What Did Christ's Death Accomplish?


This may seem like a laughably basic question, but it has me a little confused honestly.

The other day my friend and I were talking. He is Catholic and very spiritual in a sort of unintentional way, by means of disposition. He is, by my estimation, an incredibly godly person.

We were talking about forgiveness and Reconciliation. He didn’t understand the point of confessing to a priest rather than simply apologizing to God and, if necessary, the person hurt by the sin. I explained and we’ve discussed it, but I’ve decided to lay off the issue because I don’t want to force my own views on him and honestly I’d rather lead by example than words. He’s always very open and receptive. I always try to be the same, and this is just part of it for me.

Anyway, as we were talking, I mentioned Martin Luther’s statement in which he asserted that even if he were to commit adultery a hundred times in one day, he would still be secure. My friend actually seemed to agree somewhat with the statement–somewhat. He said, “Well, God does forgive us, right?” He then went on to say that he felt that our sins were already forgiven (though he doesn’t believe in once-saved, always-saved). “I mean… Isn’t that what Jesus died on the Cross for?”

This question made me think. I agreed that God does always forgive us. Before we even ask, he does. I told him we just have to be open to his forgiveness. But if God always forgives us, then why did Christ live and die? To satisfy our debt to God, I know. But what does that have to do with forgiveness?

Let’s say someone owes me a hundred dollars but then moves away. What is more Christian? To forgive him the debt (as Christ says in the Gospels) or to withhold forgiveness till he pays me back? Obviously the former. So I would think God would forgive us even before Christ satisfied our debt.

So what did he accomplish? Was he just getting God’s one hundred dollars back, so to speak?

I’m struggling with these concepts.

Please help.


Some say that God’s infinite justice requires that the debt still be paid somehow.

Others say that God could have brought about our redemption with the merest thought, but did it via the life and death of Jesus in order to visibly demonstrate His love for us.

I’ve heard the first more from Protestants and the second more from Catholics, but I believe that both explanations are building on the work of Catholic theologians Way Back When.

Oh, you also have the one that C. S. Lewis borrowed for his fantasy version of the Christ story in the Narnia books – that humanity is essentially “owed” to Satan via its sins, and God more or less tricks Satan into accepting His life instead, with a result that invalidates the entire “contract” on which Satan’s claim is based.

A similar explanation casts the whole thing as a war story, with God apparently making Himself vulnerable in Jesus, Satan taking the bait in hopes of winning all the marbles, and the whole thing turning out to be a clever stratagem on God’s part that breaks Satan’s forces instead.

All of those are probably guilty of anthopomorphizing God and/or Satan to one degree or another – that is, assuming that their thoughts and activities work anything like ours and can be analogized to human-scale events like debts, court cases, and wars.



You have asked a very deep question, and it is one that you are unlikely to ever come up with one, lone, entirely satisfying answer to. This is because the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus is in some ways a Mystery.

However… I will mention several things that Jesus’ death accomplished:
*]Jesus satisfied the demands of Justice. Not merely “an eye for an eye” (i.e., getting the hundred dollars back), but Covenant Justice, which binds together under penalty of death. (See A Father Who Keeps His Promises, by Scott Hahn)
*]Jesus gave us an example to follow: He emptied himself (kenosis), taking the form of a slave, humbly accepting even death, death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him, giving him a name far above every other name…
*]Jesus showed God’s power, overcoming the greatest natural enemy of man, i.e., death
*]Jesus’ death established a new covenant, forged in his Blood, not the blood of oxen or sheep. This covenant is everlasting, and efficacious.[/LIST]Just a few tidbits, really. I strongly recommend the book I mentioned. It is an awesome exposition of Scripture.



This is the main difference between Catholics and Christians… how can you still be condemned if Jesus fully paid the price for your sins? If you can still sin and be condemned, then Jesus sacrifice was insufficient.

The main thing is justification verses santification. We are justified before God because of what Jesus did for us (and we are forgiven our sins) we still continue on in our faith and are being santified to become more like Jesus. We still confess our sins continually to God and serve Him, but we are no longer condemned. Most Catholics say that this cannot be possible because the bible teaches we can lose our salvation… yes, we can turn away from the truth but when we hold on to our faith and perservere in it… Jesus is faithful.

Priests were needed in the old testament to present sacrifices on behalf on the people’s sins but that is no longer required as Jesus has become that sacrifice for us. He is our chief priest and mediator between us and God.

Hope that helps!


As though Catholics were not Christians. sigh Perhaps you meant to say “…between Catholic Christians and* some* other Christians.”

Do you then hold to the apokatastasis? Because if any one human goes to hell, then Jesus’ sacrifice was insufficient.

We agree.

What if we stop confessing our sins continually to God? What if we embrace our sins, and stubbornly cling to them? What if we choose them over God? Is there condemnation?

Yes. And that is why Catholics say that we can have a moral assurance of salvation, but not a propositional assurance.

We agree. The sacrifice offered by priests of the New Covenant is singular. Not many sacrifices, but One… the selfsame sacrifice of Christ. Christ Himself is continually presented to the Father.
In one of the prayers of the Mass (EP III), immediately after the Victim is on the altar (i.e., right after the bread and wine become Jesus’ Body and Blood), the priest says the following:

"Calling to mind the death your Son endured for our salvation, his glorious resurrection and ascension into heaven, and ready to greet him when he comes again, we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice.

Look with favor on your Church’s offering, and see the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself. Grant that we, who are nourished by his body and blood, may be filled with his Holy Spirit, one spirit in Christ.

May he make us an everlasting gift to you and enable us to share in the inheritance of your saints, with Mary, the virgin Mother of God; with the apostles, the martyrs Saint …and all your saints, on whose constant intercession we rely for help.
Lord, may this sacrifice, which has made our peace with you, advance the peace and salvation of all the world.

Strengthen in faith and love your pilgrim Church on earth ; your servant, Pope …, our bishop …, and all the bishops, with the clergy and the entire people your Son has gained for you.

Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.

Welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters, and all who have left this world in your friendship. We hope to enjoy for ever the vision of your glory, through Christ our Lord, from whom all good things come.

Through him, with him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever.

Notice: this is a living sacrifice which has made our peace with God. It is offered in thanksgiving, and specifically in the light of the death [His] Son endured. Indeed, when the Father looks on this sacrifice, he sees the Victim whose death has reconciled us to [him]self.

Now, if you had simply added that Jesus’ death on the cross reconciles us to God – thus contributing an answer to the OP’s question – no problem.

But for some reason you spun this into a Christians -v- Catholics thing, and (unless I am reading too much into your final paragraph) called into question the idea of the New Testament priesthood and the Sacrifice of the Mass.

If I misread your message, then I apologize for my heavyhandedness.



No you read me correctly. I do question the whole papacy/church authority over scripture and priesthood into question. I don’t believe it’s biblical.


Yes Catholics call themselves Christians… they also call themselves Catholics. So should I not call them Catholics?


Please start another thread if you wish to discuss this matter.

Thank you! :slight_smile:


Jesus said to pick up our cross every day…

He left all the instructions for us. The sacraments we have are the Words of the Bible in action, to help us attain the grace needed to obey His commandments and do His will. God is merciful enough to forgive all the sins ever committed, but we have to be (truly) sorry & repent of our offenses against Him first.

Truly sorry, and He knows the difference.


Excellent post! :thumbsup:


News flash. Catholics are Christians. Non-Catholic Christians are usually Protestants., especially in the States. :wink:

Not everyone is saved by Jesus’ sacrifice. Those who escape condemnation are only those who are found in Him. Sin separates us from God. Those who do not believe in Him are condemned already. It is not that His sacrifice was insufficient, it is just that not everyone chooses to avail himself of the sufficiency of it.

I agree with you that this is a “main thing” that distinguishes Protestants and Catholics. Catholics embrace the Apostolic Teaching that the grace that justifies us is the same grace that sanctifies us, and that these are not separated. Protestants generally adhere to a man made doctrine dating 1500 years after the Apostles that these two are separated. This thinking encourages the notion that “justified” persons can sin against God with impunity. Such a notion scandalized the Apostles.

No, this is not correct. Jesus gave His life for the whole world, but it is clear that the whole world is not and will not be saved. We are not justified just because Jesus gave His life for us. There is more to it than this.

And what makes you think that you will escape the condemnation of the world?

No, Catholics say this is not true because it contradicts the Apostolic Teaching, which came before the Bible, and it is a “different gospel”, which we were taught to reject.

What is “our faith”? Even the demons believe, and shudder.

He is generous, and has allowed participation in His priesthood.

It seems you really do need the hope of help. Perhaps you will stick around, and you will be able to learn something?


It is good that you should question the false doctrine of Sola Scriptura. The papacy, church authority, and priesthood were all instituted by Jesus before a word of the NT was ever written. They are based upon Christ, and not a book.


What you did was contrast Catholics with “Christians”, which we find to be insulting. However, if you wish to justify your insult, your time on CAF may be short.


Wonderful post and thank you for the book recommendation.


Greetings and peace be with youSt_Aloysius;

Did God have a plan for the creation of the universe, did he think ahead? Was Christ’s life on Earth planned before the creation of the universe began, before there was Catholics, Hindu and atheist?

To search for a deeper meaning, was Christ freely given the choice to accept his sacrifice before the creation of the universe began?

Would it mean that the Father had a purpose for man so great that creation could not be achieved in any lesser way?

What purpose can be so great, that it would compel God to create the universe and life, knowing in advance that his son would die?

Would it be to forgive us our sins?

Or can there be something greater?
[FONT=Times New Roman]
In the spirit of searching for God,



God had a plan. In that plan He foresaw all the would come of it, including His own Incarnation and sacrifice on the cross. To say that Christ’s life was “planned” is a bit unwieldly of a term, since it may seem to imply that God also “planned” Original Sin. Christ’s life was planned only in the sense of God the Father’s foresight of sin, and how He would respond to that.

[FONT=Times New Roman]To search for a deeper meaning, was Christ freely given the choice to accept his sacrifice before the creation of the universe began?


The Son is always obedient to the Father’s will. He IS the expression of the Father’s will, the Word, so, yes, He was always on board.

[FONT=Times New Roman]What purpose can be so great, that it would compel God to create the universe and life, knowing in advance that his son would die?


[FONT=Times New Roman]Would it be to forgive us our sins?

Yes, which is Love.

[FONT=Times New Roman][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman]Or can there be something greater?[/size]

[FONT=Times New Roman]In the spirit of searching for God,

[FONT=Times New Roman]There’s nothing greater, since God is Love, and nothing is greater than God. [/FONT]


Greetings and peace be with you tm30;
[FONT=Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman]

[FONT=Times New Roman][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman][size=2][FONT=Times New Roman]There’s nothing greater, since God is Love, and nothing is greater than God.[/size]

Jesus spoke about two commandments being greatest for man, but can these same commandments have a greatest meaning for God also?

God the Father loves all that he is with all of his heart, soul, mind and strength.
God the Father loves each and every one of us as he loves himself?

Can the Father love us more than he loves himself?

In the spirit of searching for God,



Go cannot love us more than He loves Himself - but the good news is, He certainly loves us as MUCH as He loves himself.


Love is self-subsisting - in essence, love (God) loves Itself. And the expression of this Love is the generation of the Son (The Word of God, Christ Jesus), and the fruit of that Love, expressed through the Son, is the Holy Spirit which animates the universe that was created by the Father, through the Son.


I will try to put this as I once heard it. Those who know the exact wording please feel free to correct me. God is spirit and we are mortal humans, so because of our limited abilities to understand God and his ways he needs a way to provide us a visible and physical way to touch us. He accomplishes this through the Sacraments. Confession is one of those Sacraments and a Sacrament is Gods way of physically touching our lives. In confession with a priest that is acting in the persona of Christ, we have a visible and physical experience of reconciliation. We can actually hear the words that you are forgiven. How many times have we asked a spouse or friend to forgive a transgression and that person embraces you and says all is forgiven. How did that feel? Even if we knew that all was forgiven, just the fact that there was the physical aspect of it, it seems to cement it even more. In faith, we know we are forgiven and the Lord has promised that we are forgiven but that is of the spiritual sense. With the Sacrament of Confession we have that physical touch from God and that all is forgiven.


The other night, shortly after I wrote this, I felt I needed to write it all out for some clarity. This was what I came up with:

• God always forgives us; his timeless and eternal mercy comes to meet us in a timely way (i.e., “within time”) when we are in need of it most; we need only be open and receptive to this transformative love;

• Christ, by assuming our human nature, has allowed us to share in the divine nature as well; as the perfect man, in his life and death he has paid our debt to God, the praise and glory which he so rightly deserves, and thus has repaired our damage;

• By allowing us to share in the divine life once more (as man was always intended to), Christ has allowed us to become truly and fully transformed in our inmost being, more like him; he has instilled the virtues of faith, hope, and love in our souls;

• By dying and rising, he has assured us that, in joining our lives to his, we will also reawaken spiritually to a new psychic life in him

I also realize that as Catholics, we are firmly convinced that, in the sacraments, the line between God’s own divine life and ours is obscurred. We share in it. This is the basis of God’s gratuitous forgiveness, since we are made inwardly just and joined in our very beings with him.

“Ask, and you shall receive,” I guess. I have experienced such an outpouring of insight on this since I began thinking. Thank you all!


We need to understand what went wrong first in order to know what Christ death did.

Catholics understand the fall of Adam to be first and foremost the loss of Adam’s original "holiness and justice.” this is commonly known today as **sanctifying grace **and was an added gift by God, not part of human nature itself, thus when it was lost human nature was not corrupted, though it suffered serious physical and spiritual consequences. Protestants see the fall of Adam as a corruption of human nature (which is far more devastating than the Catholic understanding) which included the disease of concupiscence which for Protestants is itself sin.

In the Catholic model original sin as the lack of gasoline in a car, in the Protestant model it is as if the car was totaled in a severe car wreck. In the Catholic model God is displeased with the car not operating at potential, in the Protestant model God is displeased because the car is literally a corrupt mass of metal with only slight evidence it is still a car.

The Catholic model teaches man can still do “natural good” but apart from grace cannot do supernaturally pleasing works in God’s sight. While the Protestant model logically means man cannot do even “natural good,” none the less Protestants insist man is not ‘as evil as he could be’ Given that we see non-Christians doing good works like giving to charity, caring for their family, being an upright citizen, etc, this good is purely on the natural level and apart from grace these good works are unable to rise to the supernaturally good level which God’s standards require. The Catholic model does a far better and clearer job of explaining why man is not as evil as he could possibly be, because his nature is not corrupt.

THE Atonement

.” Protestants and Catholics agree that sinful man deserves both temporal and eternal punishments, however the historical Protestant position teaches that Jesus took this punishment you deserved, in other words instead of God punishing you He punished Jesus in your place.

catholic view
How was God’s wrath towards sinful man appeased? The simple answer is that it was pardoned through an alternative to any punishment. God does require satisfaction to be made for offences against Him, but this satisfaction need not come through punishing an innocent party

Jesus offered Himself up to the Father not as a whipping boy but purchasing God’s favor by being an obedient servant (Phil 2:5-11) and displaying the greatest act of love possible, obeying God - even if it leads to your death (remember in this case the death was unjust and caused by those who did not want to hear and obey the good news Jesus was sent to preach). Christ did as a man what God originally intended to see Adam do: show perfect love. Jesus demonstrated perfect love for God and neighbor. If this sounds confusing hopefully the following example will explain the difference between the historical Protestant and Catholic position:

Lets say some children are messing around with their Father’s expensive artwork after being warned not to touch it. Yet the children through disobedience damage the artwork. The Father’s wrath flares up against the children and the children deserve to be punished. However before the children get punished the mother of the home steps in to help, and here is how:

The Protestant would understand this to mean that the mother stepped in and received the equivalent beating that the children deserved, thus satisfying the Father’s wrath.

The Catholic would understand the mother’s intercession in a different matter. The mother would spend all day preparing the Father’s favorite dinner, sacrificing her time and energy to please the Father. The Father was so pleased at this act of love that in turn He would allow the children to get off with a sincere apology.

The Catholic understanding rightly points out that the Father could never be justified in beating His wife, and in fact such a “solution” to His wrath should be deeply disturbing to anyone reading this. The interesting thing is that more and more Protestants today are moving away from their historical Protestant roots and some have rightly described their historical Protestant understanding as "Divine child abuse.”



Credited to him as righteousness:

Protestant teaching in a nutshell: Justification comes about by the imputation of Christ’s Righteousness to the sinner’s account (though the sinner’s actual account is actually unrighteous), and God declaring sinner to be righteous based on this imputation only, this imputation is received by faith alone. As you have already probably guessed the ideas which the Protestant quotes above condemned are the very ideas which the Catholic Church considers essential and orthodox. Most notably that justification is by infused righteousness, and not on the “righteousness of Christ” basis of Christ taking your punishment and perfectly fulfilling God’s commandments in your place. Here is how the Catholic Church defines justification in its essence, from the Council of Trent:

By which words, a description of the Justification of the impious [unrighteous] is indicated,-as being a translation, from that state wherein man is born a child of the first Adam, to the state of grace, and of the adoption of the sons of God, through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Saviour. And this translation, since the promulgation of the Gospel, cannot be effected, without the laver of regeneration, or the desire thereof, as it is written; unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema [excommunicated]. [5]

Justification for Catholicism is first and foremost about going from the state of “the first Adam” in which we lack sanctifying grace in our souls, to having that grace put back in our souls resulting in true inner righteousness and adoption as sons of God. This is in direct and irreconcilable contrast to the Protestant view of imputation. It is the difference between being truly righteous (“just”) in God’s eyes and merely appearing or accounted as righteous in God’s eyes though not being so inwardly.

Lets see how things fit together. Recall that the protestant view of Original Sin is not one in which sanctifying grace is lost and needs to be restored, but rather the corruption of the human nature in which man’s soul is like a “contaminated spring” which cannot produce pure water and is unsightly to God. With this in mind you can kind of understand why the Protestants believe in the imputation model, the “contaminated spring” must be overlooked, bypassed, covered, etc, or else God will never be able to see you as “righteous” and save you. The Catholic infusion model makes sense in that the undoing of Adam’s sin is restoring to the soul the sanctifying grace, in which the soul is “incomplete” without, and which God looks at to see who His adopted children are. Next fits in the views on the Atonement where for the Protestants using the imputation model need Christ to do for the corrupt man what he cant ever do, while the Catholic infusion model needs Christ to open the floodgates of grace to flow back into our souls to enable us to do what God requires of us.

Finally it is important to realize that when a Protestant uses the term “Justification by faith alone” it more accurately means "Justification by imputation of grace by faith alone,” where as Catholics teach it is by infusion of grace. Again this is NOT essentially a matter of “faith” for Protestants versus “works” for Catholics, but rather what justification means to each side.

What does the “blood” of Christ do?

If you look at other references to blood in the New Testament here are some verses you will find:

Heb 9: 12and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, **cleanse your **conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Heb 10: 29How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

Heb 13: 12Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.

1 Jn 1: 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Rev 1: 5To Him who loves us and **released us from our sins by His blood **

Rev 7: 14I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they **have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. **

That is a real change not a cover up

Mat 23: 25"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26"You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28"So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Luke 11: 39But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. 40"You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41"But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.

Look at the Matthew 23 and Luke 11 passages quoted above. Jesus explicitly condemns the idea of appearing righteous on the outside while leaving the inside filthy. Does it make sense for God to declare a unrighteous soul to be righteous because they “appear righteous” on the outside but in fact their soul is actually unrighteous? Catholics and the Scriptures clearly say such a teaching is unacceptable and even abominable.

This is what Christ’s death did for us
He gave us the gas you just have to put it in drive:thumbsup:

hope this helps

by the way I stole this from Catholic Dude he want mind :wink: you can find the whole article here catholicdefense.googlepages.com/article.htm

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