The main reason why I cannot accept Christ as my saviour

The very foundation of Christianity seems to be the notion that Christ died in order to save mankind and redeem them of their sins. The problem I have with Christianity is that this notion seems to contradict the Old Testament.

Consider Ezekiel 18:

He will not die for his father’s sin; he will surely live. 18 But his father will die for his own sin, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was wrong among his people.

19 “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. 20 The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

21 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. 22 None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. 23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

24 “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? 26 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. 27 But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. 28 Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. 29 Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

30 “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. 31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!

I have highlighted the parts which seem to suggest that no one can die for the sins of another, how could Jesus do this then? Is God a hypocrite? Perhaps someone here can answer my queries.


No person can die for the sins of another because they are also a sinner. Without a savior, everyone would already be dead for their own sin, and could certainly not die meritoriously for someone else’s sin. Christian theology states that only a perfectly righteous person can satisfy the wrath of god in the place of another–and there has been only one such person.

You may disagree with Christian theology, but standard soteriology is consistent with Ezekiel 18.

EDIT: typo


If what you are saying is correct, then it is fine for someone to die for another.

It is, at times, fine and honorable to die for another. Who among us would not die for their children? Yet however noble that may be, it will not atone for their sins.

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I meant fine to die for another’s sins.

I agree with your analysis Reggie. This basic premise is true, but what “sins” did He die for is one of the reasons Christianity so illogical to me. I have written a book series on this topic, so it is hard to unpack in this forum. Needless to say, your analysis fits with Jesus’ requirement to become perfect before returning home (Matt 5:44–48) and, repaying our debts to the last farthing (Matt 5:21-26).

Yeah… you might want to qualify “what makes Christianity so illogical” with an “in my opinion.” Assertion is not a substitute for proof.


I agree with David that this Ezekiel passage should not be seen as being applicable to Christ – it is dealing with the Israelites who are humans and sinners like all of us. Keep in mind other passages in the OT that we believe directly refer to Christ – for example, Isaiah 53:5:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

This does not “contradict” the Ezekiel passage because it’s not referring to the same person.

This is just my off-the-cuff assumption, but I wonder if the Ezekiel passage is God clarifying an earlier passage in Exodus 34:

6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

This is where we get the idea of the “sins of the fathers” visiting their children for generations. Again, I don’t know the context, but I would think this is more relevant to the Ezekiel passage than Christ’s death.


Isaiah 53:10 makes it very clear that the passage does not refer to Jesus, it is said that for acting as an offering for the sins of others, the suffering servant will receive offspring and long life, this does not at all fit Jesus, and it clearly does NOT refer to death for another, likely this is speaking of the same thing as in Isaiah 53:5.

What Isaiah 53 is really saying is that the nations will realise that the Jews suffered when in reality ‘they’ were the ones who should have suffered.


Done, thanks!

I’m not surprised that a Jew and a Christian would come to different conclusions on how to interpret that passage. Jesus himself had to explain to his followers how the scriptures spoke of him, though I wish we had more of that commentary. Anyway, I didn’t intend to set us down a rabbit trail.

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I agree that I struggle with this. Many Christians believe as you do. You may want to read “Four Views on the Atonement”

Gregory A. Boyd: Christus Victor view
Joel B. Green: Kaleidescopic view
Bruce R. Reichenbach: Healing view
Thomas R. Schreiner: Penal Substitutionary view

It’s thought that the Calvinist idea of this was only stronger in the last 500 years, and that the early Christians would not have recognized our idea, at least in its current form.

Second Temple Judaism twisted a lot of OT sayings to mean things we’d never allow in Bible school. That was not just Christians–you’ve probably read Enns in that respect, but Onscript also talks about that.

Brad Jersak, George Macdonald, Randal Rauser, Pete Enns, and many others would chime in here.

I am going to go on a limb and say, somewhat heretically for Calvinists (my background is Dutch Calvinist) that this is not what Paul really meant.

The “Pete Ruins Christmas” Series: The Virgin Shall Conceive (as with the rabbi)

Paul: It Looks Like He’s Sort of Winging It - The Bible For Normal People (see also the review of Beverly Gaventa’s book, “When in Rome”) Brian Zahnd

I would agree that dying for another’s sins is prefigured in the OT by the sacrifice for the sins of Israel.
I am not saying that the sacrifice is the way penal substitutionary theologians would have it, though.

In regards to “the wrath of God” - I commend to you these two articles.

God’s Wrath - Glory to God for All Things - Ancient Faith Blogs

Jan 15, 2009 - What shall we make of the wrath of God? We have this quote from the Gospel of St. Luke: And it came to pass, when the time was come that he …

'Grace and Wrath in the Orthodox Tradition - Ancient Faith Blogs
Grace and Wrath in the Orthodox Tradition – Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

Feb 10, 2015 - Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy … “Holy” is the word, the song, the “reaction” of the Church as it enters into heaven, as it stands before the heavenly glory of God. … In this view, grace and wrath are opposed and irreconcilable.

Take a look at them and tell me what you think’

Richard Mohr
Fountain Valley, California

God’s children are beyond legion at this point, I think it’s safe to say.

Jesus’ resurrected body would be around 2000 years old and counting.

It fits Jesus perfectly, and nobody else is even remotely close; so I think your speculation fails spectacularly.

Nonetheless, I like your original question about what to do with all those passages that insist a just God would not punish people for the sins of others. I’m sure it’s been well-answered as Elle does above by pointing out Christ’s singularity. But I can imagine some (yourself?) coming back with – “well, if it is unjust for God to punish John for Steve’s sins, how much more unjust would God have to be to punish an entirely innocent John for Steve’s sins?” Does anybody want to bat that one around?

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The word Zerah always refers to literal offspring, or literal seeds, never metaphorical.

I’ll take your word on that. Because I would add that after Jesus and the disciples to follow finished revolutionizing history, they co-opted (or we could say revealed) the full meanings of many of those old testament prophecies beyond what the original prophet-writer would have been aware; even of his own words. I.e. while I remain a big fan of trying to learn how authors and their surrounding cultures thought about things in order to better understand their work, Christians are also obliged to allow that Jesus (and by extension his early disciples and their followers that were inspired to pen the N.T. works we have) give us a divine insight into history, the details of which even the O.T. prophets / authors themselves would not yet have been privy to. [Matthew 13:17: “Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, …”.] We’re impressed enough that the author of Isaiah got as much detail right as he did. Are we really going to complain that he didn’t just go ahead and write the entire New Testament in his day?

The confusion is understandable as it certainly tripped up the disciples and everybody else of the time who were into literal kingships, literal descendency, literal political power, etc. It took Jesus quite a while to disabuse them (us) of these notions … but that he did. And that is my takeaway point.

Added edit inserted above in brackets.

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Hello Reggie.

Simply put, this is way off. Ezekiel 18 tells us that we don’t share the guilt of others’ sins, only our own sins. It doesn’t say that nobody can offer themselves as a sacrifice for others’ sins, only that we won’t die because of someone else’s sins.

Absolutely, positively wrong. I don’t even have to watch the video, I recently went over this at length in another forum. Isaiah 53 is unquestionably from the point of view of the Hebrews about someone who will die for their sins (and mankind’s). If you don’t believe me, here is the text of the whole chapter (NIV):

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.

  Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Where does it mention Isreal? Actually, Isreal was suffering, at the hand of God, for their own sins, so the, “nations seeing Isreal suffer” doesn’t hold from the start. And how would you explain the following:

He was pierced for OUR transgression, he was crushed for OUR iniquities.

"a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

This is clearly about an innocent man who suffered for, “our”, meaning the Hebrews’, sins. Isreal never was to suffer for the world. Also, the, “he” is in the Hebrew are singular except for one instance where it can be either (from a Jewish source).

And check out this, what I learned from the a Jewish friend whom I studied the bible with - he was floored when he saw it (v12):

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

My friend told me that he learned in Hebrew school that only God can intercede for sins. Sounds like Jesus to me. Read the chapter, it’s clearly referring to Jesus.

And the, “Servant Song” doesn’t discount the prophecy either - there are 4 in Isaiah, only one of which refers to the nation of Isreal. Check out the following prophecies (Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6):

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles,

he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

A covenant for the people and a light for the gentiles. When did Isreal as a nation ever provide that to the world? It can only be referring to Jesus.


I too did not understand anything in the Bible though I read it for one year. The geneology of Jesus was so boring. Yet I never gave up. During this time, I was an atheist. I could never imagine anyone whom we do not see as a God. After1 year, I had an unknown audible voice that convicted me that I was a sinner. I tried to justify otherwise. I failed. The only option I had was to surrender and admit that I was a sinner. I asked Him to clean my heart. Instantly my life was transformed. At that time, every word in the Bible became alive and gave me a new meaning.

You are right. You can only understand after you receive Christ as your Saviour. It is very plain and simple/ If an atheist like me can do it, you too can, You can do this. Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. God is waiting to open your eyes as well as your heart. Please let Him in.

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