Lies we believe #1: Death is God’s punishment for sin

If we turn from the source of all Life we get death by default.

There seem to be the opinion that Death originated with God i.e. he decreed it as “punishment” for sin. The following are reasons why we can biblically reject this hypothesis.

  1. God is Life and the source of Life.

We see from scripture that Jesus is the “The Life” (John 11:25, 14:6) and “the Author of Life” (Acts 3:15). We also see that God has life “in himself” (John 5:26) as also do Jesus (John 1:4, 5:26) and the Spirit (John 6:63)

We also read that Righteousness is life (Prov 12:28)

The Widsom of Solomon echoes these truths… “For God did not make death, neither does he have pleasure over the destruction of the living. For he created all things that they might exist…for there was no poison of death in them, nor was the reign of Hades on the earth. For righteousness does not die.” (Wis 1:13-15)

“For God created man for immortality and made him as image of his own eternity” (Wis 2:23)

God is stronger than death – it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Jesus (Acts 2:24)

  1. Death is God’s enemy, not his agent

We read that ALL enemies must be destroyed and the final enemy is death (1 Cor 15:25-26) which has already been swallowed up (1 Cor 15:54) and destroyed by Christ (2 Tim 1:10)

Death itself will come to an end (Rev 20:14, 21:4)

  1. Death is portrayed as a consequence not a punishment handed out by God.

In Genesis God warns Adam of the poison of the Tree, he doesn’t threaten him (Gen 2:17) Death is the “wages” (remuneration/salary) of sin and it is directly contrasted with what God brings (Rom 6:23).

We see that Death came through man (Rom 5:12, 1 Cor 15:21) not a decree of God. When we turned from God we placed ourselves under Satan’s domain, and Satan has the power of death (Heb 2:14)

“… the ungodly summoned death by their words and works” (Wis 1:16)

“… death entered the world by the envy of the devil” (Wis 2:24)

  1. Jesus came in order to destroy Satan and bring life

He took us out of darkness into light (Col 1:13), destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and removed from him the keys of Death and Hades (Rev 1:18).

Jesus is the bringer of life (John 10:10, 10:28, 1 John 4:9). Life is in the Son, so if we don’t have God we don’t have Life (1 Jn 5:11-12). Jesus frees us from fear of death (Heb 2:15) having destroyed death to bring us immortality (2 Tim 1:10).

We can therefore have confidence that God is the Author and Source of Life, so that outside God there is no Life. If we turn from the source of Life we get death by default, not by punishment. By his death and resurrection Jesus came in order to destroy and defeat the last Enemy of God and man: death itself. 

Who killed Jesus?

Reading the New Testament I am struck by just how many times it records the hostility of the Jewish leaders towards Jesus. There was already enmity between the Pharisees and John the Baptist (Jn 1:24-25),with the questioning of John’s right to preach repentance. They were so intent on protecting their own authority, that the Jewish leaders were thus also riled from the moment Jesus’ ministry began, at first just hostile (Mk 2:6-7, Mk 3:2, Jn 2:18) and then, very early on, bringing the knives out (Jn 5:18, Luke 4:28-29).

The Gospel record of this murderous intent of the chief priests, elders and teachers of the law is extensive:

Continue reading “Who killed Jesus?”

Isaiah 53 in the New Testament (the Apostles’ teaching)

Isaiah 53 is consistently used as a proof text for the penal substitution theory of the atonement. Whilst there is no doubt that this chapter contains prophetic echoes of Jesus’ sacrifice, we should not simply assume that we can apply the entire text literally to the events of Golgotha. The litmus test for how to understand Isaiah 53 must come from the New Testament and the Apostles.

Let’s examine all the specific verses from Isaiah 53 which are either utilised or directly quoted in the New Testament. Continue reading “Isaiah 53 in the New Testament (the Apostles’ teaching)”

The Gospel Narrative: Never Alone

In John’s gospel Jesus categorically states that he would not be left alone by the Father.

There is one oft overlooked problem with claiming that the Father abandoned Jesus, and that is that the Gospel narratives do not bear it out. Let’s examine them.

  1. Was Jesus abandoned by his Father?

John’s Gospel provides us with two very specific statements from Jesus about his coming death – and the shock is that Jesus categorically states says that he would not be left alone by the Father. Continue reading “The Gospel Narrative: Never Alone”

He became sin: Union or Imputation?

A common theme of the Apostle Paul is ‘we are in Christ and Christ is in us’. Paul does not talk imputation, he talks union.

One verse that has puzzled me a lot is II Corinthians 5:21

What does it mean for Christ to become (or be made) “sin”? How can one who does not know sin, nor has committed any sin, become “sin”?

Continue reading “He became sin: Union or Imputation?”

The book of Romans, and “passing over” sin

On what basis do we claim that, in divine forbearance, God made an omission that he now has to put right?

Must God punish all sin? Was he, in effect, storing it up under the Old Covenant until the day that Jesus would be punished for every last sin ever committed?

Let us examine closely the usual ‘go to’ passage presented in support of this argument. Continue reading “The book of Romans, and “passing over” sin”

Atonement and the nature of God’s Justice

As long as our thinking remains shaped by the scheme of this age… our understanding of the cross will inevitably be conformed to the world’s ideas of justice and peace

Darrin W. Snyder Belousek has written a book that anyone and everyone who holds to the Penal Substitution view of the Atonement should read. Deftly and carefully he examines our presuppositions against the biblical text.

Early on, as he sets out the purpose of writing this book, he quotes J. Lawrence Burkholder:

“…the Bible is seldom, if ever, approached without presuppositions. They change from age to age. Frequently they reflect quite unconsciously a framework of meaning and habits of thought that are supplied by the prevailing world view.” Continue reading “Atonement and the nature of God’s Justice”

Stricken by God? Isaiah 53

Examining differences between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint.


Isaiah 53 is often quoted in support of the belief that on the Cross, God poured out his wrath onto Jesus. It is claimed that the crushing of the Messiah was God the Father’s handiwork, and it pleased him to do so. Our English Bibles read this way, but are they consistent with the original text? What does it say in the Bible Jesus knew?

Continue reading “Stricken by God? Isaiah 53”

God’s Covenant with Adam

“God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which he bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience, promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it, and endued him with power and ability to keep it.

This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness; and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai…  ”                                                                                               –  Westminster Confession

Many in Reformed circles hold that Adam was in a “Covenant of Works” with God. This is based on the wording of the Westminster Confession of Faith (see above) together with later developments in Reformed thought.  Continue reading “God’s Covenant with Adam”