Christ, Our Great Substitute
by Thaddeus Williams
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
(2 Corinthians 5:21)
What is substitutionary atonement?
The cross of Jesus is where the substitutionary atonement happened. On the cross, Jesus served as our substitute and atoned for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
At the cross, our sin became Christ’s sin, our blameworthiness became Christ’s blameworthiness, the wrath we deserve from an infinitely just Being became the wrath He absorbed from an inﬁnitely just Being. It made salvation possible for spiritually dead sinners wrought with guilt. As if this weren’t good news enough, Christ’s blamelessness became our blamelessness, Christ’s reward became our reward, Christ’s perfection our perfection, and Christ’s conﬁdent standing before the holy and just Father became our confident standing before the holy and just Father.
We can no more improve on Christ’s imputed righteousness than we can count past inﬁnity.
“This is our acquittal: the guilt that held us liable for punishment has been transferred to the head of the Son of God…We must, above all, remember this substitution, lest we tremble and remain anxious throughout life—as if God’s righteous vengeance, which the Son of God has taken upon himself, still hung over us….[To] take away all cause for enmity and to reconcile us utterly to himself, he wipes out all evil in us by the expiation set forth in the death of Christ; that we, who were previously unclean and impure, may show ourselves righteous and holy in his sight.”
(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2, pp. 506, 510)
On God, Providence, and Natural Disasters
Guest Post by Steve Hays
1. Two recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida renewed perennial debates about the problem of natural evil. Calvinists and freewill theists give different answers. A friend asked me to comment on this old screed
by Rachel Held Evans:
I rarely read RHE. Outrage is crack cocaine for folks like RHE. The moral satisfaction of waxing judgmental gives them a temporary high. They're addicted to indignation. They live for indignation. Because the high wears off, they are constantly on the lookout for something wax indignant about.
In her post, RHE uses John Piper as a foil to attack Calvinism in general. She also uses the occasion as a pretext to launch into a gratuitous tirade against C. J. Mahaney. I say gratuitous because that has nothing to do with natural evil.
In this post I'm not going to comment on the allegations against Mahaney, both because it's a red herring in relation to the primary topic of her post, and simply because I'm in no position to offer an informed opinion regarding his complicity, if any, in the scandal.
Do you believe God sent the hurricane(s)?
Yes, I believe God ordains all that comes to pass (Eph 1:11) If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?" (Amos 3:6). After losing all ten of his children after a great wind had caused the collapse of his son's house, Job says, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). After being covered with boils he says, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). Our world has been under judgment since the Fall, so there is sickness, death and calamity.
Jesus declared that disasters are reminders that we all live in our fallen world, of life's precariousness and ought to cause us all to repent:
(Quote) "...those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1–5)
Does this mean we (the church) should sit on our hands? No, I am thankful that God also ordains that his church would engage in acts of mercy and pray ... and that the prayers of His saints will play a role in, and affect the outcome of events and be instrumental in the salvation of souls. God ordains both the means and the ends.
The Double Cure
When the Holy Spirit regenerates a man and joins him to Christ, He shows him the heinousness of his sin. Seeing he cannot save himself from it, the sinner appeals to Christ to deliver him both from 1) sin's guilt and 2) from its power; from God's wrath and from sin's bondage; to not only justify him, but to sanctify him --- to apply the double cure. Christ did not die for our sin so we could have peace with sin but so that we would go to war with sin. No regenerate man says 'Lord forgive my guilt but leave me in my bondage to my sin.' No, by the grace of God, he flees from sin to Christ for salvation - salvation from God's wrath as well as deliverance from our sinful self, for the power of the Spirit to put off sin. So unlike some modern teaching, salvation does not merely consist of being delivered from God's wrath but includes much more. Many in the justification-only crowd and some liberal theologians have used this theology as an excuse to live in sin. But as J. I. Packer once said, "A half-truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth."
Amillennialism and The “Future” Kingdom of God
A common misunderstanding about amillennialism is that “covenant theologians regard the kingdom of God as a wholly invisible and wholly present reality with no future, earthly fulfillment.” It is argued that because amillennialists have no place in their eschatological scheme for Jesus reigning upon a earthly throne in Jerusalem, they therefore by necessity have no place for an earthly, consummated kingdom. Far to the contrary, the amillennial position on the nature of God’s kingdom is that it is both a present and future reality – i.e., that it is both already-and-not-yet, inaugurated but not consummated – and that both these present and future elements of the kingdom include spiritual as well as earthly dimensions. This fulfillment, however, will not take place during a future millennial period but rather at the end of the age when Christ returns and heaven and earth are renewed. To say that because amillennialists do not affirm Christ’s earthly reign “from a throne in Jerusalem” then they cannot affirm an earthly future for God’s kingdom is to confuse a particular (premillennial) understanding of what Christ’s reign will look like with the broader category of God’s kingdom. Such an assertion would be similar to an amillennialist saying that because premillennialists do not affirm that Satan is currently bound so they cannot affirm the current, spiritual presence of God’s kingdom.
The follow excepts conclusively show that the above position is the amillennial position.
Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism