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Mike Edwards

Bible folks are probably familiar with the Apostle Paul’s saying: “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith (I Cor. 15:14). Paul of course said this because he heard Jesus’ voice after his resurrection (Acts 9:5). I wasn’t there but I am still convinced God’s message to live an unselfish life is worth it, even if it turns out there is nothing at the end of life.

Who can blame many for lack of belief in God?

An assumption often made about atheists is they don’t buy into God because they are trying to justify an immoral lifestyle. Please! There are many reasons one may not believe in God or any afterlife. One could certainly understand why many reject God based on claims made by Christians– God created Hell, God condemns gays, etc. The good news is that these beliefs are questionable even according to the Bible, much less whether could be true of a loving God.

Do we follow God only for the reward?

Many God-followers rightly speak out against claims that Jesus came to save us from Hell because God is so pissed at us. Turns out such a torture chamber doesn’t exist in the Bible. See here. But, how is obeying God to avoid Hell any different than obeying God to get into Heaven? Genuine relationships aren’t based on fear or reward. What kind of relationship do you really have with a parent when you can’t speak openly for fear of being punished or rejected?

What did Jesus try to save us from?

We humans are always looking for a scapegoat when we fail. Was God really pissed at us and needed to use violence to have his thirst for justice quenched? God could have let his anger go and simply forgiven when one truly regretted their actions. Wouldn’t you? Jesus hoped to work a moral change in the hearts of individuals, trying to save us from ourselves not God. Jesus on the Cross reveals a loving God, a forgiving God, a God willing to suffer with us in a free world where life sucks sometimes and isn’t fair.

Being the person you want to be deep down is worth the journey. 

A legacy of treating others like you want to be treated is worth living! It isn’t useless to go the extra mile in relationships or to forgive others than to exact revenge. A loving God if exists surely desires to empower us to consider unselfish love in relationships. It was this message Jesus was willing to die, rather than save Himself, in hopes to inspire seeking God’s help in following Jesus’ footsteps through expressions of radical love. Changes of the heart are for our own good and for the world. I believe there is something at the end of death but I live the life I do because I got nothing to lose except selfishness and a lousy legacy. A godly life lived is not in vain!

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By Mike Edwards

One may only believe God required a violent death of an innocent victim, much less God’s own child, because an inspired Book by God supposedly makes such a claim. How is it forgiveness if payback is required? How does an innocent person suffering really atone for another person’s sins? Even imperfect human parents don’t only forgive a child by punishing another child.

Freedom created by God is a farce if Jesus had to die! 

If Jesus had to die, then Judas had no choice but to betray Jesus. If God predetermined that Jesus had to die so God could forgive our sins, those who killed Jesus where not free to choose otherwise. Crucifiers were not free to come to their senses that one simply claiming to be the Son of God doesn’t deserve to die a gruesome death on a Cross.

Child sacrifice was an abomination to God in the Bible. 

Interpretations suggesting God requires child sacrifice must be wrong. In the Old Testament God through prophets declared child sacrifice was an abomination (Lev. 20:2-5; Jer. 32:35). Did God break the Ten Commandments “Thou shall not murder?” Old Testament passages interpreted as Messianic prophecies could be conditional – Jesus will be killed if people don’t turn from evil.

God and Jesus forgave others before the Cross.

In the OT before Jesus was born, God often forgave the Israelites. In the New Testament Jesus is recorded as forgiving others before dying on the Cross (Mt. 9:2; Lk. 7:48, etc.).

God requiring violence opposes God’s non-violent nature.

Most agree Jesus’ message was one of non-violence, though sometimes violence may be necessary to protect victims. Turn the check, go the extra mile, etc. are familiar sayings (Mt. 5:38-42). The Bible also encouraging striving to be perfect by imitating God (Mt. 5:48, Eph. 5:1). Believing God requires violence often leads to humans justifying violence in the name of God. The Cross actually reveals our ugly violent nature not God’s.

Why did Jesus die?

There are many possible explanations why Jesus died other than God killed Him so God could forgive. We may still be talking about Jesus because He was willing to die, rather than power over others, for a message He believed in. God has always sought change through influence than coercion. Jesus sought to inspire that an unselfish life empowered by our Creator is worth living. It was Jesus’s willingness to die, not His miracles, that has changed billions of lives.

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By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s understanding of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

It can be confusing by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God, but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires blood before forgiving.

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His bloody death (Mt. 9:6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even OT writers over time begin to write that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God by what God willing to do. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, many don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

  • God only ask us to do what God does – freely forgive without demanding punishment first
  • God didn’t kill Jesus by requiring Judas betray Jesus; we killed Jesus
  • God does not need violence, much less an innocent victim, to be satisfied
  • We don’t forgive one child by punishing another child
  • Jesus not responding violently sought to stop the cycle of violence – violence begets violence

Why I Doubt God Is An Excluder Of Religions

Why I Doubt Heaven Is Closed To Anyone After Death

Why I Doubt Hell Is Real

Why I Doubt God Is A Homophobe

Why I Doubt God Is A Sexist

Why I Doubt God Is A Mysterious, Moral Hypocrite

 

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By Mike Edwards 

It can be confusing or turn others away from God by the way we talk about the Cross. A death doesn’t magically heal the pain we have caused God or others. The most healing we can hope for is when there is confession and forgiveness. A partner can never undo their betrayal, but taking responsibility and not blaming others can be a start toward healing. Many growing up in church may not have a problem with the idea of a child being sacrificed to appease God – neither did the OT gods – but an outsider using common moral sense has to wonder why a God who truly loves requires this. Does the Bible really teach God requires blood before forgiving?

Requiring a debt be paid isn’t really forgiveness.

If you owe a monetary debt and you are required to pay it off, how is that forgiveness of a debt? God can’t both forgive a debt and require repayment. Demanding the blood of an innocent party doesn’t legally resolve another person’s guilt.  My going to jail for a friend’s wrongdoing doesn’t somehow clear my friend of their crime. Guilt is not somehow magically removed by someone else’s confession of a sin they didn’t commit.

We may need to rewrite John 3:16 if Penal Substitution is true.

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.”  https://www.patheos.com/blogs/keithgiles/2018/11/for-god-so-hated-the-world/

Jesus and the Bible sometimes contradict the necessity of blood to forgive our sins.

Jesus forgave the paralyzed man before His death (Mt. 9: 6-9). Jesus sure seemed to accept supposedly evil people in society before His blood was spilt on the Cross. Why does the Bible talk so much about the Cross defeating evil, rather than the Cross defeated evil so God could forgive us (Gal. 1:4, I Jn. 3:8, etc.)? Jesus seemed on a mission to help us battle ongoing evil, not to pay for a once-for-all crime.

If blood was necessary for God to forgive, why did even OT writers over time begin to write that God doesn’t like animal sacrifices but contrite hearts (Ps. 51:16-17, i.e. Jer. 7:22, Amos 5:21, Micah 6:6). In the OT sacrifices were for unknown sins while known sins were punished not forgiven. Even in the NT God is said to not desire or be pleased with sacrifice and offerings though offered in accordance with the law (Heb. 10:8). These passages contradict passages that supposedly teach God required Jesus’ death to forgive us.

But, don’t Bible verses also say Jesus died for our sins?

Many passages insinuate that Jesus died for us because of our sins (I Pe. 3:18, Rom. 5:8, I John 3:16, etc.). They don’t say Jesus died for God’s sake. Jesus could have died because of our sins rather than for our sins. Jesus’ death actually proves violence doesn’t solve differences. Jesus’ message was acceptance and forgiveness lead to healing. If the Bible was crystal clear the purpose of Jesus’ death, why do so many theories exist as to why Jesus died?

Why did Jesus die? 

It is okay to speculate why Jesus was willing to die on the Cross. Biblical scholars haven’t figured it out. Jesus jumping off the Cross or overpowering His enemies was expected or hoped for but we would have learned nothing. We may still be talking about Jesus’ message of radical love as the best path for reconciliation, because He was willing to die rather than power over others. Jesus’ desire to inspire unselfish living empowered by our Creator is what really changes the world.  Jesus’ death rather than His power has inspired billions to live unselfishly.

Jesus’ death can enable us to not feel overwhelmed by guilt and truly loved by God. Terrorists blow others up for a message they feel strongly about. Jesus only blew Himself up for a message He believed very strongly in. Soldiers often sacrifice their lives because they are convinced certain freedom are that important. Jesus died in hopes we may understand true freedom is found by understanding what God is really like.

God forgives if we seek God’s forgiveness – no strings attached!

God is dying to forgive you of wrong doing in hopes to inspire you to change for your interests and the interests of others. God’s love and mercy, not God’s need for punishment, is our necessary nourishment in being the person we desire to be. That doesn’t get you a free out- of-jail card for a serious crime. That doesn’t mean when forgiving a friend that has betrayed you, that you have to pretend the relationship is back to the way it was. It takes two to tango. Unfortunately, most of us don’t seek forgiveness from humans or feel a perfect Creator accepts us and could simply forgive us for sins we have a hard time forgiving ourselves for.

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Grow in Grace

2 Peter 3:18 — but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

We are saved by Grace. A one time event of Christ dying on the cross provided all we needed to be saved from the curse brought upon us through Adam.

But Grace itself is an ongoing, daily event. We aren’t saved and then just sit around and wait to go to Heaven. Jesus told us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. We learn more about Christ and the grace He provided by daily dying to ourselves.

By Grace our sinful nature is crucified, dead and buried. By Grace we are resurrected in the power of Christ and it is His spirit that now lives within us. By grace we are now hidden in Christ, and He is seated at the right hand of God (Colossian 3:1-3). We don’t just wait until we die our natural life to enter His Kingdom, we now live in the Kingdom of God.

He said we must decrease, and He must increase. Only by dying to self and emptying our natural human desires can there be room for Christ to increase.

When we realize that only by dying (spiritually speaking) and allowing the life of Christ to dwell within us, can we truly follow Him. It has been said that a dead man has no worries. When we are dead to self, and alive to Christ, it is His life that is within us. His desires become our desires. His thoughts become our thoughts.

We are saved by Grace, we can’t buy it, can’t earn it, can’t do anything to pay God back for it. Each day we can commit ourselves to God, ask Christ to live through us and daily deny the human nature and selfish desires that separate us from true fellowship with the Father.

Grace is an ongoing, daily lifestyle. It is our choice to commit to Him. When we do, we will continue to grow in grace and knowledge of Him, and will enjoy our fellowship with our Father.

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Roman 6:10 – For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God….

Most of us ask for forgiveness at least once a day. Is it really necessary?

When Christ died, He died to sin ONCE for all. Jesus doesn’t die daily, He doesn’t need to come back and die once a year for our sins. Jesus died once and it was for our sins past, present and future. In God’s eyes, we are now righteous and seated in heavenly places with Christ.

Unfortunately we will continue to sin, but we don’t need to continually ask for forgiveness because we are already forgiven. What we should do is tell God we are sorry that we messed up and thank Him for the forgiveness He provided us through Christ.

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