Refusing Payment

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If Jesus died on the cross and spent three days in hell to pay for the sins of the world, then why would we have to go to hell ourselves and pay for them again? God is then, in essence, being paid for our sins twice. With that said, was Jesus’ sacrifice not worthy enough? If that is the case, why should we care that he died for our sins if his sacrifice means nothing at all?

This is the 11th of 50 Questions Christian’s can’t answer  I started several months ago. I took a hiatus from them, but felt like it was time to address a few more. If you click on the above link you will see my responses from on the first ten.

The belief that Jesus spent three days in Hell is not a universal belief within the various Christian denominations. After researching that statement I could only find it stated in the Apostle’s Creed.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
the Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived of the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended into hell.
The third day he arose again from the dead.
He ascended into heaven
and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty,
from there he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen. 1

You will not find the Apostle’s Creed in the Bible. It is a summary of what the Apostles taught, and what their followers taught, but it was not written by them, and in fact was written more than 150 years after the Apostles all died. Nor do we know who the author of the Apostles Creed is. 2

The Nicene Creed has more history we can trace. The first three centuries of the Christian church was not a walk in the park, but when Emperor Constantine gained control of the Roman Empire, he adopted Christianity and convened a council in 325 in the city of Nicaea. Out of that council came the Nicene Creed. Most scholars believe the Apostle’s Creed was written prior to the Nicene Creed, but was then later influenced by the Nicene Creed. The earliest historical evidence of the Apostles’ Creed can be found in a letter written 65 years later at the Council of Milan in 390 A.D. 3

So we can dismiss the strawman assertion in the first part of question 11. It completely misrepresents Christian Theology and Christian mainstream. Nevertheless, the heart of the question is why would someone have to pay for their sins, or go to Hell, if Christ already died on the cross as a substitutionary atonement for our sins?

The sacrifice of Christ is sufficient to pay for our sins; we only need to accept His gift, and that is exactly what it is, a gift.

Many of us have a difficult time accepting gifts, especially the unexpected or undeserved ones. Just the other day, I heard a radio talk show host share a story of when she was rear ended by an acquaintance; I will call him Mark. She was shook up, but told Mark her old van did not look that bad. Her bumper had some scratches and a dent, but she wanted to talk to her husband about it. Later that evening she showed her husband, who said it was no big deal and to text the fellow, Mark, and tell him they were not concerned about it. Mark could not believe it, and replied she was lying!

I don’t know any details beyond that, but Mark could have insisted on paying for the damage. We are put in the same position. We can accept the gift of Christ dying for our sins, or we can pay for them ourselves. God does not drag anyone into heaven; the choice is theirs alone. The payment is a one time fee. We pay for them ourselves, or we allow Christ to pay them for us.

Joel Furches, a Christian Apologist who has written for Got Questions and Please Convince Me, put it this way, “Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient, but the salvation it offers certainly isn’t compulsory. As always, people still have the choice of abandoning their self-centered mindset, repent of their misdeeds, and cling to the salvation Jesus purchased; or they have the choice to continue to pursue their self-interests at the expense of the grace offered by God. 4

Finally, to be fair to those who feel Christ spent three days in hell, they would often quote 1Peter 3:19 and 1 Peter 4:6. There are other verses that allude Christ descending to the lower earthly regions and holding the keys to Hades, but Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe had this to say particularly about 1 Peter 4:6, “…this is an unclear passage, subject to many interpretations, and no doctrine should be based on an ambiguous passage like this. The difficult texts should be interpreted in the light of the clear ones and not the reverse.” 5

 

Sources:
1. “Study Resources :: Did Jesus Go to Hell?.” Blue Letter Bible. Sowing Circle. Web. 31 Mar, 2015.
2. “What is the Apostles’ Creed?” Got Questions. gotquestions.org, n.d. Web. 26 March 2015.
3. Readon, JoHannah. “The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds.” Christianity Today. Christianitytoday.com, 30 July 2008. Web. 27 March 2015
4. Furches, Joel. “Answering Top 50 Questions Christians Can’t Answer.” Examiner. Examiner.com, 18 July 2014. Web 27 March 2015
5. Geisler, Norman L. Howe, Thomas. The Big Book of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, 1992. Print.

 

 

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Refusing Payment by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

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