Discourse 30 - Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?




Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? / Lecture script, J. Pucher 00, 2001-03-25

How is it that Jesus could only defeat Satan through his death and resurrection? / Anonymous 00, 2004-04-16)

How Anselm Gruen understands the resurrection and death of Jesus Christ. / Ulrich Skambraks ‒ TOPIC, July 2009


(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(Why did Jesus have to die on the cross? / Lecture script JP00, 2001-03-25)

What did we learn from the catechism on the question why Jesus had to suffer death on the cross? In the fourth of the six fundamental articles of faith we are told - and I quote the exact words of the catechism - The second Person of the Divine Trinity became man, in order to redeem us through his death on the cross and to make us everlastingly blessed.

This was interpreted in the sense that he had to suffer on the cross in order to redeem us. Only through his death on the cross have we been redeemed from our sins, and saved for eternal blessedness. (…)

What kind of an idea of God lies behind this? A "just" God, in the sense of one who demands satisfaction, who calls for the blood of his own Son to be shed on the cross before he is able to forgive. In terms of our present day feelings, this is rather a God of vengeance. Justice and satisfaction are the most important consideration to him, and for these he even sacrifices his own Son. This is the theology of the Middle Ages, and things are no longer seen quite in this way, nor is the gospel preached like this, but on the level of feeling, for many individuals, especially of the older generation, it is still very much a persisting influence. Most certainly it is not a biblical doctrine, and has nothing to do with the message of Jesus. (…)

Jesus’ death on the cross reveals not a God hungry for atonement, but an infinitely and unconditionally loving God. Jesus did not become man and die on the cross in order to reconcile us to God. God did not need to be reconciled. He had never stopped loving us. Jesus became man in order to bring us runaways back to God after we had strayed, to be for us a pointer to God.

“I am the way and the truth and the life“ (John 14,6),

he says of himself.

Because men did not want to go by this way,   they   nailed him to the cross.

+) This extract is taken from the lecture script “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?” by J. Pucher, Catholic parish priest of St. Nikolaus, Vienna.



Here we have a rather unusual situation - a Catholic priest who wants to refute the Catholic catechism. And this actually in connection with one of those points on which the statements of the catechism agree rather closely with those made by the Bible. So also the statement made by the author, that the truth of the redeeming sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ is not biblical and has nothing to do with the message of Jesus, can be unambiguously refuted, with relative ease, on the basis of the following scriptural passages.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus Christ, through the blood of His cross.

Col 1,15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 1,16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. 1,17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.1,18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.1,19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 1,20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 1,21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 1,22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach - 1,23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. Col 1,15-23;

That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

1Cor 15,1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 15,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

15,3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 15,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 15,5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1Cor 15, 1- 5;

Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins.

Gal 1,1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 1,2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia:

1,3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 1,4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 1,5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. Gal 1, 1- 5;


And then the author informs us:

“Jesus did not become man and die on the cross in order to reconcile us to God.”


Seeing that the same statement applies in this case - namely, that the opposite view is not biblical and has nothing to do with the message of Jesus - let us here as well take a look at the relevant scriptural passages:

Jesus Christ is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.

1Jn 2,1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2,2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1Jn 2, 1- 2;

God has sent His Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins.

1Jn 4,9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 4,10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1Jn 4, 9-10;

God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ.

2Cor 5,18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, 5,19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 5,20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 5,21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2Cor 5,18-21;

Jesus Christ has reconciled them both - Jews and Gentiles - in one body to God through the cross.

Eph 2,11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision”, which is performed in the flesh by human hands- 2,12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 2,13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 2,14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 2,15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 2,16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Eph 2,11-16;


There are probably few statements made by Scripture for which such convincing testimony is provided as the fact that the Son of God died on the cross for our sins, and so offered a redeeming sacrifice to the justice of God.

The infinite and unconditional love of God.

If the love of God were to be infinite and unconditional, this God would have to forgive all human beings of all ages (infinite time!!) all their sins, without any conversion or repentance on their part (unconditionally!!). There would then no longer be any need of a redeeming sacrifice – and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.

Then all criminals, mass murderers, atheists, tyrants and all other kinds of scum, from the begin to the end of the world (infinite time!!) would enter into eternal life without any conversion or repentance on their part (unconditionally!!), along with all rightly believing Christians.

So anyone who speaks of the "infinite" and "unconditional" love of God gives clear evidence of the fact that they have no idea why God permitted his Son to die on the cross. Such people have not even begun to grasp the foundation stone of the Christian faith, and so are completely unqualified to make any kind of statement about any aspect of God’s nature.



Now the author is quite right to argue, as he does in the above passage, that God's love is very extensive. At all events, though, most certainly not “unconditionally” loving as the author thinks. Our God is a God of justice. An “unconditionally” loving God, however, would be injustice in person. Any person could live and act just as he pleased, because God loves him “unconditionally” and will forgive him for all that he does. He does not have to fear the consequences, and so does not have to account for his behavior either. This reminds us forcibly of the anti-authoritarian education of the seventies. The children of that generation often took decades to progress from the “everything goes” mentality to a responsible attitude of mind which would enable them finally to be accepted by society.

God is a God of love, but at the same time also a God of justice. Every individual human being, with all that he does and all that he leaves undone, is on the test bench in God’s eyes. And an absolutely righteous God has to punish sin, otherwise after all, as pointed out above, there would be no reason to avoid it.

Now it is not the case, on the other hand, that there is anyone among us who is without sin. As Paul tells us in the epistle to the Romans, “... we have already charged that (...) all are under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3, 9-10).

Here we can now see the background to the cross of Christ: God’s justice is obliged to punish sinners, God’s love, however, would like to save them. So in order to satisfy the requirements of justice, God in his love sent his own Son, to offer a reconciling sacrifice for the sins of all human beings who are willing to accept this redeeming sacrifice for their sins.

And for people who refuse to accept this redeeming sacrifice, their sins quite simply remain. They cannot get rid of it by argument, and they cannot “work it off” by any kind of performance. In the whole universe, there is no other possible way to satisfy the justice of God - no way but the acceptance of this redeeming sacrifice. And this is the fundamental condition for the salvation of every individual human being - not any prayers of contrition that are rattled off, not pilgrimages, genuflections or donations to charity. It might be supposed that this was a quite simple matter.

But now, in order to get a proper understanding of Father Pucher’s point of view, we must take into account what he says here:

“Jesus became man in order to bring us runaways back to God after we had strayed, to be for us a pointer to God.”


If Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice is no longer the reason for his death on the cross, there must then be some other reason for it. And as we see, the attempt is being made here to present the death of the Lord as the simple demonstration of an ideal, as a “pointer” for us human beings.

And here the author has recourse to the Catholic theologian J. Ratzinger, who in one of his books quotes Plato as having come to the realization that

“a person is only shown to be perfectly just if he is prepared to appear to be unjust in the eyes of others. (...) They will say then that under these circumstances the just man will be flogged, tortured, bound, that his eyes will be put out and that in the end after all this abuse he will be crucified...”.


On this view, then, the death of Jesus was nothing but a demonstration. A demonstration of how just God is, and how unjust human beings are. This opinion then comes to be expressed in definite terms, when the author writes:

“The death of Jesus on the cross has nothing to do with a bloody requirement of satisfaction on the part of a juridically ‘just’ God - on the contrary! The cross provides a demonstration of the nature of humanity and the nature of God.“


A demonstration of this kind, showing that God is just and humanity is unjust, is certainly an important and necessary lesson. But yet the death of God’s Son on the cross was not needed to enlighten humanity on the implications of this. It had been revealed already, more than a thousand years earlier, when the Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites. Since that time, and up to the present day, not a single human being has been able perfectly to live up to these just commandments of God. As Paul says in the passage from Romans quoted earlier, “There is none righteous, not even one”.

In the same epistle to the Romans Paul also writes that these commandments - the “Law” - were given to humanity in order to prove that the whole world is subject to the judgment of God, seeing that it is unable to live up to these just commandments of God.

That every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God.

Rom 3,19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 3,20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Rom 3,19-20;


In the verse just quoted, Rom 3,20, Paul then specifically states why God gave the Ten Commandments - the Law - to men: namely, because only through this Law was the knowledge of sin revealed to them. Paul then goes on, in the seventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans, to say more about this point, when he clears a critical argument out of the way that might assert that in consequence sin came to humanity through the Law.

I would not have come to know sin except through the Law.

Rom 7,7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “you shall not covet.” 7,8 But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. 7,9 I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; 7,10 and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; 7,11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 7,12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Rom 7, 7-12;


This is a perfectly logical conclusion: where there is no Law, there is no knowledge of sin. This is why the Law was given to us, so that we may see what sin is and how sinful we ourselves are, or realize, in Father Pucher’s words, “the nature of God and the nature of humanity”.

And Paul then continues his argument by elaborating on the theme that the fleshly human individual is incapable of fulfilling the spiritual commandments of God.

For I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

Rom 7,13 Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful. 7,14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. 7,15 For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. 7,16 But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. Rom 7,13-16;


With his question “Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me?” Paul is incidentally also targeting that line of argument which seeks to make God responsible for the sin of humanity. This is refuted very convincingly by James (Jam 1,13-16):

For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

Jam 1,13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 1,14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 1,15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 1,16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Jam 1,13-16;


But here the truth is clearly expressed that these commandments of God are given us so that we may come to the knowledge of sin, and not for the salvation of humanity. They cannot save us, precisely because we are unable to keep them perfectly. Every law - even a worldly law - can only be considered to be fulfilled when it is not broken. But seeing that the fleshly human being is not in a position to fulfill this Law in its entirety, he has transgressed against it as a whole. He is guilty.

But seeing now that righteousness before God is the precondition for our being accepted by God, for our salvation, the question now posits itself - If human beings cannot be justified before God through the Law and the Commandments, on what basis then can they be saved?

The possibility that the Law might be modified, “blunted”, is ruled out by the justice of God. In the first place, these Ten Commandments, taken together, constitute a unity. If one were to be altered, all the other nine would be affected. And besides, there would then be different conditions for believers: one set of conditions before, and one after the alteration. But this means that there can be no going back on the Commandments, or on the condition that they must be fulfilled by humanity.

Now it is admittedly true that no ordinary human being has ever succeeded in fulfilling all the Commandments, but there is an exception to this: Our Lord Jesus Christ was God but also man. And as man he was tempted just as all other human beings are. This is confirmed by the author of the epistle to the Hebrews:

Jesus, the Son of God, who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hbr 4,14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 4,15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 4,16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Heb 4,14-16;


Now Jesus Christ, this righteous man who was without sin, was able to fulfill all these conditions:

-  he was man,

-  he was tempted like all human beings,

-  he withstood all temptations and remained without sin.


And yet on this basis he would only have put his own righteousness to the proof, and we human beings would at best have been able to admire him, but this would not have contributed anything to our salvation before God.

Why Jesus had gone on the cross

And here it is finally revealed why Jesus really had to die on the cross. He relinquished his righteousness for our benefit. As a perfectly just man, he took the sins of the whole world on himself, let himself be nailed on the cross as a sinner and put to death, and so reconciled this world to its God.

So we have in the crucifixion not just a demonstration, a pointer designed to show human beings the course they should follow. Our Lord Jesus Christ went to his death on the cross solely and exclusively because there would otherwise have been no way to satisfy both the love and the justice of the Father together.

There is perhaps no better parable to explain God’s actions here than the story of Prince Shamil, an Avar leader of the northern Caucasus in the early 19th century, as reported by the economist Roscher<(i>:

“In order to ensure unity and discipline in his tribe, the Prince had issued the strict order that no one was to take anything from the booty, which belonged to the tribe as a whole. Any one who transgressed against this order was to be punished with a hundred lashes of the knout.

Then the order was disobeyed for the first time - by the Prince’s elderly mother. What was now to be done? If the punishment was not carried out, the justice of the Prince would be put in question, and the seriousness of his orders for all future time would be undermined.

Rosher tells us that the Prince shut himself in his tent for a whole day. Then he came out, and gave instructions that the punishment was to be carried out.

But as the first lash came whistling down on the back of his mother, he tore off his coat, threw himself over his mother’s body, and called out to the soldiers, ‘Keep on striking, and not one blow too few!’

And so he had found the solution! His mother was saved, and at the same time the torn and bleeding back of the Prince showed how seriously his commands were to be taken and how important to the tribe were justice and righteousness.”

(After Werner de Boor: Der Brief an die Römer [The Epistle to the Romans], WStB Publications, R. Brockhaus Verlag [R. Brockhaus Publishers]).


And so the blood and the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross also shows us how remorseless God in his justice is against sin, and how extensive at the same time is his love of us human beings.


The consequence of sin and salvation through grace

Sin is every act that goes against the commandments of God (Ex 20:3-17; Mt 5:21-48). The consequence of every single one of these acts is the death of the perpetrator – and not just the first, physical death, but the second death (Rev 21:8), to which the sinful person will be condemned at the Last Judgment after Resurrection from the dead with his or her new and eternally existing body. Just as the first death is merely a transitional period up till the resurrection, so too the second death is not an extinction of the human person but rather an eternally prolonged existence, distant from God in the darkness of damnation.

In order to meet the righteous demand of God that his commandments be fulfilled, while at the same time offering those human beings who infringe them the possibility of being saved from this eternal damnation, the Son of God died on the cross for every single human individual (1Cor 15:3-5). Thus all those who accept in faith the redeeming sacrifice of the Son of God in atonement for their own sins can be saved, and as sinners who have been justified by grace can enter into eternal life with God (Rom 5:9-11).




(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(How is it that Jesus could only defeat Satan through his death and resurrection? / Anonymous 00, 2004-04-16)

Wieso konnte Jesus nur durch seinen Tod und Auferstehung den Satan besiegen? Es waere doch leicht gewesen, ihn gleich zu vernichten, da er doch staerker ist! [How is it that Jesus could only defeat Satan through his death and resurrection? It would have been easy for him, after all, just to annihilate him, as he is the stronger!]

Jesus had dominion over demons before He came to earth as a man. Why, then, did He need to defeat the enemy on the cross.

(Non-identifiable search engine queries, from Germany and the USA respectively)



These questions from our two visitors were linked by the search engines to Discourse 30 - ‘Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?’. And although the fundamental question of the Lord’s death on the cross was clearly answered in the first part of the Discourse, the latter did not explicitly deal with this specific question of the victory achieved over Satan. I would therefore like to throw light on this aspect in these subsequent comments.

First of all let us look at the scriptural source of this statement according to which Satan was defeated by Jesus Christ on the cross:

Through His death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.

Hbr 2,14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself (God in Jesus Christ) likewise also partook of the same (the flesh), that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 2,15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Heb 2,14-15;


Now before we make bold to offer an interpretation, let us first hear what other commentators have to say about this.

Luther, for example, comments here:

‘...Christ redeemed us from the devil - not in the sense that he no longer exists, but in the sense that he is no longer something to be afraid of; and so also from death - again, not in the sense that it no longer exists, but in the sense that it is no longer something to be afraid of.’


These explanations in effect just summarize the content of the above scriptural passage, but do not answer any of the questions that suggest themselves in this connection.

Another commentator writes as follows:

‘The devil acquires power over death not in the sense that it is left to the devil’s arbitrary will to punish people with death as and when he pleases, but rather because the authority he holds is connected with death. Because he is the originator of death, those who die and those who have died are subject to his authority in virtue of their dying.’ (E. Riggenbach, quoted by F. Laubach, WStb [Wuppertal Study Bible], Der Brief an die Hebräer [The Epistle to the Hebrews]).


Again here the author is describing, in slightly different words, the same thing as we can read in the original text of the Epistle to the Hebrews. We learn that death is not left to the devil’s arbitrary will, but we still look in vain for an answer to the questions referred to above. But the way in which authority over death has been taken away from the devil is explained in detail at Immanuel.at in Excursus 08.

(See also Excursus 08: “The first and the second death.”).

Here, though, we want to go into the following question: ‘How is it that Jesus could only defeat Satan through his death and resurrection? It would have been easy for him, after all, just to annihilate him, as he is the stronger!’ And to answer this question we must first of all investigate the role of Satan, allotted to him by God in the creation. Let us start from the story that hardly anyone can fail to be familiar with, even if they have never held a Bible in their hands - the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (which people repeatedly refer to - incorrectly - as ‘Paradise’).

(See also Excursus 09: “The Paradise.”)

Here we find the first encounter between human beings and Satan. When God created man and set him in the Garden of Eden, he gave him a commandment:

From the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.

Gen 2,16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 2,17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." ! Gen 2,16-17;


We do not want to get caught up in the details here, but we can definitely state that it was a matter here of a commandment coming from God. And then Satan came along and tempted both human beings - Adam through his having got to Eve first - and they both fell to the temptation. This too is a sufficiently familiar story, so we do not need to elaborate further. But we would like to get behind this ‘event horizon’ and investigate the background to these happenings.

If we study the Bible, we discover what God’s intentions are for humanity. In the Revelation of John, the last book in the Bible, God reveals the final goal of his plan for human beings. In the light of this,

o  It is the will of God that human beings shall live with him in eternity (Rev 21; 22).

o  Inasmuch as eternity can never be interrupted, God needs for this purpose human beings who are absolutely loyal to him (in the love of God) and who never change their opinion.

o  Consequently this loyalty cannot be either purchased or compelled, but must spring from an absolutely free decision on the part of human beings. If it were a decision that was not completely voluntary - even in a case where people suppose that they have been ‘elected’ by God without any action on their part (predestination / Calvinists) - these people would no longer feel bound by their decision, which therefore could not stand up to eternity.

o  It follows that this loyalty must be subjected to testing to see whether human beings are prepared to abide by this decision of their own free will.

o  With this object in view, God has given commandments - in the example of Adam and Eve, the commandment not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge.

o  And now this is where Satan comes in. The task assigned to him by God is to test human beings, to see whether they will stand by their decision or fall away from it again - in other words, to tempt them.


In this story of the Fall we can now see quite clearly what Satan’s task consists in: he is the tempter from the very start. The object of his existence is to tempt human beings, and so separate the grain from the chaff - starting with the first human beings, and continuing through until the end of the world.

(See also Discourse 104: “What is the point of life?”)


So the situation in our own times is in principle no different from that in which Adam and Eve found themselves. Just as in the beginning, human beings have a fundamental claim to eternal life if they keep God’s commandments. If they violate God’s commandments, they commit sin and fall into eternal damnation. This eternal damnation is also referred to in Scripture as ‘the second death’.

This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Rev 20,14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. Rev 20,14;


So sin leads automatically to death (the second death).

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.

Rom 6,20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 6,21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 6,22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.6,23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom 6,20-23;


And now the reason why the devil has power over this second death is that he leads human beings into sin. This means that they go against God and so fall prey to death - the second death, eternal damnation. So it seems to be a situation with no way out. This is why God allowed the Israelites in the Old Testament a sacrificial animal - a sheep or a bull - on which the sins of the person supplying it were vicariously laid and atoned for by the animal’s death. This had to be done daily, because the Israelites kept on sinning. But after salvation was offered in the New Testament to the other nations as well, not all the sheep and bulls of this world would have been enough to atone for the sins of so many people.

But irrespective of this, God’s absolute justice calls for the death of all human beings who have violated his commandments. And here now God, in his love for humanity, let his own Son become man and sent him into the world so that he might provide this comprehensive sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, both past and future.

A high priest, who does not need daily to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people.

Hbr 7,26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 7,27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. Hbr 7,26-27;


By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hbr 10,3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year. 10,4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 10,5 Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, "sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; 10,6 On whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. 10,7 "Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’"

10,8 After saying above, "sacrifices and offerings an whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the Law), 10,9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will." He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

10,10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10,11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 10,12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 10,13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 10,14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. Heb 10, 3-14;


Since that moment every human being has had the possibility of having his sins forgiven by God, and acquiring an entitlement to eternal life:

The sins of every human being who comes to believe in Jesus Christ and accepts this sacrifice of the Son of God on the cross as having been performed on his or her behalf, are forgiven in the sight of God.



And here we now have the answer to the question raised earlier. Whereas up till the time of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross human beings were at the mercy of Satan, who tempted them into sinning so that they should be eternally lost, from that time on there has been an exit from this vicious circle - namely, the acceptance of the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. The devil admittedly continues to lead us into temptation, but through our faith in the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins, his absolute authority over the second death has been broken, and people who believe in this sacrifice can escape from Satan and be saved from eternal damnation.



(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)

(How Anselm Grün understands the resurrection and death of Jesus Christ. / Ulrich Skambraks ‒ TOPIC, July 2009 *))

The Benedictine monk Anselm Gruen is one of the most popular supposedly Christian authors of the present day. And because of this, his publications are also promoted and obtainable in Evangelical circles. As a result he has also made a name for himself on the Evangelical scene. (...)

For some time now Anselm Gruen has been publishing the “Einfach Leben-Brief” [“Simple Life Letter”], in which he passes on tips for the simple life in accordance with Christian rules. In the 3/2008 edition he describes, in an article with the title “Erloesung erfahren” [“Experiencing Redemption”], just how he understands the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For Gruen it is not the case that Jesus died in order to atone for the quite personal guilt and sin of every human being, so as to create the conditions for repentance and salvation. He writes as follows:

”The core of the biblical message is that God forgives us our guilt because he is God, because he is merciful and gracious. And not because Jesus died on the cross.”  

Gruen goes on to say in the article that it was indeed important that Jesus died, because “the fact that Jesus had to die on the cross has to do with cowardice, power, brutality and finally guilt. At the cross the sin of the world, with its intrigues and power games, became evident.” Lastly he says that the death of Jesus is a mirror showing what it is that makes bad people bad people. But God is love, Gruen says, and so gives us the strength to accept ourselves as we are. Gruen writes: “We, who experience ourselves as unacceptable, are empowered by looking at the cross and resurrection of Jesus to accept ourselves. (...)”

Gruen’s unmistakable attitude to the real Jesus Christ is described by the good Father himself in his book “Erloesung. Ihre Bedeutung in unserem Leben” [“Redemption ‒ its Meaning in our Lives”]. Here we find it stated: “Jesus must not be understood as the great Savior ... In some people’s heads the idea is still buzzing about that God lets his Son die in order to forgive our sins. But what kind of God is this, who finds it necessary for his Son to die, in order for him to be able to forgive us?”

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*) Extract from TOPIC No. 7 - July 2009 by Ulrich Skambraks / TOPIC, Postfach [PO box] 101544, D-57206 Kreuztal, GERMANY*)



In his quite excellent commentary in the last edition of the information periodical TOPIC, Ulrich Skambraks gives us a short article on the Benedictine monk Anselm Gruen and the latter’s understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic priest, who has already sold 15 million copies of his books and made a turnover well in excess of 100 million euros, is quoted here as follows: “The core of the biblical message is that God forgives us our guilt because he is God, because he is merciful and gracious. And not because Jesus died on the cross.” But as a result Anselm Gruen claims that the death of Jesus was only an illustrative example of “the sin of the world”. The object, in his view, was to demonstrate the intrigues and power games of the Jewish Sanhedrin of the time and the brutality of the Roman occupying power ‒ these were to serve as an example of the wickedness of humanity, in the death of the Lord on the cross. But the Bible tells us something quite different in this connection:

That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.

1Cor 15,1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 15,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 15,3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 15,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 15,5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 1Cor 15, 1- 5;

Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins.

Gal 1,1 Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 1,2 and all the brethren who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 1,3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 1,4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 1,5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. Gal 1, 1- 5;

God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1Jn 4,9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
4,10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1Jn 4, 9-10;


So it is not the sins of other people that are to be demonstrated here: rather the focus is on our own sins ‒ the sin of every individual ‒ which separate us from God, bring about our spiritual death and which are atoned for through the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, resulting in our salvation.

Father Gruen’s peculiar interpretation ‒ like that of the Catholic priest J. Pucher at the beginning of this Discourse ‒ does however testify to a shocking lack of biblical knowledge. The wickedness of humanity did not only become apparent with the cross, but had already been demonstrated much earlier, on the giving of the Ten Commandments by God to Moses.

Until the Law (the commandments of God) sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

Rom 5,12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned ‒ 5,13 for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Rom 5,12-13;


Until the Law ‒ the commandments of God ‒ sin was not imputed to humanity. Only when the commandments had come into the world was it possible for the sin of human beings to be recognized.

For sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

Rom 7,11 for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. Rom 7,11;


These commandments of God, and the obvious inability of any individual to fulfill them perfectly, are the demonstration of “what it is that makes bad people bad people”. Paul sees it in the same way in his letter to the Romans:

There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God;

Rom 3,9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 3,10 as it is written, "There is none righteous, not even one; 3,11 There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; 3,12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one." Rom 3, 9-12;


Where there is no Law (no commandments), there can be no sin (no transgression), “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom 3,20), and “I would not have come to know sin except through the Law” (Rom 7,7). But when the Law, based on the commandments of God, came into the world, there also came the knowledge of sin and of the wickedness of humanity. That was the moment when humanity could see “what human beings are like and what God is like”, as Father Pucher puts it.

But to all appearances, this is not the case in the Catholic church. There it was the death of Christ on the cross that was needed ‒ not to save human beings from the punishment from their sins, but in order to document “what human beings are like and what God is like”. As Father Pucher goes on to say, he has taken this unbiblical understanding of the death of the Lord on the cross (“Jesus did not become man and die on the cross to reconcile us with God”) from the book “Einfuehrung in das Christentum” [“Introduction to Christianity”] (sic!) by the dogmatic theologian and former cardinal Josef Ratzinger ‒ now Pope Benedict XVI.

There Ratzinger quotes the Greek philosopher Plato (427-347 BC) as saying that the justice of a good man only becomes perfect and proven as genuine when he takes on himself the appearance of unrighteousness. And then Plato gathers from this:

“They will say that our just man will be scourged, racked, fettered, will have his eyes burned out, and at last, after all manner of suffering, will be crucified.” (P. 292)


Ratzinger at the other hand uses this quotation from Plato’s work on the state (“The Republic”) as an indirect demonstration of the fact that Jesus did not die to reconcile us with God but in order to show us, as a perfectly just man, “what God is like and what human beings are like”, and what path of suffering we too must follow, “together with him and by sharing in his path”, as just persons ourselves. As we can see, this amounts to a complete negation of the biblical background to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross as the atonement for the sins of humanity, with a model of “righteousness through suffering” being fabricated in its place.

And here we now see the Catholic view of the death of Jesus Christ: it is not our sin for which the Lord was crucified ‒ rather he was just a model for us human beings. Human beings themselves must bear suffering, in order to be righteous before God. According to Catholic teaching, Jesus Christ gave us a demonstration of this, and we must follow him on this path of suffering in order to be saved.

So the Pope also observes with consistency in his most recent book, “Jesus of Nazareth”:

“Job’s sufferings serve to justify man. By his faith, proved through suffering, he restores man’s honor. Job’s sufferings are thus by anticipation sufferings in communion with Christ, who restores the honor of us all before God and shows us the way never to lose faith in God even amid the deepest darkness.” (P. 162)

(See also Discourse 89: “BENEDICT XVI: The Jewish and Catholic View of Jesus of Nazareth.”)


Not only does Ratzinger here again base his peculiar doctrine not on the Bible, but on a statement of an ancient Greek philosopher who could have absolutely no knowledge of Christ ‒ what is worse, he opens wide the door to fanaticism and to the delusion that it is possible to save oneself. More and more young people are going out to foreign missions not principally in order to convert the heathen but to die the death of a martyr ‒ “so as to be saved”, as they acknowledge. This is not just the case in Catholic missions but in Christian missionary organizations as well.

Some time ago Tilman Geske, a Protestant German missionary in Malatya in Turkey, refused to leave the country with his wife and his three children (!) in spite of the fact that he had been repeatedly threatened by those who were later to murder him ‒ instead he continued to provoke these enemies of Christianity until they finished him off with 160 stab wounds. In Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a female missionary from South Africa, who had been observed and harassed by the Taliban for some time, failed to act on this hint from the Lord and remained in the country. She was shot dead on the open street. And all this even though the Lord tells us:

But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out.

Lk 10,10 "But whatever city you enter and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 10,11 ‘Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 10,12 "I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. Lk 10,10-12;

(See also Discourse 753: “Must Christians love their enemies? - Part 3: The Christian missions in foreign countries.”)


The two German Evangelical female Bible students who were murdered in the Yemen in June of this year are likewise regarded as showcase martyrs, of whom their friends write that they “envy the dead because they showed their commitment to the Kingdom of God, met an honorable death in battle and are now privileged to live with Jesus.”

(See also Discourse 56: “Are Christians who have died already in heaven?”)


But in Catholic circles, as well, we have been repeatedly hearing recently of Catholic missionaries who get abducted and killed when posted abroad. The head of the papal mission organization in Austria (Missio), Monsignor Leo Maasburg actually confirms, “Some sisters pray for the martyr’s death. This is the supreme witness for them.” In his opinion the martyr’s death is “the surrender of one’s own life for humanity. Without violence, and without blowing people up.” Admittedly he then stresses: “I mustn’t lay an obligation of heroism or martyrdom on anyone,” so differentiating himself after all from the Islamic teachers of the Koran, who send out their pupils all over the world as suicide bombers.

What Monsignor Maasburg fails to recognize, however, is first of all that the death of these missionaries is of no benefit either to other people or to God, still less to themselves. Missionaries who pray for their own death are not on a mission to bring people to God, but are principally seeking, in their egoism, for appropriate situations or countries to achieve this goal. So they are not martyrs either, but rather potential suicides. They evade responsibility and rob God of the benefit of their lives, when they might have been able to bring to the faith many people out of the practically four million Muslims living in German speaking regions (as a kind of “foreign mission at home”), or else might have been able to convert people in their own families or countries. In German speaking lands around 80% of the population (including Catholics) are not Christians. But of course converting people like this would not involve any personal danger, so you couldn’t hope to become a “martyr”.

Christian missionaries on dangerous ground.

NUMBER OF MISSIONARIES PER COUNTRY
• = More than 50% Moslems in the population

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And secondly, these people ‒ and the missionary organizations that send them out ‒ are making the biggest mistake of their lives if they think that their deaths amount to any kind of special performance or special testimony whereby they might be saved. We are not expected to offer sacrifice ‒ human sacrifice least of all. Jesus Christ has already offered his life for us all, and it is this by which we are saved. Anyone who thinks he has to be saved by dying a martyr’s death is trying to save himself, and so is far from the true faith. But sadly this doctrine of salvation through a person’s own works ‒ evidently even to the point of suicide ‒ is propagated in high places, especially in the Catholic church, and even preached from the pulpit.

But in Islamic countries above all Christian missionaries can hardly expect to be tolerated. For it is equally the case that truly believing Christians cannot practice tolerance towards people who, in spite of evangelization, refuse to believe in God or believe in a different God from the Judeo-Christian God of the Bible. By contrast with Islam, however, biblically believing Christians ‒ following the commandment of the Lord quoted above (Lk 10,10-12) ‒ will only break off direct contact with such people.

Some aberrant “theologians”, however, think it possible ‒ under the cover of a hypocritical “tolerance” ‒ to introduce this kind of polytheism to Christianity in what is actually a godless ecumenism. For purposes of comparison, any wife who loves her husband from the heart and who receives an invitation to give herself to other men would be fully justified in vehemently rejecting the suggestion. But the representatives of “interreligious ecumenism” practice just this kind of spiritual fornication in exercising their function as ambassadors for their religions.

At the “Dialog der Religionen” [Dialog of the Religions] held under the auspices of the International Waldzell Meeting 2007 at the Benedictine monastery of Melk, Austria, in which representatives of all major world religions (Judaism, Catholicism, the Orthodox churches, Islam, Buddhism) took part, the representative of the Catholic church, Father David Steindl-Rast, an Austrian-American Benedictine, announced that

“our religion, like every other, is a door though which we go to the Ultimate”.

This in despite of what the Lord Jesus tells us in Jn 14,6:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. Jn 14, 6:


Rabbi David Rosen, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department for Interreligious Affairs, likewise echoed this view:

“I do not believe that there is only one way. If God speaks to us in such diversity, there must be different ways.”.

This in spite of what the Lord their God tells the Jews in the Torah (Deut 6,4):

Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

Deut 6,4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! Deut 6, 4;


So it is a shameful business ‒ both for Christians and for Jews ‒ that only the Islamic representative, Ahmed Mohammad El-Tayyib, Rector of the Al-Azhar University of Cairo, the most important educational institution in the Islamic world, found the courage to make the following statement:

“What follows for humankind from this divinely ordained diversity (of the religions/FH) is that human beings differ in their religions and principles of faith, and they will continue to do so until Judgement Day.”.

Thus he was the only speaker to distance himself from the mutual ingratiation efforts of the other religions.

(See also Discourse 91: “Interreligious Ecumenism: Are the Religions Merely Different Paths to Salvation?”)


The attempt by some Christian theologians and preachers to make out that Allah, the God of Islam, and the God of the Bible are identical, on the grounds that “Allah” is the Arabic word for God, is to be seen in the same light. This view testifies to a complete ignorance of the relevant statements to be found in the Bible, and is just about as convincing as the assertion that Giacomo Casanova, the Italian adventurer famed for the art of seduction whose name has become a proverb, is identical with Dr. Birger Neuhaus, scientific researcher and curator of wormlike species at Berlin’s Museum of Natural History, just because “Casanova” means New House in Italian, just as "Neuhaus" does in German.

As for the statements by Father Johann Pucher and Father Anselm Gruen quoted earlier, these are in fact almost literally identical ‒ so we can assume with some degree of certainty that both Gruen and Pucher derive their wisdom from Ratzinger’s “Introduction to Christianity”. And because the forgiveness of God in the statements of Scripture cannot be ignored, Anselm Gruen then excels himself in the following assertion:

“The core of the biblical message is that God forgives us our guilt because he is God, because he is merciful and gracious. And not because Jesus died on the cross.” 

And then again

“Jesus must not be understood as the great Savior ... In some people’s heads the idea is still buzzing about that God lets his Son die in order to forgive our sins. But what kind of God is this, who finds it necessary for his Son to die, in order for him to be able to forgive us?”


To answer this question right away once and for all ‒ it is an absolutely just God (see also above: Why Jesus had gone on the cross). But more of that later. Father Gruen’s above statement is likewise equivalent to that of Father Pucher quoted at the beginning of this Discourse:

“Jesus’ death on the cross reveals not a God hungry for atonement, but an infinitely and unconditionally loving God. Jesus did not become man and die on the cross in order to reconcile us to God.”


So “God is an infinitely and unconditionally loving God”, and “Jesus did not die on the cross in order to reconcile us to God”. Together these statements add up to the “Benedictine doctrine”, as we may call it, which is busily propagated by members of the Catholic hierarchy.

Now we cannot deny that there is an certain logic in this point of view. If God were really an infinitely and unconditionally loving God, there would be absolutely no reason to doubt that God has forgiven all human beings their sins without conditions (unconditionally) and without restrictions (infinitely) and will continue to do so in future. And if this were the case, it naturally raises the question why the Son of God had to die on the cross.

As we can see, this is an update of that very question that was asked by the Jewish hierarchy of the Sanhedrin under the high priest Caiaphas, nearly two thousand years ago: Why should God send his Son to earth? And this opens up a broad and fateful path into the hearts and minds of men, which the Antichrist is going to exploit one day. The Antichrist will assert that the Jewish Sanhedrin and its high priest Caiaphas were perfectly right at the time to have doubts about the divine sonship of Jesus of Nazareth. He will claim that this Jesus is a false Christ and that he, the Antichrist (antichristos in Greek means either “against Christ” or “substitute Christ”) has now come as “the true and genuine Messiah and Son of God”.

This is the antichrist, who denies that Jesus is the Christ.

1Jn 2,22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 1Jn 2,22;

This is the antichrist, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.

2Jn 1,7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 1,8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 1,9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 1,10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 1,11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2Jn 1, 7-11;


Based on the assumption that the Antichrist will appear in the guise of the “true Messiah”, we may also conclude that he will by no means meet with the most approval initially from the godless and unbelieving, but rather from those who ‒ as John writes in the above passage ‒ go too far and do not abide in the teaching. Along with those Christian denominations who teach that the Rapture is to take place before the Great Tribulation, and so expect the Second Coming of Christ as “the next major event of world history for the faithful”, it is very probably the Jews of the Mosaic faith ‒ who to this day reject Jesus as the Christ and so are still waiting for the Messiah ‒ who will see the Antichrist as the expected Messiah and will then, by contrast with their behavior in Jesus’ time, acclaim the “anointed one of God” with rapturous enthusiasm, as the Lord Jesus in fact prophesied to them that they would.

If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.

Jn 5,41 "I do not receive glory from men; 5,42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. 5,43 "I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him.Jn 5,41-43;

(See also Discourse 71: “Is the next major event of world history for the faithful the Rapture?”)


In forming a judgment of the Catholic church, we must however take into account the fact that the Catholic hierarchy, from parish priests right up to the Pope, are hardly in a position ‒ as a result of their notoriously impoverished knowledge and understanding of the Bible ‒ to recognize the consequences of these connections or assign the correct significance to them. So we cannot describe the Catholic church outright as being the “advance organization of the Antichrist”, as some preachers in the Evangelical camp are fond of doing.

In fact the main emphasis of these statements in the Catholic church is more likely to be the wish to play down the uniqueness and unconditionality of the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, so as to add to the importance of their idol, the “Mediatrix Mary”, and let it shine forth in a brighter light. ‒ “They do not know what they are doing” (Lk 23,34), as the Lord Jesus said (speaking, admittedly, of the Romans who crucified him).

But how is it with us, in the Evangelical camp? Here too there are many preachers who speak at conferences or on television about the “infinite” and “unconditional” love of God, without having even the foggiest notion what they are saying or what the words really mean. As on the one hand we have to assume that these people have a command of the German language, while on the other we would be reluctant to suggest that they are leading the brethren astray of deliberate intent, the only plausible alternative left is that they are irresponsibly availing themselves of populist phrases with the lowest possible inhibition threshold, with a view to attracting as many people as possible and persuading them to a “conversion”.

These preachers must be told ‒ and so must clerics of good will in the Catholic church be told ‒ that God’s love, according to the Bible, is neither unconditional nor infinite! For if the love of God were unconditional, God would then have to allow all criminals, mass murderers, atheists, tyrants and all other categories of worthless bum ‒ from the beginning of the world to the end of the world (infinitely!!) ‒ to enter into eternal life without any repentance or conversion (unconditionally!!). This is of course nonsense, but seeing that many preachers and evangelists keep on saying this kind of thing, people finally come to believe it and do not realize that if God’s love were infinite and unconditional, God would have to forgive all people their sins without any repentance or conversion on their part, and so no sacrifice for sin would be required any longer ‒ and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.

So the reason why God’s love is not unconditional and infinite ‒ and cannot possibly be ‒ is God’s absolute justice. If, at the Last Judgment, an infinitely and unconditionally loving God were to let all the innocent murder victims of this world enter into eternal life along with their murderers, whose guilt has now been fully pardoned, this would not be a just God but injustice personified. Human beings could live and act just in any way they pleased, because God loves them “unconditionally” and will forgive them for everything. They would not have to fear any consequences and would not be obliged to give an account of their conduct.

And here we can also see what kind of an impression is made on those people who are motivated by the promise of God’s infinite and unconditional love, as put across by various preachers, to take the decision to become Christians. This kind of “evangelization” will never result in such people’s coming to the Christian faith ‒ at best they will only remain fellow travelers in the congregations and churches, or nominal Christians like Father Pucher and Father Gruen.

So it is supremely important to point out to people that the love of our God is actually not unconditional. An unconditional love would be a contradiction of the justice of God, as justice excludes unconditionality. And so let us finally stop telling people fairy tales, and instead confront them with the truth of the gospel: our God is a just God, who punishes sin with death. And since we are all sinners, it follows that we must all die, if it were not that God, in his (not unconditional!) love, had sent his Son so that his Son would die on the cross, as a vicarious sacrifice for all human beings for the forgiveness of their sins.

Anyone, then, who accepts this offer of God in the redeeming sacrifice of his son as atonement for sin, and for his own sins as well, has his sins forgiven. He is saved and will spend his eternal life with God. Anyone who doesn’t want that can leave it. God doesn’t compel anyone to convert. But when at the Last Judgment such people are condemned to eternal damnation in the darkness far from God, they had better not grovel for grace. Because the grace and mercy of God, in the redeeming sacrifice of his Son, is something they have despised and mocked all their lives. So in the end all they have left is the absolute justice of God. And this knows neither grace nor mercy, only the choice of verdict between salvation or damnation.

I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.

Jn 12,44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. 12,45 "He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 12,46 "I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. 12,47 "If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. 12,48 "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. Jn 12,44-48;


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