Substitution Is Not a “Theory of the Atonement”!

By Kevin DeYoung In chapter 7 of The Cross of Christ, John Stott looks at the four principal New Testament images of salvation, taken from the shrine (propitiation), the market (redemption), the court of law (justification) and the home (reconciliation). This beautiful chapter on “The Salvation of Sinners” ends with a masterful summary of the four images (198-99). “First, each highlights a different aspect of our human need. Propitiation underscores the wrath of God upon us, redemption our captivity to sin, justification our guilt, and reconciliation our enmity against God and alienation from him. These metaphors do not flatter us. They expose the magnitude of our need.” “Second, all four images emphasize that the saving initiative was taken by God in his love. It is he who has propitiated his own wrath, redeemed us from our miserable bondage, declared us righteous in his sight and reconciled us to himself.” Texts like 1 John 4:10; Luke 1:68; Rom. 8:33; and 2

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Never Let the Gospel Get Smaller

I find myself increasingly drawn to the gospel and its application in my life every day. This piece from John Piper sums up the driving passion of my heart and ministry over the last 5 or 6 years: Here is a simple exhortation that I have been trying to implement in our family: Seek to see and feel the gospel as bigger as years go by rather than smaller. Our temptation is to think that the gospel is for beginners and then we go on to greater things. But the real challenge is to see the gospel as the greatest thing—and getting greater all the time. The Gospel gets bigger when, in your heart, grace gets bigger; Christ gets greater; his death gets more wonderful; his resurrection gets more astonishing; the work of the Spirit gets mightier; the power of the gospel gets more pervasive; its global extent gets wider; your own sin gets uglier; the devil gets more evil;

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“The majesty of God’s forgiveness . . .”

“The majesty of God’s forgiveness is lost entirely when we lose what has to be forgiven. What has to be forgiven is not just what we do but who we are, not just our sinning but our sinfulness, not just our choices but what we have chosen in place of God. . . . When we miss the biblical teaching, we also miss the nature of God’s grace in all its height and depth. In biblical faith it is God’s grace through Christ that does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” – David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Grand Rapids, Mi.: Eerdmans, 2008), 167. (HT: Of First Importance)

Leviticus 16:21-22

“In Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord’s Supper, I met with an expression to this effect — ‘that the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.’ The thought came into my mind, ‘What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly, I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus.” Charles Simeon, describing his conversion, in H. C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon, pages 25-26. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

How does the will function in salvation? – R.C. Sproul

A necessary condition for justification is faith. Right? And faith involves an active embracing, and trusting in Christ-and in Christ alone. In that sense it involves some action of the will. It involves some step of embracing Christ. Now we’re not saying-Luther isn’t saying, Augustine isn’t saying-that the human will is not involved in salvation. When I have faith in Christ, I am the one who is trusting, I am the one who is believing, I am the one who is choosing him, and I am choosing him freely. That’s not an issue. We all agree on that. The question is, What has to happen before that person will choose Christ, will embrace Christ? When I say I have to embrace Christ in order to be saved-I have to have faith in order to be saved, I have to ask the next question: How do I get the faith? Can I choose to believe out of my dead, sinful nature?

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The Hopeless Dawn

My thanks to Ray Ortlund for posting this encouraging piece: “The Hopeless Dawn” by Frank Bramley shows a young widow, who has just found out that her husband was lost at sea, being comforted by her godly mother-in-law. Notice the altar-like table, suggesting the Lord’s Supper. Notice the big open Bible on the seat by the window. The two suffering women are not alone. Christ is there. Sooner or later every one of us is confronted with a hopeless dawn. Hopeless, as someone or something important to us is taken away forever. A dawn, because that very moment of overwhelming loss is the beginning of a new era. Christ is there. I have met many men, in their 50s like me, who have simply lived long enough to get body-slammed by life in some unforeseeable, major way. Divorce, cancer, their business stolen out from underneath them, sued, a wayward child breaking their heart, and so forth. Previous successes make no

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9 Ways to Pray for Your Soul

. From John Piper: . Here are some ways to pray for yourself so that you’re praying in sync with the way God works. 1. For the desire of my heart to be toward God and his Word. Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to gain. (Psalm 119:36) 2. For the eyes of my heart to be opened. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. (Psalm 119:18) 3. For my heart to be enlightened with these “wonders.” [I pray] that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. (Ephesians 1:18) 4. For my heart to be united, not divided, for God. O Lord, I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. (Psalm 86:11) 5. For my heart to be satisfied with God and not with the world. O satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. (Psalm

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From Protest to Praise

By: David Mathis An amazing progression occurs in the 3 short chapters of Habakkuk. The book begins with the prophet protesting that God seems to be standing idly by while his people in Judah plummet into rampant evil and injustice (1:2-5). God responds that it’s not going unnoticed, and, to Habakkuk’s surprise, God’s already attending to it—by raising up the wicked Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation,” to punish Judah (1:5-11). Habakkuk protests the justice of punishing a wicked people with a people even more wicked! (1:12-2:1). The prophet is confident that God can’t answer him on this score, and so he will “look out to see what [God] will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint” (2:1). Habakkuk is optimistic that he can rebut whatever answer God has to give for this. God answers and again Habakkuk is floored: God will punish the Chaldeans in due course and bring destruction to their home in Babylon

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Santa Christ?

Justin Taylor posts this topical piece from Sinclair Ferguson: we may denigrate our Lord with a Santa Claus Christology. How sadly common it is for the church to manufacture a Jesus who is a mirror refection of Santa Claus. He becomes Santa Christ.Santa Christ is sometimes a Pelagian Jesus. Like Santa, he simply asks us whether we have been good. More exactly, since the assumption is that we are all naturally good, Santa Christ asks us whether we have been “good enough.” So just as Christmas dinner is simply the better dinner we really deserve, Jesus becomes a kind of added bonus who makes a good life even better. He is not seen as the Savior of helpless sinners. Or Santa Christ may be a Semi-Pelagian Jesus — a slightly more sophisticated Jesus who, Santa-like, gives gifts to those who have already done the best they could! Thus, Jesus’ hand, like Santa’s sack, opens only when we can give an

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The Essence of the Gospel

Succinct and comprehensive, from John Fonville: God created man in a perfect place, with perfect relationships, both vertically and horizontally. He ruled His kingdom by His Word. By creation, Adam was the son of God (cf. Lk. 3:38) bearing His Father’s image (Gen. 1:26) and God was his Father. Man, then, was created to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God his Creator and Father. Tragically, this intimate, familial relationship was destroyed by the Fall (Gen. 3). Rather than believing God’s Word, Adam believed the lies of satan, disobeyed and forfeited God’s blessings as Father for God’s cursings as Judge. As a consequence, Adam, along with Eve, was banished from the garden, where God’s presence and blessings resided. No longer God’s obedient son, Adam was now a disobedient son (Eph. 2:2), a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). He was a member of an alien family, estranged and cut off from his Father’s household. Now subject to death and corruption, Adam and all

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God’s love shown through Christ’s substitution

“It is a strange thing that when men talk about the love of God, they show by every word that they utter that they have no conception at all of the depths of God’s love. “If you want to find an instance of true gratitude for the infinite grace of God, do not go to those who think of God’s love as something that cost nothing, but go rather to those who in agony of soul have faced the awful fact of the guilt of sin, and then have come to know with a trembling wonder that the miracle of all miracles has been accomplished, and that the eternal Son has died in their stead.” – J. Gresham Machen (HT: Todd Pruitt)

Seeing our sin and seeing the Saviour

My Thanks to Martin Downes for this: . Some extracts from a letter that Robert Murray M’Cheyne wrote to a “soul seeking Jesus. If you did not know your body was dangerously ill, you would never have sent for your physician; and so you will never go to Christ, the heavenly Physician, unless you feel that your soul is sick unto death. Oh, pray for deep discoveries or your real state by nature and practice! Pray to see yourself exactly as God sees you; pray to know the worth of your soul. Have you seen yourself vile, as Job saw himself? (Job xi. 3, 5, xiii. 5, 6); undone, as Isaiah saw himself? (Isa vi. 1, 5). Have you experienced anything like Ps. li.? Perhaps you will ask, Why do you wish me to have such a discovery of my lost condition? I answer, that you may never look into your poor guilty soul to recommend you to God; and

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God loves us because he loves us

The fact that God loves us tells us more about God in his grace than it tells us about ourselves. We are certainly not desrving of his love. Tony Reinke quotes Thomas Manton: In a sermon on John 3:16 (“God so loved, that he gave…”), Puritan Thomas Manton makes the following point on God’s indescribable love towards sinners in sending His Son: “Love is at the bottom of all. We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of his love, God showed his wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask, Why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, and had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him? We have an answer at hand, Because he loved us. If you continue to ask, But why did he love us? We have no other

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Is God Punishing Me?

From John Bloom at Desiring God: As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed? If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews. The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting. So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a very important point. He wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. Chapters 7-10 beautifully explain that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once

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