Posts Tagged ‘substitutionary’

Celebrating the Atonement and the Resurrection While Promoting Contemplative – A Profound Contradiction

Open tomb of Jesus with sun appearing through entrance - Shallow

photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission

In 1922, liberal pastor and theologian Harry Emerson Fosdick stated the following words in his sermon titled “Will the Fundamentalists Win?”:

“It is interesting to note where the Fundamentalists are driving in their stakes to mark out the deadline of doctrine around the church, across which no one is to pass except on terms of agreement. They insist that we must all believe in the historicity of certain special miracles, preeminently the virgin birth of our Lord; that we must believe in a special theory of inspiration-that the original documents of the Scripture, which of course we no longer possess, were inerrantly dictated to men a good deal as a man might dictate to a stenographer; that we must believe in a special theory of the Atonement-that the blood of our Lord, shed in a substitutionary death, placates an alienated Deity and makes possible welcome for the returning sinner.”

Fosdick considered the doctrine of a blood atonement a “slaughterhouse religion”1

What this line of thinking is saying is that while Jesus’ going to the Cross should be looked at as an example of perfect servanthood and sacrifice ( the term servant leader is connected to this), the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death on the Cross is barbaric and would never happen. Thus, Fosdick (and those who adhere to this reasoning) rejects Christ as a substitute for our penalty of sin (“the wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23).

In Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, in the chapter titled “Slaughterhouse Religion” (see extract below), he shows where contemplatives and emerging church leaders hold to the same view. This is easy to understand how they could be like this when one understands the underlying panentheistic nature of contemplative prayer. In other words, contemplative mystics believe that man is divine (i.e., that God/divinity dwells in all creation – all humans in particularly).  If man is divine, then he does not need to have anyone make atonement for him. A substitutionary  death (taking a sinner’s place) on the Cross would not be necessary and in fact, would be an insult to man’s own divine nature.  It would be humiliating. Like contemplative mystic monk Thomas Merton said (quoted by Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality), if we really knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. He and other contemplatives say that man’s biggest problem isn’t a sinful nature; no, it’s that he does not realize he is divine. Do all these pastors and professors who promote contemplative figures realize this is what they are really promoting?

During this time of the year, when most churches are holding Easter services (traditionally in honor of the death and resurrection of Jesus), how many of these same churches are clinging to contemplative/emerging spirituality without even comprehending what it really stands for (and some do realize it). If Jesus’ going to the Cross and shedding blood was merely an act of service and sacrifice, an example for others to follow, and was not actually a substitutionary payment for the sins of humanity, then why celebrate Easter and the resurrection? It would make no sense. Those churches who cling to contemplative/emergent ideologies and practices should consider this. While they cling to one (contemplative), they’re on the road to denying the other (the atonement) . . . even if they don’t realize it.

Below is an extract from Faith Undone on “Slaughterhouse Religion”:

“The Cross is Barbarity & a Slaughterhouse Religion – So Says Emerging Church Leaders”

by Roger Oakland

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (II Corinthians 5:21)

The heart and core of the Christian faith is based upon Jesus Christ’s shed blood at Calvary as the only acceptable substitutionary atonement for mankind’s sins. The Gospel message requires this foundation. The Bible says the wages of sin is death—thus every person alive should receive the penalty of spiritual death because none of us is without sin, since we are born with our sin nature intact. Satan hates the Gospel message. He understands what the Gospel means, and his agenda is to deceive mankind from understanding and believing so they can suffer eternally with him. While Scripture is very clear about the necessity of Christ’s death in order for us to be saved, some believe this would make God a blood-thirsty barbarian. Embedded within the structure of the emerging church is just such a belief.

Precivilized Barbarity

Many in the emerging church movement would vehemently object if someone told them that emerging church leaders don’t like the Cross. They would jump up and say, “Yes, they do. I’ve heard them talk about Jesus and His going to the Cross. They say they love the Cross.”

Some emerging church leaders do say they love the Cross, but an underlying theme is gaining momentum among them. It says Jesus’ going to the Cross was an example of sacrifice and servanthood that we should follow; but the idea that God would send His Son to a violent death for the sins of mankind—well, that is not who God is. A loving God would never do that! Such a violent act would make Christianity a “slaughterhouse religion.”1 Liberal theologian and pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City, the late Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969), believed that the doctrine of the atonement, where “Jesus suffered as a substitute for us” because of our sins, is a “precivilized barbarity.”2

In his book, The Modern Use of the Bible, Fosdick says that Jesus’ going to the Cross should be seen as an example of a life of service and sacrifice and not compared with “old animal sacrifices” and “made ‘a pious fraud’ played by God upon the devil.”3 In Fosdick’s book Dear Mr. Brown, he states:

Too many theories of the atonement assume that by one single high priestly act of self-sacrifice Christ saved the world.4

Fosdick ends that statement with a pronounced—“No!” He insists, “These legalistic theories of the atonement are in my judgment a theological disgrace.”5

Fosdick considered the idea that God would actually send His Son to die on a Cross to take our place to be the basis for a violent and bloody religion. He rejected the biblical message of an atonement and substitutionary sacrifice.

Fosdick was the pastor of Riverside Church of New York City from 1925 to 1946. While he has been long gone, his ideologies have remained intact and have drifted right into the emerging church. In October 2006, Riverside Church held the 5th Fosdick Convocation in honor of their former pastor. Two of the emerging church’s most influential teachers were there as speakers in honor of Fosdick—Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo.6 As I will show you, McLaren resonates with Fosdick’s view of the Cross.

False Advertising for God

In an interview, Brian McLaren questioned the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death, calling it “false advertising for God”:

[O]ne of the huge problems is the traditional understanding of hell. Because if the cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching then—I won’t say, the only, and I certainly won’t say even the primary—but a primary meaning of the cross is that the kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world, by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes through suffering and willing, voluntary sacrifice. But in an ironic way, the doctrine of hell basically says, no, that’s not really true. That in the end, God gets His way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination, just like every other kingdom does. The cross isn’t the center then. The cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God. (emphasis added)7

What an extraordinary example of faith under attack and the consequences of thinking outside of the box. If McLaren is right, all those who have ever lived and believed in Christ’s atonement have been misled and wrong. McLaren has taken the freedom to reconstruct what faith means by distorting the Scriptures, or worse yet, saying the very opposite of what the inspired Word of God says. This is blasphemy! McLaren also states:

And I heard one well-known Christian leader, who—I won’t mention his name, just to protect his reputation. ‘Cause some people would use this against him. But I heard him say it like this: The traditional understanding says that God asks of us something that God is incapable of Himself. God asks us to forgive people. But God is incapable of forgiving. God can’t forgive unless He punishes somebody in place of the person He was going to forgive. God doesn’t say things to you—Forgive your wife, and then go kick the dog to vent your anger. God asks you to actually forgive. And there’s a certain sense that, a common understanding of the atonement presents a God who is incapable of forgiving. Unless He kicks somebody else.8

That God Does Not Exist

This idea of rejecting God’s judgment placed on Jesus Christ instead of us is not exclusive with Fosdick or McLaren. In fact, such rejection is integrated into the teachings of many others. In 1991, William Shannon (biographer of Catholic monk and mystic Thomas Merton) said:

This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people … He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … This God does not exist.12

So in other words, according to Fosdick, McLaren, and Shannon, Jesus should be seen as a model of sacrifice to follow in our own lives, but to view God the Father as a judge against sin is not a proper view of God. Those who reject the atonement realize the greatest threat to their heretical views is those who take the Scriptures literally and seriously. Fosdick explains:

Were you to talk to that fundamentalist preacher, he doubtless would insist that you must believe in the “substitutionary” theory of atonement—namely, that Jesus suffered as a substitute for us the punishment due us for our sins. But can you imagine a modern courtroom in a civilized country where an innocent man would be deliberately punished for another man’s crime? … [S]ubstitutionary atonement … came a long way down in history in many a penal system. But now it is a precivilized barbarity; no secular court would tolerate the idea for a moment; only in certain belated theologies is it retained as an explanation of our Lord’s death … Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented.13

This is another perfect example of how the emerging church turns doctrine it doesn’t understand into a mockery against Scripture and God’s plan of salvation. God’s ways are not our ways and to expect them to line up with our own human reasoning is ludicrous:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Former Catholic priest Brennan Manning has been a major influence in emerging spirituality. In his 2003 book Above All (foreword by singer Michael W. Smith)he quotes William Shannon almost word for word, regarding the atonement:

[T]he god whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger … the god who exacts the last drop of blood from his Son so that his just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased, is not the God revealed by and in Jesus Christ. And if he is not the God of Jesus, he does not exist.14

Dying for the Sins of the World

Marcus Borg [was] Distinguished Professor in Religion and Culture and Hundere Endowed Chair in Religious Studies at Oregon State University. He is a lecturer and the author of several books, some of which are Jesus and Buddha, The God We Never Knew, and Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously But not Literally. While most would not consider him an emerging church leader, his thinking has greatly influenced the movement and its leaders. Brian McLaren says he has “high regard”15 for Borg; the two of them participated in a summer seminar series at an interspiritual center in Portland, Oregon, in 2006.16 Rob Bell references and praises him in Bell’s popular book Velvet Elvis.17 Walter Brueggemann, a professor at Columbia Theological Seminary and one of the contributors for Richard Foster’s Renovare Spiritual Formation Study Bible, considers Borg an essential part of the emerging spirituality. Brueggemann states:

Marcus Borg is a key force in the emerging “new paradigm” of Christian faith.18

Borg explains in his book The God We Never Knew that his views on God, the Bible, and Christianity were transformed while he was in seminary:

I let go of the notion that the Bible is a divine product. I learned that it is a human cultural product, the product of two ancient communities, biblical Israel and early Christianity. As such, it contained their understandings and affirmations, not statements coming directly or somewhat directly from God.… I realized that whatever “divine revelation” and the “inspiration of the Bible” meant (if they meant anything), they did not mean that the Bible was a divine product with divine authority.19

This attitude would certainly explain how Borg could say:

Jesus almost certainly was not born of a virgin, did not think of himself as the Son of God, and did not see his purpose as dying for the sins of the world.20

If what Borg is saying is true, then we would have to throw out John 3:16 which says God so loved the world He gave His only Son, and we would have to dismiss the theme of a blood offering that is prevalent throughout all of Scripture. In the Old Testament, it is clear:

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)

But Borg rejects this emphasis:

To think that the central meaning of Easter [resurrection] depends upon something spectacular happening to Jesus’ corpse misses the point of the Easter message and risks trivializing the story. To link Easter primarily to our hope for an afterlife, as if our post-death existence depends upon God having transformed the corpse of Jesus, is to reduce the story to a politically-domesticated yearning for our survival beyond death.21

What is behind this mindset? Listen to one New Ager describe what underlies this line of thought:

Jesus was an historical person, a human becoming Christ, the Christos, is an eternal transpersonal condition of being. Jesus did not say that this higher state of consciousness realized in him was his alone for all time. Nor did he call us to worship him. Rather, he called us to follow him, to follow in his steps, to learn from him, from his example.22

Harry Fosdick would resonate with this. When he says, “Christ’s sacrificial life and death are too sacred to be so misrepresented,” he means that Christ is an example to be followed, not an innocent sacrifice for our guilt and thus worthy of praise and worship. Satan wants desperately to be worshiped and adored as God. He hates all that Jesus’ death stands for. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, purchased with His own blood the lives of those written in the Book of Life.

The Bible says, “without the shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22), and also, “He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Are we to reject these Scriptures and other ones as well that speak of the atonement because it doesn’t sound logical? Scripture tells us that the carnal mind is at enmity with God. We need to recognize that the Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is our final authority, and we must adhere to the truth of its teachings.

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.… And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. (I John 4:10, 14)

(from chapter 11 of Faith Undone by Roger Oakland – for entire chapter and endnotes, click here.)

 

Was Christ a Substitution for the Penalty of Sin?

LTRP Note: The emerging church teaches that the meaning of Christ’s death on the Cross wasn’t that He became our substitute for the penalty of our  sins, as a loving God would never send His Son to a violent death for the sins of others; rather, emergents say He was an example of “servant leadership” and of one laying down his life but did not perform a substitutionary atonement. But the Bible is very clear on this matter as Dr. Ironside explains. If your children and grandchildren do not understand the biblical meaning of Christ as a substitute for sin, help them understand this before they head off to youth group or Christian college because very likely there, they will be taught a new meaning (see our links below for documentation).

By Dr. Harry A. Ironside
(from his book Great Words of the Gospel)

The word I desire to bring before you is one that is not actually in the Bible. It is the word “substitution.” Although it is not in the Bible, it stands for a great truth that runs through the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. That is, the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ in infinite grace took the place of poor, lost, guilty sinners, and made it possible for a holy God to reach out in mercy and save all who would come to Him in the name of His beloved Son.

I do not have one particular text in mind, but I have been thinking of five different passages in the New Testament where we get the same expression—He “gave himself”; and I want you to think with me of these Scriptures. The One who gave Himself was our Lord Jesus Christ, and I should like you to notice what it was for which He gave Himself.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME

In the Epistle to the Galatians, chapter 2 and verse 20, the apostle Paul writes:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Note the individuality of it. Paul, who had been a bitter persecutor of the people of God, who had been an enemy of the Cross of Christ, one day had his eyes opened, and he suddenly realized that the One who had died on that Cross went there for him, that He had taken his place, and that it was love that led Him to go to that shameful death. From that moment the heart of Saul of Tarsus went out in adoration gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ, and until the very end of his days, he found his greatest joy in trying to give some evidence, by a life of service, of his love for the One who had thus loved him.

THE WORD IS NOT IN THE BIBLE—BUT THE DOCTRINE IS

Notice how he speaks of Him: “The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” There you have the very heart of the Gospel—”Himself for me.” That is substitution. Some people tell us, because we do not find the actual word “substitution” in the Bible, that the truth of it, the fact of it is not there, and so they talk of atonement by other means than by substitution, atonement by example or atonement by reconciling love, that leads men to turn to God adoringly, simply because of the goodness that He showed in seeking them out in the person of His Son. But no, the Word of God makes it very definite. The work that took place on Calvary was a substitutionary transaction. It was the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s own blessed, eternal Son, who became man for our redemption, giving Himself on our behalf.

“The Son of God loved me, and gave himself for me.” That is the language of faith. When a poor, needy sinner looks at that Cross and sees, as it were, the blessed Savior hanging there, he says, “He was there for me; it was my sins that put Him there; it was in order that I might be fitted for the presence of God that He went into the darkness and endured the judgment of God. He is my Substitute. The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR US

But it is not only for me, it is also for us. In the Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 5 and verse 2, we read:

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and HATH GIVEN HIMSELF for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

I am so thankful that in my thinking I do not have to limit the gift of God’s grace in the person of His Son to just some little group, as though it were just for a small elect company that Jesus died. “He gave Himself for us.” I can look out over the whole wide world, whether men are saved or unsaved and say to them on the authority of the Word of God that “He gave himself for us”— for everyone of us. Whether you be Jew or Gentile, whether you be very religious or have no time for religion, I would say to you, ” The Son of God gave Himself for us.” He saw us in our lost condition, and He went to Calvary’s Cross in order to redeem us. That is how the prophet Isaiah puts it. He looked on down through the centuries and by faith he saw the very scene of Calvary, and he cried out, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

THE GOSPEL FOUND IN THE OLD TESTAMENT—ALSO “YOU KNOW THE GOSPEL, DON’T YOU?”

I remember a number of years ago I went over to a town in Minnesota to hold some meetings. My wife and our eldest son, just a little child at the time, went with me. When we got there, a big, burly highland Scotsman met us. He said, “Now you come along with me; I am going to take you to my house. We are going to sleep you there, and then across the way at the McKenzie’s, they will eat you.” Of course, I new he didn’t mean anything cannibalistic, and I was glad to accept the provision made. We went to his house and settled ourselves, and then went over to the McKenzie’s for our meal.

I remember one Sunday we left to go down to the meeting in the afternoon, and it happened that there was one daughter in the family who had not yet received the Lord Jesus Christ as her Savior. The mother said, “Will you pray for Jean? She knows the way, but somehow she doesn’t seem to want to come. She says she is young yet and she wants to have her fling before she settles down.” Well, we did pray for her, and some way or other as I preached that afternoon in the big tent, I couldn’t help seeing Jean way in the back, eagerly listening to the message. When it was over, I thought she might be one who would move to the front when the invitation was given, but instead of that, I saw her get up and hurry away, and I felt a little bit disappointed. When I finished speaking I felt a little bit disappointed. When I finished speaking with those who had come forward, I sent on home, and when I got there I found, as I opened the front door, my wife sitting there with an open Bible and Jean beside her. My wife turned to me and said, “Come and join us. I am trying to show Jean that Christ died in our place, but someway or other she can’t seem to grasp it.” So I sat down with them and said something like this: “Jean, you know the Gospel, don’t you?”

“Yes,” she said, “I think I do.”

“What is the Gospel?”

“Well, it is that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”; and my wife said, “I have been showing her Isaiah 53.” The Bible was open at that chapter so I said, “Look, you have it right here: ‘But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.’ Don’t you see, Jean? Christ died for you, He took your place, He bore God’s judgment against your sins.”

“I see what is written there,” she replied, “but somehow I can’t get hold of it for myself. It doesn’t seem to mean me.”

So we got down on our knees and prayed that the Spirit of God Himself might make the great truth of the substitutionary work of the Cross real to her; and then I said to her, “Jean, while we are here on our knees, I want you to read the words for yourself, and we will pray that the Holy Spirit will open them up to you.” And so she read them: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Then she said, “Yes, I see it, but I don’t seem to be able to make it my own.”

CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE GOSPEL?

“Perhaps it would be different now if you will just read it again and change the pronoun, putting it into the first person singular. Read it like this: He was wounded for my transgressions’; because you see, Jean, it really means that. He was wounded for the transgressions of all of us, yours and mine. Read it that way.” And she started to read, “He was wounded for my transgressions.” She stopped as the tears began to flow. She wiped them away and read on, “He was bruised for my iniquities,” and again she stopped; and then she read, “The chastisement of my peace was upon Him,” and then she fairly shouted, “Oh, I see it! With His stripes I am healed.” And in a moment the light had shone into her darkened heart. She saw that the Lord Jesus was her substitute; He had taken her place. We gave thanks, and then she said that she must go and tell her mother. She didn’t know that all the while her mother had been standing outside the window and had heard the whole thing. Out the front door she went and down the garden path and around to the side, and she ran right into that mother’s arms, “Oh Mother, Mother, I’m saved; by His stripes I am healed.” What joy that brought to the mother’s heart, and what a happy time of rejoicing we all had then!

You see, that is substitution. That is the very pith and marrow of the Gospel.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR THE CHURCH

Next we do have a special group mentioned for whom He gave Himself. In the last part of the fifth chapter of Ephesians, in the twenty-fifth verse we read:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”

When we get home to Glory, when we who have been redeemed to God by His precious blood are presented faultless in the presence of our heavenly Bridegroom, we shall look up into His face and we shall be able to say, “The Son of God loved the Church, and gave Himself for it.”

You remember the story that is told of one of the generals of Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, and the one who overthrew, in God’s providence, the mighty Babylonian Empire. One of his generals came home from a campaign and was shocked to find that in his absence his own wife had been arrested and was languishing in prison, charged with treachery against her country, and the trial was to be held that very day. The general hastened to the court of Cyrus, and the guards brought in his own beloved wife. She, poor woman, pale and anxious, tried to answer the charges brought against her, but all to no avail. Her husband, standing near, heard the stern voice of the Persian ruler pronounce the death sentence. In a moment, as they were about to drag her away to behead her, he ran forward and threw himself down at the feet of the Emperor. “Oh sire,” he cried, “not she, but me. Let me give my life for hers. Put me to death, but spare my wife.” And as Cyrus looked down upon him, he was so touched by his deep devotion and his love for his wife that his heart was softened. He remembered, too, how faithful this servant had been, and he gave command that the wife should go free. She was fully pardoned. As her husband led her out of the room, he said to her, “Did you notice the kind look in the eyes of the Emperor as he pronounced the word of pardon?” She said, “I did not see the face of the Emperor. The only face that I could see was that of the man who was willing to die for me.”

Oh, when we get home, when we see the face of the Man who did die for us, how our hearts will praise Him! How we will rejoice in His presence as we say, “The Son of God loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR OUR SINS

We need to realize that He died not only to deliver us from the judgment due to our sins, but He died for us in order that we might be delivered from the power and pollution of sins right here and now in this life. In Galatians 1:4, we have these words:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.”

He gave Himself for our sins, not simply that we might have our past sins forgiven, nor that we might stand justified before Him as to the future, but in order that the power of sin might be broken in our lives, that we might no longer be subject to Satan’s authority, that we might be free men and women, living here to the glory of the Lord Jesus.

This is one of those truths that I do want to press upon you who have but recently been brought to a saving knowledge of Christ. Dear young Christian, do not be satisfied to know that you are saved from hell, blessed as that is, but oh, go on day by day to a fuller walk with God, that you may be saved from sin, and that your whole life may be lived to His glory.

HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ALL

Somebody might raise the question, “Well, it is perfectly true that it says He gave Himself for us, and He gave Himself for the Church, and He gave Himself for our sins; but are you really sure that it applies to everybody? May He not, after all, have had just some particular elect company in view when He thus gave Himself, and if we do not belong to that company, what right have we to come to Him at all, and to expect Him to do anything for us?” For answer, will you look at the first Epistle to Timothy, chapter 2, verses 5 and 6:

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

Oh, dear friends, do not allow anything to narrow down your conception of the inclusiveness of the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. “He gave Himself a ransom for all.” Do not try to read into that what it does not say. Some people say, “Well, of course, you know we must understand the words ‘the elect’ to come in there. He gave Himself a ransom for all the elect.” Oh no, God does not need you and me to help Him out. He knows what to say, and He means what He says. When He writes, “He gave Himself a ransom for all,” He means us to understand the words exactly as they are written.

They used to tell a story about a certain professor of theology at Princeton Seminary in the days when Princeton was pretty rigid as to what they called “a limited atonement.” One day one of the students looked up and said, “Professor, just what is our stand in this seminary on the atonement?” And the teacher replied, “Well, we stand with Dr. _____; we preach the theology of Dr. _____, and he taught a limited atonement—that Christ died only for the elect.” Then said the student, “And over at New Haven, Connecticut, (At that time, New Haven was a very sound seminary,) what do they teach there? What is Dr. Taylor’s theology?” The professor said, “Over there they teach that God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

“Oh,” said the student, “well, I’ll accept that because that is what the Bible says. That is not just Dr. Taylor’s theology nor New Haven doctrine; that is the Word of God.”

And so we say to you, whoever you may be, the Lord Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. On Calvary’s Cross, He put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. In other words, when He presented Himself there as a substitute for guilty humanity, He finished the work that satisfied every righteous demand of the throne of God and met all the claims of His holy nature, so that on the basis of it, any poor sinner in all the world who comes to Christ and puts in his claim will be saved on the basis of the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is the doctrine of the atonement as we have it in the Bible. There is no other in this blessed Book, and so we put the question to you: have you put in your claim? There are a lot of people who know all about it, but they have never believed and acted upon it.

John 3:16THE TRAGEDY OF FAILING TO CASH IN GOD’S PROMISES

You remember the incident of the veteran of the Civil War who was found living in wretched poverty. The city authorities found him in such a deplorable state that they thought all they could do was to take him to the county poor farm. One of them happened to notice something on the wall. It wasn’t exactly a picture; it looked more like a document of some kind. He took it down and looked at it, then he asked, “What is this, my friend?”

The poor old man replied, “That was sent to me by Abraham Lincoln himself, and I kept it because it has his signature on it.” It turned out to be a check. I forget the amount of money, but it was really a pension check signed by the President and sent to this man years ago. Instead of cashing it, the poor man had kept it all the time, and had framed it and hung it there on the wall. In the meantime, he got poorer and poorer, until he was a candidate for the county farm. They found that the government at Washington would still honor the check, although it was years old, and so they had enough to take care of the man comfortably until he died.

Oh, do not be content just to have the statement of the substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus, but come to Him for yourself, trust Him as your own Savior. Cash in on it. He gave Himself a ransom for all.

 

Related Articles:

Understanding the Difference: Biblical Atonement or New Age At-One-Ment?

Celebrating the Atonement and the Resurrection While Promoting Contemplative – A Profound Contradiction

Marcus Borg on Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Son of God

The Shack Author Rejects Biblical Substitutionary Atonement

 


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