Pastor Suggests, “Jesus Died for Nothing”

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Every now and then, friends who are searching out my position that God will save all, write me with stumper questions. I thought I’d share the latest one with you from my friend Cameron who attends an evangelical church in Michigan.

“Hey Jewels, Pastor was talking at church today, and he said, ‘And there are some people out there now who say there is no hell. If that is true then Jesus died for nothing.’ I’m reading your book for the second time; it is making a lot more sense. Not sure what Jesus died for if there is no hell, was hoping you could help me.”

I was pleased when Cam pulled out this question, because it’s really an important one. What the pastor is saying on a superficial level is that, if we are not saved from hell, then Jesus didn’t need to die.

Well now, let’s consider what the Bible actually teaches that we are saved from. In Genesis 2:16—17, the place that establishes the price for Adam’s sin, we read:

“The LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”

Nowhere in this passage does it say they will “die spiritually,” or they will go to a place of eternal suffering. In fact, nowhere does it say the word “hell.” In fact, nowhere does the Old Testament ever mention hell as the price for sin. Awkward (and unfair!) if that’s where most people are supposedly going.

So what does it say? It just says they will die, as in stop breathing, or kick the bucket. Obviously, Adam and Eve didn’t die the same day they ate. That’s because the Hebrew text offers more of a progressive sense of entering into the death process. Young’s Literal renders the translation, “dying thou dost die,” and the Greek Septuagint[1] says, “to death you shall die.”

The apostle Paul referred to Adam’s sin (remarkably associated with Adam and not Eve) and the ensuing consequences for all mankind. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Through Adam, everyone inherited sin and sin’s consequence—dying. Mortality. All people are born dying. And as far as I can tell, everyone dies.

BUT (and this is a big but), everyone will be resurrected and redeemed (bought back) from the consequence of Adam, clearly stated in hundreds of verses in the Scriptures. The second Adam came to fully reverse what the first Adam caused, which is DEATH or mortality. This is why, just after Paul talks about everyone being resurrected from death, he says, ‘death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ (1 Cor. 15:55–56).

Here’s another angle. If eternal hell was supposedly the price for sin, and Jesus took the punishment for my sins, then he would have had to go to hell for me. Forever. But that’s not what happened. Jesus DIED. That’s all that happened. He died, and then he was resurrected as the firstborn back from the dead. We are all (all means ALL) being recreated in his image through death and resurrection.

I find the pastor’s suggestion that Jesus’ death was meaningless (in the absence of hell) to be completely heinous and missing any sense of reason. Why heinous? Because what he is ultimately suggesting is that, if Jesus didn’t die for only a special few, then his death was in vain. This is the “Christian country club” mentality that I have grown to despise. It goes something like this: “If we’re not special because of a decision we made (a decision not even available to a large majority of the world throughout all centuries), then Jesus’s death is cheap.”

Jesus’s death was not cheap. Reason says that if you save more, your sacrifice is more valuable, not less.

If you’re a fireman and you are called to a hotel fire, would you be considered more successful and honored if you rescued only a few people from out of the burning building? Again, that’s like saying, “the fire department showed up to save SOME people from the burning building, but if they were expected to save EVERYONE from the burning building, they didn’t need to show up.”

Jesus died on the cross to save everyone from death—Adam’s curse. That’s the gospel I believe. It’s good news for everyone, and its value is as far reaching as every human life that has crossed the threshold of time.


[1] The Septuagint (LXX) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, produced in the 300-200 BC era for Greek speaking Jews who had been exiled into the Greek empire and could no longer read (or speak) Hebrew. It appears to be credible and somewhat authoritative since it is the version used by New Testament writers when quoting the Old Testament. The Septuagint is of importance to critics because it is translated from texts now lost. No copy of the original translation exists.

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  • Damian Masters

    You go girl. Give em hell. But you can't in the sense they think of hell. Well give them something. That minister is a complete moron. I have heard more Radio salvation sellers attacking Love Wins, and the idea of Jesus Died for all lately. They know its true and they are afraid people will find out also. Adam wasn't going to die if he did what he was told. But this to was in Gods Plan.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Great response to a very good question.

  • ConcernedEvangelical

    Damian, it's improbable that they "know" and are holding back the truth. That's conspiracy theory talk. Perhaps they just disagree — reasonable people can have opposite opinions without being 'morons'

    • Damian Masters

      Okay, okay, you have a very good point. In most cases you are probably correct. Considering that the only version of scripture they use without proving it, is the one translated from the king james or the KJ itself. I forget sometimes that my eyes had to be opened also, and that it has been many years sense. I still believe that there are many out there that do know they are wrong, (and don't really know why) but do it for the money.

    • jferwerd

      It is good to realize differing opinions without the need to insult.

      • Kdawg

        This concerns the "better ressurrection"… I Timothy 4:10.

      • Damian Masters

        I live in a world of rough talking construction workers, so when I use words like moron describing a person I don't even think of it as an insult. It just describes there charactor. The people I am around don't take that kind of talk seriously. It just rolls off there backs. But when I reffered to the misister as a moron I really ment that this guy couldn't have really believed what he was saying. It is really hard for me to believe that anyone in the ministry hasn't checked this out. I came to the truth of scribture still using the NKJ translation. I do have concordances, dictionarys and other translations because in the armstrongs church they encouraged us to have all the refference books. Would a person who's job it is to understand scribture would have these toolas well. So it is hard for me to believe these minsisters are sincere when they preach that hell is real. The thing about these refference tools is, they have to be used.

  • http://www.whatgoddoes.com Alice Spicer

    Your friend proposed his question surprisingly tactfully! I've heard the question, but it is usually asked without the intent of actually receiving an answer – as a weapon of sorts. Your brief response goes to the heart of the matter. (As a writer, I envy your ability to be concise, yet thorough.) The past few days I have been working on a blog, the subject matter of which overlaps with your answer in a few ways. This blog is helpful in tying together some loose ends for me, and I'll likely quote the section about "entering into a death process." Interestingly, this idea goes the other way around as well, that in entering into the reign of God (kingdom of God), one's words and deeds or "fruit" is "entering into a [life] process." Just as sin results in death, so does righteousness result in life. Thanks for writing this!

  • sherrie

    Hell is mentioned over 250 times in the bible, whether you believe in hell or not, The facts still support the bible, and the bible says there is. Yes Jesus died for EVERYONE, He paid our bail from hell, gave the ultimate price, He tells us over and over in the bible that we must be saved in order to enter heaven, saved from what? Jesus said in his own words that those that accept his gift of salvation have victory over death, ONLY THOSE WHO ACCEPT HIS FREE GIFT WILL BE SAVED.. meaning that some wont.

    • jferwerd

      Which Bible are you reading Sherrie? Even the King James–the Bible containing the most references to hell of any–only uses it around 50 times. I don't contend that modern Bibles mention hell, I contend that the word and concept of hell is a mistranslation/distortion/corruption of original language and intent of the writers. You won't find any such concept as hell in the Greek or Hebrew Scriptures.

    • http://johnkw47.blogspot.com John Warren

      'Saved from what?' A non-life without God, which would be hellish. But every knee will bow and every tongue joyfully confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. In Christ all will be made alive. Gehenna is for correction, not for interminable vindictive torment.

  • Nelson

    Thought to ponder. What if Jesus death has nothing to do with anyone and was just another case of an execution from a tyranical government.

    Why would the Almighty subject himself to self sacrifice to save us from himself?

    • jferwerd

      You make a lot of assumptions Nelson. :D Who said (at least on my blog) that the Almighty sacrificed Himself? This is not what I believe nor do I see it taught in Scriptures. And might Yahweh have certain anointed (person or persons) who become an example of laying oneself down in death, in order to truly live? And might not He consider the heroic acts of this person or people to be an atonement of sorts? Wasn't this the example of the Patriarchs?

  • Nelson

    My bad Julie. I forgot you didn't follow the crowd on Jesus being a divine being. That was more of an open statement toward the mainstream Christian belief on the trinity.

    I stuggle with the concept of personifying the Divine. The more I have dug deeper into the Zohar and Torah commentaries the more I am shifting my belief to acceptting the Divine as an essence rather than a paternalistic being.

    As far as the comparison of Jesus with the patriachs – what if the patriachs were not even actual people? What is the entire Torah is allegory? I realize it crumbles the foundation of the established church entirely but, this is not a new concept that I have come up with. The Zohar (Kabbalah) leans this way and so did Gnostic Christianity. Have you looked at the Gnostics in any your research? Given the profound depth I have seen you out into your research I would be surprised if you didn't but, if you haven't you should check it out. I think you would be surprised at what you see. The difference between what was in comparison to what the church is now become.

    I love this by the way. It is a shame you live in friggin Wyoming!

    • jferwerd

      It's not that I don't believe Jesus was "divine." I believe we are all divine aspects of God (according to Kabbalah) being recreated in Yahweh's image of love and sonship. At this point, I still believe Jesus was the first-generated of that process (though I am certainly open to any newer or better understandings). This was not by any special impartation to him, other than being written into the Story as the first one to be generated and perhaps the one through whom the plan or logos of the ages is being renewed and regenerated. I believe we all minutely personify the divine –as drops in the ocean make up and reveal the ocean. But no one drop by itself or even in small quantities can fully express or reveal the ocean. It takes all parts, working together as a whole.

      • Nelson

        I am with you on all of us being drops of water in a Divine ocean. Not with you on the role of Jesus though.

        I guess we can't agree on everything now can we :)

      • Susan

        So you don't think Jesus=God?

        • Nelson

          No Susan. I don't believe he was anymore a god than you or I.

          • Jim

            Nelson, how many of the other's you mention arose from the dead as prophesied? I would certainly think that accounts for something.

          • Nelson

            If the story of Jesus' ressurection is true (which for the record I do not believe) it was never prophecied anywhere that such an event would happen.

          • Lamont

            Jim,
            Nelson say's Christs resurrection wasn't prophesied yada, yada, yada…
            http://www.cynet.com/jesus/prophecy/ntquoted.htm

          • Nelson

            Lamont – These have all be debunked as false prophecies. Nothing but, a case of drawing targets after shooting the arrows. Nice try – you will have to do better than this.

      • http://johnkw47.blogspot.com John Warren

        Scripture, please? Not Kabbalah. That way lies danger.

  • Lamont

    The pastor is correct!
    If Jesus was just a mere man as Julie believes…

    No man can by any means redeem his brother
    Or give to God a ransom for him—
    8 For the redemption of his soul is costly,
    And he should cease trying forever—
    9 That he should live on eternally,
    That he should not undergo decay.

    Nelson is right! Just another dead guy!

    • jferwerd

      You are sort of putting words in my mouth. I do believe Jesus was/is divine. But at that, we must define "divine." The early Jews and Scriptures teach that divinity is an anointing by God, a ruler, a judge, a representative of God, but not God himself.

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