Soteriology - Q 8 - In what way did He (Christ) become the sacrifice?
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In dealing with the nature of the atonement it is well to try to discover some comprehensive category under which the various aspects of Biblical teaching may be subsumed. The more specific categories in terms of which the Scripture sets forth the atoning work of Christ are sacrifice, propitiation, reconciliation, and redemption. But we may properly ask if there is not some more inclusive rubric under which these more specific categories may be comprehended. The Scripture regards the work of Christ as one of obedience and uses this term or the concept that it designates, with sufficient frequency to warrant the conclusion that obedience is generic and therefore embrasive enough to be viewed as the unifying or integrating principle. We should readily appreciate the propriety of this conclusion when we remember that the one passage in the Old Testament that above all others delineates the pattern of Christ's atonement is Isaiah 53. But we ask: in what capacity is the suffering personage of Isaiah 53 viewed? It is none other than that of servant. It is by that designation he is introduced, "Behold my servant shall deal prudently" (Isa. 52:13). And it is in that capacity that he reaps the justifying fruit, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many" (Isa. 53:11). Our Lord himself puts beyond all doubt the validity of such a construction when he defines for us the purpose of his coming into the world in terms that precisely convey such a connotation: "I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of him that sent me" (John 6:38). And with reference even to the climactic event which is pivotal in the accomplishment of redemption, his death, he says, "On this account the Father loves me because I lay down my life in order that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it again. This commandment have I received from my Father" (John 10:17,18). And nothing to this effect could be more explicit than the words of the apostle. "For as through the disobedience of the one man many were constituted sinners, even so through the obedience of the one many will be constituted righteous" (Rom. 5:19). "He made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2 :7, 8; cf. also Gal. 4:4). And the epistle to the Hebrews also has its own peculiar turn of expression when it says that the Son "learned obedience from the things which he suffered, and being made perfect became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him" (5:8,9; cf. 2:10).
This obedience has frequently been designated the active and passive obedience. This formula when properly interpreted serves the good purpose of setting forth the two distinct aspects of Christ's work of obedience. But it is necessary at the outset to relieve the formula of some of the misapprehensions and misapplications to which it is subject.
(a) The term "passive obedience" does not mean that in anything Christ did was he passive, the involuntary victim of obedience imposed upon him. It is obvious that any such conception would contradict the very notion of obedience. And it must be jealously maintained that even in his sufferings and death our Lord was not the passive recipient of that to which he was subjected. In his sufferings he was supremely active, and death itself did not befall him as it befalls other men. "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself" are his own words. He was obedient unto death, Paul tells us. And this does not mean that his obedience extended to the threshold of death but rather that he was obedient to the extent of yielding up his spirit in death and of laying down his life. In the exercise of self-conscious sovereign volition, knowing that all things had been accomplished and that the very moment of time for the accomplishment of this event had arrived, he effected the separation of body and spirit and committed the latter to the Father. He dismissed his spirit and laid down his life. The word "passive," then, should not be interpreted to mean pure passivity in anything that came within the scope of his obedience. The sufferings he endured, sufferings which reached their climax in his death upon the accursed tree, were an integral part of his obedience and were endured in pursuance of the task given him to accomplish.
(b) Neither are we to suppose that we can allocate certain phases or acts of our Lord's life on earth to the active obedience and certain other phases and acts to the passive obedience. The distinction between the active and passive obedience is not a distinction of periods. It is our Lord's whole work of obedience in every phase and period that is described as active and passive, and we must avoid the mistake of thinking that the active obedience applies to the obedience of his life and the passive to the obedience of his final sufferings and death.
The real use and purpose of the formula is to emphasize the two distinct aspects of our Lord's vicarious obedience. The truth expressed rests upon the recognition that the law of God has both penal sanctions and positive demands. It demands not only the full discharge of its precepts but also the infliction of penalty for all infractions and shortcomings. It is this twofold demand of the law of God which is taken into account when we speak of the active and passive obedience of Christ. Christ as the vicar of his people came under the curse and condemnation due to sin and he also fulfilled the law of God in all its positive requirements. In other words, he took care of the guilt of sin and perfectly fulfilled the demands of righteousness. He perfectly met both the penal and the preceptive requirements of God's law. The passive obedience refers to the former and the active obedience to the latter. Christ's obedience was vicarious in the bearing of the full judgment of God upon sin, and it was vicarious in the full discharge of the demands of righteousness. His obedience becomes the ground of the remission of sin and of actual justification.
We must not view this obedience in any artificial or mechanical sense. When we speak of Christ's obedience we must not think of it as consisting simply in formal fulfillment of the commandments of God. What the obedience of Christ involved for him is perhaps nowhere more strikingly expressed than in Hebrews 2:10-18; 5:8-10 where we are told that Jesus "learned obedience from the things which he suffered," that he was made perfect through sufferings, and that "being made perfect he became to all who obey him the author of eternal salvation." When we examine these passages the following lessons become apparent. (1) It was not through mere incarnation that Christ wrought our salvation and secured our redemption. (2) It was not through mere death that salvation was accomplished. (3) It was not simply through the death upon the cross that Jesus became the author of salvation. (4) The death upon the cross, as the climactic requirement of the price of redemption, was discharged as the supreme act of obedience; it was not death resistlessly inflicted but death upon the cross willingly and obediently wrought.
When we speak of obedience we are thinking not merely of formal acts of accomplishment but also of the disposition, will, determination, and volition which lie back of and are registered in these formal acts. And when we speak of the death of our Lord upon the cross as the supreme act of his obedience we are thinking not merely of the overt act of dying upon the tree but also of the disposition, will, and determinate volition which lay back of the overt act. And, furthermore, we are required to ask the question : whence did our Lord derive the disposition and holy determination to give up his life in death as the supreme act of self-sacrifice and obedience? We are compelled to ask this question because it was in human nature that he rendered this obedience and gave up his life in death. And these texts in the epistle to the Hebrews confirm not only the propriety but the necessity of this question. For in these texts we are distinctly informed that he learned obedience, and he learned this obedience from the things that he suffered. It was requisite that he should have been made perfect through sufferings and become the author of salvation through this perfecting. It was not, of course, a perfecting that required the sanctification from sin to holiness. He was always holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. But there was the perfecting of development and growth in the course and path of his obedience-he learned obedience. The heart and mind and will of our Lord had been moulded-shall we not say forged ?-in the furnace of temptation and suffering. And it was in virtue of what he had learned in that experience of temptation and suffering that he was able, at the climactic point fixed by the arrangements of infallible wisdom and everlasting love, to be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. It was only as having learned obedience in the path of inerrant and sinless discharge of the Father's will that his heart and mind and will were framed to the point of being able freely and voluntarily to yield up his life in death upon the accursed tree.
It was through this course of obedience and of learning obedience that he was made perfect as Saviour, that is to say, became fully equipped so as to be constituted a perfect Saviour. It was the equipment forged through all the experiences of trial, temptation, and suffering that provided the resources requisite for the climactic requirement of his commission. It was that obedience, brought to its consummate fruition on the cross, that constituted him an all-sufficient and perfect Saviour. And this is just saying that it was the obedience learned and rendered through the whole course of humiliation that made him perfect as the captain of salvation. It is obedience learned through suffering, perfected through suffering, and consummated in the suffering of death upon the cross that defines his work and accomplishment as the author of salvation. It was by obedience he secured our salvation because it was by obedience he wrought the work that secured it.
Obedience, therefore, is not something that may be conceived of artificially or abstractedly. It is obedience that enlisted all the resources of his perfect humanity, obedience that resided in his person, and obedience of which he is ever the perfect embodiment. It is obedience that finds its permanent efficacy and virtue in him. And we become the beneficiaries of it, indeed the partakers of it, by union with him. It is this that serves to advertise the significance of that which is the central truth of all soteriology, namely, union and communion with Christ.
While the concept of obedience supplies us with an inclusive category in terms of which the atoning work of Christ may be viewed and which establishes at the outset the active agency of Christ in the accomplishment of redemption, we must now proceed to analyze those specific categories by means of which the Scripture sets forth the nature of the atonement.
1. Sacrifice--It lies on the face of the New Testament that Christ's work is construed as sacrifice. And the only question is: what notion of sacrifice governs this pervasive use of the term sacrifice as it is applied to the work of Christ? This question can be answered only by determining what was the notion of sacrifice entertained by the New Testament speakers and writers. Steeped as these were in the language and ideas of the Old Testament, there is but one direction in which to seek their interpretation of the meaning and effect of sacrifice. What is the Old Testament idea of sacrifice? Much debate has revolved around this question. But we can be content to say with confidence that the Old Testament sacrifices were basically expiatory. This means that they had reference to sin and guilt. Sin involves a certain liability, a liability arising from the holiness of God, on the one hand, and the gravity of sin as the contradiction of that holiness, on the other. The sacrifice was the divinely instituted provision whereby the sin might be covered and the liability to divine wrath and curse removed. The Old Testament worshipper when he brought his oblation to the altar substituted an animal victim in his place. In laying his hands upon the head of the offering there was transferred symbolically to the offering the sin and liability of the offerer. This is the pivot on which the transaction turned. The notion in essence was that the sin of the offerer was imputed to the offering and the offering bore as a result the death-penalty. It was substitutive endurance of the penalty or liability due to sin.
Obviously there was a great disproportion between the offerer and the offering and a corresponding disproportion between the liability of the offerer and that executed upon the offering. These offerings were but shadows and patterns. Nevertheless the expiatory notion is apparent, and it is this expiatory significance that provides the background for the interpretation of Christ's sacrifice. The work of Christ is expiatory, expiatory indeed with a transcendent virtue, efficacy, and perfection that could not apply to bulls and goats, yet expiatory in terms of the pattern provided by the Old Testament sacrificial ritual. This means that to him, as the great sacrifice offered without spot to God, were transferred the sins and liabilities of those on whose behalf he offered himself as a sacrifice. By reason of this imputation he suffered and died, just for unjust, that he might bring us nigh to God. By one sacrifice he hath perfected for ever all them that are sanctified.
While the New Testament writers do not find in Christ's offering of himself a literal fulfillment of all the prescriptions of the Levitical law as these applied to the animal offerings, yet it is very apparent that they have distinctly before their minds certain specific transactions of the Mosaic ritual. For example, in Hebrews 9:6-15 the transactions of the great day of atonement are specifically mentioned, and it is with these transactions clearly in mind and on the basis of the symbolical and typical import of this ritual that the writer sets forth the transcendent efficacy, perfection and finality of the sacrifice of Christ. "But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, he entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (vers. 11,12; cf. vers. 23-24).
Likewise in Hebrews 13:10-13 we cannot fail to see that the writer exhibits the work of Christ and his sacrifice under the form of those sin-offerings-the sin-offering for the priest and the sin-offering for the whole congregation-whose blood was brought into the holy place and whose flesh and skin and legs were burned without the camp. Since no part of the flesh of such sin-offerings was available for the priests, the writer applies this to Christ, not indeed with literal fulfillment of all the details but with appreciation of the parabolic and typical significance. "Wherefore Jesus also, in order that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach" (vers. 12-13).
Jesus, therefore, offered himself a sacrifice and that most particularly under the form or pattern supplied by the sin offering of the Levitical economy. In thus offering himself he expiated guilt and purged away sin so that we may draw near to God in full assurance of faith and enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. In this connection we must also keep in view what we have reflected on already that the Levitical sacrifices were patterned after the heavenly exemplar, after what the epistle to the Hebrews calls "the heavenly things." The bloody offerings of the Mosaic ritual were patterns of the grand offerings of Christ himself by which the things in the heavens were purified (Heb. 9:23). This serves to confirm the thesis that what was constitutive in the Levitical sacrifices must also have been constitutive in the sacrifice of Christ. If the Levitical sacrifices were expiatory, how much more must the archetypal offering have been expiatory, and expiatory, be it remembered, not on the plane of the temporary, provisional, preparatory, and partial but on the plane of the eternal, the permanently real, the final, and the complete. The archetypal offering was therefore efficacious in a way that the ectypal could not be. It is this thought that is in evidence when we read, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge our conscience from dead works to serve the living God" (Heb. 9:14). We must interpret the sacrifice of Christ in terms of the Levitical patterns because they were themselves patterned after Christ's offering. But it is just because the Levitical were only patterns that we must also recognize the limitations by which they were encompassed in contrast with the perfect character of Christ's own offering. And it is because such limitations inhered in the Levitical offerings that we do not find and could not expect to find in the sacrifice of Christ a literal fulfillment of all the details of the Levitical sacrifices. It was the disproportion between the offerer and the offering and between the liability of the offerer and the shedding of the blood of the offering under the Old Testament ritual that made necessary the elimination of all such disproportion in the case of Christ's sacrifice. The absence of this disproportion in the sacrifice of the Son of God is correlative with the absence in his case of all the details of Levitical prescription which would have been incompatible with the unique and transcendent character of his self-oblation.
That Christ's work was to offer himself a sacrifice for sin implies, however, a complementary truth too frequently overlooked. It is that, if Christ offered himself as a sacrifice, he was also a priest. And it was as a priest that he offered himself. He was not offered up by another; he offered himself. This is something that could not be exemplified in the ritual of the Old Testament. The priest did not offer himself and neither did the offering offer itself. But in Christ we have this unique combination that serves to exhibit the uniqueness of his sacrifice, the transcendent character of his priestly office, and the perfection inherent in his priestly offering. It is in virtue of his priestly office and in pursuance of his priestly function that he makes atonement for sin. He indeed was the lamb slain, but he was also the priest that offered himself as the lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. It is this amazing conjuncture that the union in him of priestly office and piacular offering evinces. It is all implied in the simple expression we so often quote but seldom appreciate, "he offered himself without spot to God." And it verifies to the fullest extent, what we found already, that in the climactic event which registered and brought to completion his sacrificial act he was intensely active, and active, be it remembered, in offering to God the oblation that expiated the full toll of divine condemnation against a multitude whom no man can number out of every nation and kindred and people and tongue.
Furthermore and finally, it is the recognition of Christ's priestly function that ties up the sacrifice once offered with the abiding priestly function of the Redeemer. He is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. He is a priest now, not to offer sacrifice but as the permanent personal embodiment of all the efficacy and virtue that accrued from the sacrifice once offered. And it is as such he ever continues to make intercession for his people. His ever-continuing and always prevailing intercession is bound to the sacrifice once offered. But it is thus bound because it is in his capacity as the great high priest of our profession that he perfected the one and continues the other.
2. Propitiation--The Greek word which stands for our English word "propitiation" does not appear frequently in the New Testament. This may seem surprising when we consider that it occurs with such frequency in the Greek version of the Old Testament, the word so often translated by our English word "atonement." We might think that a word which is so common in the Greek Old Testament in connection with the ritual of expiation would have been freely used by the writers of the New Testament. But this is not the case.
This fact does not mean, however, that the atoning work of Christ is not to be interpreted in terms of propitiation. There are passages in which the language of propitiation is expressly applied to the work of Christ (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 2:17; I John 2:2; 4:10). And this means, without question, that the work of Christ is to be construed as propitiation. But there is also another consideration. The frequency with which the concept appears in the Old Testament in connection with the sacrificial ritual, the fact that the New Testament applies to the work of Christ the very term which denoted this concept in the Greek Old Testament, and the fact that the New Testament regards the Levitical ritual as providing the pattern for the sacrifice of Christ lead to the conclusion that this is a category in terms of which the sacrifice of Christ is not only properly but necessarily interpreted. In other words, the idea of propitiation is so woven into the fabric of the Old Testament ritual that it would be impossible to regard that ritual as the pattern of the sacrifice of Christ if propitiation did not occupy a similar place in the one great sacrifice once offered. This is but another way of saying that sacrifice and propitiation stand in the closest relations with one another. The express application of the term "propitiation" to the work of Christ by the New Testament writers is the confirmation of this conclusion.
But what does propitiation mean? In the Hebrew of the Old Testament it is expressed by a word which means to "cover." In connection with this covering there are, in particular, three things to be noted: (1) it is in reference to sin that the covering takes place; (2) the effect of this covering is cleansing and forgiveness; (3) it is before the Lord that both the covering and its effect take place (cf. especially lev. 4:35; 10:17; 16:30). This means that sin creates a situation in relation to the Lord, a situation that makes the covering necessary. It is this Godward reference of both the sin and the covering that must be fully appreciated. It may be said that the sin, or perhaps the person who has sinned, is covered before the sight of the lord. In the thought of the Old Testament there is but one construction that we can place upon this provision of the sacrificial ritual. It is that sin evokes the holy displeasure or wrath of God. Vengeance is the reaction of the holiness of God to sin, and the covering is that which provides for the removal of divine displeasure which the sin evokes. It is obvious that we are brought to the threshold of that which is clearly denoted by the Greek rendering in both Old and New Testaments, namely, that of propitiation. To propitiate means to "placate," "pacify," "appease," "conciliate." And it is this idea that is applied to the atonement accomplished by Christ.
Propitiation presupposes the wrath and displeasure of God, and the purpose of propitiation is the removal of this displeasure. Very simply stated the doctrine of propitiation means that Christ propitiated the wrath of God and rendered God propitious to his people.
Perhaps no tenet respecting the atonement has been more violently criticized than this one. It has been assailed as involving a mythological conception of God, as supposing internal conflict in the mind of God and between the persons of the Godhead. It has been charged that this doctrine represents the Son as winning over the incensed Father to clemency and love, a supposition wholly inconsistent with the fact that the love of God is the very fount from which the atonement springs.
When the doctrine of propitiation is presented in this light it can be very effectively criticized and can be exposed as a revolting caricature of the Christian gospel. But the doctrine of propitiation does not involve this caricature by which it has been misconceived and misrepresented. To say the least, this kind of criticism has failed to understand or appreciate some elementary and important distinctions.
First of all, to love and to be propitious are not convertible terms. It is false to suppose that the doctrine of propitiation regards propitiation as that which causes or constrains the divine love. It is loose thinking of a deplorable sort to claim that propitiation of the divine wrath does prejudice to or is incompatible with the fullest recognition that the atonement is the provision of the divine love.
Secondly, propitiation is not a turning of the wrath of God into love. The propitiation of the divine wrath, effected in the expiatory work of Christ, is the provision of God's eternal and unchangeable love, so that through the propitiation of his own wrath that love may realize its purpose in a way that is consonant with and to the glory of the dictates of his holiness. It is one thing to say that the wrathful God is made loving. That would be entirely false. It is another thing to say the wrathful God is loving. That is profoundly true. But it is also true that the wrath by which he is wrathful is propitiated through the cross. This propitiation is the fruit of the divine love that provided it. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). The propitiation is the ground upon which the divine love operates and the channel through which it flows in achieving its end.
Thirdly, propitiation does not detract from the love and mercy of God; it rather enhances the marvel of his love. For it shows the cost that redemptive love entails. God is love. But the supreme object of that love is himself. And because he loves himself supremely he cannot suffer what belongs to the integrity of his character and glory to be compromised or curtailed. That is the reason for the propitiation. God appeases his own holy wrath in the cross of Christ in order that the purpose of his love to lost men may be accomplished in accordance with and to the vindication of all the perfections that constitute his glory. "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to show his righteousness . . . that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" (Rom. 3:25,26).
The antipathy to the doctrine of propitiation as the propitiating of divine wrath rests, however, upon failure to appreciate what the atonement is. The atonement is that which meets the exigencies of holiness and justice. The wrath of God is the inevitable reaction of the divine holiness against sin. Sin is the contradiction of the perfection of God and he cannot but recoil against that which is the contradiction of himself. Such recoil is his holy indignation. "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. I : 18). The judgment of God upon sin is essentially his wrath. If we are to believe that the atonement is God's vicarious dealing with the judgment upon sin, it is absolutely necessary to hold that it is the vicarious endurance of that in which this judgment is epitomized. To deny propitiation is to undermine the nature of the atonement as the vicarious endurance of the penalty of sin. In a word, it is to deny substitutionary atonement. To glory in the cross is to glory in Christ as the propitiatory sacrifice once offered, as the abiding propitiatory, and as the one who embodies in himself for ever all the propitiatory efficacy of the propitiation once for all accomplished. "And if any one sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And he is the propitiation for our sins (and not for ours only but also for the whole world" (I John 2:1-2).
3. Reconciliation--Propitiation places in the focus of attention the wrath of God and the divine provision for the removal of that wrath. Reconciliation places in the focus of attention our alienation from God and the divine method of restoring us to his favour. Obviously these two aspects of the work of Christ are closely related. But the distinction is important. Only by observing the distinction can we discover the riches of the divine provision to meet the necessities of our manifold need.
Reconciliation presupposes disrupted relations between God and men. It implies enmity and alienation. This alienation is twofold, our alienation from God and God's alienation from us. The cause of the alienation is, of course, our sin, but the alienation consists not only in our unholy enmity against God but also in God's holy alienation from us. Our iniquities have separated between us and our God and our sins have hid his face (cf. Isa. 59:2). If we dissociate from the word 'enmity" as applied to God everything of the nature of malice and malignity, we may properly speak of this alienation on the part of God as his holy enmity towards us. It is this alienation that the reconciliation contemplates and removes.
We might be ready to think that the reconciliation terminates not only God's holy enmity against us but upon our unholy enmity towards him. Our English word would quite readily create this impression. This notion, furthermore, would appear to be supported by the usage of the New Testament itself. It is never said in so many words that God is reconciled to us but rather that we are reconciled to God (Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:20). And when the active voice is used, God is spoken of as reconciling us to himself (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20-21). This would seem to clinch the argument that the reconciliation terminates upon our enmity against God and not upon his holy alienation from us. And so it has been maintained that when the reconciliation is conceived as action on the part of God it is that which God has done to turn our enmity into love and when it is conceived as result it is the putting away of our enmity against God. Consequently the reconciliation has been construed as consisting in that which God has done so that our enmity may be removed. In a word, the thought is focused on our enmity, and the doctrine of reconciliation is constructed in these terms.
When we examine the Scripture more closely we shall find the reverse to he the case. It is not our enmity against God that comes to the forefront in the reconciliation but God's alienation from us. This alienation on the part of God arises indeed from our sin; it is our sin that evokes this reaction of his holiness. But it is God's alienation from us that is brought into the foreground whether the reconciliation is viewed as action or as result.
It is instructive in this regard to examine a few instances of the occurrence of the word "reconcile" in the New Testament. These instances apply to the use of the word in human relations. The first is Matthew 5:23-24. "If therefore thou offerest thy gift at the altar and there rememberest that thy brother hath something against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar and go thy way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." Here it is the meaning of the imperative "be reconciled to thy brother" that is our present interest. The following observations require to be mentioned.
(a) It is not assumed or suggested that the worshipper who is offering his gift at the altar entertains any malice or enmity in his heart against the brother to whom he is to be reconciled. That might be or it might not be. But there is no intrusion of such a factor into the situation. The factor that is given as the reason for the interruption in the act of worship is simply that there is alienation. Something has entered into the relations of the two persons which the person called the brother considers to be a grievance against the person bringing the gift to the altar, something which the former considers to be a culpable breach of harmonious relations on the part of the latter.
(b) It is probably assumed in this case that the worshipper has done something to wrong the other brother, that he is guilty of some misdemeanour or breach of love. However, this is not absolutely necessary, and whether this be true or not we have to take account of the fact that what the worshipper is commanded to do he is required to do irrespective of the justice or injustice of the brother's thought and judgment.
(c) What the worshipper is commanded to do is to be reconciled to the brother. The command "be reconciled" does not mean "put away your enmity or malice." He is not assumed to entertain any malice. Besides, if that is what he is commanded to do, he would not need to leave the altar to do it. He could not be in a better place than in the sanctuary if what he is required to do is to repent and put away his ill will. What the worshipper is commanded to do is something quite different. He is required to leave the altar, to repair to his offended brother, and then to do something. What is it? It is to remove the ground of estrangement or alienation on the part of the brother. Put things right with the brother so that he will not have any reason for grievance; do what is necessary so that there may be the resumption of harmonious relations. The reconciliation as act consists in the removal of the ground of disharmony; the reconciliation as result is the resumption of relations of harmony, understanding, and peace.
It is all-important to recognize, therefore, that what the worshipper takes into account in the act of reconciliation is the grievance entertained by the brother; it is the frame of mind of the person to whom he is reconciled that he is to consider and not any enmity which he himself entertains. And, if we use the word "enmity," it is the enmity on the part of the offended brother that is brought into the forefront of thought and consideration. In other words, it is the "against" entertained by the offended brother that the reconciliation has in view; the reconciliation effects the removal of this "against."
This passage then provides us with a most instructive lesson regarding the meaning of "be reconciled"; it shows that this expression, in this instance at least, focuses thought and consideration not upon the enmity of the person who is said to be reconciled but upon the alienation in the mind of the person with whom the reconciliation is made. And, if the meaning which obtains in this passage is that which holds in connection with our reconciliation to God through the death of Christ, then what is thrust into the foreground when we are said to be reconciled to God is the alienation of God from us, the holy enmity on the part of God by which we are alienated from him. The reconciliation as action would be the removal of the ground of God's alienation from us; the reconciliation as result would be the harmonious and peaceful relation established because the ground of God's alienation from us had been removed. At this stage we could not affirm that this is the precise force of the word "reconciliation" in reference to our reconciliation with God. We shall have to derive our doctrine of reconciliation from the passages which deal specifically with that subject. But Matthew 5:23-24 does show us that in the usage of the New Testament the word "reconcile" is used in a sense very different from that which might readily be suggested by our English word. Hence when the New Testament speaks of our being reconciled to God by the death of his Son or of God's reconciling us to himself we are not to assume that the concept is to be construed in terms of the removal of our enmity against God. To say the least, Matthew 5:23-24 suggests a very different direction of thought.
Another instance of the use of the word "reconcile" which evinces the same line of thought is I Corinthians 7:11. Referring to the woman separated from her husband Paul says, "Let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband." In this case, to whatever extent subjective enmity on the part of the woman may have entered in to cause the separation that is envisaged, it is obvious that the command to "be reconciled to her husband" cannot consist in putting away her subjective enmity or hostility. That would not bring the exhortation into effect. The reconciliation contemplates, rather, the termination of the separation and re-entrance upon proper and harmonious matrimonial relations. The reconciliation regarded as action is to cause to cease the separation and as effect the resumption of peaceful marital relations.
Again in Romans 11:15 we have an instance of the substantive "reconciliation." "For if the casting away of them is the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead?" It is apparent that the reconciling is contrasted with the casting away and the casting away is contrasted with the receiving. The receiving is nothing else than the reception of Israel again into divine favour and the blessing of the gospel. The casting away is the rejection of Israel from divine favour and gospel grace. The reconciling of the Gentiles, which is upon the occasion of the rejection of Israel, is, in like manner, the receiving of the Gentiles into divine favour. The reconciliation of the Gentiles, therefore, cannot be construed in terms of the putting away of enmity on the part of the Gentiles but in terms of the change in God's economy of grace when the alienation of the Gentiles came to an end and they were made fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God (cf. Eph. 2:11-22). To whatever extent the change from enmity to faith and love in the hearts of the Gentiles may be taken into account as the effect of the change in God's economy of grace and of judgment, grace to the Gentiles and judgment upon Israel, we must regard the "reconciliation of the world" as consisting in the change of relation which God sustained to the Gentile world, the change from alienation to gospel favour and blessing. It is the relationship of God to the Gentiles that is brought into the forefront in this use of the word "reconciliation."
When we proceed to deal with the passages which directly concern the work of reconciliation wrought by Christ, it is necessary for us to bear in mind that reconciliation in these other instances does not refer to the putting away of the subjective enmity in the heart of the person said to be reconciled but to the alienation on the part of the person to whom we are said to be reconciled. We shall see how it is this notion that applies to the reconciliation accomplished by Christ. The reconciliation deals with the alienation of God from us on account of our sin; by taking away sin reconciliation removes the ground of this alienation, and peace with God is the effect. The two passages which we shall consider are Romans 5 :8-11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21.
Romans 5:8-11. At the very outset the way in which the subject of reconciliation is introduced here points us to the direction in which we are to discover the meaning of reconciliation. "But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (ver. 8). The death of Christ as that which wrought reconciliation is set forth as the supreme manifestation of the love of God toward men. What is given the prominence is the love of God as it expresses itself in an action so well-defined as the death of Christ. Our attention is therefore drawn, not to the subjective realm of man's attitude to God, but to the divine attitude as it is demonstrated in an historical event. To interpret the reconciliation in terms of what occurs in our subjective disposition would interfere with this orientation. But there are also more directly confirmatory reasons for thinking thus.
(a) Paul tells us expressly that we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son. The tense indicates that it is an accomplished fact, wrought once for all when Christ died. We can see how impossible it is to interpret the reconciliation as God's removal of our enmity or as the laying aside of enmity on our part. It is true that God did something once for all to insure that our enmity would be removed and that we would be induced to lay aside our enmity. But then that which God did once for all would not consist in the removal of our enmity or in the putting away of our enmity. Furthermore, the a fortiori argument which Paul uses in this passage would supply us with an incongruous construction if we were to regard the reconciliation as the removal on God's part or the laying aside on our part of our enmity. The argument would have to run in some such way as follows : "For if when we were enemies we laid aside our enmity against God through the death of his Son, how much more, having laid aside our enmity, shall we be saved by his life" (cf. ver. 10). The incoherence is apparent and can only be remedied by placing upon the word "reconcile" a very different meaning.
(b) The words, "reconciled to God through the death of his Son" (ver. 10) are parallel to the words "justified now in his blood" (ver. 9). Such parallelism is presupposed in the sequence of the argument. But justification is always forensic and does not refer to any subjective change in man's disposition. Since this is so, the expression that is parallel to it, namely, "reconciled to God" must be given a similarly juridical force and can only mean that which came to pass in the objective sphere of the divine action and judgment.
(c) The reconciliation is something received-"we have received the reconciliation" (ver. 11). To say the least, it is most unreasonable to try to adjust or accommodate this notion to the idea of the removal or the laying aside of our enmity. The concept here is one in which something is represented as made over to us as a free gift. It is, of course, true that it is by the work of God's grace in us that we are enabled to turn from enmity against God to faith, repentance, and love. But in the language of Scripture this latter work of grace is not represented in such terms as are used here. We can detect the inappropriateness of such a rendering if we try to paraphrase with such a conception in mind : "we have now received the removal of our enmity" or "we have now received the laying aside of our enmity." On the other hand, if we regard the reconciliation as the free grace of God in the removal of alienation from God and acceptance into his favour, then it all becomes coherent and meaningful. What we have received is reinstatement in the favour of God. How consistent with the terms of the passage and with the rejoicing of the apostle to say, "We joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ through whom now we no longer suffer alienation from God but have been received into favour and peace with him."
(d) Paul says that it was while we were yet enemies that we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son (ver. 10). It is altogether feasible to regard the word "enemies" here as reflecting not upon our enmity against God but as referring to the alienation from God to which we had been subjected. The same word is used in this passive sense in Romans 11:28. If this sense is adopted the antithesis instituted between enmity and reconciliation is exactly that between alienation and reception into divine favour. This would corroborate the foregoing argument as to the meaning of reconciliation. But even if the word "enemies" be understood in the active sense of our hostility to God, the same sense of reconciliation would have to be maintained. How could any other interpretation comport with the argument of the apostle? It could scarcely be said, "If, being active enemies of God, our enmity was removed by the death of his Son, how much more having had our enmity removed, shall we be saved by his life."
2 Corinthians 5:18-21. It will serve to confirm what we have found in Romans 5:8-11 to set forth the salient features of the teaching of this passage.
(a) The reconciliation is represented as a work of God. It begins with God and it is accomplished by him. "All things are of God who reconciled us to himself" (ver. 18). "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (ver. 19). This emphasis upon divine monergism advises us that reconciliation is a work that does not, as such, draw within its scope human action. As accomplishment it does not enlist, nor is it dependent upon, the activity of men.
(b) Reconciliation is a finished work. The tenses in verses 18,19,21 put this beyond doubt. It is not a work being continuously wrought by God; it is something accomplished in the past. God is not only the sole agent but also the agent of action already perfected.
(c) That in which the reconciliation consisted is expounded for us in this passage. "Him who knew no sin he made to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him" (ver. 21). This clearly points us to the vicarious sinbearing of Christ as that which brought the reconciliation into being. This forensic character of the reconciliation is also borne out in verse 19 where "not reckoning to them their trespasses is related to the reconciling of the world as the explanation of that in which the reconciliation consists or as the consequence in which it issues. In either case reconciliation has its affinities with the non-imputation of trespasses rather than with any subjective operation.
(d) This accomplished work of reconciliation is the message committed to the messengers of the gospel (ver.19) It constitutes the content of the message. But the message is that which is declared to be a fact. Conversion, it ought to be remembered, is not the gospel. It is the demand of the gospel message and the proper response to it. Any transformation which occurs in us is the effect in us of that which is proclaimed to have been accomplished by God. The change in our hearts and minds presupposes the reconciliation.
(e) The exhortation "be ye reconciled to God" (ver. 20) should be interpreted in terms of what we have found to be the ruling conception in reconciliation. It means: he no longer in a state of alienation from God but enter rather into the relation of favour and peace established by the reconciliatory work of Christ. Take advantage of the grace of God and enter into this status of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
The reconciliation of which the Scripture speaks, as accomplished by the death of Christ, contemplates, therefore, the relation of God to us. It presupposes a relation of alienation and it effects a relation of favour and peace. This new relation is constituted by the removal of the ground for the alienation. The ground is sin and guilt. The removal is wrought in the vicarious work of Christ, when he was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in him. Christ took upon himself the sin and guilt, the condemnation and the curse of those on whose behalf he died. This is the epitome of divine grace and love. It is God's own provision and it is his accomplishment. God himself in his own Son has removed the ground of offence and we receive the reconciliation. It is the message of this divine performance, perfected and complete, that is addressed to us in the gospel, and the demand of faith is crystallized in the plea that is uttered on behalf of Christ and as of God, "be ye reconciled to God." Believe that the message is one of fact and enter into the joy and blessing of what God has wrought. Receive the reconciliation.
4. Redemption --The idea of redemption must not be reduced to the general notion of deliverance. The language of redemption is the language of purchase and more specifically of ransom. And ransom is the securing of a release by the payment of a price. The evidence that establishes this concept of redemption is very copious, and no doubt need remain that the redemption secured by Christ is to be interpreted in such terms. The word of our Lord himself (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45) should place beyond all doubt three facts : (1) that the work he came into the world to accomplish is a work of ransom, (2) that the giving of his life was the ransom price, and (3) that this ransom was substitutionary in its nature.
Ransom presupposes some kind of bondage or captivity, and redemption, therefore, implies that from which the ransom secures us. Just as sacrifice is directed to the need created by our guilt, propitiation to the need that arises from the wrath of God, and reconciliation to the need arising from our alienation from God, so redemption is directed to the bondage to which our sin has consigned us. This bondage is, of course, multiform. Consequently redemption as purchase or ransom receives a wide variety of reference and application. Redemption applies to every respect in which we are bound, and it releases us unto a liberty that is nothing less than the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
We must not, of course, press the language of purchase or ransom unduly. As T. J. Crawford reminds us, we may not attempt "to trace in the work of Christ an exact conformity to everything that is done in human acts of redemption ." Our constructions would thus become artificial and fanciful. But that "our salvation is accomplished by a process of commutation analogous to the payment of a ransom" (ibid. p.63) lies on the face of the New Testament. From what aspects then does the Scripture view the redemption wrought by Christ? The most apparent of these may be comprehended under the two following divisions.
(i) Law. When the Scripture relates redemption to the law of God, the terms it uses are to be carefully marked. It does not say that we are redeemed from the law. That would not be an accurate description and the Scripture refrains from such an expression. We are not redeemed from the obligation to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind and our neighbour as ourselves. The law is comprehended in these two commandments (Matt. 22:40) and love is the fulfilling of the law (Rom. 13:10). To suppose that we are delivered from the law in the sense of such obligation would bring contradiction into the design of Christ's work. It would contradict the very nature of God to think that any person can ever be relieved of the necessity to love God with the whole heart and to obey his commandments. When Scripture relates redemption to the law of God it uses terms that are more specific.
(a) The curse of the law. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Gal. 3:13). The curse of the law is its penal sanction. This is essentially the wrath or curse of God, the displeasure which rests upon every infraction of the law's demand. "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10). Without deliverance from this curse there could be no salvation. It is from this curse that Christ has purchased his people and the price of the purchase was that he himself became a curse. He became so identified with the curse resting upon his people that the whole of it in all its unrelieved intensity became his. That curse he bore and that curse he exhausted. That was the price paid for this redemption and the liberty secured for the beneficiaries is that there is no more curse.
(b) The ceremonial law. "When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under law, in order that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons" (Gal. 4:4,5). What is in view here is redemption from the tutelary bondage of the Mosaic economy. The people of God under the Old Testament were children of God by the divine adoption of grace. But they were as children under age, under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father (cf. Gal. 4:2). Of this tutelary, pedagogical discipline the Mosaic economy was the minister (cf. Gal. 3:23,24). Paul is contrasting this period of tutelage under the Mosaic law with the full liberty bestowed upon all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, under the gospel. This full liberty and privilege he calls the adoption of sons (Gal. 4:5). Christ came in order that this adoption might be secured. The consideration particularly relevant to the price paid for this redemption is the fact that Christ was made under law. He was born under the Mosaic law; he was subjected to its conditions and he fulfilled its terms. In him the Mosaic law realized its purpose, and its meaning received in him its permanent validity and embodiment. Consequently he redeemed from the relative and privisional bondage of which the Mosaic economy was the instrument.
This redemption has significance not only for Jews but also for Gentiles. In the gospel economy not even Gentiles are required to undergo the tutelary discipline to which Israel was subjected. "But now that faith is come we are no longer under a tutor. For we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:25,26). This great grace, that all without distinction or discrimination are sons of God by faith of Christ Jesus, is the fruit of a redemption secured by the fact that Christ was made under the Mosaic law and fulfilled its terms and purpose.
(c) The law of works. Christ has redeemed us from the necessity of keeping the law as the condition of our justification and acceptance with God. Without such redemption there could be no justification and no salvation. It is the obedience of Christ himself that has secured this release. For it is by his obedience that many will be constituted righteous (Rom. 5:19). In other words, it is the active and passive obedience of Christ that is the price of this redemption, active and passive obedience because he was made under law, fulfilled all the requirements of righteousness and met all the sanctions of justice.
(ii) Sin. That Christ redeemed his people from sin follows from what has been said respecting law. The strength of sin is the law and where no law is there is no transgression (i Cor. 15:56; Rom. 4:15). But the Scripture also brings redemption into direct relation to sin. It is in this connection that the blood of Christ is clearly indicated to be the means whereby such redemption is secured. Redemption from sin embraces the several aspects from which sin may be viewed. It is redemption from sin in all its aspects and consequences. This is particularly apparent in such passages as Hebrews 9:12; Revelation 5:9. The inclusive character of redemption as it affects sin and its accompanying evils is shown perhaps most clearly by the fact that the eschatological consummation of the whole redemptive process is referred to as the redemption (cf. Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23; Eph. 1:14; 4:30; and possibly I Cor. 1:30). That the concept of redemption should be used to designate the complete and final deliverance from all evil and the realization of the goal to which the whole process of redemptive grace moves advertises very conspicuously how closely bound up with redemption as wrought by Christ is the attainment of the liberty of the glory of the children of God. And it also shows that redemption is constitutive of the very notion of consummated bliss for the people of God. No wonder then that Old Testament prophecy should be in these terms (cf. Hosea 13:14) and that the song of the glorified should be the song of redemption (cf. Rev. 1:5,6; 5:9).
In this discussion we are thinking, however, of redemption as a finished accomplishment on the part of Christ. When redemption is viewed in that more restricted sense there are two aspects of sin which come into distinct prominence as those upon which the redemptive accomplishment of Christ bears. They are the guilt and the power of sin. And the two effects issuing from this redemptive accomplishment are respectively : (1) justification and forgiveness of sin and (2) deliverance from the enslaving defilement and power of sin. Redemption as it affects guilt and issues in justification and remission is in view in such passages as Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 9:15. And redemption as it affects the enslaving power and defilement of sin is in view in Titus 2:14; I Peter 1:18, though in these latter we cannot exclude all forensic import.
In connection with redemption from the guilt of sin the blood of Christ as substitutionary ransom and as the ransom price of our release is brought distinctly into view. The ransom utterances of our Lord (Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45) show beyond question that he interpreted the purpose of his coming into the world in terms of substitutionary ransom and that this ransom was nothing less than the giving of his life. And, in the usage of the New Testament, the giving of his life is the same as the shedding of his blood. Redemption, therefore, in our Lord's view consisted in substitutionary bloodshedding or blood-shedding in the room and stead of many with the end in view of thereby purchasing to himself the many on whose behalf he gave his life a ransom. It is this same notion that is reproduced in the apostolic teaching. Although the terminology is not precisely that of redemption, we cannot mistake the redemptive import of Paul's statement in his charge to the elders of Ephesus when he refers "to the church of God, which he bath purchased through his own blood" (Acts 20:28). Elsewhere the thought of Paul here is expressed overtly in the language of redemption or ransom when of Christ Jesus he says that "he gave himself on our behalf in order that he might ransom us from all iniquity and purify to himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Or again, when Paul says that in the beloved "we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of trespasses" (Eph. I :7; cf. Col. 1:14), it is quite plain that he conceives of the forgiveness of sins as the blessing accrued from blood redemption. And though Hebrews 9:15 is difficult to exegete yet it is clear that the death of Christ is the means of redemption in reference to sins committed under the old covenant : the death of Christ is redemptively efficacious in reference to sin.
We may not artificially separate redemption as ransom from the guilt of sin from the other categories in which the work of Christ is to be interpreted. These categories are but aspects from which the work of Christ once for all accomplished must be viewed and therefore they may be said to interpermeate one another. This fact as it applies to redemption appears, for example, in Romans 3:24-26. "Being justified freely," Paul says, "by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth a propitiation through faith in his blood . . . to show forth his righteousness at the present time, in order that he might be just and the justifier of him who is of the faith of Jesus." Here not only are redemption and propitiation collocated but there is a combination of concepts bearing upon the intent and effect of Christ's work, and this shows how closely interrelated these various concepts are. This passage exemplifies and confirms what other considerations establish, namely, that redemption from the guilt of sin must be construed in juridical terms analogous to those which must be applied to expiation, propitiation, and reconciliation.
Redemption from the power of sin may be called the triumphal aspect of redemption. In his finished work Christ did something once for all respecting the power of sin and it is in virtue of this victory which he secured that the power of sin is broken in all those who are united to him. It is in this connection that a strand of New Testament teaching needs to be appreciated but which is frequently overlooked. It is that not only is Christ regarded as having died for the believer but the believer is represented as having died in Christ and as having been raised up with him to newness of life. This is the result of union with Christ. For by this union Christ is not only united to those who have been given to him but they are united with him. Hence not only did Christ die for them but they died in him and rose with him (cf. Rom. 6:1-10; 2 Cor. 5:14, 15; Eph. 2:1-7; Col. 3:1-4; I Pet. 4:1,2). It is this fact of having died with Christ in the efficacy of his death and of having risen with him in the power of his resurrection that insures for all the people of God deliverance from the dominion of sin. It supplies the ground for the exhortations "Even so reckon ye yourselves to be dead indeed to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:11) and gives force to the apodictic assurance, "Sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom. 6:14). It is this fact of having died and risen with Christ, viewed as an implication of the death and resurrection of Christ once for all accomplished, that provides the basis of the sanctifying process. And it is constantly pleaded as the urge and incentive to sanctification in the practice of the believer.
It is here also that we may properly reflect upon the bearing of redemption upon Satan. It is to the triumphal aspect of redemption that this is to be allocated. The early fathers of the Christian church gave a prominent place to this phase of redemption and construed it in terms of ransom paid to the devil. Such a construction became fanciful and ludicrous. Its falsity was effectively exposed by Anselm in his epochal work, Cur Deus Homo. In reaction from this fanciful formulation we are, however, too liable to discount the great truth which these fathers were seeking to express. That truth is the bearing which the redemptive work of Christ has upon the power and activity of Satan and upon the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies (cf. Eph. 6:12). It is surely significant in this connection that the first promise of redemptive grace, the first beam of redemptive light that fell upon our fallen first parents, was in terms of the destruction of the tempter. And this same emphasis is embedded in the New Testament. As our Lord was approaching Calvary and as he had been reminded anew, by the request of the Greeks, of the world-wide significance of the work he was about to accomplish, it was then he took occasion to refer to the triumph over the archenemy and he said, "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12:31). And for the apostle Paul the glory which radiated from the cross of Christ was a glory irradiated by the fact that "he spoiled the principalities and the powers and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it" (Col. 2:15). While we too often fail to reckon with the grim reality of death and are composed in its presence not because of faith but because of hardened insensitivity, it was not so in the fervour of New Testament faith. It was with depth of meaning that the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews wrote that Jesus partook of flesh and blood "that through death he might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14,15). It was that triumph alone that released believers from the bondage of fear and inspired the confidence and composure of faith. But this triumph had relevance for them because their consciousness was one conditioned by the awareness of the role and activity of Satan, and confidence and composure entered their breasts because they knew that Christ's triumph terminated upon the sinister agent who had the power of death.
We thus see that redemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience. We must view sin and evil in its larger proportions as a kingdom that embraces the subtlety, craft, ingenuity, power, and unremitting activity of Satan and his legions-"the principalities, and the powers, the world-rulers of this darkness, the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies" (Eph. 6:12). And it impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness. It is thus that we may entertain a more intelligent understanding of what Christ encountered when he said, "This is your hour and the power of darkness" (Luke 22:53) and of what the Lord of glory wrought when he cast out the prince of this world (John 12:31).
- 1 decade ago
Yay an Atheist!! Way to go! Answer more of his questions that he has to write up for a grade. I love how Atheists bash Christianity even when it's to help someone on his/her research paper. If you don't want to read that whole crazy thing that the other guy wrote above. A simpler version is this:
Christ became the sacrifice when he was born by the Virgin Mary. Well you may think "Virgin Mary is human, therefore a sinner. So how is a human(a sinner) worthy of giving birth to Jesus." Mary was a godly woman(a saint), the Holy Spirit was with her, she yielded to the Holy Spirit. And this leads to Christ, who was the sinless sacrifice. He was perfect in being. He was sent to die for each and every one of our sins.
- dogpatch USALv 71 decade ago
When the solution is simple, God is answering.
I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation and is but a reflection of human frailty.
Beyond the one sided coin is Sigmund Freud on religion:
If one attempts to assign to religion its place in man's evolution, it seems not so much to be a lasting acquisition, as a parallel to the neurosis which the civilized individual must pass through on his way from childhood to maturity.Religion is an illusion and it derives its strength from the fact that it falls in with our instinctual desires.Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis.
- ?Lv 41 decade ago
He gave up His life, His blood was given, The life is in the blood. The blood of animals could only atone for sin which means that it just covered the sin for a period of time. The blood of Jesus on the other hand was the blood of God, sinless and eternal. This blood not only covered sin it destroyed it.
(Lev 17:11) 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.
(Mat 26:28) For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
(Acts 20:28) Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
(Rom 3:24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Rom 3:25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
(Heb 9:12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (Heb 9:13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (Heb 9:14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
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- SeeTheLightLv 71 decade ago
In the OT wages of the sin was death and they needed to sacrifice animals. Jesus came to be the perfect sacrifice because sin needed to be punished, He took our sins and offers us the way to the Father's house through the mercy and grace, not by deeds.
- tomleah_06Lv 51 decade ago
There was no Christ. He was made up. You might as well do some research on Harry Potter, since you are writing a paper on a fictional character.