Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Dark Side of the Second Coming?

My title is taken from this weeks Lesson study guide ( Tuesday June 24), the subject title for the week however is “His Return as King and Friend”. The dark side it appears, being similar to what happens when a group of home invaders in the midst of their pillaging are surprised by a SWAT team’s arrival with tear gas and guns. The criminals fun brought to a sudden end while the victims are filled with joy at the sight of their saviors.

I have never been good at predicting the future, I am part of a church who has one of the worst records of predicting the future yet that has not stopped them. Maybe it should but we all love to predict the future, after all the Bible gives us indications. The lesson study guide mentioned the Left Behind series, which aside from the pre-tribulation rapture is probably the most literal of interpretations of the book of Revelation you can get. I am quite sure that their vision of the future is just as mistaken as ours however. What if we played with the idea that the second coming does not have a dark side?

There are two ways that I can see this happening. One is universalism. That is the idea that God will save everyone from Hitler to Mother Teresa. After all we are all born into a defective world with defective characters, as much as some of us may want to deny it we love to sin it feeds something insatiable inside us. Not really our fault we were born into this world and it is no hardship for God to change us into people that want to be with Him. I have to admit I like that idea, but then it has some Bible verses that go against it. (Dan 12:2, 2 Thess 1:9, Rev 20:15)

The second way is found in the concept revealed in such verses as Matthew 24, where people’s love has turned cold and if not for God cutting short time with His second coming no flesh would survive (Matt 24:22). What would it be like to be in a world so filled with violence where there was no love and people were fainting for fear. The Second Coming would then be a relief even if you hated God. Rather like the welcome release of death after a painful sickness. But then we have verses such as where people cry for the rocks to fall on them. (Rev 6:16) We also have verses where life seems to be going on completely normally (Mat 24:37-47).

The Left Behind theory references troublesome verses to refer to different events. Such as Matt 24:37-47 being about the pre-tribulation rapture and verses about troubled times being right before the second coming. We as Adventist have some similar traditions. For instance Ellen White speaks Matt 24:42-44 as not being about the Second Coming but about the leaving of the second apartment in heaven.

“Jesus has left us word: “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” We are waiting and watching for the return of the Master, who is to bring the morning, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping. What time is here referred to? Not to the revelation of Christ in the clouds of heaven to find a people asleep. No; but to His return from His ministration in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, when He lays off His priestly attire and clothes Himself with garments of vengeance, and when the mandate goes forth: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 1885 page 190

Ellen White quotes Mark 13:35 The verse certainly contextually seems to be talking about the Second Coming Mark 13:26-37:

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (NIV)

It is a parallel to verse Matt 24:42 (NIV) “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.

It seems that we Christians can be very elastic in what we believe regarding future events. Could it also be possible that the Second Coming may not have a dark side even for non believers? Could it be that God is King and Friend to even those who despise Him, like Jesus on the cross forgiving those who tortured and killed Him? If the Gospel is really the Good News about God can the Second Coming really have a dark side? As I said I don’t predict the future too well, but maybe if I was to play that game…

Don’t ask me for the answers, I’ve only got one that a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son.” - Larry Norman, The Great American Novel 1973

Thursday, June 26, 2008

To reach youth, do we know what we think we know

Sometimes I wonder about the understanding of those who write for the Adventist Review. Here is an excerpt from a recent column by Kimberly Luste Maran entitled With the Times Knowing our youth is vital to ministry She begins by relating the following:

Adventists are not the only ones that are sometimes behind the times.1 Earlier this month I heard a radio commercial for a major chain store informing listeners that the retailer had lots of dresses this season for young women (for prom, graduation, etc.). The gimmick was a reporter interviewing a girl in the juniors’ department trying to decide between two dresses. The teen mentions to the male reporter that she’s surprised to find so many dresses all in one place and then basically says, “When I get home tonight, I’m totally going to IM all my friends.”

Ouch! In trying to be down (or up, if you prefer) with the lingo, those responsible for this dialogue blundered—especially if they are really trying to get teens into the store.

Many of you, I’m afraid, won’t understand the gaff in the commercial. And that’s part of the problem.

What is the gaff? According to Maran it is this:

But I do know enough to know that in our living-in-the-moment, I-want-it-now popular culture no person under 20 would wait to tell friends about something they think is cool and important, and they likely wouldn’t use a computer-generated instant message.

Apparently everyone uses phone texting in Maran’s world. This may actually reflect more about her being influenced by commercials then actual statistics. According to the AP-AOL Instant Messaging Trends Survey even with the increase in cell phone text messaging computer generated IM are still more common. The key to debunking the columnist supposed gaff is found in the following from the AP-AOL survey.

Multi-tasking remains very popular, as IM users tend to engage in multiple online activities while sending instant messages. Checking email is the most popular activity among eight in ten adult and teen IM users. After email, adult IM users most often conduct online searches (49 percent), while teens say they like to research homework assignments online (57 percent).

As the Daily Herald article states:

But when they're at home, Neilson, Manno and friends explained, the school-night routine is to open up one computer window for homework and a second for instant messaging.

So why is this important? Because it reflects the incorrect assumptions that permeate church leadership. Her point is entirely accurate as she says:

If this kind of thing can happen out there, it surely can happen in here. And it does. Some well-intentioned church leaders have devised youth programs and outreach, thinking they’re on the cutting edge. They might have run it by a kid or two (usually a relative who may or may not be paying complete attention). Then they launched it. And wondered why it wasn’t more successful.

Just as the retailer would have benefited from better research and vetting, those who lead our youth need to really know what is going on in their kids’ lives and figure out how to make the best, positive impact in the short time they have with them. An eternity depends on it.”

Often because church leaders just as the columnist think they know more than they really do. Which leads to the kind of assurance that what they say is true even when it is not or what they try can or can’t work in their church. This has led to an amazing lack of innovation and experimentation in dealing with youth and Adults in the Adventist church, often their first reaction is that can’t work which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

A good example of this false information syndrome is found in the recent book published by Pacific Press authored by a theology student Seth J. Pierce (this book is one of the Pacific Presses top ten best sellers according to Adventist Today May-June 2008 page 7). The book is on the 28 Fundamental SDA beliefs for teens. It is entitled What We Believe. Pierce writes this “Fun Fact” on page 149 in a special little box:

“As a precaution, the high priest had bells around the bottom of his tunic and a rope was tied to his ankle. If the priest was not clean and he had a less-than-happy encounter with the most holy God, his bells would stop jingling alerting those outside that something was wrong. Then they could drag the body out by the rope tied around the ankle.”

That bit of fiction made it past the proof readers and editors because they thought they knew more than they really did. For more see Theology Student Book to Confuse Your Teen .

It is important to know your audience but just as important to know your subject. In the main leadership in our churches do not know either and that is a big problem.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Atoday Blogs and a conversation with Goldsten

Adventist Today has completed their new Website and they have included a new blog feature. As Reinventing the Adventist Wheel says:

The new Adventist Today website has been officially launched after being down for nearly a week. It was worth the wait. Six bloggers, including Alex Bryan, Cliff Goldstein, David Person, Heather Quintana, Shayna Bailey and Erv Taylor will blog regularly from the left, right and center tackling anything from emerging church, creation/evolution divide, relationships and dating, trends in pop culture, Adventist doctrines, social and racial issues, and more.

There's also a news, interviews and reviews section. The kickoff feature article is an interview I conducted with Adventist-turned-Catholic and Hawaiian judge David Pendleton.

Only subscribers to the print magazine will have full access to the new site. For $19.50/year, it's a steal. Check it out.

Why in the world of blogging would they choose to prevent wider readership I don’t understand. As some of the comments in the above mention blog state, it does not seem like a good idea. Still they have also reduced the price to the magazine and blogs to an electronic version of the magazine with its access for only 8 dollars per year so in that respect they are making it pretty affordable. But as a blogger I know that most of those who access the blog do so through the process of keyword searches. So if you don’t have your blog open and available to be indexed by the search engines you have a very limited readership. Also as a blogger it is now difficult for us to link to the material that is membership protected. For example I had a bit of a discussion on Clifford Goldstein’s blog, I could create a link to it but you won’t get in unless you have a membership. Since I don’t know what restrictions there are when dealing with members only blogs I will only quote a few sections and then give you my comments. In this case I can sum up his responses fairly easily.

Goldstein’s topic was “no other options” which is that Adventists who hold to a few particular beliefs really have no where else to go. He then goes on in a comment section to tell someone who believes in theistic evolution to get out of the church as he says: “They exist but if they had a modium of rational thought they would know that they don't belong in this church”

My first reply was as follows:

That is funny, Cliff starts out saying there is no place for Adventists to go if they hold to some key doctrines, if my math is right our choice is stay in the Adventist church or find that elusive .01% to go to. Then in the comments section he wants Adventists to leave if they accept theistic evolution. It may just be me but the message seems contradictory. Maybe an article by Cliff telling us what we can disagree with in the Adventist church would be more helpful than proclaiming that we have no place to go. Then again what good would it do for Cliff to tell us what we must agree with and where we must go if we disagree with Cliff...Cliff is not the Adventist church for which I think all the universe both in earth and in heaven may rejoice.

His response was that I was distorting what he said and that we should leave.

My response:

Cliff wrote:

"I'm not saying, Ron, that they have to agree with me. That's a typical distortion."

I never said that you were saying that we had to agree with you, in fact I expressed my joy that you are not the Adventist church so that we don't have to agree with you. So what you call a typical distortion was not even present in my comment. Now lets assume for the moment that a person believes in evolution of the non theistic kind. Do you not think that there could be some benefit to a sabbath day's rest in their lives?

It always seems funny to me to hear people like Cliff express their contempt for evolution yet they don't believe that animals were created with those ripping and tearing teeth, that predator and prey web of life. It is OK for God to make those evolutionary changes but the idea that evolution beginning from simple forms to more complex forms under the guidance of God is just too much to believe. Both would be God's creation, both would be systems established by God. The question is what makes the most sense with the evidence around us. The idea that there was once a perfect world of which we can't even imagine, of which God expelled humans from for one violation prompted by a talking snake and then cursed the entire earth, humans and animals and plants seems less likely then a world where God established life through a process of growth and development until humans developed the capability to communicate with God just seems more reasonable.

The other day I was playing tennis and watched a hawk capture a small animal and fly away. Anyway you look at it if you are a deist that is something that God had a hand in. If there was indeed once a perfect world why not keep the perfection in the world, let man have his consequences from sin, why inflict it upon the small animals, why should they have to deal with the terror of being picked up and carried away from everything they have known only to be torn apart by the hawk. How much more we would have learned seeing the way animals responded without fear from other animals. What a marvelous opportunity to see what God had really intended for us all. No that is not the world we see, in fact in our Bible stories we see God so upset at wickedness that he wipes out all living creatures not in Noah's ark.

So the question we have to ask is are these stories reasonable or our they methods ancient people used to inspire a conception of God, primitive true but introducing the idea that God could be more then a local deity who we have to pay homage to. The beginnings of a great new understanding of man and God...unless we become stuck in the primitive mindset by making the stories into literal history to which God must be tied and restricted to, what today would be viewed by most intelligent people as unreasonable and backward. Do we grow in our understanding as we grow in our other human areas of knowledge or is our faith placed not in God but in the ancient assumptions and stories as if they were God. This is not merely a struggle about Adventist doctrines but about how we understand ourselves and our God. If the answer is to force those people out of the church then it is likely on the wrong path, a path similar to the Roman Catholic church took during the reformation. The path of least resistance usually goes downhill.

Cliff’s response:

If you don’t agree then “I find the lack of moral integrity astounding, and depressing, to be honest.”

So I explained further:

Cliff wrote:

If you are so sure our basic view of the Bible is wrong, and that the "primitive mindset" of the Bible is "unreasonable and backward," then why are you a member of a church which accepts the "primitive mindset" of the Bible as gospel truth?

You have placed two things together there that are not the same. Your basic view of the Bible is wrong, that is pretty clear. That does not however mean that all the Bible is unreasonable and backwards, only sections are. The Bible as a progressive work also goes on to correct some of the earlier primitive mindsets. That is why Job deals with why bad things happen even to good people, why Jesus did the same thing correcting the view that if you were righteous then you would be healthy and wealthy. In an article you wrote about the test of adultery preformed in Numbers 5, I think you are in the minority who don't think that was a primitive and backward mindset.

The interesting thing also is that the Adventist church is not really made up of those who accept the primitive mindset, true there are many that do, the people who collect their pay from the denomination and who never talk about their beliefs or those who are paid by the denomination to defend it's beliefs (I guess if you can hire a lawyer to defend you the church can hire apologists to defend it, both probably on the same level of respect). Does that make the church right because they hire people to defend and support them, or is that simply how bureaucracy's work? Is supporting a bureaucracy the high calling of a Christian, again shades of middle ages Roman Catholicism there. Yet there are others in the Adventist church who don't tow the line but seek to raise the standards, the standards of reasoning and textual criticism in ways that make God respectable. Now I know there are people who trust God no matter how they view Him. There are those who rejoice at the God who hates sin so much that He will torture people for eternity. It is right for God to do that because that is what God does and God does only what is right. Adventism rejected that because what they said was right is unreasonable, it is a poor representation of love and of God. They have wonderful verses they can use to demonstrate that that is what God will do. They have a method of interpretation that makes it easy to hold to the literal view of the texts they use. Just as you do with what appears to be an equally symbolic story (garden of Eden), but you would say it is not symbolic, and they will say their texts are not symbolic. We end up with only having our reasoning abilities to tell us which method to use.

So the Adventist church helped teach us to think and now when lay Adventists and Adventists College Professors do apply their reasoning abilities the traditional Adventists say "stop that, this is what we believe accept it or leave". So it is understandable that for many of us integrity means applying reasoning and knowledge even above the support of a bureaucratic church organization. Because really in the search for truth just because you have a denomination does not mean you have the truth. And just because we offer other methods of interpretation does not mean we are tearing down the denomination. It could tear down, it could build up or it could do nothing. We have yet to see the result, fundamentalism and it's fear of change is probably not the best course of action however.

His closing response today was:

Well, we have a whole lot of examples of other denomination in which the so called "progressives" got control, and look where those churches are today. Many of them are debating over whether the resurrection of Jesus was literal, or just a symbol of something else. Kind of like what the wacko left does to Genesis. We're holding the the line against that kind of compromise and apostasy, and if in so doing we are called anti reasonable and the like--who cares? I certainly don't.

Actually the conversation is not nearly as frustrating when I abbreviated Cliff’s responses. I kept the last one in its entirety because it is instructive. First he claims that there are many denominations that are debating whether the resurrection of Jesus was literal or not. As last week that was the subject of the lesson I taught I actually looked to see and found that even among liberal Christians most believe in the literal resurrection, it is a very small minority such as the Jesus Seminar people and Bishop Spong who think the resurrection is symbolic (that even death should not stop our quest for life and love). That other churches hold these debates just as we in the Adventist church hold these debates does not mean that the no resurrection view has a foothold. It is too central to Christianity and the extremists who hold to no resurrection have so little to base their view upon. A good example is found in the 1999 report of an Anglican debate Jesus scholars debate at National Cathedral

In any event the debate of ideas is not the problem, it is the fear of examining ideas that is the problem. If one fails to even try to be reasonable, if they fail to even try to look at possibilities then how can they ever expect to spread their views to others, asking others to look at different reasons and possibilities? If we all just went around assuming what we believe is the only truth then we would be the most foolish and unproductive people in the world.

Friday, June 13, 2008

SDA Spammers

It does not take too long in any religious community until you find that there are people who become so invested in an idea that they freely lie and try to make others believe their lies. Somehow I got on a mailing list from That appears to be a spam address as I can't find an internet service provider by that name. In this latest piece of drivel from the Jesuit conspiracy theorist philton.moore who proudly hides his/her identity. He/she steals an article posted on a Church of God website entitled From Sabbath to Sunday: The Bacchiocchi Agenda Which "Sabbath" Does He Truly Support? The Spammer changes the title to From Sabbath to Sunday: Is Dr. Bacchiocchi A Jesuit or otherwise an Agent of Rome? Which "Sabbath" Does Dr. Bacchiocchi Really Support? The Spammer requests at the top of the Spam E-mail FOR THE WIDEST POSSIBLE CIRCULATION AMONG SDAs.

Aside from stealing the main parts of the article the spammer adds his/her own lies to the article in an attempt to Make Dr. Bacchiocchi out to still be a Roman Catholic. Here is what he/she says in part (colors supplied in the E-mail):
Here are Dr. B’s own words from his website:

"I grew up as a Seventh-day Adventist in Rome, Italy, a stone-throw from the Vatican wall in the days when considerable hostility existed against religious minorities.

[Note: This appears to be the first blatant inconsistency in Dr. B's personal testimony regarding his family and religious history! For as you will recall at the very start of this email I quoted Dr. as saying
"I was born in a godly Catholic family" and that "For the first 18 years of my life I lived [as a Roman Catholic] under the shadow of the Vatican. My parents attended Sunday Mass regularly and recited the rosary faithfully every night." Question: How could Dr. B. claim that he "GREW UP AS A SEVENTH DAY ADVENTIST" when on his own admission, "for the 18 years" of his life he was a Roman Catholic, and his parents attended Mass faithfully every night??

Here our intrepid spammer inserts in brackets one of his lies by making it appear that Dr. B said he grew up as a Roman Catholic, by his own admission. Of course the admission was not to growing up a Roman Catholic but to living under the shadow of the Vatican. It is nearly impossible to read Dr. B's piece and misunderstand this, the only exception is if you don't care anything about the truth and are so obsessed you can't read straight and have no problem with telling lies. Here is what Dr. B says in the context of the quote our spammer used (notice the line in bold):

My Parent’s Discovery of the Sabbath

I was born in a godly Catholic family that lived close to the Vatican wall. For the first 18 years of my life I lived under the shadow of the Vatican. My parents attended Sunday Mass regularly and recited the rosary faithfully every night. This continued until my father was introduced for the first time to the study of the Bible by a fellow carpenter who belonged to the Waldensian Church. In their earnest desire to become better acquainted with the teachings of the Scriptures, my parents joined the Waldensian Church when I was a year old baby. They attended with keen interest also the mid-week Bible study conducted by students of the Waldensian School of Theology in Rome.

One Wednesday evening, a theology student presented a Bible study on the origin and significance of the Sabbath. Basing his meditation on Genesis 2:2-23, the young man explained how the Sabbath is a creation ordinance for mankind. The presentation sparked a lively debate between those students who defended the Biblical origin and validity of Sunday observance and the few who refuted such a view by arguing for the continuity of the Sabbath. That animated discussion left my father astonished and perplexed, because he firmly believed that Sundaykeeping was a biblical institution, established by Christ and the apostles. That experience ignited my father’s interest for the study of the Biblical basis and historical origin of Sundaykeeping.

Months of intense study led father to the conclusion that the seventh-day Sabbath had not been nullified but rather clarified and magnified by Christ’s teaching and example. In fact, he became convinced that the Sabbath is a divine institution that enables the believer to express and experience commitment to the Savior.

Unable to find in Rome a Christian Church that observed the seventh-day Sabbath, for several months my parents chose to worship privately in their home on the Sabbath, thus disconnecting their affiliation with the Waldensian Church. An invitation to attend a Bible study held in the home of a friend, introduced father and mother to a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which they soon joined. ENDTIME ISSUES NEWSLETTER No. 159

The problem here aside from lies and spam is the stupidity of the Jesuit hunter mindset that inhabit many of the Traditional Adventists in the SDA church. Truth is of no importance to these people as it is of no importance to the spammer. They are an embarrassment to all SDA's and a disgrace to anyone who knows how to read.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Why Did Jesus Die, Atonement without Penalty

Remember when you were a child, how the good news of the Bible was so simple. You can probably still remember the first real complete Bible verse you learned. It went like this For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV). We grew up knowing that the gospel was simple, even a child could understand it. But as a child did we really understand it, and now as adults can we really say we understand it. That is, how could Jesus come and give His life and through that process somehow save us.

How many explanations of this process have you heard, doubtless at least two or three. Some think Christ was a sacrifice to appease God who says that somebody has to die since the law was broken. That God mystically placed all the sins of the entire world on Christ who then paid the death penalty for sin. The idea being that someone has to be punished and die because sin was committed. If these reasons were correct than God’s justice should certainly be questioned. Is this how justice works, is this what a God of justice would do, is this what is required for sin to be forgiven?

Remember those who told us that the gospel was so simple, well they were completely right. Somehow we have strayed from the truth's simplicity. It only takes one sentence to explain why Jesus Christ came to earth to live and die and live again. He came to show us what God is like, to demonstrate the lengths to which rebelling against God goes and to prove that He has the power of life even over death. Okay so there are several different items in the one sentence and yes more could be added but that is the gist of it.

Let’s takes a more in depth look at why Jesus came to earth. Hebrews 2:17 explains; Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. (KJV) Jesus came to reconcile us to God. "That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NIV) Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines reconcile as: to restore to friendship or harmony. Now that’s an important mission for we were once God’s enemies. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- Colossians 1:22(NIV)

Now that we understand that Christ came to reconcile us to God, we must determine how this is done. The story of the Garden of Eden is used to demonstrate that we have doubts and questions about God. In the story man is freshly created and placed in a beautiful garden yet the man and woman questioned whether God really had mans best interests at heart. The voice of questioning is presented in the guise of a talking serpent, man disregards Gods warnings after the serpent insinuates half truths about God since a half truth is far more effective then a clear untruth. Being newly created in the story they have nothing to base their knowledge of God on so the falling ideas appear to have merit to the couple in the story and to all subsequent people.

1. God is not a God of love and he does not have mans best interest in mind.

2. God is vindictive and to disagree with Him will bring His wrath upon one’s self.

3. God is not the only source of life. Every being has the potential to become a god and to be as God is. God is selfishly withholding knowledge from us.

Using the above assumptions about God man can hardly trust and it is impossible to have a close relationship with anyone you don’t trust, it becomes a barrier that separates.

The best way for God to reconcile us to Himself was for Him to answer our questions and misunderstandings about Him without overwhelming us. This is the work of reconciliation that Jesus came to earth to perform.

1. God proved His love by sending His son John 3:16. Jesus is not simply a son but He is God Himself. John 1, Col 1:19, Col 2:9 Even knowing how He would be treated His love was shown by revealing the character of God. (John 14:9 NIV) Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? (John 15:13 NIV) Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

2. God proved he is not vindictive by providing a way of escape from our sinful condition Romans 6:23 . (Rom 3:25) (Romans 5:10) For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! (NIV)

3. God proves that He freely forgives sin. (Luke 23:34 NIV) Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. Matt. 9:6

4. God shows that he is the source of life by the resurrection of Christ. Romans 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. (NIV) (1 Cor 15:20 NIV) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

You may be saying to yourself did not Jesus die a Substitutionary death for us. Did not he have to die because God’s law says the wage of sin is death. Think about what this is says that one innocent man’s death can substitute for billions of sinner's deaths. This could in no way be considered justice. Justice would have the one innocent man freed from any penalties while the guilty pay for their crimes. Perhaps we are missing something, maybe there is an exception in this law on the wages of sin. Let us take another look at Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV) All who sin should die but and this is a very large exception, God is willing to give us a gift, the gift of eternal life. So we see that God is willing to save us for no other reason than that he loves us (love is another word for grace). Remember John 3:16 that favorite from long ago. There is a gift that can be given to those who desire to receive it. The result of remaining in sin is that you will die, but if you want the gift of God he will freely give it to you. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection is the method God used to bring us to the point where we would desire to receive God’s free gift of grace. Romans 3:23-25 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished-- (NIV) Remember it is not forgiveness if someone is punished.

Did not Jesus taste death for everyone, therefore isn’t he our substitute according to Hebrews 2:9? But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. (NIV) Here we see that Christ did die for everyone, however it is not a Substitutionary death. Christ’s death was a means of drawing us back to God. Remember what Ephesians 2:16 says: and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. (NIV) It is not God’s hostility that is the problem, for it is “God with us” Immanuel, the Logos that became flesh and dwelt among us, God was reaching out to man.

Finally, does not Hebrews 9:28 tell us that Christ bore our sins on the cross? So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:28 (NIV) To understand this text we must understand what sin is. How could all the murders, violence, and pain of sins be placed on Christ? In fact they cannot, but the attitude that is where all sin begins could be placed on Christ at the cross. Our desire to do our own thing is the entire reason why Christ had to come and die. To show us that our desires bring us only disaster, but submitting to God, brings us life. Sin is often correctly defined as being separation from God it is the attitude which cannot trust God because the person is too selfish to look outside of their own limited view and desires. Christ demonstrated just how tragic selfish actions are by submitting to people in rebellion against God. Separation from God leads to the cruelty that was poured out upon the one who never sinned. So much hate and cruelty that people were willing to kill their own creator. Acts 3:15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. (NIV) This is the result of sin, and this is the sin that Christ bore on the cross. This is Christ’s sacrifice, he gave up the comforts of heaven to come to earth and share in mans suffering and then upon the cross he died, yet even as he died he offered the forgiveness that love offers all. Reminiscent of the way sin is removed by being forgiven as love keeps no record of wrongs 1 Cor. 13. Then on the third day he arose, proving what he had told us was true and commissioning us to help Him in spreading the message of reconciliation.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NIV)

How Traditionalists explain why Christ died

The Adult Teacher’s Guide for the Sabbath School Lesson asked the following question:

Jesus died on the cross to save us. How can someone dying save anyone?How would you explain Jesus’ death and the purpose of His death to a tenyear-old? How would you explain it to someone who has never heard of Jesus Christ before? See 1 Peter 1:3–9.

I was curious to see how this question would be answered on various internet sites. Here are some quotes from the various sites, the question we need to ask is do these answers make sense, do they answer the question above in a way that is satisfactory to a questioning child. As you read these think of what they are saying. Justice of Jesus paying the penalty is a common thread. Yet know where does God say justice is ever arrived at by punishing the innocent or substituting one person to be punished for the actions of another, or for that matter that punishment is needed in order to forgive. This first one is most interesting because it wants to teach Substitutionary punishment. Though I can’t imagine any child wanting to sign the purposed agreement or thinking it was fair or just.

One of the consequences of our sins is that Jesus died for our sins so we could have an eternal life with God.

However, before a person can have eternal life with God, that person must trust in Jesus as Savior and repent from a sinful life.

Punishment Sharing Agreement. Use this activity to help the students understand that Jesus, having never sinned, took on himself all of our sins and all the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross.

Circulate the Punishment Sharing Agreement

Explain that a person who signs the agreement is agreeing to take the punishment for any wrong acts done during the week that person signs up for by anyone who signs this agreement.

For example, Billy agrees to take the punishment for Week 1. Billy does no wrong during Week 1. But Sue lies to her mother. Her punishment is no TV for a week. Since Billy agreed to take the punishment for Week 1, Billy cannot watch TV for that week, but Sue can.

After everyone has an opportunity to sign the agreement, explain that this is similar to Jesus dying on the cross for all of our sins.

He died on the cross in our place for our sin, then rose from the dead.

Why Did Jesus Die On The Cross For Me?

Purpose: Help the children understand why Jesus died on the cross.
Objective: Teach the children that God sent Jesus to earth as man to die on the cross for the sins of the world. His death provides a way to have forgiveness of sin and a personal relationship with God.

He came as a substitute. The Old Testament said, Ezekiel quoting, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." Paul said, "The wages of sin is death Now sin by virtue of the justice of God is punished by death. If I then sin I will die. If I bear by own punishment and I die I die physically, spiritually and eternally and am sentenced into eternal hell without God. And God looked into this world and He saw men.

He saw men who were going to die because of sin. And He said because of His love, I will not ‑ I will not allow all men to die in their sin, I will send someone else to bear their punishment to die their death. And thus did Jesus come. He came to be my substitute and when He was nailed on the cross He died for me and He died for you.

He died my death, paid my penalty. See, that's the only alternative God had. Either He punishes you for sin and me for my sin and that's eternal punishment in hell or else He substitutes someone else in our place and they pay our penalty. And that's exactly what Jesus came to do, be our substitute. The exalted second person of the Trinity, the divine Son ot God, God in flesh, humbled Himself, came to earth to die my death to provide for me an escape from eternal hell. The sinless one became sin, the living one died, the perfect one became the punished one. And not because He deserved it but because I deserved it and He was my substitute.
God is a perfect God and yet has chosen to allow sin. He is also a holy God who must show His wrath against all sin. At the same time God has accepted the payment that Christ made for the sins of every person when Christ died on the cross. This means that Christ took the wrath of God against sin for every person. As a result, God must show His wrath by bringing judgment on every person that does not repent and turn to Christ. That way God is not unfair. He accepts the payment for sin by Christ for all those who turn to Christ. To be fair He also judges all those who reject the payment of Christ and choose to pay for their own sin.

Jesus Christ’s life could pay the penalty for all sin for all time because His divine life is worth more than the lives of all humanity before or since. Only by the sacrifice of a life of enormous worth could the enormous penalty for all sin be paid.

Why the Son of God had to die

Why did Jesus have to die? He had to die because of the sins of humanity and the death they demand—to make possible a relationship between the Father and all men and women, who are invited to become children of God; to make possible the resurrection to eternal life; to defeat the awful penalty of eternal death.

Why did Jesus have to die? Jesus had to die because He chose to die for each of us in a decision of pure love made with His Father. If They are willing to pay such a price to gain a relationship with us, what are we willing to do to have a relationship with Them?

Sin is the transgression of the law of God (1John 3:4) - which amounts to living contrary to God's way of life, a way of outflowing love and concern for others. God's law is so important that He has decreed the penalty of eternal death for its violation.

God's perfect justice demands that the penalty for sin be paid. It is vital that the seriousness of the matter be made that clear. And yet God is supremely merciful - so it was determined that God the Father would give up His only Son (who would Himself lay down His own life) in sacrifice to atone for the sins of all mankind - those who would rightly accept it. The Father, it should be understood, had actually created mankind through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:9; John 1:1-3). Thus, as our Creator and God, His life was worth more than that of all humanity. When He died for us, the penalty for all human sin was more than paid.
Jesus died to take the punishment for your sins.
In other words, the punishment for our sin which is ours by right was transferred to Jesus Christ. He died our death, in our place, so that our sins might be forgiven and we night know fellowship with God. The chastisement which we deserved was laid upon him. And he had to do it, because our salvation could be achieved in no other way.