Jesus’ Punishment Not Like Ours

Jesus’ Punishment Not Like Ours

There are certain denominations that don’t believe in the eternal conscious torment of the sinner, even among professing evangelical circles. I will deal with this in future articles, but they often bring up the inequality of punishment that Christ receives as a substitution for sinners. Someone like me who believes that hell is eternal conscious torment is often accused of not seeing the cross in just terms because Christ didn’t suffer eternally. There are some opponents who are inevitably annihilationist that will admit, however, that Jesus also was not annihilated. So in either case, Jesus’ punishment does not equally demonstrate the punishment of the wicked. Yet some within this camp further affirm that Jesus dying was the punishment. In other words, because Jesus died, that is how He was able to equally take our punishment because we die. And He rose again, defeating death on our behalf so that the righteous can have immortality. In essence, the moment that Jesus died is when Jesus took the punishment and only in dying, therefore, can we justly say He took our place, since death is the punishment.

While I do not holistically disagree with the conclusion, I also do not fully agree with the premise. Jesus’ experienced God’s wrath for us on the cross. The punishment was not solely death, but suffering God’s wrath because sin was laid upon Him. Death is the result of sin, and Jesus should have died long before He hung on that cross because of the way He was beaten. But because He was sinless, and had not yet had sin placed upon Him (which was a picture of the day of atonement), the body He had was not yet ready to die. It was only after sin was laid upon Him, and God’s wrath poured upon Him that He could cry, “It is finished!” This is penal substitution which some who reject eternal conscious torment love to also subtly deny. Or better yet, not explicitly affirm with plain speech. They rather affirm substitution, but not penal substitution. But I digress. The point is how do we reconcile the fact that Jesus was able to endure sufficiently and efficaciously God’s wrath that He will forever pour out on sinners? If the annihilationist position is true, why would Jesus have to experience the Father’s wrath if the punishment is realized in His death?

These are questions that seem weighty, but can be answered easily. Let’s make this plain. Jesus did not suffer punishment the same way that we will suffer punishment. Whether you believe annihilationism (in any form) or eternal conscious torment, one truth about Christ’s atonement will remain the same. Jesus suffered more for sinners than any sinner will ever suffer for their own sin. Why? Because of who He was! Listen, we are not just talking about a regular Joe Schmoe. We are talking about the precious Lamb of God! God of very God. The Holiest of Holies. The High and Mighty Son. The Prince of Peace. He humbled Himself, was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was ridiculed, mocked, and beaten by His own creation who He could have crushed like grasshoppers. Yet, He endured suffering in obedience to the Father to fulfill all that was written concerning Him. In one sense, He did not need to hang for hours. He didn’t need to continue bearing with the mocking and jeering that He did on behalf of sinners. But He chose to. And whether God chose to do it with a paper cut, or He chose to do with all of His eternal might, because of who Jesus was, just one tiny drop of blood spilled from an open wound inflicted upon Him would have been sufficient to save infinite legions of depraved sinners. But because dying is a part of the punishment, He could have just had His throat slit like the lambs of the Old Testament. He could have had a swifter execution. But instead He chose one of the most excruciating and humiliating ways to die. And endured God’s wrath as He bore it all!

I pray you don’t miss this. The punishment of Jesus will never match the punishment we receive because Jesus should not have been punished. If it were not for the grace of God, the punishment of Jesus would never have happened. If it were not for the justice of God, the punishment of Jesus would not be necessary. So in one sense, I agree with those who are opponents of eternal conscious torment that the punishment on Jesus doesn’t seem fair and equal. Because it wasn’t! What’s fair is that >>>> I <<<< should have been slaughtered! I should have experienced God’s wrath for all eternity without mercy and grace. Jesus enduring even a millisecond of God’s wrath on my behalf is infinitely more grace than I will EVER deserve. So when I hear from certain circles concerning their rejection of penal substitution and eternal conscious torment on how it seems cruel, I agree. Jesus should have wiped us all out! It’s seems cruel that it took the matchless, priceless, precious, and spotless God-Man in order for wicked and depraved sinners like us to be free. That Jesus, in His willingness and obedience, stepped into time, clothed Himself in sinless flesh, and subjected Himself to something worse than an everyday criminal’s death. It was one of the most tortuously notorious executions invented by man. A punishment reserved for the worse of the worst. Yet He suffered more than just a criminal’s death so that criminals like me can be saved. Why would He do such a thing?! It is more than cruel, it should not have happened! God would have been perfectly justified in giving us what we deserve, and never thinking twice about it. And in light of what the Father did to Jesus, eternal conscious punishment in Hell seems like an act of mercy in comparison to what Jesus endured for us. But the Triune God, by His mercy and grace, had an eternally bigger plan to save sinners from their sin, and to separate a people unto Himself, so that they can enjoy the greatest blessing ever to receive –Himself.

Jesus was more than a substitute. He was THE Surpassing Substitute. He was more than what you could expect a substitute to ever be. Sacrifices in the Old Testament typified substitution, but Jesus outshines them all! But Jesus wasn’t just a substitute, He was THE Perfect Penal Substitute. He didn’t just suffer a little of God’s wrath, but endured as much as was necessary to appease and satisfy His justice as a propitiation for our sins. And this was still infinitely more than He deserved. He endure more suffering, more pain, more sorrow, more agony not because of how long He was on the cross, but because He was on the cross! I cannot stress this enough. Jesus is more valuable and more beautiful than any being in the universe because He was God. He gave Himself for our sins. The punishment was not what we should have received. It was way more than we’ll ever experience, because He was innocent. If we can grasp this, when we look at Jesus on the cross, we should no longer wonder how He could sufficiently endure God’s eternal wrath, but wonder in why He was on the cross in the first place. We should no longer ponder the punishment matching the crime, but the fact that He had to be punished in the first place. We should be more offended at Christ having to take such a punishment than the eternal conscious torment of the wicked. Because if we value Jesus as He should be valued, it should be no surprise that God would eternally pour out His wrath on those that choose their sin over Him. Jesus’ punishment is by far a greater offense than sinners suffering in Hell forever (although paradoxically, it is a glorious grace because of Him who regenerated me because of it). I am more humbled and broken about my sin when I see the Lamb of God crushed by the Father, than by millions of souls weeping and gnashing in Hell. Jesus shouldn’t have suffered and died on that cross. But praise God He did. For it was the only way I would see Jesus as preciously and magnificently as I do today (and it grows daily). And even still, this article falls miserably short in comparison to the glory and majesty of who He is and what He has accomplished for those of us who have repented and believed His glorious gospel.

One final word. While I get what people say when they sing or read that “it should have been us upon that cross,” I can no longer say that this is fully the case for me. I don’t seek to undo thousands of pages that say something to this effect, because, for the most part, I don’t disagree. I should have experienced my punishment for my own sin. And it is from this sentiment that this understanding springs forth. So when people say this, I don’t fret. But I have recently come to appreciate the crucifixion of Christ in a way that has become exceptionally humbling for me, and I sought to share it with all. I pray that this article brings you to the same place it has brought me. To a place of deeper reverence, worship, obedience, and understanding concerning what Jesus accomplished on our behalf.

-Until we go home

A lot to consider regarding our “little sins.”

The following article by Frank Powell gives us a lot to think about:

image9 Sins the Church Is Surprisingly OK With as Long as You Love Jesus

What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat?

I was in an engineering class the first time I watched the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Even though I wasn’t alive when it happened, I caught a glimpse of the horror thousands must have felt as the events unfolded.

And, the first question everyone wanted to know was, “What happened?”

After months of investigation, here’s what the Rogers Commission (the group commissioned to investigate the explosion) discovered: An o-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at take-off. I won’t bore you with the details, but an o-ring is a small device relative to the size of a space shuttle. Very small.

It wasn’t something huge, like a puncture in the rocket booster or a hole in the cabin, that caused this disaster. It was a small, seemingly insignificant, o-ring failure.

I think there’s a lesson here for the church. What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?

Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most. I want to address nine of these sins.

Continue reading here.

How to Know If You’re a Fool

How to Know If You’re a Fool

While some Christians like to make April 1st “National Atheist Day,” I think it is a perfect day to reflect on our own foolishness. The Bible has much to say about what makes a fool. Way too many references for me to pack into one blog post! But a few years ago I complied a list of 17 ways you can know if you’re a fool. Some might pertain you, some might not. But if you want to know if you are being foolish, this list might be the snappiest way to find out. Reflect and pass on.

  1. When you trust your heart.
    He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, But whoever walks wisely will be delivered. -Proverbs 28:26
    How can we trust something that is more deceptive than the devil himself? If God is true, and we place our heart’s desires over His revealed word, we are indeed fools.
  2. When you spread gossip.
    Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, And whoever spreads slander is a fool. -Proverbs 10:18
    Slander may be information that is true or not true which is meant to destroy the character, reputation, or perception others may have about a particular person(s). The reason why you are a fool when you slander is because, often times, you might be spreading something that doesn’t accurately depict the person, event, situation, etc. Be careful! Only God has the big picture.
  3. When you think it is fun to do things that are sinful.
    To do evil is like sport to a fool, But a man of understanding has wisdom. -Proverbs 10:23
    This is a tough pill to swallow. There are some things that may seem sinful and are not, and not sinful yet are. But it should never be fun and delightful for us to partake, or devise a plan to partake, in anything that we know to be sinful. To do so is foolish.
  4. When you think your way is right and God’s is wrong.
    The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise. -Proverbs 12:15
    Be not wise in your own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. -Proverbs 3:7
    This goes along the same lines as point 1, which I think is a foundational point concering why we sin in the first place. Nevertheless, to justify your own reasoning over God’s revelation, is worthy of the title of fool.
  5. When you won’t listen to good correction, even from your parents.
    A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent. -Proverbs 15:5
    Parent’s are there for our good. Sometimes we may not have godly parents, or we have parent’s that were/are never there for us. But regardless of the source of instruction, godly and good instruction is to be received and praised. To reject this will often be to your detriment.
  6. When you only care about what you have to say and not the truth.
    A fool has no delight in understanding, But in expressing his own heart. -Proverbs 18:2
    Just want to vent? There may be a time and place for that. But if your end goal isn’t to discover truth, or find a godly solution, you’ve stepped into the realm of fools.
  7. When you live as though God does not exist.
    The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. -Psalm 14:1
    This verse isn’t for atheists only. The essence of atheism is not just declaring openly that God does not exist. It is a philosophy of the heart that lives as though God does not exist. And there are millions of people who are professing Christians who live like atheists although they profess to know Him. A heart unconvinced by the gospel and unregenerated by God’s Spirit will have a heart that is full of foolishness.
  8. When you are a woman who is loudly argumentative and don’t care if you’re right or wrong.
    A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knows nothing. – Proverbs 9:13
    Men have many marks that make them foolish. So do women. This verse can pertain to men just as much as women, but this kind of behavior should be checked at the door if you’re this kind of women.
  9. When you laugh at sinful things or don’t take sin seriously.
    Fools make mock at sin: but among the righteous there is favor. -Proverbs 14:9
    The idea here is that we don’t take the nature of sin lightly. We are not supposed to jeer at the severity of sin, and we are to remain aware of the seriousness of it. By slighting sin, and removing the sobering nature of it, we can drop the psychological barriers that alarm us of its danger. This is foolish indeed.
  10. When you refuse to turn away from sin.
    A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil. -Proverbs 13:19
    Repentance is a beautiful thing. God grants us repentance so that we might know Him more intimately. But refusing to repent is a dangerous game. Whether it is a sin against your spouse, neighbor, co-worker, child, and yes, God, turn away from the evil you have committed against them! To refuse makes you a fool.
  11. When you don’t like to meditate about life after death, but rather about what is fun and pleasurable now.
    The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, While the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure. -Ecclesiastes 7:4 (NASB)
    I quoted the NASB here because the important sense of this verse needs to readable (although I think the NLT, I hate to say, is more spot on to the sense of this verse). The house of mourning here is speaking about death.  A funeral home is the best way to translate it in our time. Pondering eternity and death can truly make one wise. But in our day and age, everything is about the here and now, and what is the most pleasurable experience we can have. Fools live in that kind of mindset. Although it is good to enjoy live and the things that God has given us to enjoy freely, a fool has no pleasure in pondering eternity.
  12. When you have a bad temper, or are quick to get angry.
    Do not be quick to be angry, For anger rests in the heart of fools. -Ecclesiastes 7:9
    If you have ever been angry, justified or not, we know what quality product anger can produce (insert sarcasm here). There is nothing wrong with righteous anger. But even then, if we do not know how to bring it captive to Christ, we will allow the fire to burn too long in our hearts which will in turn produce catastrophically foolish results.
  13. When you think you are smarter than you actually are and are stubbornly unpersuaded in a sinful manner.
    Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. -Proverbs 26:12
    This verse points out that you are in a worse condition than a fool when you are like this. If there is any hope for a fool, it is nill in comparison to thinking you are wise in your own eyes. Refer to point 1 and 4 if you need help in this area.
  14. When you are unthankful for the knowledge of God, and exchange the truth of God for a lie.
    …although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man… -Romans 1:21-23
    Whatever revelation God has given man, it is so that man can, in turn, glorify God. In nature, the conscience, and even some revelation through His Word, each man is without excuse before God. To be unthankful, to reject His goodness, to exchange what we know about the truth of God for a lie, and suppress it in unrighteousness is the epitome of foolishness! Apart from the grace of God, how else could we escape such a despairing condition? Nothing but the blood Jesus can set us free.
  15. When you live for money, retirement, riches, etc., but have neglectful care for your eternity.
    But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. -Luke 12:20-21
    Wealth in the world is not wealth in the spirit. Don’t be fooled by material gain, meanwhile neglect heavenly treasures. It is foolish to gain much, but lose your soul in the end.
  16. When you recklessly spend money.
    There is desirable treasure, And oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man squanders it. -Proverbs 21:20
    This doesn’t not mean that if you are wise you will always be rich. There are plenty of people who are very wise, and God has limited them monetarily. But what this does mean is that the foolish don’t know how to reserve themselves and spend money wisely. That pay check, tax return, Christmas bonus, loan, or whatever, will be squandered irresponsibly. Are you a reckless spender? Then you are a fool.
  17. When you don’t trust Christ alone to save your from your sin, and instead would rather trust in anything else but the Bible.
    But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. -Matthew 7:26-27
    Obeying Christ is an outpouring of our salvation. There is nothing more important in this world than to know you are saved by Christ and are obeying His commandments. To do otherwise is eternally foolish! If you are not reading God’s word in order to know Him more, so that you can obey and love Him as you were created to do, you are indeed foolish. 

Once again, this is not an exhaustive list, but I pray this would be edifying and convicting enough for each of us to evaluate the foolishness dwelling within ourselves quicker than pointing out the foolishness we see in others.

– Until we go home

The Visitor is available to download for free today.

imageWhat happens when someone travels into the past to deliver an urgent message about the future, but ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Would those unintended recipients of the future warning be able to stop any of the atrocities of the 20th Century (including the assassination of President Kennedy)? Or, in spite of man’s ability to travel through time, would God’s sovereignty demand that the horrible events of history’s past can never be changed?

The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison, is a short story best described as part science fiction, part history, part time travel, and part mystery. With a tablespoon of politics, a pinch of dystopia, and a dash of conspiracy, this tale will take you on an entertaining ride with a climactic ending that will leave you in contemplation long after you’ve put it down.

Here’s what others are saying about The Visitor:

– “I appreciated the conflict between the sovereignty of God and time travel. I have often wondered what would happen if time travel were possible. This story reminded [me] of the rich man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke, especially Father Abraham’s words ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ Or in this case, traveled back through time.”  Javier L. Taylor (5 Stars)

– “A new talent to watch. . . . If the Twilight Zone still existed, this short story would be an episode, it is that good. . . . Rod Serling himself would be proud.” PapaPhilly (5 Stars)

– “Possibly the best short story I have [ever] read!” Anne (5 Stars)

– “I guarantee you will be old before you forget this book.” Mark Escalera (5 Stars)

– “Very thought provoking.” Laura McGowen (4 Stars)

– “The author has crafted an excellent short story that captures your imagination and draws you in with its characters. . . . Well done.” Chris Hohnholz (5 Stars)

– “Reads like a suspenseful Twilight Zone episode . . . . If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone this book is for you.” John Cavallone (5 Stars)

– “There is an allusion to the tension between the sovereignty of God and the outworking of history in relation to time travel. I find that to be an interesting thought experiment. Finally, there’s a big nod given to Neil Postman and his vision of the American future given in Amusing Ourselves to Death . . . . The weaving of an interesting fictional narrative with theology, history, political commentary, media ecology, science fiction . . . in such a short space is impressive.” Heath Cross (5 Stars)

– “I love that it moved quickly and touched on so many interesting points and . . . had such an unpredictable ending.” Bernard Ruiz (5 Stars)

– “It was amazing and scary at the same time. The Vistor left me breathless.” Michelle Bledsoe (5 Stars)

– ” I found this to be a new concept for this genre and actually left me pondering what I would change if I could go back and warn others. Overall, a very thoughtful and entertaining read. The writing and pace was perfect . . . . I found this very enjoyable and thought provoking . . . .” Jenaca (5 Stars)

– “The plot is compelling – I imagine Rod Sterling could adapt it quite nicely for an episode of the Twilight Zone.” Jay Eldred (4 Stars)

– “The Visitor . . . [is] . . . a truism that big things come in small packages.” Chad (5 Stars)

– “Very well written in a manner that kept me riveted to the end.” Paul Bayne (5 Stars)

“This story left me with so many questions, and theories. Not about the plot or the characters, but about humans and their choice of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes.” Laura (5 Stars)

“I really enjoyed this book! . . . I didn’t want the story to be over. It had great depth and character development for such a short story. There were several thought provoking themes woven into the story line that hung in my head for several days after reading [it]. . . . I look forward to reading more from this author.” Kayci (4 Stars)


If you’re ready to read a unique tale that is also family friendly, then download The Visitor today at

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read The Visitor by downloading the free Kindle reading app to your tablet, phone or PC here

A napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to prove the deity of Christ.

image“Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God. Greg, who is the president of Stand to Reason and the author of one of my favorite books on reasoning with unbelievers, kindly granted permission to reprint the explanation below. I hope you find it helpful.”

Read the entire article here