Tag Archives: forgiveness

Why Did Jesus Die Anyway?

If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard, “Jesus died to forgive my sins!” I’d be rich! But that isn’t directly why He came; it shouldn’t be our focus! He died to bring us back to His Father, the Creator, not specifically to forgive personal sins: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God . . .” (1 Peter 3:18).

Our heavenly Father has worked to reconcile with us since the rebellion in Eden. Forgiveness of sin has been just one step in the process. It was, and is, an ongoing benefit of Jesus’ work at the cross done solely for making a way back to God, but it wasn’t the prime directive.

Why die? According to the Lord-servant covenant that God struck with Abram, death was the consequence of breaking it. We owed God, but Jesus paid our debt that began way back in Eden (“Don’t eat or else!”). Why is it important to understand that personal sin forgiveness wasn’t the priority? If we believe Jesus died explicitly to forgive individual sins instead of humanity’s rebellion, then we may feel, as we tend to in the West, that there’s nothing left to do; we owe God nothing.

On the other hand, if we understand that Jesus died to bring us back to the Father, even though the benefits can include personal forgiveness and transformation now, and salvation from His wrath to come, the focus is redirected to Him, not us. It becomes easier to understand that we must discover what He desires in return and then do that! But what do we who belong to God get in return besides forgiveness, transformation, and salvation? The gifts of His righteousness (standard), the Holy Spirit, and life in the coming age. (Acts 2:38; Romans 5:17; John 3:15-16)

Anyway, here’s a brief history of our reconciliation and Jesus’ mission from beginning to end:

  • Our rebellion.
  • Our sacrifices for sporadic forgiveness.
  • Jesus’ permanent satisfaction of our debt through the cross for ALL! (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2).
  • Our hope through His resurrection.
  • Our choosing God through Jesus (making Him ‘Lord’) brings righteousness and the Spirit.
  • Our ongoing repentance brings ongoing forgiveness.
  • Our renewed mind and the Spirit bring transformation and obedience for salvation.
  • Our outcome (if God knows us) will be a resurrection and eternal existence with Father and Son.

In summary, Jesus died to bring us back to God, and all that entails. Death paid off our debt, and resurrection gives us hope. Father raised the Son; He’ll raise the rest of us who are His! In the meantime, righteousness, the Spirit, and ongoing sin forgiveness are rewards for devotion. Personal sin forgiveness wasn’t the objective; transformation is. Since we’re on the topic of Jesus, let’s explore His genealogy and legacy in the next article.

Blessings and peace,

Dr. Ron Braley, MDiv, DMin.

The “A-B-C’s” of Repentance and Forgiveness

True repentance, which is a ‘change in behavior brought about by a change of heart’, is absolutely necessary for forgiveness. And, forgiveness is indeed necessary for salvation from God’s judgment to come. Therefore, as the Bible points out so well, repentance is necessary for salvation.

Is repentance a saying, “I’m sorry”? No (see 2Corinthians 7:9-10)! This is why we tend to repeat sinful behavior. Yes, we must be sorrowful as a natural component of the ‘change of heart’ necessary for repentance. But, we don’t truly repent unless we’ve taken action to remove whatever is causing us to stumble (Jesus discussed this in Matthew 5:29-30).

To reiterate, doing something that’s sinful can be remediated (and forgiven) through repentance – acknowledging that what we’ve done (or intend to do) is opposite of God’s ways and then taking action to ensure the act (or intended act) won’t be repeated. Do this and God will be more than willing to forgive the offense or intention to commit it.

“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” —Ezekiel 18:31-32.

“and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” —Luke 24:46-47.

 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” —Acts 3:17-19.

“You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” —Acts 8:21-22.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1John 1:9.

On a related note, repeating sinful actions constitutes sinful behavior – something God has no tolerance for. In fact, we’re taught that He will leave us to our own rebellious behavior and execute wrath at His judgment if we continue to practice sin.

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” —Acts 17:30-31.

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS —Romans 2:5-6.

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. —Galatians 5:19-21. (See also Ephesians 5:5-6)

So, ‘feel’ sorry, but turn that sorrow into action in the same way that ‘belief’ must result in action – obedience – to our God and Christ. Repent, obey, and live!

Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!

And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!

An Ounce of ‘cheek-turning’ Prevention is Worth a Pound of Relationship Cure!

We understand the value of repenting and asking for forgiveness, often demanding it of someone who has offended us – sometimes retaliating by severing otherwise good or productive relationships if we don’t get the apology or response we think we deserve.

I experienced this recently when someone terminated our friendship and discipleship relationship because of a perceived wrongdoing. Such destruction over perceptions! I’m sad that my friend was hurt. And, I’m grieved by the loss of the relationship.

What can be done in cases like this once the damage has been done (besides asking for forgiveness as necessary)? Giving forgiveness (even privately) and moving forward despite any negative emotions.

Jesus taught us that we should ‘turn the other cheek‘. This goes along with biblical instruction to be ‘slow to anger‘ and is the one thing we can do to give reconciliation with other humans a chance.

“Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also . . .” (Luke 6:29)

He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19)

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26)

For anyone who feels they’ve been wronged and the situation is unresolved: please consider turning the other cheek to give reconciliation with friends, family, coworkers, and others a chance.

Blessings.  Ron