Why did Jesus have to come to earth to die? This question is one of the most fundamental questions of Christianity. The Bible teaches that all accountable human beings have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). This simply means that none of us are perfect. We have messed up and, even when we try our best, we will still mess up from time to time. Since we have sinned, we all deserve death because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
The reason Jesus had to die is because we needed someone to take our place and die for us so that we could live forever. Galatians 3:13 says:
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree).”
The Bible teaches that Jesus is our substitute. He took our place. Peter had this to say about Jesus:
“Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).
Paul, when writing to the church at Corinth said:
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Since God is a holy and just God, His wrath for our sins had to be appeased if there was any way we could ever be in fellowship with Him again. The only way that we, sinful beings, could ever be in fellowship with a sinless God is if a sinless sacrifice was made (Heb. 10:1-10). And that is exactly what happened (Heb. 4:15; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; 1 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 9:28; Heb. 10:12-14). Jesus took on the sins of the world so that we could live forever. Jesus took the sins we committed by taking the penalty we deserve.
Jesus took all the sins of the world that had ever been committed and will ever be committed. God’s justice and wrath was appeased through the suffering and death of Jesus (Isa. 53:10-11). Since such is the case, it would be faulty to argue that a sinner, who never accepts God’s gift, must spend an eternity in hell in order to appease God’s holiness. If the sins of the world were appeased through several hours of Jesus’ suffering and ultimately His death, then it obviously doesn’t take an eternity of suffering to appease God’s wrath/justice. Otherwise, Jesus would still be suffering as we speak.
Instead, the punishment Jesus ultimately bore was death, the wages of sin (Rom. 6:23). The difference is that Jesus overcame death and conquered it by being resurrected (2 Tim. 1:10; Heb. 2:14-15; Rom. 6:8-10). The belief that sinners, who never accepted God’s grace, will spend an eternity being tormented in hell in order to appease God’s wrath is unbiblical and illogical if indeed the sin of the world was appeased through the sacrifice of Jesus.
If the sins of the world were appeased through the sacrifice of Jesus in a period of suffering and then ultimately death, it would also follow suite that the sins of all impenitent sinners will also be dealt with in the same way through a period of suffering for the impenitent sinner and then ultimately death.
It just so happens this is exactly what the Bible teaches. Jesus will destroy and kill not just the body, but also the soul of the impenitent sinner (Mt. 10:28). Those who follow Jesus will be able to escape ultimate death, but those who refuse to follow Jesus will be responsible for their sins and face the same fate Jesus did—the only difference is that they will not overcome death like Jesus. Instead, their death and destruction will be forever (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Mt. 10:28).
– Kevin Pendergrass
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