Monday, June 11, 2012

The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross

The following are excerpts from the concluding chapter of Leon Morris' stellar work on the atonement entitled The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross:
  • Something happened on Calvary quite objective to man, and it is because of this we can have the completest assurance of our salvation. In the last resort it depends on what God has done, and not upon some effect of that action upon the human heart (which is not to deny that there is such an effect, and that it is important). (299)
  • The salvation which Christ effects is not thought of as brought about with effortless ease. On the contrary, it is purchased at great cost, at the price of His blood. There cannot be the slightest doubt that the New Testament writers thought of redemption as an objective thing, as a process whereby Christ paid the price which brought them salvation. The idea that this means no more than that His example inspired them to be better men
  • There is very little place for human activity in this way of viewing Calvary, and once again we see that atonement is essentially something wrought for, rather than in, man. (300)
  • On the contrary, sin calls forth the implacable hostility of His holy nature, and until something is done about it this puts the sinner in an unenviable position. (301)
  • First may we go back to a statement of James Denney: 'God condones nothing: His mercy itself is of an absolute integrity. He is a righteous God, even in justifying the ungodly; and the propitiation He sets forth in Christ Jesus, dying in His sinlessness the death of the sinful, is the key to the mystery. Once more, is not the word which spontaneously rises to our lips to express this the word substitution?' In these words Denney reminds us of a fact which we must always bear in mind in dealing with the atonement, namely that the forgiveness sinners receive is not at the expense of ignoring sin's consequences. 'God condones nothing', and we must not theorize as though He has become indifferent to the wages of sin. While admittedly it raises problems, substitution does emphasize this aspect of atonement. Alternative concepts do not always do so. (302-3)
  • At any rate when we speak of substitution in connection with His death, we should bear in mind that the substitution which results is not the substitution of a casual stranger, but of one who stands in the closest possible relationship with those for whom He died. (303)

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