The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Beyond Atonement: Understanding the True Purpose of the Cross

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Because the Church as a whole downplays the Old Testament—so much so that we often throw it out altogether and publish the New Testament alone—Christians have ended up with a very warped view of the cross. When it comes to answering the question “Why did Jesus die on the cross for our sins?”, the common answer is “Because He loved us.” Well, this answer simply doesn’t work. You see, Jesus has always loved us and as God Almighty, Jesus has been around forever. So why did He all of a sudden decide to show up on earth in human form and go through the whole crucifixion event?

Now if you subscribe to the doctrine of the Trinity (which is a bunch of malarkey), you blow right past the fact that there are two separate Gods being referred to in John 3:16.  Yet this is a very significant thing because at the time John 3:16 was said, no one was grasping that Jesus is God Almighty. Everyone just viewed Him as a human prophet who had gained special favor from Yahweh. Since Yahweh was the only God the Jews recognized, Yahweh was who they were referring to whenever they referred to “God.” To Old Covenant Jewish ears, Jesus’ claim to be “the Son of God” was a claim to be “the Son of Yahweh.” This is very important for you to understand, because when you don’t realize that the Jews referred to Yahweh and only Yahweh as their God, you end up misunderstanding much of what is being said in the Bible.

THE GODS OF THE BIBLE

If you want to get a more accurate understanding of the New Testament, you should mentally substitute the Name Yahweh wherever you come across the title of God. This rule applies for the entire New Testament, including the epistles. Try it out and see what a difference it makes. In the Church you’re taught to view the Bible as a book which discusses Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit at great length, yet in reality this is utterly untrue. Yahweh is only God being discussed in the Old Testament (apart from hints about Jesus in  Messianic prophecies—which are much fewer in number than you’re led to believe), and Yahweh is the main God being referred to in the epistles and in Revelation. In the Gospels, Jesus is walking around acting like a human, but guess who He spends the majority of His time talking about? Yahweh, not Himself. It’s Yahweh this, and Yahweh that. That famous first command of “Love the Lord your God” is a quotation from the Old Testament. Guess who “the Lord your God” is? Yahweh.

Yahweh is the Star of the Old Testament, and He’s also the main focus of the New. Meanwhile, Jesus is constantly demoted by the New Testament epistle writers as a second, less superior Being, and the actual Holy Spirit (as opposed to the Spirit of Yahweh) is barely mentioned (see An Introduction to the Gods of the Bible). This is how things actually are in the Bible, yet in the Church you’re told that “Christ is on every page of the Old Testament.” You’re further taught to think of all three of your Gods whenever you see the terms God or Lord in the text. But no, this is a gross misrepresentation of what the original authors of our Scriptures actually wrote.

Yahweh is the main Star of the Bible, Jesus gets a minor supporting role, and the Holy Spirit is virtually ignored. Why is this? Because the biblical documents reflect the theologies of the men who wrote them. Take the apostle Paul, for example. He didn’t come anywhere close to accepting Jesus as Yahweh’s equal (see The Great Offense of Paul: Rejecting the Divinity of Christ). To Paul, there was only one God: Yahweh. Jesus was just Yahweh’s super great human Servant on earth who turned out to be the fulfillment of all of those Old Testament Messianic prophecies. Paul was an adherent of Judaism who accepted the idea that Yahweh’s Messiah had finally come and that Yahweh had ended the sacrificial system. But Paul didn’t qualify as a Christian because a true Christian must submit to Jesus as God Almighty, not just submit to Him as some impressive human being. Listen to how Paul totally insults Christ in this passage:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human, who gave Himself—a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. (1 Tim. 2:5-6)

You see? Paul says there is only one God and Christ is not that God, because Christ is just a human who mediates between the one God—Yahweh—and human beings. Sure, Paul acknowledges that Christ gave Himself up as a ransom for sin. But so what? If you do not accept the Divinity of Christ, you’re going to Hell. Kinda makes you wonder where Paul is today, doesn’t it? Paul wrote a lot of epistles in his day, but the common consensus is that the letters to Timothy and Titus were written during his final imprisonment, which was followed by his execution. So what we have here is a man nearing the end of his life and he’s flat out rejecting the Divinity of Christ. Yikes. And here we’ve spent hundreds of years exalting St. Paul when Scriptures strongly indicate that Paul ended up in Hell. See what happens when you start to think for yourself instead of just believing everything you’re told?

Here’s a fact that no one’s going to tell you: the New Testament boys grossly insult Christ over and over again in their writings. Paul isn’t the only one to reject His Divinity. The author of Hebrews kicks Christ to the curb as well, making Him out to be not only a human, but also some cotton brain who had to “learn obedience through suffering”—obedience to God, that is. Clearly if Christ was God, He wouldn’t have to learn what it means to obey Himself. But like Paul, the Jewish author of Hebrews clings fiercely to the Old Covenant idea that Yahweh is the only God around, thus Christ must be put in His proper place (for more about the Hebrews theology of Christ, see Who is Jesus?).

James makes a few side references to Christ in his letter, but the rest of the time he’s only referring to Yahweh with all of those references to God and Lord. How do you know? Well, first notice the singular language—James is only talking about a single Being when he speaks of God:

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

None of the New Testament writers believed in this guff about a Triune God. That’s what the Church tells you to believe, but the Trinity theory wasn’t even invented until hundreds of years after Christ’s death and resurrection. So when James tells people to draw near to God, he means “Draw near to Yahweh and Yahweh will draw near to you.” Who is Christ to James? He’s just some side detail—a Guy who Yahweh now wants everyone to believe in.  Well, fine, James believes in Christ.  He’s a fan of Christ, just like he’s a fan of Abraham and Elijah.  But Yahweh remains the one God James is focused on, and Yahweh is the only God he talks about. If you browse through his letter, you’ll find several references to events which happened long before anyone even knew about Christ, such as references to how Yahweh interacted with Job and Abraham. In James 5:10, he refers to Old Testament prophets who spoke for “the Lord.” The only Lord the Old Testament boys knew about was Yahweh. James then goes on to say that if we pray and anoint the sick in the Name of “the Lord,” the sick will be healed (see James 5:14). He’s referring to the same “Lord” in both of these passages, and that Lord is Yahweh. Yet is this how we apply this passage today? No, when Christians pray in the Name of the Lord, that Lord is Jesus.

Today Christians obsess about Christ to the point of utterly minimizing the importance of Yahweh. Then they project their personal bias onto the Bible and say that the whole thing was about Christ, when really the whole thing is primarily about Yahweh. So who’s right: us or the biblical writers? No one is right. We can understand why the Jews did such a poor job with Christ because they were mentally stuck in the Old Covenant, but we Christians should not be exalting one God over another. We have three glorious Gods: Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and They should be receiving equal respect and exaltation from us.

IS SALVATION A MATTER OF ATONEMENT OR SOUL SUBMISSION?

So now that we understand that everyone is playing favoritism games that insult one or more of our Gods, let’s talk about the cross. Why do Christians think Jesus died on the cross? To save the world from sin. But why? Sin has been around from the beginning, so if the cross is the ultimate way of dealing with it, why did Christ wait for thousands of years before addressing it? If we’re going to understand the cross correctly, let’s start with John 3:16. When we use Names to capture what Jesus meant when He said these words, John 3:16 reads like this:

“For Yahweh so loved the world that Yahweh gave His one and only Son Jesus, that whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish but have eternal life. For Yahweh did not send Jesus into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Jesus. Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of Yahweh’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

See how much clearer things become when we stop masking the identity of specific Gods behind generic titles? The New Testament documents were originally filled with references to Yahweh’s Covenant Name, but those references were scrubbed out of the text later on and replaced by the generic titles of God and Lord, hence making it easier for us Christians to play our Trinity games. Today we pretend that a guy like Paul, who flat out rejected the Divinity of Christ, was referring to Christ when he used the term God. Not hardly. Old Covenant Jews reserved the title of God for Yahweh, and they considered it utterly blasphemous to suggest any being could be Yahweh’s equal.

So what we find being said in John 3 is that Yahweh was the One who sent Jesus to us for the purpose of saving the world. Well, this really doesn’t make any sense once you realize that Yahweh had been saving the world just fine for thousands of years prior to the revelation of Christ. Salvation wasn’t hard to obtain under the Old Covenant—it was simply a matter of sincere soul submission to Yahweh. And while Christians often talk as if the Old Covenant was always in effect before Christ came, the truth is that it was only in effect for a mere 1,450 years. Before Moses there were thousands of years in which there was no formal Covenant, yet still we find men being approved of in Yahweh’s sight—men like Abraham, Job, Noah, and Enoch. So Yahweh hardly needed the cross to happen before He could deal with the sin issue, nor did He need the cross to save anyone. So why did the cross? Because Yahweh so loved the world? No, because Yahweh has always loved the world. Well, did something bad happen to Yahweh so that He suddenly needed assistance to keep saving people? No, that’s utterly absurd. Well, was Yahweh threatened by sin? Never. So why the cross? Let’s take another look at that last line from our John 3 passage:

“Whoever believes in Jesus is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the Name of Yahweh’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18)

In Sunday school, we teach that if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’ll end up in Hell because your sins won’t be atoned for. Reject the cross, and you have no way of getting your debt of sin cancelled out. But is this really true? No. Here in John 3:18, Jesus says the reason people are being condemned is for refusing to believe in Jesus.

In Sunday school, we teach that if you do believe in Jesus, you’ll get saved because Jesus will arrange for all of your sins to be forgiven. But is that really what Jesus teaches? No, notice how here in John 3:18, He says that it is belief in Jesus which allows people to escape condemnation. There’s no mention of forgiveness of sins in this passage. According to this passage, salvation is acquired through soul submission to the correct targets.

JESUS INTRODUCES HIMSELF AS A NEW GOD

Now you can’t possibly grasp the import of what Jesus is saying here until you understand who He is talking to. In the Gospels, Jesus is speaking to a Jewish audience 99% of the time. He is intentionally hanging out in a society in which Judaism is the national religion. The point is this: Jesus isn’t talking to atheists. He is talking to folks who already claim to follow Yahweh. Following Yahweh is quite correct, because Yahweh is God Almighty. But He’s not the only God Almighty—Jesus is God Almighty as well. What Jesus is saying in John 3 is that to acquire salvation, Yahweh followers are going to have to put their faith in a second God. Jesus isn’t telling the Jews to believe in Him instead of Yahweh. He is telling them to believe in Him in addition to Yahweh. Listen for the emphasis on addition in these comments that Jesus makes:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in Yahweh; believe also in Me.” (John 14:1)

Jesus’ disciples already believe in Yahweh—Jesus affirms this as a good thing and tells them to also believe in Him.

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23)

Jesus distinguishes Himself as being separate from Yahweh—a point which would have seemed quite obvious to the Jews—and then He describes He and Yahweh mutually accepting people. Notice how He says it is after someone submits to Jesus, that Yahweh then decides to accept that person.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes in Yahweh who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

Here Jesus makes it clear that belief in Yahweh is not to be abandoned. Instead, salvation is achieved through  submission to both Yahweh and Christ.

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus makes it clear that being accepted by Yahweh is still a critical goal: but now we have to submit to Jesus as well to gain Yahweh’s approval.

“All that Yahweh gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

The Jews already saw themselves as belonging to Yahweh. Multiple times in the Bible, Jesus emphasizes that true Yahweh seekers would recognize the correctness of Jesus’ claims to be Divine. And notice how Jesus exalts Himself as having the power to cast us out or keep us, which is a reference to spiritual salvation.

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.” (John 11:25)

We will all die physically, but Jesus says that if these Yahweh followers will also put their faith in Jesus, they will obtain salvation.

“No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son desires to reveal Him.” (Matt. 11:27)

Here Jesus claims to control spiritual illumination—a distinctly Divine power. Jesus says no one can know Yahweh unless Jesus chooses to reveal Yahweh to them.

Now today we Christians call ourselves the children of God. Old Covenant Jews did the same thing—they also called themselves the children of God, and by God they meant Yahweh. But the more the Jews listened to Jesus talk, the more they realized that He wasn’t using the term “son of God” the same way they were. When they referred to themselves as the sons of God, they weren’t trying to put themselves on Yahweh’s Divine level. But when Jesus called Himself the Son of Yahweh, things started sounding a little heady.

So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill Jesus. For He not only broke the Sabbath, He called Yahweh His Father, thereby making Himself equal with God. (Jn. 5:18)

Getting feedback like this is very beneficial to us because it helps us see Jesus the way the New Testament Jews saw Him. These guys who are so mad at Jesus in this passage were the religious leaders of Israel—zealous pastors who knew their Old Testament very well and who prided themselves on being fabulous examples of dedicated Yahweh followers. Today we’re reading the Bible through a very different cultural and theological lens, and this causes us to miss the significance of much of what Jesus said. As we can see, Jesus is constantly hammering the point that salvation is not about having one’s sins atoned for, it’s about putting one’s faith in the proper targets. These Jews already claimed to believe in Yahweh. Now Jesus is saying that’s not good enough. They have to believe in Him, too.

ATONEMENT FOR SINS: HAS IT EVER MATTERED?

Today we like to talk about how the cross atoned for all of our sins, therefore it was so much better than the Old Covenant sacrificial system which could only provide partial atonement. Well, that’s all fine, but atonement isn’t the issue. Salvation isn’t acquired through atonement for sins, it’s acquired by soul submission to the correct Gods. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the correct Gods.

The Jews Jesus spoke to already had a way to atone for sins: they had the Temple in Jerusalem. So atonement wasn’t even a concern for them. They didn’t view their current system as inferior, and Jesus didn’t say that He was dying on a cross because animal sacrifices were no longer sufficient. Animal sacrifices were required by Yahweh under the Old Covenant, but they weren’t what saved people. Under the Old Covenant, salvation was acquired through sincere soul submission to Yahweh. Atonement was irrelevant compared to that. You could make a million sacrifices and follow the laws of the Torah to the letter, but you’d still end up in Hell without sincere soul submission to Yahweh. Salvation has always been a matter of your internal response to your Gods, not a matter of getting certain sins forgiven.

To help you understand how unimportant the sacrificial system was to salvation, here’s an interesting point to ponder: for the majority of Israel’s history, the sacrificial system was either functioning incorrectly, or it was totally shut down. This was due to the fact that Israel as a nation turned her back on God. She had many evil kings and evil priests who refused to run the sacrificial system properly. According to the Laws of the Old Covenant, all atonement sacrifices had to be processed at the Temple and they could only be processed by Levite priests. This meant if some evil Jewish king shut the Temple in Jerusalem down (and several did), you were out of options. If evil priests refused to process your sacrifice properly (and this was an extremely common problem), then you were out of options. Or, if evil kings and priests had turned the Temple into a shrine for worshiping demonic gods instead of Yahweh (and this was another common problem), then you were out of options.

After the reign of Solomon, the nation of Israel split into two kingdoms: Israel in the north, and Judah in the south. These two kingdoms frequently warred against each other. The Temple was in Judah. So if you were a Jew living in the north, and your king was at war with the Jews in the south, are you going to be able to troop on down to the Temple to take care of business with Yahweh? Not hardly.

Then there was the major problem of exile. Over and over again, Yahweh arranged for thousands of Jews to be hauled out of Israel as slaves. Those slaves then ended up stuck in places like Egypt or Babylon or Assyria. If you’re a Jewish slave in Egypt, is your master going to let you travel to the Temple in Jerusalem to take care of business with Yahweh? Not hardly.

Do you realize how often Yahweh required the Jews to present sacrifices at the Temple? It was constant. Let’s all take a look at Leviticus 15 for a minute. Ladies: that monthly period you have falls under the category of an unclean thing. When your period is over, you have to go through some ceremonial cleansing to get clean again, and that includes bringing 2 doves or pigeons to the Temple to be sacrificed. Guys: you’re not getting off easy. Not only do you become unclean every time you have an emission of semen, but when you have a cold and you get that runny nose, or if you get that bleeding cut, or if you have anything else happen to you which involves fluids leaving your body, then you’ll also have to bring two birds to the Temple to be sacrificed. That’s just bodily fluids. Then there’s intentional sins, accidental sins, accidentally touching unclean things, failing to keep a promise, accidentally making someone else unclean—the list goes on and on. Basically, if you violate any of Yahweh’s written commands, you end up having to make a sacrifice, and since God demands moral perfection on paper, you might as well just take up permanent residence near the Temple because you’re going to be in there every day. A literal interpretation of the sacrificial system revealed it to be an extremely tedious thing. But a historic review of how the sacrificial system was actually run by the Jews demonstrates that the Jews never came close to sacrificing as often as Yahweh required them to. So if salvation depends on atonement, salvation would be impossible to acquire because the Old Covenant atonement system required the cooperation of many different human beings to run well. How many hardcore, sold out Christians do you know? Probably not enough to run the sacrificial system.

The truth is that Yahweh has never been threatened by sin, and He’s never made salvation a matter of gaining sufficient atonement. Yet today this is what we teach. Today we promote this baloney that Yahweh was so overwhelmed by the sin problem that He came up with Jesus. Then when Jesus was on the cross, covered in all of our sins, holy Yahweh was so repulsed that He turned away from Jesus because He just couldn’t abide being in the presence of sin. The Bible doesn’t say any of this—we’ve just made it all up because we’ve turned salvation under the New Covenant into a matter of atonement instead of recognizing that it is really about a change in how many Gods we are submitting to.

Today we Christians talk way more about the atoning Blood of Christ than we do about the importance of cultivating soul attitudes that are pleasing to our Gods. We focus on atonement instead of on attitude, and this is a major problem. Under the Old Covenant salvation was acquired through reverential submission to Yahweh. When Jesus came, He announced that submission to only Yahweh was no longer sufficient—now we would have to submit to multiple Gods in order to acquire salvation. Under the New Covenant, salvation is obtained through reverential submission to Yahweh and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You not only have to submit to these three non-human Beings, you have to submit to Them as Gods. If you submit to Jesus merely as an impressive human being who Yahweh really favored (which is what the apostle Paul taught), you’re going to Hell. If you try to say that God the Father is just a human who evolved into a God (which is what Mormons say), you’re going to Hell. If you believe that Jesus is just an angel (which is what Jehovah’s Witnesses say), you’re going to Hell. If you say the Holy Spirit is nothing more than a force or emanation (which is what Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons say), you’re going to Hell. If you say that Jesus was just a sinless human prophet (which is what Muslims say), you’re going to Hell. If you say the Holy Spirit is just a reference to Yahweh’s Divine activity, love or power (which is what the followers of Judaism say), then you’re going to Hell. We have three Gods, and if you aren’t submitting to three Gods because you’re so busy saying “God is One,” then you’re going to end up in Hell.

THE TRUE PURPOSE OF THE CROSS

The identity and number of our Creators is an issue on which everything else hangs, yet on all sides, you’re getting lied to about this. The Christian Church has cooked up this baloney about a Trinity. She teaches that “God is three in one.” Why does she do this? Because like the New Testament Jews who found the concept of multiple Gods to be utterly repulsive, the modern Church doesn’t want to face what the true significance of Jesus’ death on a cross really was. It wasn’t about atoning for our sins—that was just a minor side point compared to the main purpose of the cross.

Yahweh didn’t need Jesus to die to atone for anyone’s sins. Atonement was never the huge issue that we make it out to be today. Soul submission to God has always been the main point. Well, most of the New Testament Jews weren’t there, they were just playing games. Yahweh was fed up with the perpetual abuse of His Temple, and so with the start of His New Covenant, He also announced the end of the entire sacrificial system. This is why Jesus described Himself as the ultimate atonement sacrifice. By claiming to atone for the sins of the world, He made future sacrifices pointless, thus there was no need to continue the sacrificial system. He also used His resurrection to prove the truth of His claims to be an Almighty God who was equal to Yahweh in every way. Once we understand these points, we realize that the true purpose of the cross was to shift our attention away from atonement and back onto soul attitude.   It is our soul’s response to God that we are judged by. After educating everyone about how many Gods there actually are—three, not just one—Jesus then died on the cross to put the atonement issue to rest so that we could all focus on the far more important issue of soul attitude.

YAHWEH’S EMPHASIS ON SOUL ATTITUDE

Now this is not a new concept. Read through the Old Testament, and you’ll find Yahweh pushing for this same emphasis over and over again with rebellious Jews. Speaking 700 years before the revelation of Christ, Yahweh says through the mouth of Isaiah:

“What are all your sacrifices to Me? I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats.” (Isa. 1:11)

Wait a second—Yahweh is the One who demanded sacrifices for every little thing. So why does He now say He has no desire for them? Why is He complaining about the Jews bringing Him a boatload of sacrifices? Because the Jews are putting atonement above soul attitude. Read through Isaiah 1, and you’ll find Yahweh describing the Jews doing everything right, and yet He’s furious with them. Why? Because their soul attitudes are defiant. It’s about soul attitude, not atonement.

One of the Old Testament verses that Jesus loved to throw in the faces of Jewish pastors was this quote from Yahweh:

“For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hos. 6:6)

Yahweh wants devotion from souls who are earnestly seeking to grow in their knowledge of Him, not an obsession with atonement. Our depravity is not what we’re judged by—we’re judged by how our souls are inwardly responding to our Makers. Are we fully surrendering ourselves to Them, or are we holding back? Are we listening when They speak or are we blowing Them off? Are we longing to please Them or are we walking around with an attitude of indifference?

In Matthew 9 we find snooty Jewish preachers badmouthing Jesus for hanging out with society’s lowlifes. Jesus works in that quote from Hosea in His comeback:

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:12-13)

The Pharisees fixated on the technicalities of the Law—which meant they were fixating on atonement for sin. And while they obsessed over avoiding sins and trying to perfectly obey the Laws of the Old Covenant, their souls were totally hostile towards Yahweh. They called themselves righteous and they boasted that they had earned a place in Heaven for being such good little Jews. Yet Jesus quotes Hosea at them to remind them that Yahweh has never said atonement was what mattered. Pleasing God has always been a matter of soul attitude, and Jesus says He’s targeting souls who are sincerely seeking God—the “sinners”—and He’s not even bothering with hardened rebels like the Pharisees who have decided to act like atonement is all that matters.

Now the Pharisees knew their Old Testament, and they were familiar with the Hosea passage Jesus was quoting. But they were blowing off the critical point Yahweh was making about His own value system. Our Gods want our soul devotion. All this fussing over the atonement for sins is beside the point. If our souls are sincerely seeking Them and submitting to Them, the rest will be handled.

EMPHASIZING THE RIGHT LESSONS

Emphasis matters. There are many lessons we can learn from the cross, but we need to be emphasizing the right ones if we’re going to really please our Gods in life. Through His death on a cross, Jesus proved that He is a second God (see Who raised Jesus from the dead?), He put an end to the sacrificial system by claiming to be the ultimate atonement sacrifice, and He made a powerful statement about how much He loves us. But if we stop here, we’re missing the most important point. The cross marked the beginning of the New Covenant: it drastically changed the requirements for salvation. Before the cross, submitting to one God was sufficient. But today we must submit to three Gods if we’re going to acquire salvation. The significance of the cross is that it marks the beginning of a radical change in our understanding of our Makers. Before Jesus died, the Jews just couldn’t swallow His insane claims to be God Almighty. But once He raised Himself from the dead—proving to have a power that only God has—well, wow. Jesus’ resurrection proved that He really is who He claimed to be, which means we must now revere Him as God and sincerely seek to please Him. What does Jesus want? He wants the same thing that Yahweh has always wanted: sincere reverential submission. Jesus also demands that we submit to multiple Gods.

Once you study Jesus’ teachings in their original context, you realize what a shocking, radical, and blasphemous Figure He would have seemed like to the Jews. Under the Old Covenant, Yahweh said the worship of multiple Gods deserved immediate execution. In His Laws, Yahweh demanded that the Jews have zero tolerance for the worship of any God but Him within their community. But then Jesus showed up, announcing that Yahweh was making significant changes to His Covenant rules. Oh, and by the way, Yahweh really isn’t the only God in existence—there are actually Two more. Jesus is a God, and so is the Holy Spirit. Wow. You just can’t swallow that if you’re an Old Covenant Jew. But then Jesus dies on a cross in an act which makes the entire sacrificial system irrelevant. So much for obsessing over atonement. Then He raises Himself back to life, proving to be every bit as Divine as He claimed to be. Then He leaves with the command that His eleven disciples go around ushering people into the New Covenant by baptizing them in the Names of three separate Gods: Yahweh, Himself, and the mysterious Holy Spirit. Then the Holy Spirit shows up at the beginning of Acts. Wow. Suddenly we realize that if we don’t get onboard with this three God thing pronto, we’re going to be in serious trouble.

If you’re going to fuss around with Trinity baloney, you’d better make sure you’re emphasizing that part about God being three a whole lot more than you are about God being one. Because the truth is that we have three Gods, and Jesus made it quite clear that there would be no tolerance in eternity for those who choose to deny this fact (see The Trinity Doctrine: Is it an obstacle to salvation?). The cross permanently put to rest the atonement issue so that we could all get back to focusing on what we should have been focusing on all along: our soul’s response to our Creators. No, we really shouldn’t be singing a billion songs about being “saved by the Blood” because blood has to do with atonement. We should be moving on from this obsession with sin and instead focusing on how to please our glorious Makers. What soul attitudes please Them the most? How can we love and honor Them better? Yahweh said He cared more about His people knowing God than He did about them bringing Him sacrifices. Now that Jesus has atoned for all of our sins, He wants us to stop obsessing over sin and focus on our Gods instead. We’re going to sin. When the Holy Spirit convicts us, then we need to deal with that issue in the way that He directs. But between convictions, our focus needs to be on cultivating right soul attitudes, not on striving to be morally perfect. It’s a matter of emphasis. The cross does not teach us to emphasize atonement. It teaches us to put the atonement issue to rest and turn our focus onto reverentially submitting to and pursuing deeper intimacy with our three glorious Creators.

FURTHER READING:
The Great Gift of Sin: Why Our Depravity Gives Us Hope
Why did Yahweh lie about being the only God in existence?

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