- THE LETTER OF ST. PAUL TO THE ROMANS
- Will God Save All or Only Some?
- The harlot, the beast and the Antichrist
- A Serpent and a Scapegoat
- Original sin
In the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth chapters of Deuteronomy, God divided the nation of Israel into two separate camps and placed one on Mount Gerizim and the other on Mount Ebal. Those on Mount Gerizim were to pronounce the blessings which would come upon all who diligently obey the Lord their God. From behind the closed doors of heaven the Father crushed His only Son with every terror that should befall those for whom He died.
The Lord sends upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly As Christ bore our sin upon Calvary, He was cursed as man who makes an idol and sets it up in secret. However the curse did alight upon the Branch, not because of some flaw in His character or error in His deeds, but because He bore the sins of His people and carried their iniquity before the judgment bar of God. The psalmist David cried out,. How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!
Yet on the Cross, the sin imputed to Christ was exposed before God and the host of heavens. He was placarded before men and made a spectacle to angels and devils alike.
THE LETTER OF ST. PAUL TO THE ROMANS
If a man is counted blessed because iniquity is not imputed to Him, then Christ was cursed beyond measure because the iniquity of us all fell upon Him. Then the LORD will single him out for adversity from all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant which are written in this book of the law. It is referred to as the Priestly or Aaronic blessing:. Though beautiful and gracious, this blessing presents us with a great theological and moral problem.
How can a righteous God grant such blessing to a sinful people without compromising His righteousness. The answer again is found in the Cross. The sinner can be blessed only because the Holy and Righteous One was cursed. It is not uncommon to hear a preacher declare that the Father turned away from His Son because He could no longer bear to witness the suffering inflicted upon Him by the hands of wicked men.
As we have learned, such interpretations are a complete distortion of the text and of what actually transpired on the Cross. With such an illustration, the Scriptures fully agree. As the prophet Isaiah cried out:. But your iniquities have made a separation between you God and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. According to this text, and countless others, all men should live and die separated from the favorable presence of God and under divine wrath.
Only then could divine justice be satisfied, the wrath of God be appeased, and reconciliation be made possible. What terrible thing did it contain to caused Him such anguish that His sweat was mingled with blood? It is often said that the cup represented the cruel Roman cross and the physical torture that awaited Him. That Christ foresaw the cat of nine tails coming down across His back, the crown of thorns piercing His brow, and the primitive nails driven through His hands and feet.
Will God Save All or Only Some?
However those who believe these things to be the source of His anguish do not understand the Cross, nor what happened there. In the first centuries of the primitive church, thousands of Christians died on crosses. It is said that Nero crucified them upside down, covered them with tar, and set them aflame to provide streetlights for the city of Rome.
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Throughout the ages since then, a countless stream of Christians have been led off to the most unspeakable tortures, and yet it is the testimony of friend and foe alike that many of them went to their death with great boldness. Are we to believe that the followers of the Messiah met such cruel physical death with joy unspeakable, while the Captain of their Salvation cowered in a garden, fearing the same torture? To understand the ominous contents of the cup, we must refer to the Scriptures.
The harlot, the beast and the Antichrist
There are two passages in particular that we must consider — one from the Psalms and the other from the Prophets:. They will drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them. As a result of the unceasing rebellion of the wicked, the justice of God had decreed judgment against them. He would rightly pour forth His indignation upon the nations. He would put the cup of the wine of His wrath to their mouth and force them to drink it down to the dregs.
He would be like us in all things, and tempted in all ways like us, but without sin. The perfect Son of God and a true Son of Adam together in one glorious person would take the bitter cup of wrath from the very hand of God and drink it down to the dregs. He would drink until it was finished, and the justice of God was fully satisfied.
Imagine an immense dam that is filled to the brim and straining against the weight behind it. All at once, the protective wall is pulled away and the massive destructive power of the deluge is unleashed. As certain destruction races towards a small village in the nearby valley, the ground suddenly opens up before it and drinks down that which would have carried it away. In similar fashion, the judgment of God was rightly racing toward every man.
Escape could not be found on the highest hill or in the deepest abyss. The fleetest of foot could not outrun it, nor could the strongest swimmer endure its torrents. The dam was breached and nothing could repair its ruin. But when every human hope was exhausted, at the appointed time, the Son of God interposed.
He stood between divine justice and His people. He drank down the wrath that we ourselves had kindled and the punishment we deserved. When He died, not one drop of the former deluge remained. He drank it all on our behalf! Imagine two giant millstones, one turning on top of the other.
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Imagine that caught between the two is a single grain of wheat that is pulled under the massive weigh. First, its hull is crushed beyond recognition, and then its inwards parts are poured out and ground into dust. There is no hope of retrieval or reconstruction. All is lost and beyond repair. Thus, in a similar fashion, it pleased the Lord to crush His only Son, and put Him to grief unspeakable. Thus, it pleased the Son to submit to such suffering that God might be glorified and a people might be redeemed.
We should not think that God found some gleeful pleasure in the suffering of His beloved Son, but through His death, the will of God was accomplished. No other means had the power to put away sin, satisfy divine justice, and appease the wrath of God against us. Unless that divine grain of wheat had fallen to the ground and died, it would have abided alone without a people or a bride. God would be revealed in a glory yet unknown to men or angels, and a people would be brought into unhindered fellowship with their God.
The beloved Puritan writer John Flavel once wrote a dialogue between the Father and the Son regarding fallen humanity and great price that would be required to obtain our redemption. It beautifully illustrates the true agony of the Cross, and the love of the Father and the Son which moved them to embrace it. My Son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice!
Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls? And thus Christ returns.
A Serpent and a Scapegoat
O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe Thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shall thou require it.
I will rather choose to suffer their wrath than they should suffer it: But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them, I will not spare thee. Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: It is sometimes thought and even preached that the Father looked down from heaven and witnessed the suffering that was heaped upon His Son by the hands of men, and that He counted such affliction as payment for our sins.
This is heresy of the worst kind. Christ satisfied divine justice not by merely enduring the affliction of men, but by enduring the wrath of God. It takes more than crosses, nails, crowns of thorns, and lances to pay for sin. The believer is saved, not simply because of what men did to Christ on the Cross, but because of what God did to Him — He crushed Him under the full force of His wrath against us.
In one of the most epic narratives in the Old Testament, the patriarch Abraham is commanded to carry his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, and there, to offer him as a sacrifice to God. What a burden was laid upon Abraham! On the third day, the two reached the appointed place, and the father bound his beloved son with his own hand.
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He was manifested to put away sin and to destroy the works of the Devil Heb. He will not stop until He has accomplished these ends. In the light of the facts set forth in the Scriptures, how foolish the statement that if all are to be saved Jesus Christ need never have died. If He had not died for the sins of the world, no one could be saved. The Scriptures make it very plain that all are not saved at the same time.
At the present time God is saving only those He has chosen and called unto the special salvation of the ages 1 Cor. He will use these in various ways in bringing about the salvation of the rest Eph. Election and predestination become most precious portions of God's truth once it is seen that the reason some are elected to a special salvation is that through them the rest may be reached. There is a special salvation for some and a general salvation f or the rest later on.
Those who believe now will be made like Christ when He returns and will live and reign with Him during the coming eons or ages. They will be delivered from the Second Death. The nonelect will be saved at the end of the ages solely as the result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ in their behalf. Does this mean a second chance? Salvation is not a matter of chance, first or second. Had it bee n left to chance no one would have been saved, now or later Rom. Salvation is of God!
He assures us that He will save all. Let no one think for a moment that there will not be judgment and condemnation. To them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness shall be wrath indignation, tribulation and anguish. The wrath of God is an awful thing and it is not our purpose to minimize it in the least. However too much condemnation and punishment is just as unrighteous as too little. The Justification and Making Righteous of All. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous" Rom.
The Reconciliation of All to God. Reconciliation means the removal of all alienation and enmity, thus making peace. The Vivification of All. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death" See 1 Cor. The making alive in this passage is more than resurrection alone.
Resurrection may be only to mortality as in the case of Lazarus, etc. Making alive here is unto incorruption and immortality 1 Tim. The Subjection of All to God the Father. But when He saith, all things are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted [none others] Who did subject all things unto Him. But someone protests, Will not believing that God is the Savior of all do away with evangelistic fervor and zeal?