Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Is our salvation based on God punishing an innocent man?

Yesterday, I retweeted the following from Matt Smethurst, an elder at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, and a contributor to The Gospel Coalition:
Justification: God declares us righteous in his courtroom.
Adoption: God welcomes us into his living room.

This Tweet prompted my friend Brian Preston (who has apparently been on some kind of theological journey since leaving the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) to pose the following question: “Because He punished an innocent man?”

The following is my response.

In the sacrificial system, did the high priest shed the blood of an innocent animal on behalf of the people? When providing skins for Adam and Eve (Gen 3:21), was the blood of an innocent animal shed? Was Isaac innocent when God commanded Abraham to sacrifice him, and was the ram that God provided in his place innocent (Gen 22)? Was Joseph innocent when God purposed for him to be sent into slavery and imprisonment in Egypt, so that (once he had ascended to the throne) many might be saved through him (Gen 50:20)?

In addition to these foundational considerations from the fabric of Scripture, you have the explicit biblical statements:

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isa 53:4-5)

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21)

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,” (Gal 3:13)

These biblical statements are further understood in light of covenantal and systematic considerations, which help to demonstrate why Christ’s death is in not properly analogous to a human father/king simply sentencing his innocent son/prince to death

Covenantally: according to the Covenant of Redemption, the Son freely entered into an arrangement with the Father by which, through His perfect obedience and substitutionary death, He would be awarded a people, united to Him for the glory of His name. (It was for the joy that was set before Him that the Son agreed to this arrangement, Heb 12:2.)

Systematically: the Son and the Father, though distinct persons, are yet one God; as “will” is properly attached to nature, rather than to person, it is according to the single divine will that the Son assumes His role of mediator.

According to both of the above considerations, there can be no idea of the Son unwillingly dying.

In all of these ways and more, the truth of substitutionary atonement is abundantly displayed. Did God punish an innocent man? Yes, in a very specific sense. That innocent man, before coming as a man, was one God with the Father from eternity. That innocent God-man, before coming as a man, had agreed from eternity past to die for sinful men, so that we might be redeemed, to the glory of His grace. We are naturally under a curse, and are characterized by transgressions, iniquities, enmity, griefs, and sorrows. It is these that Christ took upon Himself on the Cross. The willing death of that innocent man in our place is good news for us sinners.

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