If Jesus is not eternal God He cannot be Savior.
Is believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that he atoned for our sin enough to obtain salvation?
The short answer to the question is, yes…. and no. Yes, the plain reading of the New Testament provides the historical account of Jesus the Christ coming from heaven in order that he might become a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). That his death, burial, and resurrection has been, and will always be the Gospel (1 Cor. 15). That his vicarious work provided the necessary atonement to cover the sin of all those who have come to the end of themselves and trust in His accomplished work alone (John 3:36).
However, the answer can also be, no, in the sense that the inspired revelation of the New Testament not only explicitly reveals critical attributes of the Savior such as his eternal and divine nature (John 1: 1-15, Col. 2), but it also provides multiple warnings not to trust in false representations of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:24). Although placing one’s faith in Jesus is the means in which the Lord has graciously provided atonement for lost sinners (Gal. 2:11, Eph. 2:8-9), the clear warnings of Scripture demand that we must be sure we are placing our faith in the genuine Savior that is found within its pages (Gal 1). Not to do so is akin to trying to use counterfeit currency. Although the counterfeit bill may look very similar to the real thing in many ways, in the end, it is worth nothing because its source lacks the authenticity necessary for a legally valid transaction to occur. It was created for only one purpose: to intentionally deceive people into believing that what they possessed had value, but in the end it is proved to be worthless. This is true even if the possessor of the currency was unaware that what they possessed was a counterfeit.
In the same sense, if the Jesus in which we are placing our faith in lacks the authenticity that is necessary to atone for our sins, then we also have been deceived and according to Scripture, the consequences of our deception are of eternal proportion. This rather frightening proposition is often deemed as an effort to try and play against people’s fears and emotions. However, it can be logically demonstrated if you are willing to view the purpose of our existence and meaning of life through the lens of Scripture (Psalm 119:105; Prov. 6:22-23). Before doing so it is important to for us first paint the context of the “Big Picture” presented in the Bible so that we are sure we are all looking through the same lens.
Although the Old and New Testaments comprise a collection of multiple works that were written by 40 different authors over a period of roughly 2000 years, it progressively and cohesively presents God’s complete plan of redemption through human history. It begins with Creation in Genesis, and informs us of the bad news: mankind’s fall and spiritual separation from their Creator (Gen 3). However, it also provides for us the Good News: that God would provide a Messiah who would restore the relationship between God and his people (Gen 3:15). The New Testament proclaims that the promised Messiah has come in the God-Man, Jesus Christ (John 1:1-14; Col. 2; Phil 2), and as demonstrated earlier, has indeed provided a means of restoration and reconciliation through his atoning sacrifice (Heb. 9:26). The Bible even provides the end of God’s redemption story for us in the book of Revelation. That is wonderful news because that means it is a complete revelation of God’s plan! The beginning, middle, and end of God’s redemption story revealed in His Word which remains intact. That consequently means that there is no need for additional revelation nor a need for its restoration. This is the lens in which God has provided for us to understand what the purpose of life is all about (Hebrew 4:12). Let us now appeal to the teachings of Scripture to demonstrate the necessity to place our faith in the correct Jesus.
When considering the warnings that are found in Scripture pertaining to not being deceived into following a counterfeit Jesus (Matt 24:24; Gal 1; 1 John; 2 John, etc.), it would make sense to carefully examine who Jesus truly is as revealed with its pages. Previous blog entries have systematically laid out the Scriptural reasons as to why orthodox Christianity has always affirmed the eternal (always existing) and divine (2nd person of the one, triune God) nature of the Lord, Jesus. So for brevities sake, we will not go into detail here. However, we should ask the question as to why our understanding of the Lord’s divine and eternal nature is so important. Does it really matter in the end? If we fill the answer is, yes, then can this be backed up by appealing to the revelation of Scripture?
The closing chapters of the book of Revelation graphically illustrate a future time of divine judgement on all ungodliness. The rather sobering words of Revelation 20 state:
“10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
As we examine this passage of Scripture we see that human beings who are not found written in the book of life (vs. 15) are cast into a lake of fire and brimstone where they will be tormented forever (vs.10). We also see that this eternal punishment is based off of their works (vs. 12-13). Again, it is only those who are written in the book of life that are spared this judgement. The obvious deduction here is it is only those who have had Jesus’ atoned sacrifice applied to them, who have their names written in the book of life (John 3:36, John 8:24). That is because Jesus became their substitute who took the wrath of God and atoned for their sins (2 Cor5:21; Roman 5:9, etc.).
Let’s take it a step further and ask why Jesus was the authentic means in which God has made provision for atonement? The answer is rather simple when you see that the Jesus who is revealed in Scripture is an eternal being who became man that he might be punished in their place (John 8:23): We can see from the passage in Revelation 20:10 the punishment is an eternal punishment. This begs the question: if Jesus really paid the eternal penalty in our place then why is he not still in hell paying the eternal penalty on our behalf? If our names are not written in the Lamb’s book of life, then our punishment will be eternal separation. Why did Jesus only pay the payment once if the punishment is supposed to be eternal?
The answer is because Jesus is an eternal being (John 8:23; John 17:5). Because Jesus was not only man, but the eternal God (Col 1:15; Philp 2:8-9), he could pay the eternal penalty once. The Bible declares all other beings as created; therefore, not eternal (Col 1:16). If a created being is not eternal and yet an eternal penalty is demanded by a just, holy, and eternal God, then it only goes to reason that they must continuously pay for it through eternity as Revelation 20:10 depicts. However, because our Lord is unique and does contain an eternal essence, then his atoning sacrifice was able to satisfy the Law’s eternal demand, once and for all (Heb. 10:12). That is why Jesus’ eternal and divine nature is so crucial!
If the Jesus you are placing your faith in for the atonement of your sins is a created being (who is the first of many or has not always eternally existed); then, unless you are willing to consent to the notion that he will remain in hell for all of eternity in order to atone for your sin, he lacks the eternal essence necessary to provide an authentic, “once and for all,” substitutionary atonement. He is just a counterfeit. Jesus himself spoke specifically to this subject while confronting the religious leaders if his time. In John 8, he warned them with, “23 . . . . Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”
By Jared Clark