CHRIST OUR SUBSTITUTE

Written by R.L. Dabney, D.D., 1820-1898

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HUMAN laws teach us what a substitute is…

In some commonwealths, citizens between certain ages are bound by law to labor on the highways so many days per year. In others, the country people are bound to work the fields of their landlords so many days each season. In France, in Prussia and in some other countries, the conscription laws require every young man to serve in the army so many years before he can settle to his business. A person who is bound to one of these duties, but cannot himself perform it, hires another person to take his place, to do just what he was bound for, in his stead, and his is thus acquitted of the whole claim.

 Now, Christ is our Substitute with God. “Jesus was made Surety of a better testament” (meaning “covenant”). Hebrews 7:22. We owe to God a pure, perfect and perpetual obedience, which we, by reason of our sin, are unable to render, and “there is no discharge in that war” – Christ offers Himself a Substitute for us.

Your substitute must be able and sufficient to render us the service for which you are bound.

Christ qualified Himself by becoming a holy man as well as the Son of God in one person, so that He was able to render a holy man’s service to God in our stead. “God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” Gal. 4:4, 5.

Your substitute must not be himself subject to the duty which you owe.

For instance, were you taken for seven years into the army of Prussia, one who was himself a Prussian conscript, subject on his own account to military duty, could not be your substitute. But where shall one be found for the sinner whose life is his own? Who is exempt from that universal law of God which demands all the service of all in heaven, earth and hell? There can be none but He who is above law, because He is the supreme Law-maker. “This” (Christ) “is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20. But in order to become our Substitute, “He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:16. And thus His services may avail in our room.

Your substitute must be accepted by the government before you are released…

…for it was authorized, if it chose, to hold you bound to serve in person, because your duty to your native land is personal. Now, Christ our Substitute has been accepted by God the Father. He declares, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” Matt. 17:5. He tells us, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Psalms 2:12.

When once the government declares itself satisfied with your substitute and enrolls him, you are free for good.

The service he renders for you is accepted as though you rendered it yourself, and if he dies during its continuance, the law no longer claims you any more than if you were dead. So the believing sinner is freed from the curse of the law and is dead to its penal claims. “Brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ.” Rom. 7:4.

But here, sinners, the likeness ends; for the rest, there is an amazing difference between your substitute under human laws and Christ “our Surety.”

In God’s kingdom, we are not only subject to duty for life, but already guilty of rebellion and desertion. “All we like sheep have gone astray.” Isa. 53:6. “Every mouth is stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” Rom. 3:19. And the penalty is eternal death! “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23. The court has already set, the sentence is passed, and mercy alone stays the execution for a time. “He that believeth not is condemned already.” John 3:18. Now, could a criminal under a human government hope, in this case to find a substitute? He must take the criminal’s place for his whole term of service, to bear his toils, dangers and sicknesses, and at the end he must die for his crimes. Could money buy such a sacrifice? Could love persuade to it? But this is what Christ undertook for us. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.” Gal. 3:13. And the death He died for us had the bitterness of spiritual as well as bodily death. Oh wondrous love! Christ “commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners He died for us.” Sinner, will you not henceforth say, “The love of God constrains me?” 2 Cor. 5:14.

And this suggests that…

If you were a soldier and had not deserted the colors of your country, an accepted substitute would free you from all service and punishment. You are guilty of desertion toward God, and are also bound to pay a service to which sin utterly disables you through your own folly and fault. From these obligations Christ frees you, but it is only to bind you to His service more firmly by love. Now you should follow the Captain of your salvation with all your might, longing to follow Him better, not from fear of being shot for desertion (that danger is gone if Christ died for us), nor from fear of losing emoluments (they are already earned for us by our Substitute, and paid in advance to true believers), but because He asks us to follow Him. And now, if we love Him, we would die for Him were it necessary, because He died for us. If we do not love Him, it is proof that He never became our Substitute. “Now are ye My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

Once more: for a substitute under onerous civil or military duties you would have to pay dear. But would all the gold in our modern Ophir bribe one to substitute for you after you had been condemned to die for some breach of your duty? “What shall a man give in exchange for his life?” But Christ offers Himself “without money and without price.” Isa. 55:1. It is well for us that He does, for we have nothing to pay; we have forfeited our wages, our privileges, our heritage, by disobedience to our King. But oh, amazing grace! Christ comes to take our desperate place, asking no return but our love.

Sinner, were you a condemned French or Prussian conscript, would you not be glad to be done with rugged war, with the cold watches, the chill bivouac, the weary march, the hunger, the dreary hospital, the dangerous battle and the fearful execution, and to be restored finally to your own home, with your children on your knees and your wife’s embrace around your neck? But how much more joyful to have this Substitute release you from sin and death? Do you ask, “How, oh how, may I obtain Him?” By simply asking Him and trusting Him to undertake for you. Thank God no agent is needed to go between you, no difficult form to authenticate the contract! “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31. “Whosoever asks receives.” Matt. 7:8.

But do you ask, “How shall I have evidence of my discharge?”

When your heart no longer serves sin willingly, when you no longer hate the Righteous Judge on high who condemned you, and when you love and follow the Divine Substitute, then you are free. Brother, soldier of Christ, “fight the good fight of faith.” “Be thou faithful unto death, and He will give you a crown of life.” Rev. 2:10.

Faith in the Blood of Jesus –Essential to Salvation

Taken from, “The Blood of Jesus Christ”
Written by, William Reid, 1814-1896.

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What Faith Is…

It is our belief of God’s testimony concerning His own grace and Christ’s work that brings us into possession of the blessings concerning which that testimony speaks. Our reception of God’s testimony is confidence in God Himself and in Christ Jesus His Son; for where the testimony comes from a person or regards a person, belief of the testimony and confidence in the person are things inseparable. Hence it is that Scripture sometimes speaks of confidence or trust as saving us (see the Psalms everywhere, e.g., Psalms 13:5, 52:8; also 1 Timothy 4:10, Ephesians 1:12), as if it would say to the sinner, “Such is the gracious character of God, that you have only to put your case into His hands—however bad it be—only to trust Him for eternal life, and He will assuredly not put you to shame.” Hence, also, it is that we are said to be saved by the knowledge of God or of Christ; that is, by simply knowing God as He has made Himself known to us (Isaiah 5:3,11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 2:20)—for “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:2). And, as if to make simplicity more simple, the apostle, in speaking of the facts of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, says, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

God would have us understand that the way in which we become connected with Christ so as to get eternal life is by “knowing” Him, or “hearing” Him, “trusting” Him. The testimony is inseparably linked to the person testified of; and our connection with the testimony, by belief of it, thus links us to the person. Thus it is that faith forms the bond between us and the Son of God, not because of anything in itself, but solely because it is only through the medium of truth known and believed that the soul can take any hold of God or of Christ. Faith is nothing, save as it lays hold of Christ, and it does so by laying hold of the truth concerning Him. “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Faith, then, is the link, the one link between the sinner and God’s gift of pardon and life. It is not faith and something else along with it; it is faith alone; faith that takes God at His word, and gives Him credit for speaking the honest truth when making known His message of grace, His “record” of eternal life concerning “the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

“If you object that you cannot believe, then this indicates that you are proceeding quite in a wrong direction. You are still laboring under the idea that this believing is a work to be done by you, and not the acknowledgment of a work done by another. You would willing to do something in order to get peace, and you think that if you could only do this great thing, ‘believing’—if you could but perform this great act called faith—God would at once reward you by giving you peace. Thus faith is reckoned by you to be the price in the sinner’s hand by which he buys peace, and not the mere holding out of the hand to get a peace that has already been bought by another. So long as you are attaching any meritorious importance to faith, however unconsciously, you are moving in a wrong direction—a direction from which no peace can come.

“Surely faith is not a work. On the contrary, it is a ceasing from work. It is not a climbing of the mountain, but a ceasing to attempt it, and allowing Christ to carry you up in His own arms. You seem to think that it is your own act of faith that is to save you, and not the object of your faith—without which your own act, however well performed, is nothing.

Accordingly, you bethink yourself, and say, ‘What a mighty work is this believing, what an effort does it require on my part, how am I to perform it?’ Herein you sadly err, and your mistake lies chiefly here, in supposing that your peace is to come from the proper performance on your part of an act of faith—whereas it is to come entirely from the proper perception of Him to Whom the Father is pointing your eye, and in regard to Whom He is saying, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, look at Him, forget everything else—everything about yourself, your own faith, your own repentance, your own feelings—and look at Him!’ It is in Him, and not in your poor act of faith, that salvation lies; and out of Him, not out of your own act of faith, is peace to come.

“Thus mistaking the meaning of faith, and the way in which faith saves you, gets you into confusion, and makes you mistaken everything else connected with your peace. You mistake the real nature of that very inability to believe of which you complain so sadly. For that inability does not lie, as you fancy it does, in the impossibility of your performing aright this great act of faith, but of ceasing from all such self-righteous attempts to perform any act, or do any work whatsoever, in order to your being saved. So that the real truth is that you have not yet seen such a sufficiency in the one great work of the Son of God upon the cross, as to lead you utterly to discontinue your mistaken and aimless efforts to work out something of your own. As soon as the Holy Spirit shows that you have this entire sufficiency of the great propitiation, you cease at once from these attempts to act or work something of your own, and take, instead of this, what Christ has done. One great part of the Spirit’s work is not to enable the man to do something that will help to save him, but so to detach him from his own performances that he shall be content with the salvation that Christ finished when He died and rose again.

“But perhaps you may object further, that you are not satisfied with your faith. No, truly, nor are you ever likely to be. If you wait for this before you take peace, you will wait till life is done. The Bible does not say, ‘Being satisfied about our faith, we have peace with God’; it simply says, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God’ (Rom 5:1). Not satisfaction with your own faith, but satisfaction with Jesus and His work—this is what God presses on you. You say, ‘I am satisfied with Christ.’ Are you? What more then do you wish? Is not satisfaction with Christ enough for you, or for any sinner? Nay, and is not this the truest kind of faith? To be satisfied with Christ, that is faith in Christ. To be satisfied with His blood, that is faith in His blood. What more could you have? Can your faith give you something that Christ cannot? or will Christ give you nothing till you can produce faith of a certain kind and quality, whose excellences will entitle you to blessing?

“Do not bewilder yourself. Do not suppose that your faith is a price, a bribe, or a merit. Is not the very essence of real faith just your being satisfied with Christ? Are you really satisfied with Him, and with what He has done? Then do not puzzle yourself about your faith, but go upon your way rejoicing, having thus been brought to be satisfied with Him, Whom to know is peace, life, and salvation.

“You are not satisfied with your faith, you say. I am glad that you are not. Had you been so, you would have been far out-of-the-way indeed. Does Scripture anywhere speak of your getting peace by your becoming satisfied with your faith? Nay; does it not take for granted that you will, to the very last, be dissatisfied with yourself, with your faith, with all about you and within you—and satisfied with Jesus only? Are you then satisfied with Him? Then go in peace! For if satisfaction with Him will not give you peace, nothing else that either heaven or earth contains will ever give you peace. Though your faith should become so perfect that you were entirely satisfied with it, that would not pacify your conscience or relieve your fears. Faith, however perfect, has of itself nothing to give you, either of pardon or of life. Its finger points you to Jesus. Its voice bids you look straight to Him. Its object is to turn away from itself and from yourself altogether, that you may behold Him, and in beholding Him be satisfied with Him; and, in being satisfied with Him, have ‘joy and peace.’

“Faith is not what we feel or see, it is a simple trust
in what the God of love has said of Jesus as the ‘Just.’
“What Jesus is, and that alone, is faith’s delightful plea,
It never deals with sinful self, nor righteous self, in me.
“It tells me I am counted ‘dead,’ by God, in His own Word,
It tells me I am ‘born again,’ in CHRIST, my risen Lord.
“If He is free, then I am free, from all unrighteousness;
If He is just, then I am just; He is my righteousness.”

Toward Understanding Calvinistic Salvation from Supralapsarianism, Infra-lapsarianism, Amyraldianism, and Congruism Perspectives

Taken and adapted from, “The Plan of Salvation”
Written by B.B. Warfield.

photo-by-hrishikesh-karambelkarflickr

AS OVER AGAINST…

…all attempts to conceive the operations of God looking to salvation universalistically, that is as directed to mankind in the mass, Calvinism insists that the saving operations of God are directed in every case immediately to the individuals who are saved. Particularism in the processes of salvation becomes thus the mark of Calvinism. As supernaturalism is the mark of Christianity at large, and evangelicalism the mark of Protestantism, so particularism is the mark of Calvinism. The Calvinist is he who holds with full consciousness that God the Lord, in his saving operations, deals not generally with mankind at large, but particularly with the individuals who are actually saved. Thus, and thus only, he contends, can either the supernaturalism of salvation which is the mark of Christianity at large and which ascribes all salvation to God, or the immediacy of the operations of saving grace which is the mark of evangelicalism and which ascribes salvation to the direct working of God upon the soul, come to its rights and have justice accorded it. Particularism in the saving processes, he contends, is already given in the supernaturalism of salvation and in the immediacy of the operations of the divine grace; and the denial of particularism is constructively the denial of the immediacy of saving grace, that is, of evangelicalism, and of the supernaturalism of salvation, that is, of Christianity itself. It is logically the total rejection of Christianity.

The particularism of the saving operations of God which is thus the mark of Calvinism, it is possible, however, to apply more or less fully (or, shall we say, with more or less discernment?) in our thought of the activities of God relatively to his sinful creatures (or shall we say, broadly, relatively to his creatures?). Thus differing varieties of Calvinism have emerged in the history of thought. As they are distinguishable from one another by the place they give to particularism in the operations of God, that is as much as to say they are distinguished from one another by the place they give to the decree of election in the order of the divine decrees.

Some are so zealous for particularism that they place discrimination at the root of all God’s dealings with his creatures. That he has any creatures at all they suppose to be in the interest of discrimination, and all that he decrees concerning his creatures they suppose he decrees only that he may discriminate between them. They therefore place the decree of “election” by which men are made to differ, in the order of decrees, logically prior to the decree of creation itself, or at any rate prior to all that is decreed concerning man as man; that is to say, since man’s history begins with the fall, prior to the decree of the fall itself. They are therefore called Supralapsarians, that is, those who place the decree of election in the order of thought prior to the decree of the fall.”

Others, recognizing that election has to do specifically with salvation, (that is to say, that it is the logical prius, not of creation or of the providential government of the world, but of the salvation of sinful man), conceive that the principle of particularism, in the sense of discrimination, belongs in the sphere of God’s soteriological, not in that of his cosmical creation. They therefore think of “election” as the logical prius not of creation, or of the fall, but of those operations of God which concern salvation. The place they give it in the order of decrees is therefore at the head of those decrees of God which look to salvation. This implies that it falls into position in the order of thought, consequently upon the decrees of creation and the fall, which refer to all men alike, since all men certainly are created and certainly have fallen; and precedently to the decrees of redemption and its application, since just as certainly all men are not redeemed and brought into the enjoyment of salvation. They are from this circumstance called Sublapsarians or Infralapsarians, that is, those who, in the arrangement of the decrees in logical order, conceive the place of the decree of election to be logically after that of the fall.

There are others, however, who, affected by what they deem the Scriptural teaching concerning the universal reference of the redemption of Christ, and desirous of grounding the universal offer of salvation in an equally universal provision, conceive that they can safely postpone the introduction of the particularistic principle to a point within the saving operations of God themselves, so only they are careful to introduce it at a point sufficiently early to make it determinative of the actual issue of the saving work. They propose therefore to think of the provision of salvation in Christ as universal in its intent; but to represent it as given effect in its application to individuals by the Holy Spirit only particularistically. That is to say, they suppose that some, not all, of the divine operations looking to the salvation of men are universalistic in their reference, whereas salvation is not actually experienced unless not some but all of them are operative. As the particular saving operation to which they ascribe a universalistic reference is the redemption of Christ, their scheme is expressed by saying that it introduces the decree of election, in the order of thought, at a point subsequent to the decree of redemption in Christ. They may therefore be appropriately called Post-redemptionists, that is, those who conceive that the decree of election is logically postponed to the decree of redemption. In their view redemption has equal reference to all men, and it is only in the application of this redemption to men that God discriminates between men, and so acts, in this sense, particularistically.

It is obvious that this is the lowest point in the order of decrees at which the decree of election can be introduced and the particularistic principle be retained at all. If the application of the redemption of Christ by the Holy Spirit be also made universalistic, that is to say, if the introduction of the particularistic principle be postponed to the actual issue of the saving process, then there is obviously no particularism at all in the divine operations looking to salvation. “Election” drops out of the scheme of the divine decrees altogether, unless we prefer to say, as it has been cynically phrased, that God is careful to elect to salvation only those who, he foresees, will in the use of their own free will elect themselves. All Calvinists must therefore be either Supralapsarians or Sub- (or Infra-) lapsarians, or, at least, Post-redemptionists which is also to be Anteapplicationist.

Nevertheless, we do not reach in the Post-redemptionists, conceived purely from the point of view of this element of their thought, the lowest possible, or the lowest actual, variety of Calvinists. Post-redemptionists may differ among themselves, if not in the position in the order of decrees of the decree of election (for still further to depress its position in that order would be to desert the whole principle of particularism and to fall out of the category of Calvinists), yet in their mode of conceiving the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in applying redemption, under the government of the decree of election; and as to the role of the human spirit in receiving redemption. A party has always existed even among Calvinists which has had so large an interest in the autonomy of the human will, that it has been unwilling to conceive of it as “passive” with respect to that operation of God which we call regeneration, and has earnestly wished to look upon the reception of salvation as in a true sense dependent on the will’s own unmoved action. They have, therefore, invented a variety of Calvinism which supposes that it is God indeed who selects those who shall savingly be brought to Christ, and that it is the Holy Spirit who, by his grace, brings them infallibly to Christ,(thus preserving the principle of particularism in the application of salvation), but which imagines that the Holy Spirit thus effectually brings them to Christ, not by an almighty, creative action on their souls, by which they are made new creatures, functioning subsequently as such, but purely by suasive operations, adapted in his infallible wisdom to the precise state of mind and heart of those whom he has selected for salvation, and so securing from their own free action, a voluntary coming to Christ and embracing of him for salvation. There is no universalism here; the particularism is express. But an expedient has been found to enable it to be said that men come voluntarily to Christ, and are joined to him by a free act of their own unrenewed wills, while only those come whom God has selected so to persuade to come (he who knows the heart through and through) that they certainly will come in the exercise of their own free will. This type of thought has received the appropriate name of “Congruism,” because the principle of its contention is that grace wins those to whom it is “congruously” offered, that is to say, that the reason why some men are saved and some are not lies in the simple fact that God the Holy Spirit operates in his gracious suasion on some in a fashion that is carefully and infallibly adapted by him to secure their adhesion to the gospel, and does not operate on others with the same careful adaptation.

A warning must, however, be added to the effect that the designation “Congruists” is so ambiguous that there exists another class bearing this name, who are as definitely anti-Calvinistic as those we have in mind are, by intention, Calvinistic in their conception. The teaching of these is that God the Holy Spirit accords his suasive influences to all alike, making no distinction; but that this universalistically conceived grace of the Holy Spirit takes effect only according as it proves to be actually congruous or incongruous to the state of mind and heart of those to whom it equally is given. Here it is not the sovereign choice of God, but a native difference in men, which determines salvation, and we are on expressly autosoteric ground. The danger of confusing the Calvinistic “Congruists” with this larger, and definitely anti-Calvinistic party, has led to the habit of speaking of the Calvinistic Congruists rather by the name of their most distinguished representative, (who, indeed, introduced this mode of thinking into the Calvinistic churches), Claude Pajon, Professor in the Theological School at Saumur in France in the middle of the seventeenth century. It was his predecessor and teacher in the same school, Moses Amyraut, who first formulated in the Reformed Churches the Post- redemptionist scheme, of which Pajonism is a debased form. Thus the school of Saumur has the bad eminence of having originated, and furnished from the names of its professors the current designations of, the two most reduced forms of Calvinism, Amyraldianism or Hypothetical Universalism as it is otherwise called, and Pajonism, or Congruism as it is designated according to its nature.

We have thus had brought before us four forms of Calvinism;

and these, as we believe, exhaust the list of possible general types: Supralapsarianism, Sub- (or Infra-)lapsarianism, Post-redemptionism (otherwise called Amyraldianism, or Hypothetical Universalism), and Pajonism (otherwise called Congruism). These are all forms of Calvinism, because they give validity to the principle of particularism as ruling the divine dealings with man in the matter of salvation; and, as we have seen, the mark of Calvinism is particularism. If now, particularism were not only the mark of Calvinism but also the substance of Calvinism, all four of these types of Calvinism, preserving as they all do the principle of particularism, might claim to be not only alike Calvinistic, but equally Calvinistic, and might even demand to be arranged in the order of excellence according to the place accorded by each in its construction to the principle of particularism and the emphasis placed on it. Particularism, however, though the distinguishing mark of Calvinism, by which it may be identified as over against the other conceptions of the plan of salvation, in comparison with which we have brought it, does not constitute its substance; and indeed, although strenuously affirmed by Calvinism, is not affirmed by it altogether and solely for its own sake. The most consistent embodiment of the principle of particularism is not therefore necessarily the best form of Calvinism; and the bare affirmation of the principle of particularism though it may constitute one so far a Calvinist, does not necessarily constitute one a good Calvinist. No one can be a Calvinist who does not give validity to the principle of particularism in God’s operations looking to the salvation of man; but the principle of particularism must not be permitted, as Pharaoh’s lean kine devoured all the fat cattle of Egypt, to swallow up all else that is rich and succulent and good in Calvinism, nor can the bare affirmation of particularism be accepted as an adequate Calvinism.

Post-redemptionism, therefore (although it is a recognizable form of Calvinism, because it gives real validity to the principle of particularism), is not therefore necessarily a good form of Calvinism, an acceptable form of Calvinism, or even a tenable form of Calvinism. For one thing, it is a logically inconsistent form of Calvinism and therefore an unstable form of Calvinism. For another and far more important thing, it turns away from the substitutive atonement, which is as precious to the Calvinist as is his particularism, and for the safeguarding of which, indeed, much of his zeal for particularism is due. I say, Post-redemptionism is logically inconsistent Calvinism. For, how is it possible to contend that God gave his Son to die for all men, alike and equally; and at the same time to declare that when he gave his Son to die, he already fully intended that his death should not avail for all men alike and equally, but only for some which he would select (which, that is, because he is God and there is no subsequence of time in his decrees, he had already selected) to be its beneficiaries? But as much as God is God, who knows all things which he intends from the beginning and all at once, and intends all things which he intends from the beginning and all at once, it is impossible to contend that God intends the gift of his Son for all men alike and equally and at the same time intends that it shall not actually save all but only a select body which he himself provides for it. The schematization of the order of decrees presented by the Amyraldians, in a word, necessarily implies a chronological relation of precedence and subsequence among the decrees, the assumption of which abolishes God, and this can be escaped only by altering the nature of the atonement. And therefore the nature of the atonement is altered by them, and Christianity is wounded at its very heart.

The Amyraldians “point with pride” to the purity of their confession of the doctrine of election, and wish to focus attention upon it as constituting them good Calvinists. But the real hinge of their system turns on their altered doctrine of the atonement, and here they strike at the very heart of Calvinism. A conditional substitution being an absurdity, because the condition is no condition to God, if you grant him even so much as the poor attribute of foreknowledge, they necessarily turn away from a substitutive atonement altogether. Christ did not die in the sinner’s stead, it seems, to bear his penalties and purchase for him eternal life; he died rather to make the salvation of sinners possible, to open the way of salvation to sinners, to remove all the obstacles in the way of salvation of sinners. But what obstacle stands in the way of the salvation of sinners, except just their sin? And if this obstacle (their sin) is removed, are they not saved? Some other obstacles must be invented, therefore, which Christ may be said to have removed (since he cannot be said to have removed the obstacle of sin) that some function may be left to him and some kind of effect be attributed to his sacrificial death. He did not remove the obstacle of sin, for then all those for whom he died must be saved, and he cannot be allowed to have saved anyone. He removed, then, let us say, all that prevented God from saving men, except sin; and so he prepared the way for God to step in and with safety to his moral government to save men. The atonement lays no foundation for this saving of men: it merely opens the way for God safely to save them on other grounds.

We are now fairly on the basis of the Governmental Theory of the Atonement; and this is in very truth the highest form of doctrine of atonement to which we can on these premises attain. In other words, all the substance of the atonement is evaporated, that it may be given a universal reference. And, indeed, we may at once recognize it as an unavoidable effect of universalizing the atonement that it is by that very act eviscerated. If it does nothing for any man that it does not do for all men why, then, it is obvious that it saves no man; for clearly not all men are saved. The things that we have to choose between, are an atonement of high value, or an atonement of wide extension. The two cannot go together. And this is the real objection of Calvinism to this compromise scheme which presents itself as an improvement on its system: it universalizes the atonement at the cost of its intrinsic value, and Calvinism demands a really substitutive atonement which actually saves. And as a really substitutive atonement which actually saves cannot be universal because obviously all men are not saved, in the interests of the integrity of the atonement it insists that particularism has entered into the saving process prior, in the order of thought, to the atonement.

As bad Calvinism as is in Amyraldianism, Pajonism is, of course, just that much worse. Not content with destroying the whole substance of the atonement, by virtue of which it is precious, (“Who loved me, and gave himself up for me”) it proceeds to destroy also the whole substance of that regeneration and renovation by which, in the creative work of the Spirit, we are made new creatures. Of what value is it that it should be confessed that it is God who determines who shall be saved, if the salvation that is wrought goes no deeper than what I can myself work, if I can only be persuaded to do it? Here there is lacking all provision not only for release from the guilt of sin, but also for relief from its corruption and power. There is no place left for any realizing sense of either guilt or corruption; there is no salvation offered from either the outraged wrath of a righteous God or the ingrained evil of our hearts: after all is over, we remain just what we were before. The prospect that is held out to us is nothing less than appalling; we are to remain to all eternity fundamentally just our old selves with only such amelioration of our manners as we can be persuaded to accomplish for ourselves. The whole substance of Christianity is evaporated, and we are invited to recognize the shallow remainder as genuine Calvinism, because, forsooth, it safeguards the sovereignty of God. Let it be understood once for all that the completest recognition of the sovereignty of God does not suffice to make a good Calvinist. Otherwise we should have to recognize every Mohammedan as a good Calvinist. There can be no Calvinism without a hearty confession of the sovereignty of God; but the acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God of itself goes only a very little way toward real Calvinism. Pajon himself, the author of Calvinistic Congruism, advanced in his fundamental thought but little beyond a high variety of Deism.

It seems particularly worth while to make these things explicit, because there is perhaps nothing which more prejudices Calvinism in the general mind than the current identification of it with an abstract doctrine of sovereignty, without regard to the concrete interests which this sovereignty safeguards. In point of fact the sovereignty of God for which Calvinism stands is not only the necessary implicate of that particularism without which a truly religious relation between the soul and its God cannot exist; but is equally the indispensable safeguard of that complementary universalism of redemption equally proclaimed in the Scripture in which the wideness of God’s mercy comes to manifestation. It must be borne well in mind that particularism and parsimony in salvation are not equivalent conceptions; and it is a mere caricature of Calvinistic particularism to represent it as finding its center in the proclamation that there are few that are saved.” What particularism stands for in the Calvinistic system is the immediate dealing of God with the individual soul; what it sets itself against is the notion that in his saving processes God never comes directly into contact with the individual-is never to be contemplated as his God who saves him-but does all that he does looking to salvation only for and to men in the mass. Whether in dealing with the individual souls of men, he visits with his saving grace few or many, so many that in our imagination they may readily pass into all, does not lie in the question. So far as the principles of sovereignty and particularism are concerned, there is no reason why a Calvinist might not be a universalist in the most express meaning of that term, holding that each and every human soul shall be saved; and in point of fact some Calvinists (forgetful of Scripture here) have been universalists in this most express meaning of the term. The point of insistence in Calvinistic particularism is not that God saves out of the sinful mass of men only one here and there, a few brands snatched from the burning, but that God’s method of saving men is to set upon them in his almighty grace, to purchase them to himself by the precious blood of his Son, to visit them in the inmost core of their being by the creative operations of his Spirit, and himself, the Lord God Almighty, to save them. How many, up to the whole human race in all its representatives, God has thus bought and will bring into eternal communion with himself by entering himself into personal communion with them, lies, I say, quite outside the question of particularism. Universalism in this sense of the term and particularism are so little inconsistent with one another that it is only the particularist who can logically be this kind of a universalist.

And something more needs to be said- Calvinism in point of fact has as important a mission in preserving the true universalism of the gospel (for there is a true universalism of the gospel) as it has in preserving the true particularism of grace.

The same insistence upon the supernuralistic and the evangelical principles, (that salvation is from God and from God alone, and that God saves the soul by dealing directly with it in his grace) which makes the Calvinist a particularist, makes him also a universalist in the scriptural sense of the word. In other words the sovereignty of God lays the sole foundation, for a living assurance of the salvation of the world. It is but a spurious universalism which the so-called universalistic systems offer: a universalism not of salvation but, at the most, of what is called the opportunity, the chance, of salvation. But what assurance can a universal opportunity, or a universal chance, of salvation (if we dare use such words) give you that all, that many, that any indeed, will be saved? This universal opportunity, chance, of salvation has, after two thousand years, been taken advantage of only by a pitiable minority of those to whom it has been supposed to be given. What reason is there to believe that, though the world should continue in existence for ten billions of billions of years, any greater approximation to a completely saved world will be reached than meets our eyes today, when Christianity, even in its nominal form, has conquered to itself, I do not say merely a moiety of the human race, but I say merely a moiety of those to whom it has been preached? If you wish, as you lift your eyes to the far horizon of the future, to see looming on the edge of time the glory of a saved world, you can find warrant for so great a vision only in the high principles that it is God and God alone who saves men, that all their salvation is from him, and that in his own good time and way he will bring the world in its “entirety to the feet of him whom he has not hesitated to present to our adoring love not merely as the Saviour of our own souls, but as the Saviour of the world; and of whom he has himself declared that he has made propitiation not for our sins only, but for the sins of the world. Calvinism thus is the guardian not only of the particularism which assures me that God the Lord is the Saviour of my soul, but equally of the universalism by which I am assured that he is also the true and actual Saviour of the world. On no other ground can any assurance be had either of the one or of the other. But on this ground we can be assured with an assurance which is without flaw, that not only shall there be saved the individual whom God visits with his saving grace, but also the world which he enters with his saving purpose, in all the length and breadth of it.

The redemption of Christ, if it is to be worthily viewed, must be looked at not merely individualistically, but also in its social, or better in its cosmical relations.

Men are not discrete particles standing off from one another as mutually isolated units. They are members of an organism, the human race; and this race itself is an element in a greater organism which is significantly termed a universe. Of course the plan of salvation as it lies in the divine mind cannot be supposed to be concerned, therefore, alone with individuals as such: it of necessity has its relations with the greater unities into which these individuals enter as elements. We have only partially understood the redemption in Christ, therefore, when we have thought of it only in its modes of operation and effects on the individual. We must ask also how and what it works in the organism of the human race, and what its effects are in the greater organism of the universe. Jesus Christ came to save men, but he did not come to save men each as a whole in himself out of relation to all other men. In saving men, he came to save mankind; and therefore the Scriptures are insistent that he came to save the world, and ascribe to him accordingly the great title of the Savior of the world. They go indeed further than this: they do not pause in expanding their outlook until they proclaim that it was the good pleasure of God “to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth.” We have not done justice to the Biblical doctrine of the plan of salvation therefore so long as we confine our attention to the modes of the divine operation in saving the individual, and insist accordingly on what we have called its particularism. There is a wider prospect on which we must feast our eyes if we are to view the whole land of ‘ salvation. It was because God loved the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son; it was for the sins of the world that Jesus Christ made propitiation; it was the world which he came to save; it is nothing less than the world that shall be saved by him.

What is chiefly of importance for us to bear in mind here, is that God’s plan is to save…

…whether the individual or the world, by process. No doubt the whole salvation of the individual sinner enters into the full enjoyment of this accomplished salvation only by stages and in the course of time. Redeemed by Christ, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, justified through faith, received into the very household of God as his sons, led by the Spirit into the flowering and fruiting activities of the new life, our salvation is still only in process and not yet complete. We still are the prey of temptation; we still fall into sin; we still suffer sickness, sorrow, death itself. Our redeemed bodies can hope for nothing but to wear out in weakness and to break down in decay in the grave. Our redeemed souls only slowly enter into their heritage. Only when the last trump shall sound and we shall rise from our graves, and perfected souls and incorruptible bodies shall together enter into the glory prepared for God’s children, is our salvation complete.

The redemption of the world is similarly a process. It, too, has its stages: it, too, advances only gradually to its completion. But it, too, will ultimately he complete; and then we shall see a wholly saved world. Of course it follows, that at any stage of the process, short of completeness, the world, as the individual, must present itself to observation as incompletely saved. We can no more object the incompleteness of the salvation of the world today to the completeness of the salvation of the world, than we can object the incompleteness of our personal salvation today (the remainders of sin in us, the weakness and death of our bodies) to the completeness of our personal salvation. Every thing in its own order: first the seed, then the blade, then the full corn in the ear. And as, when Christ comes, we shall each of us be like him, when we shall see him as he is, so also, when Christ comes, it will be to a fully saved world, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth, in which dwells righteousness.

It does not concern us at the moment to enumerate the stages through which the world must pass to its complete redemption. We do not ask how long the process will be; we make no inquiry into the means by which its complete redemption shall be brought about. These are topics which belong to Eschatology and even the lightest allusion to them here would carry us beyond the scope of our present task. What concerns us now is only to make sure that the world will be completely saved; and that the accomplishment of this result through a long process, passing through many stages, with the involved incompleteness of the world’s salvation through extended ages, introduces no difficulty to thought. This incompleteness of the world’s salvation through numerous generations involves, of course, the loss of many souls in the course of the long process through which the world advances to its salvation. And therefore the Biblical doctrine of the salvation of the world is not “universalism” in the common sense of that term. It does not mean that all men without exception are saved. Many men are inevitably lost, throughout the whole course of the advance of the world to its complete salvation, just as the salvation of the individual by process means that much service is lost to Christ through all these lean years of incomplete salvation. But as in the one case, so in the other, the end is attained at last: there is a completely saved man and there is a completely saved world. This may possibly be expressed by saying that the Scriptures teach an eschatological universalism, not an each- and-every universalism. When the Scriptures say that Christ came to save the world, that he does save the world, and that the world shall be saved by him, they do not mean that there is no human being whom he did not come to save, whom he does not save, who is not saved by him. They mean that he came to save and does save the human race; and that the human race is being led by God into a racial salvation: that in the age-long development of the race of men, it will attain at last to a complete salvation, and our eyes will be greeted with the glorious spectacle of a saved world. Thus the human race attains the goal for which it was created, and sin does not snatch it out of God’s hands: the primal purpose of God with it is fulfilled; and through Christ the race of man, though fallen into sin, is recovered to God and fulfills its original destiny.

Now, it cannot be imagined that the development of the race to this, its destined end, is a matter of chance; or is committed to the uncertainties of its own determination. Were that so, no salvation would or could lie before it as its assured goal. The goal to which the race is advancing is set by God: it is salvation. And every stage in the advance to this goal is, of course, determined by God. The progress of the race is, in other words, a God-determined progress, to a God-determined end. That being true, every detail in every moment of the life of the race is God-determined; and is a stage in its God- determined advance to its God-determined end. Christ has been made in very truth Head over all things for his Church: and all that befalls his Church, everything his Church is at every moment of its existence, every “fortune,” as we absurdly call it, through which his Church passes, is appointed by him. The rate of the Church’s progress to its goal of perfection, the nature of its progress, the particular individuals who are brought into it through every stage of its progress: all this is in his divine hands. The Lord adds to the Church daily such as are being saved. And it is through the divine government of these things, which is in short the leading onwards of the race to salvation, that the great goal is at last attained. To say this is, of course, already to say election and reprobation. There is no antinomy, therefore, in saying that Christ died for his people and that Christ died for the world. His people may be few today: the world will be his people tomorrow. But it must be punctually observed that unless it is Christ who, not opens the way of salvation to all, but actually saves his people, there is no ground to believe that there will ever be a saved world. The salvation of the world is absolutely dependent (as is the salvation of the individual soul) on its salvation being the sole work of the Lord Christ himself, in his irresistible might.

It is only the Calvinist that has warrant to believe in the salvation whether of the individual or of the world. Both alike rest utterly on the sovereign grace of God.” All other ground, is shifting sand.

ATONEMENT: MORE THAN MORAL INFLUENCE

Taken and adapted from, ATONEMENT, THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF CHRISTIANITY
Written by Newman Hall, LL.B.; D.D.
Edited for thought and sense.

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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.

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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.

THE OFFENCE OF THE CROSS

Taken and adapted from, ATONEMENT, THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT OF CHRISTIANITY
Written by Newman Hall, LL.B.; D.D.
Edited for thought and sense.

Nails by Matt Reier, (c) IRI.
‘Jesus Christ and Him crucified,’ was the theme of the first Missionary of the Gospel to Europe.

The world was in a state of moral stagnation. Judaism, divinely ordained, having fulfilled its purpose, had become shell without kernel, body without life. Philosophy might be beautiful, but was powerless to purify. St. Paul, coming over from Asia to preach to Europe, proclaimed salvation for a ruined world through a Man who had been crucified as a malefactor, but whom the missionary affirmed to be the Son of God and the only Saviour. He asserted, not simply that this Benefactor had suffered martyrdom, but that this martyrdom was the grand object for which He lived, by which alone salvation was secured, without which mental culture, philosophy, ethics, cult, or creed could not avail to save mankind from sin, and give assurance of the favour of God and eternal life.

Jews, who were dwelling in every city, and to whom the missionary, as a Jew, made his first appeal, were offended by being told to recognize their promised Messiah in a poor mechanic, trained at no college, invested with no dignity, His chief followers poor fishermen, and Himself put to the most shameful death as a felon. That by Him alone, and not by their own Law of Moses, they could be saved, was to them a ‘stumbling-block.’

The Jews ‘required a sign’; a miracle so stupendous as to forbid all doubt. Their old religion had been thus certified. Christ performed many quiet miracles of benevolence on earth, but they demanded a ‘sign from heaven.’ When He fed the multitudes and raised Lazarus they thought that as a Leader He might supply His armies with food, heal the wounded, and restore the slain.

Then they wanted to make Him their king. But when He meekly submitted to be bound and condemned, they were disappointed, and in their provocation shouted, ‘Crucify Him!’ They wanted a carnal Christ, a worldly king: and so the cross became a symbol of delusion, disgrace, defeat, ‘a stumbling-block.’

Not less did it appear ‘to the Greek foolishness.’ They despised the Jews as a petty, bigoted, exclusive, troublesome tribe of barbarians, in a narrow strip of country, lost to view in the great Empire that ruled them. That a peasant member of this despised race was to be accepted by them as superior to their own Plato or Socrates, be honoured as Ruler as well as Teacher, be trusted as sole Saviour of men, and worshipped as the one and only true incarnation of the Deity –this, to the Greek, was the extravagance of ‘foolishness.’

Earliest records tell us that the people generally accounted those to be ‘fools who gave rank to One crucified.’ They said that ‘they who worshipped a crucified man deserved to hang on the cross they adore.’ In Rome is a fragment of plaster from the ruins of the barracks of the Praetorian guard which bears traces of a rough caricature, as if scratched by the point of a sword. On a cross is suspended the figure of a man with the head of an ass, before which a soldier is on his knees; and below is the inscription, ‘Aleximenos worships his god.’

The Apostolic Missionary was sober in his enthusiasm, and did not needlessly provoke opposition. ‘I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some’ (1 Cor. 9: 20-22). Unless essential to his mission, he would not emphasize what was likely to hinder it, and close the ears of those he came to teach. Did he therefore keep the fact of the Atoning Sacrifice in the background, or reserve it for future unfolding? On the contrary, he made it prominent, and at once.

It was his dominant theme, the message he felt directed by God to convey. Men might deride, oppose, persecute, but all the more boldly he proclaimed it, emblazoned it on his standard, gave it trumpet-voice, declaring to the cultured Corinthians ‘I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified’ (1 Cor. 2:2). This was his boast, not his shame. ‘Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ ‘ (Gal.6:14). The Jews might demand celestial signs, and the Greeks worldly wisdom, but he was determined to ‘preach Christ crucified,’ Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God’ (1 Cor. 1: 22-25).

History, lauding its heroes of freedom, science, and religion, has taught us to honour rather than be ashamed of those who have endured suffering and scorn for the sake of principle. But that God, incarnated, should stoop so low; that nothing less than the cross should suffice for man’s salvation; that all classes should be placed on a common level, needing the same Atonement, by which the most degraded criminal will be accepted, side by side with the seemingly blameless religionist, on repentance and faith; and that whatever we do that is commendable is accepted on the basis of what Christ did and suffered –this is too humbling for human pride.

As breakers of law we are disposed to under-rate the claims of law. Sinners naturally make light of sin, framing excuses for it, sometimes defending it, lessening the peril of it, or altogether denying both its guilt and penalty. ‘The unsearchable riches of Christ,’ revealed in His sufferings on our behalf, imply a destitution on our part greater than we are willing to acknowledge. Are our stains of so deep a dye that ‘the blood of Jesus Christ’ is needed to cleanse us? Is our distance from God so great that we can only ‘be made nigh in the blood of Christ?’ Offence is thus taken at the doctrine of Atonement, which is either denied, or explained as one among other moral influences by which man’s sinfulness may be overcome, and he be reconciled to God by amendment of life. Thus salvation is regarded as self-reformation, and not as forgiveness through faith in Him who died for our sins.

Jesus Christ the All-Sufficient Priest

by Thomas Watson (c. 1620-1686)

Now once in the end of the world has he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
—Hebrews 9:26
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mQUESTION: How does Christ execute the office of a priest?

Answer: In His once offering up of Himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us. What are the parts of Christ’s priestly office? Christ’s priestly office has two parts: His satisfaction and intercession.

HIS SATISFACTION:

This consists of two branches:

(1) His active obedience: He fulfilled all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). Christ did everything that the Law required. His holy life was a perfect commentary upon the Law of God; and He obeyed the Law for us.

(2) His passive obedience: Our guilt being transferred and imputed to Him, He suffered the penalty that was due to us. He came into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. The paschal lamb slain was a type of Christ Who was offered up in sacrifice for us. Sin could not be done away without blood. Without blood is no remission (Hebrews 9:22). Christ was not only a lamb without spot, but a lamb slain. Why was it requisite there should be a priest? There needed a priest to be an umpire, to mediate between a guilty creature and a holy God. How could Christ suffer, being God? Christ suffered only in the human nature. But if only Christ’s humanity suffered, how could this suffering satisfy for sin? The human nature being united to the divine, the human nature suffered, the divine satisfied. Christ’s Godhead supported the human nature that it did not faint and gave virtue to His sufferings. The altar sanctifies the thing offered on it (Matthew 23:19).

0602212The altar of Christ’s divine nature sanctified the sacrifice of His death and made it of infinite value. Wherein does the greatness of Christ’s sufferings appear?

(1) In the sufferings of His body. He suffered truly, not in appearance only. The apostle calls it “the death of the cross,” (Phil. 2:8)…The thoughts of this made Christ sweat great drops of blood in the garden (Luke 22:44). It was an ignominious, painful, cursed death. Christ suffered in all His senses. His eyes beheld two sad objects: His enemies insulting and His mother weeping. His ears were filled with the revilings of the people. “He saved others, himself he cannot save,” (Matthew 27:42). His smell was offended when their spittle fell upon His face. His taste, when they gave Him gall and  vinegar to drink. His feeling, when His head suffered with thorns, His hands and feet with the nails. His whole body was one great wound; now was this white lily dyed with purple color.

(2) In the sufferings of His soul. He was pressed in the wine—the press of His Father’s wrath. This caused that vociferation and outcry on the cross, “My God, my God,” (Matthew 27:46). Christ suffered a double eclipse upon the cross—an eclipse of the sun and an eclipse of the light of God’s countenance. How bitter was this agony!…Christ felt the pains of hell in His soul, though not locally, yet equivalently. Why did Christ suffer? Surely not for any desert of His own. “The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself,” (Dan 9:26;Isa 53:6)—it was for us…He suffered that He might satisfy God’s justice for us. We, by our sins, had infinitely wronged God; and, could we have shed rivers of tears, offered up millions of holocausts and burnt offerings, we could never have pacified an angry Deity. Therefore, Christ must die that God’s justice may be satisfied. It is hotly debated among divines, whether God could have forgiven sin freely without a sacrifice. Not to dispute what God could have done, when He was resolved to have the Law satisfied and to have man saved in a way of justice as well as mercy,

0…it was necessary that Christ should lay down His life as a sacrifice.

(1) To fulfill the predictions of Scripture: “Thus it behoved Christ to suffer,” (Luke 24:46).

(2) To bring us into favor with God. It is one thing for a traitor to be pardoned, and another thing to be made a favorite. Christ’s blood is not only called a sacrifice, whereby God is appeased, but a propitiation, whereby God becomes gracious and friendly to us. Christ is our mercyseat, from which God gives answers of peace to us.

(3) Christ died that He might make good His last will and testament with His blood. There were many legacies that Christ bequeathed to believers, which had been all null and void had He not died and by His death confirmed the will (Hebrews 9:16). A testament is in force after men are dead: the mission of the Spirit, the promises, those legacies, were not in force until Christ’s death; but Christ by His blood has sealed them, and believers may lay claim to them.

(4) He died that He might purchase for us glorious mansions. Therefore heaven is called not only a promised, but a “purchased possession,” (Ephesians 1:14). Christ died for our preferment; He suffered that we might reign; He hung upon the  cross that we might sit upon the throne. Heaven was shut: the cross of Christ is the ladder by which we ascend to heaven. His crucifixion is our coronation. Use one: In the bloody sacrifice of Christ, see the horrid nature of sin. Sin, it is true, is odious as it banished Adam out of paradise and threw the angels into hell. But that which most of all makes it appear horrid is this: it made Christ veil His glory and lose His blood. We should look upon sin with indignation, pursue it with a holy malice, and shed the blood of those sins that shed Christ’s blood…The sight of Christ’s bleeding body should incense us against sin…Let not that be our joy, which made Christ a man of sorrow. Use two: Is Christ our Priest sacrificed? See God’s mercy and justice displayed. I may say as the apostle…

“Behold the goodness and severity of God,” (Romans 11:22).

imagesCAGHSHM0(1) The goodness of God in providing a sacrifice. Had not Christ suffered upon the cross, we must have lain in hell forever, satisfying God’s justice.

(2) The severity of God. Though it were His own Son, the Son of His love, and our sins were but imputed to Him, yet God did not spare Him, but His wrath did flame against Him (Romans 8:32). If God was thus severe to His own Son, how dreadful will He be one day to His enemies! Such as die in willful impenitence must feel the same wrath as Christ did; and because they cannot bear it at once, therefore they must endure it forever. Use three: Is Christ our Priest, Who was sacrificed for us? Then see the endeared affection of Christ to us sinners. “The cross,” says Augustine, “was a pulpit, in which Christ preached His love to the world.” That Christ should die was more than if all the angels had been turned to dust; and especially that Christ should die as a malefactor, having the weight of…men’s sins laid upon Him, and that He should die for His enemies (Romans 5:10). The balm-tree weeps out its precious balm to heal those that cut and mangle it; so Christ shed His blood to heal those that crucified Him. He died freely. It is called the offering of the body of Jesus (Hebrews 10:10). Though His sufferings were so great that they made Him sigh, weep, and bleed; yet they could not make Him repent. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied,” (Isaiah 53:2). Christ had hard travail upon the cross, yet He does not repent of it, but thinks His sweat and blood well bestowed because He sees redemption brought forth to the world. Oh infinite, amazing love of Christ! A love that passeth knowledge!—that neither man nor angel can parallel (Ephesians 3:19). How should we be affected with this love!…At Christ’s death and passion, the very stones cleave asunder, “The rocks rent,” (Matthew 27:51). Not to be affected with Christ’s love in dying is to have hearts harder than rocks. Use four: Is Christ our sacrifice?

Then see the excellence of His sacrifice.

00(1) It is perfect. “By one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified,” (Hebrews 10:14). Therefore, how impious are those who join their merits and the prayers of saints with Christ’s sacrifice! They offer Him up daily in the mass, as if Christ’s sacrifice on the cross were imperfect. This is a blasphemy against Christ’s priestly office.

(2) Christ’s sacrifice is meritorious. He not only died for our example, but to merit salvation. The person Who suffered being God as well as man put virtue into His sufferings; and our sins were expiated and God appeased…No sooner did Christ die, but God’s anger was pacified.

(3) This sacrifice is beneficial…It procures justification of our persons, acceptance of our service, access to God with boldness, and entrance into the holy place of heaven (Hebrews 10:19)…Israel passed through the Red Sea to Canaan; so through the red sea of Christ’s blood, we enter into the heavenly Canaan. Use five: Let us apply this blood of Christ. All the virtue of a medicine is in the application. Though the medicine be made of the blood of God, it will not heal unless applied by faith…Faith makes Christ’s sacrifice ours. “Christ Jesus my Lord,” (Phil. 3:8). It is not gold in the mine that enriches, but gold in the hand. Faith is the hand that receives Christ’s golden merits…Faith opens the orifice of Christ’s wounds and drinks the precious tonic of His blood. Without faith, Christ Himself will not avail us.

This sacrifice of Christ’s blood may infinitely comfort us.

2173776885_1108b59098This is the blood of atonement.  “Christ’s cross is the hinge of our deliverance,” (John Calvin); the hinge and fountain of our comfort.

(1) This blood comforts in case of guilt! “Oh,” says the soul, “my sins trouble me, but Christ’s blood was shed for the remission of sin (Matthew 26:28).” Let us see our sins laid on Christ, and then they are no more ours but His.

(2) In case of pollution. Christ’s blood is a healing and cleansing blood. It is healing. “With his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5). It is the best weapon-salve —it heals at a distance. Though Christ be in heaven, we may feel the virtue of His blood healing our bloody issue. And it is cleansing. It is therefore compared to fountain-water (Zec 13:1). The word is a mirror to show us our spots, and Christ’s blood is a fountain to wash them away; it turns leprosy into purity. “The blood of Jesus cleanseth us from all our sin,” (1 John 1:7). There is indeed one spot so black that Christ’s blood does not wash away, viz., the sin against the Holy Ghost. Not but that there is virtue enough in Christ’s blood to wash it away; but he who has sinned that sin will not be washed; he contemns Christ’s blood and tramples it under foot (Hebrews 10:29). Thus, we see what a strong tonic Christ’s blood is: it is the anchor-hold of our faith, the spring of our joy, the crown of our desires, and the only support both in life and death. In all our fears, let us comfort ourselves with the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ’s blood. Christ died both as a purchaser and as KingJesusa conqueror: as a purchaser in regard of God, having by His blood obtained our salvation, and as a conqueror in regard of Satan, the cross being His triumphant chariot, wherein He has led hell and death captive. Use seven: Bless God for this precious sacrifice of Christ’s death. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” (Psalm 103:1). And for what does David bless Him? “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction!” Christ gave Himself a sin offering for us; let us give ourselves a thank-offering to Him. If a man redeems another out of debt, will he not be grateful? Let us present Christ with the fruits of righteousness, which are unto the glory and praise of God.

From A Body of Divinity.