Years ago two liberal theologians coined the phrase cosmic child abuse.1 They used this term to express their disgust at the traditional doctrine of Penal Substitution. Those who oppose this motif of the cross see the notion of the Father crushing the Son (Isaiah 53:10) as barbaric. They see Jesus as a victim to the Father’s uncontrollable rage. However, a close look at the facts show that such was not the case. At the cross, a loving heavenly Father crushed an obedient, willing Son. Continue reading A Loving Father Crushes an Obedient Son: How Penal Substitution Is Not Child Abuse
- Proverbs 17:15 He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.
- Proverbs 24:24 He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him.
- Isaiah 5:22-23 Woe to those…Who justify the wicked for a bribe…
- Exodus 23:7 …I will not acquit the guilty.
These Scriptures teach that it is wrong to declare a guilty person, “Not guilty.” Yet in the evangelical gospel we see God doing exactly that! He is a God who “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5).
How can we explain this dilemma? Is God loving us at the expense of His justice? Continue reading 4 Questions About the Justice of God in the Gospel
Sermons by Joshua Chipchase
Faith Baptist Church, Oxford, OH
July 2 & 9, 2017
In our original post on the Golden Chain of Salvation we looked at Romans 8:30 as our key verse. There we examined each stage in the process (predestination, calling, justification, and glorification) and concluded that, by God’s power, the links of the chain cannot be broken. If one part of the chain applies to somebody, we know the rest will too.
Now we will continue on in Romans 8 where Paul elaborates upon and solidifies what he has already said about the golden chain. Bringing up Christ’s death and resurrection Paul shows how our security is rooted in God’s justice (vv. 31-34), and in His love (vv. 35-39). Christians are hammered with opposition and trials in this life, but because Jesus died for us we can rest assured that nothing can “unlink” us from the chain of salvation. Continue reading The Cross and the Golden Chain of Salvation (Romans 8:31-34)
I recently posted about the Top 10 Best Books on the Atonement. There I mentioned my favorite book outside the Bible, The Death of Death by John Owen. This is Owen’s treatise on Limited Atonement. The entirety of the third section (book) is devoted to 16 arguments in support of Limited Atonement. Now each one may not be sufficient by itself (although some are) to prove the doctrine, but by the end we see that the overarching theme traced throughout the whole Bible is undeniable. Below is my summary of them. As the title implies, I’ll try to keep with Owen’s thought and Bible references, although I may at times fall for the temptation to add my own take and flare. All page numbers are from the 1983 reprint by Banner of Truth. Again, there is a free PDF version on CCEL
“These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
Paul had just said that God is working all things for our good (v. 28), and that we will be conformed to Jesus’ image (v. 29). Continuing that thought, he explains that the plan of salvation is secure, and how God brings us into that conformity. The teaching in this sentence has rightly been called The Golden Chain of Salvation. Nobody can be at one link in this chain without all of the others being true. Anybody who is justified before God is so because they were first predestined by God, and because God followed through with His purpose to save them by also calling them. Anybody who is justified will by no means fall away, but God will complete their salvation and bring them into eternal glory. The verse could have the same meaning if it had only said, “all whom He predestined, He also glorified.“ Continue reading The Golden Chain of Salvation, Romans 8:30
N.T. Wright, in his newest book, The Day the Revolution Began, asserts that an either/or distinction between the theories of the atonement must be discarded. These theories in fact are all truthful. They must be taken together to get a holistic picture of what the atonement is. The idea, in a nutshell, is that the atonement of Christ is a multi-faceted event containing elements of Christus Victor, Moral Influence, and Penal Substitution, an event which is ultimately about God reclaiming authority over the world through the reinstatement of humans to their God-ordained vocation as image bearers and vice-regents of the earth. Below, I will explain the deficiencies of each theory to show that they are not sufficient in and of themselves to explain the atonement. Continue reading The Multi-Dimensional Revolution: Theories of the Atonement, pt. 2
The death of Jesus Christ stands as a central event in Christian theology along with the incarnation, resurrection, and ascension. Like the other three events, the death of Jesus is rich with meaning and significance. The New Testament, looking back at the crucified Christ, explains that the death of Jesus should be understood in terms of atonement (Heb. 2:17). Jesus, like the sacrificial animals offered by the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, is handed over to be killed on a Roman crucifix in order to make atonement for the sins of the people.
However, the nature of how this atonement works has been hotly debated throughout church history. Several different theories have been offered throughout the past two millennia to try to get at what is happening on the cross. Is Jesus’ death an ironic victory over the dark powers of this world, an inspirational illustration of the sacrificial love of God, or a legal transaction between God and Jesus in order to satisfy God’s requirement? This paper will present a middle way theory which navigates between the other atonement theories and discovers they are in fact parts to a multi-dimensional whole expressed in various metaphors in Scripture requiring a harmony of more than one atonement theory in order to be fully explained. Continue reading Ironic, Subjective, Just, or All Three: Theories of the Atonement, pt. 1
All who believe in Jesus Christ are justified before God. But what does that mean? The traditional doctrine of justification can be summarized: “Believers are declared to be righteous before God based on the imputation of Christ’s active obedience.”
Now, if you are searching for what verse says that, you won’t find it. There is no single verse that spells out every detail of this great doctrine. However, that does not mean it is absent altogether. In Brian Vicker’s excellent book, Jesus’ Blood and Righteousness: Paul’s Theology of Imputation, he admits that no one passage includes every piece of the puzzle. He states however, that when we synthesize each of the major texts on the subject, as well as take into consideration broad biblical-theological themes, we see that the traditional doctrine is taught. Continue reading The Traditional Doctrine of Justification: Putting Together the Pieces of the Puzzle
The Atonement and God
We must not think for a minute that God does not need to be appeased. Don’t be tricked into thinking that “God is love” (1 John 4:8) means that God is not angry with sinners. The Bible says that unbelievers are storing up for themselves wrath, indignation, tribulation, and distress on Judgment Day (Rom. 2:8-9). Those who disobey are under God’s wrath (John 3:36). God has indignation every day (Ps. 7:11). The Scriptures even go so far as to say that God hates sinners (Ps. 5:5-6; 11:5-6). The Bible speaks of God’s wrath frequently. According to Leon Morris, there are 20 different Hebrew words used to describe God’s wrath in the Old Testament, and over 580 references to it. Every single human being has broken God’s Law (Rom. 3:10-18) and has become His enemy (Rom. 5:10; Jas. 4:4). Continue reading The Cross and Salvation