Christology is the study of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. And within that realm of study, one goes to the “crux” of the matter, so to speak. The word crux has its root in the Latin word for “cross,” because the message of the cross is at the very core and center of biblical Christianity. For it was there that propitiation (satisfaction) was made on behalf of God’s people, which was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Verse 11 even conveyed how God would be satisfied with what the coming Messiah would accomplish.
At the cross, all the offices of Christ became clear and fully formed (crystallized), including His unchangeable priesthood. Apart from what He actually accomplished at the cross, there would be no good news, no propitiation, no reconciliation, no resurrection, no intercession, no justification, no redemption, no perpetual priesthood, no throne of grace, and no hope of new heavens and a new earth.
This is why Arminian theology, with its “hypothetical, universal atonement,” is so blasphemous, for it implies that everyone has been “hypothetically” redeemed and purchased by Jesus’ blood, but that they can still be tossed into Hell as worthless if they don’t make His atonement effectual by their own works or by exercising their own “libertarian freewill consent.”
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith [H]e was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29, brackets added).
Although many Arminians will claim to believe in substitutionary atonement, they betray their claim when they are unable to explain exactly who Jesus was being a substitute for, because if they were consistent with their theology then they’d have to admit that His atonement never secured the salvation of anyone. In other words, they’d have to admit that it accomplished nothing, except to create an abstract “possibility” that they might save themselves if they would only “activate” it somehow.
The implications of Arminianism not only denies the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 (including verse 11), but it also dislocates the whole meaning of the eternal plan of redemption and obstructs a clear view of the eternal purposes of God that were revealed at the cross, for the blood that was shed there by the great Shepherd of the sheep, was the blood of the everlasting covenant (Heb. 13:20). Jesus’ blood effectually sealed and fulfilled the New Covenant, in order to “save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21).
No wonder Apostle Paul could say, “I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8). Because to know Christ in His Person, and to know Him by His work, constitutes the sum and substance of divine knowledge, for it is upon this solid Rock alone, that the church of the living God is built.
All the spiritual blessings that are found in Christ are grounded upon the validity of His sufferings. Christ is now in the presence of the Father, effectively pleading His finished work on the cross, on behalf of all those He died for, because His unfailing intercession for them is grounded upon the merits of the pure and efficacious blood that He shed there.
Jesus sanctified Himself so that they too would be sanctified (Jn. 17:19). Jesus’ own blood made way for His entrance into the Holiest of all, as their High Priest (Heb. 9:8, 24), where He pleads the precious value of His blood on their behalf, which is why they can approach the throne of grace, because their acceptance in the Beloved (Who was their substitute, Eph. 1:6) is grounded upon the fulfillment of divine justice, merited by Jesus’ blood, NOT by their own works, or their own “freewill” act of authorization.
“[B]y His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12, brackets added).
The Apostle tells us, “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11). For it was laid not by man, but by God, in the eternal counsels of the Godhead. So those who attempt to substitute this great truth with the weak fabric of human philosophy are laboring in vain. Because our “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).
Christians must be well-grounded in the knowledge of Who Christ really is, and how He justifies sinners. Because when a system claims to be Christian but doesn’t have the doctrine of Christ, (the truth about the work and Person of Jesus Christ), it doesn’t have the true God and Savior, but rather falls under the condemnation of 2 John 7-11 as being a deceiver and an anti-Christ.
This is why the inconsistent perplexities of Arminian-based theology, science, philosophy, social reforms and human philanthropies only swerve people away from the gospel with profane and vain babblings. But Christ is the light of the world that scatters such darkness away, which is why battles against such earthly schemes of man’s advancement can only be fought with the doctrines of the divine Savior.
Apostle Paul never utilized the rhetorical persuasion of humanistic philosophy, for he renounced such worldly wisdom and “excellency of speech.” He never promoted social reforms, political discourses, sermons on patriotism or any other popular and sensational topics that the polished people of his day would have applauded. Like today, many were prejudiced against God’s sovereign supremacy and “spent their time in nothing else but either to hear or tell some new thing” (Acts 17:21), but Paul refused to cater to them, for he never descended to any other theme than Christ and His atoning work.
As Christians, we too must stand firm and labor until we die, resolving always and everywhere to determine to know nothing among men, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). By the grace of God, with an eye single to Jesus’ glory, we must keep our heart and mind steeped in His Word so that all of our endeavors converge to the developing of this central truth. Because if it wasn’t for the life that Jesus laid down for our sins, and the life that He took back up again for our justification, there would be no substitutionary atonement, no Christianity, and no Savior.
“Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).
Jesus’ two-part propitiation fully satisfied divine justice, so that His perfect righteousness is imputed to all who have faith in His blood!!
“Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood” (Rom. 3:25).
Jesus’ resurrection from the dead PROVED that God the Father cancelled and discharged all of the sins that Jesus bore on the cross, on behalf of all who were given to Him as a love gift from the Father (e.g. Psa. 2:8). His resurrection PROVED that His propitiation at the cross was completely successful on behalf of all those whom He stood in relation to by an everlasting covenant; all those that He was united to by the eternal decree of the Father, before the foundation of the world (Jn. 13:1; Eph. 1:4; Rev. 13:8, 17:8). Because the blood that Jesus shed was…the blood of the everlasting covenant!!
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20).
The fact that Jesus is alive forevermore, PROVES that His atonement was definite, substitutionary and propitiatory, NOT universal or hypothetical, for it actually and effectually sealed the everlasting covenant with His people. It victoriously appeased and satisfied God’s holy wrath and reconciled them back to the Father, which was the whole purpose of Jesus’ incarnation in the first place (Mt. 1:21), in order to manifest His everlasting love, His perfect righteousness and the praise of His glorious grace.
Because He lives, it PROVES that all who put their faith in Christ alone have been “sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13), because Jesus’ perfect atoning sacrifice was accepted by the Father on their behalf, so that all who come to God by Jesus Christ shall be saved to the uttermost!!
“Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).
To the praise of God’s glorious grace, it is truly amazing what Jesus actually accomplished by His death, burial and resurrection to secure the eternal plan of redemption, by which God determined to save, through Christ, sinners whom He has chosen, and how glorious and beautiful it is that He freely bestows the grace necessary for them to respond in faith and repentance.
This is why Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the very heart of the gospel. For in virtue of His victory, He fulfilled the demands of God’s holiness and justice, so that all who come to Him shall receive God’s mercy and grace; so that they may certainly “know Him, and the power of His resurrection” (Phil. 3:10).
Copyright © 2021 by Lee Anne Ferguson