The Lord Jesus Christ
FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions
- Jesus died, so was He a martyr?
- Was He put to death or did He lay down His life?
- Why did Jesus die?
- Did Jesus bear my sins?
- Is the death of Jesus Christ sufficient for anyone to be forgiven?
- Will everyone be forgiven?
- What is propitiation?
- What is substitution?
- What is atonement?
- Does atonement imply divine judgement?
- Does atonement include the liberation from physical suffering?
- What is redemption?
- What is purchase?
- When did the Lord Jesus bear the sins of those who believe in Him?
- Why was the Lord Jesus forsaken by God?
- Was He ever forsaken by His Father?
- Was He still forsaken by God when He died?
- How do we know God accepted the price Jesus paid?
- Could anyone have been saved through the Lord’s righteous life?
- Why is it serious error when some teach that a saved person can lose his salvation?
- What is reconciliation?
- Doesn’t the Bible say that all things will be reconciled? Will, therefore, all men be saved in the end?
- What is universalism?
Yes – but His death means much more than this. The word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness’ and is normally used for a faithful witness who dies for his (or her) testimony. All of this is true for Christ. He was ‘the faithful and true witness’ (Rev. 3:14) and He was ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’ (Phil. 2:8). But the following questions and answers show, from the Bible, that His death also - and in the first place - had fundamental importance for others and was much more than simply the death of a faithful martyr.
Both. These are two different sides of the same coin, both are true. Men did everything necessary to put Him to death, they crucified Him and, in this sense, they became His murderers (Acts 2:23). This is the side of human responsibility. And yet, Christ laid down His life voluntarily (Joh. 10:220.127.116.11). We also read that “when Jesus […] had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up [or ‘delivered’] the ghost. This is the side of His divine power and love.
This theme is so wonderful that a brief answer is almost impossible. Christ died to prove utmost obedience to God, to glorify God in respect of sin, to glorify the Father by making known His love, to enable God to justify the godless, and to bring salvation and happiness to man – who had gone away from God.
It depends. If you believe in Him, if you have come to Him with your sins, and if you have accepted Him as your personal Saviour then the answer is ‘yes’. Jesus bore ‘our’ sins, that is the sins of believers (1 Peter 2:24). The Bible never says that He bore the sins ‘of all’, but that He bore the sins ‘of many’ (Is. 53:12)
Yes. The death of Christ is sufficient that everyone can come. But only those who do come will benefit from it (see question 26). The offer is there for everybody:
- “God will that all men be saved.” (1. Tim. 2:3);
- “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37).
- “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22;17);
Everybody could be forgiven (see question 25), but not everybody will be. We read:
- ‘whosoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16);
- ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him’ (John 3:36).
The word ‘propitiation’ occurs in 1 John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world”. In what sense ‘for the whole world’? Well, His sacrifice is so great and has such value in the eyes of God that, on this basis, He can offer salvation to all – although not all accept the offer (see questions 5 and 6). Remember that God is holy and just. Therefore, every sinner would have to be judged and condemned by Him. Without the work of Christ on the cross, this would have been the only possible outcome. But, thank God! Christ has died, became the propitiation and now God is free to offer free salvation. In this sense, He gave Himself 'for all' (1 Tim. 2:6).
A related word occurs in Romans 3:25 which states that God has presented Christ as ‘propitiation’ or ‘propitiatory’ through faith in His blood. This terms alludes to an Old Testament picture, namely that of the lid of the ark which, once a year, was sprinkled with blood (Lev. 16: 14). The blood sprinkled on the lid of the ark in the sanctuary illustrates that fact that God was satisfied with the death of Christ.
In brief, propitiation enables God to offer free salvation to all men. It will become effective for those who accept it in faith.
A substitute is someone who takes your place. On the cross, Christ took the place of those who believe in Him. The righteous suffered for the unrighteous (1 Peter 3:18). He bore ‘our’ sins (Is.53:12 and 1 Peter 2:24). By His stripes we were healed (1 Peter 2:24).
The well-known words of Isaiah describe so well what substitution is: “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. […] the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:4-6).
In this sense, the Lord gave "his life a ransom for many" (Mt. 20:28).
Atonement means ‘covering’. It includes both, propitiation (see question 7) and substitution (see question 8). This is illustrated by the ‘great day of atonement’ (see Lev. 16). Central to the procedures of that day were two goats which had to be offered, one for the Lord (‘propitiation’) and one for the people (‘substitution'). The blood of the first goat was sprinkled on the lid of the mercy seat. On the head of the second goat the High Priest confessed all the sins of the people. Then this bullock was sent off into the wilderness.
Christ has made atonement: God is satisfied and glorified by His work (propitiation), and ‘our’ sins have been born by Him (substitution).
Absolutely. Some have taught that atonement simply means that Christ ‘entered into the state of evil’ or ‘identified with man’s evil condition’. Saying this would overlook the fact that the ‘chastisement’ for our peace lay upon Him (Is. 53:5), that the ‘sword of God’ was directed against His fellow (Zech 13:7). Christ bore our sins – that is the penalty for our sins.
No – not before the rapture (or death). Some have drawn a wrong conclusion from a verse in Is. 53:5 “with his stripes we are healed”. However, this verse speaks of ‘our iniquities’ and ‘our peace’ so that the context makes it clear that ‘healing’ has to do with the sin problem, the terrible illness of sin, and not with physical ailments as such.
Similarly, verse 4 of the same chapter has been misunderstood: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”. This verse does not refer to atonement but to the Lord’s healing miracles as the quotation of this verse in Mt. 8:17 shows.
We are still “waiting for the adoption, …, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
Redemption has to do with a price that needs to be paid. Under the law of Moses, an inheritance could be redeemed (Lev. 25:25). If, for instance, someone had become impoverished for whatever reason and had lost his possession then his closest relative could ‘redeem’ him (if he had lost his personal freedom as well) and/or his possessions. An example for this is found in the book of Ruth where Naomi had lost all and Boas becomes the redeemer.
Christ has redeemed those who belong to him (and only those). More specifically, the price which He paid was His blood (1 Peter 1:18), that is His life.
With purchase, naturally, a price has to be paid as well but it’s different from redemption. Purchase relates to the whole world, not only to believers. The following verse makes this clear: “there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). These false teachers had been ‘bought’ or ‘purchased’ but, clearly, they were not redeemed (did not believe on the Lord) because they deny the Lord and bring ‘destruction’ upon themselves.
An interesting illustration is the parable of the treasure in the field. The whole field was purchased (and the field is the world, Mt. 13:38.44) for the sake of the treasure.
Christ’s death gives him a title, a right, over the whole world – all are purchased. (This is in addition to the title which He has as Creator).
To be clear: NOT during His life, and NOT in the grave. Not even during the first three hours on the cross. Christ bore our sins during the three hours of darkness, ‘from the sixth hour to the ninth hour” (Mt.27:45). During this time, there is darkness – and silence. We hear of no utterance of the Lord until the ninth hour. Ultimately, no man can fathom what happened during this time but the Lord’s cry at the end of this period lifts this veil to some extent: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mt.27:46).
Only Christ was ever forsaken of God, and only during the three hours when atonement was made. Before this time He enjoyed unhindered communion with God – always. And also afterwards: he addresses the Father and commits His spirit into His hands. Also, 1 Peter 2:24 makes it plain that it was ‘on the cross’ where Christ bore our sins.
This was indeed completely contrary to experience and expectations. The Lord’s cry ‘why hast thou forsaken me’ is found in Ps. 22:1, and this Psalm goes on to explain that, normally, those who trust in God are ‘saved’ and ‘not ashamed’ (v.4.5). So how could the most faithful of all be forsaken by God?? The first answer is “but thou art holy” (v.3). When Christ bore our sins the holy God had to distance Himself from Him, even had to judge Him, to ‘bruise him’ (Is. 53:10). The second answer is found in the New Testament: Christ “was made sin so that we might be made God’s righteousness in Him”.
So it was because of our sins that Christ was forsaken of God (He Himself was sinless, see Q 16). Is He not worthy of eternal worship for this?
Scripture does not say this. On the contrary, Scripture confirms that He is / was always in His father’s bosom (John 1:18). In fact, the verb in this verse is a present participle ('being') and this makes it timeless: “His only begotten Son which being in the bosom of the Father”.
How can He be forsaken by God, and still be in His Father’s bosom? Well, first of all, both facts are stated plainly in the Bible and faith accepts this. But a simply illustration may help as well: if there is a judge and his son is accused and guilty and appears before this judge, what will happen? The judge will have to pronounce his son guilty – but his heart, as he is the father, will always be with his son.
No. He said ‘it is finished’ (John 19:30) and committed His spirit into the Father’s hands (Lk. 23:46). See also the question on redemption.
Well, there is visible and plain proof for this. God took Christ – whom man had nailed to the cross – and raised Him up. He took Him out of the lowest place and gave Him the highest place of honour, at God’s right hand (see Eph. 1:19-23 and Acts 2:24.32; 3:15 etc.). We therefore have no doubt that God accepted the price – Christ has been raised for our justification (Rom. 4:25).
No. Death was necessary. Otherwise, the ‘grain of wheat’ would always have remained alone (John 12:24). Without shedding of blood (i.e. without giving of life) there is no remission of sins (Heb. 9:22). If we were saved by the righteous life of Christ (who kept the law) then why did Christ die as well? “for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:20).
There are some who teach that a believer is saved but that, if he is not faithful in his life, he can lose his salvation. Now, this amounts to saying that you need two things to be saved: first the work of Christ, and second your own ‘holy’ or ‘faithful’ life. In other words, it amounts to saying that the work of Christ alone is not sufficient. This would be an insult on Christ’s great work on the cross!
Apart from this, if salvation depended on our own faithfulness we would never have ‘peace’ with God, and we would never be sure that there is ‘no condemnation’ for us any more – but both are true (Rom. 5:1 and 8:1).
Reconciliation means ‘bringing into harmony with’. Enemies need reconciliation. God did not need to be reconciled to man but man needed to be reconciled with God (2 Cor. 5:20). Reconciliation is not the same thing as propitiation (see also the question on propitiation) but it can only occur once propitiation has been made.
22. Doesn’t the Bible say that all things will be reconciled? Will, therefore, all men be saved in the end?
All things will be reconciled with God – but not all men. The verse alluded to reads as follows: “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Col. 1:19.20). The verse speaks about ‘things’, not persons. The whole universe has been affected and defiled by the sin of man. Therefore, all ‘things’ need to be (and will be) brought back into harmony with God – all on the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross: ‘having made peace by the blood of His cross’.
A false doctrine which claims that all persons will be saved in the end. The Bible never says this – although some verses have been misinterpreted to pretend that it does (see also question 22). Further, universalism flies in the face of scriptures such as John 3:36: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him”. If the wrath of God ‘abides’ on such persons, how can they be saved ‘in the end’? It is ‘whosoever believes’ will have eternal life, not simply ‘whosoever’ (John 3:16).