(1) Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures;
None of these facts of Paul’s gospel are difficult to understand and believe – unless, that is, one is holding to other beliefs that complicate or contradict them. Unfortunately, this is exactly the case for most people who identify themselves as Christian. Most professing Christians – sincere as they may be - unknowingly hold to beliefs they’ve been taught which complicate, distort and outright contradict these fundamental facts of Paul’s evangel. Although long-established in Christian tradition and deeply entrenched in the hearts and minds of many who hold to them, such beliefs ultimately prevent people from being able to truly understand and intelligently embrace the simple truths of Paul’s evangel.
We know that syncope (a temporary loss of consciousness) is due to a shortage of oxygen to the brain because of a temporary reduction of blood flow. But what happens when there is a permanent reduction of blood flow to the brain and all neurological activity ceases? Is there any observable indication that a person whose brain has stopped functioning completely is more functionally active or more conscious than a person who has simply experienced a temporary reduction of blood flow to their brain? Do not our own God-given senses indicate otherwise? Since, for beings such as ourselves, being alive entails having a capacity for consciousness and other functional activities, death necessarily entails a loss of this capacity. And Scripture confirms this view of what appears, from our perspective, to take place when death occurs: those who are dead are said to be unable to engage in the sort of conscious activities that the living are able to do - activities such as thinking, remembering and worshiping God (Eccl. 9:5-6, 10; Psalm 6:5; 30:9; 88:10-12; 115:17).
In contrast to this common-sense and Scriptural understanding of what it means to be dead, the popular Christian doctrine of the "immortality of the soul" denies that human beings are the sort of things that actually die and lose their capacity for conscious activity. According to this belief, man is actually an immortal (i.e., undying) being that survives the death of his body and continues to consciously exist somewhere in a "disembodied state." Since it denies that any human being truly dies (only the body dies, according to this view), it consequently denies the reality of Christ's death. And yet, Paul wrote that it was Christ himself - not merely some part of Christ - who "died for our sins." While undergoing the torture of Roman crucifixion, it was the man, Jesus Christ - not merely his body - who breathed his last and died.
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul denies that Christ was in any need of being saved by God from death, since it denies that human beings really die; according to this view, it is only a person's body (rather than the person himself) which actually dies. As such, this doctrine - as popular as it is - contradicts Paul's evangel.
Its overwhelming acceptance among the majority of Christians notwithstanding, the doctrine of Christ’s deity results in a perplexing (and, I believe, insurmountable) problem for those who affirm it. For if Christ died – and if Christ is also God - then it would mean that God died. But anyone who has even the slightest understanding of who and what God is knows that this can’t be right. God - the uncreated Creator whose years have no end (Psalm 102:27) - cannot, by virtue of his divine nature, die. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the "Living God." He is (and always has been) immortal and incorruptible. Paul explicitly affirms the immortal and incorruptible nature of God elsewhere (Rom. 1:22-23; 1 Tim 1:17; 6:13, 16).
Most Christians profess to believe - and may sincerely think they believe - that Christ died on the cross and was raised from the dead three days later. But if you ask them whether they think Jesus Christ was, during the time of his death, just as lifeless as the dead body which lay in the tomb for three days, it will quickly become clear that, contrary to what they think they believe or profess to believe, they do not, in fact, actually believe that Christ truly died. Instead, they believe that it was only Christ's body that died and laid in a tomb for three days, while Christ himself - the sentient, thinking and volitionally active person - was actually introduced into a different form of life. Contrary to the truth of Scripture, most Christians believe (and would likely brand as heretics those who deny) that Christ survived the death of his body, and continued to consciously exist somewhere other than where his body was. But if this is the case, then Christ didn't really die. Only his mortal body died. And what happened three days after the death of his body wasn't the resurrection of the man himself. No, it was merely the restoration of an immortal being to an embodied existence.
Note: The following are some articles on my blog concerning the subject of the “immortality of the soul”: