Why did Jesus die on a cross?
The Iglesia Ni Cristo believes that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. They also teach that we need to obey God's law in order for that death to gain salvation Is this true?
Interestingly, we can discover the answer by answering the question "Why Jesus died on a cross?" Galatians 3:10-14 tells us why Jesus died on the cross. Let's look there.
All who rely on works of the law are under a curse.
Galatians 3:10 (ESV) - 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them."
The Bible clearly states that if we rely on our own obedience to the law, we are cursed. This does not mean that obedience is wrong. Good works should be a part of a believers life. However, in order for the law to help us, we have to obey it perfectly. No one obeys God's law perfectly, so anyone who relies on it is cursed.
People are justified by faith.
Galatians 3:11 (ESV) - 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for "The righteous shall live by faith."
Now we see that people are not justified by obedience to law, but by faith. Righteous men live by faith.
We cannot be justified by both works of law and faith.
Galatians 3:12 (ESV) - 12 But the law is not of faith, rather "The one who does them shall live by them."
One might ask, can someone be justified by both their faith and works together? The answer is no. The law is totally contrary to faith. If one relies on works of the law, they live by their obedience. However, we saw in the last verse that righteous men live by faith. A man must live by one or the other not both. One can imagine an earthly example of a bank loan. A bank does not have faith that you will pay them back so they ask for collateral to lower the risk they take in giving you money. Much the same way a person who does not have faith in Jesus will rely on something else as well. But by putting his faith in other things a person displays that he doesn't truly have faith. However, someone who does have full faith will want to be obedient. We should live by faith, not by works.
Jesus bore that curse for us.
And now we get to find out why Jesus died on a cross!
Galatians 3:13 (ESV) - 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree"
Because all men are not perfectly obedient, we should all been under the curse of the law. However, Jesus bore that curse in our place! How did he bear that curse? The Old Testament tells us that anyone who hangs on a tree is cursed. Therefore, Jesus was cursed when he hung on the cross, and bore the curse for all those righteous who do not live by their own works of law, but by faith!
So we see, salvation does not come through any work we do. In fact, if we rely on our works then we must live by those and not by faith. The Bible makes it very clear. The righteous do not live by works because that brings a curse. The righteous live by faith therefore have their curse removed by Jesus, who on the cross bore our curse.
So Jesus died on the cross to bear our curse, but as a final question, let's ask "Why did he want to bear our curse?"
Galatians 3:14 (ESV) - 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.