Are there certain things we could remove from our belief system and the power of the gospel would not be necessarily affected by it?” This is a question that this Church has been asking as they are going through their sermon series on the essentials of the faith and as they preach on the primary, secondary, and tertiary issues of the faith. In a very real way they are drawing lines in the sand regarding which issues they will not budge on, and of which are of utmost importance. One of those essential, non-negotiable issues is the atonement. And though he does not say the words, it seems he is describing penal substitutionary atonement. In fact, within the first five minutes he decries the false atonement theologies of Stephen Chalke and Brian McLaren, men who have dismissed the historical orthodox view of the atonement as cosmic child abuse. Pastor Edwin states that the doctrine of atonement is under fierce attack from the enemy, and it is clear that the man is ready to battle.
Early on we get two verses. Hebrews 10:19-23 “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” and Romans 5:6-8 ” For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”.
Pastor Edwin states “There’s not a statement in the Bible this morning that declares that God died for us in the person of his Son the lord Jesus Christ because we were so valuable. There’s nothing in the Bible that talks about the fact that we were critical to the mission and therefore God must come. No. The reason that God sent his son the Lord Jesus Christ to die for us speaks to us not about how valuable we are, but it speaks about and exalts the love of God. It exalts the character of God. It speaks about the omnipotence of God. Of the compassion of God and the mercies of God. Although yes we are the primary target that God sets out to redeem, the atonement first and foremost displays the character of God….In God redeeming us what he is doing is he is upholding himself, he is displaying his own glory before the universe. He is displaying his own attributes of mercy and compassion and grace.” [What a fantastic quote!]
He references 1 Peter 2:24 and John 12:32-33 and speaks more of the atonement, about how all other false gods and false religious leaders like Mohammed may have had redeemable qualities to them, but they did not die for us and take away our sins. They were never able to do so, and regardless of what sort of precepts and qualities they had in their faith systems, only the perfect, sinless Christ qualifies to take away our sins, and that Jesus Christ was received into the presence of God and is in heaven making intercession for us.
He says that those who repent of their sin and put their faith in Christ are born again. They become new creations and receive eternal life, and while so many people believe it, he suspects that many of them don’t really believe it. Insomuch as it relates to sin, he says “If we truly believed in it, the power of the life that is in Christ would come into us and it would break the power of sin in our being . It’s something that must happen in the Spirit, where the Spirit from man yields up his own authority and his own will to the Spirit of God. And it can only come as an act of the Spirit in our lives.” [this is by faith]
Buttressing his position, he offers a few definitions on the atonement, concluding that the atonement was necessary to satisfy the demands of the law, and it has legal implications and legal language. We have broken the law. The penalty is death. Christ needs to pay the price. The words “It is finished” that Christ uttered on the cross mean that “It is paid in full” and that no man will ever have to die for his sins again if he believes in Christ. He talks a bit about the Old Testament allusions to the sacrifices of bulls and goats for the covering of sin, and the mercy seat in heaven whereby Christ sprinkled his own blood on the altar once and for all to actually pay for sin. He says that the atonement is essential and it complete emasuclates Christianity if we remove it. Without Jesus atoning work there is no hope for a man, and outside of Christ there is no other sacrifice that is acceptable to the Father.
He leaves us with a quote by Dr. Ian Paisley “Ours is a bloodstained message. In the divine eyes, the heavens are bloodmarked, the earth is bloodmarked and the elect are bloodmarked. We bow before a bloodstained throne. Once a fiery throne of judgment, now by blood a mercy seat. The church is a bloodstained church, purchased with a price most precious- the blood of God’s dear Son. Our bible is a bloodstained book. Prick the body of heavenly divinity anywhere, and out pours lifetide of Emmanuel, Christ. The bible is a crimson book. Heaven is a bloodstained heaven into which our redeemer has entered. Our access to God is by a bloodstained path and Christ’s bloodmarks guide us to the throne. Our songs are the blood-stained songs recounting the liberating power of calvarys blood shedding.”
This was a fantastic and imminently quotable sermon. It could use a few tweaks, such as including the wrath of God being satisfied on the cross, a theme which is central to the atonement and to salvation, but other that the subject matter and the presentation were top notch. It seemed to me that what may have started out as a calculated, precise presentation and defence quickly denigrated into the spiritual equivalent of a brawl. It was jabs and thrusts and slashes about the wonder of the atonement, the goodness of the atonement, the importance of the atonement, and the damnation absent the atonement. I liked it. Clearly the man is passionate about it, and that was evident in his preaching. I also appreciate that he was willing to name names, and call out men like Chalke and MaClaren for the false teachers that they are.
What I especially loved was his presentation of the purpose of the atonement. I completely agree and have believed that for years, and so what a fresh air to be taught that it isn’t chiefly about you. Because listen, God didn’t save you because he just loved so soooo much and he couldn’t live without you. There’s this idea that God is so infatuated with you that he just wants to be invited into your heart, and that if he didn’t have you as his human friend, well gosh darn-it, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. You all know that’s true. So many people give the impression that God created us because he was so lonely and sad and miserable without us, and he just needed someone to love, and it’s almost like we’re doing him a favour when we ask him into our life. Nothing could be further from the truth though! When God saves us, the glory is not ours, but his. He saves because he is good and merciful, and he sent Christ to die so that his name would be magnified and praised, not so that he could have another friend in heaven to play with and who would like him and so he can be loved even more.
As well, what a great quote by Dr Ian Paisley. That sort of thing really makes me think, and I become aware of how little emphasis we put on the blood of Christ in our practical, every day lives. I don’t want a sanitized and sterilized faith, but rather I want something real and genuine and with all the beautiful, terrible gore that had to have been manifested for my sins to be forgiven. Because I don’t tend to connect well or appreciate when I get a message stripped down and deconstructed and devoid of the power of the cross and the truth of the magnitude of the payment required for my sins. In my own life, it’s hard to die to self when I’m constantly being told it’s all about me. It’s hard to die to self when I’m made to feel just a little lower than the one who died for me. It’s hard to die to self when I’m not faced with the gravity of the completeness of that death and my utterly desperate need for it. Thankfully this sermon didn’t not point me inward to myself, but pointed me outward to God. I never once got the impression that it was all about me and for that I’m grateful. And so all in all, very well done.