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Central question, deeper answer than you might find elsewhere

An athiest question, or just a question? Probably contains the seed of an interesting answer, theologically.

Q: Christians say that a lot - "he died for me" etc. It never really hit me that hard.

For example, ponder the THOUSANDS of troops who gave their lives in the 2nd world war. Consider the terrified 19 year old marine, struggling up the beach against a hale of gunfire. His only reason for being there is to secure the freedom of future generations. He steps on a mine and blows his body in half, and lies in the sand slowly dying in agony and bleeding to death, alone and terrified. There were men in that attack who knew they were going to their death.

Can you imagine what it feels like to run TOWARDS someone who is shooting REAL BULLETS at you, and you know you are almost certainly going to be hit by one, and your only reason for being there is to secure the freedom of future generations?

In what way is his act any less of a noble sacrifice than that of Jesus Christ?


[This was an email question. I answered it in the non-pithy way that this type of question can only be answered in. But the foundational subject of good and evil is what the answer gets at. You won't read this answer from any internet apologists or theologians or even Reformed theologians from the past...especially the paragraph starting with "The obvious question that can be asked is why is it all necessary...", and then also the addendum...]

There's no pithy answer to this...

I could start by suggesting that the soldier may not be as selfless in his motives as is suggested, because maybe he doesn't want to live under tyranny himself and also perhaps he doesn't think 'he' will be one of the numbers of casualties. A kamakazi pilot or suicide bomber could arguably be a better example.

But that's neither here nor there because the soldier is not anybody's federal head (like Adam or Jesus) and the soldier is not 100% innocent (like Jesus was when he was put to death), and also the soldier is not God the Son who made a covenant with God the Father before time to pay the price for Adam's fall, which was death.

The soldier may have died for us in a very real way that is noble and selfless, but it doesn't change our situation of being under the curse of the law and in bondage to the death and darkness of being under the curse of the law.

The best tangible evidence of this grand mega-structure of the mechanics of redemption (the plan of God) is the animal sacrifice you see in all cultures, to varying degree, throughout history. Including in the Homeric epics.

(In fact there is a line of thought that warfare itself among humans is a form of human sacrifice. A perverse sacrifice of life to the devil, or even a kind of sacrifice for atonement of sins to God. The former perverse, the latter ineffective. An example of the former would be the genocide committed by the Stalinist and Maoist and Pol Pot regimes. An example of the latter would be most wars that probably don't really need to happen. The sort of cyclical tribal warfare that is never-ending. Some wars obviously are legitimate, or need to be fought.)

Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The spotless lamb (the only 100% innocent human being because He followed the law to a 't', and only He was able to do that, and also He wasn't born with original sin since his father was the Holy Spirit and not a human father) and also He is God and for this reason His sacrifice on the cross accomplished what no other human or animal sacrifice could accomplish. His sacrifice was the once and for all sacrifice.

Because of the covenant in the Garden that was broken God's justice demands death for that broken covenant. And we are 'federally' under the Adam as our Federal head from birth. To be under Jesus as our Federal head we need faith. Once we are under Jesus as our Federal head we are no longer under the curse of the law which is death.

The reason why we have gratitude for Jesus (God the Son) for dying for us is because He didn't have to. He willingly did it. And He really did it. He incarnated as a human being, just like you are me, and he truly suffered real death and the full wrath of God, even experience of hell, before He was resurrected after three days.

The obvious question that can be asked is why is it all necessary, i.e. this particular plan? And I answer that by seeing what we would be if this plan didn't exist. Would we be created to begin with? If so, then would we be mere robots? If we were evil would we be evil for eternity? If we were made totally good would that be real? If we were created with love for our Creator would that be real love? One way we differ from the angels (the angels who didn't fall, i.e. not the evil angels) is we know good and evil, having been born with original sin and actively sinned in our lives. The evil angels who fell don't have a plan for their redemption. We do. The evil angels are headed for destruction or eternal hellfire. The good angels, by the way, look down on our experiences with interest because we are going through things they don't go through. This is why a born again human being who dies and is glorified is then 'higher than the angels.'

So when we ask, why? Why did I have to be born with original sin? What did I do? You have to realize you are a created being totally reliant on your Creator for your very existence asking this. You could have been born a dog, and you wouldn't have any questions. You could be a mere robot created perfect and good by fiat but you wouldn't have real understanding, real consciousness, and real will.

It's very possible that this is the best of all possible plans, and the only real plan for us created beings to become something that is truly real.

Ironically we become real not by developing with our own effort but by being regenerated by the Holy Spirit and then acting from 'above' with God's will rather than self-will (the Work is helpful in understanding all the mechanics of this). The issue of effort vs. monergistic regeneration (God alone doing it) can be seen like this: we are soil, and we can to some extent make ourselves more or less fertile, but only the farmer can plant a seed in us. When it happens it just happens. Maybe we start out in a barren desert and someone scoops us up because we seem a little 'different' and puts us in a planter, and then the planter is dumped into a real field that is being sown with seed and so on. However it happens, we can't plant the seed in us ourselves. We need an external shock for that (that term again, external shock, and now I see maybe that the second conscious shock is an external shock in a similar sense which is why I was strangely using that
term 'external').

But the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity) couldn't, or wouldn't, come into us if God the Son didn't suffer and die on the cross. It would have violated God the Father's justice if the Holy Spirit came in to the elect prior to the elect's sins being paid for.

One final point. This can't be explained in a pithy answer because it is all NEW. You don't encounter the plan of God in other influences (history, philosophy, etc.). When you finally come to encounter it is is truly new. New ideas. New facts. New reality. You can only learn it from special revelation, i.e. the Old and New Testaments, the written Word of God (not even general revelation). You can be 'directed' towards an understanding of it from very inspired things like the Homeric epics, but to get it all, the atonement, sacrifice, the Covenants of Works and Grace, the overall Covenant of Redemption, etc. you need to learn it from the Bible and from teachers inspired by the Holy Spirit like the great theologians who were on-the-mark with biblical doctrine.

One level is to learn it and just accept it (what that woman in that video has done, I think). Another level is to not only learn it and accept it but also to truly understand it. Either level is effective for salvation.

- C.


One point (but read the previous email first): a lot of this is about the subject of good and evil. We need a knowledge of good and evil to be real, to be like God (see Genesis 3:22):

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

In Work language this is like saying: you can't have higher centers and higher functions without first having command of your lower centers and of false personality and all that. Otherwise you will be like the boy in the Greek myth who wanted to fly in the chariot of the sun but was unable to control the horses and burned up the earth and the heavens and had to be destroyed.

Yet the problem remains, to be real, like God (and the 'us' referred to is probably the three Persons of the Trinity) you need to know good and evil. So God sets up the plan for all human beings to 'fall' and so know good and evil, without having the Tree of Life, i.e. without having access to the chariot of the sun and those horses (higher centers, for instance); and then to, from the position of the fall, be drawn back up but in the process developing real will, real consciousness, and real understanding.

The straight biblical explanation is more stark than that. All the development just happens once regenerated but the explanation is simply it is all to manifest the glory of God. The reprobate among us exist to manifest the justice of God, for instance. The saved among us exist to manifest the mercy of God. The explanation is more hardcore and designed to challenge our vanity and pride and self-will. We are tempted to 'judge God' (i.e. *we're* more just and *we're* more merciful than God) and we have to get above that within ourselves. - C.

ps- You can see that much of the development of understanding is *knowing the difference.* Knowing good and evil. You can't get above sex in understanding, for instance, without knowing the 'evil' side of it. Porn will do this. de Sade type influences. Seeing it in yourself. Getting real understanding. If you are sheltered from it and only know, for instance, marital sex then you don't have understanding of it. You don't have control of the nether side of it. It has control of you. So God's plan is like dropping us into the midst of a lot of porn and violence and at the same time eventually giving us the Holy Spirit and in the internal war we develop understanding and valuation for the light rather than the darkness and so on. But there are consequences or else it isn't real. Hell is a consequence. Death is a consequence. Our only out being faith in the Redeemer, the Son of God, and how that effects us internally is a consequence. Etc.


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