Why The Atonement matters For Church Planters (5)

Why The Atonement matters For Church Planters (5)

Atonement’ edited by Gabriel Fluhrer (P&R Publishing 2010)

This is a series of lectures about ‘blood’ according to the book’s sleeve and is a compilation of 8 essays on the topic by 7 evangelical theologians and pastors. Such is the importance of this subject for every Christian, whoever they are and whatever they do, I have decided to give a brief summary over the coming weeks of some of the essays and how I think it could apply to inner city planters (although the application is really universal). This week we have RC Sproul.

RC Sproul – Sacrifice & Satisfaction

RC uses Galatians 3:3 as a launch pad for his essay. He reminds us of his belief that the most important word in the New Testament is the Greek word, huper, translated as, in behalf of’, in English. He also reminds us that Christ’s work on the cross was not done for himself nor as an example for others to follow, but it was done for people, on their behalf. Because our guilt demands satisfaction, the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is therefore seen as both a sacrifice and a satisfaction.

He quickly moves on to talk about the concept of Jesus as a curse. Jesus in his death was cursed by God. He refers back to Deuteronomy 11 and 26 to contrast the biblical concept of blessing with the curse. For the Jew, blessing meant drawing near to the presence of God. Therefore, curse meant be expelled from his presence. In cursing, God turns his back completely on the one being cursed and all the benefits of his blessing are cut off.

We are reminded of the need to be careful when talking of Jesus’ excruciating death on the cross. Many people in history have died in just as much (sometimes even more so) excruciating physical pain as Jesus. So, He is not unique in that sense. What marks Jesus out in his death is that he experienced the full curse of God. Consider this:

‘The light of the countenance of God was removed from Jesus. The world was filled with darkness and it was the middle of the day. But, in that moment in human history, the sun did not shine. The radiance of the fire that came from the Son – this One who was in perfect unity with the Father, who was in the beginning with God and was God – was extinguished.’ (p79)

Ponder on that for a time.