Now and then we have a special message addressing one or more questions sent in by New Way Church participants. This week, we spend the entire time responding to the question, “Does the New Church teach that Jesus Christ died for our sins?”
The short answer: “Yes!” But when we say that Jesus died for our sins, we mean something different than you may be conditioned to expect. What does it actually mean that Jesus died for our sins? Well, it all has to do with what Jesus meant when he spoke about “blood”. The blood of Jesus is not a symbol for death and suffering, but of life! His command that we “drink his blood” was him speaking “in parable” about his desire for us to make his life’s teachings a part of our souls by not only learning them, but by living them. Jesus died not as a sacrifice to a God that demanded painful punnishment, but rather died as a warrior dies in combat, fighting hell, and setting us free. We can have that freedom not by letting him “take it for us”, but rather by taking up our cross and following him! How? By allowing our lower nature to be put to death. Through the spiritual act of practicing love for God and neighbor above selfish desires, we too “die”, and so follow Jesus, the one true God, into true life, his spiritual blood coursing through our veins.
Jesus Christ died for our sins. But not as a punnishment for our sins, but rather to show us a way out from under them. He died to lead us out from under the slavery of hell. And Jesus Christ lived, so that you could follow him and be free.
That’s just a summary. For the full answer, listen to Question: “Did Jesus Christ Die for Our Sins?”:
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Here are the readings from “Did Jesus Christ Die for Our Sins?”:
True Christian Religion 132-133
Believing that the Lord’s suffering on the cross was redemption itself is a fundamental error on the part of the church. That error, along with the error about three divine Persons from eternity, has ruined the whole church to the point that there is nothing spiritual left in it anymore. There is no topic that
fills more books by orthodox theologians today, that is more intensely taught and aired in lecture halls, or that is more frequently preached and pronounced from the pulpit than the following: God the Father was angry at the human race, so he not only moved us all away from himself but locked us into a universal damnation and cut off communication with us. Nevertheless, because he is gracious, he either convinced or goaded his Son to come down to take a limited damnation on himself and ritually purge the Father’s anger. This was the only way the Father could look on the human race with any favor. So this was in fact done by the Son. For example, in taking on our damnation, the Son let the Jews whip him, spit in his face, and then crucify him like someone accursed of God (Deu. 21:23). After that happened the Father was appeased, and out of love for his Son he retracted the damnation, but only from those for whom the Son would intercede. Therefore the Son became a Mediator to the Father for all time.
These ideas, and others like them, resound in churches today and reverberate off the walls like an echo from a forest, filling the ears of all who are there. Surely, though, everyone with decent reasoning enlightened by the Word can see that God is compassion and mercy itself. He is absolute love and absolute goodness – these qualities are his essence. It is a contradiction to say that compassion itself or absolute goodness could look at the human race with anger and lock us all into damnation, and still keep its divine essence. Attitudes and actions of that kind belong to a wicked person, not a virtuous one. They belong to a spirit from hell, not an angel of heaven. It is horrendous to attribute them to God.
If you investigate what caused these ideas, you find this: People have taken the suffering on the cross to be redemption itself. The ideas above have flowed from this idea the way one falsity flows from another in an unbroken chain. All you get from a vinegar bottle is vinegar. All you get from an insane mind is insanity.
Any inference leads to a series of related propositions. These are
latent within the original inference and come forth from it, one after the other. This idea, that the suffering on the cross was redemption, has the capacity to yield more and more ideas that are offensive and disgraceful to God, until Isaiah’s prophecy comes to pass:
The priest and the prophet have gone astray because of beer; they stagger in their judgment. All the tables are full of the vomit they cast forth. (Isaiah 28:7, 8)
This idea of God and redemption has turned the entire theology from something spiritual into something earthly of the lowest kind. This is because mere earthly characteristics have been attributed to God. Yet everything about the church hinges on its concept of God and its view of redemption (which is the same as its view of salvation).
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”