Lakeside Fellowship Blog

Session 5: Atonement - Substitutionary Theory

by Administrator 20. February 2016 08:30
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 5: Atonement - Substitutionary Theory, Bob Sweeny shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #5: One objection to the Substitution Theory of the Atonement is that if Christ took our exact penalty, why isn’t He in Hell for all eternity? One objection to the Substitution Theory of the Atonement is that if Christ took our exact penalty, why isn’t He in Hell for all eternity? I have had this question cross my mind a few times and never had a definite answer. Not that I will completely answer this question in a short blog post, but maybe give some more insight on this question. As I have learned in Theology Class, some things are a mystery to us and not meant to be known for now. In my mind it seems that if I deserve Hell and someone had to pay my penalty then it must be like-for-like. I deserve to endure Hell forever then Christ must endure Hell forever for me right? But that is not what happened. Why? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. ~1 Corinthians 15:13-14 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. ~ John 10:17-18 Just a couple of verses on Christ’s death and resurrection, but very powerful. In 1 Corinthians it says that if Christ did not rise again from death our faith is in vain. First off all we need a mediator (1 Timothy 2:5) and if Christ was in Hell our mediator would still be in Hell and that would do us little good, for He is the only mediator between us and God. Also I think that Christ did not only have to take our penalty and suffer God’s wrath on the cross but had to be victorious over death. Which He has the power to do and was commanded by the Father (John 10:17-18). If He had no power over death He would not be God nor have power over His and our death. Ultimately I know that I need a Savior who has the power over sin, death and hell, Savior who is in Heaven before God for me, not in Hell. Jesus lived a perfect life I could never live, died for my sins that He did not commit and has victory over death. This should be enough for us because it is enough for God.

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Session 4b: Atonement - Historical Survey

by Administrator 13. February 2016 08:21
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 4: Atonement - Historical Survey, Beth Warrick shares her thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #3: “Martin Luther once said that ‘Satan is God’s Satan’. How do we often live our lives as Dualists, acting as if Satan has more power than he actually does? This theology course on the subject of Soteriology (Salvation) has brought to my attention many things in my belief of Salvation and other spiritual subjects that are either incorrect or just unclear to me. One of these subjects is regarding Satan and Hell and Satan’s power. Even before this course, God has been growing me in the ability to trust in His sovereignty and control in all things, even when sin is rampant on this earth and it seems that Satan is in control and “winning.” This course has helped strengthen that trust even more, for which I am thankful! Question 3 on page 71 of our course material states that “Martin Luther once said that ‘Satan is God’s Satan’. How do we often live our lives as Dualists, acting as if Satan has more power than he actually does?” The previous question on this same page states that “Dualism is the worldview that believes that there is a war between the good power (God) and an evil power (Satan). Both are equally powerful and both want to win. …” (this explains Dualism). I live like a Dualist when I have fear and when I get really down about the evil in this world. When I feel these things, I’m not holding on to the promises that God is in control, God is good, and that He will have the victory. I forget that nothing is outside of His plan, even the sinful things that happen, and I doubt His plan when it’s not going well. It is easy for me to see what is right in front of me and to forget what the Bible says about the hope of the future when Satan is banished. It’s hard for me to focus on my eternal life with God because Christ is my Savior when I’m free of sin instead of my short life here on earth that is full of sin. I think we can also live as Dualists when we accept our sinful tendencies as “that’s just how I am—I can’t help it” instead of believing that we can have victory over that sin through Christ’s finished work on the cross and the help of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us who are saved. Yes, we are still sinners and will still sin, but we shouldn’t accept our sin or give in to our temptations because we believe we can’t stop it—that’s giving sin and Satan more power than God. The Ransom to Satan theory is a belief that also gives Satan too much power. This theory basically gives Satan the power—God had to ransom us from him because we are sinners. God is not the offended party in this theory when actually He is, because He is righteous and holy and just. This theory also reduces the important part of God’s forgiveness in our salvation. Without realizing it, I think that I somewhat held beliefs related to this, but when this theory was explained in this course, I realized that this was very wrong. My growing understanding of the actual process of salvation has made me even more thankful for my salvation and God’s sovereignty in it. Praise God!

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Session 4a: Atonement - Historical Survey

by Administrator 13. February 2016 08:07
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength  ~Mark 12:30Writing about Session 4: Atonement - Historical Survey, Bryan Carlton shares his thoughts on one of the discussion questions. Discussion question #9: How was your thinking challenged the most by the lesson? As believers, atonement is something that is very important to us. It is the work of Christ in dealing with the problem posed by the sin of man, and in bringing sinners into a right relation with God. Many of the early church fathers tried to come up with ways to explain why Christ died on the cross and what exactly it was that His death accomplished. The first of these was the Recapitulation Theory. It was formulated by Irenaeus – a Greek father of the early church. This theory says that Christ lived the perfect life that Adam could not live – He “recapitulated” (or re-did) all the stages of human life and obeyed the law perfectly. And because of this perfect life, we can have salvation. Several scriptures speak to this very point – Romans 5:12,14,17, and 19 all speak to the fact that sin entered through one man’s disobedience (Adam) and how through one man’s obedience (Jesus Christ) many will be made righteous. What Irenaeus said was not false – just incomplete. If we think of the atonement merely as Christ coming to re-do a life that Adam could not do, the Cross becomes unneeded - Christ could’ve died a natural death and still atoned for our sins. This theory did not last long in the early church. The second theory was the Ransom to Satan theory. This one was surprising to me, as it was hard for me to think that someone thought that we were “owned” by Satan. This theory was followed by the early church fathers Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. The theory states that because of Adam’s sin, all of humanity was sold into bondage to Satan who had “legal” rights to them. With Christ’s death, he made payment to Satan, buying everyone back and thus making salvation possible. There are Bible verses that speak of Christ being a ransom (Mark 10:45) or Christ “buying” believers (1 Cor 6:20) or people being children of the devil (Matt 13:38, John 8:44, 1 John 3:8-10). Right away this theory should set off some alarm bells with a believer. The ransom never had to go to Satan, as it was not Satan who was offended by our sin – but the one true Holy God. It is His wrath that needed to be satisfied. It also shows that God isn’t all powerful as all He can do is pay this ransom to Satan – nothing else could be done to bring salvation to His chosen people. Lastly, it minimizes sin, and minimizes the wonderful grace and mercy that God shows us – He apparently doesn’t need to forgive us, just rescue us. This theory held on a little longer than the previous one, but by 1100 it was not a theory that was widely held on to. The third theory of the atonement is the Satisfaction Theory. This one is still held today by the Roman Catholic church. It says that man’s sinfulness wounded God’s honor and that God – out of necessity – sent Christ to restore His honor. Christ was both God and man, and restored God’s honor with His death on the cross. With that death, Christ got a reward He didn’t need since He had everything. This reward of salvation is offered to man in the form of merit and grace. While this theory rightly places the focus upon God – realizing that it is He who needs to be satisfied – there are still several points that make it incorrect. The theory states that God “needed” to do this. That would mean that God lacked something – which would instantly make Him not God. Thankfully our great God lacks nothing, and didn’t need to save us – he did so out of His own mercy and grace. It also places the focus on God’s damaged honor – not God’s breached righteousness. As you can see, this theory still doesn’t hold up – sadly, the Roman Catholic church still believes it today. Theory number 4 is a liberal theory that is followed still by many mainstream denominations today. It is the Moral Example Theory. This theory says that Christ came just to be our example – that His death on the cross was not required and has not atoning value. It is only an example for us to follow so that we would know how to live and turn to Christ in love. While it is true that we should all desire and strive to be like our savior Jesus Christ, this theory neglects the seriousness of sin. It shows God as a loving God – which is true – but fails to mention that He is a just God that requires a payment for sin. The Bible teaches that without the shedding of blood, there can be no atoning for sin (Hebrews 9:22). The mainline denominations that follow this theory are sadly growing because of this false view of God and atonement. The final historical theory of the atonement is the Governmental Theory. It was developed by a man named Hugo Grotius. He believed that Christ did not bear our punishment but suffered as an example – thus the law was honored and sinners were pardoned. Grotius envisioned God as a ruler who made a law that whoever sins should die. Since God didn’t want sinners to die He relaxed this rule and accepted the death of Christ instead. Christ’s death was a “nominal” (small/not the full cost) substitute. This theory makes the atonement optional – God could’ve done it another way. In the Bible we see Christ pray 3 times for the cup of wrath to pass from Him (Matt 26:39) if there was another way. Christ knew there wasn’t – God included this prayer in the Bible so that we would know there was no other way for our sins to be atoned for. All of these theories were interesting to me as several of them I had not heard of. The Ransom to Satan theory was the most surprising to me – and the Moral Example theory was followed by the church I grew up in. Reading through and learning about these theories shows me how important it is to study God’s word thoroughly - reading the verses in context and comparing them to other verses to mine their true meaning. Only then can we truly understand the doctrines of the Bible as they are supposed to be.

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