D A Carson on the Atonement – 2015 EFCA Theology Conference

I should begin by offering 5 prefatory remarks:

1. In the context of the broad sweep  of current western reflection on the atonement, it is important to observe the Evangelical Confessionalism  espoused  by all 3 of the plenary speakers at this conference. Is it one on the fundamentals? Many contemporary theologians distance themselves from substitutionary atonement and certainly from penal substitutionary atonement. Another small, but vociferous cadre of theologians distances itself from any hint of violence in the atonement. Such trends demand that we engage them. But, all three of us would argue that we must not be seduced by them. In some ways, there are more important topics than the ones in which we have been asked to engage.

For this reason, I want to begin with a broad brush, that picks up some of these broader, more fundamental questions, and then, focus in more narrowly.

2. I’ve been asked to represent the calvinist/reformed heritage. Many would argue that I’m a poor exemplar  of that heritage, and I would not disagree with them. One might have chosen someone like Michael Horton  in the reformed presbyterian tradition or B. Gatus in the reformed wing of anglicanism, see his important book ‘For Us and For Our Salvation. Limited Atonement in the Bible. Doctrine, History & Ministry’. Some would be suspicious of me because as a baptist by heritage, I do not understand the covenants to fit together in exactly the same way as most of my presbyterian friends. Others would be suspicious of me because defend definite atonement in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

3. The category soteriological essentials is a tad slippery. Soteriology is sometimes used to refer to Christ’s immediate cross work. Yet, in the New Testament, it tends to be a rather broad category. If the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation, unto the soteriological, it is the power of God unto the wholeness of transformed resurrected life in Christ, finally consummated in the new heaven and the new earth, That’s a pretty big mandate to tackle in an hour. At one level, in other words, soteriology refers to all of the Gospel and its effects. I cannot ignore this broader exegetically based frame of reference entirely in offering my reflections on the reformed view.

4. One is hard pressed to decide whether to address the subject primarily in the categories of systematic theology, the categories of biblical theology, and long lists of proof texts and work focused exegesis, selected disputed texts, or in the debates that are the stuff of historical theology. And so, what I shall do is opt for a glorious miss mash.

5. Finally, much of what I am about to say, at least initially, will be common ground between the other speakers and me and then gradually I will introduce some separation.

1. The sheer Godhood of God

One of the working theological commitments in the reformed tradition, taken up in different ways in other traditions, is the emphasis on the sheer Godhood of God, Godness of God. To overstate the issue, this isn’t quite right, but you’ll see the point. The Bible is first of all about God, not us. He is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega. And the Book of Revelation, the first chapter asserts this, not only of God, but of His Son Jesus. He is the fist and the last. This is not merely a temporal category. The first is a temporal category, before anything else was, He was, self existent, the Creator of all other things. But, He’s not the last, in the sense that He exists after everything else is gone. After all, the Bible doesn’t suggest that we shall inherit a new heaven and a new earth for 50 billion years and then God will say, „You’re done. I’m still here.” He’s not the last in that sense. It’s more like, the ultimate- that towards which everything presses.

from the first 5 minutes.

2015 EFCA Theology Conference: Calvinism/Reformed from EFCA on Vimeo.

8 truths about Jesus and the Cross

by Mark Driscoll via – you can read entire post here at the Christian Post

Driscoll, who leads the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, points out that while it’s uncommon for someone to sacrifice his or her life for a friend, „it would be nearly impossible to find examples of people sacrificing their life for an enemy.”

Yet, Jesus made such a sacrifice nearly 2,000 years ago when he died „for the ungodly,” as the apostle Paul wrote in Romans, Driscoll explained in his post, „Why Jesus Died on the Cross.”

„Regardless if we admit it or not, as sinners, we’re all enemies of God, deserving death and God’s wrath,” Driscoll wrote. „Yet, Jesus died for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice with his life for you and me.”

There are eight truths that are „absolutely essential to understanding why Jesus died on the cross and what his death means for us,” he stated.

1. God is holy and without any sin.
God is holy, without sin, and altogether good. As such, he can’t be in the presence of sin, and as a just God, must judge sin and sinners (Leviticus 11:44; Isaiah 6:3; 1 Peter 1:15–16).

2. God made the world and us as good.
Not only is God good, but also everything he made was originally good, including human beings, who were made in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:31; Ecclesiastes 7:29).

. We rebelled against God.
Though God made the world and us as good, our first father and mother rebelled against God, bringing sin into the world. This first sin was trying to become the God of our own lives by doing the one thing we were asked not to do. Ever since, we have sought to remove God from his throne and place ourselves on the throne instead (Genesis 3:1–7; Romans 3:10–12; 5:12).

4. We are sinful.
Despite the fact that God made humans sinless, we’re now sinners both by nature and by choice due to the actions of our first parents. Anyone who says they’re not a sinner is in fact proud, and according to the church father Augustine, pride is the worst of sins and was the cause of Satan’s fall from heaven. Even non-Christians tend to agree that everyone is sinful when they declare often, „Nobody is perfect,” which agrees with Scripture (Psalm 53:3, 6; Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).

5. Sin results in death.
God is the source of all life, and our sin results in our separation from him and death. Just as a piece of technology unplugged from its power source continues to exist but is functionally dead, so are we dead in our sin. The Bible says that because of sin we are physically alive but spiritually dead (Genesis 2:16–17; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1;Colossians 2:13).

6. Jesus is sinless.
Jesus is the only person who has or will ever live without sin (John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22).

7. Jesus became our sin.
On the cross as our substitute, Jesus willfully became the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus sinned. Rather, it means that he took our sins on as his responsibility and paid the price for them that we should have paid-death. Martin Luther is one of the few theologians who does not lessen the blow of this truth and calls it the „great exchange.”

Scripture declares that on the cross Jesus exchanged his perfection for our imperfection, his obedience for our disobedience, his intimacy with God the Father for our distance from God the Father, his blessing for our cursing, and his life for our death (Isaiah 53:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

8. Jesus died for us.
The Bible teaches that in perfect justice, because Jesus was made to be our sin, he died for us. The little word „for” has big implications. In theological terms, it means that Jesus’ death was substitutionary. His death was in our place, solely for our benefit, and without benefit for himself. He took the penalty for our sins so that we don’t have to suffer that penalty. The wrath of God that should’ve fallen on us and the death that our sins merit instead fell on Jesus.

Driscoll concluded his post by writing that Jesus has paid the penalty for everyone’s sins regardless of what they’ve done.

„There’s nothing more you have to do on top of what he has already done for you,” he stressed. „Stop working to try and earn God’s love, and start living out of thankfulness that God already loves you and paid the ultimate sacrifice to draw you near to him. Trust Jesus with your life.”

Did Jesus preach Paul’s Gospel? by John Piper (An important sermon)

From Together for the Gospel 2010 Conference. Read entire sermon here at the desiringGod.org website

The aim of my title is not to criticize the gospel of evangelicalism but to assume that it is biblical and true, and then to ask whether Jesus preached it. If I had it to do over again, I would use the title “Did Jesus Preach Paul’s Gospel?”—the gospel of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, on the basis of Christ’s blood and righteousness alone, for the glory of God alone.

What I am driven by in this message, and in much of my thinking since my days in graduate school in Germany, is the conviction that Jesus and Paul preached the same gospel. There is a 300-year history among critical scholars of claiming that Jesus’ message and work was one thing, and what the early church made of it was another. Jesus brought the kingdom; it aborted; and the apostles substituted an institution, the church. And dozens of variations along this line.

Did Paul Get Jesus Right?

So the problem I am wrestling with is not whether evangelicalism gets Paul’s gospel right, but whether Paul got Jesus’ gospel right. Because I have a sense that among the reasons that some are losing a grip on the gospel today is not only the suspicion that we are forcing it into traditional doctrinal categories rather than biblical ones, but also that in our default to Pauline categories we are selling Jesus short. In other words, for some—perhaps many—there is the suspicion (or even conviction) that justification by faith alone is part of Paul’s gospel, but not part of Jesus’ gospel. And in feeling that way, our commitment to the doctrine is weakened, and we are thus less passionate to preach it and defend it as essential to the gospel. And we may even think that Jesus’ call to sacrificial kingdom obedience is more radical and more transforming than the gospel of justification by faith alone.

So I am starting where R. C. Sproul left off in his message to us yesterday. And I consider this message as an exegetical extension and defense of what he said: “If you don’t have imputation, you don’t have sola fide (faith alone), and if you don’t have sola fide, you don’t have the gospel.” And my goal is to argue that Jesus preached the gospel of justification by faith alone apart from works of the law, understood as the imputation of his righteousness through faith alone.

Did Jesus Preach the gospel of Evangelicalism?P…, posted with vodpod

A Word About Method

First, a word about method. One of my goals in this message is to fire you up for serious lifelong meditation on the four Gospels as they stand. I am so jealous that you not get sidetracked into peeling away the so-called layers of tradition to find the so-called historical Jesus. I want you to feel the truth and depth and wonder that awaits your lifelong labor of love in pondering the inexhaustible portraits of Jesus given us by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

After spending 12 years of my life in the heady atmosphere of academic biblical studies, here is the conviction I came away with—and it has been confirmed every year of my life for 30 years. I commend it to you. It’s the basis of the exposition I am about to give.

If you interpret faithfully the deeds and the words of Jesus as he is portrayed in the four Gospels, your portrait of Jesus will be historically and theologically more in accord with who he really was and what he really did than all the varied portraits of all the critical scholars who attempt to reconstruct a Jesus of history behind the Gospels.

Or to state it even more positively: If, by means of historical and grammatical effort, accompanied with the Spirit’s illumination of what is really there, you understand the accounts of the four Gospels as they stand, you will know the Jesus who really was and what he taught.

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