell." If that's the case, then Jesus didn't pay enough penalty for Man's sins.
Jesus doesn't have to spend eternity in hell in order to ransom people from hell: he only had to die. Our individual lives are of such low value that the most that any of us could hope to die for is just one sin. That leaves a pretty large balance to redeem. The value of Jesus' human life was beyond price; and was of such immense value that his death can redeem an infinite number of sins.
●1Pet 1:18-20 …For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.
Peter called the blood of Christ *precious; meaning it's like precious metals and jewels: rare and very costly. Your human life and mine aren't as valuable as Christ's human life. Peter would never call yours and mine rare and very costly. No, our human lives are a dime a dozen and quite useless for redemption purposes. Jesus' human life was far more valuable than either gold or jewels; and it's the only exchange that God will accept for multiple sins. The alternative is infinite punishment because no amount of finite punishment can ever equal the value of Christ's blood.
Let's say you're a serial killer and knocked off thirty people in your career. That's an extreme case, but I'm only trying to make a point. The serial killer can pay for one of his victims via capital punishment; but what about the other 29 deaths? How will he even the score for those having but one life of his own to forfeit? So you see he just doesn't have the means to truly satisfy absolute justice for those extra deaths; nor can he compensate his victims for the loss of the remaining years of their life that he cut short.
Now let's carry that concept over to the average sinner. They too, like the serial killer, have but one life to forfeit for their sins and for the repercussions of their sins. True, their sins, and the repercussions of their sins, may not be as gross as the serial killer's; but the Bible's God sees all sin as fatal.
●Ezk 18:4 …Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.
But people have only one life to give. How will offenders who sin more than once redeem the balance? The truth is, they can't: because after they're dead, they quite frankly have nothing left with which to pay. Thus, since they don't have enough lives with which to satisfy absolute justice, people who sin more than once face never-ending retribution. There just isn't any way to avoid it because no amount of finite punishment can ever equal the value of Christ's redeeming blood.
●Matt 5:25-26 ...Come to terms quickly with your enemy before it is too late and you are dragged into court, handed over to an officer, and thrown in jail. I assure you that you won't be free again until you have paid the last penny.
At one time, Matt 5:25-26 was a popular passage to argue that it's possible to redeem your sins in a purgatory. Unfortunately, sin cannot be redeemed with either money or torture— it can only be redeemed with life; ergo: should you find yourself translated to a place of fiery torment after death, know that it's for the worse; because according to The Holy Bible, temporary punishment in a place like purgatory is inadequate for redemption purposes. Only the extremely valuable human life of Christ suffices to satisfy absolute justice and permit God to acquit a sinner's guilt (John 3:14-18, Rom 3:23-26, Rom 5:6-11, 1Pet 1:18-19, 1John 2:1-2).
The Best Response
Many viewers of Mel Gibson's movie will be emotionally drained by the experience, and that's to be expected from anybody with normal sensibilities. But don't you dare pity Jesus! What occurred was not a tragedy. It was nothing short of a complete victory; and an incredibly heroic expression of good will. Yes, it was a tough way to die, but Jesus was back three days later good as new. Should we feel sorry for the American troops who gave their lives helping to crush Nazi socialism? Of course not. Then don't feel sorry for Jesus. He wants neither your sympathy nor your pity. Your best response is to celebrate and take full advantage of his success.
How to take advantage of Jesus' passion to ransom your soul from eternal suffering? The answer is John 6:27-58 in the simple little words *believe and *come.
●John 6:35 …whoever comes to me will never hunger
●John 6:37 …Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me
●John 6:44-45 …No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.' Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
●Rom 10:11-13 …For the scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
Find a private place to pray— in your car, a restroom, your bedroom, your garage; whatever's convenient —put your face in your hands; and in your own words, petition God if He would credit you with Jesus' crucified body as a ransom for your rescue from eternal suffering. What have you got to lose by doing as I say? What's the worst that could happen? You might go to hell? You're going there anyway; so what's the difference?
What you should do next, just to cover all the bases, is get yourself baptized. When Jesus came to John the baptizer's services, John protested (Matt 3:13-15). After all, Jesus certainly didn't need to repent. But he told John to do it anyway because it was the right thing to do. So, unless your circumstances are such that it's impossible to do so, follow Jesus' example. Don't get baptized in hopes it will save you from the wrath of God; no, do it because it's the right thing to do.
●Matt 28:19-20 …Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Look in the Yellow Pages for a Conservative Baptist church in your area. You don't have to be a church member before they'll baptize you: it's their duty to serve Jesus' best interests and get you taken care of. Call the church office and ask to speak with a pastor. It doesn't have to be the senior pastor; an associate pastor will do. Be candid, tell them what's on your mind, and they'll fix you up.
Where Are The Living Today?
The human race can be divided into just two people groups: The Living group and The Dead group. Only one of those two groups can legitimately claim God as its religious benefactor.
●Matt 22:32 …God is not the god of the dead, but of the living.
●Luke 20:38 …For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living:
Both groups, The Dead and The Living, are slated to have an audience with Man's judge.
●Acts 10:42 …And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is [Jesus] which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead.
●2Tim 4:1 …the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom
An interesting point about Rev 20:11-15, is that of all the people who stand before the Great White Throne, none of them are from among The Living. They’re all dead because only The Dead are brought there. The Dead are mentioned four times; The Living aren't mentioned at all. So then, either everybody is dead at the time of the judgment, or The Living are an entirely separate class of people altogether. The Living are, in point of fact; a people of whom Jesus said are no longer in any danger of judgment at all.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
I consider myself to be a listener to Jesus' message, and I consider myself to be believing in God. Therefore, since the grammatical tense of Jesus' *have verbs are in the present tense, conscience and logic compel me to believe that I am in current possession of eternal life right this very moment; no waiting period. Hence, I will never be condemned for my sins, and I have already passed from death into life; ergo: I am among The Living; not among The Dead. Therefore, since I am one of The Living, I will not have to appear before the Great White Throne with The Dead.
The conclusion is obvious. If you, reading this, are not in current possession of eternal life, then you are currently dead and in grave danger of being hauled before the Great White Throne to be condemned for your sins and cast into the lake of fire.
The book of life, spoken of in Rev 20:11-15, is actually a registry of The Living. My name is in there right now, and has been there since 1968. I'm not waiting to see if my name is in there. No, according to Jesus, it's already in there.
●John 5:24 …I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
●Eph 2:1 …Once you were dead, damned forever because of your many sins.
●Eph 2:4-7 …But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ …and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus
If I appear at the Great White Throne at all, it will only be as either a witness for the prosecution, or as a spectator among The Living to watch The Dead thrown to their second deaths in a molten substance. The Dead will be literally pale with terror; lips trembling, mouths too dry to speak; begging, yelping, pleading, sobbing— eyes darting about looking for something, for anything, to clutch and cling to as powerful spirit beings drag them off to a terrible, permanent existence in fire. As they're drawn ever closer to the massive, heavy hatches sealing the netherworld, sulfuric vapors will irritate soft nasal tissues as The Dead attempt to shrink back from the intense heat blistering their skin and radiating into the air around them like the shimmering intensity of foundry kettles; while ghastly moans coming up from somewhere out of the abyss below their feet pierce their ears like the wails of Odyssic sirens.
When Esau lost the birthright, the Bible says he cried with an exceeding great and bitter cry (Gen 27:34). The actual Hebrew word for *cry in that verse means shrieking. There you have a picture of the future of The Dead: bitter shrieking will vent from their lungs; some of it generated by the mental agony of realizing that it could have all been so easily avoided if only they had bothered to take advantage of The Passion. If I were to spell out the root cause of their doom with just one word it would be *neglect.
●Heb 2:1-3 …Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; then how shall we ourselves escape if we neglect so great a salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by The Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
●Acts 13:41 …Behold, you curious scoffers, and perish; for I am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe though someone should explain it to you in a way that's easy to understand.
Storms In Africa (Enya)