Why Did Jesus Have to Die? by D. Wadsworth

Why did Christ have to die?

The supreme importance of the death of Christ is obvious from Scripture. Jesus’ death was prefigured in the entire Old Testament sacrificial system. It was also predicted or described in the Old Testament (e.g., Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Daniel 9:26). It is said to be mentioned over 175 times in the New Testament (R. A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches, p. 144), and approximately one-fifth of the four Gospel accounts focus on the last three days of Jesus’ life. Our Lord plainly said that He came to die (Mark 10:45, John 3:14-15, 10:11). And with this the New Testament writers agree (Hebrews 2:9 and 14, 9:26, 1 John 3:5). The death of Christ as an atonement for our sins was the central reason for the incarnation.

The character of God demands payment for sin. His law has specified the payment to be death (Genesis 2:17, Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23). So the principle becomes, “Whenever sin is committed, someone has to die.” God, being holy and just, could not overlook sin without ceasing to holy and just. James Denny wrote, “There can be no gospel unless there is such a thing as a righteousness of God for the ungodly. But just as little can there be any gospel unless the integrity of God’s character be maintained” (The Death of Christ, p. 119). Similarly, H. C. Thiessen stated, “God cannot pardon sin merely on the ground of the sinner’s repentance. That would be impossible for a righteous God to do. God can pardon only when the penalty is first paid. In order that God might be able to pardon a sinner and to remain righteous at the same time, Christ paid the sinner’s penalty. He had to die if God was both to justify the ungodly and Himself remain just (Romans 3:25, 26)” (Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 314).

Four words summarize the accomplishment of the atoning death of Christ:

1. Satisfaction (Christ’s death in relation to God’s justice and wrath). Christ’s death satisfied God’s justice and pacified His wrath against sin. Another word which can be used for satisfaction is “propitiation,” which Wayne Grudem defines as, “a sacrifice that bears the wrath of God against sin and thereby turns God’s wrath into favor” (Systematic Theology, pp. 509-510). Grudem writes concerning God’s forgiveness prior to the cross, “God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin was unleashed against God’s own Son” (p. 575).

“. . . being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:24-25, NASB).
“. . . And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2, NASB).
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10, NASB).

2. Substitution (Christ’s death in relation to man). The Bible teaches that Christ died in our place—instead of us. The atoning death of Christ was substitutionary (or vicarious). He died as our substitute, taking the punishment that we deserved.
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8b).
“God made him who had no sin to be sin [a sin offering] for us . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows . . . . he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. . . . the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:4-6).

3. Redemption (Christ’s death in relation to sin and the penalty of the law). Through Christ’s death we have been redeemed and ransomed. Jesus paid the price to set us free from captivity to sin and from the condemnation of the law. He purchased us and bought us back to Himself, like a slave purchased for freedom.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
“Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28b).
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . .” (Galatians 3:13)

4. Reconciliation (Christ’s death in relation to God’s favor). This refers to the restoration of man to favor and fellowship with God. Through the atonement, believing sinners have been brought back into God’s favor after estrangement. Fellowship between God and us, previously broken, has been restored, and we have been reconciled to God.
“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” (Romans 5:10)!
“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” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
“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 . . .” (Colossians 1:21-22).

In summary, all four of these emphases are included in the atoning death of Christ:

(a) Satisfaction—to God
(b) Substitution—for man
(c) Redemption—from sin
(d) Reconciliation—with God

In conclusion, the death of Christ was necessary in order for God “. . . to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). What a beautiful truth this is! God’s holiness required Him to be just; God’s love prompted Him to become the Atoner and thereby the Justifier of those who believe in Christ. Who but God would have ever thought of this solution? All praise is His.


God’s Omniscience vs. Open Theism by D Wadsworth

State briefly the biblical basis for, and formulate the doctrine of, God’s omniscience. Relate this doctrine to the teaching of “open theism”.

A. Define God’s Omniscience-
1. universal or infinite knowledge.
2. the state of being all-knowing. Also Obsolete, omniscious. — omniscient, adj.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

The omniscience of God deals with what God knows. The term literally means “all-knowing”, understanding God’s knowledge to be exhaustive of the past, present, and future.

B. Define Open Theism-

Open theism, also called free will theism and openness theology, is the belief that God does not exercise meticulous control of the universe but leaves it “open” for humans to make significant choices (free will) that impact their relationships with God and others.

A corollary of this is that God has not predetermined the future. Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.

C. Defend God’s omniscience from the Bible God is infinite in relation to knowledge. He knows everything. Nothing escapes His notice and knowledge

Job 37:16 – Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,

Psalm 139:1 6- O LORD, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Psalm 147:4- He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

Proverbs 5:21 For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths.

Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

1 John 3:20 -for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

D. Relate God’s omniscience to open theism
One of the key issues in the Open Theism controversy has to do with whether God is omniscient, i.e., does he know all things—past, present, and future? Some allege that he knows nothing of the future. The future has not happened, thus is not “real.” Consequently, according to this view, not even God knows the future! Sanders asserts:

Though God’s knowledge is coextensive with reality in that God knows all that can be known, the future actions of free creatures are not yet reality, and so there is nothing to be known (1998, 198-199).

One source has segmented the Open Theists (i.e., their ideas regarding the foreknowledge of God) into the following categories: Voluntary Nescience, Involuntary Nescience, Non-Bivalentist Omniscience, and Bivalentist Omniscience.

Try to fathom this statement from John Sanders, one of the leading advocates of the New Theism: “God is everlasting through time rather than timelessly eternal” (http://www.opentheism.info/). If this statement does not conflict with the biblical doctrine of the eternality of God (cf. Psalm 90:2), I would not know what to make of it. In the same article Sanders says, “[T]he future is not entirely knowable, even for God” (emphasis added).

The Bible plainly teaches that God is omniscient, i.e., as the eternal “I AM” (Exodus 3:14) he knows all there is to know—past, present, and future. “His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5b). The Hebrew term suggests that which cannot be defined by any number, i.e., limitless. It is the equivalent of our word “omniscient” (Rawlinson 1950, 399).

With scores of precision prophecies, the coming Messiah was described by the prophets who were moved by the Spirit of the omniscient God (Luke 24:44; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 John 3:20).

At the 2001 conference of the Evangelical Theological Society, the following statement was approved by a significant majority of the voting members.

We believe the Bible clearly teaches that God has complete, accurate, and infallible knowledge of all events past, present, and future, including all future decisions and actions of free moral agents.

John MacArthur has argued that some Open Theists teach ideas regarding the atoning work of Christ, namely that “the cross was not a judicial payment” for human sin, that plainly conflicts with New Testament teaching (see Romans 3:24ff.

The so-called Openness doctrine undermines the very integrity of the Bible as the inspired word of God!