Penal Substitution: In My Place He Stood

Is it beneath dignity and self-respect to believe in a God who had to kill in order to forgive? “More and more evangelicals believe Christ’s atoning death is merely a grotesque creation of the medieval imagination,” reports Christianity Today.

Isabel Carter Heyward, Professor of Theology at Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge contends that “forgiveness does not come through the blood of Christ” Interviewed by Abby Noll, “[Heyward] deletes “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” when celebrating the Eucharist. Instead, she teaches that we are the “living sacraments” of atonement when we show “compassion and non-violence”. Forgiveness does not come through “blood sacrifices” but through compassion and solidarity.”(Noll 2000: n.p)

Heyward is not alone in rejecting penal substitution, Clack Pinnock and Robert Brow[1] contended that “Christ is not appeasing God’s wrath. God is not sadistically crucifying His beloved Son. We are not talking about retribution or criminal proceedings. The cross is a revelation of a compassionate God. Suffering love is the way of salvation”.( Pinnock & Brow 2001: 27)

How does a holy and righteous God justifies sinners? Is it true that God can simply forgive sinners without blood sacrifice? This is the problem I am attempting to answer as I explore penal substitution, a notion that stabs to make sense of what the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus achieved.

A concise Biblical answer could be given by combining Hebrews 9: 22b: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” and Hebrews 10:4 “[it was] impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”(ESV) together. I have divide this article in three parties so I can fairly attempt to present the notion of penal substitutionary atonement and also answer some of the popular objections.

The notion of atonement as we encounter in Old Testament, predominantly in Leviticus 16, describes a framework of purification as a sinner involves herself in a ritual cleansing and offering sacrifice to atoned for her transgressions against God’s righteousness and holiness.

N. T. Wright quotes D. P. Wright explaining:

While throughout the year the impurity of individual or community sins may be purged as they arise, once a year a special rite must be performed that cleanses the sanctuary of impurity from deliberate sins and from any other lingering impurity not yet rectified.(Wright 1996: 410)

“[A]tonement is a multifaceted event”, explained R.C. Sproul, “Jesus is shown providing surety for our debt to God, mediating the enmity between us and God, and offering Himself as a substitute to suffer God’s judgment in our place.”(Sproul 2007: 53)

Stealing the thought of Anselm of Canterbury, I believe the life, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus paid the penalty that man owed God for his sin and none but man must pay. But only God-man was able to fully and perfectly bore the just condemnation as a substitute in place of those who belong to His Father.

In the next article I will attempt to unpacked the above paragraph as we explore both the Old and the New Testament doctrine of atonement.

Next: Penal Substitution: Nothing But The Blood

Previous: Atonement: Dancing With Theories

Question: Why is more and more contemporary Christians find it offensive to speak of the blood of Jesus?

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[1] In The Story We Find Ourselves (2003) Brian McLaren also attack penal substitutionary atonement.

Bibliography:

Nolly, Addy (2000): Herstory and Heresy: A Feminist/Womanist Perspective on Jesus

Pinnock, H. Clark & Brow, Robert C.(1994): Unbound Love: A Good News Theology for the 21st Century. Intervarsity Pr.

Wright, N. T. (1996). Jesus and the victory of God. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Sproul, R. C. (2007). The Truth of the Cross (53). Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

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57 thoughts on “Penal Substitution: In My Place He Stood

  1. continued…

    Paul certainly believed that. But Jesus in the Lord’s Prayer taught otherwise.

    “So for the sinner to be forgiven, he must contact Jesus’ blood.”

    Do you realise how creepy (and disgusting) that sounds?

  2. “If you believe one verse or truth in the Bible then you must believe it all. Likewise, if you do not believe one verse or truth in the Bible then you cannot take any of it as truth. You can not pick and choose what truth spoken it is you want to believe, its all or none.”

    Why? The Bible is a library of books written over many centuries. It contains historical events and legends. It does not even claim to BE the word of God!

    “The Bible clearly affirms that the only power that can forgive man’s sins is the blood of Jesus.” Well

  3. Paul, with much respect…

    If you believe one verse or truth in the Bible then you must believe it all. Likewise, if you do not believe one verse or truth in the Bible then you cannot take any of it as truth. You can not pick and choose what truth spoken it is you want to believe, its all or none.

    The Bible clearly affirms that the only power that can forgive man’s sins is the blood of Jesus. His death paid the penalty for our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Romans 5:6-9; Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Rev. 1:5).

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (JOH 3:14-16)

    Consider a sinner who has never been cleansed by Jesus’ blood. If he is to be pardoned, there must be some point at which that cleansing power applies to him personally and forgives him. Something must happen in his life as an essential condition (or conditions) in order for God to grant him forgiveness.

    In order to cleanse dirt, soap must be applied to that which is unclean. For an electric lamp to give light, it must contact the source of power. So for the sinner to be forgiven, he must contact Jesus’ blood.

    ******

    You try to use the Lords prayer to argue that all one has to do is ask God in a prayer and all our sins are forgiven?

    YOU:I’m not looking for ‘the big picture’ – i’m asking you to *think*

    When Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

    and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

    ME:

    I think Peter and John (the day of and ever after) thought it to mean…

    they need daily pardon. They thought it meant exactly what Jesus wanted them to know it meant. This speaks about forgiveness among our associates, neighbors, friends, family and loved ones. Any and all persons in our lives that we come in contact with in social or business situations are included as well. If we can’t forgive others, how can we expect our heavenly Father to forgive us?

    I think Jesus (the day of and ever after) thought it to mean…

    What is natural to “the flesh” (the carnal nature) when we have been hurt or abused or insulted is to strike back, to plot revenge, or to simmer in bitterness. This is “only human”. But God requires forgiveness, else He will NOT forgive us. If we are unwilling–or unable–to forgive, then there is no use asking God for what He has told us He will not give. Jesus knew that for believers, dealing with the sin of unforgiveness is first priority.

    So we ask God to forgive us just as we have forgiven those that have sinned against us.

    Mark 11:25 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

    All the disciples knew what [and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors] meant.

    http://aneverydaychristian.wordpress.com

  4. Hi Ias artes, the only problem is that Jesus did not go around Galilee preaching this. He said many times that if you repent of your sins and turn to God you will receive forgiveness. Period. The Lord’s Prayer teaches this too.

  5. Penal substitutionary atonement refers to the doctrine that Christ died on the cross as a substitute for sinners. God imputed the guilt of our sins to Christ, and he, in our place, bore the punishment that we deserve. This was a full payment for sins, which satisfied both the wrath and the righteousness of God, so that He could forgive sinners without compromising His own holy standard.

  6. Knowledge and study takes time my friend. If your mind is already closed then that is your choice.

    The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason. Proverbs 26:16-17

    • Sorry but Im not obliged to read massive blocks of text just because you post them. You seem like someone who thinks very highly of his own opinions…

  7. Paul Williams, you wrote, “‘Is it beneath dignity and self-respect to believe in a God who had to kill in order to forgive? “More and more evangelicals believe Christ’s atoning death is merely a grotesque creation of the medieval imagination,” reports Christianity Today.’

    A God of mercy does not need to kill to forgive. ”

    Allow me to explain your ERROR. (it’s a long sermon about Truth, I hope it sets you free, but you have to have the guts to read it.)

    “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (JOH 3:14-16)

    Our text reveals that our blessed Saviour gave Himself, and God gave His Son (see the emphasis the comes on that word that), “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Our central motive and the theme on which we want to center is to see His purpose. The words “That whosoever believeth,” is the entire theme of this message.

    God the Father, in His love, gave His Son to suffer, bleed, and die. He gave His Son as a propitiation for our sins. We want to see the condescension of God in giving His Son. “That whosoever believeth…should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Notice in verse 15, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” Why? “That whosoever believeth in him….” Do you see the emphasis on “That whosoever believeth?” Do you see that the Father has put reconciliation in place? “That whosoever believeth…should not perish.”

    The negative implication of our text we find in our Saviour’s words in MARK 16:16. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” See why it is so important that we believe, because those who believe not shall be damned. All of this preparation for our salvation was made “That whosoever believeth…should not perish but have eternal life.”

    The atonement is not limited, but the blessings obtained in the atonement are limited. Salvation is limited to those who believe. Do you know what that does? That removes the limitation from God’s side and puts it on our side. It brings the responsibility home: all those who are damned are damned because they believed not, not because the atonement was limited. The only limitation in the gospel is “those who believeth.” The Lord has given His own Son, and the Son of God has been lifted up on the cross “That whosoever believeth … should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    Seeing that the blessings obtained in the atonement are limited to those who believe, it is very urgent to rightly understand what it is to believe. Can you think of anything that’s more important than to rightly understand what it means to believe? Our eternal salvation – or our eternal damnation – depends upon it.

    A mere intellectual belief is not saving! I can have a historical knowledge of the crucifixion of Christ and truly believe it to be true, but that is not saving. There is often much feeling associated with an intellectual belief. I can think back to when, as a little child, I used to hear the explanation of how Christ was crucified, and I could become very emotional about that. I could really feel emotional and sympathetic towards the poor Saviour: to think that these terrible people had done all this to Him! Yet there was no salvation in that. Those feelings and emotions have no salvation in them. It’s still an intellectual belief, even though we may have great emotions connected with it.

    The emotions may become very deeply stirred, while faith is nothing more than a morning cloud which passes away. The next morning those emotions are gone, and nothing has been altered in my heart at all. Nothing has changed. This is why all the the feelings are not connected with believing – there is no relationship at all.

    “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it. [There was joy in receiving the Word, they heard it, and they believed it! See what was missing.] Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (MAT 13:20-21)

    What was missing? What was missing was the washing of regeneration, the new attitude, and new desires. A right attitude towards sin was missing, because when persecution arises for the Word (when for the sake of the Word certain habits and attitudes have been given up) in the face of persecution the fallen will cleaves to the things of earth.

    All these feelings, emotions, joy, and intellectual belief have no salvation in them. These truths are fearfully solemn! Today, there are so many who do not endure unto the end. They believe – they even have joy in believing – but when persecution arises for the sake of the Word, they become offended. They cannot endure to have everything of the flesh cut off and crucified. They cannot endure the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit.

    As we see from MAR 6:20-27, King Herod heard John the Baptist “gladly.” There was joy in hearing John the Baptist. He was emotional, but when the dancing of the daughter of Herodias pleased the king, he went against his own conscience.

    MAR 6:26 says, “And the king was exceeding sorry….” He had to start seeing where he was going to put his values: his honor before those to whom he had made such a foolish oath, his honor before such a sinful woman who had danced so beautifully, or his feelings. Verse 26 continues, “yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.”

    Persecution because of the Word had arisen, and now he has become offended. What does he do? Verse 27: “And immediately the king sent an executioner, and commanded his head to be brought: and he went and beheaded him in the prison.” These are solemn truths. This is where the true believer emerges. Do we stand for the authority of the Word, and do we understand the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit so that we are able to have everything of the flesh cut off for the purifying of our souls? That is believing.

    Our attitude and actions may gauge whether or not we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. We may not gauge whether or not we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ by our intellectual knowledge, our feelings, or by some certain experience. These are deceiving. Our gauge must be our attitude and actions. Do we understand what it is to be renewed in the spirit of the mind? Do we understand what it is to be cleansed by the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, the washing of the water of the Word? We can gauge that in a much better and safer manner, than by our emotions.

    See how the Pharisees rejoiced in the light of a man, but only for a season in JOH 5:35. See how dangerous it is when we have our emotions toward a certain man because he has a calling or some certain gift in preaching. Many people worship the preacher instead of Christ. Many are deceived in this area. See what happened: John the Baptist had a true call, did he not? John the Baptist was prophesied as the forerunner of Christ. He was, indeed, a mighty, powerful preacher of the gospel, and preached without flinching from the truth. But are we to worship John the Baptist because of his call?

    In JOH 5:35, the Lord Jesus told the Pharisees, “He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.” Do you see where the missing link was? They were rejoicing in his light. They were rejoicing in the wonderful, powerful preacher rather than in the true light. They weren’t rejoicing in the truth that was being preached. They were rejoicing in the power and the credentials of the man. There’s no salvation in this type of emotion.

    We may hear some gospel preacher, and greatly rejoice in his light: “Oh! That was a wonderful sermon. Oh! That was a wonderful message.” But it’s the man we’re worshipping. We’re rejoicing “in his light.” We can rejoice in his light and yet be totally void of the new birth, because the first time that our little maid dances well, we’ll probably behead a John the Baptist. We’ll cut his head off rather than to cut down some of our own fleshly desires. The work of regeneration begins with the crucifying of self.

    We may delight to come to the light of some powerful preacher, and we may rejoice in such a one as John the Baptist, and yet flee from the true light. Look at the context of our text and see how urgently important this is. The Lord Jesus is giving the definition of those who believe and those who believe not.

    Jesus is showing the distinction between who believes and who does not believe. “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He goes on to show that condemnation wherein are those who believe not.] And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (JOH 3:18-19)

    There are multitudes who sincerely believe they are saved, yet who have never rightly believed in Jesus. They have never rightly understood the condemnation of the unbeliever. What is the condemnation of the unbeliever? It is the light of the Word. MAT 7:13 says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.”

    Do you know what the strait gate means? Turn to MAT 7:12. “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Then He says, “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” What does the word strait mean? It means difficult to stand. He’s telling us to do unto your friend, unto your neighbor, what you would want him to do to you. He follows that by telling us how difficult it is to stand: “for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat.” They that don’t stand, don’t understand the law of love, and have never learned to understand what it is to love God with their heart, soul, and mind, and love their neighbor as themselves.

    These “many” that Jesus spoke of here saying, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat,” are not openly professed infidels who have no reason to believe in Christ. They are the professed believers in Christ; they are those who are on that “broad” road.

    MAT 7:22 says, “Many will say to me in that day [it’s the same “many”, the same parable, the same illustration that Christ is giving], Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” They’re going to come on the Day of Judgment, having died believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as their only hope of salvation, but they had not believed with a true gospel faith.

    Look at what He says next (verse 23). “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit had never cleansed them from their sins. They continued on the broad road where they didn’t have to stand, they could have a little grudge, hate, spite, nag, pleasure, sin, and a little of everything that pleases the flesh. They respond, “Oh, yeah, but it’s all washed in the blood of Christ,” yet they’ve never had a renewing of the heart. They’ve never rightly believed, and so perished eternally.

    It is one thing to believe that sin is the awful thing that it is, and quite another to have a holy hatred for sin in the very soul. I could have a true belief that sin is a terrible thing, and damning, but yet have secret sins – sins that I love and cherish – and still go on cherishing “sweetheart sins.” It’s quite a different thing to understand the true fear of God, in which you hate all iniquity.

    PRO 8:13 says, “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” The fear of the Lord is to hate sin because if we stop cherishing sin, we’ll start turning from sin. As long as we cherish sin, as long as we love sin in our hearts, we will continue to sin. There is the mark of true believers. That’s where you divide the sheep from the goats: by the hatred we have for sin, in which sin becomes loathsome and exceeding sinful. No person who cherishes sin in his heart can truly say he loves the truth. Can you truly say that you love the truth while you hide a lie in your heart and cherish it? No, this takes some soul-searching, examining of our own hearts, which brings us before the Lord to ask Him to examine our hearts. David said in PSA 26:2, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.” An honest soul’s desire is to have sin revealed unto us, that we might repent of it and turn from it.

    The spirit of the antichrist enters the heart, “with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” (2TH 2:10) Do you realize how important it is that we learn to love the truth and that we hate sin? Do you understand the new birth? It is to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. The work of the Spirit is to wash us by the washing of regeneration, so that our hearts are cleansed, and we cannot continue in sin.

    Those that perish are those who love not the truth, that they might be saved. The great multitude are on the broad road to destruction and have a strong delusion to believe that they are saved! These are the “many” that Jesus is talking about in MAT 7:22. God will send a strong delusion for those who love not the truth. 2TH 2:11-12 says, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth [who loved not the truth], but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” When we can have pleasure in sin, and enjoy sin, then we may not claim that we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Seeing the solemn reality that God Himself may send strong delusion that we should believe a lie, how important it is to examine our own hearts and determine whether or not we pass the test set forth! Do we love the truth, or is it our condemnation? Is the truth our greatest delight, or does it condemn us? Do we hide from the truth?

    See where the possibility of condemnation comes right back to our attitude and our actions. “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light [Do you see that our actions and attitude are what clearly define whether or not we have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ?], neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” I want you to see the entire contrast and what the Lord Jesus says about those who believe. Verse 21 says, “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light [I want you to see again, attitude and actions], that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (JOH 3:20-21)

    The light is not a condemnation to one who does the truth because it is his heart’s desire to know and do what’s right. We come to the light that our deeds might be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. Then we know that we have received the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit, when our hearts desire is to be examined in the light of His Word.

    As we see these solemn truths in the context of our text, let us examine what Jesus is saying in JOH 3:14-16. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    He’s not saying “whosoever covers his sin;” or those who love sin should not perish. He says, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” So what is it to believe?

    The Lord Jesus is saying, “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,” look at the history that teaches us of lifting up the serpent in the wilderness. “And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (NUM 21:8-9)

    Do you know what a beautiful lesson this teaches? As with the beginning of miracles, as they obeyed, the miracle was performed. Without obedience, the miracle would not have been performed. If you and I are going to obstinately wait and say, “Well salvation has to be given, and in the meantime, I’m going to live on in my sins,” we are on the broad road to hell!

    As we begin to obey, the miracle of grace is performed. “Every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” The miracle was dependent upon the act of obedience of faith. Those who refused to look were not healed. In verse 9, “when he beheld the serpent,” when he obeyed, he turned his eyes, looked unto that brazen serpent, and lived. The miracle was performed as they obeyed.

    Do we earn salvation by our works? No. Turn with me to ROM 4. It is important we understand this because Satan is a master of twisting the Word of God out of context. “What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” (ROM 4:1-2)

    Do you know what the word by means? Sometimes when we rightly understand these small words, we start to understand the gospel. The word by is a preposition, and means on the account of, as the foundation of, on the basis of. Abraham was not justified on the basis of his works: there was no merit in his work.

    Now turn with me to JAM 2. What he’s saying there is that you can be justified by works! “Was not Abraham our father justified by works?” (JAM 2:21) Is that a contradiction? Is there contradiction in the Word of God? No, that word by comes from a totally different word in the original. What it means is instrumentality.

    Abraham was not justified in the sense of meriting salvation by works, but works were the instrument whereby he had salvation conveyed to him. Works were instrumental. They were the vehicle whereby he received salvation. Looking unto Jesus is not meritorious in itself, however, it is the instrument, the vehicle, whereby the miracle is performed. These are beautiful truths when we learn to understand them.

    I don’t preach to you that you’re going to merit salvation by doing anything, but you’ll never receive salvation without doing anything. Obedience of faith is the instrument whereby salvation is conveyed to you.

    As with the beginning of miracles, I want you to see that “when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” If they had refused to obey, and had not lifted their eyes unto that brazen serpent, (our blessed Redeemer, which is typified by the serpent of brass), they wouldn’t have lived. It was by obedience of faith that the miracle was performed.

    As we look unto Jesus by faith, the quickening of the Spirit takes place through the washing of regeneration of the Word. It is as our eye is fixed upon Christ that sin becomes exceeding sinful. JOH 6:63 says, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” As our eye is fixed upon our blessed Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, the Word becomes the quickening power of the Spirit.

    JAM 1:18 says, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” We are born by the Word of Truth. It is as our eye is fixed upon that precious Saviour, as it is set forth in the Word of God, that the miracle is performed, that sin becomes exceeding sinful, that we learn to see the sinfulness of sin and learn to hate it. Thereby that miracle of grace is performed through obedience of faith as the instrument. ROM 1:4-5 says, “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name.”

    As we “behold” that blessed sacrifice of Christ by faith, which is symbolized by the “the serpent of brass,” we begin to “live.” We begin to live spiritually, which is evidenced by true gospel repentance. We truly become renewed in the spirit of our mind. As our hearts are fastened upon that blessed sacrifice of Christ, as we obey, our hearts are removed from the things of this life and the things of sin, and turned unto the Lord Jesus Christ. Then He becomes so precious! The things of this life lose their value.

    ACT 5:30-32 says, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” When our eye is fixed on Christ, then He has been lifted up before the eye of faith. God has exalted Him. He becomes exalted in our hearts and our minds, and sin loses its power. He is there to “give repentance.” When we look unto Christ for repentance, we look unto Him for forgiveness of sin. Verse 32 says, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.” Do you want the Lord to give you the Holy Spirit? He has given the Holy Spirit “unto them that obey him.”

    Wherein must we obey Him? When we feel that bite of sin, when we feel that serpent’s venom of sin in our veins, we obey Him by looking unto our blessed Redeemer. We look unto that precious love of the Father. We look unto that bleeding, dying Son, in the Garden of Gethsemane, pleading and saying, “O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not my will but thine be done.” As we behold that precious love of God, sin loses its power, and those who obey Him will receive the Holy Ghost. We must obey the command to look unto Jesus whom God has lifted up, and then this miracle is performed as we look unto Him.

    As we obey this command to look away from ourselves unto Jesus, we begin to live by faith, which is the gift of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (EPH 2:8) As we look away from ourselves unto Jesus, we receive a right understanding of the true character of God by the example He has given us. It is by looking unto Jesus that we receive a right understanding of His character: that God is love. To see the love of the Father in giving His Son, the love of the Son in giving Himself, and the love of God leads you to repentance.

    1JO 5:20 says, “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” Think of how the Apostle Paul’s actions were affected by his first encounter with Christ. Believing is to be measured by our attitude and our actions. See what effect it had on the Apostle Paul’s attitude and actions when he received but a glimpse of Christ.

    1CO 15:10 says, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” Were his actions altered? Yes, he was no longer persecuting the church. Was his attitude altered? Oh, yes. What did he do? He was now serving under the kingship of that same Redeemer whom he had been persecuting. What brought about the change? One glimpse of Christ did. He looked and saw, and he “laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” What did he do now? He labored to bring those that were outside into that very gospel that he had been persecuting.

    Eternal security becomes ours as we look unto our blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. 1PE 1:3-5 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

    What is it to believe? True believing is “faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled.” There’s the washing of regeneration. There is what prepares the heart for heaven: to be washed from sin. As we look out of self unto Jesus Christ, He produces the fruits of the Spirit in our hearts. A serpent has the power of fascination, and Satan chose a serpent. The power of fascination means that by looking in his eye his prey has no might against him, and a serpent can swallow his victim alive by merely catching it’s eye; as long as it looks into his eyes, it has no power to flee. So it is with the power of sin. As long as our eye is fixed upon Satan and sin, we have no power against it, but think of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    JOH 12:31-33 says, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” He was lifted up as the brazen serpent. What does this teach us? It teaches that He also has that drawing power, and as long as our eye is fixed upon Him, Satan and sin lose their power.

    “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die.” What death did He die? He died unto sin. As we look unto Jesus, away from ourselves, He produces the fruits of the Spirit in our hearts. HOS 14:8-9 says, “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. [That fruit of the Holy Spirit comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.] Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”

    Do you see the way of life Christ is looking for? It’s walking in those fruits of the Spirit, “but the transgressors shall fall therein.” As we obey the command to look away from ourselves and unto the Lord Jesus Christ, we find the truth of what Christ says: “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (JOH 12:32) That’s the command: look unto that brazen serpent.

    As we learn to die unto self and sin by looking unto that blessed obedience of Jesus, then we see what death He died unto sin that He might live unto God. (ROM 6:10) Then we understand ROM 6:11. “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

    Oh how blessedly our Saviour illustrates what it is to truly believe! First, Jesus directs our attention to His sacrifice for sin (“And I, if I be lifted up”) to teach us how displeased God is with sin, and that the slightest disobedience to God’s holy law demanded His death in our place. It is the penalty, as we see in verse 14 of JOH 3. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”(JOH 3:14-16)

    Second, Jesus directs our attention to the love of the Father (in verse 16) in giving His only begotten Son to appease His just wrath upon sin before He would let one sin go unpunished with its rightful penalty, which was nothing short of death. He draws our attention to this.

    Third, Jesus tells us why the Father has demonstrated such love to His people. He teaches us why He gave Him as a sacrifice for sin, “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (JOH 3:15) See the responsibility we have in looking unto Jesus. He died and rose again according to the will of His Father, all so “That whosoever believeth…should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    Jesus teaches that the miracle of the new birth takes place as we begin to obey this gospel command. Those blessed teachings are a powerful call of the gospel to look away from the pleasures of sin unto the blessed service of Christ, and the kingdom of heaven. That is the instrument that the Holy Spirit will use to bring about the new birth.

    Next Jesus teaches the contrast between true believers and the deplorable condition of the unbelievers. JOH 3:17-21 says, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

    The Lord sent His Son into the world that we would see His perfect righteousness and, by contrast, what monsters we are. That was not to condemn, but that we might believe upon Him and be saved. Verse 18 continues, “He that believeth on him is not condemned [He did not come to send condemnation upon those who believe.]: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

    Wherein does their condemnation lie? They have not “believed in the name” (that name of authority). They would not bow to that authority: “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Then He goes on to explain wherein their condemnation lies in verse 19. “And this is the condemnation [that is, of those who believe not], that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

    Where was their heart and attitude? The light revealed their attitude: they loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil, and they had no desire to change them. That’s the definition of an unbeliever. That’s the Word of God giving you a clear definition of an unbeliever. They “loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Verse 20 says, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

    We have to examine our hearts. What’s our attitude? Do we love sin? Do we love darkness? Do we hate light? If we do, we are on the wrong road. He came “that whosoever believeth…should not perish.” They are those who have had that renewal of their mind.

    Now He’s giving us the definition of a believer in verse 21. “But he that doeth truth [he that loves the light – what a beautiful definition of those who `believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’] cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

    The light is not his condemnation; he loves the light and the truth. The washing of regeneration of his heart and his mind has renewed him, and he hates sin. Oh, how it humbles all our pride when we learn, by looking unto Jesus, that God cannot be glorified in anything from the flesh.

    ISA 26:12 says, “LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.” You and I can lay no claim to our salvation on the basis of what we have done. There is no merit in it. He has “wrought all our works in us.” That change of attitude and work of regeneration, is all the work of grace; that change of mind and heart: He has “wrought all our works in us.” Repentance is a gift of grace.

    Outside of the imparted righteousness of Christ, which becomes ours by looking unto Jesus by faith, we find the awful truth about our own righteousness. That is what we read in ISA 64:6-8. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. [That’s what we are by nature.] But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.”

    There’s no merit. We are dependent upon the working of God’s grace, but that doesn’t mean that out of our inability to justify ourselves we sit back and wait till grace is given. We are commanded to obey. Man became lost in sin by a look: “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes.” (GEN 3:6) That look changed her attitude toward God: it defiled her heart, and she coveted and lusted-all from one look.

    ISA 45:22 says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Did you ever stop to realize that by looking unto Christ, we start having a change of attitude? Our hearts become cleansed because sin becomes hateful and exceeding sinful. “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”

    There is only one way in which we shall proceed in the footsteps of Christ, and that is to continue looking. It isn’t that we take one glance and then look back to sin. It is by continuous looking. HEB 12:1b-2 says, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus [We see His faith, His way of life, we see how displeased God was with sin.] the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Then the joy that is set before us is in serving Him, as we see how He bowed to serve the Father to earn our salvation.

    That’s how we “lay aside every weight” and every “sin which doth so easily beset us”: looking unto Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith.” Amen.

  8. Paul, I get the feeling you want to make a certain point with your question. What is it?

    I think Peter and John (the day of and ever after) thought it to mean…

    they need daily pardon and daily protection as well as daily provision. After Jesus taught them to pray, “give us today our daily bread,” He also taught them to pray, “and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” They thought it meant exactly what Jesus wanted them to know it meant.

    I think Jesus (the day of and ever after) thought it to mean…

    What is natural to “the flesh” (the carnal nature) when we have been hurt or abused or insulted is to strike back, to plot revenge, or to simmer in bitterness. This is “only human”. But God requires forgiveness, else He will NOT forgive us. If we are unwilling–or unable–to forgive, then there is no use asking God for what He has told us He will not give. Jesus knew that for believers, dealing with the sin of unforgiveness is first priority.

    Mark 11:25 (NIV) “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (All the disciples knew what [and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors] meant.

    As a way to test the veracity of the following points, let us consider forgiveness in the most radical sense we can. Think of something truly wicked that has been done to you or someone you love, not by accident or error but deliberately and with malice–where you have come right up against evil and the pain caused by it in your own emotions.

    When God says we should do something that is reasonably within our power, then we can mistake our own carnal self-efforts for Spirit-led obedience. But when we hear Him say something impossible or impractical like “be perfect” (Mat 5:48) we despair and realize that it will only be by grace that we are saved, through faith in Him who alone has the qualities God requires. For this is “God stuff” we are talking about here. If “perfection” is not given to us from Christ, we will never get it on our own.

    John 15:5 (NKJ) “…For without Me you can do nothing.”

    On the scale of things Jesus told us we must do, perhaps just below His demand of “perfection” as being impossible to attain in our own resources… is forgiveness.

    Let us recognize that only God can forgive. It is not humanly possible. If we “get it” at all, it will be by God’s very nature being imputed to us. And right here is the secret to real forgiveness. It is divine.

    Luke 5:20-21 (NIV) When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

    It is assumed that every believer will have had some experience at true forgiveness, even if vicariously through a movie or book or story. And in the range of human emotion, true forgiveness ranks as one of the sweetest and most pleasurable that a human can feel. Corrie Ten Boom called this after-effect of forgiveness “a flood of joy and peace”. The burden of bitterness is removed, there is a supernatural “rightness” to it, conflict is replaced with resonance, and love floods in where hatred once ruled. This is no accident, it is the very nature of God coursing through us. It is grace at work. For the only way to truly forgive is to have His life in us. All else is play-acting, denial, or capitulation to sin.

    May we be encouraged all the more to this aspect of “Christ in us”, now that we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

    While many Christians are off chasing bogus revivals and spiritual hucksters making self-claims to be “anointed” or chasing some wind of doctrine to get some splash of spiritual thrill, what often goes untried is God’s way of obedience. Want to experience God? FORGIVE. Want to feel His presence and power coursing through your body in a thrilling moment of supernatural encounter? Forgive.

    Yet Jesus has taught us to ask our Father to help us. “Our Father,” we are to pray, “forgive us our debts.” With these words we declare our moral bankruptcy, freely admitting that we owe God more than everything we have. Then we ask Him to forgive us outright. And because He is our loving Father, God does what we ask. When we go to Him weighed down with the debt of all our sin, He does not sit down with us to work out a payment plan. Instead, He offers full and free forgiveness.

    When God remits our debts He is well within His legal rights, for the Scripture says that He took our sin away, “canceling the record of debt that stood against us” by “nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). This vivid image corresponds to the way debts were sometimes cancelled in the ancient world. When a debtor finally paid off all his debts, his creditor would strike a nail through the certificate of debt. In the same way, when Christ died on the cross, God drove a nail right through the infinite debt of our sin. There are no longer any outstanding charges against us.

    The debts we ask God to forgive when we pray the way Jesus taught us to pray are the very debts that were crucified with Christ at Calvary. When Christ died on the cross, all our debts were cancelled. The Greek word for “cancel” (exaleipho), which Paul uses in Colossians 2, means “to blot out” or “to wipe away.” It means that the mountain of debt we once owed to God because of our sin has been completely erased.

    There are still some things we owe to God, however — not out of debt, but out of gratitude — and one of those things is forgiveness. “Forgive us our debts,” Jesus taught us to pray, “as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12 nkjv). From this petition we learn that we are not the only ones in debt. We have debtors of our own, people who owe us something for what they have done to us. And we are called to forgive them.

    This is a hard teaching. The prayer for forgiveness is the only petition in the Lord’s Prayer that comes with a condition attached. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Yet we find it hard to forgive. How, then, can we be forgiven?

    To illustrate the difficulty, consider something John Wesley said in his missionary days when he was having a difficult time with General Oglethorpe, the proud and pitiless founder of colonial Georgia. Oglethorpe made this startling comment: “I never forgive.” “Then I hope, sir,” replied Wesley, “you never sin.” Wesley was thinking of the Lord’s Prayer, which implies that the unforgiving are unforgiven.

    Asking for our own forgiveness takes priority over offering it to others. If we had to forgive before we could be forgiven, then forgiveness would become a work, something we had to do to be saved. Yet salvation comes by grace alone. We cannot work off our debts, we can only ask for them to be canceled. But now, having been forgiven, by the grace of God we are also able to forgive. Indeed, our ability to forgive is one of the surest signs of our having been forgiven. Those who are truly forgiven, truly forgive.

    Giving such forgiveness can be very costly, and the more someone has hurt us, the harder it is to forgive. Yet forgiveness also brings great joy, not only to the forgiven, but especially to the forgiver. The Greek term for “forgiveness” (aphiemi) comes from a word that means “to let go.” Forgiveness is a release, a letting go of self-destructive feelings like anger, bitterness, and revenge.

    Richard Wurmbrand once met a man who had experienced the divine release that comes through forgiveness. Wurmbrand was in a Communist prison in Romania at the time, lying in a prison cell reserved for those who were dying. In the cot on his right was a pastor who had been beaten so badly that he was about to die. On his left was the very man who had beaten him, a Communist who was later betrayed and tortured by his comrades.

    One night the Communist awakened in the middle of a nightmare and cried out, “Please, pastor, say a prayer for me. I have committed such crimes, I cannot die.” The pastor feebly got up, stumbled past Wurmbrand’s cot, and sat at the bedside of his enemy.

    As he watched, Wurmbrand saw the pastor caress the hair of the man who had tortured him and speak these amazing words: “I have forgiven you with all of my heart, and I love you. If I who am only a sinner can love and forgive you, more so can Jesus who is the Son of God and who is love incarnate. Return to Him. He longs for you much more than you long for Him. He wishes to forgive you much more than you wish to be forgiven. You just repent.” There, in the prison cell, the Communist began to confess all his murders and tortures. When he had finished, the two men prayed together, embraced, and then returned to their beds, where each died that very night.

    The Romanian pastor had learned how to forgive. He had learned this from Jesus, who first forgave his debts, and then taught him to forgive his debtors. This same Jesus forgives us and delivers us, for by His death on the cross He has canceled our debt and destroyed the power of the Devil.

    Paul, Gods love for us is so great that he has given us a very clear and precise road map to find our way into His loving arms. There is no mystery, no deception and no uncertainty.

    “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7

  9. why is it so difficult to focus on this essential aspect of Jesus’ teaching about prayer?

    If Peter and John prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

    and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.

    and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

    come on – surely someone can actually address this question directly?

      • …but the Lord’s Prayer is the No 1 prayer Jesus taught his disciples – as such it has a status higher than any other prayer. It is THE central Christian prayer. You are supposed to pray it.

        Why so sheepish?

        If Peter and John prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

        and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.

        and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

        come on – surely you can address this question directly?

    • Matthew 6:5-7
      “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

      “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:. . .”

      Note the two main contrasts in the above, between hypocrite/gentiles and disciples/followers of Christ. Also note that Jesus is teaching ‘how’ to pray, not a specific prayer you must pray, and he is teaching it in a specific context.

      To turn this into a must pray daily kind of thing is to make of it what it is not – a legalistic ritual. It might not become that, but the potential is there.

      Considering all we can learn from Jesus concerning prayer, perhaps ‘a’ central teaching on prayer might be more accurate.

      Just a thought.

  10. I look forward to it Prayson.

    It’s also important Paul, to note What Forgiveness Is Not.

    1. Not the Absence of Anger at Sin

    Forgiveness is not the absence of anger at sin. It is not feeling good about what was bad.

    (not my story…)
    I was on the phone yesterday with a pastor from out of state who told me about a woman in his church who, he noticed after he came to the church, never came to communion. He probed and found that 15 years earlier she had been separated from her husband because he repeatedly beat her and sexually abused their children. She said that every time she came to communion she would remember what he had done and feel so angry at what it cost her children that she felt unworthy to take communion. This was over a decade later.

    My friend said to her, You are not expected to feel good about what happened. Anger against sin and its horrible consequences is fitting up to a point. But you don’t need to hold on to that in a vindictive way that desires harm for your husband. You can hand it over to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23) again and again, and pray for the transformation of your husband. Forgiveness is not feeling good about horrible things. And he encouraged her to forgive him in this way, if she hadn’t, and to take communion as she handed her anger over to God and prayed for her husband.

    2. Not the Absence of Serious Consequences for Sin

    Forgiveness is not the absence of serious consequences for sin.

    In other words, sending a person to jail does not mean you are unforgiving to him. (not my story…) My pastor friend has been part of putting two of his members in prison for sexual misconduct. Can you imagine the stresses on that congregation as they come to terms with what forgiveness is!

  11. Thank you Roy for another wonderful insights. Paul, the Lord’s Prayer need to be understood in its context. The big picture. Matthew Mark and Luke paint a picture of Jesus coming to save His people. He is the long waited Christ. The peak of Jesus teaching reached at the upper room on passover as Jesus claim that He is making a new covenant. He is the Passover Lamb, as it was with Moses in Egypt, Jesus body and blood is to be shed for His people.

    So the Lord prayer need to be read in light of the whole story if needed to be understood Paul.

    I will deal with this in length as we go through Old and New Testament teaching on atonement.

    Thank you Roy and Paul.

    Prayson

    • LOL! Why is it not possible for anyone to focus on the question?

      Our Father in heaven,
      hallowed be your name.
      Your kingdom come,
      your will be done,
      on earth as it is in heaven.
      Give us this day our daily bread,
      and forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.
      And lead us not into temptation,
      but deliver us from evil.”

      So when Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

      and forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.

      and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

        • I am afraid you have not replied to these points:

          So when Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

          and forgive us our debts,
          as we also have forgiven our debtors.

          and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

        • Paul, I too answered you. If you need a few words then I will offer you dear Paul.

          If the Lord’s Prayer is all that was in Jesus teaching, then Paul, I believe you are right. But this is a piece in a big picture. To understand Lord’s Prayer in its proper cotext, you need the whole picture Paul, otherwise we can it say anything we want it to say, No?

          Prayson

          • I’m not looking for ‘the big picture’ – i’m asking you to *think*

            When Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

            and forgive us our debts,
            as we also have forgiven our debtors.

            and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

  12. More for you Paul,

    What Is Forgiveness?

    Today the question is: what is forgiveness? What does it look like? What isn’t it? We have heard from Jesus that it is essential. It is not icing on the cake of Christianity. If we don’t experience it and offer it to others, we will perish in our sin. So it is tremendously important to know what this is that is so essential to our eternal life.

    Let me begin with a definition of forgiveness that we owe to each other. It comes from Thomas Watson about 300 years ago. He is commenting on the Lord’s Prayer, “Forgive us our debts as we for give our debtors,” and asks,

    Question: When do we forgive others?

    Answer: When we strive against all thoughts of revenge; when we will not do our enemies mischief, but wish well to them, grieve at their calamities, pray for them, seek reconciliation with them, and show ourselves ready on all occasions to relieve them. (Thomas Watson, Body of Divinity, p. 581)

    I think this is a very biblical definition of forgiveness. Each of its parts comes from a passage of Scripture.

    Resist thoughts of revenge: Romans 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
    Don’t seek to do them mischief: 1 Thessalonians 5:15, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil.
    Wish well to them: Luke 6:28, “Bless those who curse you.”
    Grieve at their calamities: Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles.”
    Pray for them: Matthew 5:44, “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.”
    Seek reconciliation with them: Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
    Be always willing to come to their relief: Exodus 23:4, “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey wandering away, you shall surely return it to him.”

    Here is forgiveness: when you feel that someone is your enemy or when you simply feel that you or someone you care about has been wronged, forgiveness means,

    resisting revenge,
    not returning evil for evil,
    wishing them well,
    grieving at their calamities,
    praying for their welfare,
    seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,
    and coming to their aid in distress.

    All these point to a forgiving heart. And the heart is all important Jesus said in Matthew 18:35—”unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

  13. The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

    Then in Matthew 18 Jesus told a parable to illustrate this point. Peter asks the question in verse 21, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” And Jesus answers, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

    And then he tells the parable about the king who forgave his servant a million dollar debt. The servant went out from the king and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a relatively small amount, refused his desperate pleas for mercy, and had him thrown in prison. When the king heard about it, he called for the servant and said (in vv. 32–35),

    “You wicked servant, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?” And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.

    The point of Matthew 6:15 and 18:35 is that if we hold fast to an unforgiving spirit, we will be handed over to the tormentors. We will lose heaven, and gain hell.

    The reason is not because we can earn heaven or merit heaven by forgiving others, but because holding fast to an unforgiving spirit proves that we do not trust Christ. If we trust him, we will not spurn his way of life. If we trust him, we will not be able to take forgiveness from his hand for our million dollar debt and withhold it from our ten dollar debtor.

  14. My Thoughts About Penal Substitution:

    Romans 6:23 says that death is the penalty that every sinner deserves. It is the wage of sinners. But Romans 6:23 goes on to say that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We don’t get eternal life simply because we are more good than bad. We don’t receive eternal life simply because of our behavior modification or our steady church attendance. We don’t receive eternal life because we have not done any of the big sins. We receive eternal life only by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    So why did Jesus die? Read Romans 5 for the answer. Sin entered the world through Adam, but through the death of Christ salvation is possible for all who believe (see also John 3).

    The death of Christ was more than a sad display of a good man dying a needless death. It was more than the execution of an innocent man. It was more than God saying “I love you this much.” Though the death of Christ was most certainly a display of the love of God, we do not see the true meaning of it if we do not see that this display of love was rooted in the appeasement of God’s wrath. It was the payment of a price. Justice demands that sin be punished and sin was punished at the expense of the life of Jesus Christ. The punishment was for the “wages” of sinners like you and me. And it was poured out on Jesus in full force and without any restraint. This was a punishment that was more brutal than any crucifixion. It was the pure and undiluted wrath of God and it was completely exhausted on the Son of God Himself.

    I think using the term “blood sacrifice” in relation to the Crucifixion diminishes Gods intent.

    No man can fully explain the Trinity, though in every age scholars have propounded theories and advanced hypotheses to explore this mysterious Biblical teaching. But despite the worthy efforts of these scholars, the Trinity is still largely incomprehensible to the mind of man. It lies outside the realm of natural reason or human logic.

    So what’s the issue that faces us? The ultimate issue as always is, does the biblical evidence support the doctrine of the Trinity or tri-personality of God and how God, the Son, the death of the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the OT and NT all tie seamlessly together? If biblical evidence supports it, we can know it is true. Comprehending it for most people is another matter and there are some whose minds have been closed to it like a steal trap. John Wesley said, “Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God.”3

    We should not be bothered by this fact. Why? Because God’s Word tells us that we should expect His revelation, the revelation of an infinite, omniscient, all-wise Creator, to contain an infinite depth that corresponds to His infinite mind. In Isaiah, God tells us about this and says:

    “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

    As simple as the Bible is in its message of sin and of free salvation in Christ, an incredible subtlety and profundity underlies all its doctrines. Even a child can receive Christ as his Savior, thereby appropriating the free gift of eternal life. Yet no philosopher has more than scratched the surface regarding the things that happened at the Cross. The Bible forces any reader to crash into the ceiling of his own comprehension, beyond which he cannot go until he sees the Lord face-to-face.

    Until a person recognizes that his own wisdom and intelligence are not enough, he is not ready to listen to God’s greater wisdom. Jesus alluded to this when He said to God, “you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children” (Luke 10:21).

    If you want to talk about the blood of Jesus then that is an interesting topic.

    Jesus stated, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven–not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51-58).

    The bread is Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the world. Unless a person “partakes” through faith in Jesus’ death, he cannot have eternal life.

    Peace be with you and yours.

    • Sorry to be a bore but no one has addressed my point:

      Our Father in heaven,
      hallowed be your name.
      Your kingdom come,
      your will be done,
      on earth as it is in heaven.
      Give us this day our daily bread,
      and forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.
      And lead us not into temptation,
      but deliver us from evil.”

      So when Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

      and forgive us our debts,
      as we also have forgiven our debtors.

      and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

  15. “Why is more and more contemporary Christians find it offensive to speak of the blood of Jesus?”
    Engaging question! Couple of simple thoughts:
    1. We have a couple of generations of children of a lesser God who are taught about a ‘cosmic sugar daddy’ instead of the great God of scripture.
    2. Biblical illiteracy, specifically the connection between the OT sacrificial system and the sacrifice of Christ.
    3. Self, rather than God-centered contemporary Christianity.
    4. The ‘gospel according to the Beatles’ reigns, rather than the Gospel of Christ.
    There are probably several layers of thought in each of the above, but those some readily to mind.

  16. Prayson Daniel, I love this post! I enjoy your writing very much and it is encouraging to see someone with your passion and intelligence writing about spiritually deep things. I pray that God will use you in every way that He sees fit. I’m somewhat new to the blogging world but yours is by far one of my favorites! God bless!

    Grace and Peace,
    Kyle

        • In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to address God directly and to ask for forgiveness for our sins, expecting to receive this, the only condition being that we in turn forgive one another. There is no suggestion of the need for a mediator between ourselves and God or for an atoning death to enable God to forgive.

          • Hej Paul,

            Thank for more passages. I promised to answer your objections Paul as I go through both Old and New Testament.

            It is my hope Paul that you have read the three previous articles in this series, (you can see next and previous article at the end of each article) and will be reading more to come as we seek to understand what God revealed about himself.

            Thank you once again Paul.

            Prayson

          • Hi there,

            perhaps you could just respond to Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness in the Lord’s prayer above. Its not really complex theology. Forgiveness is offered by God as long as we forgive those who sin against us. Islam agrees. Do you?

          • If that was the only thing Mark, Matthew and Luke recorded I believe,Paul, you will be very correct.

            But we have do have more than the Lord’s prayer and looking at the whole context, Paul, it gives a whole picture of what Jesus believed his vocation was and how God forgives sinners.

          • Indeed. I am happy to discuss other things but I narrowed it down to just one example to make it easier for you to comment. The Lords Prayer is meant for his followers as THE model prayer and contains extremely important teaching.

            Our Father in heaven,
            hallowed be your name.
            Your kingdom come,
            your will be done,
            on earth as it is in heaven.
            Give us this day our daily bread,
            and forgive us our debts,
            as we also have forgiven our debtors.
            And lead us not into temptation,
            but deliver us from evil.”

            So when Peter, John et al prayed this prayer the day after they received it what do you think they understood by:

            and forgive us our debts,
            as we also have forgiven our debtors.

            and what do you think Jesus meant by this petition?

          • My mediator is Christ. My substitute is Christ.

            Hebrews 10:11-14
            “11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

            Grace and Peace

          • Thank you Kyle,

            Paul loves Matthew, Mark and Luke. We can also offer Paul: Matthew 20:28 “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” and 26:26-29″Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” which resonates with Hebrews passages you came forth with.

            Thank you so much Kyle.

  17. Its strange that the only authoritative entity in this post seems to be subject to commentary…..
    I remain impartial, and fascinated by the articulation and statutory discourse…

    God Bless.

  18. I would only add that, as a Catholic Christian, I find it frightening when people begin to walk away from the basic idea that Christ died for our sins and that salvation comes through His blood sacrifice. Rob Bell just for one example but there are many others out there. I think that there are many and varied facets in which His salvation is manifest through us, whether good works, serving justice, and the like, but it always, always comes back to His taking our place on the Cross when without that gift we would be forever lost. Without that sacrifice all those things become social work, not Christianity.

    It is ironic to me that many of the evangelical Christians who in the past would have been the first to defend the need for the blood sacrifice of Christ are now the very ones beginning to question this most basic teaching of the Faith. And I do not think that the idea of the Atonement just “developed” over time either. All one has to do is read the New Testament, such as Romans and Hebrews for starters, and let the very first Christians speak to us through the inspired Word of God.

    While penal substitution may not fully explain His sacrifice, it is still in many senses the foundation of understanding it. In other words it is the foundation where otherwise a house of sand is quickly built. St Thomas Aquinas puts it like this: “Christ as God delivered Himself up to death by the same will and action as that by which the Father delivered Him up; but as man He gave Himself up by a will inspired of the Father. Consequently there is no contrariety in the Father delivering Him up and in Christ delivering Himself up.”

    To me that is not in any way a negation of penal substitution but a completion and clarification of it. Satisfaction and penal substitution do not contradict one another, or at least, rightly taught, do not need to. But to ignore the blood sacrifice of Christ or not realize that our salvation depends on it leaves no Christianity left within the discussion. Just some thoughts.

    • The Christian idea that guilt can be removed from a wrongdoer by someone else being punished instead is morally grotesque. Or if we say that God in the person of God the Son punished himself in order to be able to justly forgive sinners, we still have the absurdity of a moral law which God must satisfy by punishing the innocent in place of the guilty. It is a strange thing if God so delights in, or requires, the blood of the innocent, that he neither chooses, nor is able, to spare the guilty without the sacrifice of the innocent.

      I believe the basic fault of the Christian understanding of salvation is that it has no room for divine forgiveness. For a forgiveness that has to be bought by the bearing of a just punishment, or the offering of a sacrifice, is not forgiveness, but merely an acknowledgement that a debt has been paid in full. The Cross is not a symbol of forgiveness at all: on the orthodox Christian view, it denotes the repayment of a debt, as the infinity of Original Sin is atoned for by the infinite sacrifice of God’s own temporary death. But what humanity really needs, as we look back over our long record of disobedience, is a model of true forgiveness by a God who does not calculate, who imposes no mean-spirited ‘economy of salvation’ worthy only of accountants and bookkeepers.

      But in the authentic teaching of Jesus to be found in the synoptic gospels (that is the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke) there is, in contrast, genuine divine forgiveness for those who truly repent. In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to address God directly and to ask for forgiveness for our sins, expecting to receive this, the only condition being that we in turn forgive one another. There is no suggestion of the need for a mediator between ourselves and God or for an atoning death to enable God to forgive.

  19. Didn’t humans kill Jesus, not God? Didn’t Jesus (God) put a stop to blood sacrifice— which used to occur during Passover — by asking us to instead partake of bread and wine (His blood & body) which allows Him to be part of us and we part of Him. How could we be close to God if he hadn’t chosen to forgive our sins for each time we sin we move away from God. I find comfort in knowing that when “the Word” became human he fully experienced all aspects of humanity- joy and suffering, the pain of the abandonment of a father and really even the loss of a son making Him a very personal God to us all. I think my point is that we shouldn’t forget our roll as humans in the death of Jesus and just say it was “God” who killed him. We may as well say we have no free will and “God” makes us sin but then forgives himself for doing it…

  20. Thank you for your interesting post. Omne bonum a Deo, omne malum ab homine, i.e., “All good from God, all evil from man.” At the time of Augustus this doctrine was developed, following the image in the New Testament of the only loving God. The Evil does exist, not in heavenly realm but in us.

    I am coming from catholic background. With all due respect. Professor Heyward’s quote can only be considered from Christianity as grave and plain heresy, similar to that of many stamped out during the schism from the first to the fifth century. Christians believe Jesus was a human -and- divine being sent by God and he sacrificed him for us.This is not a human sacrifice, but the implication that Christ was also human is of great significance, With the exception of Unitarian Christians and Ebionites Christians most Christians now believe in the Divinity of Jesus, which is connected to the belief in Trinity. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (Bible: John 3:16). God is a trinity of persons consisting of one substance and one essence. God is numerically one. T

    As for the “cruel” god , the much more diificult part in the Bible is, “The Book of Job”, which the psychochanalyst C.G.Jung” considers the a landmark development in the “divine drama”, for the first time contemplating criticism of God. I recommend to read Carl Gustav Jungbook “Answer to Job” that addresses the moral, mythological and psychological implications of God sending his son. It was first published in English in 1954.

    Being not an American, I do not know a lot about the “contemporary” Protestant Episcopal Church, but if those thoughts are the mainline of the Anglican Christian church, it seems indeed, “contemporary” churches are more influenced by secularism than by the word of God .

      • No, of course not. Christians believe Jesus was a human -and- divine being sent by God. Jesus died as human for our sins. This is not a human sacrifice, meaning not not a sacrifice of (pagan) humans to a cruel god nor a cruel sacrifice of god father. I refer to the Caledonian Creed describing God in the union of two natures as undiminished Deity and true humanity in one person forever, inseparably united, without mixture or lass or blending of separate identity. God being fully God and man being fully man in ONE person forever. I also refer to the concept of trinity.

        • first you say: “This is not a human sacrifice”

          me: “So you believe that God died as a sacrifice?”

          you: “No, of course not.”

          you: ‘Jesus died as human for our sins.’

          you seem to be very confused! It seems clear to me that you think Jesus really was a human sacrifice – its just you don’t like it put like that.

          • This conversation does not lead to anywhere. You dont reason nor have you carefully read my post. Which is OK. However opinons and your judgements dont need to be discussed (by me). Good luck my friend. With love.

  21. ‘Is it beneath dignity and self-respect to believe in a God who had to kill in order to forgive? “More and more evangelicals believe Christ’s atoning death is merely a grotesque creation of the medieval imagination,” reports Christianity Today.’

    A God of mercy does not need to kill to forgive.

    The Christian idea that guilt can be removed from a wrongdoer by someone else being punished instead is morally grotesque. Or if we say that God in the person of God the Son punished himself in order to be able to justly forgive sinners, we still have the absurdity of a moral law which God must satisfy by punishing the innocent in place of the guilty. It is a strange thing if God so delights in, or requires, the blood of the innocent, that he neither chooses, nor is able, to spare the guilty without the sacrifice of the innocent.

    I believe the basic fault of the Christian understanding of salvation is that it has no room for divine forgiveness. For a forgiveness that has to be bought by the bearing of a just punishment, or the offering of a sacrifice, is not forgiveness, but merely an acknowledgement that a debt has been paid in full. The Cross is not a symbol of forgiveness at all: on the orthodox Christian view, it denotes the repayment of a debt, as the infinity of Original Sin is atoned for by the infinite sacrifice of God’s own temporary death. But what humanity really needs, as we look back over our long record of disobedience, is a model of true forgiveness by a God who does not calculate, who imposes no mean-spirited ‘economy of salvation’ worthy only of accountants and bookkeepers.

    But in the authentic teaching of Jesus to be found in the synoptic gospels (that is the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke) there is, in contrast, genuine divine forgiveness for those who truly repent. In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to address God directly and to ask for forgiveness for our sins, expecting to receive this, the only condition being that we in turn forgive one another. There is no suggestion of the need for a mediator between ourselves and God or for an atoning death to enable God to forgive.

    One of the most famous of all Jesus’ parables is found in Luke’s gospel: the so-called parable of the prodigal son. It is a story about how God treats repentant sinners. Note that the father when he sees his repentant son returning home does not say ‘Because I am a just as well as a loving father, I cannot forgive him until someone has been duly punished for his sins’, but rather he had compassion, and ran and embraced him and welcomed him home.

    Another example is to be found in Luke’s story of the tax collector and the Pharisee, the tax collector standing far off would not lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’. Jesus declared that this man went home justified before God. Jesus insisted that he came to bring sinners to a penitent acceptance of God’s mercy: ‘Go and learn what this means, he said, quoting God: “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt 9.13)

    In my experience Christians often use the analogy of a ‘debt’ to explain how God needs someone to pay off our sin debt to him, and, because of his justice, he must take the payment from someone. Jesus however had very different ideas about God, namely that God is quite able to just cancel our debt of sin and forgive the sinner.

    In Matthew 18 we read Jesus’ teaching:

    The Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of pounds. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

    “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

    “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand pounds. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

    “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

    “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

    “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

    So God freely forgives our sins and expects us to forgive our neighbour too. The Lord’s Prayer, of course, has the same commandment.

    So how is a human being to attain eternal life, that is, how are we to be saved? Interestingly, Jesus was asked this very question and you can read his answer in the gospel according to Mark chapter 10. Here is the story:

    As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’”

    “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

    Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    Note that Jesus does not tell the man that he must put his faith in Jesus, or that salvation is solely dependent on Jesus dying to atone for his sins. No. As a humble Jew Jesus recognizes that the attribute of goodness is found perfectly in God alone, not in himself; that to sincerely obey the commands of the Torah is the main road to salvation, but in this individual’s case he lacked just one thing – he needed to give away his wealth to the poor and this would result in his gaining treasure in heaven. Note carefully the sequence.

    That this passage caused embarrassment to later gospel writers (who used Mark’s gospel when compiling their own gospels) is evident from the changes they made to Jesus’ words by removing his denial that he is good

    Here is Matthew’s altered version in 19:17 (compare this with Marks original)

    And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ (Instead of Mark’s original ‘why do you call me good?’)

    • Assalamu alaikum Paul,

      Shukran, Paul, for wondeful and well-thought critic. It is for these reasons Paul I am writing these articles answer your concerns and give an apologia to what is both in Old Testament and New Testament teaching of atonement.

      Our God, Paul, is not only merciful but loving, holy holy holy, righteous and perfect in justice in a way that by no means would let a guilty person walk unpunished. Moses captured this truth in Exodus 34:6-7: ““The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”(ESV)

      Nahum echoes Moses in 1:3: “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.”

      How can holy and loving God accept a sinner like me? Matthew 1:21: “She[Mary] will bear a son, and you[Joseph] shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” and Luke 2:11: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” begins to answer how God’s mercy, love and grace meet his righteousness and justice at Calvary.

      It is my hope you will follow, comment, and critize as I go through OT, NT and early Church leaders 30-250 A.D understanding of Christ Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It may hope, Paul, we will be openminded ad we pray for God to lead us to understand this tiny bit of what He revealed about Himself.

      Asante sana.

      Prayson

      • “Our God, Paul, is not only merciful but loving, holy holy holy, righteous and perfect in justice in a way that by no means would let a guilty person walk unpunished.”

        Your God does not sound very merciful if he is compelled to punish sinners without exception!

        Remember the parable of the prodigal son? It is a story about how God treats repentant sinners. Note that the father when he sees his repentant son returning home does not say ‘Because I am a just as well as a loving father, I cannot forgive him until someone has been duly punished for his sins’, but rather he had compassion, and ran and embraced him and welcomed him home.

  22. I believe that former Bible-believers are being influenced more and more by secularism rather than the word of God, and that is why they cannot understand the things of the Spirit, such as the necessity for the blood sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth.

  23. I think the contemporary church is afraid to acknowledge the truths of Jesus – passion, death, atonement – because it is uncomfortable with trying to make sense of it. The real problem is in trying to “make sense” of things of God. If we could understand every mysterious truth about God then God would not be worth our worship. God is not to be known completely by humanity…That is what makes God, God. The contemporary church, particularly in academic study, is constantly trying to put God into a little box that makes sense to the 21st Century mind. That will never be successful because God is limitless and will never fit into our little boxes. Furthermore, the revelation of Scripture is written from within a context that is completely foreign to our context; we must study revelation from within its original context – not as viewed through our lens.

    Atonement Theory is very complex in the study of theology. “Substitutionary Atonement” is only one of several theories concerning the Atonement. Others are: “Moral Influence Theory”, “Sacrificial Offering Theory”, and “Christ the Victor Theory”. I suggest you read Adam Hamilton’s book, “24 Hours That Changed the World” to further understand these theories. The point is that atonement theory may have evolved over time, but atonement remains at the heart of the passion narrative. Christ came to offer himself as a reconciling sacrifice on our behalf. I cannot agree with Professor Heyward’s assertion that the blood of Christ is not efficacious for redemption.

    • Thank you for a wonderful comment. In this series I walking through different theories of atonement and it’s extent.

      This part happened to take three more post 🙂

      Thank you Rev

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