‘With God all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26). ‘Nothing is impossible with God’ (Luke 1:37)
So why doesn’t God simply forgive sinners, without need of any atonement? Why can’t he just let bygones be bygones?
After all, he can do anything, can’t he?
Well, setting aside the obviously absurd (God cannot create a two-sided triangle), we note with Puritan Thomas Brooks that there are three things that God cannot do:- he cannot die; he cannot lie; and he cannot deny himself.…
This is one of the questions posed and answered by Richard Bewes in his little book The Top 100 Questions.
Put slightly differently, the question is: What does it mean to say that Jesus Christ died ‘for’ me?
The most fundamental answer to this question, says Bewes, lies in the idea of ‘penal substitution’. Christ was the only person qualified to take upon himself the penalty of separation from God (Romans 6:23), and he himself declared that he had come to give his life in the place of many (Mark 10:45).…
“The criterion of what is Christian and what is not is the cross of Jesus Christ, the crucial enigma which distinguishes the peculiarly Christian way of looking at human existence and experience from all other viewpoints” (p. 18).
For the Christian, “the cross alone is our theology.”—Luther (p. 26)
“The Christian tradition, following in the paths indicated by Paul, has identified the cross, interpreted in the light of the resurrection, as the final, decisive and normative locus of the revelation of God” (p.…
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27:46)
Here, says John Flavel, ‘are words that might rend the hardest heart.’
The manner of the complaint
Note what our Lord complains of. ‘It is not of the cruel tortures he felt in his body, nor of the scoffs and reproaches of his name; he mentions not a word of these, they were all swallowed up in the sufferings within, as the river is swallowed up in the sea, or the lesser flame in the greater.’
What this desertion means
‘Divine desertion generally considered, is God’s withdrawing himself from any, not as to his essence, that fills heaven and earth, and constantly remains the same; but it is the withdrawment of his favour, grace, and love: when these are gone, God is said to be gone.…
I’ve been going through Tom Wright’s important new book The Day the Revolution Began: Rethinking the Meaning of Jesus’ Crucifixion (SPCK, 2016) with a fine tooth-comb. Here I offer a synopsis of what I think Wright is saying.
Part One: Introduction
1. A Vitally Important Scandal
In appearance, the death of Jesus was just another tragic failure. In reality, it launched the most important revolution the world has ever seen. From now on, everything would be different. …
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!” Galatians 6:14
In the cross we see . . .
the rights of divine justice maintained,
the designs of divine mercy revealed; sin appearing exceedingly sinful;
the law magnified and honoured, and
the law-breaker pardoned and delivered!
At the cross, God and sinners meet — and a reconciliation takes place.…
Sit down (suggests J.I. Packer, in his celebrated book Knowing God) and read through Mark’s Gospel, and you will receive an impression of Jesus that includes at least the following four features:-
1. Jesus was a man of action. He was ‘a man always on the move, always altering situations and precipitating things—working miracles; calling and training disciples; upsetting error that passed as truth and irreligion that passed as godliness; and finally walking straight and open–eyed into betrayal, condemnation and crucifixion (a freakish sequence of anomalies which in the oddest way one is made to feel that he himself controlled all along the line),’
There are three principal ways in which Christ’s death has been understood in the church:-
First, there is the type of account which sees the cross as having its effects purely on us: it reveals God’s love to us; it tells us how much God hates sin; it sets us a supreme example of godliness; it blazes a trail to God, which we may now follow. The cross motivates us to seek God and it opens up the flow of divine life. …