Monthly Archives: August 2012

77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #76)

76.     What is the extent of the atonement?

Here’s the perennial dilemma in barebones:  if the atonement paid for all sins, yet anyone remains unsaved, then such a payment must not have sufficient power to save everyone; but if the atonement paid only for the sins of a chosen few, and they alone are irresistibly saved while all others are lost, then the payment must not have sufficient universality to save everyone.  Unhappy options, both.  God comes off looking inept either way.  (Nor do attempts at mediating positions seem to “satisfy” much better.)  However, according to Scripture, contrary to the common assumption about atonement underlying both these alternatives alike, the Lord did not pay for sins at all; he paid his human existence to Death itself on behalf of all mankind, and God in judicial answer repaid him via just overcompensation with life superabundant and absolutely free for all comers!  So the Savior paid for life!  Bye, bye dilemma.  Whoever hears this jubilant Proclamation and thirsts for such a grand salvation can come and take.  God proposed Jesus an indemnification concerning the wrongdoing of the whole world.  Accordingly, Jesus is drawing everyone to himself via that mighty chain of linked events (with plenty of reinforcing testimony)—Cross-Resurrection-Pentecost—by which God exalted him to heaven and then sent His Spirit to earth.  In this manner He patently provided the magnetic field absolutely necessary to draw, though not sufficient to coerce, Adam’s descendants back to Himself.  The invitation is both universal and fully efficacious by virtue of the native power the Holy Spirit invested in it.  Yet sinners can still resist its draw by resorting to their God-given but waning energies, if they so choose.  (Not smart.)  However, this does not derogate in the least from God’s capabilities to carry out the plan of His intention, for this is His intention, to choose all who risk trusting the Message He narrated through the apostles’ written testimonies.  God, in His wisdom, has chosen that vulnerability as a key selective factor.  The atonement in heaven opened the valve of celestial power that flows back to earth in order to fuel and mobilize God’s restoration of even more than was lost by the disruption of the world in Eden.  However, the fire hose is only at a trickle—enough for an ample taste to prove the reality of what’s promised so as to draw hearers, but not enough to overpower their faith and violate their human right to decide.  God is committed to educate and nurture voluntary, enthusiastic loyalty to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.  In conclusion, the efficacy of the atonement extends “as far as the curse is found”.  If you’re mortal, you’re eligible!  But you won’t be arm-twisted to accept your invitation.  Many are invited, but few step out in faith and come.  Those who take the risk and stay plugged into the power of God’s resurrectionary Explanation of the Cross to the very end are chosen.  Your move.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #75)

75.     What is the connection between the atonement and ethics?

The inner logic of the Proclamation of God’s Kingdom, strikingly visible in the divinely engineered events of Cross-Resurrection-Pentecost, concerns the sequential roles of the Son, the Father, and the Holy Spirit in that unfolding Story.  The Lord Jesus’ resplendent exaltation from a humiliating, excruciating death on a Roman cross reveals as transparently as historically conceivable, the ethics of that Divine Team.  In this celestial conception, the mutual setup and magnificent interplay for the sake of human salvation almost defies description.  Yet this divine exhibit is the taproot of redeemed human behavior in every sphere.  A fresh impulse for human action on the largest scale will flow from rehabilitating the true significance of saving righteousness, that is, “premial” (the reverse of penal) justice—the bright side of God’s juridical behavior.  For lack of honoring this rescuing or rectifying facet, oriented to restoring victims of injustice, we’re building with only half a toolbox—the penal half, oriented to the perpetrators of wrongdoing.  This is a grim and hapless limitation because penal justice is only destructive, and can save us only if it happens to fall on our assailants!  However, rewarding, restorative, or premial justice alone can drop-ship positive salvation direct to us!  A second prominent factor in the atonement is the principle of super-compensation, and it is indispensable.  This simply means that God’s saving justice repays loss by rightful overcompensation, not by mere equivalent restitution.  The upshot of the foregoing for human interaction on a panoramic scale lies in recognition of the absolutely identical impulse unifying the behavior of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as unveiled at the Cross, the Resurrection and Pentecost.  The atonement and its resultant salvation throb at the heart of all these revealing events aggregately and define their unity of purpose.  The whole marvelous spectacle is one of mutual divine gift exchange in a kind of amplifying circuit!  Not simply a new ethic, but a new jurisprudence, a new politics, a new economics, a new counseling, a new schooling, a new child rearing and much more are implied, as well.  Yet most primally, a new devotion, a refreshed worship, and a revitalized mission surely must spring forth as joyous firstfruits of seeing all this with new eyes.  This Relationship has style, visible from every angle!  Its universal proliferation is the harbinger of the Kingdom of God.  This is the ultimate model of authentic behavior for Christian emulation to ramify throughout global civilization.  It has redemptive potential for transforming every enterprise and is truly sustainable, in sync with the deep structure of our created environment:  the exalted Master and Messiah, Jesus, who alone mediates between the Creator and the entire creation.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #74)

74.     How is atonement related to sanctification?

The strenuous labors of Jesus to remain faithful to his Father’s desire even under humiliating and painful attacks and pitiful demise as an executed traitor to Rome, rendered him perfect in human wholesomeness and evoked God’s justice to display his complete acquittal by raising him miraculously to life again, right out of the dank tomb.  By way of further restitution, God poured forth for the sake of Jesus’ reputation a greater magnitude of His Spirit than ever possible under less extreme circumstances.  In turn, He gives portions of that indescribable Present to all who trust him as Master, energizing them to keep the directives he conveyed from his Father so they develop into mature sons in preparation for assuming appropriate ruling functions in the new creation that’s ahead.  Hence our Master’s teaching is essential to our becoming mature in wholesomeness like the Father’s own personality, which he ideally modeled for us.  Our participation in the Spirit of holiness that enabled him to rise above abuse successfully also leads us along the way his directions point—that same true path of wholesome love and thriving vigor despite daily troubles and difficulty.  Our sanctification is instantaneous the moment we trust the Proclamation and get baptized, entitling us to be called “saints”!  But then, of course, we have to practice the art!  Practice makes perfect.  So it’s parallel to justification, which also has both instantaneous and progressive aspects.  Our wholesomeness and uprightness alike turn on the axis of faith in the Proclamation that God exalted Jesus by “Crossurrection”, and both stay activated only by the energy of Christ’s own resurrected life dwelling in us by his Spirit.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #73)

73.     “Is healing in the atonement?”

And how!  Inasmuch as God atoned for the miserable death and shed blood of Jesus by raising him from the grave through the wholesome power and glory of the Spirit exalting him to Lordship over all nations, consequently every spiritual favor of the Spirit springs from that atonement in rich profusion, including expulsion of demons, miraculous healing of human ills, and other startling precursors of the future thorough housecleaning of the cosmos.  Christ Jesus suffered with the illnesses of others and was burdened with their pains.  He was wounded by their transgressions and crushed by their depravities.  He learned obedience through this pedagogic discipline and experienced our human plight in depth.  So in exchange for his willingness to share our misery, caused by our own aggregate depravity, and hence being perpetually afflicted by human vice at every turn his whole life long, without complaint or vengefulness, he was bequeathed by God the highest estate in the created universe, complete with fresh resources of creation-renewing power.  It is in this manner that by his welts there can be healing for us.  Only in this way are we equipped for our assigned task to renew the face of the earth as a testimony to what Christ has rendered… inevitable!

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #72)

72.     Why couldn’t the Holy Spirit come until Jesus was glorified?

The manifold increase of Holy Spirit available to mankind after Jesus’ ascension and glorification blossomed out of the climax of the Covenant, when the wrongful shedding of his innocent blood was answered by God’s rightful multiplication of surpassing favors to him and his.  It’s God’s backlash of benevolence…philanthropy!

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #71)

71.     How is the atonement linked to Pentecost?

The coming of fresh quantities of the Holy Spirit to the assembly of believers seven weeks after the Lord’s Resurrection constituted the prophesied anointing and cleansing of the sanctuary on earth.  This early harvest amounts to the firstfruits of all the spoils won by Jesus through his resurrectionary triumph over death, Satan, sin, and the Law of the Old Covenant, now fulfilled.  This is our down payment of all the promised blessings of the New Covenant, sealed by our Master’s shed blood.  Miracle-working outbreaks are to be expected repeatedly throughout this vicious age in gracious divine response to the periodic abuses suffered by God’s wholesome children as they give testimony to His Kingdom and refuse to prize even their own existences facing death, in comparison with attaining the prize of their high calling as daughters and sons of God—the inheritance of resurrection life with Christ the Lord, for the ages of the ages.  This is the historic pattern inaugurated by our Forerunner, Jesus, during the Passover-Pentecost events of 30 A.D. and repeated with variations on that theme ever since.

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77 Questions about the Atonement (Q&A #70)

70.     What is the relation between the atonement and the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s Supper of bread and wine is our partaking of the ensuing nourishment of the future age by spiritually eating the flesh and drinking the blood of the life-making Spiritual body of the risen Lord Jesus, that is, by recollecting in faith the death of his mortal body, which he gave in exchange for us to make us members of his new body.  By this means we share even now in his divine reward of regenerated life.  This is a membership privilege of the new humanity, the assembly of his wholesome people gathered from every ethnic group, language group, territory, and nation as parts of his resurrected body, to become participants of his divine nature, the Holy Spirit, which animates our corporate unfolding of God’s own personality traits in every sphere of earthly endeavor.  In this way we become joined together to contribute our diverse specialties as indispensable body parts of the Second Adam, the spiritual Progenitor of this new peoplehood in which God’s image, likeness, and character are getting replicated as we learn to follow his directions and shine the Light of Life into our nations and cultures, even under tough conditions like oppression, persecution, and abuse, on behalf of his reputation.

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