Contrasting the False and True Atonement
This mediated message contrasts the false and true atonement — the former taught by most churches as Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the latter taught by Jesus as the New Birth of Soul through God’s Divine Love. The message also shows how the false beliefs originated and why they are spiritually injurious. In addition, we learn how Jesus is the mediator between God and man, the savior, and the resurrection and the life. For related information, go to this page and the related articles.
The Belief by the Churches in the Efficacy of the Vicarious Atonement of Jesus by His Death and Crucifixion
Has Caused Much Harm to Mankind
and the Loss of the True Way to the Celestial Kingdom.
(JOHN, THE APOSTLE)
(March 18th, 1916 | Received by James Padgett)
I AM HERE. John, Apostle of Jesus.
I wish to write tonight on a subject that is of importance to the members of the orthodox churches as to the belief in the efficacy of the “atonement” of Jesus by his death and crucifixion.
All the orthodox believe, their preachers and evangelists teach in their sermons and addresses, and the teachers of Bible classes instruct their students that the blood of Jesus and his death on the cross were the two factors in his career on earth that save men from their sins and satisfy the great penalty of death which overhangs them because of man’s first disobedience and the sins that followed therefrom.
Well, this doctrine has prevailed in the beliefs and teachings of the church ever since the church became established by the convention that met in pursuance of the orders of Constantine.* Then, the books that now constitute the Bible were given the sanction of the church as canonical. Before this time, some of the early fathers believed in the doctrine of the atonement as stated above. And the controversies between them and others who did not subscribe to this doctrine were very bitter and, at times, very unchristian, according to the Christianity that prevailed among the early followers of the Master, or according to his teachings.
From that time until the present, although the great Roman church has been seceded from and reforms have been made by churches founded on such reforms, this doctrine has been incorporated in and believed by most of the churches, no matter what name they may have adopted, or what form of government they may have prescribed.
This doctrine constitutes the foundation principles of these various bodies of church entity. And, today, these principles are as much a part of the faith and teachings of the churches as they ever were in all the centuries that have passed.
Of course, with this cardinal doctrine, there have also become incorporated in these faiths and teachings certain other principles which apply more to the individual members of the church than to the church body itself. I mean belief in the Truth that there is a close relationship between God and the individual which may be established by prayer and the longings of the soul for the in-flowing of God’s Love, and for the regeneration of the nature of man by the influences of this Love of the Father.
But, in these latter days, this Truth has been known to, and its working experienced by, a comparatively few of those who call themselves orthodox Christians. The large majority have depended upon the belief in the doctrine that Jesus, by his sacrifice and death, paid a presumed debt which man owed to God. Accordingly, these members of the church intellectually believe in, and accept, Jesus as their savior because he paid that presumed debt, and, by the shedding of his blood, washed away their sins and made them at-one with the Father; furthermore, he allegedly saved them from the “wrath” of the Father, and, in a moment, made them the truly redeemed and accepted children of God. They believe, further, that as long as they maintain this belief and attend to their duties as such members, and also observe the regulations of the church, they are safe, and fitted for the enjoyment of heaven and the Presence of the Father.
They also believe that unless a man accepts Jesus as his savior in the way I have mentioned, that man will be eternally lost, and (in the beliefs and teachings of some of these members) that he will be sent to hell to be eternally damned and punished.
Well, one view of this doctrine is just as true as the other, or, rather, just as untrue, because both of these phases of belief have no foundation in fact, and are not in accord with the teachings of the Master. Nor are they in accord with the fact as I know it to be—not from any mere belief but from personal experience and observation.
Oh, how the pure teachings of the Master have been distorted and made the means of preventing so many human souls from reaching the heaven of happiness that they wished for, and that they thought would be theirs when they should give up their mortal lives!
This doctrine, so long believed, has worked the damnation of many a man as regards his soul development, his becoming at-one with the Father, and his reaching the heavens that are prepared for those who obtain that soul union with the Father.
I know it may seem surprising to some who are really true believers in this doctrine (and, as they think, in the “truths” of God and the “teachings” of Jesus which are believed to be infallibly contained in the Bible) that I announce the falsity of these beliefs and their utter ineffectiveness in enabling these sincere people to obtain that which they so earnestly desire.
But such is Truth. And Truth never changes, never compromises with untruth, and never permits the erroneous beliefs of a really sincere mortal to swerve one iota from the results and consequences of that false belief. And the great injury that this false doctrine has done to humanity, and is now doing, will continue in the world to come, until the belief in Truth shall supersede the belief in that which is false. Thus, not everyone who shall say: “Lord, Lord” will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.
These false beliefs have operated in two ways to injure man and render him unfit for an entrance into the Kingdom: first, by the belief that brings about the injury that results from the positive operation of error, which is great; and, next, by the want of belief in the Truth, which prevents progress in the acquirement of those qualities which belong to, and are necessary parts of, that Truth.
When men believe in the doctrine that I have stated, they become satisfied; and, knowingly or not, they remain in a state of false security, not attempting to develop the soul qualities which are the only ones that are in relationship with God. Their mental beliefs are strong and may increase in strength, but their soul communions with the Father and their growth and expansion in the soul development become stagnant and, as it were, dead.
This is the great injury that these false beliefs do to the man and to the spirit. I mean in his individual capacity, for it must be known as a Truth that the salvation of man, or his soul progress towards an At-onement with the Father, is an individual matter, solely. Men, as aggregations or in church communities, are not redeemed from sin; nor, as such, can they have any relationship with the Father or receive His Divine Love, which is the only salvation.
THERE IS ONLY ONE POSSIBLE WAY IN WHICH MAN CAN COME IN UNISON AND AT-ONEMENT WITH THE FATHER, AND BE THEREBY FITTED TO ENJOY OR INHABIT THE MANSIONS IN HIS KINGDOM WHICH JESUS SPOKE OF WHEN ON EARTH, AND THAT IS THE WAY THAT WILL MAKE THE SOUL OF MAN LIKE THE SOUL OF THE FATHER, AND A PARTAKER OF HIS DIVINE QUALITIES OF LOVE AND LIFE. NO BELIEF THAT WILL NOT BRING ABOUT THIS UNITING AND COMMINGLING, AS IT WERE, CAN POSSIBLY MAKE THE SOUL OF MAN A PARTAKER OF THESE QUALITIES THAT ARE A PART OF THE SOUL OF GOD.
THEN, LET MAN CONSIDER FOR A MOMENT WHAT POSSIBLE CONNECTION THERE CAN BE BETWEEN THESE SOUL QUALITIES OF GOD AND THE DEATH AND BLOOD OF JESUS.
God is the Creator of life and death, and also of blood and flesh, and He can destroy as well as create. Had the sins of man called for the sacrifice of that which was mere flesh and blood, or the extinguishment of a life that God had created in order to pay the penalty of that sin, then a God Who demanded such a payment—and this implies, of course, that such a God was “wrathful” and could only be “appeased” by something that He could not of and by Himself obtain—would not possibly be satisfied with that which He had created, over which He still had absolute control, and which He could destroy and make nonexistent at any time He pleased. Jesus’ life was already a possession of God. When he surrendered that life, he did not give to God anything that He did not already own and could not have taken. And when his blood flowed on the cross, it was not that which God could not have made flow at any time and in any manner. So, the absurdity of such a doctrine is too apparent for serious consideration.
This doctrine’s logical meaning is that God was “demanding” a debt that had long been unpaid, His being all “wrathful” and “insatiable,” and that He would be “satisfied” only with the death of a living being and the flowing of his blood—that death and that flow of blood in one way only: namely, on the cross. And, yet, with all this “demand” that has been sounding down the ages for centuries, relentlessly and unpityingly, He became “satisfied” and His “wrath assuaged” by seeing His Own creature die—and that creature being His best beloved son. And by hearing the trickling of the blood of that creature from a wooden cross, the life and the blood being already His to let live or destroy as He might see fit, man became at-one with Him.
The simple reduction of such a proposition is that God, in order to cancel a debt that was owing to Him, accepted in payment thereof that which was already His, and which no power or being in all His Universe could have taken from Him.
Now, I say all this reverently, as your preachers say, but the fact is that the mere assertion of such a doctrine, as I have been dealing with, is so blasphemous that no treatment of it, showing its falsity, could be irreverent. And, again, believing that God “demanded” that Jesus should die specifically on the cross to carry out His “plan” for a particular kind of death that would make the payment “satisfactory” is so manifestly absurd that all of the spirits in the Kingdom of the Father wonder that mortals could believe such an unreasonable dogma!
To follow this absurd proposition to its logical conclusion, it was necessary not only that Jesus should die on the cross in order that the debt might be paid, but also that Judas should become the traitor, that the Jews should clamor for his death, and that Pilate should pronounce the sentence. Presumably, these were all necessary means to the satisfactory payment of the debt. But if this were so, why is it, then, that Judas and Pilate and the Jews are not saviors of mankind also, even if you say in a secondary sense? Jesus could not have clamored for his own death or erected his own cross, or nailed himself thereto, or pierced his side with a spear in order that the blood might flow. If he had done this, he would have been a suicide. But it may be that there would have been more of the elements of the payment of a debt in that method of dying than in the way in which his death was brought about.
I, John, who loved the Master more than all the others and who was closer to him, who was with him when he was nailed to the cruel cross (which I think of with horror), and who was among the first to take his body from the tree and first felt his blood upon my hands, tell you that the death of Jesus on the cross did not pay any debt that man owed to God. Nor did his blood wash away the sins of any man. And, oh, the pity of it all is that mortals for all these long years have believed that they were saved by his sacrifice and blood and, by such belief, have never come any nearer to the Master or in At-onement with the Father!
AS I AND OTHERS HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU, THE ONLY WAY IN WHICH MAN CAN BE SAVED FROM HIS SINS AND BECOME IN AT- ONEMENT WITH THE FATHER IS BY THE NEW BIRTH, WHICH THE MASTER HAS DESCRIBED TO YOU AS BEING THE RESULT OF THE FLOWING INTO THE SOUL OF A MAN OF THE DIVINE LOVE OF THE FATHER AND THE DISAPPEARING OF EVERYTHING THAT TENDS TO SIN AND ERROR. AS THIS LOVE FLOWS INTO A MAN’S SOUL, IT PERMEATES THAT SOUL, AS DOES LEAVEN THE BATCH OF DOUGH, AND THAT SOUL PARTAKES OF THIS DIVINE LOVE AND THEREBY BECOMES LIKE THE FATHER IN HIS DIVINE NATURE AND FITTED TO INHABIT HIS KINGDOM.
NOW, YOU CAN READILY SEE THAT THERE CAN BE NO POSSIBLE RELATIONSHIP EXISTING BETWEEN THE DEATH OF JESUS ON THE CROSS, AND HIS BLOOD, AND THE GIVING TO THE SOUL OF A MAN THOSE DIVINE QUALITIES THAT BELONG TO THE FATHER’S NATURE. THESE QUALITIES ARE NOT IMPARTED TO MAN BY DEATH AND BLOOD, BUT BY LIFE AND LOVE AND FAITH WHICH COMES WITH THAT LOVE. AND, HERE, WHEN I SAY FAITH, I DO NOT MEAN THE MERE INTELLECTUAL BELIEF OF WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN.
AS WE HAVE BEFORE WRITTEN, WHEN THE FIRST PARENTS WERE CREATED, THEY WERE NOT GIVEN THIS DIVINE LOVE— ONLY THE MERE POSSIBILITY OF OBTAINING IT UPON THEIR SEEKING FOR IT IN THE WAY THAT GOD HAD PROVIDED. IT WAS NOT FORCED UPON THEM, BUT IT WAS OPTIONAL WITH THEM AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THEY WOULD RECEIVE IT AND BECOME FITTED TO INHABIT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. WHEN THEY COMMITTED THEIR ACT OF DISOBEDIENCE, THEY FORFEITED THIS PRIVILEGE AND, AS TO IT, DIED AND WERE LEFT WITHOUT A MEDIATOR BETWEEN THEMSELVES AND GOD. AND, HERE, I DON’T MEAN ANY MEDIATOR IN THE WAY OF PAYING A DEBT, FOR THEY OWED NO DEBT TO GOD. THEY WERE MERELY, AS YOU MORTALS MIGHT SAY, DISINHERITED CHILDREN. AND THE ONLY MEDIATOR THAT MAN NEEDED AFTER THAT TIME WAS ONE THROUGH WHOM MIGHT COME THE GLORIOUS TIDINGS THAT THE FATHER HAD CHANGED HIS WILL, OR FORGIVEN THE DISOBEDIENCE TO THE EXTENT OF RESTORING HIS ORIGINAL OFFER: THE PRIVILEGE OF OBTAINING HIS DIVINE LOVE INTO THEIR SOULS. AND, IN THIS SENSE, NEVER WAS THERE ANY MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN UNTIL THE COMING OF JESUS AND HIS ANNOUNCING TO MAN THAT THE FATHER HAD CHANGED HIS WILL, AND HAD RESTORED TO MANKIND THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF PARTAKING OF HIS DIVINE NATURE AND IMMORTALITY. THUS, AS IN THE FIRST MAN, ADAM, ALL MEN DIED, SO, IN THE MAN JESUS, ALL MEN WERE MADE ALIVE. AND JESUS WAS THE MEDIATOR NOT ONLY IN DECLARING TO MAN THE RE-BESTOWAL OF THIS GREAT GIFT OF THE DIVINE LOVE AND IMMORTALITY, BUT ALSO IN SHOWING THE WAY BY WHICH MEN COULD AND MUST SEEK FOR THAT GIFT IN ORDER TO POSSESS IT.
THE GREAT GIFT OF GOD TO MAN WAS NOT JESUS, BUT RATHER THE POTENTIALITY OF OBTAINING THE DIVINE LOVE OF THE FATHER AND THUS BECOMING DIVINE AND FITTED TO RESIDE IN THE MANSIONS OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. AND, THUS, JESUS BECAME THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE AND BROUGHT IMMORTALITY TO LIGHT. HOW MUCH GREATER A SAVIOR THIS IS THAN BY HIS PAYING A SUPPOSED DEBT BY HIS DEATH AND BLOOD!
NO, HE IS THE SAVIOR OF MAN BY HIS LIVING AND HIS TEACHINGS, FOR HE WAS THE FIRST TO RECEIVE THIS DIVINE LOVE AND TO BECOME DIVINE HIMSELF. AND, THUS, HE BECAME THE FIRST FRUIT OF THE RESURRECTION.
We have explained to you before, in detail, some of the Truths that I have declared in this message, and it is not necessary here to explain them further. IN CLOSING, I WISH TO DECLARE WITH ALL THE EMPHASIS THAT I POSSESS, ARISING FROM A KNOWLEDGE BASED UPON THE TEACHINGS OF THE MASTER, AND MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AS A POSSESSOR OF THIS DIVINE LOVE AND A PARTAKER OF THE FATHER’S DIVINE NATURE, THAT NO VICARIOUS ATONEMENT OF JESUS, NOR THE SHEDDING OF HIS BLOOD, SAVES ANY MAN FROM SIN OR MAKES HIM A REDEEMED CHILD OF THE FATHER, OR FITS HIM FOR A HOME IN THE MANSIONS OF THE CELESTIAL SPHERES.
With a love that can come only from a redeemed and divine nature, I love all mankind and am working to help them find the Way to life and immortality and happiness beyond the conception of mortals or spirits who have not received this New Birth of the Divine Love of the Father.
I have written enough for tonight, and you are tired. So, my dear brother, with all my love and the blessings of a heart filled with the Love of the Father, I am
Your brother in Christ, JOHN.
* The convention referred to was the Council of Nicaea, held in 325 A.D. – Ed.
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