Archive for the ‘atonement’ Tag

God’s anger and atonement

Throughout history people have questioned whether or not God is really angry about sin?  And Bible-believing people question what it means that God’s wrath is revealed against sin.  Some say that when Paul talks about the wrath of God being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men (Romans 1:18), he isn’t talking about a personal, divine wrath.  God is love, right?  He is a forgiving God, right?  He is supposed to be good, isn’t He?  If God is not angry about sin then he is anything but good.  If God does not judge unrighteousness then call Him anything but loving.  God is infinitely angry about sin because He is infinitely good and infinitely loving and infinitely righteous and just.  It is only because God is love that he judges unrighteousness and ungodliness.  It is only because God is good that he is personally and actively angry about sin.  Many speak of a gospel that removes any language of God’s wrath or gives any sense that He is personally hostile against evil or that He punishes sin.  Instead, if His wrath is even mentioned, it is said that when the Bible speaks of God’s wrath it is referring to a natural principle of cause and effect that is built into the universe.  Does sin have natural consequences?  Yes – no one can deny that fact.   But is that all the Bible means when it talks about God’s wrath upon sinful mankind?  C.H. Dodd was one of the leading proponents of this particular view on God’s wrath that says it is just a natural outworking of sin’s consequences.  He wrote that God’s wrath refers not to ‘a certain feeling or attitude of God towards us, but some process or effect in the realm of objective facts.’  What he was saying in essence was that God has no personal response to sin.  I don’t see how anyone could read the Bible and think that God’s wrath is merely a natural process or effect.

Take Exodus 12 for example…to say that God has no personal wrath against sin is not a very good explanation for what happens in Exodus 12.  Do you think the Egyptians thought that God’s wrath was just some type of impersonal consequence to their sin or some natural outworking of a principle of cause and effect built into the universe?  I wonder if you can imagine tucking your children into bed tonight and then being startled awake sometime around midnight.  You get this feeling that something just isn’t right and so you go and check on the kids only to find your firstborn is dead.  Then you hear the commotion out in the streets and find out that the same terror has fallen upon your neighbors.  Then, as the commotion becomes greater, you realize that the entire community has been affected by this.  Then you find out that the entire country has been affected.  Can you really tell me it would occur to you that this is just an outworking of a natural principle of cause and effect that is built into the universe?

I’m sorry, but God went to great lengths on the night of Passover to make it very clear to the people of Egypt and their Pharaoh that He was NOT happy with them.

You see the reason the Gospel is good news is because there is first some very bad news – The wrath of God is coming (Colossians 3:6).  And we are all by nature children of wrath – deserving of God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3).  If God is not angry about sin, then who needs atonement.  Is it any wonder that in a day where the bad news of God’s wrath against sinners has been stripped from the good news of the gospel so many have seen fit to ignore the necessity of the penal substitutionary atonement of Christ.

Christianity…just another pointless therapy? (part 3)

I returned from T4G with the goal of bringing clarity to the gospel for every person under my teaching, especially in terms of the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement.  The meaning of the gospel has become so muddled.  And this is not merely the fault of Christian liberalism preaching the message of “a God without wrath [bringing] men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross” but because of a church culture in American evangelicalism that propagates a message of “a God without wrath [bringing] men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross.”  Many believe and teach that there is a problem outside of us (family or money or society or our childhood or whatever) and the solution to this problem can only be found within the individual.  In Osteen‘s word, many would have you believe that, “You are not a sick person trying to get well.  You are a well person fighting off sickness.”  When in fact the Bible teaches the opposite of this…The problem is in the individual.  It is within each of us – it is sin.  And the solution to this problem can only come from outside of us.  It is an objective reality outside of the individual that resolves the problem, not a subjective reality within each individual.

Christianity is NOT just another pointless therapy that tells you to look inside yourself for a solution that is not there.  Christianity presents the only real solution to the problem – the gospel.  The gospel is based on objective facts and historical acts of God.  The whole reason we celebrate this time of year is due to the fact that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4-5).”

So let’s clarify the gospel by looking at that three word phrase that became such a theme at T4G and has become such a theme in my reading and study: Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

Penal – meaning penalty.  There is a penalty that you and I deserve because of our sin.  The Bible’s testimony about mankind, and this is proven true in every one of our lives, is that we have all fallen short of the standard that God has put into place.  We have actually rebelled against this divine and objective standard.  We are, in our natural state, hostile toward that standard.  So we are all deserving of punishment.

Substitutionary – God sent his son Jesus Christ, as a substitute, to face the penalty of sin that we all deserve.  God made provision for our sin in the provision of His Son, Christ Jesus – dying on the cross in our place..

Atonement – What is it that makes anyone acceptable to God?  It is that they have trusted in Christ as an acceptable sacrifice in their place, becoming their substitute on the cross to absorb the wrath of God and remove the wrath of God which was upon them.  Christ reconciles us to God by bearing our penalty on the cross in our place to atone for our sin.

2 Cor. 5:19 – …in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them..