Only God Himself Could Pay the Penalty for Our Sins

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Segment of "Christ in the Wilderness" by Ivan Kramskoi (1872).

Only God Can Ransom Humanity

The Bible teaches that humans cannot ransom one another, nor make payment for sins by their own lives, but that only God can:

Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, 8 for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, 9 that he should live on for ever and never see the pit. … But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me. Selah (Psalm 49:7–9, 15, ESVUK) ¹

The price of a human life can never suffice as an eternal payment for one’s sins, much less an eternal payment for every person in the world’s sins. An eternal price is required because life after death is eternal, and sinning against an infinitely holy God incurs an infinite punishment. This means that God alone fits the requirements to pay such a price—by death, because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Jesus Christ Ransomed Humanity

Jesus of Nazareth, however, promised that the price of his own life will ransom many:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

This was accomplished through his death on the cross in Jerusalem, where he bore the sins of the world (1 Peter 2:24), and the Bible teaches that Jesus ransomed people from all over the world for God the Father by his blood:

And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, (Revelation 5:8–9)

If Jesus were just a man, angel, or some other kind of lesser being than God, he could not have ransomed billions of sinners all over the world for the Father by his own blood, because the Bible teaches that that would be impossible.

Jesus Is Truly God and Truly Human

Thankfully, however, Jesus is both man and God according to the Bible. Thus, Jesus did not pay the eternal sin price of everyone in the world by giving up just his human life, but by giving up his human and divine life:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14) (In this passage, “the Word” refers to Jesus.)

waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:13–14)

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Anyone who believes in his atoning death and resurrection from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9–10). They are those who accept his payment, which is a free gift that’s offered to everyone (Romans 6:23). Anyone who rejects the deity of Jesus will not be saved by his atonement, because they believe in a false Christ who cannot ransom anyone (2 Corinthians 11:3–4).

Reference List

1. Comic, True Iglesia, accessed on 16 September 2017, <http://www.trueiglesia.org/10>

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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