Question from a Site Viewer
I have been a Christian for almost 4 years now and one thing has always confused me. Jesus died on the cross for our sins and in so doing, took our punishment and paid our debt. Yet, if we don’t have Christ, our debt requires an eternity in hell. How is it that His one time death on earth paid for our eternity in hell?
Thank you for your question.
You ask how Jesus could die once on the cross and such would be sufficient to pay for our eternity in hell. There are potentially several answers to your question, but they all go back to who Jesus is. Jesus is fully God and fully man. As God, Jesus is eternal. Thus, the death of Jesus was the death of the Eternal One. His eternality not only goes forward to fully encompass the eternity of hell, but it goes back to a time before hell even existed. Hell is a created place (Matthew 25:41). Stated another way, the eternity of God is far greater than the eternity of hell. So, when an eternal punishment is required because of man’s sin, the death of the Eternal One more than satisfies that need.
There is another way of looking at this problem. Sin broke our relationship with God (Genesis 3; Isaiah 59:1-2). The only reason anyone would end up in an eternal hell is because they are not reconciled with God. Those who are reconciled with God will be with Him. So, in the death of Jesus, God opened the way for people to have reconciliation with Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
If we reconcile ourselves to God, we will be with Him forever (2 Corinthians 5:20). This is what He greatly desires (1 Timothy 2:4). Hell was never created for people (Matthew 25:41). God wants people to be with Him. As John 3:16 so aptly states:
“God loved the world this much, that He gave His only existing Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but should have eternal life.”John 3:16 (ESV)
This is God’s great desire. To accomplish this desire the Triune God sent the second person of the Trinity to die for our sins, that we might have life. Thus, it is not so much that His death paid for an eternity of hell; rather, His death brought reconciliation with God that allows us to avoid that eternity. His death creates an escape route back to the Father, if you want to think of it that way. Once we are with the Father, we avoid the hell that was created for the devil and his angels.
I hope this helps. May the God of love guide you as you seek to walk with Him.
In His service,