Redemption Part 3
Thomas Fitzgerald, Bath
A previous article has pointed out that redemption is far reaching in its effects and surpasses man’s limited view of the Cross. The reader is now invited to look further into this suggestion.
First. We briefly recapitulate, in order to retain the right view-point. Adam, by his sin, lost the inheritance and dominion entrusted to him and his posterity. Satan, that old serpent, the devil, usurped the dominion and took possession of the inheritance, although ostensibly man was still in control. God allowed this state to continue in order to bring to pass His purposes of Grace toward mankind, also ultimately to bring to an end Satan's rule. God’s intention regarding man and the earth was not abandoned, else our God would be a defeated God. There was, however, no recovery possible through the first man, Adam, or any of his posterity (Psa. 49. 7-9). Mankind was under the sentence of death and in bondage to sin and Satan.
The sin of Adam presented a problem within the Triune Being of the Godhead, but all had been foreseen and provided for. On the one hand, the Moral Government of God must be upheld and His righteousness vindicated, while on the other hand, a way must be found for the manifestation of His Grace. The solution could only be found within the Godhead, if man is to be brought back into favour. The Son of God by becoming Man and making atonement by His death on the Cross, secured for Himself as Man, and for man, the rights to redeem man and the lost inheritance, and to crush the Usurper.' that same death also vindicated the righteousness of God, and satisfied the holiness of the Throne of Deity.
We must in our preaching be careful not to give occasion for misunderstanding the character and purposes of God. Do what we may, some will misunderstand God, forgetting that they do not even rightly understand their own being. There is the danger of dwelling on the severity of God, while others conceive of God as all tenderness. Both are true, but need to be held in proper balance. Dr. Henry C. Mabie relates an incident where a preacher stated, rather clumsily, a theological point which caused a thoughtful listener to wonder “if he would manage to save his God”!
This leads us to affirm that there is no support found in the Scriptures for the theory that the atoning sacrifice on the Cross was the act of a loving Son placating a vengeful Father. Both Father and Son, before ever man sinned, together planned man’s Redemption, and both Father and Son suffered in order to reconcile and save rebellious man. Who can fathom the depths of anguish which the Father suffered when from the Cross the heartrending cry rose to heaven from the lips of the “Beloved Son”—“My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27. 46) We must rid our minds of any thought of arbitrariness in God. He is a perfect, holy Being, and the Son of God, in perfect harmony as of that same Triune Being, took upon Himself the mediatorship, not for the purpose of changing the disposition of the Godhead towards man, there was no need, but to display the moral consistency of the whole Deity in the Moral Government of the Universe, of which man as a moral being is a part.
“Take God's interpretation of the Cross and you have this stupendous fact in its essential meaning. That is, only by taking the Cross in the light of God's interpretation does it become the truth that God meant it to be for Himself, for the universe, and for us. And when we take the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ that way, it is no longer an enigma turning all life and being into chaos. Nay, the Cross with the light of God shining in it is the key to history, to life, and to God.” (“The Word of the Cross.’’) We believe that, thus far, we have made it clear how far-reaching are the purposes of Redemption.
We now proceed to establish from the Scriptures the proposition, that this earth and the human race have been preserved from total destruction, under the shield of the Redemptive promise of a Kinsman-Redeemer. This is plainly seen, first of all, in the judgment of the Flood in the days of Noah. Had the whole race of mankind been then destroyed, what would have become of the germinal promise of Gen. 3. 15, the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head? Noah and his family (eight souls) were preserved and became the appointed channel through which the promised seed of the woman—the Redeemer— should come (Gen. 8. 15-22; 1 Pet. 3.20; 2 Pet. 2. 5; 3. 4-7). The subsequent history of the race reveals the utter depravity of the human heart, the abandonment of the worship of the true God, and the lapse into idolatry and all forms of filthiness and wickedness. “Man has a will that perverts his judgment, lusts that seduce his intellect. Sin indulged dulls the conscience and depraves the heart.”
If men, as responsible moral agents, persist in such a course, God as Moral Governor of His Universe, changes His method and instead of sending another Flood, He gives men up to their uncleanness, and to vile affections. Those who chose idolatry and changed the truth of God into a lie, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made (by their own hands) like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things, God, as Sovereign Ruler, gave them over to a reprobate mind (Rom. 1. 18-32). We cannot be surprised that peoples left to themselves developed corrupt forms of artificial or fictitious religions, for man, however depraved and wherever found, is by nature religious. A profound thinker lias stated truly that, “religion is as natural as sight, or hearing, or speech—as natural because as native and as essential to his nature.” Man started with the knowledge of God (Rom. 1. 21). How offensive to the Majesty and glory of a Holy God, Maker of heaven and earth, to be likened by His creature man to grotesque and corrupt forms, “which see not, nor hear, nor know”! (Dan. 5. 23).
The foremost peoples and Empires of the ancient past, with their false religions and idolatrous worship, through internal corruption have passed away. Gibbon traces the Decline and Fall of the mighty Empire of Rome to internal corruption. Yet it remains true that the earth and the race continue under the shield of the promised Redeemer. Hence the national religions which have existed until this present time, bound in the iron grip of their national customs, laws and manners, with their distinctive social, political and religious order, these, through the long- suffering of God, are permitted to continue, shielded from the righteous judgment of the Moral Governor of the Universe under the Redemptive promise of Gen. 3. 15, and included in the Risen, Conquering Redeemer's Commission to His disciples, “And Jesus came unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the leather, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (or Age). Amen” (Matt. 28. 18-20).
In face of this plain command and promise the present spiritual condition of the world needs to be explained. The next article will attempt an answer.