Taken and adapted from, ATONEMENT, THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF CHRISTIANITY
Written by Newman Hall, LL.B.; D.D.
Edited for thought and sense.
The ultimate question at issue is whether the sole purpose of the life and death of Christ was to effect a change in the moral and spiritual character of men, and so to restore them to God; or whether there is a direct relation between His death and the remission of sin.
The advocates of Atonement…
…hold that Christ came to draw men God-ward; but they also hold that He, Jesus, came to do a work of God man-ward) reconciling God to us as the basis and influence for reconciling us to God: so that forgiveness by the cross, and the resultant change in our condition as regards God, is precedent to and the instrument of our change in character. We hesitate not to say that salvation by Atonement is the central doctrine, and the essential fact, of Christianity.
We consider that on this strong foundation stands the Church of God. We build on sand if we build elsewhere. This is the groundwork of our assurance of pardon, the source of our spiritual life. This, by the influence of the Divine Spirit, breaks the chains of wickedness, and transforms the slave of the devil into a child of God. This lures us from our guilty hiding-places, to seek the face of Him we shunned, and to cry, ‘Abba! Father!’
Our plea in prayer, our theme in praise, the fountain of our joy, the motive of our obedience, the subject of our preaching, the incentive of our zeal, the bond of our union with God and with men, our victory over death, the basis of our everlasting hopes, –is Jesus Christ ‘sacrificed for us.’
This theme therefore has no novelty, being as old as the Gospel itself, –being in truth the very essence of that Gospel. It is fundamental to individual piety, and to all true Christian philanthropy. We live and we labor ‘by faith in the Son of God, who loved us, and gave Himself for us.’ The purity, perseverance and success of our efforts for others, will ever be in proportion to the influence which this truth exerts on our hearts, and to the place which it occupies in our teaching.
Our zeal will soon cool unless it is inflamed by the sacred fire which bums on this altar; and our ministry, whether at home or in heathen lands, will be but as ‘sounding brass,’ unless it is the simple, earnest, heartfelt proclamation of the ‘faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.’ All the refinements of philosophy, arrayed in all the fascinations of genius, and urged with all the persuasiveness of eloquence, will be ineffectual in purifying the heart either of civilized or of savage man; while the preaching of the cross will ever be found, in its soul-transforming effects, to be ‘Christ, the power of God and wisdom of God.’
This is the central truth, the denial of which throws the whole fabric of spiritual truth into disintegration and collapse. It sustains the functions of the heart to every other verity in the Christian scheme, giving to it life and power. It is the sun in the heavens of revelation, around which other doctrines revolve, and from which they derive their light. If God has not revealed this fact –that we are saved through the substitutionary work of Christ –He has revealed nothing, or the revelation has been clothed in such deceptive language as to necessitate bewilderment and mistake, and that which should have been a steady lamp to our feet and light to our path, only leads us into quagmires of error and despair.
Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Rev. Dr. Christopher Newman Hall LLB (May 22, 1816 – February 18, 1902), born at Maidstone and known in later life as a ‘Dissenter’s Bishop.’ Hall was one of the most celebrated nineteenth century English Nonconformist divines. He was active in social causes;supporting Abraham Lincoln and abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, the Chartist cause, and arranging for influential Non-conformists to meet Gladstone. Come to Jesus, first published in 1848 also contributed to his becoming a household name throughout Britain, the USA and further afield – by the end of the century the book had been translated into about forty languages and sold four million copies worldwide.