"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan
Monday, December 30, 2013
A new theory?
A New Theory
Of late, a new theory has been propounded to the Christian public, a theory which approximates perilously near that of the Universalists.1 Erroneously based upon a few texts whose scope is confined to the people of God, the view which is now rapidly gaining favor in circles which is regarded as orthodox,2 is to the effect that, at the cross, the sin question was fully and finally settled. We are told, and told by men who are looked up to by many as the champions of orthodoxy, that all the sins of all men were laid upon the crucified Christ. It is boldly affirmed that at the cross the Lamb of God did as much for those who would not believe, as He did for those who should believe on Him. It is dogmatically announced that the only grievance which God now has against any man, is his refusal to believe in the Savior. It is said that the single issue between God and the world, is not the sin question, but the Son question. We have said that this theory of the atonement is a new one, and new it surely is. So far as the writer is aware, it was never propounded, at least in orthodox circles, till within the last two or three decades. It appears to be another product of this twentieth century, and like most if not all other of them, it is far inferior to what went before. Yet, strange to say, an appeal is made to the Holy Scriptures in support of it. But in one way we are thankful for this, inasmuch as the Word of God supplies us with an infallible rule by which we may measure it.
We shall, therefore, examine this strange and novel theory in the light of Holy Writ, and doing this, it will not be difficult to show how thoroughly untenable and fallacious it is.
Problems with an Unlimited Atonement
1. If ALL the sins of ALL men were laid upon Christ, then the sin of unbelief was too. That unbelief is a sin is clear from the fact that in 1 John 3:23 we read: “And this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ.” Refusal to believe in Christ is, therefore, an act of flagrant disobedience, rebellion against the Most High. But if all the sins of all men were laid upon Christ (as it is now asserted), then He also endured the penalty for the Christ-rejector’s unbelief. If this be so, then Universalism is true. But it is not so.
The very advocates of the view we are now refuting would not affirm it. And therein may be seen the inconsistency and untenableness of their teaching. For if unbelief is a sin and Christ did not suffer the penalty of it, then all sin was not laid upon Christ. Thus there are only two alternatives: a strictly limited atonement, availing only for believers; or an unlimited atonement which effectually secures the salvation of the entire human race.
2. If ALL the sins of ALL men were laid upon Christ, how could He say, “The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Mat 12:31)? Observe that Christ here used the future tense, “shall not be.” Note, too, He did not merely say to the blaspheming Jews that He was then addressing, “shall not be forgiven unto you,” but in order to take in all others who should be guilty of this sin, He said, “shall not be forgiven unto men.” It is worse than idle to raise the cavil 3 that the sin here spoken of was peculiar and exceptional, i.e., committed only by the Jews there addressed. The fact that this solemn utterance of Christ is found not only in Matthew, but in Mark, and also in Luke, the Gentile 4 Gospel, disposes of it.
Without attempting to define here the precise nature of this sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, it is sufficient now to point out that it is a sin quite distinct from unbelief. In Scripture “blasphemy” is always an act of the lips, not merely of the mind or the will. For our present purpose, it is enough to call attention to the undeniable fact that none other than the Savior Himself here tells us there is a sin (other than unbelief) “which shall not be forgiven unto men.” This being so, then it is obviously a mistake, a serious error, to say that all sin was laid on Christ and atoned for.
1 Universalists – those who believe that all men will be in heaven.
2 orthodox – according with the historic doctrines of Scripture.
3 cavil – a futile objection raised in order to win an argument.
4 Gentile – in the Scriptures, any person not a Jew (signified for males by not receiving Jewish circumcision). Luke was a Gentile, not a Jew
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