Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Study On Salvation And The Atonement

  • Introduction: 
           -Different theories on the atonement of Jesus Christ have been developed throughout the history of Christianity. Examples of theories on the atoning work of Jesus Christ are the "Ransom Theory," "Moral Influence View," "Governmental Theory," and the "Example Theory." These developments were all attempts to understand how the atonement works.
  • Defining Vicarious Atonement: 
           -Vicarious Atonement, which is also known as penal substitutionary atonement, means that Jesus Christ died in our place to pay our sin debt. He paid the penalty of our sin on the Cross. He bore the punishment that we deserve. In exchange, He gives to us His perfect righteousness. That idea is known as imputed righteousness. The one sacrifice of Christ was a perfect, eternal sacrifice which satisfied God's wrath and righteousness. Justification is a free gift offered by God for those who trust in Him alone (Romans 3:27-28).
  • The Origin Of The Vicarious Atonement Theory: 
          -The Penal-Substitutionary Theory was a further development of Anselm of Canterbury's Satisfaction Theory (also known as the "Commercial Theory of The Atonement") by the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century. It best fits with the language of Scripture and was articulated most explicitly by the Reformers.
  • Background Information On The Commercial Theory Of Atonement:
          -The Atonement Theory of Satisfaction teaches that because sin robs God of His honor, it was necessary for Him restore His honor by either punishing sinners or through atonement work. Since He chose to make atonement for sin by offering His Son Jesus Christ on a cross, He was able to fully recover His lost honor. Any surplus honor remaining from Jesus' sacrifice was given to God in our place, only if we do good works.
  • Similarities And Differences Between Vicarious Atonement And Commercial Atonement:
          -"Scholars such as F.W. Dillistone have observed that Anselm's view of the atonement is set within the context of criminal law, where concepts such as honor, debt, and satisfaction feature prominently. The Reformers, by contrast, set the atonement within the context of criminal law, emphasizing guilt, punishment, and substitution. Yet both systems involve forensic interpretations of the atonement." (Nathan Busenitz, Long Before Luther, p. 141)
  • The Epistle To Diognetus Is Evidence Of Early Belief In Penal Substitution:
          -"And so, when our unrighteousness had come to its full term, and it had become perfectly plain that its recompense of punishment and death had to be expected, then the season arrived in which God had determined to show at last his goodness and power. O the overflowing kindness and love of God toward man! God did not hate us, or drive us away, or bear us ill will. Rather, he was long-suffering and forbearing. In his mercy, he took up the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us—the holy one for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners. In the former time he had proved to us our nature's inability to gain life; now he showed the Saviour's power to save even the powerless, with the intention that on both counts we should have faith in his goodness, and look on him as Nurse, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Mind, Light, Honor, Glory, Might, Life—and that we should not be anxious about clothing and food." (Mathetes to Diognetus, 9)
  • The Biblical Basis For The Theory Of Vicarious Atonement: 
           -Both Testaments emphatically reveal that Jesus Christ was offered on the cross and bore our iniquity for us (Isaiah 53; Romans 3:24-28; Romans 4:25; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24).
          -Consider, for example, how Abraham ended up offering a ram as a sacrifice to God instead of his son Isaac (Genesis 22:13). In other words, an animal was offered in the place of Abraham's son. This typology clearly reveals the relationship between the application of the work of Christ and the sinner.
          -Jesus Christ made the propitiatory sacrifice to satisfy God's wrath which occurred as a result of us breaking His Law. He is the propitiation for our sins. His sacrifice is a legal act. It reconciles those who believe to God, who is holy. Christ is our advocate before the Father.
  • On Atonement For Sin: 
          -To atone means to make up for the consequences of a wrong doing. In a religious context, atonement would mean reparation for sin. But in the somewhat more narrow definition of atonement as defined by Christian theology, it would mean us being reconciled to God through the sacrificial work of His Son Jesus Christ. The central theme of Scripture is the story of how God covered the chasm of sin, which separated mankind from His presence, by sealing it with the bridge of the redemptive work of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.
          -In the Old Testament, bloody animal sacrifices were needed to atone for willful sins such as idolatry or errors made out of mere ignorance (Numbers 15:22-29; 16:47). The high priest offered sacrifices on behalf of himself and God's chosen nation, Israel. Consider, for example, the Day of Atonement, which is known in the Hebrew language as "Yom Hakippurim" (Leviticus 16). All of these bloody animal sacrifices pointed to the once-for-all perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10:1-4). Everybody, including the high priest, needed a true and perfect sacrifice that only a High Priest with those same characteristics could provide (Hebrews 8:3-6; 9:6-15).
          -In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is presented as being God's ultimate provisional sacrifice for our redemption. He is described as being our reconciliation to God (2 Corinthians 5:18). His work is described as being propitiatory in nature (1 John 2:1-2), which means that it atones for the sins of mankind. His life was given as a ransom of the people (Matthew 20:28). His blood was "poured out" for the remission of our sins (Matthew 26:28).
          -Quite simply, we all are in need of a Savior because our hearts and minds have been corrupted by the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden (Romans 5:12). The Law condemns us because it requires moral perfection. We have fallen short of that standard by violating it. Our sinful nature, not the Law, is the problem. The payment for an infinite debt requires a perfect substitute (Hebrews 7:24-28; 10:14).
  • What Is Justification?: 
          -God declares a sinner righteous by his or her faith (Romans 4:1-11; 5:1). It is apart from meritorious works. Justification is an undeserved, free gift of God (Galatians 2:16-21).
  • When Is One Justified?: 
          -A person is justified when he or she first believes. In other words, Christians are saved from eternal condemnation the moment that they place their trust in God and His work. Thus, justification is not a process, but a one time event (Luke 18:14; 23:39-43; John 5:24; Romans 5:1; Acts 13:38-39; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 3:14). Justification is not something that increases or like an earned wage that can be depleted.
  • What Is Sanctification?: 
          -This is the process of being set apart for God's work and being confirmed to the image of Christ; we contribute to sanctification through human efforts (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 9:13-14).
          -This process occurs after justification (only after our sins are forgiven can we begin to lead a holy life) and ends at the moment of physical death.
          -To sanctify means to be set apart for holy use (1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:9-11). We are called for the purpose of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:7) and are therefore expected to act in a holy manner (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).
          -Even if we do not live a perfect life, we are still justified. There may be times in life where believers may stumble into sin, but they turn themselves to God in repentance and keep moving forward in their spiritual walk.
          -So, while we are more holy at the end of our life than the beginning, we will never be perfectly holy until we are in heaven. As long as we are on this earth, we still exist in fallen human nature. In Jesus Christ, God sees us as without blemish because we are covered in His blood.
  • What Is Glorification?: 
          -This is the end of the sanctification process and takes place when we get to heaven (1 John 3:2; Ephesians 3:15; Philippians 3:20-21). We are then in an eternal state and have been fully perfected in our nature.
  • Confusing Justification With Sanctification: 
          -Certain professing Christian groups such as the Mormons and International Churches of Christ teach that a person is not justified until the final Day of Judgment when he or she is rewarded after his or her works are evaluated. Only then has he or she been found worthy of his or her place with God in heaven. In short, the cults blur the meanings of justification and sanctification by equating them to mean the same thing. This kind of theology results in a works-based salvation.
  • Labeling Justification As Being A Process Is Highly Illogical: 
          -How could justification be a process? How would it work? It would make no sense to claim that a person could be a little justified now, or a little more, or less, justified tomorrow. If we are found guilty in God's eyes, then we have incurred His divine wrath and thus eternal condemnation in hell. We cannot be both justified (and thus going to heaven) and unjustified (and thus going to hell) at the same time. In other words, we are either justified or not justified at all. The false notion that justification is a "process" amounts to a works-based system of righteousness because at the moment of physical death, God would be adding up our works to determine whether we performed enough good deeds to earn our entrance into the pearly gates of heaven. But this does not even constitute a valid theological definition of justification. Such a description only provides us with a process (with an unknown name) leading up to justification.

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