Why Did Jesus Have to Die?

From Issue: R&R – Issue 44 #5


If God is all-loving and all-powerful, then why did Jesus have to die in order for God to forgive sins?


The Bible reveals that God is all-loving and all-powerful, but He is not only all-loving and all-powerful. That is, God is not a mere one- or two-sided Being. God is perfect in all of His attributes, including His holiness. God is 100% pure and holy. He is holy in the absolute sense. “The Lord is upright;… there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psalm 92:15). “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). The psalmist proclaimed of God: “No evil dwells with You” (5:4, NASB). Not one smidgen of sin can dwell in God or with God because even an iota of evil is against His innately pure and holy nature. Indeed, the “Lord God Almighty” is “holy, holy, holy” (Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 6:3).1

In addition to God’s perfectly holy nature is His infinitely just nature. God’s “work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He” (Deuteronomy 32:4). The psalmist declared to God: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne” (89:14). Unlike earthly judges who often falter in the administration of justice, God “shows no partiality nor takes a bribe” (Deuteronomy 10:17). A corrupt judge allows the guilty to go unpunished, while a just judge pronounces righteous judgment upon lawbreakers (cf. Colossians 3:25).

God’s perfect holiness makes fellowship with wickedness literally impossible. God’s perfect justice requires punishment for any evil doing. Sin is so atrocious to God that the penalty for violating His law is death—an eternal separation from Him (Romans 6:23; 1 John 3:4). Every accountable human being at some point sins against God (Romans 3:10,23). We sin and thus separate ourselves from our holy Creator. We find ourselves (of our own doing) “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). We are lost in sin, “having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12). And, as sinners, we have no power to save ourselves. There is nothing we can do. There is no plan that we could devise to escape the punishment from a perfectly holy and just God. A price must be paid for sin.

THIS is why Jesus came to Earth. He did not have to; He chose to. He came to satisfy God’s own (His own) perfect holiness and justice. “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). He willingly chose to pay the ultimate price for our sins, demonstrating that God is not only holy and just; He is love (1 John 4:8)! And, “[g]reater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13).

God’s perfect love compelled Jesus to take our punishment upon Himself. “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)…. [I]n Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:4-5,13). “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

God’s perfect holiness and justice demand that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). But thanks be to God, that is not the end of the story! (At least it does not have to be.) What does the rest of Romans 6:23 say? “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Yes, God is both “just” and “the justifier2 of the souls of humanity through the one and only sinless answer to the sin problem—Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:15), Whose sole purpose in coming to Earth was to save the souls of sinful humankind (Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:10).

The most illogical, heart-wrenching, and terrible thing that a lost-in-sin human being can do is spurn the invitation from our loving God to accept the free gift of eternal salvation through Jesus.3 On the other hand, the two greatest things we can do with the one physical life that we have is (1) accept and follow Jesus, Who is the “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6); and (2) tell others about why our Savior came to Earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 8:4; Romans 1:16).


1 God’s almighty (all-powerful) nature does not contradict His holiness since God’s omnipotence does not mean He can do anything and everything. Scripture is clear, for example, that God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). Thus, the Bible’s teaching on the omnipotence of God is that He can do anything (1) that is logically possible to be done (e.g., He cannot create a square circle), and (2) that is in harmony with His holy will. [For more information, see Dave Miller (2009), “Things God Cannot Do,”]

2 Through a trusting, biblical faith in Jesus, God made us “just” (or “right”) in the eyes of a perfectly just God (Romans 3:26).

3 To learn more about receiving the gift of salvation and becoming a follower of Christ, see AP’s free booklet at

Behold! The Lamb of God


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