Salvation made cheap
Letter to the Editor:
GOD'S MESSAGE, March 2009, p.4
GOD'S MESSAGE, March 2009, p.4
YOUR MAGAZINE IS part of my readings and through it I found out that unlike most of the Christian sects, the Iglesia ni Cristo doesn't believe that Christ is God. This didn't surprise me that much for you have a very good point in arguing that if the Son is God too, together with the Father, then there would be more than one God, and that would obviously contradict the monotheism endorsed by Christ Himself.
However, I am wondering, if Jesus Christ were just a man and not God, then wouldn't that render His death for mankind's salvation as a cheap sacrifice? For if Christ were purely human, kept free from sin by God, and then sent to His death on the cross, then that would have not cost God much, for He could have created a million such men.
Peter John Ambrocio
Valenzuela City, Philippines
Valenzuela City, Philippines
Editor's reply:We are pleased to know than our magazine is part of your readings.
The underlying, argument in your question appears to suggest that the only way mankind's salvation could be considered a great sacrifice or a manifestation of God's great love for mankind is if and only if it were no less than God Himself who had died on the cross—that if He who suffered the pains of that harsh death were just "purely human" and not God, then salvation would not be priceless but a "cheap" one.
Highly subjective as it is, this contention fall short of biblical substantiation. In fact, to suggest that God's plan of salvation is 'cheap' if He who died on the cross were not God is not only to question God's goodness but also to utterly contradict what the Holy Scriptures teaches regarding salvation.
God, according to the Bible, is immortal (I Tim. 1:17)- Therefore, for Him to die whatever reason or purpose is a direct violation of biblical teachings. And to suggest that God underwent "incarnation" or willfully became a mortal man to be able to die for us is to further promote an idea which is grossly opposed to the will of God who clearly declared, "I am God, and not man" (Hos. 11:9, New King James Version) and "I am the LORD, and I do not change" (Mal. 3.6, Today's English Version)
"I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not destroy Ephraim. For I am God and not man. The Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror." (Hosea 11:9, New King James Version)
"I am the LORD, and I do not change. And so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not yet completely lost." (Malachi 3:6, Today's English Version)
Concerning the greatest manifestation of God's love for mankind, this is the teaching of the Bible:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16, NKJV)
So that people would have the opportunity to attain everlasting life, the Bible says. "He [God] gave His only begotten Son." Notice that it doesn't say, '"God gave Himself. Clearly, therefore, the one that was given as sacrifice for man's redemption is not God Himself but His Son Jesus Christ.
Concerning the nature of the Son Jesus Christ, He Himself said, "But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth." (John 8:40, Ibid) And to stress the fact that He is distinct from God, Christ further stated, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone" (Mark 10:18, Revised Standard Version)
The fact that Christ is man and not God does not mean, however, that Jesus Christ is just an "ordinary man" like us. Christ is far greater than all of us—He is the only man who was exalted to be, among others, Prince and Savior (Acts 5:31), made Lord (Acts 2:36), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), all authority in heaven and on earth was given to Him (Matt. 28:18), yet despite these honors and powers, He possessed, He remained a man—humble ; and completely obedient to His Father (Phil 2:8). Indeed, Christ is God's "only begotten Son" whom He loved so much and in whom He is well pleased (Matt, 3:1 7). Considering all of these, plus the fact that Christ committed no sin and has never transgressed any of His Father's will (I Pet. 2:21-22), only the heartless and callous would say that His voluntary act of supreme sacrifice through death by crucifixion does not "cost" or mean much to His loving Father in heaven. The truth is, behind Christ's sacrificial death for the Church is the unquestionable and priceless love of God for mankind:
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:9-10, NKJV)
You said that God, being Omnipotent, could have created a million Jesus Christ. But the fact is He created only one Christ (Col. 1:15) and this is according to His divine plan or wisdom (1 Cor. 2:7, 2). To suggest that the death of one Christ who is "truly human" (I Tim. 2-.5, Contemporary English Version) is not "enough" manifestation of God's great for mankind is therefore, an affront to the sacrifices God and Jesus Christ made for mankind and a disgrace to the "precious blood of Christ" with which the true Christians were redeemed:
"God will do anything for us. God even let his own Son suffer for us. God gave his Son for us all." (Rom. 8:32, Easy to-Read Version")
"Jesus Christ did the things God wanted him to do. And because of that, we are made holy through the sacrifice of Christ's body. Christ made that sacrifice one time—enough for all time." (Heb. 10:10, Ibid.)
''You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" (I Pet. 1:1 8-19, RSV)
Lastly, it should be noted that the biblical truth that Jesus Christ died on the cross all the more proves that He is man and not God, for God, unlike man, is immortal (Heb. 9:27; I Tim. 1:17)
Bible Study Suggestion: If you have further questions, please feel free to visit the Iglesia ni Cristo congregation nearest you. A minister or an evangelical worker would be happy to answer any biblical question you have in mind._____________________________________________________________________________________________