Summary: Part 1 of "What does the Bible really say about the death penalty" series - To understand the Bible’s teaching on capital punishment we must understand God’s heart and affirmation regarding life.
What does the Bible really say about the death penalty? PART 1
Affirmations for LIFE from God
by Andrew Chan, Senior Pastor, PBC, Vancouver, BC
TEXT: Exodus: 21:12-17 (NLT)
12 “Anyone who hits a person hard enough to cause death must be put to death. 13 But if it is an accident and God allows it to happen, I will appoint a place where the slayer can run for safety. 14 However, if someone deliberately attacks and kills another person, then the slayer must be dragged even from my altar and put to death.
15 “Anyone who strikes father or mother must be put to death.
16 “Kidnappers must be killed, whether they are caught in possession of their victims or have already sold them as slaves.
17 “Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death.
Any discussion re: death penalty must begin with certain affirmations of the Bible:
1. God is for LIFE:
a) See this in Jesus’ understanding of the Father’s heart:
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4“And where I go you know, and the way you know.” 5Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:1-6 (NKJV)
In speaking of His impending death Jesus affirm life, for to believe in God is to…
i. Receive a place in heaven to live – “many mansions” - in NIV “many rooms”– it’ll be roomy “prepare a place” dwelling for life
ii. Reserve ahead – reservations guaranteed not by VISA or M/C but by Jesus “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself…”
iii. Recognize the way – Jesus affirms here that thus is always God’s intention that people can avoid the death penalty and receive life through Him
2 Peter 3:9b (NIV) “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish…”
How much clearer can this get: Jesus says “I am…the LIFE!”
b) See this in the very beginning of creation
i. Part of God’s blessing for people (before sin entered the world) was for life to flourish – “be fruitful and increase in number” Gen.1:27-28
ii. The package did not include death!
iii. Pronouncement of God’s Word can’t be missed: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” Gen.1:31a (NIV)
iv. God has tremendous enjoyment and joy at the work of His hands, He even rested … and admired His work!
2. God is for ENJOYMENT of life:
John 10:10 (NLT) says: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”
a) Need to emphasize God’s will is not for death but to celebrate life and the fullness of it
b) To affirm death is to go the side of Satan, that’s his purpose.
“We are people of flesh and blood. That is why Jesus became one of us. He died to destroy the devil, who had power over death. But he also died to rescue all of us who live each day in fear of dying.” Heb.2:14-15 (CEV)
Death was the result of sin: man deciding they know better than God how to live life, which is the Satanic lie! Who has power over death???
15 The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and care for it. 16 But the LORD God gave him this warning: “You may freely eat any fruit in the garden 17 except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die.” Gen.2:15-17
Instead of heeding warning, Adam disobeyed and believed Satan’s twisting of God’s Word “surely can’t die, gonna be God’s competitor and rival, wouldn’t it be great…
“So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, Adam, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man, Christ.” ( I Cor.15:21)
c) Case study in Cain and Abel story: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” asked Cain and God’s answer in YES… no right to kill… to end life… to take away a life – this is not God’s intention
Even after this episode God did not right away execute Cain… though it would be consistent if law and not mercy and grace intervened.