Which Theory On Atonement is Biblical?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JesusFan, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. JesusFan

    JesusFan
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    penal substitution, Moral influence, ransom, just which one?
     
  2. preachinjesus

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    Perhaps its more than one.
     
  3. Iconoclast

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  4. mandym

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    Atonement is not a theory it is a fact.
     
  5. Tom Butler

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    Okay JesusFan, don't be coy. Which one do you advocate?
     
  6. stilllearning

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    Thanks for this link.
    For those of us who are still learning, this site is very helpful.
     
  7. Ron Wood

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    Something I wrote a few years ago.

    Particular Redemption
    Let me begin by saying I am not very fond of the term “limited atonement’. All but Universalists limit the atonement in some way. I prefer the term “Particular Redemption” as it speaks more plainly to the teaching of the Scriptures and leaves less room for misunderstanding. I will take as my text John 10:11. I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep. Now if that were the only passage of Holy Scripture that speaks to the doctrine of a definite and particular redemption we would still be bound to believe what it says. There seems to me to be absolutely no wriggle room in this statement by our Lord.
    I want to speak to this issue from 3 perspectives as the Scriptures speak: Christ as our Surety, Christ as our sin bearer and Christ as our substitute. It is my purpose to show how and why we can trust Christ’s work for all our salvation.
    A proper understanding of the atonement of Christ is crucial to the Gospel. There really is no Gospel without it. Let me see if I can explain: The good news of the Gospel lies in the truth of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Either He, by His death, actually accomplished redemption for someone or His death really means nothing. Where is the good news in an atonement that didn’t atone? Where is the wonderful message in a redemption that that didn’t redeem? How can a sinner look to a Savior with confidence who didn’t actually save? The only hope a sinner can have is that Christ did actually make an atonement for his sin. This is the ground of assurance we preach and believe. Our hope is in the finished work of the Savior.
    Now our text says that the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. No one took His life, they had neither the authority nor power to do so, He gave it up for the sheep. He repeats the fact that He lays down His life for the sheep again in verse 15 of John 10. He makes it even more plain in verses 17and 18 of the same chapter. He told Pilate that he had no power over Him unless it was given him from above. (John 19:11) Christ laying down His life for the sheep was a voluntary act on His part. There was no force or coercion involved. Infinite love and fathomless mercy toward the sheep moved Him to act.
    This brings us to a question: How is it possible that Christ could voluntarily lay down His life for the sheep? It is true that no court in the world would allow such a thing. No righteous judge could possibly put to death an innocent person. God says in Proverbs 17:15, He that justifieth the wicked and he that condemeth the just, even they both are an abomination to God. How then can God be righteous and put to death that One who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners? The answer rests in the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ was no mere man. A mere man has no authority to lay down his life because his life doesn’t belong to him. All men answer to a higher authority, God, and have no right to give that which doesn’t belong to them. That isn’t the case with Christ. As God, He has every right over His own life and may give it as He pleases. He alone is able to lay down His life for the sheep. The word translated power in John 10:18 is authority.
    Are you still with me? I know I have taken the long way around to get here but I believe it was necessary to lay a foundation in order to properly grasp the meaning of Scripture when it speaks of Christ’s atonement. So with what has been already said in mind lets now look at 3 ways the Bible speaks of Christ. I hope to answer the question as to how God can righteously put to death His darling Son in the place of chosen sinners. Once that has been answered we are able to see that the death of Christ on the cross was for the sheep alone.
    Christ our surety.
    The writer to the Hebrews tells us in 7:22 that Jesus was made a surety of a better covenant. What is a surety? The modern idea of a surety is like a co-signer on a loan but that isn’t the Scriptural concept. We have 2 examples given for us that will take us a long way in understanding what the Scriptures mean by a surety. The first is in Gen. 43:9. Judah becomes a surety for Benjamin. As a surety he agrees to bear all the blame for any failure. He takes upon himself full responsibility and by doing so relieves Benjamin of guilt for his failure to return. The second we find in Philemon 18. Paul became a surety for Onesimus. In essence Paul is saying that his debt is mine, I make it mine and agree to repay all he owes. Because Paul became surety no debt could be charged to Onesimus. He must go free. The debt is now Paul’s to repay. Onesimus no longer owes anything to Philemon. So we see that a surety doesn’t agree to pay only the part that is left unpaid, as a co-signer, but takes the whole debt in its entirety. The debt becomes solely his who is surety and that one for whom he becomes surety must go free because he no longer owes anything.
    In the Covenant of Grace, made between the three persons of the Godhead before the foundation of the world, Christ became Surety for all that the Father gave Him. (John 6:39) As the Great Shepherd of the sheep He took full responsibility for them and must bear the blame for any that are lost. As their Surety He guarantees their safety and must bring them into the sheepfold. (John 10:16) If He fails to do what He agreed to do then the blame isn’t on the sheep but on Him. Again, as the Surety of the sheep He took all their debt as His own. In that everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure He said, “Whatever they owe I will repay. They must go free.” Justice no longer can seek satisfaction from them, they have a Surety. The creditor can no longer require payment from them, they have a Surety. They are free from all debt and blame; their Surety has taken it as His own. We have a beautiful picture of Christ our Surety when the men came to take Him in John 18:7,8. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way:
    There are some in this world who are not the sheep for whom Christ became Surety. In verse 26 of John 10 we find our Lord telling some men that they believe not because they are not His sheep. He was neither their Surety nor their Shepherd. If He had been He couldn’t have said those words to them.
    This thought ought to strike terror in the heart of unbelievers. How awful it will be to stand before the judge of the whole earth without a Surety. No wonder it is said in Rev. 6:16 that they will cry for the mountains and the rocks to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. Do you have a Surety? If you believe on Him who is the Surety of a better covenant you do. Trusting Him alone as taking your debt and making it His own is evidence that He is your Surety.
    Cont.
     
  8. Ron Wood

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    Cont.

    Christ our sin bearer.
    Next I want us to look at Christ the sin bearer. There are several passages of Scripture that speak of Christ bearing sin. Probably the most well known is Isa 53. In verse 6 we read that the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. In verse 11 we read that He shall justify many for He shall bear their iniquities. And in verse 12 we read He bare the sin of many. In what way did Christ bear sin?
    Sin incurs guilt. If I rob a bank it makes no difference whether I am caught I am still guilty of bank robbery. I have committed a crime and deserve the just reward of my deed. I bear the guilt for my crime. Peter tells us in 1Pet. 2:24 that Christ bore our sins in His own body on the tree. The great mass of guilt that was the burden of all the elect of God He took upon Himself. He bore it as a burden that was His own. He suffered under the heavy weight of it. The guilt of sin was imputed to Him in an act of justice. We read that the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. A transfer was made from the sinner to the Savior. (Remember what I said about Christ being the only one who has the authority to do such a thing) We have this typified for us in the scapegoat. Lev. 15:21,22
    We read that Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the scapegoat
    confessing the sin of the people putting them on the head of the goat typifying a transfer of guilt. In verse 22 we find that the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities. The scapegoat is then led away by the hands of a fit man (I love the way the KJV puts it) into the wilderness and let go never to be seen again. In the same way Christ, as our scapegoat bearing the sin of His people, has born sin away so thoroughly that God says of it that it shall be looked for but shall not be found. Jer. 50:20 He bore it away as far as the East is from the West. How far is that? North meets South at the poles but East never meets West. You may travel East forever without ever traveling West. He has removed our sin so completely that even God who sees everywhere can’t find it. He carried it away in His own body on the tree, blotting out the handwriting of ordinances against us taking it out of the way nailing it to His cross. In Hebrews 1:3 we read that He has (notice it is past tense) purged our sins. That means it is completely removed and no longer exists. When you purge something not even a small remnant of it remains. It is gone. Even the sin that I do today and will do tomorrow is gone. Christ bore it away.
    Christ our substitute.
    Next is Christ our substitute. The passage that speaks to this is 2Cor. 5:21. I will be the first to admit that the word substitute isn’t in the Scriptures but certainly the idea is. 2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. An old preacher friend of mine once said, “ God must first do something for Himself before He can ever do something for the sinner.” We said earlier that sin incurs guilt. There is something else that sin incurs; it incurs the wrath of a holy and just God. He cannot just overlook and forgive sin. We are able to do that because we are ourselves sinners in need of forgiveness. He has sworn and will not go back that the soul that sins must die, Ezek. 18:4. Strict unbending justice demands the death of the sinner and before mercy can be granted justice must be satisfied. If God were to be merciful and forgive sin without satisfying the demand of strict justice He would cease to be God. His holiness and righteousness would fall to the ground. In Psa 85:10 we read that mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other. There is only one way this can ever take place: in Christ our substitute. God hath made Him to be sin for us!
    Can it be true? Was Christ made to be sin? Yes it is because He was. Remember what we said about no righteous judge putting an innocent man to death? The act of imputation that took place was no mere pasting on but a transfer of guilt. He didn’t just carry our sin it became His. He took it as His own and died under the wrath of God because of it. With one tremendous draft of love, He drank damnation dry. Again I refer you to 1Pet. 2:24. We read that He bore our sin in His own body on the tree not on His body. Psalm 40 is generally accepted as a Messianic Psalm. It is interpreted as Christ speaking. Hear what He says in verse 12: Psa 40:12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me

    Cont.
     
  9. Ron Wood

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    Continued

    The Lord our Savior Jesus Christ satisfied all the demands of justice against the sin of all for whom He was the substitute. He stood in their place and suffered as a sinner until wrath was spent and could no longer rise up against His people. God can never again punish any for whom Christ was the substitute. God can never be wrathful against any sinner for whom Christ died. He may, in love, chastise and correct them but never again punish them. God did something for Himself in order to be merciful to sinners. He exhausted His wrath against the sin of His elect and satisfied His strict justice in a perfect substitute.
    Conclusion.
    There are more ways that Christ is spoken of in the Scriptures having to do with atonement by Him that I haven’t dealt with: propitiation, redemption, ransom, Passover, sacrifice, the Lamb of God and Jehovah’s Servant. All of which, when properly understood, speak of Him doing something for a particular people. Christ laid down His life for the sheep. There are no hypotheticals involved. As the Surety of His people He made their debt His. As their sin bearer He has removed their sin. As their substitute He stood in their place and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. By His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. Heb. 9:12
    In light of these things the objections raised pale by reason of the glorious truth that Christ is the Good Shepherd that lays down His life for the sheep.
     
  10. JesusFan

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    Thanks for your replies!
    As An Evangelical 4 point Christian ..

    Believe in the atonement as being penal Substitution

    just was curious to where the other viewpoints orginated from a Biblical perspective...

    Are their any of the various theories that would be seen as being far enough removed from being 'biblically correct" that one who holds to that view of the Atonement has a "false Gospel?"
     
  11. glfredrick

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    All the above. Each can be found in the Scriptures (and a few others not listed as well) which is why some people, based on their own worldviews and cultures have adopted one or the other as their primary view.

    To limit the atonement to one category or the other is to do the COMPLETE work of Christ serious injustice. He accomplished EVERY purpose of God, whether our example (moral), penal substitution , kinsman redeemer, righteous warrior (Christus victor), satisfaction of wrath, acceptance by God, or virtually any other doctrine or theory of the atonement that we might consider.

    Of these various theories of the atonement, some are lighter in doctrinal "weight" than others. For instance, Christ our "example" can be seen as a Pelagian or semi-Pelagian expression of the atonement if it stands alone, for the idea in Christ as example is that He merely showed us the way so we can follow. Penal Substitution on the other hand signifies that Christ indeed BECAME our sin and imputes to us His perfect and holy righteousness. The Kinsman Redeemer theory states that Christ paid our ransom and set us free. Christus victor indicates that Christ has fought and won the battle over sin and death. And, of course, Christ IS our moral guide.

    That's my King...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE&feature=related
     
    #11 glfredrick, Mar 4, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 4, 2011
  12. Osage Bluestem

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    Penal substitution.

    Listen to this short 10 minute clip from a sermon on it by Pastor Don Fortner:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_0WIEMroww
     
  13. preachinjesus

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    Not being unnecessarily coy but I woukd advocte that Scripture shows us multiple views on the application of atonement in terms of type. There are elemets of ransom, penal substitutionary, Christus Victor, etc within the pages of the New Testament.

    What is not at play is the sufficiency or extent of the atonement. Christ death gives life.
     
  14. Bro. James

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    Someone may have already said it: "salvation is not a theory but a divine fiat".
    As Jesus approached him, John the Baptist said: "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world".

    Jesus said as he died: "It is finished".

    The Holy Spirit caused Paul the apostle to write: "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast; for we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them", Eph. 2:8-10.

    A little child can understand. What is our problem? Salvation is of The Lord.

    Peace,

    Bro. James
     
  15. Van

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    What is meant by the term "atonement?"

    The consensus of the thread is that the penal substitution theory best explains the scriptures that address "atonement."

    What is our common understanding of the term “atonement.” In English, the word simply means “a making at one” and theologically refers to the process of bringing someone estranged from God into unity with God. Using this understanding of the term, then Christ’s death on the cross did not bring anyone into unity with God, but instead enabled God to bring those of His choosing into unity with Himself. When God spiritually places someone “in Christ” they are united with Christ, and they are justified, made holy and blameless in Christ. Thus if we use the term correctly, then atonement refers to God placing us spiritually in Christ. Nothing substitutionary about the actual process of "at one ment."

    No, the theory of penal substitution deals with what Christ accomplished on the cross. Did He die for all mankind or for the previously chosen "elect?"
    Did He die "in place of each elect individual" or in behalf of all mankind. Scripture says He laid down His life as a ransom for all. Scripture says Christ's death reconciled the world to Himself. But then believers are told to beg others to be reconciled to God. Thus the concept of "providing reconciliation to all men" as the work of the cross, and receiving reconciliation when God spiritually places an individual in Christ best describes biblical reconciliation, or "at one ment."
     
  16. Baptist Believer

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    Excellent post.

    Someone protested that atonement is fact, not theory. That is certainly true. But human perspective and words fail to comprehend and capture all that has been done on our behalf by the Holy One. Therefore, our descriptions of the actions of God are rightly understood as theories which help us explain to each other, more or less, what is available to us in Christ.

    Here's another helpful article.
     
    #16 Baptist Believer, Mar 5, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  17. mandym

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    Whether human words fail to capture all that has been done by God is not a justification to go from an absolute proposition i.e. "Someone protested that atonement is fact, not theory. That is certainly true." to "our descriptions of the actions of God are rightly understood as theories". You cannot have it both ways. It is either a fact or a theory. Not wanting to attack but that is just double talk.
     
  18. glfredrick

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    No real double talk here at all. The FACT of the atonement of Christ is certain. The descriptors of that FACT are theory, which is why there is more than one. Taken together, as revealed in the Scriptures, all these various theological theories equal again the FACT of the atonement.

    We're not saying (at all!) that the atonement is a theory. Rather, that the theological descriptions of that atonement are theories, no one being sufficient in and of itself to cover the entirety of the completed act of Christ.
     
  19. Van

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    Biblical Reconciliation

    The consensus of the thread is that the penal substitution theory best explains the scriptures that address "atonement."

    What is our common understanding of the term “atonement.” In English, the word simply means “a making at one” and theologically refers to the process of bringing someone estranged from God into unity with God. Using this understanding of the term, then Christ’s death on the cross did not bring anyone into unity with God, but instead enabled God to bring those of His choosing into unity with Himself. When God spiritually places someone “in Christ” they are united with Christ, and they are justified, made holy and blameless in Christ. Thus if we use the term correctly, then atonement refers to God placing us spiritually in Christ. Nothing substitutionary about the actual process of "at one ment."

    No, the theory of penal substitution deals with what Christ accomplished on the cross. Did He die for all mankind or for the previously chosen "elect?"
    Did He die "in place of each elect individual" or in behalf of all mankind. Scripture says He laid down His life as a ransom for all. Scripture says God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. But then believers are told to beg others to be reconciled to God. Thus the concept of "providing reconciliation to all men" as the work of the cross, and receiving reconciliation when God spiritually places an individual in Christ best describes biblical reconciliation, or "at one ment."
     
    #19 Van, Mar 7, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2011
  20. Iconoclast

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    This is a denial of the finished work of Christ on the cross.
    He accomplished redemption as an exact substitute for His covenant people, no more or no less.
    The whole world is not reconciled to God,yet the salvation goes worldwide.
    Your false theology leads you to use unbiblical language-God does need to "enable" as you say here;
    He just does whatever He purposed to do,as it says here He accomplished redemption...not just made it possible;


    The us are the covenant children given by the Father. No more,No less.
     

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