Monthly Archives: June 2012

77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #28)

28.     Didn’t Christ become a curse for us?

The Jewish leaders maneuvered the Roman governor to impale Jesus on a wooden stake or timber—the customary Roman penalty for treason against the empire—hence deliberately, though ironically, placing him under the only curse of the Mosaic Law not necessarily conditional upon actual personal sin.  Thus by a loophole the Jewish leaders managed to engineer a condemnation of Jesus (if possible) even by God Himself!  By manhandling God’s wholesome Law to Moses and wickedly misusing its power to curse in order to condemn the Innocent One, they sealed the doom of that Law itself and thereby rendered it a lame duck as an ethical rule for God’s people; nevertheless, it does still retain a measure of utility with respect to the lawless.  In the meantime, Father & Son, Inc. simply forged ahead, working their plan regardless, and practiced what they preached:  “Bless those who curse you”, and so fulfilled their Contract under deadline.  However, the agent of the curses was Satan, originally an angelic servant submitting to God’s control.  His eventual foreseen rebellion did not divest him of his authority to activate them, however, and within his discretionary authority he misused the curse power God gave him.  The Cross mightily deactivated all such curse decrees, whose hostility was there aimed at the Son of God himself—the Father in effect erasing that  handwriting, nailing it to the Cross, stripping off those governing sovereignties and authorities, conspicuously making an example of them, and triumphantly dragging them in tow!  The contest was unequal; the curses lost.  Yay Jesus!  In this epic sting operation, Satan took the bait and played the Joker, as foreknown.  But his evil was transmuted by God into resplendent good as the chrysalis of curse burst open to release the soaring blessing of Abraham, now taking wing to every family, tongue, land, and nation dwelling in darkness.  Who could have guessed!

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #27)

 27.     Didn’t Jesus experience the judgment of God at the Cross?

Far from it.  God took no hand in his condemnation whatever.  At the Cross, God was unmasking Satan’s true colors in public and unreeling enough rope for him to hang himself on a world stage.  By springing Satan’s divine-human prey, God made a spectacle of the folly of the allied spiritual forces of viciousness.  God’s own authentic judgments, both to reward the Victim with sweet victory, and to duly revenge the victimizers with extermination if they should stubbornly remain unconciliated, were still future at this juncture.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #26)

26.     Didn’t Jesus propitiate God’s wrath by the Cross?

Nothing could be further from the truth.  God’s wrath against the stubborn and stiff-necked cannot be placated, appeased, or propitiated, either by the Cross or any other means.  Jesus never played that card for it would have meant trumping his Father’s unalterable, indeed, entirely incorruptible, character.  Inconceivable!  For holiness is by definition everlasting and unquenchable.  Jesus came to be a protective covering or indemnity concerning sin, that is, to open a shelter where humanity could experience God’s exuberant graciousness, not to fend off His alleged wrath against every last human misdeed to satisfy a postulated ‘eternal moral order’.  Our Savior could do this precisely because he was perfectly wrath-proof!  He was even crucified—get a grip on this—in the graciousness of God, not His anger.  The proof is that our Lord bounced back to life even before the dust of death had settled, to mock the vengeful ‘penal substitution’ of a self-aggrandizing Jewish priesthood and to aggrandize instead the non-vindictive graciousness of his Father’s authentic judgment from heaven.  In a cosmic turning of the tables, God propitiated or appeased His embittered enemies by allowing them to sacrifice His chosen Messiah without countering with immediate punitive consequences!  Imagine that!

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #25)

 25.     Didn’t the wrath of God fall on Christ at the Cross?

Never happened.  Scripture is completely silent concerning the notion of the Cross being an event that reveals God’s anger against sin.  Much rather, it exposed the rage of Satan—the wrath of the Dragon—against God’s Son and ironically tricked him into daring to fatally assault God’s chosen and Anointed One to deprive him of his rightful due as Israel’s true king.  For sure, Jesus tasted the bitter cup of that affliction for our sakes, but his lips never touched the cup of God’s wrath.  God never for one moment harbored anything but fatherly favor and graciousness toward His beloved Son.  He no more felt or expressed wrath against Jesus than He did against Noah or Abraham, Joseph or Job, Jeremiah or Daniel.  In spite of getting grievously abused, Messiah was in the gracious hands of God, start to finish.  Get a grip!  Hold that thought.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #24)

 24.       Weren’t the Levitical sacrifices intended to avert God’s wrath toward sin?

Not per se.  They were divinely appointed as prophetic shadows prefiguring God’s way of cleaning sin out of human hearts, because cumulating sins are what actually provoke his mounting anger.  Not the averting of divine wrath, but the more essential cleansing of human hearts from sin is what the mainstay of the sacrificial system depicts in shadowy detail.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #23)

 23.      Don’t sins always incur God’s wrath?

Sins, as such, do not automatically provoke God’s wrath, because He is mercifully slow to get angry.  It is those wrongs that we realize we’re doing but refuse to confess and get cleaned out, especially after He patiently tries to correct us—now those make Him angry!  Beware.  He’s an accomplished disciplinarian, not to add, an avenger.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #22)

 22.     Doesn’t God manifest His wrath from heaven against sin?

Absolutely.  God’s wrath smolders against all stiff-necked, hard-hearted, callused, stubborn wrongdoers.  And especially now that the light of Christ has appeared, refusal to believe the truth of His Proclamation of divine graciousness as demonstrated in the invaluable self-sacrifice of His innocent Son makes conscious rejection the more culpable.  Yet God’s dominant love and graciousness wait patiently with many tokens of kindness and mercy to induce people to change their minds and respond favorably to His graciousness so that He doesn’t have to destroy them after all, along with the sins they foolishly cherish.  Accordingly, when after much patience due change of heart was not more generally forthcoming, at length God unveiled His indignation against the worst sin His chosen people Israel ever committed—the lynching of His own precious Son, the only qualified Messiah—by the terrifying desolation of Jerusalem and the razing of its boasted temple to the ground before that wayward generation could all die off by natural deaths.  Thus they forfeited the ultimate ‘Promised Land’ the prophets foretold.

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