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Are You Saved?

Death and Blood Sacrifice

Long before the advent of Christianity, Jews believed that death, symbolized by sacrificial blood, could atone for sin.

And he shall sprinkle of the blood of the sin offering upon the side of the altar; and the rest of the blood shall be wrung out at the bottom of the altar: it is a sin offering. Lev 5:9
Death was required to atone for sin, but the sacrifice of an animal "without blemish" could stand in for the death of the sinner. Animal sacrifice had to be repeated to cleanse the person of subsequent sins.

Later, Christians took the Jewish concept of animal sacrifice and gave it a new meaning: the human without blemish, Jesus, replaced the animal without blemish.

But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:1Pe 1:19
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Mat 26:28
According to doctrine, Jesus sacrificed his life for the eternal salvation of humanity so that even future sins were automatically forgiven.
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.Heb 10:4
For by one offering [the death of Jesus] he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Heb 10:14
Jesus, part human and part God, was the animal sacrifice par excellence.

But death itself also found a new meaning among Christians: besides the death of the body, there is also the death of the soul. According to Christian doctrine, those who sin are destined to die not only a corporal death but also a spiritual death wherein the "soul" dies as well.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat 10:28
For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 1Pe 3:18
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Heb 9:27

The Salvation Dilemma

The ultimate sacrifice itself is a problem. The salvation of the soul depends upon the presence or absence of sin. "The wages of sin is death."

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.Rom 6:23

Does that mean spiritual death, or physical death? Let's consider each case. If "death" as the compensation for sin means only physical death, then every person who dies pays for his own sins by his own physical death and his soul, free of its debt and no longer deserving death, should have eternal life.

However, if "death" as compensation for sin means a spiritual death, then of course the price itself, the spiritual death, means that the soul would not have eternal life -- the soul forfeits eternal life by the act of paying "the wages of sin". In this case, Jesus' spiritual death, not his physical death, is the payment for our sins. But according to Christian doctrine, Jesus never died a spiritual death. That is, Jesus' soul never ceased to exist. His death on the cross was only physical since the story goes on to recount Jesus' 3-day visit to hell and his subsequent ascension into Heaven where he dwells for eternity.

For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Mat 12:40
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. 1 Peter 3:18-19
He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. Act 2:31
Jesus was alive (spiritually) during the 3-day period between his death on the cross and the time he rose from the dead.

But there is one final tangle that is left to unravel: does descent into Hell constitute a spiritual death? If not, then it is still the case that Jesus never died spiritually and therefore did not pay the "wages of sin" for us. However, if descent into Hell indeed constitutes a spiritual death, then our own descent into hell is again our own payment for our sins. Upon entering Hell and having then paid for our sins, we are at that moment debt free and we would then have the right to ascend from hell into Heaven, once again without the need of a savior.

Are You Saved?

If you happen to believe that there is a God as Christians describe him, and Heaven and Hell, then consider this dilemma: if we cannot save ourselves, it is because the price of sin, death, and death means the annihilation of the soul. In that case, Jesus' sacrifice was not the spiritual death required for our salvation. In any other case, we all pay for our own sin upon our own death and we are "saved" without a savior.

Disclaimer

In referencing biblical verses above, I hope to provide examples of certain beliefs held by some of the New Testament and Hebrew Bible authors. My intent is not to assert that the verses I have quoted are either true or false, or even that they are consistent with other verses in the Bible.