A local pastor preached a series concerning the “Monster God.”
His thesis? If the verses from the Getty’s “In Christ Alone” – “til on the cross, where Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied” are correct…then the God of the Bible is a monster similar to a child molester.
What is called “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” has apparently embarrassed many a professing Christian. The song referenced in the above paragraph has been covered by many artists…and many of them have dropped the verses cited. An entire denomination wanted to put the song in their hymnal without the “offensive” words…they were denied (thankfully).
Here’s the take of J. I. Packer (from “The Heart of the Gospel” in Knowing God):
“Has the word propitiation any place in your Christianity?
“In the faith of the New Testament it is central. The love of God [1 John 4:8-10], the taking of human form by the Son [Heb. 2:17], the meaning of the cross [Rom. 3:21-26], Christ’s heavenly intercession [1 John 2:1-2], the way of salvation–all are to be explained in terms of it, as the passages quoted show, and any explanation from which the thought of propitiation is missing will be incomplete, and indeed actually misleading, by New Testament standards.
“In saying this, we swim against the stream of much modern teaching and condemn at a stroke the views of a great number of distinguished church leaders today, but we cannot help that. Paul wrote, “Even if we or an angel from heaven”–let alone a minister, a bishop, college lecturer, university professor, or noted author–“should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (“accursed” KJV and RSV; “outcast” NEB; “damned” Phillips–Gal. 1:8). And a gospel without propitiation at is heart is another gospel than that which Paul preached. The implications of this must not be evaded.”
>Is sin an inconvenience to God? Is my sin an “oops” that God takes lightly? Or is the Holy One furious at not “just” the consequences of sin, but furious at sin itself? Thought about that lately?
Did Jesus “just” die for us? Is dying really enough? Or did more happen on the cross (and “on” Jesus) than we hear about?
Willing to invest eight minutes to think through this? I pray so:
>“Why can we have the tree of life? Because Jesus Christ climbed the cross, the tree of death. And because Jesus climbed the tree of death you can have the tree of life.”
– Tim Keller
John R. W. Stott’s “The Cross of Christ” is a fantastic book (and is orderable on the “carousel” at the left). In days of “cloudiness” over what the Cross represents, clarity is found in this incredibly worthwhile book.
Here are two vital paragraphs that I urge you to read slowly and prayerfully:
“We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the cross of Christ that does not have at its center the principle of “satisfaction through substitution,” indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution. The cross was not a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one that tricked and trapped him: nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honor or technical point of law; nor a compulsory submission by God to some moral authority above him from which he could not otherwise escape; nor a punishment of a meek Christ by a harsh and punitive Father; nor a procurement of salvation by a loving Christ from a mean and reluctant Father; nor an action of the Father which bypassed Christ as Mediator.
“Instead, the righteous, loving Father humbled himself to become in and through his only Son flesh, sin and a curse for us, in order to redeem us without compromising his own character. The theological words satisfaction and substitution need to be carefully defined and safeguarded, but they cannot in any circumstance be given up. The biblical gospel of atonement is of God satisfying himself by substituting himself for us.
“The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and puts himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives that belong to God alone; God accepts penalties that belong to man alone (158-59).”
“Why am I so blessed? I am blessed because, in the most painful moment in human history, Jesus willingly subjected himself to the rejection of his Father. He took on my sin and allowed himself to be rejected. In this unthinkable moment of substitution, the Trinity was torn apart as the Father turned away the Son. Here is what you and I have to understand: Jesus was willing to suffer the horrible rejection of his Father so that you and I would never, ever have to experience it ourselves.”
– Paul David Tripp
“Since His resurrection, Jesus has kept His physical body, in a glorified form. Jesus did not have a body before He came to earth; He took on a physical body for one purpose only — so that He could die. He became a man to live the perfect life for us and then to die in our place. But even when all that was over, He kept a physical body for eternity in heaven, with the scars on His hands and feet and side now part of His glory. He has permanently identified with us. This is amazing love.”
– Susan Lutz, “Love One Another As I Have Loved You” Journal of Biblical Counseling (Spring 2003), 10.
>This is short, but worthy of watching/listening to a few times…
“Christ is the glory of God. His blood-soaked cross is the blazing center of that glory. By it He bought for us every blessing–temporal and eternal. And we don’t deserve any. He bought them all. Because of Christ’s cross, God’s elect are destined to be sons of God. Because of His cross all guilt is removed, and sins are forgiven, and perfect righteousness is imputed to us, and the love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Spirit, and we are being conformed to the image of Christ.
Therefore, every enjoyment in this life and the next that is not idolatry is a tribute to the infinite value of the cross of Christ–the burning center of the glory of God. And thus a cross-centered, cross-exalting, cross-saturated life is a God-glorifying life–the only God-glorifying life. All others are wasted.”
– John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 59
>This is from one of my favorite books of all time (orderable on the book picture below) and is appropriate for the week:
“The concept of substitution may be said, then, to lie at the heart of both sin and salvation. For the essence of sin is man substituting himself for God, while the essence of salvation is God substituting himself for man. Man asserts himself against God and put himself where only God deserves to be; God sacrifices himself for man and puts himself where only man deserves to be. Man claims prerogatives which belong to God alone; God accepts penalties which belong to man alone.”
-John Stott, The Cross of Christ