Posts Tagged ‘Christology’

The Wednesday Word: Jesus, the Real Bread for the Hungry Soul

In John’s Gospel, we find the seven ‘I Am’ scriptures, spoken by Jesus to declare His Deity. Among them, we find John 6:35,

“I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Listening to this, we must conclude that, if Jesus is not God, He can hardly be viewed as a repository of deep humility. Here, He declares Himself as the Bread of Life; the one who gives life to the world. What a cheek …that is if He is not God!

Indeed, when we read this discourse, in John 6, we discover that Jesus makes a sevenfold reference to Himself as the Bread of Life (see verses 32-33, 35, 48, 50 -51, 58). According to Jesus, this is the very bread that must be eaten, by faith, to receive everlasting life (see verses 50, 51- 53, 54, 56, 57, 58).

We should note that the Roman Communion makes much of these statements to establish her wretched doctrine of the Mass. They painstakingly fail, however, to point out that this discourse has nothing whatsoever do with the Last Supper… They also fail to note that Christ’s language in this passage is figurative, not literal, the Lord’s Supper not being in existence until about a year later.

The bread to which Christ refers is Christ Himself. He, as our High Priest, offered Himself on the altar of Calvary, redeemed His people and answered the sin question as He satisfied the justice of God. When we receive Him by faith alone, we are figuratively eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

In verse 33 He says, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.”

Notice how Jesus referred to Himself as, “He which cometh down from heaven.” By this term, Jesus is again asserting His deity! In the Old Testament, to “come down from heaven” meant a divine descent from the throne of God to accomplish a task of either grace or judgment.

“In Genesis 11: 4 and 7, for example, God “came down” in Judgment against the Tower of Babel.

In Genesis 18:21, God, regarding Sodom, says “I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me.”

Regarding the people of Israel in Exodus 3:8, the Lord says, “I am come down to deliver them.”

In Exodus 19:20, God “comes down” upon the mount of Sinai to give His law.

In Psalm 18:9 He “… bowed the heavens and came down” in answer to cries of distress.

Since to come down from heaven is God’s work and prerogative, we once more see the Master making the grand declaration that He is God manifest in the flesh.

In summary,

Jesus as the Bread of life is the sustainer of life that means He is God.

Jesus declares He has come down from heaven … again that means He is God.

Jesus claims that union with Him is essential to eternal life … again that means He is God.

Now here’s the question. Have we eaten of the Bread of Life? Have we tasted and seen that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)? Are we still looking anywhere but the Gospel for satisfaction?

In Greek mythology, Tantalus was made to stand in a pool of water, right under the branches of a fruit tree. However, when he tried to reach for fruit, the branches would go higher and out of reach. When he tried to drink a sip of water, the waters of the pool would recede. A symbol of utter frustration, his name is immortalized in the English word “tantalize.” So, too, the world may at times tantalize the Child of God. It promises much but delivers nothing. Only Christ can give us a cleansed conscience. Only Christ can remove our guilt and give genuine peace. He is the Bread of Life.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee  


The Wednesday Word: I Am he!

“I said therefore unto you that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I AM (he), you shall die in your sins.” John 8:24

Jesus is the great ‘I Am,’ the mighty God of Scripture….. (Exodus 3:14; John 1:1-7; John 6:33-35; John 8:12; John 8:58; John 10:7-9; John 10:14-15; John 10:30).

Nevertheless, many misguided people say He was merely a good teacher. Consider, however, what the Master taught in John 8:24. There, He makes a most outrageous claim…one that is hardly the mild assertion of a modest and temperate instructor of righteousness. He declares,

“I said therefore unto you that you shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I AM (he), you shall die in your sins.”

This is scarcely the contention of a good teacher who although a good man, was not God. Christ was claiming, in this verse, that unless we believe that He is the eternal, self-existent one, we will perish.

It should be noted that the word ‘he’ in verse 24 is in italics thereby showing that it does not appear in the original. Rather, the translators supply it. In this verse, therefore, Jesus makes a direct claim to deity! So, was this man Jesus mad or was He actually telling the truth?

By saying ‘Unless you believe that ‘I am’ Jesus asserts that we must believe that He is the mighty God; We must believe that He is the eternal deity. We must believe that He is the promised Messiah. We must believe that He is the faithful covenant God.

“I am”—what a claim! It is a shocking declaration if it is honest and equally outrageous if it is not!  If it is not true, it is a scurrilous affair for any mere man to make such an alarming and blasphemous assertion. Off with His Head!

If it is true, however, Jesus is claiming that there is no salvation outside of believing that He is Yahweh, the eternally self-existent One (Isaiah 43:10).  Christ is teaching that belief in His true identity is not an option.  “If you reject my identity, you shall die in your sins” is His solemn, twice-repeated warning.

So you say you are a Christian, yet you reject Christ as God?  You then must assume Christ to be confused for, He whom you call your Saviour says He does not save those who reject Him as God. 

He says you will die in your sins if you reject His deity. 

You will die as a wretch without a mediator.

You will bear responsibility for your sins before the judgment seat.

Neither a super-angel nor a God-inspired man can deliver you.  Indeed, no one can deliver you from the coming wrath except He who is fully God and man! Reject Christ’s deity, and you will perish.

William Romaine is judicious on this point of Christ’s Deity.  He writes;

“Let no person think that this is a speculative point. It is not an indifferent thing whether you receive it or not, but your eternal state depends upon it, you must receive it, or perish forever; for whosoever disbelieves it shall be damned. This may sound very harsh to the ears of free and candid inquirers, but I really cannot soften it.  … The Almighty has threatened to inflict it (damnation) upon the deniers of Christ’s divinity and let men make ever so light of it, He will infallibly inflict it; and, therefore, I must again admonish you, that whoever does not believe Jesus Christ to be self-existent, … shall be damned.”
William Romaine: The Self-Existence of Jesus Christ:

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee 

The Wednesday Word: Seeing the Father!

“In Christ the invisible God has become visible. Whoever sees Him sees the Father (John 14:9). Whoever wants to know who God is and what He is must behold the Christ. As Christ is, such is the Father.”

Herman Bavinck: The Divine and Human Natures of Christ

Have you ever tried witnessing to a person who hates the doctrine of Christ’s deity? They smugly say, “Well, of course, Jesus never claimed to be God, he merely claimed to be the Son of God! Oh really? The next time this happens, take them to the Scripture and show them this, “Philip said unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us. Jesus said unto him, “Have I been so long a time with you, and yet you have not known me, Philip? He that has seen me has seen the Father; and why do you say then, Show us the Father? John 14:8-9.

It doesn’t get any simpler than this! Philip had had enough of these references to the Father and asked Jesus plainly to, “Show us the Father.” Christ’s response is astonishing. He says, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me has seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

Was Jesus mistaken about His own identity? Was He simply a good man with a God -consciousness? Or was He merely a man possessed by God? Call it whatever way you will, if Jesus is wrong about being the God/Man, He’s a fruitcake! Listen to what He boldly declares, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father.” In other words, He’s saying, “Philip I’m the visible image of the invisible God. Philip, you don’t have to guess anymore about what God is like, I am God in human form.”

This is stout stuff! Jesus most clearly and without ambivalence claimed to be God. John writes at the beginning of his gospel; “No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John: 1:18).

The word translated ‘declared’ is of utmost interest. It is the Greek word ‘exegeomai’ from which we get the English words exegete and exegesis. When a preacher exegetes a passage of scripture, he brings out all that is contained in the verses. He declares what is there. He dares not read into the passage things that are not there otherwise he would be practicing eisegesis and not exegesis. Christ, according to John 1:18, is the exegesis of God. He has fully declared him. Is it any wonder then that He can say to Philip “If you have seen me you have seen the Father?” Horatius Bonar astutely remarks;

“Christ’s person is a revelation of God. Christ’s work is a revelation of God. He is in the Father and the Father is in Him. His words and works are the words and works of the Father. In the manger, He showed us God. In the synagogue of Nazareth, He showed us God. At Jacob’s well, He showed us God. At the tomb of Lazarus, He showed us God. On Olivet, as He wept over Jerusalem, He showed us God. On the cross, He showed us God. In His resurrection He showed us God. If we say with Philip “Show us the Father and it is sufficient for us,” He answers, “Have I been so long a time with you and yet hast thou not known me? He that has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:8-9). This God, whom Christ reveals as the God of righteous grace and gracious righteousness, is the God with whom we have to do.”

Horatius Bonar: God’s Way of Peace: Chapter 3

Do we understand the incarnation (God becoming man)? I for one do not. It is a mystery (1 Timothy 3:16). I can’t explain it, but I can declare it. God came here Himself, became one of us and yet remained fully God. Then as one of us, as a real and genuine human, He surrendered Himself to the ignominious death of the cross. No wonder the hymn writer declares, “Hallelujah, what a Saviour!”

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

A Proleptic Rest in Genesis 2?

Copyright © 2016 Richard C. Barcellos. All rights reserved.

Some have understood the Creator’s rest as establishing a pattern for man to follow, but not revealed as such until much later in man’s history (Exod. 16 and 20). This view is not new. In the early sixteenth century Bownd acknowledges a form of this view and interacts with it.[1] Likewise, Owen interacts with this view in at least two places in his treatise on a day of sacred rest.[2] Owen recognized that some viewed Genesis 2:3 as “a prolepsis.”[3] The Creator’s rest in Genesis 2:3 represents something to be instituted for man in the future. Between the Creator’s initial rest and that future institution, there is no Sabbath day for anyone (and no seven-day week according to some). One form of the proleptic view Owen addresses sees the sanctification of the seventh day occurring at Sinai. Owen seeks to state this view as follows:




Read the entire article here.

Spurgeon, the Forgotten Calvinist

April 4, 2016 1 comment

Some people have drawn wrong conclusions about Spurgeon’s theology because his sermons were frequently very evangelistic. And one popular edition of his sermons edited out his frequent criticisms of Arminianism. According to Andrew Chan “the result of such censorship is that today, while many know Spurgeon to be the “Prince of Preachers,” few know that he was a staunch Calvinist”.

The following article addresses Spurgeon’s strong support of Calvinistic theology.

“Spurgeon, the Forgotten Calvinist” by Godwell Andrew Chan:




Source [Theologue]

Was the Divinity of Jesus a Late Invention of the Council of Nicea? Probing Into What the Earliest Christians Really Believed

February 18, 2016 3 comments

By Michael J. Kruger

One of the most common objections to Christianity is that the divinity of Jesus was “created” by later Christians long after the first century. No one in primitive Christianity believed Jesus was divine, we are told. He was just a man and it was later believers, at the council of Nicea, that declared him to be a God.

A classic example of this in popular literature can be found in the book The Da Vinci Code:

“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history [council of Nicea], Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet… a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.” “Not the Son of God?” “Right,” Teabing said. “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God” was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea.” “Hold on. You’re saying Jesus’ divinity was the result of a vote?” “A relatively close vote at that,” Teabing added.




Read the entire article here.

Chapter 28-The Atonement of Christ Pt 2

7. The Calvinistic theory of the atonement is, that in the sufferings and death of Christ, he incurred the penalty of the sins of those whose substitute he was, so that he made a real satisfaction to the justice of God for the law which they had broken. On this account, God now pardons all their sins, and being fully reconciled to them, his electing love flows out freely towards them.

The doctrine as thus taught involves the following points:

I. That the sufferings and death of Christ were a real atonement.

II. That in making it Christ became the substitute of those whom he came to save.

III. That as such he bore the penalty of their transgressions.

IV. That in so doing he made ample satisfaction to the demands of the law, and to the justice of God.

V. That thus an actual reconciliation has been made between them and God.

Each of these will need explanation and amplification, as well as proof, that its precise meaning may be clearly ascertained.

I. The first point to be proved is that the death of Christ was a real atonement.

By this is meant that the death of Christ was not merely a moral example, as say the Socinians; that it was not a mere exhibition of God’s determination to maintain his government for the benefit of his creatures, according to the governmental hypothesis; that it has not only a manifestation of God’s abhorrence of sin by which man could be led to penitence, as held by the New Theology; that it was not merely an arrangement set forth in the universe as the means of lowering the demands of the law, as say the Arminians; but that it was a sacrifice for sin, the great antitype of the Mosaic sacrifices, by which, guilt and condemnation is taken away from those for whom he made it, and they are made at-one with God. The proof that this was the nature of Christ’s act, is:

1. That this is the generally received notion of sacrifice in all nations.

2. That the earliest record of sacrifice, in the history of Cain and Abel, points to the idea that God had appointed a mode of expiation for guilt. The sacrifice of Abel was in one sense no better than that of Cain. Each was a gift; but that of Abel was a sacrifice of blood, in testimony of acknowledged guilt; that of Cain merely a thank offering. The Lord had respect to the offering of Abel, and when Cain was angry, the Lord remonstrated with him, and said: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth at the door.” Gen. 4:7. This account establishes the fact that the idea of sacrifice, which thus has prevailed among all men, originated in early instruction by God, beginning from the time of our first parents.

3. When we come, however, to look at the sacrifices of the Mosaic economy, we find still the same idea taught, and even more fully; since the type was now confined to the nation through which the antitype was to appear. That economy shows that the blood of animals was constantly offered to God; that this was done by his command as making reconciliation and atonement; that in these offerings was always involved the idea of sin committed by the people, or the individual, or the priests, or a ceremonial defilement of the nature of sin, which made essential the cleansing of the altar itself or the persons officiating; that, in the act of sacrifice, the hand of the individual, or of the elders, or of the priests was laid upon the head of the animal for the confession of sin upon it, that it might be made a proper sacrifice; that the animal was then slain or sent away; and that, as the result of all these arrangements, the forgiveness of sin followed.

This latter idea may appear too strongly put, but it is owing to our overlooking the fact that the sins thus atoned for were not all the sins of the Israelites, but only the sins which took place in their civil relations as individuals, or as a nation to God. The forgiveness of them involved, therefore, only the temporal blessings thus associated. As they were typical of Christ and of a heavenly Canaan, so those who looked through the type to the antitype received full pardon for all sins, because of the offering that God was to make, and in which they trusted. In either case, however, there was actual remission of sins. For the national or individual sins, for which God had appointed this method of pardon, there was actual remission because of the sacrifice, and, in those who looked forward to Christ, and for whom, therefore, his sacrifice was made, there was also actual remission of the sins thus laid upon him.

Another caution is also suggested here. We speak of the sacrifices of old as the means God appointed for the pardon of sin. And in like manner we speak of God’s method of salvation being by the death of Christ. But, in either case, we do not mean by the expression that the means of salvation alone was in the sacrifice, but salvation itself. The law of sacrifice was the method of God for the remission of sin, but the sacrifice itself secured the actual remission: so, the death of Christ may be contemplated as God’s method of saving sinners so long as we are speaking of it as the arrangement or scheme devised by God to accomplish a certain work; but, as itself a sacrifice, the death of Christ secured salvation, and not the mere means of salvation.

4. Such, now, being the usage of the word sacrifices among all men, and especially in the Jewish nation, did we find merely the word sacrifice used in reference to Christ, we should be justified in believing that there was made by him a real sacrifice or atonement. If the New Testament or the other Scriptures said nothing of the nature of his work or of its effects, we should be fully warranted in saying that, because it was a sacrifice, it secured an actual remission of sins by the shedding of his blood. Were we confined to this argument, therefore, we might simply show that the New Testament does speak of him as the Lamb of God, as our Passover, and as having died for us, and thence we might argue that he has made a real atonement for us. But we may go much farther and show that it actually teaches this fact.

5. It is clearly taught that by Christ’s sacrificial death was made an offering for sin which actually secured the pardon of the sinner.

The prophets of old spake of it in this wise.

Thus in Isaiah 53:6, 10, 11. “All we like sheep have gone astray, . . . and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, . . . He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: and he shall bear their iniquities.”

The points here are: (1.) Our sins are laid on him. (2.) he is afflicted. (3.) He is made an offering for sin. (4.) Thus he justifies many (not all,–and why these?), because “he shall bear their iniquities.”

Daniel 9:24, 26. “Seventy weeks are decreed upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish transgression, and to make an end of sin, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in ever-lasting righteousness, . . . And after the threescore and two weeks shall the anointed one be cut off, and shall have nothing.”

The New Testament teaching corresponds with that of the Old.

John 1:29. The announcement of the Messiah by John shows that the sacrifice of Christ was the prominent work of his life. “Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” The same announcement was made again the next day.

John 6:51. The Saviour says, “the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”

The above are positive declarations. We must take them in the fulness of the declaration made. It may be necessary to show how these expressions are applicable only to some and not to every individual in the world, to avoid the error of Universalism, but they distinctly declare of all to whom they may be applied that sin was taken away and life given by the atonement.

Matt. 20:28. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Matt. 26:28. “This is my blood of the Covenant which is shed for many unto remission of sins.”

Acts 20:28. “The church of God which he purchased with his own blood.”

Romans 5:10. “We were reconciled to God through the death of his Son.”

2 Cor. 5:18, 19. “But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; To-wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

Eph. 5:2. “Christ . . . gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell.”

Col. 1:14, 19, 22. “In whom we have our redemption, the forgiveness of sins. . . . For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; And, through him to reconcile all things unto himself, having made peace through the blood of his cross; through him I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens. And you being in time past alienated and enemies in your mind in your evil works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before him.” This passage includes all the points under the head we are now discussing. We have here a sacrifice by Christ in his death; through his blood peace is effected, and forgiveness of sins; not the means, but the things themselves; actual forgiveness, actual peace.

The whole Epistle to the Hebrews is proof upon this point.

1 Peter 1:18-20. “Knowing that ye were redeemed, not, etc., but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, even the blood of Christ.”

1 John 2:2. “He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.”

1 John 4:10. “God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

The passages adduced will suffice to show that Christ’s work was a real sacrifice; that by his blood he procured pardon, peace, redemption and remission of sins for those whom he represented. How many or how few these are does not here affect the question. The work here done was a sacrifice and was completely accomplished.

The proof to be given of the other points will add materially to the evidence of the nature of the work of Christ in this respect.

II. In order to make this atonement Christ became the substitute of those whom he came to save.

Here, also, we may refer to the position in this respect occupied by the offering under the Mosaic laws, as well as to the general notion of sacrifice.

The language of Job 1:1-5 indicates that he recognized the fact that substitutes might be put, and would be accepted in the place of those who were guilty of offences to God. And this may be taken as evidence of the usually received opinion before the segregation of Israel, as well as of that among the Gentiles subsequent to that event.

But the declarations of God as to the Levitical sacrifices and the method of their observance exhibit this more clearly.

In the first chapter of Leviticus God gives to Moses directions, as to the offering of sacrifices by the people: among other things he says, verse 4, of the individual making the offering; “He shall lay his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”

This is the substitution of the victim. We have in Leviticus 10:17, where Moses blames Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron, for neglecting to eat the sin offering, the declaration of the substitution which took place in the priest. Christ bore both offices.

“Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, seeing it is most holy, and He hath given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord?”

Both these cases are mentioned to show that there was a substitution of the priest, and one of the victim. It was in the latter sense that Christ bore the sins of the people and made atonement.

The account of the scape goat, in Leviticus 16:20-22, furnishes another instance of substitution, which, as another use will be made of it, is not referred to here at length. It is, however, a signal example of such a substitution, as put an animal in the place of Israel, and made him, as their substitute, to bear their iniquities.

These declarations of the substitution of the victim are numerous in Exodus and Leviticus, and are referred to in all the Mosaic books. They, therefore, made familiar to the Jewish people the notion of substitution, and impressed upon them the need of a victim, for the making of atonement, who should actually stand in the place of those who were to be atoned for. The language of the Scriptures as to Christ, therefore, could not have been otherwise understood. As used by the Prophets, by John the Baptist, and by the inspired writers of the New Testament it must have been intended to make this impression, which must inevitably have been produced. So much is this so, that the prophetic language of Isaiah, relative to Christ’s sufferings, was felt to be so completely fulfilled in them, that almost all the language in the New Testament, which speaks of his atonement, is tinged by the expressions there used.

Let us look at the 53d chapter of Isaiah, then, as indicative of the teachings of the sacrifices, and of the work foretold to be accomplished.

The whole chapter speaks of substitution and inflicted penalty. The following passages refer to substitution:

Verses 4 and 5. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Verse 6. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Verse 11. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Verse 12. “He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

The following passages show that the New Testament recognized the fulfilment of these prophecies, and that in Christ was found the antitype of the sacrifices of old in this respect.

Matt. 20:28. “The Son of man came . . . to give his life a ransom for many.”

Matt. 26:28. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is shed for many unto remission of sins.”

John 11:47-52 gives an account of a council among the Jews, in which a certain remark was made by Caiaphas, which the Evangelist claims as a prophecy and applies to Jesus.

See verses 49-52. “But a certain one of them, Calaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather into one the children of God that were scattered abroad.”

Rom. 5:8. “While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”

Rom. 8:32. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”

2 Cor. 5:21. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our own behalf.”

Gal. 1:3, 4. “Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins.

Gal. 3:13. “Having become a curse for us.”

Eph. 5:2. “Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for an odour of a sweet smell.”

1 Thess. 5:9, 10. “For God appointed us not unto wrath, but unto the obtaining of salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.”

1 Tim. 2:5, 6. “For there is one God, one mediator also between God and men, himself man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all; the testimony to be borne in its own times.”

There are several questions which arise in consequence of this substitution on the part of Christ.

One as to the qualifications essential to it which he possessed.

Another as to the manner in which substitution can be effected.

Another as to the justice with which an innocent person can be put in the place of a guilty one.

And yet another, whether Christ, being thus substituted, became personally a sinner.

These questions belong the rather, however, to a discussion of imputation and are only relevant here, because that doctrine is implied in this doctrine of atonement. The only exception is the first. The second and third have already been discussed in treating of the representative relation of Adam and the principle of substitution involved in it, and in the law of sacrifices.

As to the fourth point it may be said that Christ is not represented in Scripture as made personally a sinner by substitution; neither were the sacrifices of old regarded as personally obnoxious to God. But they were so officially; that is, in their positions as substitutes; and Christ became so, being made a curse for us. But this official substitution did not make him a sinner, but only caused him to be treated as such.

The first question may be answered thus:

1. That the possession of a human nature, such as ours, is represented in Scripture as essential to his position as substitute.

2. The possession of a divine nature, in consequence of which he was a divine person, was also requisite to give an infinite value to his work.

3. It seems also essential that he should not have been two persons, a divine person, and a human person; else could not the value of the acts performed in his human nature have been greater than those of any other innocent man. It was, therefore, not the human nature of Christ that was substituted for us, but Christ himself; yet it was not Christ in his divine nature that suffered, but value was given to the suffering from its being the suffering of one who also essentially possessed the divine nature.

The doctrine of the Trinity lies, therefore, at the basis of that of the atonement, and hence the denial of the latter by all those who reject the former.

4. A holy nature; a lamb without spot or blemish.

5. As consequent upon the possession of such a union of natures in himself Christ could make a voluntary offering of himself, by which merit could be procured and penalty endured for others.

6. That he should be designated by the Father to this position, that he might be the legal representative of his people and their covenant head.

III. In so offering himself, Christ actually bore the penalty of the transgressions of those for whom he was substituted.

1. This point is involved in the two that have preceded it, and consequently may be argued from the evidence afforded by them. These points mutually confirm each other. Thus, in bearing the penalty, he appears to have been substituted for us and to have been made a sacrifice. In being made a sacrifice, he has been substituted and has borne the penalty. We may, therefore, present all the proofs that Christ was a sacrifice, and was the substitute for our sins, as so much in favor of the fact that he bore the penalty of transgression.

But we may otherwise learn from the Scriptures themselves that this penalty was actually borne by Christ. It is taught:

2. In those passages in which Christ is represented as having home our iniquities. The meaning of this clause is definitely fixed by the Scripture usage. In the following passages this phrase is applied to Christ:

Isaiah 53:6. “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Isaiah 53:11. “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities.”

Isaiah 53:12. “He was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bare the sin of many.”

Heb. 9:28. “Having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time apart from sin, to them that wait for him unto salvation.”

1 Peter 2:24. “Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree.”

The following passages show that the phrase “to bear iniquity” means to bear the penalty of iniquity.

Lev. 5:1. “And if any one sin in that he heareth the voice of adjuration, he being a witness, whether he hath seen or known, if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.”

Lev. 5:17. “And if any one sin and do any of the things which the Lord hath commanded not to be done; though he know it not, yet is he guilty and shall bear his iniquity.”

Lev. 7:18. “If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings be eaten on the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offereth it: it shall be an abomination, and the soul that eateth of it shall bear his iniquity.”

Lev. 19:8. “But every one that eateth it shall bear his iniquity, because he hath profaned the holy thing of the Lord: and that soul shall be cut off from his people.”

Lev. 24:15. “And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.”
Numbers 14:34. “After the number of the days in which ye spied out the land, even forty days for every day a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my alienation.”

Ezekiel 18:20. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.”

Ezekiel 44:10, 12. “But the Levites that went far from me, when Israel went astray, which went astray from me after their idols; they shall bear their iniquity.” “Because they ministered unto them before their idols, and became a stumbling block of iniquity unto the house of Israel; therefore have I lifted up mine hand against them, saith the Lord God, and they shall hear their iniquity.” [See Magee on the Atonement, vol. 1, pp. 200-220, for an able and learned discussion of the meaning of the phrase “bear iniquity.”]

2. Another class of passages shows that Christ bore the penalty of sin by representing him as suffering because of it, and as bearing the penalty attached to it. Such passages used as to an innocent person show that he bore the penalty for others, but in most it is distinctly declared that it was for his people.

Suffering is of three kinds: (1.) Calamity or misfortune, which has no reference to sin. (2.) Chastisement, which is designed for the improvement of the sufferer. (3.) Punishment or penalty, which is designed for satisfaction to justice. The language of Scripture shows that the sufferings of Christ were of the last class.

(1.) That class of passages which represents Christ as suffering because of our sin, or that his sufferings were connected with our sins.

The passage in Isaiah 53:4, 5 is a signal example. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

In accordance with this vision of the prophet we have the accounts given in the New Testament.

Rom. 4:25. “Who was delivered up for our trespasses.”

Heb. 13:12. “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people through his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

1 Pet. 2:24. “Who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree.”

1 Pet. 3:18. “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.”

More passages might he given were it not that the Scriptures more frequently state the nature of this connection, and they will be quoted in the succeeding class under this head.

(2.) The second class of passages which treats of the connection of Christ’s sufferings with our sins is that which represents those sufferings as the penalty of our sins, or which declares that Christ bore that penalty.

The penalty which Christ bore for us, includes all the suffering which he endured on our behalf. It is not confined to any one act of his life, but, as those sufferings culminated in the agony of the cross, the penalty is spoken of chiefly as borne there. His previous sufferings, the miseries to which he was subjected, and the evils he endured, were but as the beginning, and a small beginning of the penalty which he there completed.

The penalty due for our transgressions was death, the full meaning of which is only foreshadowed to us by the death of the body. Added to this is the separation from God, by reason of the moral death which ensued from sin, and the condition of condemnation for sin. The former must be eternal, unless restoration to God is effected. The latter involves eternal death in its mere execution.

Christ bore the guilt of those for whom he died, and thus it became fit that upon him God should inflict the penalty.

The result has been the removal of condemnation and the reconciliation effected between us and God. In the removal of these evils eternal death is taken away.

As to the death of the body, according to God’s wisdom, and in a manner similar to his course in many other cases, the curse is made no longer a curse, because the sting is removed, and the death of the body, otherwise so intimately connected with eternal death, now introduces the Christian into eternal life.

The death of Christ included the penalty in all its fulness. In it he offered up his body and was laid in the grave. In it the separation from God took place by which he was led to feel himself forsaken. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me,” was his cry of agony. That his death was not eternal, as would ours have been, arose from the fact that in the execution of the sentence of condemnation, God found in him not such a victim as mere man would have been, unable to atone, or render full satisfaction; but one whose glorious nature gave infinite value to suffering, and who could feel most keenly, yet could bear without destruction, the wrath of God.

The Scriptures represent just such a penalty to have been endured by Christ, accompanied by just such agonies. No one can read the accounts given by the evangelists without being impressed by the fact that they ascribe just such a character to his sufferings on Calvary.

But, independently of their general statements, we have the class of passages just referred to, that in which Christ’s suffering is represented as the penalty of our transgressions.

In Zechariah 13:7 we have that remarkable prophecy which can be applied to Christ as it has never been applied to any save Christ. “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.” The context speaks of a purging of Jerusalem, out of the trial of which a third part shall be brought, and the means by which this is done is the smiting of the shepherd, and the scattering of the sheep, through which action they are refined, and he says, “they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God.” Zech. 13:9.

Isaiah 53:5. “The chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” The latter part of this verse is quoted in 1 Peter 2:24.

Isaiah 53:8. “For the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

Verse 9. Declares his perfect innocence and then

Verse 10 says: “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, &c.”

Matt. 20:28. “Even as the Son of man came, . . . to give his life, a ransom for many.”

Rom. 5:10. “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

Rom. 6:10. “For the death that he died, he died unto sin once.”

1 Cor. 15:3. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.”

2 Cor. 5:14, 15. “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died; And he died for all, &c.”

2 Cor. 5:21. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf.”

Gal. 3:13. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”

Col. 1:21, 22. “And you, being in time past alienated . . . yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death.”

Heb. 9:26. “But now once, at the end of the ages, hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

IV. We have thus seen (1) that the sufferings and death of Christ were a real atonement; (2) that in making it Christ became the substitute of those whom he came to save; (3) that as such he bore the penalty of their transgressions. From these the fourth point follows, that in so doing, he made ample satisfaction to the demands of the law, and to the justice of God.

1. The very fact that he was the substitute of the sinner, and that he bore his penalty shows that the satisfaction he made was ample; Christ could have made none that was not. Anything he could do must be acceptable to God; for God delighteth in him. Any act of his must be of infinite value to accomplish any end for which he designed it. Any penalty borne by him must have found a victim fully sufficient to fulfil every demand. The very fact that he has been substituted and has borne the penalty, shows that he has made ample satisfaction.

2. But this is also seen in the fact that the declaration is made that thus the demands of the law are fulfilled and not lowered. The language of Christ on this point is explicit.

Matt. 5:17. “Think not that I came to destroy the law or the prophets: I came not to destroy, but to fulfil.”

Rom. 7:1-6. The apostle argues that we are no longer bound to the law, but bound to Christ; that our obligations have been annulled, and that, henceforth, “we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were holden; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.” This whole argument implies and is based upon the idea that the law has been fulfilled for us by Christ, who has thus delivered us from the bondage of obligation, that we might serve with the spirit of love.

Freedom from the law on our part, accompanied by the declaration that Christ came not to lower it, but to fulfil it, shows that in the atonement for us, he has made ample satisfaction for all our sins and failures, as well as secured for us complete righteousness by his perfect obedience.

We may here add also the prophecy of Isaiah 42:21, “It pleased the Lord, for his righteousness sake, to magnify the law and make it honourable,” and the fact that Christ is called “The Lord is our Righteousness,” in Jeremiah 23:6, and also that the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:7-11, renounces his own righteousness of the law that he might have that “which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” This fact implies a conviction of the ample extent of the righteousness which is by Christ.

3. That an ample satisfaction is made to justice is seen also in the fact that mercy and justice are said to be reconciled in Christ. These are represented as antagonistic; mercy pleading for the sinner, and justice demanding his punishment; truth requiring the fulfilment of the threatened penalty, which is consistent with peace, only by the death of Christ.

Psalm 85:10. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

Isaiah 45:21. “There is no God else beside me, a just God and a Saviour.”

Isaiah 32:17. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and confidence forever.” This is a wonder.

The same fact seems to be declared in the song of the angels, on the plain of Bethlehem, Luke 2:14. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased.”

4. This is also seen in the approval which God gave to the work of Christ. Had that work not been satisfactory, we should not have expected the actual declarations of approval of it. That approval is evidenced.

(1) By Christ’s testimony to it. He tells us that he came to do the will of his Father; that his Father sent him not to condemn the world; but gave him, that whosoever believeth, might not perish but have everlasting life.

(2) In the manifested expressions of approbation by God in the miracles by which Christ attested his mission, as well as by the witness of John.

(3) In God’s own words of approval, at his Baptism, at the Transfiguration on the Mount, and at other times.

(4) In the angelic messengers sent to strengthen him in his work, and to minister to him after the temptation in the wilderness, and in the garden.

(5) That most signal evidence, afforded, as is constantly declared, as a seal of approval, which is seen in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

5. The ample character of this satisfaction is further seen in the declarations by the sacred writers of the certainty of the salvation that is based upon it. Every offer of salvation made is a passage in proof of this point. The words of the Commission, “He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), and the offer of the apostle, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house” (Acts 16:31), are positive affirmations.

6. But it may be said that all of these points only prove God’s approval of whatever was done by Christ, without showing that in that work satisfaction has been made. While this is not admitted, we find further proof in the sixth place in such passages as show that so ample has been the work of Christ that even a sinner is warranted to approach and claim salvation in Christ’s name, and that God gives it as due to the merits and work of Christ.

Heb. 4:16. “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need.”

Heb. 10:19, 22. “having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, * * * let us draw near with a true heart in fulness of faith.”

Eph. 3:12. “In whom we have boldness and access, in confidence, through our faith in him.”

1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

7. The ample satisfaction of the atonement made is also seen in the fact that it is declared perfect for its end in the language of the Apostle in Heb. 9:25-28, where he argues the incompleteness of the Mosaic sacrifices, because they had to be offered more than once, and the perfection of Christ’s, because “now once at the end of the ages, hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.”

And again in Chap. 10:10. “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

1 John 1:7. “The blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

A question arises in view of this ample satisfaction, in what way may it be regarded as gratuitous when it is thus a full recompense for all. This is well answered in Hodge’s Outlines of Theology, p. 308, 1st Edition. The answer includes five points.

(1) Christ did not die to make the Father love the Elect, but was given to die because of that love.

John 3:16. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him might not perish, but have eternal life.”

1 John 4:9, 10. “Herein was the love of God manifested in us, that God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

(2) Christ made full satisfaction to divine justice in order to render the exercise of love consistent with justice.

Rom. 3:26. “For the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”

Psalm 85:10. “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” The greater the obstacle and the more costly the price demanded of love by justice, the greater the love and the more free.

On this ground God commendeth his love.

Rom. 5:8. “But God commendeth his own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

(3) God the Father and God the Son are one God, identical in nature, moved by the same love, and exacting the same satisfaction.

(4) Penal satisfaction differs from pecuniary. If a Sovereign appoints or accepts a substitute, it is all of grace.

(5) To Christ as Mediator, the purchased salvation of his people belongs of right from the terms of the eternal covenant, but to us, that salvation is given in all its elements, stages and instrumentalities, only as a free and sovereign favour. The gift is gratuitous, if the beneficiary has no shadow of claim to it, and if no conditions are exacted of him. The less worthy the beneficiary is, and the more difficult the conditions which justice exacts of the giver, the more eminently gratuitous the gift is.

V. The fifth point to be shown, is that by this work an actual reconciliation has been effected.

1. The points already proved show this. If an atonement has been made by one who was actually substituted in the place of the guilty; who, as so substituted, paid the penalty and rendered full satisfaction to the law, so that the law has no longer any claims; then there has been undoubtedly an actual reconciliation. Peace has been made by the cross between God and man.

2. The plain declarations of Scripture are, that God has been reconciled to us by Christ.

Rom. 5:10. “For, if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Similar declarations are found in 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 2:13, 16, 17; Col. 1:20-22. They are not given at length, because they will have to be presented immediately for another purpose.

It may be said that reconciliation is admitted, but that this means only a method of reconciliation.

3. Therefore it must be shown that actual reconciliation has been made, from what the Scriptures say of the purpose had in view in reconciliation, which was actually to save, not to make salvation possible.

Luke 19:10. “For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.”

2 Cor. 5:21. “Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.”

Gal. 1:4. “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of this present evil world, according to the will of our God and Father.”

Gal. 4:4, 5. “God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them which were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

1 Tim. 1:15. “Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am the chief.”

The purpose of God is thus seen, not to make salvation possible, but actually to save, to redeem, to make righteous, &c.

Still it may be said, that this purpose might be effected by a method of reconciliation.

4. But the Scriptures, in speaking of what is actually effected by Christ’s work for those who are reconciled by it, show that the reconciliation was actually made in that work itself. The time at which it was done, and what was done at that time show this.

Rom. 5:10. “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled shall we be saved by his life.” The time was, “while we were enemies,” at the time of Christ’s death. The application of salvation follows this reconciliation.

Gal. 3:13. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.”

Eph. 1:7. “In whom we have our redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace.”

Eph. 2:14-16. “For he is our peace, who made both one, and brake down the middle wall of partition, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; that he might create in himself of the twain one new man, so making peace; and might reconcile them both in one body unto God through the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

Col. 1:20. “And through him to reconcile all things unto himself; having made peace through the blood of his cross.

1 Thess. 1:10. “Even Jesus, which delivereth us from the wrath to come.”

1 Peter 1:18, 19. “Knowing that ye were redeemed, not with corruptible things . . . but with precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

All these passages speak of these effects, as actually accomplished by Christ, in his death upon the cross. [See Hodge’s Outlines, p. 314, 1st Edition.]

5. The connection between the gift of the Spirit and the work of Christ shows, that there has been actual reconciliation. The promise of the Spirit to us is made, and that Spirit is given, as a reward of Christ’s death. That death is declared to have this gift as one of the purposes to be effected by it.

Acts 2:33. “Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath poured forth this, which ye see and hear.” This shows that the gift of the Spirit is the result of Christ’s exaltation, which was also taught by Christ, when he said that, unless he went away, the Spirit could not come.

Gal. 3:13, 14. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, . . . that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

Titus 3:5, 6. “He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour.”

These passages show that,

(1) The gift of the Spirit was purchased by Christ’s death.

(2) That that gift secures actual salvation.

(3) That it must be given to all for whom he has died.

(4) That in that death actual reconciliation is consequently secured.

The discussion of the nature of the sacrificial work of Christ has in great part prepared the way for that of the EXTENT OF THE ATONEMENT. But while the previous inquiry has necessarily included some statements as to the limitation which the Scriptures put upon this work, and presented some facts which establish such limitation, a special treatment of this branch of the subject is nevertheless necessary.

Here also we have several theories.

I. The first is that of the Universalist, who connecting the nature which the Scriptures assign to the atonement with some expressions which seem to assert its universal extent, hold the notion of such a universal atonement, as actually secures the salvation of all men.

The objections to this view are:

1. That salvation is confined in the Scriptures to those that believe, and all men are not believers.

2. That the gospel is spoken of as the only means of salvation, and the gospel is not even preached to all.

3. That express threats are uttered in the word of God against those who die in their sins.

4. That at least one sin is expressly mentioned, that shall not be pardoned.

5. That the arrangement of God’s plan of salvation is such as shows that the people of God are saved from their sins, not in them; consequently the unholy are not saved.

6. The descriptions of the judgement day deny universal salvation.

7. The Scripture doctrine of the Hell prepared for the punishment of the wicked shows it to be untrue.

These and many other facts show that the atonement is limited in some way. The question arises in what way.

II. A second theory makes the atonement itself general, but limits its benefits to those who exercise faith.

It is claimed that thus only can be interpreted the passages which speak of a work for the world, consistently with any limitation; that thus only can God justly offer salvation to all; and that this theory fully meets all the conditions on which salvation is offered.

It cannot be denied that salvation is offered and will be given on the condition of faith and repentance; nor that there are general expressions which assert that Christ’s work of atonement has efficacy beyond the limits of the Elect; but these facts must be so explained as to harmonize with the nature of the atonement and its relation to those for whom it was specially made. The following objections, therefore, may be made to this theory:

1. Any atonement, general in any such sense as not to be limited in God’s purpose, is inconsistent with what we have seen to be the nature of the atonement.

2. It does not accord with justice that any should suffer for whom a substitute has actually borne the penalty and made full satisfaction.

3. It makes salvation the result in part of faith; but faith is the result of reconciliation, not its cause; it is the gift of God.

4. It is inconsistent with the many passages which teach the doctrine of an Election of man to salvation not because of foreseen faith.

5. It is inconsistent with those passages which point out the connection of the purpose of God with the salvation of those who are saved.

III. A third theory is that this limitation is one of purpose; that God designed only the actual salvation of some; and that, whatever provision has been made for others, he made this positive arrangement by which the salvation of certain ones is secured. In favor of this theory it may be said:

(1.) That this is in accordance with the doctrine of Election.

(2.) That it explains how it is that such a salvation as the Scriptures represent to have been wrought out by Christ is attained by some, and by some only.

(3.) It alone agrees with the language of limitation used in some Scriptures, as to Christ’s death; either in those passages in which it is specially appropriated to Christians; or those in which he is spoken of as a ransom “for many.” This class of passages is numerous.

The difficulties against this theory are:

(1.) That the offer of salvation is made to all men.

(2.) That the Scriptures speak of Christ’s death as for the world, and in such a way as to contrast the world at large with those who believe.

An explanation of these passages must therefore be given, which, while it retains the full force intended in Scripture of these general expressions, and maintains the sincerity of God’s offer of the gospel to all, shows at the same time its harmony with the doctrine of a definite purpose of God.

1. It was with the intention of doing this that Andrew Fuller suggested his theory of the atonement. But, as has been shown, that theory accomplishes the desired end only by ascribing such a nature to the atonement, as makes it only a method of reconciliation for the people of God, and not actual reconciliation.

2. A far better explanation is given by Dr. A. A. Hodge in the following question and answer:

“Ques. 17. State first negatively, and then positively, the true doctrine as to the design of the Father and the Son in providing satisfaction.”

“I. Negatively–1st. There is no debate among Christians as to the sufficiency of that satisfaction to accomplish the salvation of all men, however vast the number. This is absolutely limitless. 2d. Nor as to its applicability to the case of any and every possible human sinner who will ever exist. The relations of all to the demands of the law are identical. What would save one would save another. 3d. Nor to the bona fide character of the offer which God has made to ‘whomsoever wills’ in the gospel. It is applicable to every one, it will infallibly be applied to every believer. 4th. Nor as to its actual application. Arminians agree with Calvinists that of adults only those who believe are saved, while Calvinists agree with Arminians that all dying in infancy are redeemed and saved. 5th. Nor is there any debate as to the universal reference of some of the benefits purchased by Christ. Calvinists believe that the entire dispensation of forbearance under which the human family rests since the fall, including for the unjust as well as the just temporal mercies and means of grace, is part of the purchase of Christ’s blood. They admit also that Christ did in such a sense die for all men, that he thereby removed all legal obstacles from the salvation of any and every man, and that his satisfaction may be applied to one man as well as to another ‘if God so wills it.'”

“II. But positively the question is what was the design of the Father and Son in the vicarious death of Christ. Did they purpose to make the salvation of the elect certain, or merely to make the salvation of all men possible? Did his satisfaction have reference indifferently as much to one man as to another? Did the satisfaction purchase and secure its own application, and all the means thereof, to all for whom it was specifically rendered? Has the impetration and the application of this atonement the same range of objects? Was it, in the order of the divine purpose, a means to accomplish the purpose of election, or is the election of individuals a means to carry into effect the satisfaction of Christ otherwise inoperative?”

Our Confession (The Westminster) answers:

Ch. viii, SS 5. “The Lord Jesus, by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, . . . purchased not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.”–Ch. iii, SS 6. “As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they that are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed in Christ. . . . Neither are any other redeemed by Christ . . . but the elect only.”

Ch. viii, SS 8. “To ALL those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, he doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same.”–“Articles of Synod of Dort,” Ch. ii, SS 1, 2, 8.

“The design of Christ in dying was to effect what he actually does effect in the result. 1st. Incidentally to remove the legal pediments out of the way of all men, and render the salvation of every hearer of the gospel objectively possible, so that each one has a right to appropriate it at will, to impetrate temporal blessings for all, and the means of grace for all to whom they are providentially supplied. But, 2d, Specifically his design was to impetrate the actual salvation of his own people, in all the means, conditions, and stages of it, and render it infallibly certain. This last, from the nature of the case, must have been his real motive. After the manner of the Augustinian Schoolmen, Calvin, on 1 John 2:2, says, ‘Christ died sufficiently for all, but efficiently only for the elect.'” [Outlines of Theology, pp. 416 and 417 of the second edition.]

3. Another statement upon this subject may prove more satisfactory, although it embraces no more than is actually implied in the above extract from Dr. Hodge. It has only the advantage of recognizing more explicitly the relation of the atoning work of Christ both to the world and to the elect; a relation clearly indicated to be such that he can be called, in some general sense, the Saviour of all men, though he bears this relation more especially to those who believe. 1 Tim. 4:10. The statement suggested is, that while, for the Elect, he made an actual atonement, by which they were actually reconciled to God, and, because of which, are made the subjects of the special divine grace by which they become believers in Christ and are justified through him; Christ, at the same time, and in the same work, wrought out a means of reconciliation for all men, which removed every legal obstacle to their salvation, upon their acceptance of the same conditions upon which the salvation is given to the Elect. According to this statement: 

1. Christ did actually die for the salvation of all, so that he might be called the Saviour of all; because his work is abundantly sufficient to secure the salvation of all who will put their faith in him.

2. Christ died, however, in an especial sense for the Elect; because he procured for them not a possible, but an actual salvation.

3. The death of Christ opens the way for a sincere offer of salvation by God to all who will accept the conditions he has laid down.

4. That same death, however, secures salvation to the Elect, because by it Christ also obtained for them those gracious influences, by which they will be led to comply with those conditions.

5. The work of Christ, contemplated as securing the means of reconciliation, is a full equivalent to all that the advocates of a general atonement claim; for they do not suppose that more than this was done for mankind in general, while Calvinists readily recognize that this much has been done for all.

6. But, while the making of an actual atonement for the Elect is not inconsistent with the securing of a method of atonement for all the assertion that such was the special work done for them complies with the nature of the atonement as heretofore seen and shows how Christ could be especially their Saviour, and also the Saviour of all.


Rev. James Petigru Boyce, D. D., LL. D.,–Abstract of Systematic Theology–First published in 1887