God regards our sins with the heart of a father, but not with the eye of a judge; for his sin-avenging justice has no further demands: the cross has made satisfaction.
Hebrews 1:1–4 (ESV)
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Jeremiah Burroughs, in the collection of sermons published as Gospel Worship http://www.ligonier.org/store/gospel-worship-hardcover/), sets out ten meditations for one who prepares to receive the Lord’s Supper:
Meditation 1. The way of salvation is by a Mediator. It is not only God’s mercy, God saying that He is offended by sin but he will be content to pass it by; no, but it is through a Mediator….there is a great work required of God to make an atonement between sinners and Himself.
Mediation 2. This Mediator who stands between God and us is verily and truly man. He has taken our nature upon Him. The bread puts us in mind of the body of Christ, and the wine of his blood; and therefore we are to mediate on the human nature of Jesus Christ.
Meditation 3. Here is presented what this Mediator has done to reconcile us to God. His body was broken…Oh that we should be willing to suffer for Jesus Christ in our bodies, even to resist unto blood, seeing that Christ has been content to have His precious body broken and His blood shed for us!
Meditation 4. Here we have occasion to mediate on what the Scripture says, that we are saved by the blood of God.
Meditation 5. Of the infinite dreadfulness of the justice of God. How dreadful is the justice of God that, coming upon His own Son and requiring satisfaction from Him, should thus bruise and break Him, that should have His blood, that should require such sufferings even from His Son!
Meditation 6. Here I see presented to me what every soul that shall be saved cost.
Meditation 7. Hence we see the evil of sin. How great is that which has made such a breach between God and my soul that only such a way and such a means could take away my sin.
Meditation 8. Behold the infinitive love of God to mankind and the love of Jesus Christ, that rather than God see the children of men to perish eternally, He would send His Son to take our nature upon Him and thus suffer such dreadful things.
Meditation 9 Though a believer is never so weak, yet seeing that God has appointed the body and blood of His Son for him to feed upon and to drink in a spiritual way, then surely the weakest in all the world will be strengthened to go through all the hazards and dangers that there are in the world….This is meat indeed and drink indeed that will nourish to eternal life.
Meditation 10. When you come to see the bread broken and the wine poured out, you have an occasion to meditation upon the whole New Covenant, the covenant of grace that God has made with sinners.
Come, let us lift our joyful eyes
Up to the courts above,
And smile to see our Father there
Upon a throne of love.
Once ’twas a seat of dreadful wrath,
And shot devouring flame
Our God appeared “consuming fire,”
And Vengeance was his name.
Rich were the drops of Jesus’ blood
That calmed his frowning face,
That sprinkled o’er the burning throne,
And turned the wrath to grace.
Now we may bow before his feet,
And venture near the Lord;
No fiery cherub guards his seat,
Nor double-flaming sword.
The peaceful gates of heav’nly bliss
Are opened by the Son;
High let us raise our notes of praise,
And reach th’ almighty throne.
To thee ten thousand thanks we bring,
Great Advocate on high;
And glory to th’ eternal King,
That lays his fury by.
Isaac Watts, The Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts
What peace! Jesus consents to suffer all. Each vial is outpoured on Him. The fire finds its prey, and spares not. Believer, see the Meat-offering on the altar, and let your every fear subside. Gaze, and let tranquil peace lull every anxious thought. Wrath ends in Jesus. It takes its dues from Him. It leaves Him not till all is paid. Its sting then dies. No penal woe remains for you. Justice forbids, that punishment should twice be asked. You may look calmly on the fiery lake. A suffering Christ has quenched its flames for you. Happy believer, your sins, though many, have endured their death. Happy believer, where are hell’s pains for you? Your Surety has exhausted all.
Henry Law Christ is all
2 Corinthians 5:16–21, Atonement, Curse, Ephesians 2:13–18, Galatians 3:10–14, George Herbert, Hebrews 4:14–16, Isaiah 40:11, James 4:1-4, John 14:13–14, John 3:18, law, Love of God, Matthew 7:7–11, Mosaic Law, Moses, poem, Poetry, Prayer, Psalm 104:27–30, Psalm 121:1–2, Psalm 5, Psalm 5:1–2, Psalm 5:3, Psalm 90:3, reconciliation, Romans 5:1-2., Romans 5:6–11, Romans 6:1–4, Romans 7:4–6, Romans 8:1–4
This poem on prayer by George Herbert builds its case upon a dense theological argument and biblical allusion. Without rightly understanding the theological and biblical case being made by Herbert, one will misunderstand Herbert’s praise. Herbert’s access to God in prayer comes directly through the incarnation and atonement of Christ.
¶ Prayer. (II)
OF what an easie quick accesse,
My blessed Lord, art thou! how suddenly
May our requests thine eare invade!
To shew that state dislikes not easinesse,
If I but lift mine eyes, my suit is made:
Thou canst no more not heare, then thou canst die.
Of what supreme almightie power
Is thy great arm, which spans the east and west,
And tacks the centre to the sphere!
By it do all things live their measur’d houre:
We cannot ask the thing, which is not there,
Blaming the shallownesse of our request.
Of what unmeasurable love
Art thou possest, who, when thou couldst not die,
And for our sakes in person sinne reprove,
That by destroying that which ty’d thy purse,
Thou mightst make way for liberalitie!
Since then these three wait on thy throne,
Ease, Power, and Love; I value prayer so,
That were I to leave all but one,
Wealth, fame, endowments, vertues, all should go;
I and deare prayer would together dwell,
And quickly gain, for each inch lost, an ell.
For annotations, Continue reading
The eager offerer puts his hand upon the victim’s head. Leviticus 1.4. [“He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.”] Do any ask the meaning of this rite? It graphically shows a transfer….
Here is again the happy work of faith. It brings all guilt and heaps it on the Savior’s head. One sin retained is misery now and hell at last. All must be pardoned and brought to Chirst. And He is waiting to receive. His office is to be this burden bearer. His love constrains, and He cannot draw back.
Do any read this, who have never dealt thus with Christ? Sirs, where are your sins? They adhere tighter than your very skin. They have millstone either. They press to misery’s unfathomable depth. But flee to Jesus. He can remove them all, and He alone.
Believer, where are your sins? On Jesus they are placed, and you are free. I ask again, Where are your sins? You answer, “As far as the the east is from the weset, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” Ps. 103:12. You may rejoice and sing aloud, Christ is accepted for me. I shall not be condemned. Thus, with one hand faith casts away all misery and with the other grasps all joy.
Christ is All, Leviticus, p. 3
Denney and Torrance make the point too easily based over in the presentation of the Gospel: one cannot both receive the atonement of Christ and be the same person afterward. To receive the work of Christ’s atonement requires death and life (Galatians 2:20).
The Atonement is a reality of such a sort that it can make no compromise. The man who fights it knows that he is fighting for his life, and puts all his strength into the battle. To surrender is literally to give up himself, to cease to be the man he is, and to become another man. For the modern mind, therefore, as for the ancient, the attraction and the repulsion of Christianity are concentrated at the same point; the cross of Christ is man’s only glory, or it is his final stumbling-block.
James Denney, The Atonement and the Modern Mind, 3. Thus, we cannot even begin to know what we mean of the atonement unless and until we receive Christ’s work of atonement:
the truth that there is forgiveness with God, and that this forgiveness comes to us only through Christ, and signally or specifically through His death. Unless it becomes true to us that Christ died for our sins we cannot appreciate forgiveness at its specifically Christian value. It cannot be for us that kind of reality, it cannot have for us that kind of inspiration, which it unquestionably is and has in the New Testament (17).
Torrance likewise explains that the atonement interrupts everything of our lives. We cannot simply add forgiveness of sin to our existing life. Rather, to receive the forgiveness of sins means that we have become something new:
Here we must recall that in the death of Jesus Christ we have a deed of divine intervention which sets our life on a wholly new basis…This reversal means we cannot think our way into the death of Christ because the continuity of our way of thinking and striving has been interrupted by it, but we may think our way from it if we follow the new and living way opeened up to us in the crucifixion. Here is a deed of unearthly magnitude before which we can only bow in utter humility–far from being able to fit the death of Jesus into our life and our own preconceptions or notions we face the demand that we should be conformed to his death. We can understand the cross only by metanoia, repentance and change of mind, which is correlative on our part to the ‘wonderful exchange’ or mirifica commutatio on Christ’s part when he who was rich was made poor for our sakes that we might become rich ….
T.F. Torrance, Atonement, 3. A child cannot be both adopted into a new home part of another family. A groom cannot be married and yet a bachelor. To join the Marines will transform a life. To come ot know the atoning work of Christ necessarily transforms the human being. When I think of it like that, I begin to wonder: How rare a thing is this? It is not merely moral renovation; it is ontological, psychological, noetic, moral — it is to be someone else.
James Denney in The Atonement and The Modern Mind, raises the issue of how does one present the doctrine of the atonement to men and women who cannot conceive of sin as a real category and who cannot see how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus can affect their life in this present time. His explanation for how to proceed is interesting, coming as it does before the apologetic split between evidentialists and presuppositionalists. From this passage he seems to be taking up both sides: Use evidence and argument to demonstrate the instability and irrationality of opponent’s presuppositions (philosophy). Such an argument does not bring anyone to a saving faith. However, it does create space in which to present the Gospel (in making this argument, he sounds a note very similar to Francis Schaeffer). If anything, he seems to be articulating a presuppositionalist apologetic before Van Till:
We have to take men as we find them; we have to preach the gospel to the mind which is around us; and if that mind is rooted in a view of the world which leaves no room for Christ and His work as Christian experience has realised them, then that view of the world must be appreciated by the evangelist, it must be undermined at its weak places, its inadequacy to interpret all that is present even in the mind which has accepted it—in other words, its inherent inconsistency—must be demonstrated; the attempt must be made to liberate the mind, so that it may be open to the impression of realities which under the conditions supposed it could only encounter with instinctive antipathy. (Page 20)