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May 20, 2014


Question: Is it considered more of a crime to shoot the President of the US, or a convenience store clerk?

When the whole world is shocked and there is a cottage industry speculating about the assassination of a 7-11 clerk in backwater Arkansas, I'll say they are considered the same.

It is not the length of time, but who it happens to.

There is also Hugh Ross's speculation of 2 dimensional time, where one could experience 3 days in one direction, but infinity in the second direction.

One point is that: Jesus was perfect, though, so he didn't deserve to be dead (in hell/ away from God) for even a second!
Whereas we as sinners do deserve that because we turned away from God and his commandments.

I used to take the "Jesus is God" route and say that because Jesus had infinite worth, then one minute on the cross for him was worth an eternity in hell for us.

But then I got to thinking about the Old Testament sacrificial system and noticed that the worth of the animal had little to do with whether it could take away sin. Supposedly, just one sin committed by us is sufficient to warrant eternal punishment, but the death of an animal was sufficient to forgive that sin.

Now, granted that sacrifice had to be repeated periodically, but that's only because people continue to sin. It is still the case that the death of an animal could pay for sin because the Scriptures explicitly say so. So apparently, the death of an animal can pay for a sin whereas we'd have to spend eternity in hell to pay for that same sin, even though we are worth more than animals.

So I don't think Jesus' infinite worth is a good response.

Maybe it's just that God has the right to determine what payment he will accept, and the death of Jesus was acceptable to God as payment for our sins.

A person might object that if God can arbitrarily decide what payment he will accept, then he could've accepted the death of a chicken to pay for the sins of the whole world if he had wanted to, and the death of Jesus was unnecessary.

That may be true, but it might also be true that the death of a chicken just wasn't acceptable to God, and the death of Jesus was. And it may be that there was more purpose in Jesus' death than merely to pay for our sins. It was a public display of God's love for us, so God was glorifying himself in the death of Jesus by the display of his love. And Jesus was glorifying God by the display of his humility and obedience.

>> Is there an injustice here? Jesus was only dead three days, whereas people are in Hell for eternity. Did He fail to pay for our sins?

There is a degree of the dishonest in the direction of the challenge. Perhaps two analogies might shed some light, even though analogies do have a tendency to limp.

First, a sports analogy. Consider the relationship of a quarterback and a receiver. The QB sets sail a perfect pass, rainbow arched, perfect spiral, directly at the numbers, a pass your granny could catch with her arthritic hands ... and the receiver drops it. Do we blame the QB for not making a better pass? The challenge tends to say this. Does the receiver still try to explain the drop? Hard hands. Soft hands. Distractions. The sun in the eyes. The wind in the face. The lights were against ... and the list goes on. There is a twisted-ness to the challenge. How dare Christ rise! Why shouldn't others get a break, like those who reject Christ's atonement.

Perhaps it is based on a misunderstanding of the purpose of Christ's resurrection (the QB's perfect pass) and man's tendency to reject Him (the receiver's flub). This leads to the second analogy. You are a commander of a regiment that is hopelessly surrounded by an army that is pointing all its weaponry at your troops. Rifles and canons in all directions targeting you. Then the opponent's general sends out his lieutenant to ask terms of surrender ... he yields to you! You have moments to accept his offer of complete submission. You can accept and be victorious, or you may question the general's sanity, refuse it, and get annihilated. It's that upside-downishness of Christ's Gospel that perplexes people. God suffers. God dies. God rises to announce terms of victory though His gift of faith. Begin to understand divine grace, and things begin to become crystal clear, even if they still seem incomprehensible.

Simpa is correct. A second of death for Jesus was way too long. An eternity is far too short for those who flub neatly thrown passes.

The numbers are wrong.
They should be:

A = Length of Redeemer's death: 3 days

B = Length of sinner-who-deserves-eternity-in-Hell-but-for-whom-the-Redeemer-died's, death: 0 Days.

There certainly is an injustice here. But it is not the sinner who is unjustly treated but the sinless Christ.

Using time as a measure of fairness in these regards is missing the point.

"Well said" to those who have commented previously

There are a few directions one could go with this. Aside from the observations that have been made, you could observe that the difference between heaven and hell is the difference between reconciliation with God and separation from him. One sin is enough to separate us from God for all eternity. One atoning sacrifice by a perfectly righteous man is enough to satisfy the justice of God.

But the approach we take will depend on the reason the challenger has for making this challenge. So I would have to ask some questions and determine precisely why the challenger has a problem with it.

But something that most challengers have in common is that they don't believe in hell if they believe in God. Some Christians may be struggling and that's a different issue to tackle. But if you realize that the challenger rejects God and dismisses the notion of hell, then you have to be careful to point out that the answer must be accepted on the terms of the believer in such things. For example, if they don't accept that there is a God who we can sin against, that just one little sin warrants eternal separation from God, or that hell is indeed a kind of irreparable separation from God, then they won't accept any answer you give them. There is an answer, and they present the challenge because their presuppositions won't allow for an answer. But different presuppositions will answer the challenge quite nicely. Therefore, the challenge itself is moot because an answer proves nothing. However, it is an opportunity to explain some of the fundamental facts of our faith that we hold true. Seeing that we indeed have an answer may make a nonbeliever think twice about the veracity of his or her own presuppositions.


The sacrifice of a bull or goat in the OT did not atone for sin because of the worth of the animal, but because that act connected the receiver of the sacrament with the death of Christ, and only for that reason.

The blood of a bull cannot save any more than a thimble of cheap red wine can.

They save because they are connected by promise to what can save.

What can save may well be able to save only because it is of infinite value.

On the general challenge, I think it's nonsense to suppose that God suffered only for those three days. It was through Christ that God made Himself suffer sin and all its effects. But it is true at all times to say that God suffers in perfect sympathy for all sin. If He did not so suffer, there would be some time when it would be true to say that God is not omniscient.

So what about all those torments that the damned suffer? Yeah, God suffers them too. If He didn't, there would be something He does not know.

And this is how we know that all the evils of the world are morally justified. God suffers them all down to the last bitter drop, but He still thought it worthwhile to make the world as it is, with the evils.

This challenge misses the point. When someone dies we expect them to remain dead. Jesus was dead-dead, not mostly dead, which the three days in the tomb prove. He rose on the third day because death had no claim on Him for He paid in full our sin-debt on the Cross when He said, "It is Finished." If He had not paid in full our sin-debt, He would be dead forever. And now, Jesus is offering mercy to all who will trust Him and they too will not remain dead but will also experience the resurrection of life.

The problem is worse than the originator posits.
Jesus was only one man, there are many Christians.
A: Many Sinners
B: One redeemer

If you can accept that one redeemer can cover many sinners, why is it difficult to accept that a limited duration can atone for what deserves an infinite duration?

Does Christ "remember" what it felt like to have nails driven into his wrists?

What a lot of unbelievers and, sadly, a lot of Christians fail to realize is that it isn't our individual sins (per se) which condemn us to eternal punishment, it's the rejection of God that condemns us.

Our ultimate sin is refusing to acknowledge God as the sovereign ruler of the universe. An unbeliever will suffer for eternity not because they stole a candy bar or told a white lie, but because they have failed to give honor and glory to God. That is the sin for which they go to hell. All their other transgressions are just icing on the cake.

Sinning against an infinite God deserves infinite punishment. If people don't want anything to do with God now, then why would they want to go to heaven to be completely in His presence?

We know that the punishment of Hell extends to all of Adam’s posterity on account of His sin as the representative of the human race.

Even infants suffer the wages of sin. Some die, never having consciously sinned, solely because Adam represented them in his failed trial of obedience. (Romans 5:12ff)

Jesus, also called the second Adam, stood and passed the trial of obedience as the representative of the elect, thereby giving us perfect righteousness and its reward of eternal life.

His death paid for our sins, but his imputed righteousness brought us eternal life.

His burial of three days and nights validated the fact that he actually died.

Since the wages of sin is death, his resurrection proved his sinlessness.

Death could not legally hold him, just as it cannot legally hold those he represented.

This challenge is based on wrong basis. ''Length of death'' is a meaningless concept because death(sinners's or redeemer's) is out of time and space an therefore cannot be measured. There cannot be longer or shorter eternity. Jesus was dead for three days here in ''our world'' but that's just our perception of time, and it should't be seen as equivalent to ''three days in eternity'' which is meaningless statement. What matters is whether one can accept God in his hearth or not, and that has nothing to do with our measurement of time.

"One sin is enough to separate us from God for all eternity"

This is but one reason I long ago rejected Christian fundamentalism: no sense of proportion.

You all really believe that God sees no difference between torturing and killing six thousand people and telling a spouse that you think their outfit makes them look thin when it doesn't and that both "sins" merit an eternity in a lake of fire?

James, the Bible is clear that every sin is rebellion against God, but it doesn't follow from that that the Bible says every sin is equally bad. It doesn't say that. In fact, there are passages that talk about some people receiving greater punishments than others. Yes, if a person dies while he's still in a state of rebellion against God, then he will be separated from God forever, but the Bible is clear that not all punishments suffered will be the same, because God does see a difference between torturing people and lesser sins. While both are serious, it doesn't follow that one isn't more serious than the other. While all rebellious people will be in Hell, it doesn't follow that some acts of rebellion aren't more grievous than others. If anyone made that leap when discussing this subject with you, it was an illegitimate one, and one not supported by the Bible

Surely it's not three days of death that pays for our sin but the three hours of darkness. The Lord said "It is finished" - the work was done, then He died and went to paradise. His death was essential, but during those three days He wasn't paying for sin or acting as the sinner's substitute. It was "on the tree" He bore our sins (1Pet.2:24). Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, the two passages which shape all the NT writers' understanding of the work of atonement, tell us about His suffering on the cross, not about any substitutionary work between His death and resurrection. His experience of the wrath of God was a payment of infinite worth.

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