GOSPEL (WHAT) AND THEORY (HOW)

THE TWENTY-SECOND DAY OF NOVEMBER IN THE YEAR OF GRACE TWO THOUSAND AND FIFTEEN. A gracEmail subscriber asks: "What is penal substitutionary atonement? is it the same thing as the gospel? Do you see any problems with it? * * * The New Testament word "gospel" means "good news." Specifically, the gospel is the good news that by the doing, dying, and rising again of Jesus of Nazareth, God … [Read more...]

“Propitiation/atonement”: LXX background to a NT verb

In Hebrews 2:17, the unknown author says that Jesus identified with his people as their high priest, “to make propitiation” for their sins. The Greek verb here (hilaskomai), which many English versions translate as “to make propitiation,” brings to the New Testament an interesting biblical background. That background comes from the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament that was the first “Bible” of … [Read more...]

ATONEMENT THEORIES – 3

Christians affirm that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives sinful human beings and restores them to right relationship with himself. However, when asked to explain exactly how this atonement occurred, they have offered a variety of theories. A gracEmail subscriber requests more detail concerning these different explanations. * * * The penal substitution … [Read more...]

ATONEMENT THEORIES – 2

Christians affirm that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives sinful human beings and restores them to right relationship with himself. However, when asked to explain exactly how this atonement occurred, they have offered a variety of theories. A gracEmail subscriber requests more detail concerning these different explanations. * * * Moral influence. This view was … [Read more...]

ATONEMENT THEORIES – 1

Christians affirm that through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God forgives sinful human beings and restores them to right relationship with himself. However, when asked to explain exactly how this atonement occurred, they have offered a variety of theories. A gracEmail subscriber requests more detail concerning these different explanations. * * * New Testament writers do not … [Read more...]

ATONEMENT: REALITY AND THEORIES

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "I recently came across some of C. S. Lewis’ comments concerning his denial of the 'penal, substitutionary' view of atonement. I have never heard atonement explained in any other way. This led me to research a former and greatly respected professor who also basically denies the 'penal substitutionary' view. Is this just a minor disagreement or does it involve an … [Read more...]

JESUS AND HUMAN SACRIFICE

A gracEmail subscriber in Korea asks, "How could God, who abhors human sacrifice, sacrifice his own Son? How could the murder of an innocent man (Jesus) be necessary to bring about our forgiveness by God?" * * * When speaking concerning divine mysteries such as the Atonement, we must speak hesitantly and with great reverence. However, we may be sure that God always behaves consistently with his … [Read more...]

COSMIC CHILD ABUSE?

A gracEmail subscriber has heard someone say that if God required his sinless Son to die in order to forgive our sins that would be both unjust and "cosmic child abuse." What does Scripture say about this? * * * The atonement made by Jesus Christ involves holy mystery. We should therefore speak about it with both reverence and humility. When we have said all that the Bible tells us on the … [Read more...]

ACTUAL ATONEMENT

A gracEmail subscriber writes: "How do you view the issue of man's choice or God's decree with regard to our salvation? Is limited atonement true or did Christ die for all?" * * * The biblical point is not "limited" atonement, which sounds like God intentionally excluded some people from salvation. It is rather "particular" or actual atonement, which means that Jesus actually saved real people … [Read more...]

IS GOD ‘JUST’ TO FORGIVE?

A West Texas reader responds to my comment that God forgives repentant people who do not conform precisely to his commands. "Is that really just?" he asked. * * * Yours is a most perceptive question which takes us to the very heart of the gospel. For without considering what God has done in Jesus Christ, the answer must be an emphatic "No!" We do not deserve God's kindness and we never will. No … [Read more...]