Was Jesus' sacrifice blemished according to Christadelphian theology?

According to Christadelphian theology, Jesus had a sinful and fallen nature.1  He therefore needed to be redeemed just like anyone else.2  But, say the Christadelphians, Jesus never sinned, so His sacrifice on the cross was pure and acceptable to God.

The Old Testament sacrifices were to be without blemish or defect.  Of course, the blood of animals cannot remove our sin, but these sacrifices were representative of the sacrifice of Christ.  Deut. 17:1 says, "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep which has a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God" (NASB). (See also Ezekiel 43:22-23, 25; 45:18, 23 for the same theme.).

The words "blemish" and "defect" are "mowm" and "ra", respectively.  According to the Strong's Concordance "Mowm" means "1) blemish, spot, defect 1a) of physical defect 1b) of moral stain."  Obviously, the sacrifice can have no physical defect.

The second word, "ra" means, "1) bad, evil 1a) bad, disagreeable, malignant...2) evil, distress, misery, injury, calamity...3) evil, misery, distress, injury 3a) evil, misery, distress," etc.  It is obvious that the word here deals with the inner quality or character.  Therefore, the two words emphasize the outer and inner aspects of the sacrifice.  It is to be physically pure and morally pure.

The Christadelphian will rightly respond by stating that Jesus was morally pure, and He was.  He never sinned (1 Peter 2:22).  But, not having committed a sin is not the same as being pure in nature.  A baby has a sin nature, yet has committed no sin and as such is still in need of redemption not because it has committed a sin, but because it has a fallen nature.  This is why the Bible says we are by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3).  God clearly states that our natures are fallen and affect our position before Him. In other words, having a sinful nature is indeed a defect within a person.

Nevertheless, the Christadelphians maintain that Jesus' sinful nature played no part in the sacrifice.  In other words, they are, to a large degree, separating the nature of Christ and His obedience to the Father.

  1. To say that Christ had a sinful nature makes Him a blemished and imperfect sacrifice, because
    1. Jesus is the sacrifice and the sacrifice cannot be separated from the thing/person being offered. 
      1. 1 Peter 2:24 says, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
        1. This verse proves that Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross.  Jesus had a human body because He has a human nature and it was in His body that our sins were placed.
        2. If the Christadelphian states that this verse only means that Jesus bore a sinful tendency as all humans do, then he would be contradicting the teaching of the text which states he bore our sins in His body.
        3. Furthermore, the idea of 1 Peter 2:24 is repeated in Heb. 9:28 which says, "so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him."
        4. The verb "bear" in both verses is "anaphero" and it means
          • "to bring or take up."3
          • "to carry or bring up, to lead up. 1a men to a higher place. 2 to put upon the altar, to bring to the altar, to offer. 3 to lift up ones self, to take upon ones self. 3a to place on ones self anything as a load to be carried. 3b to sustain, i.e. their punishment."4
          • "to be carried or borne upward to carry up.5
        5. Therefore, we can see that Jesus actually did bear our sins in His body as 1 Peter 2:24 says.
    2. Heb. 7:27 says, "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."
      Eph. 5:2 says "and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma,"
      1. Obviously, Jesus, the man with His human nature was offered upon the cross.   Himself is Himself.  How does offering "Himself" not include His nature as a man?
    3. Heb. 9:14 says, "how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
      1. Here it says that the "blood of Christ" (9:14) is what cleanses us of our sins.  This proves that the physical nature of Christ was involved as being the sacrifice.
    4. Heb. 10:10-12 says, "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all, 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God."
      1. It says that Jesus' body was the offering to God.   Notice that the physical body of Christ was the sacrifice.  According to the Christadelphians, Jesus became a man and shared in the sin nature.  How is the sacrifice of Christ which was the offering to God which included the physical shedding of blood, not include Jesus' human nature which, according to the Christadelphians, was sinful?
  2. If you say that Jesus' sacrifice had nothing to do with His sin nature, then...
    1. Please provide biblical support for this idea of a separation between a person's nature and his actions.  If this cannot be done, then the idea cannot be claimed.
      1. The Bible no where makes a distinction between a person's deeds and his nature.  On the contrary, it ties them together:
        1. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually," (Gen. 6:5).
        2. "Out of the wicked comes forth wickedness," (1 Sam. 24:13).
        3. "The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9).
        4. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks," (Matt. 12:34).
        5. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man," (Mark 7:21-23).
        6. Jesus' sacrifice was related to His nature and if He had a sinful nature, then His sacrifice was blemished.
    2. You are separating what Christ is from what Christ did.
      1. If you separate what Christ is from what Christ did, then anyone could have atoned for sins provided he keep the law perfectly.  All they would need would be a little help from God with a special anointing.
    3. You are saying that a concept was the offering and not Him.  This is how:
      1. Christadelphians claim that Jesus' obedience was offered as a sacrifice.  Obedience is an action, a concept.
      2. If obedience is NOT tied to Jesus nature, then why did Jesus need to die?
        1. If it is true that only the obedience of Christ was the offering, then it is not necessary for Jesus to have died since His nature, says the Christadelphian, had nothing to do with sacrifice of obedience.
      3. Biblically, live things were offered in the sacrifice.  It was never a concept offered up as a sacrifice.
      4. If Jesus were the sacrifice, then Jesus, the man Himself was the sacrifice, was offered on the cross.  But, if this is so, then we have a sinful-natured man as the offering and this is a blemished sacrifice.
  3. Questions for Christadelphians regarding Jesus and His sacrifice
    1. What biblical precedence and support is there for the claim that Jesus' sacrifice had nothing to do with His "sinful" nature, as Christadelphian theology teaches?
    2. Heb. 7:27 says, "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."  Obviously, Jesus, the man with His human nature was offered upon the cross as this text says.  Can you please explain how this fits into your theology that Jesus had a sin nature and that it had nothing to do with the sacrifice when the Bible says that HE HIMSELF was the offering?  In other words, since Jesus had a sin nature and he offered himself (Heb. 7:27), how is it that his sin nature was not part of the offering?
    3. In reference to Heb. 7:27 above, is "Himself" NOT including His nature? How do you separate Jesus being Himself from His "sin nature" and still be Himself?
    4. In reference to Heb. 10:10 where Jesus offered up His body as the sacrifice, how do you exclude His physical body as being the sacrifice?
    5. In reference to Heb. 10:10, since Jesus was human in nature and, as the Christadelphians claim, had a sin nature just like all people, how do you say that his human nature was not the sacrifice since it says his body was offered?  This would mean that the Christadelphian Jesus offered up Himself, in body, which would include his sin nature which would make the sacrifice blemished and void.
    6. What biblical precedence and support is there for the claim that Jesus' sacrifice was only an offering of His deeds and not His person?
    7. How is a person with a sin nature able to keep the Law perfectly?
    8. If Jesus' sacrifice was of His obedience and had nothing to do with His sinful nature (according to Christadelphian theology), then what does it mean when it says that Jesus bore OUR sins in HIS body (1 Peter 2:24), that He became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21), and that He was an offering to bear the sins of many (Heb. 9:28)?

 

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  • 1. The Christadelphians: What They Believe and Preach, p. 82.
  • 2. Christadelphian Answers, p. 24.
  • 3. Arndt, W. A. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 63.
  • 4. Strong, J. Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996.
  • 5. Louw, J. P. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, New York: United Bible Societies, 1996, LN 15.206.

 

 

 

 
 
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