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Atonement not At-one-ment
The statements above are probably sufficient to show that the English word "atonement," if understood to mean "at-one-ment," is utterly inadequate to express the truth of the doctrine. "At-one-ment" is the effect of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The Hebrew word signifies "to cover." It is that used by David in Psalm 32 when he says, "Blessed is the man … whose sin is covered." It further suggests the removal of divine wrath. Christ did not die to reconcile God to man, but the effect of the death of Christ is to remove God's wrath from him who believes. The wrath of God still abides on the unbeliever (John 3:36). God gave His Son in order that, dealing with Him for our sin and guilt and executing His wrath upon Him against sin, the believing sinner might be delivered from deserved wrath and condemnation. The gospel is a ministry of reconciliation, "as though God," says the apostle Paul, "were entreating by us: we beseech on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).GOD'S TRIBUNAL
Atonement is not merely the payment of a debt. It is much more. It is not just a commercial transaction. God is not simply a creditor, He is a judge. Every man must appear before Him and face Him in that capacity. Christ in His death satisfied the claims of divine justice, and the guilty sinner may go free, with wrath removed, pardon granted, his sin cleansed by the precious blood of Christ. The death of Christ was not simply the payment of a debt, it was the clearing of sinners at the bar of God's Tribunal.A SUBSTITUTIONARY SACRIFICE
The sacrifice of Calvary was offered to make provision for all men. The actual effects of Christ's atoning sacrifice are experienced only by those who accept the Savior. The death of Christ was substitutionary, but Christ is not the substitute of the unrepentant sinner. We dare not go to a rebellious, hardhearted man and tell him "Christ is your substitute." We may tell him that Christ died on his behalf, to deliver him from the consequences of sin, but if we tell a hardened sinner that Christ died in his stead it follows that he is no longer in the place of condemnation and death, whereas the contrary is the fact. Let him receive Christ by repentance and faith, and he passes from death to life, from condemnation to justification. Christ died on behalf of all men. He "gave Himself a ransom," a substitutionary ransom, "on behalf of [Greek: huper] all" (1 Tim. 2:6). He gave Himself a ransom "for [Greek: anti] many" (Mark 10:45).Only Jesus brings Peace with God
Note, Christ died "on behalf of all," "for many." The actual substitution is fulfilled for those who, receiving Christ by faith, are delivered from death present and future. All infants who have never come under the condemnation of trespass against God come under the atoning efficacy of the blood of Christ. But for all who have sinned there is justification through faith, and there is no condemnation to those who thereby are "in Christ Jesus."
Thus Biblical Christianity teaches that:
"it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
Those who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation will be rewarded for their good deeds at the Judgment Seat of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). This judgment, or evaluation, is not to determine salvation but rewards. Those who have rejected Christ as Saviour will be given the sentence of judgment at the Great White Throne Judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15):
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
Those who accepted Christ have already been resurrected earlier in this passage (Revelation 20:4-6):
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Jesus supplies the answer to acquiring peace in this life and for eternity - a peace that comes through a right standing with God by trusting Jesus Christ as Saviour. Through this decision a person is delivered from condemnation, and he acquires peace with God. The Bible tells us:
"Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 5:1).
Any religion that makes the atoning work of Christ unnecessary and places emphasis on human merit [e.g. Islam, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Papal Roman Catholicism, Christadelphianism] cannot provide eternal salvation or peace with God.
But here is the crux of the matter: Does a person believe that the Bible contains the written Word of God or that the Quran contains it - or both? If the Bible is accepted as the source of authority, no choice is left but to reject all systems that deny the deity of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross. We have given irrefutable reasons to reject the Quran as the Word of God and accept the Bible alone as the inerrant Word from an Infallible God.
Biblical Christianity offers the good news that those who trust Christ as Saviour in this life can be absolutely 100% assured of their salvation and future destiny. The Apostle John wrote his first epistle so believers could know for certain that they had eternal life (I John 5:13). You do not need to wait until some final judgment to be sure of your salvation if you are a genuine follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. No other religion promises this assurance to its adherents. Thus we are confident that no one who deserts Christ to follow Muhammad or any other 'prophet' or 'god' can ever have really known the Saviour God of the Bible. For who, once having known this great truth, would ever willingly chose to exchange certain eternal life with God for a lost eternity in Hell?
How wonderful is the grace of God that He, against whom man had sinned, should Himself provide the atonement! How unsearchable is His mercy to the guilty that He did not spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all, to bear our sins in His body on the tree! If only we recognize the atrociousness of our guilt and the infinite grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in suffering the penalty for us, "the just for the unjust to bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18), we shall bow in acknowledgment and present ourselves to Him in devoted service all our days.
Take the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and compare those teachings to that of the Koran. Compare the Christ of the Gospel to the Christ of the Koran. The Christ of the Gospel never comes up second best for, being the Son of God and Son of Man and true Deity, He never will!
I close with some words from Dwight L. Moody concerning the blood of Christ:
'Many people say [the Atonement] is a very mysterious thing. We don't understand why God wants blood as an atonement. A man said to me, "I detest your religion; I hate your God." "Why?" I asked. "I detest a God who demands blood," he replied. Now, God is not an unjust God. He doesn't demand it without giving us a reason. He tells us in His Word that "the life of the flesh is in the blood." Take the blood out of me and I am a dead man. Life has been forfeited, the law has been broken, and the penalty must come upon us, and His blood He gives us is life; it is the life of our flesh. Three times we see "blood" mentioned in the twenty-third and twenty-fourth verses [of Leviticus], and the reason is that it is life. You and I have lost life by the Fall, and what we want is to get back that life we lost, and we have it offered to us by the atonement of Christ. I have often thought I would far rather be out of Eden and have the blood than be in Eden without it. Adam might have been there ten years, and Satan might have been there ten years, and Satan might have come and got him. But some can't see why God permitted Adam to fall. They can't begin to discern the philosophy of it. They can't see why God ever permitted original sin to come into the world. The best answer to that was given by the Reverend Andrew Bonair, who said, "It was a great deal more wonderful that God should send His Son down to bear the brunt of it." Let us thank God we have a refuge, a substitute for the sin we are groaning under.
Turn to the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. You hear a good many people saying, "I don't believe in the Old Testament, I believe in the New." My friends, both are inseparable. A scarlet thread runs through the two and binds them together. "We, like sheep, have gone astray," but "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." My friends, in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah we see it prophesied seven hundred years before it took place that He would die and be a substitute for you and me, that we might live. And now, my friends, let us accept Him. It seems base ingratitude not to praise God every hour of our lives that He has given such a Savior. Let us take time. Many a young man thinks it noble to scoff at this; I think it the basest ingratitude. This atonement is the only hope of my eternal life. Take the doctrine of substitution out of my Bible, and I would not take it home with me tonight. Let us praise God that He loved us so as to give us His only Son so that we might be saved.
I remember some years ago reading about a New York family. A young man, during the gold fever, went out to the Pacific, and left his wife and little boy. Just as soon as he was successful he was going to send money. A long time elapsed, but at last a letter came enclosing a draft, and telling his wife to come on. The woman took a passage in one of the fine steamers of the Pacific line, full of hope and joy at the prospect of soon being united to her husband. They had not been out many days when a voice went ringing through the ship, "Fire! Fire!" The pumps were set to work and the buckets were brought into operation, but the fire gained upon them. There was a powder magazine on board, and the captain ordered all the boats to be instantly lowered. He knew whenever the fire reached the powder they would all be lost. The people scrambled into the boats and the mother and boy were left on deck. As the last boat was being pushed off the woman begged to be taken in. The majority insisted the boat was too full, and wanted to push off, but one man put in a word for her, and they said they could allow one more on board, but no more. What did the mother do? Did she go on board and leave her son? No. She put her boy into that lifeboat and told him if he ever lived to see his father to tell him, "I died to save you." And the boat pulled away from that ship, and left the mother standing there. The vessel went on burning. Presently an explosion was heard, and all was buried in the ocean. Suppose that young man was here tonight. Suppose you spoke to him about the act of his mother, and he turned round and scoffed at it. "Why," you would say, "that ungrateful wretch doesn't deserve to live," and this is what you are doing. He laid down His life for you. Now will you speak contemptuously about Him? Will you speak lightly of the blood laid down on Calvary for you? Let us rather all thank God we have such a Savior. Let us live for Him when He died for us.'
Rami, I pray these words may become as real to you as they are to me.
In Christ Jesus
22nd November, 2003 - Rami replies:
As always, a very interesting perspective. Truly Thank you for putting such an effort to share your insight with me. I will spend time responding as there is quite a bit. A phone conversation would also be nice at some point. Here are a couple of bullets for the time being:
Islam, Christians and Jews: Your views on Islam towards Christians and Jews is totally inaccurate, which tells me what you speak is merely from what you've heard and NOT read. If you were to read the Quran (Open mindedly unlike the ignorant people of today, you will see the words like "There is NO compulsion in religion" and "Do not be among the agressors", which is mentioned tens of times. In other words, you can't force someone to accept you or your beliefs. However, like the Torah, the Quran does clearly show that fighting in the way of God (rightous) is permissible but again, not as an agressor towards innocent. You must know that the time of the prophet Muhammad, those who chose to believe in him were miserably persecuted by the non-believing pagans (idol-worshippers) but the early Muslims did not resist but were true "Martyrs" in their belief in one God. As there were many wars in Islam, it was not them who initiated the wars but the Pagans who wanted to fight. You go on you mention that Islam has killed Jews and speaks ill of Jews. You also, in the same breath, site the Terrorism of today as a representation of Islam. Once again David, let us seek the truth and NOTHING but the WHOLE truth. Please read the book "One Nation Under Israel" and tell me who the real terrorist are over the past 2500 years! That is another miracle of the Quran in that it mentions how the Jews will never heed God's warnings and how they have and will continue to tarnish all the greatness he has bestowed upon them. Please be cautious in how you speak because it says much about your credibility. As an FYI: Jews have lived the BEST lives under Muslim ruling (Ask the Jews who fled Christian persecution in Spain and found refuge in The Ottoman empire). Again, just siting examples of a history I encourage you to learn more about (Also see books written by Karen Armstrong). As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Is it not enough that the Jews denied Christ!? Yet, Christians find themselves aligned with Jews against Islam. It is the Muslims of today who are being attacked because of some thugs who have decided to hijack a religion to justify their murderous actions and HELL is for them (Oddly, who put these thugs into power?). Looking back in history, it was the west who dropped an atomic bomb on defensless people. Was it a Muslim who murdered millions of Jews in Germany and across Europe? Should I say Christianity condoned the genocide of those innocent who, until today, are feeling the affects of the bomb's evil. NO! So again, be cautious in the words you speak so as to avoid losing credibility. In fact, the greatest and most aweful acts of humanity in history have been in the hands of so called "Christians" NOT Muslims. In closing this point, note that when Prophet Muhammad returned to Mecca with 10,000 or so followers, they entered in peace with NO weapons and nobody touched them. He then walked into the Kaaba, destroyed the 350+ idol statues and declared Monotheism there. Again I ask you, where is the wrong?
On Christ at home: I come from a family of tolerance (No fanaticism in general). One major topic is Christ (PBUH). I know what Christ taught and we, as Muslims, must acknowledge and LOVE him for what he brought to this world (If only the Jews would accept him as the Messiah). If a Muslim refuses to speak of Christ or speaks ill of him (God forbid), there is no place for such person in God's kingdom since belief in Christ, his birth and his ascension is a part of Islam. I think the easiest things to mislead people are the MANY details in religion which put us at odds. Some are significant while others are not eternal-life threatening. I look forward to the day when the record will be made clear.
I hope to have more to you in the coming weeks. Again, thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts.
Peace be with you David and God bless.
17th January, 2004 - TCE replies:
Islam, Christians and Jews
since we have not heard from you further, we now address your last comments:
You write: Islam, Christians and Jews: Your views on Islam towards Christians and Jews is totally inaccurate, which tells me what you speak is merely from what you've heard and NOT read. If you were to read the Quran (Open mindedly unlike the ignorant people of today, you will see the words like 'There is NO compulsion in religion' and 'Do not be among the agressors', which is mentioned tens of times. In other words, you can't force someone to accept you or your beliefs. However, like the Torah, the Quran does clearly show that fighting in the way of God (rightous) is permissible but again, not as an agressor towards innocent. You must know that the time of the prophet Muhammad, those who chose to believe in him were miserably persecuted by the non-believing pagans (idol-worshippers) but the early Muslims did not resist but were true 'Martyrs' in their belief in one God. As there were many wars in Islam, it was not them who initiated the wars but the Pagans who wanted to fight.
TCE: We are well aware of the verses - and others like them - which infer that your view has always been held by the majority of Muslims. Unfortunately, history proves otherwise and your view of the origins of Islam and its attitude towards other religions is not supported by the overall record. We will refer later to the Qur'anic verses which have been quoted and used by Islam - including Muhammad - to support active, unprovoked, aggression! We have already written enough about the facts of Islam on our site and experienced the rhetoric against Jews and Christians which is the fare of many mosques around the world to this day. We wrote at:
Muhammad took the political laws which governed seventh-century Arabian tribes and made them into the laws of Allah. In such tribes the sheik, or chief, had absolute authority over those under him. There was no concept of civil or personal rights in seventh-century Arabia. The head of the tribe decided whether you lived or died. This is why dictators, or 'strong men,' who rule as despots, always inevitably rule Islamic countries. Of the 21 Arab nations, how many are democratic? Democracy has never flourished in Arab nations because of the religion of Islam. But the more 'secular' an Arab nation becomes, the more 'democratic' it becomes and highly secularised Egypt is an example of this phenomenon - and what happened to their president, Anwar Sadat, when he dared sign a 'peace treaty' with Israel in 1981? Cold blooded assassination! The English word 'assassin' is derived from the Latin word, 'assassinus', which is taken from the Arabic word, 'hashshashin' (which literally means 'smokers of hashish') and was used as a description of those Muslims who smoked the drug to whip themselves into a frenzy before killing their enemies. The word came into the English vocabulary through the Muslim sect, 'The Assassins', who believed that Allah had called them to kill infidels (unbelievers) as a sacred duty. This should not surprise us because Islam not only condones violence but commands it. Surah 9:5 states: 'Fight and slay the pagans (i.e. infidels) wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.' What are they instructed to do to people who resist Islam? Sura 5:33 is clear: 'Their punishment is ... execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides, or exile from the land.'
So many try and claim that Islam is a religion of peace while ignoring the clear evidence that terrorism is not only condoned, but a legitimate means by which it operates. Islamic scholars try and claim that Islam opposes suicide so that the terrorists cannot be Muslims at all, and they also quote a verse or two from the Qur'an, e.g.: [there is] 'no compulsion in religion' (Surah 2:256). This statement is supposed to prove the falseness of charges levelled against this 'peace-loving religion'.
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