It was impossible for Jesus to die until He laid down His life, correct?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929, Apr 15, 2019.

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  1. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Isn't it true that the only reason Adam & Eve died spiritually initially and ultimately physically, and all of their progeny die (except Jesus), is because "the wages of sin is death"? (and of course this involves original sin, guilt, and imputation of the sin of Adam).
    But Jesus was the only human being not tainted by original sin, original guilt, or the imputation of Adam's sin.
    And, Jesus was sinless, so since he never sinned then death via "the wages of sin is death" can't apply to Him.
    It seems it was not until the sins of the elect were imputed to Him on the Cross that He bore God's wrath upon sin for us & paid the infinite sin debt in a finite period of time & laid down His own life for us.
    Therefore, the human flesh that Jesus took upon Himself absolutely could not be killed and could not die ... until Jesus willed it.
  2. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    This seems similar to the question Could Jesus get sick?, which is an interesting question about the nature of Christ's humanity. Since the response that he could not is drawn from logical inference about what it would mean to be a human without sin, rather than from any direct scriptural statements about Jesus and sickness/death, it's probably best to hold our position on this question lightly.

    More than that, the question itself is trumped by a truth that is stated directly in Scripture. There is, it seems, a bigger reason why it was not possible for Jesus to die until he laid down his life: He is the Christ, and this was God's design and plan for the Christ.

    So the speculative question about whether Jesus as a sinless person could have died without taking on our sin is rendered moot because, by God's design, the whole setup would never even have happened outside of Christ's mission to give up his life by his own decision. That Christ willingly died is something the Bible tells us many times, suggesting it is the best way to think about the matter. Engaging in speculation about what might have been possible is perhaps somewhat interesting, but misses the point. To get there, Jesus would not have been the Christ in the first place.
  3. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you for your comment but I disagree with you because this truth about the sinlessness of Jesus contrasted with why all human beings (except Jesus) die because of their sin nature, but since Jesus was without sin nature and therefore the only reason He died is because He laid down his human life.

    This question of mine is a prelude to more theological truths including the Impeccability of Jesus.

    I am not speculating.

    This is very important.

    Also, I disagree with you comparing it to "if Jesus could get sick" because that is completely different in my opinion. Especially since the human body can have sickness not unto death.

    Jesus experienced weakness, sleepiness, hunger, thirst, emotional distress, and many other things because Jesus had a weakened human body (not a body like Adam had).

    I think many misunderstand the human nature of Jesus in critically important ways which lead many to think that Jesus was peccable, and to me that is a grievous position to take. Jesus was impeccable for many reasons. He was the 2nd Adam but He wasn't identical to pre-fall Adam in many ways.

    Also, for those theologians who say the only reason Jesus was impeccable was because of the impossibility of violating God's decree, they sadly miss all of the other glorious reasons why our Lord Christ Jesus was impeccable.
  4. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I'm not sure the truth that humans die because of their sinful nature is quite robust enough to capture all the reasons for death and all the purposes for which God has ordained it. I suspect it might be helpful to look at other angles as well, if you're open to doing that. Lots of smart people here could help us with that. Or if you're not interested, fine.
  5. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Jack K - Please know how sincerely grateful I am for you interacting with me on this subject.

    The reason I created this thread is because of another post on the Puritan Board.

    The PB member Contra_Mundum who is Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan wrote in a thread from January about if Adam was indwelt by the Holy Spirit ... in message #33:

    Quoting Rev Buchanan: "Life" is actually independent of the "bodily systems" that sustain it in our flesh. Take an unfallen sinless man, wreck his uncorrupted body, and he's not dead. Carve it up, burn it, atomize it, he's still not dead. If God gave him his body back whole again, he still never died (as we understand death's fundamental) even while he lacked his animated body. Jesus, however, DIED. He did so because he had a real, human post-fall body (not yet glorified). He also bore in it the awful wrath of God, holy judgment against moral indecency (not his own).

    I sent him a message about this and asked him to please read this thread of mine because I disagree with what he said and I welcome his opinion.

    So I hope very much, and have prayed also, that he has time to respond.
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    [ref.'d thread:]

    Did (Does) Jesus have "life in himself," Jn.5:26, because he was sinless, or because he is/was God?

    I believe it is because of the latter, and not because anyone purely human truly lives apart from communion with God--not even Adam before he fell.

    Why would Adam (and Eve) have lived, and presumably never died so long as he confirmed his obedience? Was it because he had power over his life? No, he lived at God's pleasure and by divine promise. And, there was hope--following his probation--that he would be raised to an even more blessed estate in which sin was not even possible (the same estate of glory that we are destined to obtain in Christ).

    Will we live everlasting in glory, on account of our sinlessness? While we will be sinless evermore in heaven (and the new creation), our everlasting life is "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Predicating our glorification in any respect on our sinlessness--either to attain it or maintain it--reestablishes the covenant of works. Our ongoing sinlessness will be because we live "in him," and by his virtue; and not the other way around.

    In the garden, Adam would not die because he was in communion with God; and because God willed that he live as a consequence or reward for his obedience. Grant the theory that some bodily peril could overtake him--he could have been caught in a fire, for example, and God permit it for his own holy end, and not prevent it or rescue his body before destruction. Still being in holy spiritual communion with God, Adam would not be dead as we have come to know death after sin.

    But I don't think its correct to say that Adam had "life in himself," that he had such power and authority with respect to his own life, that he had a kind of "indestructibility" to him, like a comicbook superhero. The kind of life he had was a product of his communion with God, and losing that (WSC19) meant his death. He was NOT like a powered-up independent toy, only with neverfailing batteries, provided that he didn't break the circuitry by sinning.

    Now, on account of sin our bodies are susceptible to decay and death. Christ took on our nature in its broken condition in order to heal it. "That which He has not assumed He has not healed." Gregory of Nazianzus - Critique of Apollinarius and Apollinarianism. Perhaps the body the Son acquired would have aged differently to what we're accustomed to know, but since our Lord did not grow elderly in that body, we cannot know what "could have been." Perhaps he was seldom or never ill, howbeit Scripture is silent. It is almost certain that he stubbed his toes, cut his fingers, fell and scraped his skin; and his human body did its healing according to its design.

    One thing Jesus had: unbroken communion with God. He had this, even while he continued in our fallen flesh. It was that communion, and his own divine power, that gave him "life in himself." As a man with a mission, he could not fall into the hands of his enemies before his time, before the will of God allowed it. He would not "stub his foot against a stone," unless that also fit in the plan of God. He broke no bones during his life (we may assume), because it was not the will of God he ever should. He did not avoid scrapes because he was sinless. He did not (theoretically) puncture his lung, while a boy, and just sort of miraculously survive because sinless people don't die (or limp). He could not die of an early injury or illness, because all his days were written, Ps.139:16, until the last one.

    Jesus didn't sin because he was the Son of God. His sinlessness didn't keep his flesh alive, but it was intrinsic to his life. You would not expect a Person like him to sin, and he never did. It's true that "no one takes" his life from him, but he lays it down of his own accord, Jn.10:18. But how is that the case? What would have happened at Nazareth's cliff, Lk.4:29, if Jesus had not walked through the midst of them contrary to their intention? If he had landed at the bottom among the rocks? Was he just that "resilient?" It wasn't time for that, it was not "their hour," Lk.22:53.

    Yes, I think there was an element in which Jesus "willed" to expire on the cross, when he knew his suffering had been accomplished. In that, he defied his enemies and their claim to power. Other things to remember: he had mysteriously experienced our loss of blessed communion with his Father (Ps.22:1), as the terminal experience of his humiliation, in order to absorb all the wrath of God due to us for sin. He drained the cup of indignation to the dregs, as the spotless Lamb. Also, his body was wracked on the cross, and his blood poured out. It is not a biblical notion to imagine that he could (theoretically) still be there, not dead yet, because he never "chose" to die. He was dying in his flesh; but his spirit departed from there on his terms, not his executioners'. They were surprised he was dead already.

    His enemies said that they must be right, and he must be wrong, or else God wouldn't let this happen to him. They dared him to come down from the cross, where they put him, and were killing him. We need to take all this into account, and account for Providential preservation. The preserving power of God is with his Anointed One, to deliver him from death (Hab.3:13); if the arrows bounce off him, it isn't because he's plussed-up like Achilles. His angels take charge of him, and they minister to him.

    Anyway, I hope this meditation is helpful.
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  7. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Rev Buchanan,

    I know you are a very busy man as a Pastor.

    Please know how much I appreciate you responding to this post.

    Also, please bear with me because I am old, and only became reformed 7 years ago, so I am obviously not a theologian, nor scholar, and not particularly articulate, but I am an earnest student.

    1) I created this OP after reading things you said in message #33 of the thread Was Adam indwelt by the Holy Spirit pre-Fall?

    You said, "Take an unfallen sinless man, wreck his uncorrupted body, and he's not dead. Carve it up, burn it, atomize it, he's still not dead."

    I found this fascinating, but because of my beliefs about Jesus, God incarnate, that his physical death differed from that of a "theoretical" sinless human who is a mere creature only.

    Then you also said, "Jesus, however, DIED. He did so because he had a real, human post-fall body (not yet glorified).

    But this I disagreed with and led me to create this OP.

    2) I absolutely understand that the Bible teaches Jesus sustains all that exists moment to moment by the Word of His power.

    So this alone proves no creature has any power!

    3) There has been a misunderstanding.

    I absolutely know that LIFE is of & from God, and sustained by God alone. No creature has any power.

    I think you agree that when God said to Adam & Eve that they would surely die if they ate from the forbidden tree, He was at the same time giving His word that they would never cease to live if they obeyed?

    They DIED spiritually immediately upon their disobedience and their bodies began to die. In Genesis 3:15 by God's mercy and grace they were made alive in Christ but still had to physically die, as do all of their fallen progeny.

    4) Yes unregenrate fallen people are DEAD because they are not connected to God and not alive in Christ. Those who are not elect never will be alive in Christ. The Regenerate Elect are made alive in Christ forevermore.

    Then His word teaches that the wages of sin is death, spiritually and physically.

    Since Jesus was the only sinless human ... then what are the wages of sinlessness?

    Could the answer be the inability to die spiritually or physically?

    Had there ever been a mere human creature who was sinless then he would have forever lived, not because he had any power over his life but because God is saying He will only die if he sins thereby ensuring God will sustain his life indefinitely.

    5) But the sinless Jesus did die physically. How? I think only because He laid down His life and willed it so as the 2nd person of the Trinity incarnate come to save His people from their sins.

    Theoretically, a mere sinless human creature could not die physically because God said he would only die (spiritually and physically) if he sinned. Because God's word is sure and true then continuing life spiritually and physically would be guaranteed forevermore.

    6) However, 2 cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

    So, am I missing something here regarding Jesus becoming sin for us?

    7) But, if I understand correctly, one of the most profound reasons our Savior had to be God incarnate was to bear the wrath of God upon sin and to pay the infinite debt in a finite period of time.

    A mere human who is sinless could not have done that. Am I correct about this in your opinion?

    8) By the way, if any of us had been Adam or Eve, we too would have fallen, correct? Adam was our perfect representative and if I understand the meaning of that correctly this means no human being could have been able to remain sinless. Jesus is the only human being who could remain sinless. So how was Jesus able to not sin? Well, when we are glorified and conformed to His image then we too will not be able to sin (inability to sin), and the Image of God will be fully restored in us which desires only Holiness. Jesus did not have a glorified body, but He was a sinless human being bearing the perfect Image of God ( never lost like in fallen man) and He perfectly desired only Holiness because His will was fixed as ours will be in glory.
    Jesus suffered temptations in ways beyond our comprehension but He couldn't sin because He perfectly desired only Holiness. Adam, on the other hand failed to bear the Image of God perfectly the moment he began to entertain in his mind sinful thoughts prior to his disobedience no-longer perfectly desiring holiness.

    So how did Jesus manage to never have even 1 little tiny fleeting sinful thought, even as a young child?

    I believe the answer in large part is that Jesus' humanity was NOT identical to Adam pre-fall.

    Theoretically, if pre-fall Adam had been reincarnated and tasked with saving us he would have failed miserably!

    Jesus differed from Adam in that though Jesus' body was not glorified yet, he was what all regenerate human beings will be when fully sanctified and made not able to sin thereby perfectly desiring holiness forevermore. Jesus was born fully sanctified with the perfect holy will all of the elect will obtain when our salvation is complete. Adam was in a different state pre-fall.

    9) Those who think that Jesus had to be identical to pre-fall Adam in order for Him to fulfill the scriptures about being able to empathize and sympathize with our state of fallen sin nature are incorrect. And those who think Jesus' temptations could not be legitimate unless He could risk having a sinful thought (even a trivial tiny little thought ... since sin is sin!) are mistaken.

    Why did our salvation require more than just a mere sinless human being?

    Why did the 2nd person of the Trinity have to leave heavenly bliss for us and take weakened human flesh (unlike prefall Adam who did not have weakened flesh)?

    He emptied himself. He condescended. He humbled himself. He lived a miserable life beyond our ability to comprehend how miserable His entire life was ... and then the Cross.

    No human can understand what Jesus experienced in forsakenness in that dreadful moment while hanging and bleeding on the cursed tree, and bearing the wrath of God upon sin, and paying our infinite sin debt (including Adam's & Eve's sin debt).

    Even in Glory we will never be capable of fully comprehending what this cost the Father and the son to save us.

    Didn't Jesus lay down His life and then take it up again? Could a mere sinless human creature take his life up again after his physical body died?! Didn't Jesus do this so that death would die for "His people" who are described in Matthew 1:21? Didn't this make it possible for those who are His and who are dead when Jesus returns to be bodily resurrected & also for those who are His and still alive when he returns to be changed in a twinkling on an eye?

    Doesn't also the eternal life of His people depend on the fact that Jesus willingly agreed to be a glorified human being forever in the eternal hypostatic union? Don't our lives also depend upon the fact that Jesus ever lives to make intercession for us?

    With all of this in mind, why do so many Christians obsess thinking the human part of Jesus saved them by meritoriously fighting urges to sin? Why don't they understand that even as a child Jesus knew who and what He was. He was far more than just a human prophet with divine inspiration and knowledge, He was the eternally begotten son incarnate. Why don't they understand when Jesus said "I and the Father are one" this meant His will was as the Fathers will is, and His will perfectly desired holiness at all times during His earthly existence because His will was perfectly immutable like the Father's.

    10) You do believe that Jesus was Impeccable right? something you said made me wonder what you believe about this.

    THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. Lord's blessings to you.
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I will try to answer your post.

    This, my comment: "Take an unfallen sinless man, wreck his uncorrupted body, and he's not dead. Carve it up, burn it, atomize it, he's still not dead," is specifically a reference to Adam--because spiritually, even under shocking or painful or destructive conditions of the body, Adam would remain in communion with God. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, if one is in communion with God. To be in communion with God is to live, for he is life.

    Next, you took my Adamic description, and applied it to Jesus: "An unfallen, sinless man." It's true Jesus was not fallen, and he was sinless (impeccable). So we may express his spiritual human-condition, and for all his earthly life long. But we must also take his body into account, for he came "in the likeness of sinful flesh," Rom.8:3.

    Sin is not a property of human nature, as such; however it is a condition of humanity post-fall, affecting the body as well as the soul. Rom.3:8 does not say Jesus was sinful on account of his flesh; nor that he only approximated our condition: but that he was clothed in exactly that flesh which in all other men is marked or characterized by sin.

    Jesus needed OUR nature, including the body; because, as the same v goes on to say, he came "for sin," or on account of it. By means of his full humanity, he would bear sin's punishment in the only instrument suitable.

    You seem to disagree with the notion that Jesus' incarnational existence--as to its nature--was no different from the ordinary fallen man's in this world. Christ wasn't fallen, but he took on our fallen nature in order to redeem it. The fallen human nature is the proper object of the punishment for sin.

    Your phrase, "the wages of sinlessness" suggests to me the concept of the Covenant of Works. One thing is certain: Jesus did not labor under a covenant of works (for himself); he did not "qualify" to be the Sacrifice for the sins of the world by keeping his record clean. All of Christ's human obedience was done to cover OUR debts, who were obligated under the original Covenant of Works.

    So, Christ was indeed sinless, and obedient to the terms of the Covenant of Works for us. By his obedience he was not "earning" or "retaining" right to life, life that was his by title and grant. One of the failures of understanding by "his own" to whom he came, and especially their leaders, was confidence that God would never permit a horrendous injustice (or any real harm) come upon the sinless Messiah. They thought such a one must be obedient for his own sake, and naturally would deserve (according to a legal definition) divine protection.

    Well, they were correct only in the sense that, if the Messiah was the kind of person they thought he should be, then their concept of his righteousness would be vindicated, and he would not die; he could not possibly die--he was sinless. The facts, however, proved them wrong. He was "put to death in the flesh," 1Pet.3:18. They believed their by-hook-or-by-crook efforts to rid themselves of this menace were vindicated by their success. "See! He wasn't Messiah, as he claimed: look what we did to that deceiver!" (Mt.27:63)

    Neither the Jews nor the Romans were under the false impressions they were executing someone whom they could not actually kill (bodily). Jews in particular understood the futility of striving "against God" (Act.5:39), who ought to intervene for his favored Son (if so be). Act.3:15, Peter declares that they killed him, the Prince of Life. This language bespeaks intent, and not merely allowance by the will of Jesus that he give up his life along those same lines... so it might appear as if they killed him, but not really because he just used their acts as the occasion of his expiration.

    Jesus was treated--by men and by God--as if he was a sinner; that's the sense in which he was "made sin for us." He wasn't a sinner himself, but the body he had--our body--could die. We shouldn't theorize that it couldn't do that, because of an apriori about whether sinlessness is worthiness.

    Our Savior's divine nature was the reason that his Person could sustain the infinite wrath poured out on his human nature. A merely sinless human could (at best) have sufficed to pay the life-debt of one other (if that).

    Would someone other than Adam have fallen as he did? I regard the question moot. Adam was highly representative of the rest of mankind, being the father of the race; and he was capable of the obedience that was demanded. He fell not because of inevitability resulting from his creaturehood. It was not just "a matter of time." Why he fell according to a proximate cause, when he was made upright, is a mystery; that it was foreordained (and no surprise to God) is assured, for God is the Ultimate Cause for everything.
    I agree that Jesus' human nature before his resurrection was not identical to the pre-fall Adam's; but I say, it was the same as the post-fall Adam's. "Made like his brethren," "tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin," Heb.2:17 & 4:15. I agree that Jesus could not sin, but not because his humanity was already the glorified, perfected humanity of our future estate. He could not sin because he was the theanthropos, the God-Man.

    Because he was man, he could know temptations--he knew them better than anyone, because he always held out resisting to the end of the power of every temptation. You and I (and Adam and Eve at the first) consistently give in. All that is necessary for temptation to sin to be genuine is for there to be a perceivable advantage offered as a plausible alternative to doing the right thing. Jesus could not be taken in by such, even though he recognized the subtlety in the offer. Jesus really was tempted by the devil, Lk.4:2.

    I appreciate the fact that you contradict the idea that Jesus "fought urges to sin." That idea is incompatible with what I've written. Jesus routed temptation and the devil; he did not struggle to overcome evil desire. He kept his flesh (which, just like the flesh of the rest of us, was weak, Mt.26:41) in check by his invincible spirit.

    Please keep on thinking deeply through these things. I hope what I've written here is useful to you.
  9. Ryan&Amber2013

    Ryan&Amber2013 Puritan Board Junior

    On a side note, it is impossible for any of us to die until God appoints it. We are all currently immortal as we are, unable to die until we have completed our work God has assigned for us in this world. To me, this is a comforting thought.
  10. RWD

    RWD Puritan Board Freshman

    Had Jesus’ skull been crushed by a boulder, Jesus would have died apart from divine intervention. Otherwise Jesus would not have been human. So, we must make room for the potentiality of death in that sense.

    We may not say that Jesus could have sinned, however. For a divine person cannot sin, whereas a divine person can be subject to death in his humanity.
  11. SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929

    SelfSuspendedDeuteronomy2929 Puritan Board Freshman

    Dear Rev Buchanan,

    1) THANK YOU so much for your post. It is so gracious and kind of you to take this amount of time and energy to help me.

    If you don't have time & energy to continue this conversation than please know I understand.

    2) Fallen human bodies are sick and dying because of sin nature. In fact, in a manner of speaking we are sick and dying from the moment of conception because of genetic degradation and so many other factors due to our sin nature.

    Was Jesus' body sick and dying? No. Did Jesus have genetic degradation? No. I clearly don't understand how Jesus could have had a body like ours.

    I have always thought that he had a perfectly healthy body unlike ours because he didn't have sin nature

    I do know his body was in a weakened state, unlike prefall Adam's body, because he hungered, thirsted, got tired, experienced emotional pain, etc.

    3) Human life was intended to be "Body & Soul". Death is an unnatural thing where our souls are ripped from our bodies.

    The eternal life the Gospel promises is not for our soul to have eternal life with Christ, but for us to live eternally with Christ as a "whole" human being body & soul.

    When Jesus returns the dead in Christ will be bodily resurrected & those alive changed and we will all be glorified body & soul.

    4) You said what Paul said, "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord". You also said that when the body dies we are still alive. Yes, I agree, our souls are immortal and Christians are "Alive in Christ" whereas the unregenerate souls are destined for a second death after they are reunited with their bodies and eternal conscious torment.

    But until Jesus returns the dead in Christ are often referred to as "Naked Souls" in heaven. It is not natural for the soul to be without the body.

    But yes, of course, when our bodies die we are still alive in Christ and with the Lord.

    5) Have you ever heard what the unfortunate "Peccability defender" RC Sproul would say to anyone who said (quoting you) "He could not sin because he was the theanthropos, the God-Man"?

    This is why when I am discussing impeccability to an audience that might contain those who believe as RC Sproul I never say that. Instead, I always work the argument to the conclusion that Jesus' "Will" was immutable (since RC Sproul would always say it was mutable like prefall Adam's) because if I say that the reason Jesus couldn't sin was because of his divine nature and because He was the 2nd person of the Trinity incarnate then those who believe as RC Sproul unfortunately taught will say that Jesus would have then been an illegitimate Savior and insist that a human being had to save them without any extra assistance, so to speak.

    I know you know tons more about RC Sproul and all of this. I am just trying to explain why I argue the things I do.

    6) I have great difficulty controlling my emotions when having to deal with a Christians who honestly think Jesus could have sinned. It is outrageous.
    If Jesus could have sinned, I ask them what kind of sin could Jesus commit?
    Technically any sin is adultery against God. Not loving God perfectly even for an instant is sin. That is one of countless reasons why human beings could never obey the law perfectly. I ask them could Jesus have stopped loving His Father perfectly even for 1 second? If so, that 1 sin would have caused all of us to spend eternity in Hell.

    RC Sproul used to boggle my mind with his Peccablity teachings and also his teachings that seemed to approach nestorianism at times.

    It used to break my heart because I learned so much from him in so many other areas of Theology.

    Lords blessings to you
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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