substitution revisited


The claim was posted on a Facebook page under the heading “Why Jesus Chose the Cross”:

“BRETHREN, why did Jesus have to die? Because God is holy and heaven is perfect, the debt of our sins must be paid before we can enter His paradise.

Since sin removes us from God, the only source of eternal life, the consequence of sin is death. Thus, someone must die to pay our debt.

But since we’re all sinners, we cannot pay each other’s debt. Only a sinless person could do that. And Jesus is the only sinless person who has ever lived. Thus, He had to die to pay the debt we owed in order for us to be forgiven and given eternal life with God.”

We have previously demonstrated in this magazine that our debt is forgiven and not paid: To say that Christ paid our debt is specifically against the Bible doctrine of forgiveness.

On another page a proponent of this theory rallied to defend the above.  He cited two passages of Scripture to allegedly prove his point.  He claims that “payment language” is used in these places, and that this therefore proves substitution, where a debt is paid, rather than being forgiven.  But the two passages refer to a ransom, and are not to do with paying off the debts of another person.  They read thus:

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).

“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Cor. 7:23).

Our response follows:

“Paying a debt specifically denies forgiveness – the debt has to be paid, and is therefore not forgiven.

The Master taught his disciples to pray “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors”. There are two scenarios: 1. Someone owes you some money, and you demand that even though they can’t pay it, the amount has to be paid by someone else. 2. You graciously write off the debt altogether, and it remains unpaid. Which one constitutes forgiving the debt? Which one should we do?  Insisting that the debt be paid is specifically denied in the Bible (see Mat. 18:23-35)

A ransom is not paying somebody else’s debt. It is providing a change of ownership from one master to another by purchase. As Brother Thomas wrote in Eureka: “Redemption is release for a ransom. All who become God’s servants are therefore released from a former lord by purchase. The purchaser is Jehovah; and the price, or ransom, paid, the precious blood of the flesh through which the Anointing Spirit was manifested …”

Regrettably, our adversary refused to answer to anwer any of these points, and declines to discuss the Scriptures with us at all.

Christopher Maddocks