Why Didn’t Jesus Have to Suffer the Way Unbelievers Will?

Question:  Why was it such a difficult thing for Jesus to die on the cross and pay for our sins? I know that he took the full force of God’s wrath for our sin, but what did that do to Jesus? I know Jesus went through hell, but it was only temporary. All of us die, some very horrible deaths. And then some of us receive payment for our sins forevermore to be separated from God. This is terrible to say, but honestly it seems like a small price to pay considering humans and demons continue paying for their sin forever. I know Jesus was innocent of any sins. How can I see this from a more realistic and Godly viewpoint?

Answer:   I think you’re asking why Jesus didn’t have to pay more of a price equal to the punishment humans receive for rebelling against God.  He only died physically (and though torturous it was fairly limited compared to how some have been made to suffer) and then he was only separated from God for a short time and then entered Paradise upon death.  In other words, Jesus’ penalty seems way less than what others have exacted from them by God.

I have just had some of my own assumptions challenged in this area.  Are we correct in assuming that Jesus’ death has to be equal to the suffering of death that anyone else experiences to adequately pay the price for their sin?  Is the price for sin related to how horribly we die or just that we die physically?  It would seem it could only be related to the fact that we die, not the extent of our suffering.

And was Jesus’ statement that God had forsaken him a statement of the Father’s actually  abandoning him spiritually (so that he experienced a taste of hell)?  What is the actual penalty of rebellion against God?  It might only be physical death and that physical death for the unbeliever leads to eternal separation from God as a consequence, not so much as a penalty.

I don’t know yet how to answer each of those questions I raised, but I think it is important to recognize that Jesus was the only human being who ever lived a completely righteous life in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the value of his life is of infinite value and capable of paying for every human being who believes.  The fact that he would choose to die in our place when he did not deserve to die at all lends even greater weight to his sacrifice.

So we don’t have to see some kind of one-to-one correspondence between how Jesus died and how everyone else dies.  It is more a matter of what God accepts.  God values Jesus’ death as equal to what we would have had to pay corporately.  He feels it is a just payment in our place.  We may not fully understand how that is so, but we know His balance scales are always honestly weighted.  He didn’t give himself an easy way out.

Does Someone Have to Lay Hands on Me to Receive the Holy Spirit?

Question:  In Acts, in more than one place, the disciples were speaking to the ones that were called Christians, and asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit?  If the answer was no, they laid hands on them, at which time, they received the Holy Spirit.  The question was raised, Does the Holy Spirit come at the moment you receive Christ, or is there another anointing of the Spirit?

Answer:  There are four instances of the Holy Spirit baptizing believers.  I use this term because this is what John the Baptist foretold that the Messiah would do, baptize believers with the Holy Spirit, and what he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem for.  It happened to all these Jewish believers on the Day of Pentecost and Peter then preached to more Jews assembled in Jerusalem for this festival and 3,000 believed and were told that they would receive the Holy Spirit.

It happened again according to Acts 8 to Samaritan believers who had responded to the preaching of Philip.  However, they could not receive this Spirit baptism until Peter and John laid hands on them.

It happened a third time to Gentiles who were listening to Peter preach and while he was still preaching.  No one laid hands on them and they hadn’t even been water baptized.

It happened one more time to some disciples of John the Baptist who had left Israel before they were introduced to Jesus and when Paul explained Jesus to them they were water baptized and, after he laid hands on them, baptized in the Spirit (Acts 19).

In the first three cases the apostle Peter was present.  I believe this is because Jesus gave him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19).  So for each different people group admitted into the church, Peter had to open the door, so to speak.  With the Samaritans and Gentiles his presence guaranteed that there was only one church, all under the leadership of Jesus’ apostles.  The Samaritans could not say they received the Holy Spirit’s baptism without Jewish leadership, nor could the Gentile believers.

When Paul confronted the disciples of John in Acts 19 his question of them tells us that he understood the norm to be receiving the baptism in the Spirit when you believed (verse 2, the correct translation).  They were an oddity in that they had not had the opportunity to know the full gospel.  They had believed God’s prophet, John, but had missed the events of the cross and resurrection of Jesus.

All this is to say, the norm today is to receive the Holy Spirit, be baptized in Him, when you believe.  No one has to lay hands on you.  This is why Paul can say to the Corinthians, “We were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Today, there is no believer who has not been baptized in the Spirit.  We have all been immersed into His life and His life has begun to manifest itself in us.

This does not mean we have fully surrendered ourselves to all that He has for us.  The Holy Spirit wants to make us like Christ and there are many things He wants to do to move us in that direction.  He also wants to work through us to bless others.  Consequently He gives us many experiences of His presence that we may resist or receive.  If we are open to what He wants to do there are many wonderful ways in which we will see His life exuded through ours.

Randall Johnson

Why Aren’t Women Allowed the Same Freedom to Make Vows as Men?

Question:  In Numbers 30 Moses says that fathers of unmarried women who make vows can cancel them, as can husbands of women who make vows.  Why can males still living with parents and men make vows without anyone canceling them but women can’t?

Answer:  Women were considered under the authority of fathers and husbands and it would be disrespectful to that father or husband if his daughter or wife made a vow that did not fit with his vision for his family.  He would be considered someone who did not rule his home well.  The woman might make a vow that brought great inconvenience on her family, even endangered the family financially, taking from the family the protection it needed.  The given authority of the home needed to have the right to cancel such a vow.

Vows always involved sacrifice of an animal.  One of the most well-known vows was the Nazirite vow.  This vow was a voluntary show of devotion to God marked by not cutting one’s hair, not touching a dead body, and not eating anything from the vine.  At it’s completion a sacrifice would be offered.  One might vow to give up something or begin doing something in response to God’s answering a prayer.  Then, when the prayer was answered a sacrifice would be made and friends invited to eat the meat and hear testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Women could make such vows but the men in their lives had the right to counter them.  If a woman was widowed or divorced her vow stood.  I am assuming that if a minor male made a vow his father would have the right to rescind it, as well.

What if a man made a foolish vow?  As long as it did not violate the Law of Moses his vow could not be canceled.  Jephthah, a judge in Israel (Judges 11), made a foolish vow, promising that if God gave him victory he would offer as sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house on his return home.  His daughter came out.  It was against the law to sacrifice a human, so he had to keep her a virgin for the rest of her life.

Is it fair that a man’s vow must stand?  Perhaps not, but the Law of Moses wasn’t going to strip the leader of the home of his autonomy.  The wise leader doesn’t put his family in such situations, nor does he put others in places of suffering without good reason.

The principle here is that our actions affect others.  We need to show sensitivity to those whose lives we may touch by our acts of devotion or vows and choices we make.  Should I take that class, agree to volunteer for that service, make a purchase, start a project, without considering how it will affect those around me?  Who will we let “nullify” our choices?  Who has veto rights, if anyone?  We need accountability in our lives.

Randall Johnson