Response to Quotes in the Book, Confrontation
I read the book called “Confrontation.” How do you understand the following statement: “The Majesty of heaven, through love and pity for fallen man, proposed to become his substitute and surety. He would bear man’s guilt. He would take the wrath of His Father upon Himself, which otherwise would have fallen upon man because of his disobedience.
The law of God was unalterable. It could not be abolished, nor yield the smallest part of its claim, to meet man in his fallen state.” Confrontation p. 16
A second person wrote:
I am wondering if you have more information and maybe an explanation on the Study Guide quote on page 70 [for] Friday, November 21, 2008. “Christ’s work was to reconcile man to God through His human nature, and God to man through His divine nature” Confrontation. p. 38
I have a problem with the last part of the sentence.
To E let me say, please reread my post from last week entitled Christ Our Substitute.
Christ did become mankind’s substitute when He took upon Himself the responsibility to, in His humanity, complete the mission Adam was created to fulfill – reveal the truth about God, and when He reversed all the damage that sin had caused humanity. He overcame the infection of fear and selfishness (sin) and restored God’s love perfectly into humanity. He is now the source of salvation to all who obey Him (Heb 5:8). Bearing man’s guilt is the same as taking our condition, our situation, our position, our infirmity, our terminal condition, our sick state (Isa 53:4). Christ took our place for the purpose of curing our condition.
The wrath of God is described throughout the Bible. In Romans 1:18 Paul says “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” The Greek in this text is active present-tense, as in today, in Paul’s day, not one day in the future at the end of time. The wrath of God was happening in Paul’s day and Paul tells us in verses 24, 26, and 28 what God’s wrath actually is. He states, because of their persistent rejection of truth, because of their refusal to open their hearts, God “let’s them go” and “gives them up” to reap what they have chosen. God’s wrath is the act of giving up on them, stopping His passionate pursuit for their salvation. It is Love relinquishing His lover to her self-destructive choice (for more Bible examples of God’s wrath see my blog, The Question of Punishment Part 2).
When we understand wrath correctly, then we can see that the wrath of the Father fell on His Son when the Father “gave up” Christ at the Cross. “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me.” This letting go, this giving up to reap what one has ultimately chosen, is God’s wrath. Paul confirms this in Romans 4:25 when he uses the exact same Greek word to describe God’s action toward Christ as he did in chapter 1:24,26,28 to describe God’s action toward the unrepentant. Christ was “let go” by God to experience what Christ had chosen, to be our Savior, to overcome selfishness with love, to go through the Cross! And because of Christ, our condition now has a remedy. We can be cured and therefore God will not “let go” anyone who accepts Christ’s victory in their life!
The reason God’s law could not be altered is because the law of love is the template, the base code, the operating system, the life principle that all life is designed, created, and built to operate upon. There is no other way for life to exist in God’s universe. To change the law would be to kill everything in the universe, thus the law cannot change. Humanity’s operating system, our character, and our methods, motives, and principles must be brought back into harmony with the law of love. This is what Christ did for us!
To H, thanks for your question.
Regarding reconciliation, Christ came to restore mankind back into God’s original ideal and thus reunite mankind with God. This is what I believe the author meant in the first part of the quote where Christ reconciled man to God in His human nature.
I understand the last part of the quote to mean that in Christ, God’s divine nature was united with humanity, thus bringing God to man, because man could not get to God. Remember the old song, “He came down to my level because I couldn’t get up to His”? I believe the author in this passage is referring to Christ bringing God’s very nature to humanity, because we couldn’t, in our fallen state, reach or unify ourselves to God.
Any idea or teaching that Christ was “working on the Father” to influence Him, to assuage the wrath of the Father, and to get the Father to be forgiving etc. is not supported by the Bible. Thus, the author, if understood to be in harmony with the Bible, cannot be suggesting any type of appeasement, expiation, or action Christ took in the past, present, or future that in any way changes God.
Bible evidence to support this would include:
- Jesus will not pray (ask) His Father for us, because the Father Himself loves us. John 16:26
- God is for us, God justifies us, and if this isn’t good enough, don’t worry… Christ, in addition to the Father, is interceding for us. Romans 8:31-34
- Jesus is an exact representation of the Father. Hebrews 1:3
- God loved us so much They (all three) initiated the plan of salvation. John 3:16
In summary, Jesus is the member of the Godhead through whom God could reach mankind with His saving love. Jesus was the means through whom God could reveal the truth about Himself in order to win us back to trust. And further, Jesus was the means through whom God restored His law of love back into the human species, thus saving, healing, recreating, and redeeming this creation!