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The Salvic Efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice


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#1 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 10:50 AM

The saving power of the atonement required Christ to be wholly and utterly human, without any ‘Divinity of nature’, and without any ‘Deity’ which God alone possesses.
It was predicated on Christ's life of perfect obedience, and on his bearing a nature identical to our own.

This fundamental principle of the atonement is dealt with no less than six times in the apostolic writings, and the exposition they give on each and every occasion, whether speaking to Jews or Gentiles, is exactly the same:

Hebrews 2:14
14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

Christ was made of the very same flesh and blood as ourselves, in order that through his death he might destroy the power of death, and deliver those subject to bondage.
So, according to Paul here, it was imperative that Christ be of the same flesh and blood as we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that the deliverance of those subject to bondage was predicated on Christ's mortality. Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

Hebrews 10:
10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
19Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
20By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

Here Paul says that Christ, through the offering of his body of flesh, and by his blood, enabled our sanctification, and the entering in of a new and living way, which he consecrated for us.
Obviously, according to Paul, it was imperative that Christ be of the same flesh and blood as we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that the sanctification and entering in to the holiest, was predicated on Christ's mortality. Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

Romans 8:
3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us...

Here Paul says that Christ was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, in order that he might condemn sin in the flesh, so that we might have access to righteousness.
It is clear that Paul is telling us that it was imperative Christ be of the same flesh and blood of we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that this fulfillment of righteousness was predicated on Christ's mortality.
Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

Ephesians 2:
15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;
16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:

Here Paul tells us that the enmity between God and man was abolished in the flesh of Christ, who, by his death on the cross, slew the enmity, so making peace and reconciling us to God.
Again, according to Paul here, it was imperative that Christ be of the same flesh and blood as we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that the peace and reconciliation was predicated on Christ's mortality.
Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

Colossians 1:
20And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
21And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
22In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

Here Paul says that Christ, in the body of his flesh through death, by means of the blood of his cross, was able to reconcile us, and make peace.
Again, according to Paul here, it was imperative that Christ be of the same flesh and blood as we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that the peace and reconciliation was predicated on Christ's mortality.
Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

1 Peter 2:
24Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Here Peter says that Christ, his own self, bare our sins in his own body on the tree, and thus ensured we may live unto righteousness, our stripes being healed.
Again, according to Paul here, it was imperative that Christ be of the same flesh and blood as we ourselves, in order to effect the atonement.

Thus we see that the righteousness and healing was predicated on Christ's mortality.
Of his 'Divinity', nothing is said...

I argue that every time the apostles expound the atonement, they demonstrate without possibility of dispute that its salvic efficacy was predicated on Christ's absolute mortality, and not on any 'divine-nature-added-to-human-nature' in whatever form you choose to describe it.

Paul tells us that Christ had to be man in order to effect the atonement. Not once does he tell us Christ had to be God. Not once.

Now a list of quotes which prove that Christ had exactly the same nature as we ourselves:

Hebrews 2:14
14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

It doesn't get much stronger than 'He', also', himself', likewise', 'partook of the same'.
Our human nature is biased towards sin. Hebrews says of Christ that he, himself, likewise, partook of the same.
His human nature was no different to ours.

Romans 8:
3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us...

Well, Paul tells us quite clearly that Christ was sent in the likeness of sinful flesh'.

Hebrews 3:
15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Christ was tempted in every way that we are - because he was made of the same sin-biased human nature. The only difference between his life and ours was that he did not sin.

In order to support his claim of the substitutionary nature of the atonement, and that the saving power of the atonement required the Divinity of Christ, the trinitarian must provide:

- Quotes saying that the saving power of the atonement was required the Divinity of Christ

- Quotes saying that the human nature which Christ bore was different to that which we bore, and specifically, unbiased towards sin

The incredible witness which the apostles give to the fundamental truth of the atonement cannot be denied.

In fact, so powerful is this witness to the truth of the atonement, that it can be used to combat the errors of the substitutionary atonement and the trinity simultaneously.

Every trinitarian will tell you that the atonement was substitutionary - Christ died instead of us.
The substitutionary atonement is built on the concept of ‘retribution’, of a wrathful Deity whose sanguinous fury can only be satisfied with a blood sacrifice.

The issue is that modern trinitarians make it a fundamental fellowship issue that Christ was both 100% man and 100% God. If this was truly the apostolic understanding, and if this was truly one of the apostolic predicates of fellowship, then it would have been articulated as such.

Trinitarians object to Christ being described as 'only man' as pertaining to his nature - the apostles insisted on it. The fact of the matter is that the trinitarian of today emphasises Christ's alleged 'Divinity'. The apostles emphasised his humanity.

- The trinitarian makes the 'Deity' of Christ a fellowship issue - the apostles made the humanity of Christ a fellowship issue.

- The trinitarian predicates the saving power of the atonement on the 'Deity' of Christ - the apostles predicate the saving power of the atonement on the humanity of Christ.

- The trinitarian's doctrine, dogma, and teaching are all focussed on proving that Christ was God - the apostles' doctrine, dogma, and teaching, are all focussed on proving that Christ was a man, the son of God

There is a profound and obvious difference here.
It is vital to understand the manner in which the substitutionary atonement and the doctrine of the trinity are intimately related.

The subsititutionary atonement requires the payment of a penalty for all the sins of all mankind, and the only sacrifice considered capable of fulfilling such a demand is God Himself - the sacrifice of no mere mortal, it is argued, could satisfy the Divine wrath. To deny the substitutionary atonement is to deny a fundamental reason for the Deity of Christ.

This vulnerability of the trinitarian theology is very quickly revealed when the subject of the atonement is discussed. The trinitarian position rapidly descends into a question begging farce - Christ had to be God because he had to make a substitutionary atonement, a substitutionary atonement necessitated the sacrifice of a God, Christ was sacrificed to make the atonement, therefore Christ had to be God.

Typically, the approach is to prove that the atonement was not substitutionary, but the passages used by the Christadelphian to advance the true nature of Christ’s representative sacrifice are inevitably the same as those used by the trinitarian to support the substitutionary sacrifice - the debate frequently breaks down into a semantic argument, a trifiling over the various subtle shades of meaning a word may have.

The eloquence and force of the argument founded on the apostolic exposition of the atonement, however, is unassailable.

The simple fact that the apostles insist that the saving power of the atonement absolutely necessitated the complete and utter mortality of Christ, is enough to annihilate the substitutionary atonement, and to strike a critical mortal blow into the heart of the trinitiarian dogma:

1) If the saving power of the atonement absolutely necessitated the complete and utter mortality of Christ, then his ‘Deity’ was not required at all.

2) If the ‘Deity’ of Christ was not required for the saving power of the atonement, then the atonement itself could not possibly have been substitutionary, by definition - no man, it is argued, could pay the price for all the sins of mankind, past, present, and future.

3) If the saving power of the atonement absolutely necessitated the complete and utter mortality of Christ, and if it did not require his ‘Deity’ at all, then not only does the doctrine of the atonement provide no support for the trinity whatsoever, it becomes evident that the doctrine of the trinity is utterly irrelevant to the atonement.

The result is that the illogical circular reasoning of the trinitarian, which attempts to use the substitutionary atonement to prove the Deity of Christ, whilst attempting to use the Deity of Christ to prove the subsititutionary atonement, breaks down immediately.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 11:27 AM

Fort - remember that every new addition to the Armoury must be pinned.

Ta. :)
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Parakaleo_*

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 11:52 AM

Great work, Fort! ;)

I'm just going to add a piece I wrote for the 'Nature of Christ' debating thread, which points out how Jesus could have our nature (which inevitably sins) and still overcome.

>
if God affected Christs nature or dna that in some way made him better than us... then it stands to reason that he cannot judge us....(although we know the scriptures say he can and will judge us) Because he does not share our nature, and he ergo would not have overcome our sinful fallen nature, because he was "genetically" or supernaturally better than us...
>

Evangelion:

Scripture clearly states that his nature was no different to our own. However, it is possible that God provided him with superior abilities, such as high intelligence, endurance, memory, etc. This would make him well suited to his mission, without actually granting him any unfair advantage with regard to his own personal battle against sin.


I agree with Evangelion but would also like to add that as well as the superior abilities granted to Jesus, he also had the advantage of daily education by the Father and a constant relationship with his Father as a result.

These Messianic passages illustrate the point:

  • Isa 50v4-6 (KJV)
    The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.
    The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.

    I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.

  • Isa 50v4-5 (Contemporary English Version)
    The LORD God gives me the right words to encourage the weary. Each morning he awakens me eager to learn his teaching;
    he made me willing to listen and not rebel or run away.


  • Psa 40v6-8
    Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened*: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.
    Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,
    I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

*'opened' = Hb 'digged' - a reference to the Hebrew slave who was entitled to freedom but voluntarily gave himself back to serve his master.

  • Exodus 21v2-6
    If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
    If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
    If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.
    And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
    Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him forever.
In this case his ear was pierced to show this free will decision to all. A fitting type of Christ's voluntary submission to his Father on the cross! And note Christ had a different will to his Father.

  • Luke 22v42
    Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.

Someone once showed me a stick figure analogy to illustrate the similarity and differences of Christ to us. I can't draw it so I'll have to describe it.

Firstly there was a plain stick figure, which represented Adam before he sinned. No bias towards sin, just made upright and capable of going either way.

  • Ecc 7v29
    Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

After Adam sinned, man became biased towards sin which can be illustrated by a stick figure of a man holding a heavy bucket on one side and hence bowed over on that side. That makes it inevitable we will sin. Without God's intervention it is not possible for us not to sin.

  • 1 John 1v8
    If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

  • 1 Kings 8v46
    If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,)...

  • Ecc 7:20
    For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.

  • Rom 5v12
    Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

If you add Christ's superior abilities, education and relationship with his Father into the picture, it becomes a bucket on the other side of the stick figure, enabling him to remain upright because balanced.

This doesn't mean he romped it home - Gethsemane alone should show us that. He was sorely tempted in all points like we are, having identical human nature to us, yet God gave him the necessary 'tools' (as it were) to overcome sin.

  • Heb 2v18
    For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

I think this is clearly the reason that when the Apostle Paul comments on the work of Christ, he only ever compares Christ to one man, Adam. Because only these two have ever been capable of not sinning.

  • Rom 5v12-19 (World English Bible)
    Therefore, as sin entered into the world through one man, and death through sin; and so death passed to all men, because all sinned.
    For until the law, sin was in the world; but sin is not charged when there is no law.
    Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience, who is a foreshadowing of him who was to come.
    But the free gift isn't like the trespass. For if by the trespass of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.
    The gift is not as through one who sinned: for the judgment came by one to condemnation, but the free gift came of many trespasses to justification.
    For if by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; so much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ.
    So then as through one trespass, all men were condemned; even so through one act of righteousness, all men were justified to life.
    For as through the one man's disobedience many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one will many be made righteous.


  • 1Co 15v21-22
    For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
    For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.


#4 Evangelion

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 12:05 PM

Kicker. :)
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Fortigurn

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Posted 09 January 2003 - 12:26 PM

Phat. :blink:




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