Faithlife Your digital faith community. Logos Powerful Bible study tools. Faithlife TV A Christian video library. Faithlife Proclaim Church presentation software. Chapters 3 vols. The Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible 43 vols. Proverbs John Phillips Commentary Series 27 vols. The Power of the Sacrifice: The provision of the Atonement for sin is for all men everywhere. The doctrine of Election has been misunderstood by some to mean that Christ died for a few elect people who had been given to Him by the Father and who were therefore chosen in eternity past to be His people.
It is quite true that the Atonement, having been planned and worked out by God Himself, is His own personal property, and that He is absolutely sovereign in the use He chooses to make of it.
Furthermore, we recognize that through the Atonement the way is now open for God to forgive and redeem as many as He chooses to call to Himself. It is His divine prerogative to save few, many, or all of the human race as He deems best.
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God alone is the Savior of men, and we acknowledge also from the Scripture, and from what we have seen in the world, that He does not save all. But, as relates to the extent of the Atonement, it is incorrect to say that Christ died only for those whom God saw fit to save. I will go on record as one who affirms belief in the absolute sovereignty of God, and that nothing does or can occur except by His will. But belief in the sovereignty of God does not suggest that God acts arbitrarily without good reasons, reasons so good and so weighty, that He could in no case act otherwise than He does.
Any view of divine sovereignty that implies arbitrariness on the part of the divine will, is not only contrary to Scripture but is revolting to reason. In His sovereignty God claims the right to dispose of His creatures as He will, but it is unthinkable and unscriptural, to say the least, that divine sovereignty arbitrarily condemns some men and in hard despotism sends them into the lake of fire.
But this does not in any wise rule out the biblical truth of free agency in man. Foreknowledge is not merely an arbitrary God saying: If he knows, for instance, that out of a group of thirty persons who might be invited to a banquet a certain twenty will accept and ten will not, then, even though he may still make his invitation broad enough to include the thirty, he expects only the twenty, and his work of preparation is done only on their behalf.
To represent God as earnestly striving to do what He knows He will not do is to represent Him as acting foolishly. But did the writer use a sound illustration? When God invites all men to be saved, the preparation is the same whether few, many, or all accept. The Atonement was just as necessary for one sinner as it was for one million sinners. If only ten percent of the human race accepts Jesus Christ as Saviour, He did not die in vain.
There could be no waste. The number who receive or reject Christ has nothing to do with the preparation of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Such is an extreme view on limited atonement. Another view that sets forth a way of salvation through Christ is Universalism. An extreme view on unlimited atonement is offered by Universalism, which holds that Christ died for all men and that eventually all men will be saved, if not in this life, then through a future probation.
This view has made a strong and successful appeal to the feelings of many, and it is a belief almost as old as Christianity. One variety of Universalism holds that this has been made possible through the Death of Christ, and their followers quote I Corinthians For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. The entire fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians has to do with the resurrection of the body, and it is by the power of the living Christ that the bodies of all men will be raised, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting condemnation.
This leaves all outside who are anti-Christ and who, because of pride, selfishness, lust and indifference have refused to accept Christ. Or, let us look at the verse from another viewpoint. The whole context is addressed to believers, and all believers who fall asleep in Christ are in Adam from the standpoint of the physical, or else they would not have died. After one becomes a Christian he does not escape physical death which God pronounced upon Adam when he sinned and fell.
In the body we are in the man Adam by whom comes death, but by being in Christ by grace, we are assured of the resurrection from that death. In the first case it is by necessity of nature--it is heredity, in the other it is by our own free choice--it is personal. That there is a sound biblical view on the extent of the Atonement between these two extreme views seems very clear.
The teaching of Scripture regarding the satisfaction and propitiation made through the Death of the Son of God means that He died for all. The provision of the Atonement is for all. He Jesus is the propitiation for our sins: The Atonement is unlimited in scope, available for all. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth I Timothy 2: For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: Here the Lord pleads with men to turn to Him for life.
We know that many did not turn, His pleading having gone unheeded. What mockery this language of God would be if they could not turn! That the Atonement is universal in its offer and provision is clear from the following Scriptures,. For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men Titus 2: Again we must accept this statement on its face value and concede that the grace of God has brought salvation within the reach of all men.
The Apostle John sounds the same note when he says,. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world I John 4: We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man Hebrews 2: The opportunity of being born again, of beginning again in this life, is given to all men, for when Christ died as our substitute, universal Atonement was provided. The risen Christ said to His disciples,. Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature Mark The Gospel call to the entire world is a sincere one.
Our Lord had a wider outlook than Judaism. The Atonement is sufficient for all men, but it is efficient only for those who believe! When one refuses to believe, his unbelief does not suggest a non-existence of the provision of salvation. God provided for the salvation of all men entirely apart from, and independent of, faith. Christ died for all men whether all men believe it or not. We are to look now at some of the effects of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ as it regards God, and then as it regards man. As it regards God, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ effected satisfaction.
The doctrine of the vicarious death of Jesus Christ as satisfying the law and justice of God, in the place of guilty and condemned sinners, cannot be overlooked. When one begins to compare the value of the sufferings and death of the Son of God as it pertains to God, and then as it pertains to those who are saved by it, he feels almost at a loss to do so. Yet it is almost unthinkable that the Atonement could mean as much to the sinner as it does to God. The moral law which God gave in the beginning expressed fully the very nature of His being.
One look at the law which is holy, just, and good Romans 7: When man violated the holy law of God, he sinned, thereby contradicting that nature. As a holy God, He hates sin, else He would not be holy. As a just God, He not only rewards righteousness, but punishes sin.
The death of Christ provided the adequate punishment for sin which was necessary to satisfy the law and justice of God. Since all sin is primarily against God, He alone needed to be satisfied with the work of the Cross. In a commercial or pecuniary debt, it is not so important who pays, but what is paid. If the debt is a matter of dollars and cents, it matters little, or not at all, who pays it. But Christ in His sufferings and death was not paying a commercial debt. He was paying a penal debt. No finite, fallen creature, an offender against God could ever pay in time or eternity the obligation which he owes.
When a sinner bears his own penalty, he is lost forever. The difference lies in the fact that God was behind the Atonement. The penalty for sin must be paid by one who is holy if the justice of God is to be satisfied. In any study of the Atonement, the sinlessly perfect and holy character of Jesus Christ is a truth of the first magnitude. Jesus was tempted, but in His essential nature He was God, and God cannot sin. Therefore, as the perfect God-Man, the blood He shed has abiding efficacy, and it satisfies the righteous demands of the holiness and justice of God. Indeed God is satisfied!
Here we enter upon an intricate aspect of the doctrine of the Atonement. The Apostle John uses it twice in his First Epistle. Speaking of Jesus Christ, he writes,. He is the propitiation for our sins: 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: Christ alone, through the shedding of His Blood in His sacrificial and substitutionary Death on the Cross, is the Propitiation, that which expiates or propitiates.
He extinguishes the guilt of the sinner by suffering the penalty for sin. Notice that it does not say that His death was the propitiation, but that He himself is the Propitiation. It is the Person of our Lord which gives efficacy to His atoning work. 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 forebearance of God.
The mercy seat was the golden lid or the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest sprinkled the sacrificial blood of an innocent victim to atone for the broken Law. The tables of stone on which were written the holy Law were kept in the Ark.
The sprinkled blood covered the broken Law and made possible a meeting place between God and the sinner Exodus The mercy seat was made of pure gold Exodus According to Scripture, therefore, the mercy seat in the Tabernacle was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord fulfilled the type and symbol perfectly. After His death and burial He arose from the grave, ascended into Heaven, and on the ground of His shed Blood made possible a meeting place where the sinner could come to God.
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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 Hebrews 9: It is true that God hates sin and will always hate sin. The Death of Christ was a purely legal operation. The Judge took upon Himself the penalty so that the judgment seat becomes the mercy seat. This man stood on Old Testament ground before the Death of Christ, and he was actually asking God to offer that one Sacrifice for sin which would put that sin away and thus provide a ground upon which a holy and righteous God could bless him with salvation.
Remember, he was not asking God to be generous or lenient with him. He was merely asking God to be propitious, and in making such a request he was justified. Now we can see plainly that such a prayer need not be uttered today. God has been propitious in Christ. God cannot be lenient with sin, and sinners need not beg mercy from God.
God was merciful when He provided for man the Saviour, and man is saved when he believes in and receives the Lord Jesus Christ. God has paid the penalty for sin, and on that basis His mercy is extended to you today. For Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee Psalm With the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption Psalm In its effect toward mankind, the Death of Christ is looked upon as a substitution.
Though we have never found the words substitute or substitution in the Bible, the idea of substitution is clearly seen in the work of Christ upon the Cross. We often hear the work of the Cross referred to as the vicarious sufferings and death of the Saviour.
The word vicar refers to an agent or deputy who has been authorized to act in the place of another. Fallen man stands before God owing an obligation which he cannot pay in time or eternity. He needs an authorized substitute to stand in his place and represent him. The death of the sinless One was substituted for the death of sinners. Stephen died as a martyr for the truth, but in no way does his death benefit us. The substitutionary aspect of the Atonement was clearly anticipated in the Old Testament.
When God chose the harmless, gentle lamb as the principal animal for the sacrifice, He was teaching His people that they were forgiven and spared only because another who was innocent took their place and died in their stead. Furthermore, every sacrificial offering in Old Testament times was an execution of the sentence of the Law upon a substitute for the guilty one, and every such offering pointed forward to the substitutionary death of Christ.
We see the type in the case of Abraham and Isaac Genesis God had told him to take Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Abraham did as he was told, bound Isaac on the altar and made ready to slay him. God spoke to him and stayed his action. Then Abraham saw in a thicket nearby a ram, which God Himself had provided. It illustrates the substitutional element in the redemptive work of Christ. The prophet Isaiah wrote,.
Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all Isaiah The New Testament abounds in passages which show that the Lord Jesus Christ took the place of guilty sinners in His death.
The Son of man came. The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world John 6: This is my body which is given for you. This cup is the new testament in my Blood, which is shed for you Luke The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me Galatians 2: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us. Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it Ephesians 5: The legitimate use of these and numerous other passages imply an actual substitution. The Death of our Lord Jesus Christ effected reconciliation.
Man lost his heavenly citizenship and was made to be an alien. Man became an enemy of God; God never became the enemy of man. Man ceased loving God; God never ceased loving man. Now reconciliation can never result until the existing enmity is removed, and since there is no enmity in the heart of God it must be removed from the heart of man. How is such an act accomplished? Here we are to see the love of God at work.
Right here we can see a marked difference between human and Divine love. Human love is expressed in Romans 5: When Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, He brought to an end the estrangement between God and man. But God has done His part. Now man must repent and turn to God. To refuse to do so is to reject that reconciliation which was made in Christ. God in Christ comes to man, pleads with him to return, offers to forgive him and to put away all his sins if he will but trust Him.
And when the sinner receives Jesus Christ as his Saviour, he too will say with Paul,. We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement reconciliation Romans 5: And having made peace through the Blood of His Cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled.
In these verses we see a two-fold aspect of reconciliation.
We are reminded that the whole creation has been affected by sin. The cursed earth is the cause of the suffering, sorrow, catastrophes and death which come every day to the peoples of the earth. Indeed the earth needs to be purified.
Yes, and the heavens also! Sin began in Heaven, when Lucifer, the son of the morning, rebelled and sought to exalt himself above the throne of God Isaiah Here we see the glorious work of Christ in behalf of sinners which becomes effective the moment one believes. The believer rejoices that he has been brought back into favor with God and fully restored. We who are Christians were alienated from God and enemies in our minds.
And because we are reconciled to God, personal relations have been settled. In a former lesson in this series on Justification we saw how judicial relations between God and man are settled. Here we learn that reconciliation turns the heart of the criminal toward the Judge in love. Let us read the following verses with care,.
For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and, hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in His Flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the Cross, having slain the enmity thereby Ephesians 2: Under the law it was entirely out of order for a Jew even to eat with a Gentile.