Much of Christadelphian teaching is wrong and thus extremely harmful to people who believe and practice it. If you haven’t already, please read the first part of this series to acquaint yourself with this cult.
Much of Christadelphian theology is false teaching, but I’m focusing on four specific areas of their teaching for this current series:
- Jesus is not God
- Jesus didn’t exist before being conceived in Mary’s womb
- Jesus’ death was not a replacement sacrifice for us
- People have to work for their salvation
We addressed the false teaching of Jesus not being God in the first part of our series, and Jesus not existing before His conception in the second part. We turn now to the Christadelphian teaching that Jesus death was not a replacement sacrifice for us. We will begin by reading their own words; what Christadelphians have written about their beliefs concerning Christ’s sacrifice. Please read their comments carefully, then I’ll respond.
In Their Own Words
We reject as unbiblical the idea that Christ could die as a replacement sacrifice for us, thus covering all our sins forever with that one act. Certainly it is through his sacrifice that we may be forgiven, but only if we walk the path of self-denial that he marked out for us. Christadelphian Faith and Beliefs
That these promises had reference to Jesus Christ, who was to be raised up in the condemned line of Abraham and David, and who, though wearing their condemned nature, was to obtain a title to resurrection by perfect obedience, and, by dying, abrogate the law of condemnation for himself, and all who should believe and obey him. The Christadelphian Statement of Faith
Baptism is mandatory, a visible demonstration of repentance and contrition. Christadelphians hold that baptism is the symbolic participation in Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, resulting in forgiveness of sins. Christadelphian Beliefs and Practices
It was necessary that Jesus should offer FOR HIMSELF for the PURGING of his own nature, first, from the uncleanness of death, that having by his own blood obtained eternal redemption FOR HIMSELF, he might be able AFTERWARD to save to the uttermost those that come to God by him … Christ cleansed himself first, in the God-appointed way. His sacrifice cleanses and redeems US only as we become PART OF HIM.
This is the emphatic teaching of brethren Thomas and Roberts over and over and over. This is the heart of the Sacrifice of Christ. This is the central issue that distinguishes the Truth from the Apostacy on this subject. This is the heart of the problem with those who cannot clearly see the scriptural picture of the Sacrifice of Christ.
Did he offer as one of those needing the sacrifice, as a REPRESENTATIVE; or did he offer merely on behalf of others, himself NOT needing it, that is, as a SUBSTITUTE? Brethren Thomas and Roberts are emphatic that the former is the truth, and the very heart of the truth concerning his sacrifice.
All animal sacrifices typified what needed to be done. He was not just another type. He actually DID in himself and for himself what needed to be done: overcome and destroy the Diabolos; offer the cleansing bloodshed sacrifice that God’s wisdom had appointed for the cleansing of Sin’s Flesh; and break out of the Law of Sin and Death that held all mankind, including himself, in bondage.
THEN he, and God through him, freely offered this victory and escape to all who completely deny themselves, and become part of him, enter INTO him, and to the fullest of their ability conform to his pattern and character. Where they fall short of his perfect victory, his blood continuously cleanses them through repentance and prayer and Divine loving forgiveness in mercy – IF they are giving their all and utmost to the service of God in thankful love.
How could Christ condemn sin in the flesh (Romans 8:3) if He was not sin’s flesh Himself by physical constitution? To deny that Christ, born of woman, was not as unclean as the bodies He died for is to propound the doctrinal heresy of Antichrist or clean-flesh rampant even in Apostolic Times and resisted by the Apostles (1 John 2). Christadelphian – The Sacrifice of Christ
As you look through Christadelphian writings concerning this subject you will find them quoting often from the Mosaic Law and the Letter to the Hebrews. There’s a reason for that. As we’ve seen previously, Christadelphians believe Jesus is not God and did not exist before His conception in Mary’s womb. They see Jesus as a man who God chose for a special purpose – similar to how God called Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and other people in the Old Testament for special purposes.
Christadelphians see Jesus as the “high priest” mentioned in Hebrews. The first verse quoted as a proof text in The Sacrifice of Christ quoted above is from Hebrews 7:26-27. Christadelphians use it and other quotes as part of a catechism to teach their beliefs to followers:
For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
Christadelphians believe that Jesus, as the final High Priest, offered up sacrifices first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people. They take that from the Mosaic Law concerning Israel’s high priest – “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house” (Leviticus 16:6). Christadelphians believe that Jesus had an “unclean” body and needed to first perform a blood sacrifice to cleanse Himself “for the purging of his own nature.”
Is this true? Did Jesus have an unclean body? Did He need to perform a blood sacrifice to cleanse Himself and purge Himself from His own unclean nature?
The short answer is NO.
Here’s a longer answer.
Jesus’ Sacrifice Was For Us
Not For Himself
The Christadelphians, and others who believe similar false teachings, make big mistakes in their interpretation of God’s Word about Jesus Christ because they have misinterpreted Christ’s identity. If you don’t believe Jesus is the Eternal God, and you don’t believe Jesus existed prior to His earthly conception and birth, you will have to bend and twist much of God’s Word to make it fit your twisted narrative.
We first read about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ in Genesis 3:15 when God cursed Satan in the Garden of Eden:
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
The “Seed” of the woman would be Jesus, as we learn through careful Bible study. God told the serpent (Satan) that the Seed of the woman (Jesus) would bruise the head of the seed of the serpent, but the Seed of the woman (Jesus) would accomplish that through suffering and sacrifice. The seed of the serpent would bruise the heel of the Seed of the woman.
What kind of sacrifice would it be? I agree with the Christadelphians that it would be a “blood” sacrifice. I don’t agree with them that Jesus would have to shed His own blood to cleanse Himself “for the purging of his own nature,” but I do agree that Jesus’ sacrifice would be the shedding of blood.
We see many types of the blood sacrifice in the Old Testament. Here are several examples:
- Genesis 3:21 – coats (tunics) of animal skin
- Genesis 4:4; Hebrews 11:4 – Abel’s “more excellent sacrifice”
- Genesis 22:12-13 – Abraham’s sacrifice
- Exodus 12 – Israel’s Passover Lamb
- Exodus 24:5-8 – Israel’s Blood of the Covenant
- Leviticus 1 – 5 – Israel’s Levitical Offerings (Burnt, Peace, Sin, Trespass)
- Leviticus 16 – Day of Atonement (Bull, Ram, Goat)
- Numbers 19:1-10; Hebrews 13:11-13 – Red Heifer Offering
The blood sacrifice was necessary because of the sin nature that entered into Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God. God told them that they would “surely die” if they disobeyed and they did die. They experienced a spiritual death (separation from God and His spiritual blessings) and eventually a physical death (separation from body).
Most Christadelphians do not believe in original sin. They don’t believe people sin because of Adam’s sin. That’s interesting in light of what the New Testament teaches. Notice in the following example verses that everyone is “by nature” a child of God’s wrath, “just as the others,” and that the only hope for anyone is the blood sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross for sinners – but not for Himself.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But 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), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:1-10
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned— (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification. For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:6-21
Blood sacrifice was the remedy for sin that God had determined before He created the heavens and the earth – before time began. God the Father sent God the Son (the Seed of the woman) to destroy the works of the devil and restore the relationship God had with humans in the Garden prior to the entrance of sin.
He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8
… but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 2 Timothy 1:8-10
… knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:18-21
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. Ephesians 1:3-10
Adam and Eve’s sin nature opened them up to a new knowledge, “to know good and evil.” Because of that, God sent them out of the Garden of Eden and placed angels at the east of the Garden to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:22-24).
We saw in Genesis 3:21 that God provided a blood sacrifice and protective covering for Adam and Eve. God also instructed them in how to make special “offerings” to Him. That was part of the new sacrificial system that had not existed prior to sin separating humans from their Creator. Adam and Eve had children and taught them the importance of making offerings that would be acceptable to God. However, that did not go well as we read in Genesis 4:1-15 and Hebrews 11:4. Adam and Eve had another son (Seth) and some members of the human family again worshipped God correctly (Genesis 4:25-26).
That did not last long as you will see in Genesis 5. The sin nature was powerful and finally took its toll on the entire human race, and “the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12). God blessed one man, Noah, and saved the human race by His grace. After God destroyed the earth by water, Noah and his family left the Ark that had protected them and their animals during the Flood. What did Noah and his family do?
Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma. Genesis 8:20-21
Notice the importance that blood sacrifice played in this new opportunity for the human race. How well did they do with the new opportunity? We’ll see in the next part of our special series, Beware the Christadelphians.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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