What if Jesus Didn’t Fully Die?

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Joan Osborne poses an interesting question. “What if God were one of us?” What if He was an everyday Joe trying to get by in this life? Who would He be, and what would He look like? Modern Christianity attempts to answer this question through the person of Jesus Christ. Many Christians believe he was fully God and fully human, in a sense saying, “Hey Joan! Look to Jesus! He’s God! That’ll answer your questions and now you don’t have to sing that song anymore!” Most of us would at least be thankful for that.

What I am not thankful for is the horrendous and abundant contradictions that are created by this belief that Jesus Christ is very God of very God. What I want to focus on in this paper are the consequences of having a Savior who could not have truly died.

It is taught amongst many denominations that Jesus Christ died for our sins, but only in part. His man nature was placed in the grave and his God nature ascended to heaven. This idea is not supported by Scripture, in fact, the opposite holds true when we take the time to read our Bible. This way of viewing Jesus creates a lot of unresolved questions, of which I will address a few, but first I wish to focus on the following quote that is pretty standard of most Trinitarians.

“Only God could have died for our sins. No mere man could have possibly paid the price for all of man-kinds sin.”

With a nod of the head and an amen, this phrase is accepted by millions of Christians, yet for those who take the time to open their Bibles, a picture appears that is altogether different from the one that is painted from the pulpit. It is taught that only God could die for our sins, and that he chose to do so by manifesting himself as Jesus Christ. Yet when he died, his God nature returned to heaven, while his man nature went into the grave. This negates the very belief that only God can die for our sins because he doesn’t actually die! He goes back to heaven and the flesh he put on goes into the grave leaving us right back where we started! This leaves us in quite a predicament because if, according to this belief, God didn’t die – then our faith is in vain. Let us consider for a moment, what it would mean to our faith if Jesus Christ did not fully die. [For further study read How can a man atone for the sins of mankind?]

1. We would have no mediator

Romans 5:10
For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

Hebrews 9:15b
Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance– now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

2. We would have no Lord

Philippians 2:8-11
(8) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
(9) Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
(10) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
(11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3. Our Hope for eternal life would be rendered futile

Acts 2:23- 24, and 26-27a
(23) This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
(24) But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
(26) Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
(27) because you will not abandon me to the grave.

4. We would have no salvation

Hebrews 5:7-9
(7) During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
(8) Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
(9) and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him

You may say that I am going too far. That dying in any part would have fulfilled the requirements for salvation and a Savior because God is God, and He can do things however He wants. Well, true as that may be, God says in His Word what must be necessary for Christ to fulfill his role as our Savior.

Hebrews 9:16-17
(16) “In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it,
(17) because a will is in force only when somebody has died (Nekros); it never takes effect while the one who made it is living.”

These verses mean exactly what they say. In order for a will to be carried out there must be undisputable evidence that the one who died is in fact dead. I would say that if half of Christ was alive in heaven, in the form of God, and half was dead, than there would be enough evidence that he was not in fact dead and therefore all of the above promises would not be fulfilled.

The Greek word for “Death” or “Died” in this verse:

Nekros {nek-ros’}
Meaning:
1) properly 1a) one that has breathed his last, lifeless 1b) deceased, departed, one whose soul is in Hades 1c) destitute of life, without life, inanimate
2) metaph. 2a) spiritually dead 2a1) destitute of a life that recognizes and is devoted to God, because given up to trespasses and sins 2a2) inactive as respects doing right 2b) destitute of power or force, inactive, inoperative.

That is exactly what happened to Jesus, he died (Nekros). God cannot die (1 Tim. 1:17).

Hebrews 13:20-21
(20) May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead (Nekros) our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,
(21) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Consider for a moment what it really means to serve a Jesus who did not fully die, and who therefore could not have fulfilled all of the wonderful promises that the Bible speaks of. Be thankful that we truly do serve a risen Lord who was willing to face death upon a cross for our sake, so that we could have eternal life!