The religious people - especially Christians and Jews - will tell you that God needs a blood sacrifice in order to forgive a person or persons...at least they will tell you that if they are not ignorant of their "churches" or religious leader's teachings. While the Hebrew scripture certainly does teach that, Joshua of Nazareth does not. In fact, in his many teachings and sayings recorded in the four gospels, he never once says that he is to be some sacrifice so that God can forgive someone. In sharp contrast, Joshua teaches that asking God for forgiveness with a sincere and remorseful heart is all that is required to receive forgiveness from God!
Christian leaders have a complex belief about God and sacrifice. Let's define their big theological terms before looking closely at those beliefs. Like their brethren the lawyers, religious leaders and 'scholars' very much enjoy using complicated vocabulary and concepts, thus forcing or strongly encouraging the people to trust them to understand God things. That is a BIG mistake.
Vicarious (or Substitutionary) - An Old Testament (and before that the surrounding culture's) concept of substituting an 'innocent' animal (by death/sacrifice) as an offering for the sins of a person.
Propitiation - From the Old Testament (and before that the surrounding culture's) concept of a blood sacrifice offered to appease the just wrath of an angry deity (Rom. 3:25).
Atoning - The concept of making amends or repairing a wrong done. Specifically from the Old Testament (and before that the surrounding culture's) concept of removing one's sin or guilt by an offering of an animal's blood sacrifice or other religious rituals or offerings.
What does it mean to forgive? A contemporary dictionary defines it as, "To excuse for a fault or offense; to pardon; to absolve from payment of". The term "pardon" is defined as, "to release (a person) from punishment; forgive".
The Son of Man spells out forgiveness quite clearly in this passage:
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Joshua said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he had begun to settle them, one who owed him ten thousand dollars was brought to him. But since he did not have the means to repay, his lord commanded him to be sold, along with his wife and children and all that he had, and repayment to be made. So the servant fell to the ground and prostrated himself before him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.' And the lord of that servant felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred dollars; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, 'Pay back what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell to the ground and began to plead with him, saying, 'Have patience with me and I will repay you.' But he was unwilling and went and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed. So when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened. Then summoning him, his lord said to him, 'You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 'Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow servant, in the same way that I had mercy on you?' And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the punishers until he should repay all that was owed him." (Matthew 18:21-34)
In this beautiful illustration, Joshua teaches what it means to truly forgive another person. The lord of the servant in the above teachings "forgave him the debt", which means the servant did not have to pay the lord anything in return for the 10,000 dollars loaned to him - the lord forgave him the debt and received nothing in return for that act of forgiveness/compassion. Nor did the lord require something from the servant in order to grant forgiveness, except a repentant heart/attitude. Forgiveness is the metaphysical act of one person removing or absolving the debt, obligation or justice owed or deserved by another person who owed debt, an obligation or deserved justice to that first person.
Let us look at the concept of forgiveness from a financial perspective. If I borrow $1,000 from a bank, and another party pays the bank $1,000 for me, can the bank honestly come to me as say, "your debt is forgiven"? No, for the bank received payment for my debt, and thus true forgiveness cannot be granted - the debt was paid. There can be no compassion/mercy granted in this example because the bank still insisted that the $1,000 be paid back - they don't care by who - and in fact they received the full payment on the debt.
As another example, lets say that I am a relatively poor farmer and I borrow a horse from a neighbor to use on my farm. But, while using the horse to do some work, I accidentally kill the horse. A relatively rich farmer hears of the accident, has compassion on me and gives one of his work horses to the neighbor who lent me the horse. My neighbor then comes and says, "I forgive you the debt of not returning my horse". Is this true forgiveness? No it is not, because my neighbor received an equal payment for his loss - he received a new replacement horse - and thus he lost nothing, and thus there is nothing to forgive. Again, forgiveness is the removing or absolving of the debt, obligation or justice owned or deserved by another person. No debt or obligation was removed or absolved, rather it was paid by a third party.
Now, the doctrine of vicarious atonement taught by the Christian leaders says that God needed to receive payment in full as a condition of granting forgiveness. They teach that Joshua paid in full for the sins of the people of the world by his substitutionary death on the cross. But if this is so, then God the Father has never truly forgiven anybody since he received payment in full for all our sins. Worse than that, the Christian doctrine teaches that God would not have been willing or able to forgive anybody unless his son paid for their sins.
Some other things to think about in regard to this strange belief.
If you cannot find Joshua teaching these things (and in truth he does not), or teaching things contrary (in truth he does), then perhaps it is time to let go of the religious system's teaching of propitiatory, vicarious atonement? Joshua says that to enter the Kingdom of God, we must come as little children. How many little children that you know of can understand propitiatory, vicarious atonement? How many adults for that matter?!
Why not simply and sincerely ask God to please forgive us for our sins?
The Christian leaders will object to this simple truth by saying, "but God cannot be just if he simply forgives people's sin without payment".
The question must be asked, why not?
Where did Joshua teach that
his Father must receive payment of some kind before granting
forgiveness? Joshua not only did NOT teach that, he in fact taught
the opposite (remember the story he taught above?).
The Christians might then use an illustration in an attempt to prove their doctrine is correct. They will say, "well, can you imagine a human judge having a guilty murderer brought before him and just say to him, 'you are forgiven, you may go free'". This analogy is faulty. A human judge is not God and cannot see the heart. If the murderer was truly repentant in their heart (evidence of such repentance would be a sincere and committed desire to make restitution to the victim's family in some manner, as well as being willing to receive punishment), why should the judge not forgive him? Remember, to be truly repentant means not only that you are grieved over your sin, but that you will sincerely try to not commit it again. In like manner, if God sees a heart that is truly repentant, he will require no more than that in order to extend his mercy to that person. God will make all things just at the end of all things when all people are judged. But until that time, we can be assured from the Son, that the Father is eager to grant his compassionate forgiveness to the truly repentant heart without any payment required, for to demand payment would, by definition, not be granting forgiveness!
What did Joshua say regarding his death and its meaning?
This saying of Joshua addresses this issue in the clearest manner. First, please note that Joshua did not describe his death as a sacrifice to his Father. Joshua nowhere says that he was a sacrifice to appease his Father's wrath and pay for the sins of the people of the world, which is what the Christian leaders - and their leader Paul - teach. Certainly, if Joshua was to be a sacrifice to appease his Father's wrath, he had much opportunity to teach such a thing. And yet, Joshua says NOTHING about his death being a sacrifice! Joshua does address the Hebrew concept of sacrifice, and this is what he has to say to the religious leaders about that concept:
Only if we are willing to listen to Joshua as our sole/soul Teacher regarding God, will the Hebrew idea of sacrifice be let go. The truth of God even snuck through in the Hebrew scripture with the prophets Joshua quotes here. What is unclear about, "I desire compassion, and not sacrifice (or "not a sacrifice")"? Yes, the Father's heart was able to be seen all along for those with eyes to see - you just needed the right heart to hear His voice amidst all the ignorance and error people spoke and wrote and also included in the Hebrew scripture. The true and living God, Joshua' Father, does NOT desire sacrifice, but rather compassion be shown to others even as He is eager to show compassion to all those on the earth.
In contrast to the sacrifice teaching, Joshua said he would give his physical life as "a ransom for many". It must first be acknowledged by the reader that a sacrifice, in a biblical context, means the shedding of blood of an 'innocent' animal in order to pay the moral debt of a guilty person. The Old Testament or Hebrew scripture describes this concept many times in its pages.
The term "sacrifice", in a biblical context does NOT mean the contemporary culture's understanding of the term. One common way the contemporary culture would define sacrifice, would be the giving up of something important in order to achieve or attain to, some goal or purpose. In this sense, Joshua did sacrifice much, as he allowed men to cause him much horrific pain and shame in their attempt to destroy him. But both the Old Testament, as well as the contemporary Christian 'scholars', do not define sacrifice in that way. Rather they explicitly define it in an Old Testament or Hebrew scripture context as an atoning, vicarious giving of physical life - specifically needing the spilling of blood - in order to propitiate the wrath of a angry deity.
A ransom, on the other hand, is the paying of something of value to a party holding people captive or hostage in order to secure their release. The sacrifice belief says that God the Father required the blood sacrifice of his innocent Son in order to offer forgiveness to those who were guilty. In contrast, Joshua says that he would himself willingly lay down his physical life in order to pay some sort of ransom to a third party (Joshua identifies this third party elsewhere as the prince of the world) who was holding people captive whom his Father (and himself) wanted to free. Thus, we see the significant difference between a sacrifice and a ransom.
The "sacrifice" teaching of Paul and Christianity has God needing his blood-thirsty wrath and vengeance sated/propitiated by having his perfectly obedient Son killed!
The ransom teaching of the Son of God has a compassionate God asking his Son to pay a ransom for the pitiful captives who they both want set free!
Glorious, isn't it! Joshua describes the freedom from captivity that would come to individuals who wanted to receive the benefits of the ransom, with the following words:
"THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." (Luke 4:18-19)
Here is the Freedom Giver's plain proclamation of how one finds the freedom HE offers:
Joshua tells us plainly how to receive the benefit of the ransom he paid in several places including the John 8 passage. He says, "If you continue in my word", we will be made free. Please note he does not say, 'if you believe I paid a sacrifice for you, you will be made free'; nor does he say, 'if you believe things about me (know facts about me), you will be made free'; nor does he say, 'if you believe I died as a sacrifice for your sins you will be set free'; nor does he say, 'if you study the bible and believe the bible you will be made free'; nor does he say, 'if you respond at some evangelistic event you will be made free'. He says none of these things to the shame of the Christians who say he does mean that. What Joshua of Nazareth says is that those who "continue in HIS word" will be set free. That is, they will be set free from the bondage of darkness and the key condemning sin (love of the things of the world instead of love for others) that binds all who don't respond to God's love by believing what Joshua says and therefore doing what he says, especially practicing true love.
Let us take a look at this from another angle.
Let us say there is a dad who has two sons. One son is a rebellious, lazy, uncaring young man who does not seek to honor, respect or help his dad. He spends his time on selfish endeavors and looks to take advantage of his dad's resources, for he does not love his dad much but instead loves himself much more. The other son, however, is faithful and dedicated to his dad. He spends his time both helping his dad and looking for ways to please his dad, for he loves his dad greatly. Then one day, the dad says to the good son, 'son, I need to beat you mercilessly for the sins of your bad brother'. Let me ask the reader a question. Is that dad acting justly in punishing his innocent son for his guilty son? The answer is obvious to all who are not blinded by religious dogma.
If you answer, 'well, what if the good son wanted to be beaten for the sins of the bad son'? First of all, what good son wants to be beaten for the bad behavior of a mean brother? When Joshua was in the garden of Gethsemane asking for his Father to take the cup away, was that his expression of "wanting" to be beaten for the sins of his rebellious siblings? And when the Son said, "not my will be done, but yours", was that the Son offering to be beaten? If your belief is the Son's love for his bad sibling is the motivation for his being beaten and punished for the bad, then why is he saying, "NOT MY WILL be done, but yours"? In fact, Joshua was NOT desiring to be beaten and mocked and tortured for the sins of others. Nor was his pleading in the garden out of fear of his Father somehow turning away from him, because then you have the Son not trusting in his Father and His faithful love.
The point in the above paragraph is only the lesser point. The greater point is what difference does the desire of the son have to do with whether the dad acts justly or not? Even if the good son wanted, for some truly strange reason, to be beaten for the sins of his bad brother, would the dad be just by beating the good son for the bad?
No, he would not.
And if you say, 'but the good son loved the bad son and wanted the bad son to be blessed', then you are giving the son a greater heart of love than the dad, since the dad did not present that option. Even the Hebrew scripture says that an innocent person will not be punished for the sins of another...here are the words of Ezekiel...
"Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. "The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. (Ezekiel 18:19-20)
And so, I hope the reader can see the contradictions both within the strange doctrines of propitiary, vicarious atonement; as well as the contradiction with the Ezekiel passage. God does NOT punish the innocent for the guilty - even the Hebrew scripture teaches that! See Ezekiel 18. Yes, that contradicts other passages, but then that is the nature of all religious scripture...that is why we need The Voice of Truth of Joshua of Nazareth! He does not contradict himself like the authors of books of scripture do.
Please understand that the Father did NOT demand his innocent and faithful Son's blood in order to grant forgiveness to the guilty rebellious sons, for that would be wrong and barbaric, and any rationally thinking person with a functioning conscience would agree. The Father does NOT want to punish anyone, even the guilty! Yes, the Father wants the bad son or daughter to turn from their evil, but He does not want to punish them as a result of their evil. The Son has made clear that the Father has always desired mercy/compassion be shown to others, and NOT VAIN RELIGIOUS RITUAL SACRIFICE. But then, when did placing one's faith in the religious dogma of men have to do with rational thinking or listening to one's conscience?
The Son's simple message - his good news - which he gave during his first visit was this:
Believe what I say.
Do what I say.
If you believe me and do what I say, you will enter into Life and have an eternal destiny with our wonderful Father.
And what did he say?
You are captive in a self-made cage of fear, self-pride and selfishness. Let me set you free. I paid the ransom to set you free, so now it is up to you whether you can see how you are destroying yourself in your cage.
I am the Way to the Father, please make me your Leader.
Through MY Words and actions - no one else's - I will show you the Way to my Father.
Doing what I say will put you on the narrow road to my Father.
The road will be difficult and you will find yourself rejected and alone for much or most of the time.
The primary thing I want you to do is to love other people, and for those willing to love you back, to be the example with them of what the world needs to see of how people are supposed to live! Please live out my new command!
This is the good news of Joshua of Nazareth. Please notice the emphasized nouns. Joshua is the Way, not doctrine about him, nor 'church' participation, nor bible knowledge, nor moral living, nor adherence to a Christian religion's rituals, nor living according to the bible. All of those things are NOT the Way to the Father. In fact, all but one (moral living) will hinder one's attempts to find the narrow Way to the Father. Moral living might or might not hinder one's way along the Way. Followers of Joshua do try to live moral lives, but that is NOT faith. If a Christian seeks to live a moral life while not having faith, then their efforts at morality will not gain them Life, and in fact will generally lead to a self-righteousness which would push us even further from God.
The Christian gospel of "Jesus came to die for your sins if you just believe in him" (really what is meant is 'believe these things we religious leaders teach about him') is a deceitful and powerless quarter-truth. Joshua did come, true. He did die, in fact was killed, true. But he was NOT killed as a sacrifice to pay for anyone's sins. And the vast majority of people who hear "believe in him" merely pay intellectual assent to the teachings, they do NOT place their faith in him.
Joshua did say that he would give his life as a ransom for many, and so, in that sense he died to pay for something. He paid for our freedom, but we must see ourselves as captives before we can even hear his offer. It is not Joshua' act of dying that saves a person. That is only one part of what Joshua did to show his love for his friends, and to show us the Way Home. What saves a person is faith in Joshua and his Father, which faith and love leads to obedience to Joshua and thus loving others. Joshua did not come to earth to act as a sacrificial substitute to pay for people's sins. Rather, he came to earth to be our Leader, to show us how human beings ought to live and to be and show us the Way Home, part of which included paying a ransom to set those free who would receive him.
If a person repents of their sin/unbelief after hearing Joshua' Words; and looks to God the Father with true faith to forgive them; then they are forgiven! A child could understand that gospel, and that is the good news (gospel) that Joshua of Nazareth brings!
The Christian leaders then start to pervert things and snow people with their doctrines of propitiatory, vicarious atonement. By twisting the truth, they then start to lead people away from the Good shepherd and instead towards themselves. They then set about building their little religious kingdoms of power.
"Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men
'This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." Mark 7
Dear reader, nothing has changed : (
Is it not therefore possible that Israel, before Messiah came, also erred in the religious beliefs they invented or picked up from their neighbors? Is it not possible that the foundation upon which Christianity was formed (the Old Testament or Hebrew scripture and the religious beliefs it conveys), was false or only contained a few lesser truths that any perceptive human being with a conscience could discern?
for this article is that by exposing the errors of a few of the 'key and
orthodox doctrines of Christianity' found in their statements of faith,
some might see the foolishness of the Christian way and turn away from
it and enter onto the narrow Way of faith in the Real Jesus or Joshua of Nazareth...that
you dear reader might see your own guilt in the easy religion that is
Christianity, and turn, see the cage you are in as a Christian, and
actually start to follow the real, historical Person of Joshua of
Dear reader, what do YOU believe? If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will see a clear difference between the two ways...the way of Christianity's mental beliefs about their christ versus a child-like faith in the living God and His Son as the Son reveals our Father through his own words only.
I ask the reader to please turn away from Christianity in all its forms, and instead seek to make Joshua your only Way and DO what he says:
Let's repeat it again, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear"...please, come, join the peaceful revolution!