A Misunderstanding of the Gospel

By Chikondi

There is a popular story that I can only call a fable circulating among people who think of themselves as Christians, concerning the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, and His payment for our sins.

According to the fable, Jesus’ death was to pay the price for our purchase from Satan, the Devil. I do not know the exact origins of this fable, but it is at odds with what the Bible declares happened to Jesus on the cross, and why He died for our sins. In some versions of the fable, Jesus and Satan have a conversation in which they bargain for our souls, and Satan says the only payment he will accept is the Life of the Lord Jesus. In others variations, Jesus dies on the cross, and in the three days before His resurrection, He is in Hell, being tortured by Satan, and this is the payment for our sins.

These stories arise out of a complete disregard for what the Bible has to say on the matter, and come from a misunderstanding of the Gospel truth. Let us deal with errors contained in this fable. The first problem is that our souls do not belong to Satan in the first place, and he has no authority over them.[Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.- Ezekiel 18:4]  Also, Satan is not the proprietor of Hell, nor is he resident there at the moment. Despite what the cartoons with the red devil and the pitchfork tormenting Tom (of Tom and Jerry fame) may show, Satan will not be torturing people in Hell-In fact, according to the Scriptures, Hell was specifically created as a prison for Satan and the other fallen angels [Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels – Matthew 25:41b]

Secondly, the fable rests on the premise that the penalty for sin was owed to Satan! (Satan’s torturing of Jesus is what pays the penalty for our release in one version). This is also contrary to the Scripture. In the Bible, God declares that sin is against HIM, [But he that sins against me wrongs his own soul: all they that hate me love death.-Proverbs 8:36]. Sin is rebellion against the Sovereign God of the Universe-it is going against what He has declared- that is why there is such a penalty as Hell for it and this penalty will be paid to Him. [the soul that sins, it shall die. - Ezekiel 18:4b]

It was not a failure on Christ’s part that He ended up on the cross-it was the plan from the beginning. This is where He took upon Himself the penalty for our sins [Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; He hath put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. – Isaiah 53:10] God is a God of Justice, and His holiness means that God The Father cannot even tolerate the presence of Sin. This is why unrepentant sinners are condemned to eternal separation from His presence.

As a righteous Judge, God cannot forgive us unless the penalty for our sins is paid. Would a human judge be considered ‘good’ if he let a criminal off because he was a nice guy? Or because the criminal ‘wasn’t that bad,’ or he’d done more good things than bad? Or if the criminal slipped him a 100 dollar bill? Of course not-only a corrupt judge would do that. The fact that he was a good judge would be the thing that made him condemn the criminal to pay the full penalty for his crime. In our case, the penalty is to be cast where all those who rebel against God will be cast-in Hell.

However, because of God’s mercy, He wants to forgive us. How then, could He forgive us, without compromising His righteousness? Well, it would be possible, if our penalty was paid in full. This is what Christ did on the cross-He was paying the penalty for our sins to God the Father. God was the only one qualified to pay this penalty-It is an infinite penalty, and thus only the infinite God could pay it. [For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: - 1 Peter 3:17-19]. This is why the final words of Christ from the cross were a phrase used in those times on promissory notes that had been settled, in the Greek ‘tetelestai,’ which literally means “paid in full.”

The whole system of animal sacrifice given in the Old Testament was one of substitutionary sacrifice, where the life of the animal represented the life of the repentant sinner, and were meant to point out to the people the cost of their sins. This is why Jesus is called ‘The Lamb of God’. He is the one who offered one perfect, unblemished sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world, and now, God can forgive those who acknowledge their sin, and ask for mercy because Jesus has paid the penalty for them. [But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. – Hebrews 10:12-14]

Therefore, those who come to God in humility and beg forgiveness will be forgiven, and will one day be with Christ and all other repentant sinners in His Kingdom. It is essential that we know the Gospel message accurately if we are to obey the Lord’s command to take it to the ends of the Earth for all to hear. God promised that everyone who is seeking Him and wishes to repent from their sins would have the Gospel given to them in one way or another, and He may use any means at His disposal to do this, whether it takes an angel from heaven or a miracle, but that does not excuse Christians from their responsibility to know it and proclaim it. It does this lost generation a disservice to tell them fables that are not the Gospel, for if they do not hear it, how can they be saved? It is all very well to say ‘God will get to them some way, but we have been given a direct order by Him to evangelize the world, declaring the truth about Him and His Gospel. [All authority has been given to me in heaven and in earth. Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, until the end of the world. – Matthew 28:18-20]

The lord is willing to forgive sinners, but we must be willing, and must be seeking Him before we can be forgiven. For those who are not believers in Jesus, will the excuse ‘what about those who never heard the Gospel’ be valid for you, if you’ve read all this? I hope that this has been a decent presentation of what the Gospel is, and will challenge you to think about these things, but beware, the time to repent will not always be there, and the day is coming when being a follower of Christ will not be as easy as it is today. [I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. – John 9:4]

Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon- Isaiah 55:6, 7

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart- Jeremiah 29:13

I hope this has been helpful, and has stirred you heart. Please feel free to pass it on to anyone you think might benefit from it, and please tell me of any mistakes I may have made in it. You are in my prayers, and I hope you will think on these things, and not just dismiss them. There is a judgment coming.