I never want to be called a hairsplitter. It would hurt me deeply if I found out that people avoided me because they were worried I would correct them over the simplest misuse of a word or phrase. Most of us have met someone that strives to better themselves by inundating others with useless facts and petty corrections. That’s not me, at least I hope it isn’t. I guess you can be the judge by reading this post.
Did Jesus die because of my sins?
Time for a little hairsplitting – Jesus did not die because of my sins. I know, shock is rippling through the blogosphere. People are unfollowing me as we speak. Churches are reviewing my tenure with them in preparation to undo damage caused by any bad theology I might have taught. Still, I stand firm in my assertion that Jesus did not die because of my sins. To even suggest that the hand of God is forced by my actions is dangerous.
Jesus died for my sins.
I told you there would be hairsplitting! One word can make a big difference. I would never correct someone who replaced for with because in basic conversation. I wouldn’t tell people not to read a book, blog or publication because they used the words because and for interchangeably. I am not trying to better myself by inundating you with useless facts and petty corrections. Still, I stand firm in my assertion that Jesus did not die because of my sins. To even suggest that the hand of God is forced by my actions is dangerous.
Okay, there is some value in using the word because.
To use the word because to express that the purpose of Jesus’ death was to address the world’s sin, which includes my sin, is an accurate use of the word. Just when you thought I was hopelessly stuck in a life of hairsplitting, I have rescued my good name and allowed some wiggle room in the use of the word because. Still, I stand firm in my assertion that Jesus did not die because of my sins. To even suggest that the hand of God is forced by my actions is dangerous.
The problem is not in the word but in the potential abuse of the concept.
Using the word because in the context of cause and effect is an abuse of the concept of salvation and relationship with God. To even suggest that the hand of God is forced by my actions is dangerous. God’s plan was to sacrifice His son to address sin and to re-establish a right relationship with His creation. This is how He chose to respond to my sin; He was not forced.
To say that God sacrificed His son because of sin adds a layer of cause and effect that is quite simply bad theology. You may be thinking that this is divisive hairsplitting and you would be right. I want to cause division with this post, division between those who think their actions somehow force God’s hand and those who accept that God is sovereign, He acts only in perfection and holiness, He is not forced by the actions of His creation.
God responds to our actions because He is loving not because He has to.
If you hear a beeping sound, that’s me backing up. I want to make it clear, I do not believe that our actions have no influence on God’s action. The Bible says we must take action to be saved. It also says we can do nothing to save ourselves. The two can seem incompatible on the surface but as most Christ followers know, repentance is our action of acceptance of God’s action of salvation through the death of His son. God did not have to save us nor was He forced to make repentance the action that opened the door to salvation. Our actions do not force Him to act but rather our actions demonstrate that we accept or reject His perfect actions done on our behalf.
So why this hair splitting blog post, what makes it so important?
If we view God as a reactive God, we create a relationship in which we are in control. If sin causes God to act then more sin causes God to act even more and our lives become about making God react to our situation in a favourable way. That is our old life way of thinking; as Christ followers our thinking must change.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. Romans 6:1-4 (NIV)
If Jesus died because of our sins, if our sins forced God to act then any set of words or actions on our part should also force God’s hand. Isn’t that name it and claim it, prosperity gospel theology?
“Just a Thought” to quote blogger Wally Fry at Truth in Palmyra