Frank Apisa wrote:
Leadfoot...the thing I see as preposterous is that according to John, the GOD was willing to "forgive" humans for "offending" IT...but only on the condition that humans first torture and kill IT's "only begotten son."
You may not find that preposterous, and I respect your right to do so. BUT I DO FIND IT PREPOSTEROUS.
You also may disagree with my interpretation of John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life"...
...as the basis for my saying the "forgiveness" was conditioned on that sacrifice, but if you do...just what in the hell is John mentioning it here for...especially in the way he is mentioning it?
What it means is that as sinners, we cause death. If you read all the details of events leading up to the death of Jesus, there are lots of sins. Jesus was ultimately killed because some people wanted Him dead but couldn't put Him to death according to their laws, and other people didn't mind killing Him, but they didn't actually see any fault in Him.
So right there are two sins: 1) wanting someone else to do your dirty work for you because you think then you're not responsible; and 2) killing, but then not even because you actually believe the victim deserves it.
There are many other sins as well, and of course there is the fact that another prisoner was released as a favor who was found guilty, while Jesus was found innocent but nevertheless killed in the place of the guilty person released.
So if you study these things and you see a pattern that it's possible for innocent people to take punishment for others that are guilty, that is scapegoating.
So what Jesus' story is teaching, among other things, is that people who are scapegoated and suffer for things that we ourselves deserve to suffer for as our own sins, that we are really guilty of those things and deserve punishment but that God forgives us when we don't get punished.
Knowing that should make you uncomfortable knowing that you deserve punishment and that someone else is getting punished in your place, but you are nevertheless forgiven and saved from punishment.
What's more, you cannot insist that you deserve the punishment and take it, because your sins deserve more punishment than you can actually afford by giving your own life.
So we are in a state of unrepayable debt, i.e. unforgivable. We are unsalvageable sinners. . . and yet we are forgiven and saved and living in grace.
So it's not that God chooses
to punish us for arbitrary sins. The sins that are committed by us and our ancestors are simply beyond reconciliation. . . and yet we haven't all destroyed ourselves as a species as a result of the evil that people are perpetrating against each other all the time throughout history.
So Christianity is saying, "don't suffer in shame and guilt for this immense privilege of escaping the grave that you've dug for yourself and that your ancestors have dug for you with their evil deeds; but rather accept and rejoice in the good news that we are forgiven and saved/redeemed so that we can change our ways and start doing right instead of wrong."
The reason you have to accept Jesus is because you have to realize the gravity of sin and how incapable we are of sufficiently atoning for sin and ending it that way. Sin is just something that goes beyond us. No one can stop sin in the world, no matter how righteous they are. Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr., etc. etc. nor Jesus Christ stopped sin from continuing after their deaths; but Jesus brought the message of eternal life, taught about spiritual rebirth while alive, and then continued teaching about it after being resurrected. So we should accept Christ and accept eternal life in salvation/redemption from sin, go on living in the world but not being 'of the world' in the sense of giving into its temptations. We aren't perfect, so we always go on sinning in one way or another, but we can at least keep the faith and keep trying to confess and repent to God instead of living in denial for the sake of our pride.