Any Urantia Book reader/student will understand just why this article is a great opportunity to inject a few of the book's supernal teachings for discussion. It is called: Why Couldn't God Just Forgive Sins Without Jesus' Death? by Jack Wellman, and this is the question being asked: Why did Jesus have to suffer and die to remove our sins? Couldn't God just have forgiven us?
Here's a snippet from the article, and then please see our blog that follows:
"Jesus had to give His life as a ransom for the many who would trust in Him (Mark 10:45) because they didn't have the righteousness of God that is required to enter the kingdom, and without the shedding of Jesus' blood, there would be no forgiveness of sins. What if someone murdered your family and ask the judge for mercy? Would the judge just say, "It's okay…I forgive you" and then let him or her free? Of course not. That would be a travesty of justice, so God cannot forgive our sins without Jesus' atoning death on our behalf, but we must repent and believe, otherwise we still have God's wrath abiding on us (John 3:36b)."
Click to read the entire article
The author of this piece gives the example of a prisoner before a judge, and wonders whether there would be any good outcome if the judge would just forgive him and let him go? He determines that anyone witnessing such a display of mercy would feel free to go out and commit a crime when s/he knows that mercy will be practiced instead of punishment. But, taking this even further in its analogy to Jesus and God: what human judge would punish an innocent person for what a guilty one did? And then we have to ask: what deterrent comes into play when a sinner knows that Jesus has already taken his sin upon himself? Why then would a sinner repent or stop committing sin when they know Jesus has absorbed all the responsibility?
Of course, using human examples and human logic does not always work when assessing the mercy and forgiveness of God...unless one might use the example of a loving human father of a large family. We might be able to better understand this analogy because God is a Father, too. Can anyone reading this blog imagine that a loving father would sacrifice - kill - one of his beloved, innocent children to pay for the offense of another one of his children? In human terms, this would really amount to severe child abuse and would land that father in jail. But somehow, we are asked to believe that the Creator of everything - the unchanging One, the Uncaused Cause - wouid stoop to such a barbaric practice as this. Can the Almighty Father God be any less merciful than a mere human father?
We fully understand why people believe such things; up until now, the Bible has been the sole criterion for our knowledge about God - and the traditional churches of evolution have adopted and teach this doctrine. But we also understand that people can use their God-given intellect to reason out why this teaching is terribly flawed - especially when we are given the new and refreshing truths of The Urantia Book.
What does The Urantia Book Say About God's Forgiveness?
146:2.4 3. The Father in heaven has forgiven you even before you have thought to ask him, but such forgiveness is not available in your personal religious experience until such a time as you forgive your fellow men. God's forgiveness in fact is not conditioned upon your forgiving your fellows, but in experience it is exactly so conditioned. And this fact of the synchrony of divine and human forgiveness was thus recognized and linked together in the prayer which Jesus taught the apostles.
What Jesus Taught About Sin and Forgiveness
170:2.23 Jesus taught that sin is not the child of a defective nature but rather the offspring of a knowing mind dominated by an unsubmissive will. Regarding sin, he taught that God has forgiven; that we make such forgiveness personally available by the act of forgiving our fellows. When you forgive your brother in the flesh, you thereby create the capacity in your own soul for the reception of the reality of God's forgiveness of your own misdeeds.
170:3.3 It is in the consideration of the technique of receiving God's forgiveness that the attainment of the righteousness of the kingdom is revealed. Faith is the price you pay for entrance into the family of God; but forgiveness is the act of God which accepts your faith as the price of admission. And the reception of the forgiveness of God by a kingdom believer involves a definite and actual experience and consists in the following four steps, the kingdom steps of inner righteousness:
1. God's forgiveness is made actually available and is personally experienced by man just in so far as he forgives his fellows.
2. Man will not truly forgive his fellows unless he loves them as himself.
3. To thus love your neighbor as yourself is the highest ethics.
4. Moral conduct, true righteousness, becomes, then, the natural result of such love.
These refreshing teachings place forgiveness into the hands of the forgiven; knowing that God forgives us, but that our forgiveness only becomes real to us when we in turn, forgive, places a synchronistic situation into play. God is not simply forgiving the sinner; the sinner must also forgive others in order to experience that forgiveness.
Moral conduct becomes something that one wants to do when one realizes the joy of Kingdom living, the joy and peace that follows seeking and doing the Father's will. God's will is not something that we should dread, but something we should welcome as the path to peace and happiness.
And so we can easily see and understand that God HAS forgiven us. We can rejoice in that knowledge and furthermore, we can truly experience it as Jesus taught us in his simple prayer.
188:4.13 This entire idea of the ransom of the atonement places salvation upon a plane of unreality; such a concept is purely philosophic. Human salvation is real; it is based on two realities which may be grasped by the creature's faith and thereby become incorporated into individual human experience: the fact of the fatherhood of God and its correlated truth, the brotherhood of man. It is true, after all, that you are to be "forgiven your debts, even as you forgive your debtors."
Why did Jesus have to die if it was not as a sacrifice to God?
As we so often point out in this blog, The Urantia Book reveals to us so many details of the true purposes of the events of Jesus' life and death, and this is no exception. Here is what we discover as part of Jesus' purpose on earth: Jesus is the Creator Son of this universe. In order for him to gain rightful leadership over it he was required to incarnate as a human mortal and to live a full life - and this full life always includes a natural death, as does the life of every other mortal. In Jesus' case, that natural death was brutal and horrible, but it was not the Father's will that it be like that. The circumstances of Jesus' death were due to decisions made by wicked people - not God.
20:6.6 When the bestowal Sons, Creator or Magisterial, enter the portals of death, they reappear on the third day. But you should not entertain the idea that they always meet with the tragic end encountered by the Creator Son who sojourned on your world nineteen hundred years ago. The extraordinary and unusually cruel experience through which Jesus of Nazareth passed has caused Urantia to become locally known as "the world of the cross." It is not necessary that such inhuman treatment be accorded a Son of God, and the vast majority of planets have afforded them a more considerate reception, allowing them to finish their mortal careers, terminate the age, adjudicate the sleeping survivors, and inaugurate a new dispensation, without imposing a violent death. A bestowal Son must encounter death, must pass through the whole of the actual experience of mortals of the realms, but it is not a requirement of the divine plan that this death be either violent or unusual.
188:5.13 We know that the death on the cross was not to effect man's reconciliation to God but to stimulate man's realization of the Father's eternal love and his Son's unending mercy, and to broadcast these universal truths to a whole universe.
20:5.5 Understanding more about the bestowal Sons, you discern why so much interest attaches to Urantia in the history of Nebadon. Your small and insignificant planet is of local universe concern simply because it is the mortal home world of Jesus of Nazareth. It was the scene of the final and triumphant bestowal of your Creator Son, the arena in which Michael won the supreme personal sovereignty of the universe of Nebadon.
How can we learn to think differently about the atonement doctrine?
These few passages from The Urantia Book may be of great help to you if you are trying to find good reasons to adopt a higher concept of God's purposes with mankind:
98:7.1 A Creator Son did not incarnate in the likeness of mortal flesh and bestow himself upon the humanity of Urantia to reconcile an angry God but rather to win all mankind to the recognition of the Father's love and to the realization of their sonship with God. After all, even the great advocate of the atonement doctrine realized something of this truth, for he declared that "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."
And this, From The Goodness of God:
2:6.5 Righteousness implies that God is the source of the moral law of the universe. Truth exhibits God as a revealer, as a teacher. But love gives and craves affection, seeks understanding fellowship such as exists between parent and child. Righteousness may be the divine thought, but love is a father's attitude. The erroneous supposition that the righteousness of God was irreconcilable with the selfless love of the heavenly Father, presupposed absence of unity in the nature of Deity and led directly to the elaboration of the atonement doctrine, which is a philosophic assault upon both the unity and the free-willness of God.
From Meaning of the Death on the Cross:
188:4.8 When once you grasp the idea of God as a true and loving Father, the only concept which Jesus ever taught, you must forthwith, in all consistency, utterly abandon all those primitive notions about God as an offended monarch, a stern and all-powerful ruler whose chief delight is to detect his subjects in wrongdoing and to see that they are adequately punished, unless some being almost equal to himself should volunteer to suffer for them, to die as a substitute and in their stead. The whole idea of ransom and atonement is incompatible with the concept of God as it was taught and exemplified by Jesus of Nazareth. The infinite love of God is not secondary to anything in the divine nature.
All this concept of atonement and sacrificial salvation is rooted and grounded in selfishness. Jesus taught that service to one's fellows is the highest concept of the brotherhood of spirit believers. Salvation should be taken for granted by those who believe in the fatherhood of God. The believer's chief concern should not be the selfish desire for personal salvation but rather the unselfish urge to love and, therefore, serve one's fellows even as Jesus loved and served mortal men.
A New Revelation of God
Throughout our long, long history of attempting to understand God and his purposes, we have been hampered by several factors: one factor has to do with the program of fellowship that is undertaken by celestial government to assist evolving mankind in understanding God: the periodic phenomenon of "epochal revelation." In our history, there have been five such revelations; three of these ended in at least partial failure due to the Lucifer rebellion. Click on THIS LINK to read more about these revelations from God to man.
The Urantia Book is the fifth epochal revelation of God to mankind - the first such revelation to be contained in the written word, rather than personalities. It is truly a gift to us, for it clearly outlines the details of the previous revelations and fills in the gaps in our knowledge about ourselves, about God, about Jesus, and about the real history of our world. Knowing these details can help all of us lift our spirits and embark anew on a fruitful relationship with God. Please accept our invitation to find out for yourself. CLICK HERE to access The Urantia Book online!