Was Christ’s Death Substitutionary?

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Hi J____,

Thank you for these questions. I hope to be able to clear this up for you, Lord willing.

You say:

“No substitutionary death… that is a great surprise.  Now please Mike… I am not arguing that you are wrong… but this is the first time I have heard this… and I want to make sure that I get it right…”

This is not as hard to understand as orthodoxy has made it with all of its contradictions. The Bible tells us that life comes through death just as light comes out of darkness:

2Co 4:6… For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

1Pe 2:9… But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

In like manner life comes only “through death.”

Col 1:22… In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Heb 2:14… Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

Christ died. He was dead because he was “made sin” by being “made of a woman made under the law.” Christ’s flesh could not inherit the kingdom any more than Adam’s flesh. That is because Christ’s flesh was “in Adam:”

1Co 15:22… For as in Adam all die [including Christ], even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Rom 5:14… Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who [Adam] is the figure of him that was to come.

Christ is not ashamed to call us brothers because the first Adam “is the figure of Him that was to come.” So Christ came “In likeness of sinful flesh,” for the purpose of being “made sin:”

(Darby)  “Him who knew not sin he has made sin for us, that we might become God’s righteousness in him.”

(GNB)  “Christ was without sin, but for our sake God made him share our sin in order that in union with him we might share the righteousness of God.”

Yet Christ never sinned. Here is what the scriptures teach:

Heb 2:9… But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

It is that word ‘for’ which has caused all the confusion over what Christ has accomplished. The Greek word is ‘huper.’ It appears 41 times in the New Testament and the most common translation for this word ‘huper is the English word ‘above.’

Here is how it is used in another verse:

Luk 6:40… The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

We are not ‘above’ Christ. We “will be as our Master.” Christ plainly tells us that we will “fill up what is behind of His sufferings:”

Joh 15:17… These things I command you, that ye love one another.
Joh 15:18… If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you.
Joh 15:19… If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

So Christ came and experienced all that we experience “yet without sin.” He had to do so in order to be able to say that he knows what we go through. Not for His benefit, but for ours. Christ has now arranged things so that none of us will ever be able to say that He does not know what it is like to be flesh. Christ came in “sinful flesh.” That is why He had to die.

1Co 15:50… Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Flesh = corruption and corruption = flesh

When Christ entered Mary’s womb he was at that very moment entering the death realm. He had emptied Himself of His divinity and He was at that moment putting on “sinful flesh.” Yet because He was “born of the Holy Spirit” and because He had been given God’s Spirit “without measure,” He never sinned while living in a “corruptible” body of “sinful flesh.”

Rom 8:3… For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:

‘Likeness’ means what it says. Christ was “like” us. He had the exact same flesh “like” us. Unlike us, He never sinned.

We quoted Heb. 2:9 above:

Heb 2:9… But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Here now are the next two verses:

Heb 2:10… For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
Heb 2:11… For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

So it is this Greek word ‘huper’ which has caused so much confusion and led to the unscriptural doctrine of Christ’s “substitutionary death.”  Here is how this word is used in a few other verses:

2Co 1:8… For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above [huper] strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:
2Co 1:9… But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
2Co 1:10… Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

“Does deliver… will yet deliver…” demonstrates that this is a life long process which is going on as we “die daily” to all of the pulls of the flesh. If we are wronged we must fight the desire for revenge. And when we are tired we must fight the desire to give up. Christ went through all of this. But He didn’t do so as a substitute for us. He did so so that He can now do this “in us.”

2Co 1:5… For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Where in any verse of God’s Word do we see even a hint of a substitutionary death? It is not to be found. Compensatory? Yes. Christ died for (huper) our sins. His life’s worth is far above (huper) the value of every life of all men who ever have or ever will live on this planet. He has paid for our sins. We are bought with a price. We are His to do with as He sees fit. And here is what He has decided we are to do:

Col 1:24… Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
Rom 8:17… And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint- heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Of course Christ died on the cross as you say “in the past.”  For Him “it is finished.” But the doctrine of “substitutionary death” is a lie.

I hadn’t put that together yet… nor do I really understand it.  Substitutionary death is that… Christ died in place of us.  Our sins were all laid on Him and they were forgiven because He died in place of us… taking our sins with Him. That is what the Christian world church teaches.

I am sorry… I just don’t understand.  I must be very dumb.

I know what you say is true… but… if our sins were not forgiven when Christ died on the cross… then… that must be why we now ‘die daily’… to our sins (the fleshly self… the sinful nature). Is this right?

No substitutionary death… that is a great surprise.  Now please Mike… I am not arguing that you are wrong… but this is the first time I have heard this… and I want to make sure that I get it right… like as Paul said… to put the things learned in the past behind, and get on with the new.  (Not exactly his wording, but maybe what he meant.

Rom 6:3 – Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

What exactly do these verses mean?

Christ did not die so we would not have to die. Christ died for us so that He could now die in us:

Sorry… I do not understand this either.

1Co 15:31… I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
Joh 12:24… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

I guess this means… dying daily to the flesh.

What is this “dying daily?” It is “filling up what is behind of the sufferings of Christ in our bodies, in our flesh for the churches sake which is His body.”

Yipes… you have lost me again.

Col 1:24… Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

Maybe I am not ready for the truth… I can’t even understand what these verses mean.

So yes, it is finished for Christ, but Christ must now be afflicted in us:

Oh… I am completely lost.

Rom 8:17… And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint- heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

If we suffer with Him there must be something about His afflictions which is not yet “filled up”. We must come to identify with Christ and not put His sufferings in the past only. Christ certainly identifies with us:

2Ti 2:12… If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
1Jn 4:17… Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

“As He is so are we,” so we too must “fill up what is behind of His afflictions,” and the day of judgment is not a future event:

1Pe 4:17… For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I hope this helps,

No… I am sorry… but I understand nothing of what you have said here.

I almost think I am in the wrong place.  For the past four or five years we have been unable to find a church to attend… one that satisfied our need to be closer to Jesus Christ.  Then we found your website.  We were very excited about the new teaching, which we were, and still are, very excited about.

But now, I almost think that something has gone wrong.  I am not grasping anything.  I am totally blank. 

A few months ago, everything was clicking, and it was great… but now I can’t put anything together.

I have no idea what is going on… but this is worrisome.  We know we can’t, nor want to go back to Babylon, because it is wrong… but where do we go from here?  We must learn the proper meaning of Scripture… but my mind has gone blank.  We have read almost everything, and are still reading the commentaries on your website… and it is great… but I can remember nothing.

We have just had a session of emails with [ a man]… where he called me a heretic and that God’s word offends me… and accuses me of trying to teach him heresy.   We have exchanged several emails, and I can’t get thru to him that we are just babes in Christ searching for the truth.  But he continues to tell me that if I have a problem with God’s word, that I should take that up with God.  I, last night, wrote and told him that I didn’t want to hear from him again.

I think it is just me… I can’t get the hang of what is going on.  As I said… maybe [ we] do not belong in this league.

There is a reason why we are here searching… but we seem to be being rebuked and admonished for asking questions… by you… a few months ago… and now by [ others].   I just don’t understand it.  Possibly it is the way I ask that gives people the wrong impression… I just don’t know.

J____

Ps… I know you are busy… and I know this is far too long for you to answer… but, don’t worry about answering.  What will be, will be.  God knows our plight… and maybe He will tell us what the problem is…. and to whom we should turn to for help.

Take heart. You are actually in the very best spiritual spot you have ever before been in. Just look at these verses:

Joh 9:39… And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.
Joh 9:40… And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also?
Joh 9:41… Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

So, it is the same here as with life. If you want life, you must die. Life comes only through death. And if you want to see, we all just like the apostle Paul must come to see just how blind we really are. Sight comes only through being made blind. If we never acknowledge our blindness, then “your sin remaineth.”

You have confessed that you are “in trouble.” Those who see their blindness are given sight, but those who never see themselves as ‘in trouble’ are those who are even now being “made blind.”

I am praying that you both are being given eyes to see that Christ did not die to sin so we can live in it. He rather died to sin so that we, in Him, can also die to sin.

Joh 12:24… Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

Mike

 

Hello Mike… Thank you so much… this is encouraging.  We indeed hope that this is the case… and that the Lord will give us the eyes to see… again… but this time… clearly… with the confusion gone… that we can walk with Him with more confidence… until we see Him face to face.

J____

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