Q & A – How can Jesus death be a sacrifice if God knew he would not die?

 

By Craig Bluemel

 

 

From: Desperate for answers

To: craig@bibleanswerstand.org

Subject: Confusion about the Sacrifice

 

My question is –

 

If God knows and is in command of all things, He knew the outcome of Jesus' death on the cross.  He knew Jesus (his son) would not die.  To have a sacrifice you must give up something.  If Jesus didn't die where is the sacrifice? And if Jesus is God, He knew the same.  Sorry but I having a hard time understanding this - please - help.

 

Desperate to Believe

 

 

Craig’s Reply & Answers

 

 

Dear Desperate~

 

Your questions are very well written, thoughtfully planned, carefully deliberated and I want to commend you for articulating them in a straightforward manner.  I spent the better part of my afternoon reading and rereading each statement to assure you that I can wholly identify with your perspective.  I have often wondered why people swallow contradictory, mainstream dogma without taking time to think about the logical conclusion and/or weigh the cause-and-effect of what is commonly held up as Bible-based truth. 

 

As with any good logic, one’s hypothesis must be based upon one or more premises that are in fact true.  As I’m certain you know, if the premise is faulty, then no matter how excellent the logic, the inevitable conclusions reached will be logical fallacy.  Duly noted, you did preface your questions with “if” which goes a long way in my book, because it implies you have a persuadable outlook, but simply demand that whatever is spoken on behalf of God or Jesus have its basis standing strong in the truth. 

 

It appears that you are recapitulating what others have told you about God, Jesus, his death and resurrection, foreknowledge of events, etc.  This assumption on my part is necessary because your depiction of the nature of God and Jesus is not taken from the precepts found in the Scripture, albeit I’m sure the party responsible would claim otherwise.  So, it’s up to you to decide which position makes the most sense, and the final outcome between you and your Creator; that’s the beauty of choice, and ‘choice’ is where I feel someone has deviated and misled you (unintentionally).  I will try to persuade you from my own interpretation of Scripture, what I hold to be true at present, unless meaningfully convinced otherwise. 

 

Keep in mind that the majority of Christendom holds certain teachings as pet doctrines, and the use of extra-scriptural verbiage is all-too common, occurring frequently in the speech and writings.  This topic is far too extensive to address in this reply; suffice it to say Desperate, the following doctrines listed I have listed (just below) as informative to your repertoire and are held by a majority of evangelical Christian churches.  These doctrines are NOT true, & have been adopted from ancient Roman Catholic Church creeds, which derivation can easily be tied to Greco-Roman philosophy and the Greek pantheon (i.e. – Greek mythology).  These Catholic doctrines have subsequently been adapted into Christian church doctrine; this list is not comprehensive, but depicts doctrinal exegesis that are related to your questions; these are FALSE theological and Christological doctrines:

 

three primary false theological doctrines of the christian church

 

1.      There is One God that co-exists as three separate, distinct ‘Persons’ in the triune nature of the Trinity; ‘God the Father, God the Son, & God the Holy Spirit.’  Even though these are plainly held to be three ‘persons of God,’ yet Christian churches contradict by also affirming the three are mysteriously only one God.  Go figure.  Talk about incongruities and contradictions!  Yet, most Christian churches teach the trinity as though inspired from the pages of the Scripture.

 

2.      Jesus Christ is both God and man; he coexists as the ‘Preincarnate Word of God.’  It is taught that Jesus is “fully God & fully man.”  Even Christian churches that don’t believe in the Trinity still hold that Jesus is Deity.  This teaching adds more fuel to the fire of confusion already blazing.  Many churches teach that, in order for Jesus’ sacrifice to be efficacious (i.e. – valid, legitimate), he must have died AS GOD.  The same school of doctrinal thought says that if Jesus’ blood was not divine, then his death was not adequate for redemption.  It is my contention that you have most likely been exposed to this teaching, or some variety of the same.  I hope my research and comments help you to see your way to God clearly, by the simple gospel of the man of Nazareth, Jesus the carpenter.

 

3.      As God, Jesus set aside his divinity, sacrificed himself by leaving his throne in heaven, then humbled himself by taking on the form of a man so that he could identify with our human existence and suffering, knowing he would ultimately die, and then raise himself up from the dead.  The worse part of this teaching is that if we as believers question the veracity of such ludicrous thinking, we are told that it is just a “mystery” and that it must simply be accepted, because if God has all power, he can do whatever He pleases, including becoming human.  I say hogwash!  I once read a book by a very popular Christian minister that said Mary changed, “God’s diapers.”  The author further insulted the nature of God by saying, “imagine, the Creator learning to walk,” as Jesus grew up.  This kind of rhetoric is everywhere, and no wonder people are turned off to hearing the gospel!

 

Unfortunately, the original Hebrew and Greek scriptures, the genuine language of the inspired text, has been erroneously translated in Bible versions, especially where translators have gratuitously utilized their doctrinal bias (instead of their translating skills).  As a result, certain verses in the Bible have inadvertently been used to substantiate the false doctrine that Jesus is deity. 

 

This need not be problematic for you Desperate, but is something to take note of, recognize intelligently, and address if need be by thorough research for accurate translation versions.  It does require one to do a bit more study and digging, but the truth always requires some personal ‘sacrifice’ on the part of the one seeking.  There are many study tools available nowadays that make research much easier via the use of the PC. 

 

In light of these false doctrines, I have summarized your email questions below in another list for your comparison to the teachings above.  I will use this list as a point of reference:

 

A.     God the Father had to “give up” (surrender) something in order for Him to “sacrifice” His son Jesus.

 

B.    Jesus is Deity, possessed the same divine foreknowledge as God and knew he would be resurrected if he died, so in effect, he didn’t sacrifice anything.

 

C.    God knew beforehand that He would raise Christ from the dead, thereby invalidating any sacrifice on the part of God and Jesus.

 

Please bear with me; I will try to be as brief as possible, but your questions are very in-depth and must be given the fullest consideration on my part.

 

A. God had to “give up” (yield) something to “sacrifice” Jesus.

 

This is not true.  To say ‘God sacrificed’ His son Jesus the Christ demands there to be an individual(s) or group(s) to whom He (God) is doing the sacrificing.  Put another way, if A. is true, then the One to whom most Christians assign all-ruling power is setting aside His own innate divinity for 33 ½ years by relinquishing His power to His subservient creation.  Not only is this a contradiction, it is virtually impossible!  The sacrifice required of Jesus Christ was obedience to the will of God, who was his (Jesus’) Father.  God the Father didn’t actually “sacrifice” anything personally, as this concept connotes Deity subordinate to humanity, which is an incorrect perception. 

 

To simplify the truth, Christ sacrificed himself, by submitting himself to the will of his Father, even God.  In his letter to the church at Galatia, the apostle Paul uses the “cross” of Christ as a metaphor for the individual cost that he himself pays in order to preach the gospel, particularly in a hostile environment, and in view of his own past as a former persecutor of Christians.  I mention this so that you can see there is such a thing for the believer as surrendering and paying a price to walk with Jesus as a human, not as Deity.

 

Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave {sacrificed} Himself for me.” 

 

Notice, it is not ‘God’ to whom the apostle Paul attributes self-sacrifice, but rather, it is solely credited to Jesus as a man, as the, “son of” God.  To punctuate his point, Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ…” In his letter to the church in the metropolitan known as Ephesus, Paul uses the human example of Christ to illustrate the Christian husband should sacrificially love his wife.  This unarguably proves that Jesus’ sacrifice was that of a human, not a god.

 

Ephesians 5:25  The husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when he sacrificed himself for her.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

B. Jesus is Deity, possessing the same divine foreknowledge as God

 

FALSE.  Jesus is a man, not a deity, and not God.  In 2 Timothy 2:10-11 Paul writes to his younger protégé in the faith named Timothy, telling him concerning, “the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with the reward of eternal glory,” that, “The saying is sure and worthy of confidence: If we have died with him {i.e. – with Christ}, we shall also live with him.”  This can only infer one possibility, that Jesus death is a human death, and for us as his disciples, we too must suffer a kind of spiritual death to the desires of self, even if that means physical suffering may be involved. 

 

Paul identifies with the man Christ Jesus, not the “God-Man”.  This point is mentioned throughout his writings, and in his first letter to Timothy, he leaves no room whatsoever for ambiguity regarding the nature of Christ as a man:

 

1 Timothy 2:4-6 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time. New International Version

 

Further Desperate, when his disciples asked Jesus if he would reveal to them the time of his return, here’s what Jesus’ said in reply to them:

 

Matthew 24:36 Jesus said: “However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”  NLT

 

Obviously, Jesus did not and does not know the future.  Those who claim otherwise are willingly ignorant.  After the resurrection but prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus left his disciples with these parting and enduring words, affirming that only God knows the dates He has predetermined for His son to establish the kingdom:

 

Acts 1:6-7 When the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, “Lord, are you going to free Israel now and restore our kingdom?” “The Father sets those dates,” he replied, “and they are not for you to know.”  NLT

 

C.   God’s foreknowledge of the resurrection invalidates his sacrifice

 

FALSE. There exists in Christianity today an erroneous assumption that God knows our (mankind’s) future decisions and choices before we actually do them is not biblical, nor is it an accurate description of God’s foreknowledge.  The only future choices and events that God Himself knows ahead of time are His own.  His requirement for the human sacrifice therefore, was such that it had to be a blameless human life.  I have a link that addresses this issue in depth in two studies:

 

Does God Know Every Future Event Before It Happens? Part One and

Does God Know Every Future Event Before It Happens? Part Two. 

 

Also, I’d like to refer you to check out a book written by a Christian friend of mine named Michael Saia, titled, Does God Know the Future? A Biblical Investigation of Foreknowledge and Free Will.  Below is pasted a description from their website Upbuilders International.  Though we may differ in some aspects of our theology, I concur wholeheartedly with Mike Saia’s conclusions in this extremely well written book, which should be of value to you in your search for truth.

 

Does God Know the Future? A Biblical Investigation of Foreknowledge and Free Will,
by Michael R. Saia with a foreword by Gregory A. Boyd - 348 pages - $14.99 USD 
(retail price $17.99) -(weighs13 oz.)

Does God know what we will choose to do in the future? 

 

If God knows the future, do we have a free will?
Does God live outside of time? Is this idea biblical?
If God knows who will be saved or lost, does it do any good to preach the gospel?

Does God Know the Future? offers answers to these important questions from a radically biblical perspective, with intellectually satisfying arguments and easy-to-understand practical application. Divided into biblical, philosophical, and practical sections, Does God Know the Future? addresses all the major elements of the foreknowledge vs. free-will question. Does God Know the Future? is a valuable tool for anyone interested in the "open theism" discussion.

Gilbert Bilezikian, Professor Emeritus of Wheaton College, says:
"Does God Know the Future? was a necessary book. Before the term ’open theism’ was ever invented, Michael Saia had already conducted a lifetime of careful research relevant to the current discussion. The results of this pursuit have now been made graciously available in Does God Know the Future? This book constitutes the most thorough presentation available on the subject of the ’openness of God’ theology. In it, the biblical basis for the openness teaching is clearly described, and the arguments propounded against this teaching are systematically examined and critically evaluated. Because the contents of the book have been targeted to include a general readership and because its tone is irenic, it will benefit a wide public who may be aware of the present debate without knowing where to turn to receive simple answers."

 

SUMMARY STATEMENTS:

 

For clarification, let the following criteria the basis for my argument and interpretation:

 

1.      There is only one God (Deity), the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Mankind (Jesus) is the party doing the sacrificing to Deity, not the reverse.  From the beginning of mankind’s existence and relationship toward his Creator, (i.e. - when Adam first sinned), he began offering animal sacrifices in attempts to appease his smitten conscience.  Later in time, the animal sacrifices became uniformly structured, when God’s Law given to Moses at Mount Sinai. 

 

2.      The reason God required blood sacrifice was for the very rationale expressed in your email; so that mankind would realize what a high cost must be paid for sin.  The sacrifice is very costly, and it is not a pretty sight. 

 

3.      To set Israel apart from the pagan deities of the other nations Yahweh, God’s covenant name, was worshipped and served according to the statutes and commandments required in the Law.  These requirements were especially strict when any form of sacrificial offering was made; an entire tribe known as the Levites, descendents from the bloodline of Aaron, were devoted solely to spiritual duties.  Only Levitical priests were allowed to sacrifice oblations to God, in conformity with the requirements of the Law. 

 

4.      The animals that were sacrificed had to meet the criteria found in the statutes; note also, animals obviously have no choice in the matter, therefore, these oblations that were sacrificed for hundreds of years never satisfied the ultimate requirement necessary for redemption.  The sacrifices that were offered to God for sin on behalf of humankind in Israel was central to the covenant they had with Yahweh, but it came to an end, and Israel never lived up to its end of the agreement (covenant) with God.

 

5.      In the old covenant under the Law, once every year the high priest is required to sacrifice two lambs to Yahweh; first, one lamb for himself (i.e. his own sins) and then to offer up another lamb without defect as a sacrifice for the sins of the entire nation of Israel.  This unblemished lamb sacrifice is unique in that it cannot be done by anyone other than the high priest, which sets it apart from the daily ablutions that the Levitical priests made for other types of transgressions and for other purposes. 

 

Exodus 12:5 A lamb without defect a male a year old, shall yours be, —from the sheep or from the goats, shall ye take it.  Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible

 

6.      During the years of the old covenant under the Law of Moses, the high priest is a man.  When he dies, another man takes his place, if he is qualified according to the terms set forth in the Law.  This ritualistic form of sacrificial offering for sin continued (of and on) throughout Israel’s stormy and often backslidden condition, until the time was deemed appropriate for God to enact His plan to bring an end to animal sacrifice, and usher a new and living way thru that offering of His own son. 

 

Hebrews 5:1-5 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. 3 This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people. 4 No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."   NIV

 

7.      For the sincere worshipper, the Levitical priesthood and its sacrificial offerings served as substitutionary, during the lengthy interim of time needed for God to enact His ultimate plan for atonement thru His son Jesus.  When the time was right, with all the factors necessary for a new and enduring covenant, one that would be offered to anyone who believed, God initiated his plan, creating the spermatozoa, complete with male, human chromosomal properties (DNA), and using the human reproductive process, procreated new life that developed in the uterus of a virgin named Mary.  For details about this, I have provided the following link for you: How God Conceived Jesus

 

Galatians 4:3-4 And that's the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. NLT

 

8.      To become a truly blameless ‘sacrifice’ to his God on behalf of humanity, Jesus had to be perfected thru the same human process encountered by all mankind; this testing process is known as temptation.  Having become worthy thru 33 ½ years of obedience to God, Jesus faced one last test at the cross.  He was acceptable to God as a sacrifice by virtue of his sinless life, but the blood spilled for sin was truly something Jesus did after counting the personal loss and agony he knew he would face.

 

Hebrews 4:15 This High Priest {Jesus} of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. New Living Translation

 

9.      The Jewish leaders of his day falsely trumped up charges against him, had Jesus arrested and taken captive by the Roman cohort, to be first tried, falsely accused, falsely condemned, and then, without any just cause, crucified (died) as punishment for his alleged wrongdoing by use of capitol measures as a common criminal (Read Matthew 26:36-68, Mark 14:32-50, Luke 22:40-53 & John 18:16-18,25-27).  Even the wicked Jewish leaders that were responsible for Jesus’ death realized it was necessary for one man to die for the sins of all Israel, in order that salvation could be offered to everyone.  Caiaphas was the high priest for Israel that year; his words about one man dying are actually taken from an ancient prophecy.  Isaiah the prophet spoke in graphic terms about the Messiah of Israel, and what price he would have to pay to become an acceptable sacrifice for sin.  His words found in Isaiah 53:3-12 depict what a human sacrifice was needed.

 

John 11: 49-52 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year, declared, “You know nothing at all! Nor do you understand or reason out that it is expedient and better for your own welfare that one man should die on behalf of the people than that the whole nation should perish (be destroyed, ruined).”  51 Now, he did not say this simply of his own accord; he was not self-moved; but being the high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was to die for the nation, [Isaiah 53:8.]  52 And not only for the nation but also for the purpose of uniting into one body the children of God who have been scattered far and wide. [Isaiah 49:6.]  Amplified Bible

 

10. There is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom (price paid) for sin.  Jesus is a man, not deity as widely taught in Christianity today.

 

1 Timothy 2:3-6 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men — the testimony given in its proper time. New International Version

 

11. God’s future plan involving the resurrection does not negate the anguish experienced by the man Christ Jesus; whether before or during Jesus brutal torture and death by crucifixion, his human belief in the resurrection from the dead was sorely tested, and in a manner unlike any human being that has or ever will experience.

 

Hebrews 5:7-9 While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death.  And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God. So even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.  In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. NLT

 

12.  Jesus desired there was some other way possible; but if not, he expressed his obedience with more than just lip service, and agonizingly suffered a death that was more than the physical torment alone.  If Jesus was deity, why was he found in all gospel accounts praying to God the Father, saying, “Father, let this cup of suffering pass by me, if at all possible.  Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.”  The price Jesus paid, was that of a willing man.  The man willingly surrendered himself as a ransom price, and he paid with his own blood for sin.  It was up to God whether or not to accept what Jesus offered, provided God’s son continued trusting the Father until his final breath.

 

Matthew 27:46 But about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is to say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

 

Luke 23:46 Then Jesus gave a great cry and said, "Father, I commend my spirit into your hands." And with these words, he expired.

 

John 19:30 When Jesus had taken it, he cried, "It is finished!" his head fell forward, and he breathed his last breath.

 

13. The resurrection from the dead is not an arbitrary gesture on the part of God the Father; it is demonstrative of His (God’s) full acceptance of the sacrifice made by Jesus (the man). 

 

14. Basing our understanding of God’s foreknowledge (i.e. prophecy) on the aforementioned premise, His infinitesimal capacity as Deity enables Him to make numerical equations concerning the future that are flawless.  The Creator’s own mind, which processes data unlike any computer imaginable, factors into future calculations a plethora of His past observations of human behavior, including choices of righteous men and women response to His commandments, and in this way He can determine the future with mathematical certainty, knowing some will or won’t comply with His plan for their life.

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-5 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. NIV

 

Consider the words written by one of Jesus’ three closest disciples; his name is Peter, and what he says substantiates the unalterable fact that Jesus is a man who chose to always do God’s will, and we are called to follow his example as humans, not as deities:

 

1 Peter 2:21-24 This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example.  Follow in his steps.  He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone.  He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even.  He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.  He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds! NLT

 

Now I will give the motivation for this background info, to help you see why Jesus became the mediator of a new covenant between God and man.  This new covenant is lasting, free to all that choose to believe, and one that is efficacious to redeem based on two major criteria:

 

1.      That the human sacrifice (Jesus) be untainted with sin only after he had been fully tested with the same temptations that were experienced amongst his brethren and fellow Israelites.

 

2.      That his sacrifice was in fact just that… done of his own free will, on the basis of obedience.

 

The unblemished lambs mentioned earlier, offered by the high priest on behalf of the whole nation symbolizes the man Jesus.  It is true God knew beforehand his sacrifice to the world, (i.e. the crucifixion of his son Jesus) was not going to be ‘death’ in the permanent sense, because His plan was forecast ahead of time in the prophecies concerning the resurrection.

 

Isaiah 53:7  Hard pressed—yet, he, humbled himself Nor opened his mouth—as, a lamb, to the slaughter, is led, and, as a sheep, before her shearers, is dumb—nor opened his mouth.

 

The sacrifice made was done by a human (Jesus) as an offering to atone for sin; therefore, the sacrifice is made TO God BY man.  Jesus is not God; he is a man; albeit, he is the son of God, Jesus is also the son of man.  I realize in asking the questions you posed in your email inquiry that Christians have portrayed God and Christ in different views than my own. 

 

You may also have heard that only Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus is not God, but I am not and never have been a Jehovah's Witness (Kingdom Hall organization) and I am well versed in scripture, including the original Hebrew and Greek languages, in which the Scriptures were written.  I am telling you, Jesus is not deity, he is not God, and I have many studies online that give copious details from scripture proving this is the correct theological position.

 

Many born-again Christians are now following the truth of scripture instead of blindly following what others say about the nature of God and His son Jesus Christ; I hope and pray you will become one of them.  You do not have to throw away your clear thinking and logic, but you DO have to be willing to stand alone, just you and God.  I’m always here to help answer tough questions too, any time.  Here’s a few good links to help you get started:

 

The Attitude of the Man Christ Jesus and

Jesus is the Magistrate

 

God bless you in your diligent search Desperate.  Please let me know if any points I made are unclear.  I am only too willing to be of service to assit you.

 

Faithfully serving God thru His son Jesus,

 

Craigo (my nickname)

 

Craig Bluemel - The Bible Answer Stand Ministry

1 Peter 3:15 Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully.   

 

 

 


 

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