Essentials of N.T. Doctrine
Chapter 7 

Christ Was Punished for Us

Audio read by Tom Parks -  MP3
Essentials of New Testament Doctrine - Introduction MP3

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When we survey all the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, we will realize that everything in God’s plan is fulfilled by the expression of His love and respect for each of us by exercise of His GRACE.

This is the case whether it is the deposit of Adam’s sin on us by Imputation, the placement of that inherited sin and all our other sins on the person of Christ by the same act of Imputation, or whether it involves Christ bearing all the punishments for sin that we deserve to undergo (but He did it for us as substitute for each of us).

All these things are accomplished by God the Father by GRACE, without works on our part.

God has done these things without asking us. He accomplished them by His GRACEFUL acts. He did them in order to show His love and respect for us in bringing all of us into His divine Family without us doing works of any kind. The Father and Christ did the works. We humans have no part in the salvation process. As we proceed, we will see that we humans are here on earth to receive salvation by grace, not to do works to obtain salvation.

All Acts of Imputation Are by Grace

In dealing with sin, it was necessary for all of us to be given an inherited sinfulness and a sinful nature that we all endure and never escape from until our resurrections from the dead. Both the inherited sin imputed to us and our own fleshly sinful natures were given us by God; we had nothing to do with either. We received both from God and by GRACE.

But, thanks be to God, God will take away “in Christ” (also by the use of GRACE) our inherited sin and in the resurrection He will take away even our sinful natures which cause each of us to sin every day while in the flesh. We will soon be given a new “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) that will make us to be like the Father and Christ Jesus. God will rescue all humanity from their sins — both the sin that we inherited and those sins we have done in our adult lives because of our weaknesses in the flesh. After all, God is in charge of all and He loves us. He will do it by grace.

This means that because God consigns an inherited sinfulness to all human beings, if a newborn child dies, he or she still needs the blood of Jesus Christ to cover his or her sin in respect to salvation. When one understands Paul’s teaching of Imputation, as it relates to Adam’s sin, all matters concerning sin and death are satisfactorily answered in a legal sense. Without this teaching of Paul on this essential subject, much New Testament doctrine concerning salvation would be utterly confused with no sensible answers available.

Punishment for Sin Is Also Imputed to Christ

We now come to one of the most important aspects of the biblical doctrine of Imputation. The realization that Christ paid the penalty for our sins provides one of the clearest understandings of what the future judgment of mankind involves. Let us notice how significant this whole matter is.

Suppose you ask normal Christian authorities (theologians and preachers) what the consequences of sin would be for unrepentant sinners? The majority would say that the sinner would go to hell-fire and in that cauldron of fire they would endure a punishing without amelioration or release from torment throughout eternity. In other words, according to most Christian preachers today, the punishment for sins (as they believe God wills it) is to place the sinner in everlasting torment in a hell-fire.

But wait a moment! The apostle Paul taught that the wages (the punishment) of sin was death, not some kind of “eternal life” (Romans 6:23). Everlasting life is a gift from God (again, Romans 6:23) and nowhere is it reckoned as a punishment for sins. The wages of sin happens to be death, not life! This is precisely the type of punishment placed on Jesus when He paid the penalty for our sins. This means that every sin ever devised or perpetrated by mankind (from Adam to the future period known as “the dispensation of the fullness of times,” Ephesians 1:10) was placed on the person of Christ Jesus. He bore the punishment for every one of those sins that have been committed. God the Father imputed them to Christ and not to mankind. This is the central teaching of the Gospel and the apostle Paul homed in on it with precision. Note Paul’s teaching:

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

The sins placed on Christ were all the physical (bodily) sins of mankind as well as all spiritual sins (sins of the soul or spirit). Recall that humanity has committed spiritual sins that need forgiving as well as physical sins. Paul said, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Yes, our flesh, our soul, and our spirit can be filthy.

But what was the punishment for such sins? Is it to go into hell-fire and burn forever without hope of release from torment? If that were what the punishment of sin really was, then for Christ to undergo that penalty instead of us, He would go into that hell-fire and burn forever. This is the plain and simple teaching of the New Testament for any sensible person to realize and appreciate.

But in no way did Christ undergo such punishment to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind, fleshly or spiritual! The Bible teaches that Christ died for our sins, not that he went to some hell-fire to burn forever! 1

But how can this be? Does not God teach that sinful man will have to burn in hades, translated “hell” in the King James Version? In no way is this literally true! The illustration Christ gave about Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16 (with the Rich Man after death being in a fire of torment) is a parable. This parable of Christ is not describing literal situations. Matthew said Christ never gave any teaching to the general public that was not in the form of parables (Matthew 13:34–35). 2 We need to separate carefully the figurative teachings Christ gave as parables in the Gospels and by the apostle John in the Book of Revelation, from literal teachings of the Bible. This is done by adopting the standard for doctrine found in the personage of Christ. The example of His life and the judgments meted out by God upon Him represent the standard for the ultimate Christian punishment for sin.

It is important to recognize Christ Jesus as the standard for appraisal of all doctrines. This is especially true in matters dealing with the forgiveness of and punishments for sins. The standard provided by Christ Jesus shows that He died for our sins; He did not go to a hell-fire to live for eternity in fiery torment. When we recognize Christ Jesus as the standard for doctrinal belief to fulfill the requirements God the Father places on mankind, then we are freed from the nonsense that modern theologians and preachers try to foist off on mankind. Modern preachers normally abandon Christ Jesus as the standard and they take figurative teachings in the Bible as being literal. Their erroneous positions represent the absorption of teachings from classical paganism into the marrow of Christian doctrine. In fact, their false concepts have their origin in Satan the Devil.

With Christ Jesus’ life and example as the standard for all doctrinal matters, one can understand that the teaching in Luke chapter 16 of Lazarus and the Rich Man was simply a parable. The Rich Man was not literally in the pangs of fire after his death as a punishment for his sins. After all, if such a torment was the actual punishment for sins, then Christ Jesus would have endured that very punishment to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. This means that Jesus would be in torment of hell-fire for the rest of eternity. But Christ did not pay such a penalty. Christ is the standard in all things, not only righteousness for all of us, but also in carrying out the punishment of sins on our behalf. What Christ did to pay the penalty for sins was to die for us. Not to go to endless torment in some kind of everlasting hell-fire. Again, we need to be careful to separate figurative teaching from the standard established by the example of Christ.

Figurative Language

Dr. E.W. Bullinger’s massive book titled Figures of Speech in the Bible shows the frequent use of figurative language in the teachings of the Scripture. Our English language is so filled with such figures that foreigners learning it often make silly and humorous mistakes when they take some English expressions literally. Dr. Bullinger repeatedly warns readers of the Bible to be careful not to take a figurative illustration to be literal or a literal statement to be figurative. In fact, the prime abuse of scriptural teaching today and over the centuries is for people to misinterpret the figurative for the literal. It is time this practice stops! We avoid great errors if we let Christ and the example of His perfect standard of life and death set the rules for the interpretation of doctrines. This certainly is the case whether understanding the biblical teaching about punishment for sins.

Eternal Punishing?

With the standard of Christ in mind, any first year law student should be able to understand what the punishment for sins really is, as defined in the biblical revelation. If the wages of sins is everlasting life in hell-fire, then for Christ to pay the full penalty for our sins, He would have to be in that “hell-fire” now and continue to be there in torment for the rest of eternity. But this common teaching of preachers and theologians is utter foolishness! The Bible shows that Christ Jesus did not undergo “everlasting punishment,” but was resurrected from the dead within three days of His death and is now at the right hand of God in heaven. He did not go to any “eternal hell-fire.” It is time that preachers and theologians give up the horrendous and erroneous doctrine that comes directly from Hellenistic paganism.

Eternal Death?

While it is easy to show that the punishment for sins is not to endure an everlasting hell-fire without release from torment, some preachers maintain that the Bible teaches an everlasting death is the penalty for sins. But that is not the punishment for sins that Christ Jesus underwent. If everlasting death is the penalty for sins, then Christ Jesus would have had to remain dead in the grave for the rest of eternity to undergo that punishment. Again, the truth is Christ was resurrected from the dead a short three days after His death and He paid the full penalty for the sins of mankind.

Is it not better to believe the apostle Paul when he said the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23) and that Christ Jesus paid the complete penalty for sins when He died (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)? I would rather accept Paul’s teaching than theologians and preachers who misunderstand what the punishment for sins really is. It is time to believe the teachings of the Bible rather than erroneous doctrines of mankind concocted through the evil agency of Satan the Devil; deceptively palmed off on people as the teaching of Christ and the apostles. The traditional teaching of an everlasting hell-fire for unrepentant sinners is wrong and senseless.

The truth is, God the Father imputed the punishment (the penalty) for our sins and the sins of the world to His Son, Jesus Christ. Those sins were fully paid by Christ over 1900 years ago when He died on the tree of crucifixion. This is the teaching of real Christianity rather than the nonsense being taught today by so-called Christian “authorities.” The fact is, all of us in Christ are “free from sin” (ALL sins). Whether the sin (and sinful nature) we inherited from Adam, or all sins we committed ourselves in our adult lives, they are all forgiven in Christ and God the Father reckons us to be free from any sin. Remember, the apostle John tells us:

“Whosoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His [God’s] seed [sperm—a single sperm is all that is necessary to be attached to our spirit] remains in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

It is essential that none of us let some person deceive us by stating that one cannot be born into God’s Family until the resurrection. The apostle Peter said that Christians are reckoned by God now as

“being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever [for the aion].”

So, “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). In his analogy, Peter said we were already on milk (which is a sign of being outside the womb and on the mother’s breast, not simply in a conceived state). We may have only one sperm in us from the Father, but we are already “born of God” in the eyes of the Father by and through the Spirit. And having that one sperm in our minds means “we cannot sin” in God’s estimation.

It is time we believe God and His teachings rather than erroneous beliefs of some preachers and church denominations. When our sins were placed on the back of Christ by God’s use of Imputation, and all penalties of sin were paid for us by Christ Jesus when He died on the tree of crucifixion as our substitute, those acts were sufficient enough to allow us to be reckoned by the Father (right now, at this very moment) as FREE of sin and standing before God as sinless beings. That is correct. We have undergone all punishments for our sins in the eyes of the Father (not in the eyes of mankind). When we all stand before the Judgment Seat of God after the resurrection, we will be ushered into the Holy of Holies in heaven and asked to sit on the right hand of the Father. All punishments designed for our chastisement that would keep us out of His divine Family have now all been paid by His Firstborn Son, Christ Jesus. He underwent the punishment in our place (as a substitute for us). That is the simple and plain teaching of the New Testament.

Remember that all humans are by nature mortal beings. We have no immortality in us at present. True, the spirit of God that keeps us alive is not subject to death as are humans and animals, but that is God’s Spirit, it is not man’s spirit (breath) that belongs to mankind. The fact is, we humans are not yet immortal. As clear as the apostle Paul could make it, he stated that mortal man (all of us) will NOT put on immortality until the resurrection of our bodies at the second advent of Christ (which is yet future to us). Paul said,

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [a euphemism for dying], but we shall all be changed [from mortal to immortal], In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the [Christian] dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we [who are alive] shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible [body] shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal [body] shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’”

So, from the time of our deaths and being put into graves until the second advent, all humans (even the righteous) are very dead. The dead know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5). They have not the slightest consciousness (Psalm 146:4). The illustration of people living immediately after their deaths (as we read about Lazarus and the Rich Man) is a parable and it is not stating actual fact. Remember, even to help your enemy is to “bring coals of fire on their heads” (Romans 12:20), or literally, to cause their conscience to burn in them with remorse. No man or angel is now in hell-fire burning as a punishment for their sins. The wages of sin happens to be death (the cessation of life), and that is what Christ did for us. He died as a substitute for us. Christ did NOT suffer a conscious hell-fire for the rest of eternity for our sins that were upon Him.

1 The torment of fire without release day and night for the ages of the ages is for the Devil and his angels, not for mankind. After all, if human beings were placed in such an inferno, they would die very quickly, and their bodies would become ashes. And remember, man is mortal, not immortal! ELM

2 This figurative teaching is much like that referred to by the apostle Paul when he said that if you help your enemy when he is in trouble, this would be like “heaping coals of fire on his head” (Romans 12:20). Paul did not mean that literal coals of fire would be placed on the head of your enemy. He simply meant that the person’s conscience would burn with compassion for the act of kindness that you show to him. ELM

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