Evangelical Protestantism and the Biblical Studies of M.Godet: Part 5

(Concluded from p. 268.)
THEN (pp. 176, 178, 179) “What God required was not the satisfaction of His rights by shedding torrents of blood; it was the revelation of that right to human conscience which ignored it; it was the acquiescence granted to that right by that very conscience.” “God demonstrated that great principle, that whosoever rebelled against God is worthy of death.” Then “the very fact of redemption proves that what God sought has been, not the most, but, on the contrary, the least, shedding of blood, provided the same moral effect be produced. One man sufficed Him, in the bloody death of whom He has ostensibly manifested that which in reality had been merited by all; of one victim, at the sight of whom all others could say, that is the treatment which I had acquired for myself.” It was also, “first, the revelation of God's right on guilty humanity; secondly, the recognition of that right by that humanity itself.” Then (p. 182), “There a reparation, without default has been offered. The most bitter death has been accepted as the just chastisement of sin, the right which God possesses to inflict such a punishment on man, has been acknowledged without reserve. ‘Righteous Father,' exclaimed the dying Son, in the last prayer He uttered with His own.” Also (p. 192), “It was not a compensation for injustice, but a revelation presented to all of what all would have deserved to suffer, and what all they will truly suffer whom the spectacle of that expiation will not bring back repentant and believing to God.” And again (p. 182), “The demonstration of righteousness which God desired to give the world has then in this case attained the character of absolute perfection. To the adequate nature of the inflicted punishment has been added the full acquiescence of Him who consented to endure it.” After that (p. 185), our faith gives also our acquiescence, in acknowledging that it is we who deserve the chastisement. “It is by faith that this association of individuals, in the reparation wrought by Christ, takes place.”
There are many other things to notice; but, first, if bodily death be the punishment, and God be satisfied with that which Jesus has done, why should we die? Then, if bodily death be all, then all pay already down here the penalty of their sin, be they penitents or not. That death, says M. Godet, was the adequate nature of the inflicted punishment. The demonstration of righteousness has attained the character of an absolute perfection.
Why then must I myself, if the Savior does not come in time to spare me this bodily death, undergo the full consequences of my sin, that same thing which God has already done? Such are the results of human wisdom.
Then, if I myself die, acknowledging that I have merited it, why needed it that Christ should have died? It will be said, Christ could adequately recognize it. But if it be but the death common to all, which is the wages of sin, and if I recognize that I have merited death, I recognize it adequately; then, morally in sight of the cross, I am no more advanced as regards this than otherwise. I only recognize it in proportion to my own faith, even if Christ died for me. And why, if some one had fulfilled the career of holiness, would he not also make expiation? Nothing prevents it according to M. Godet's system. That is not all by any means. That death is the wages of sin is quite true, but it is quite another thing to understand it, as though it signified that bodily death (natural, if you will) is ALL the wages of sin. That is so far from being true, that the full effect of judgment overtakes sinners after their resurrection, when death will no longer exist. “It is reserved unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.” They must rise again for that judgment; I speak of the wicked. And when the well-beloved Savior said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” this was not death. When that took place, He peacefully. resigned His spirit into His Father's hands.
That which M. Godet tells us of the propitiation is equally false (p. 184, lines 17 to 19), that faith is needed to render a victim propitiatory. The word in Greek is not propitiation, nor propitiatory victim. M. Godet adds. “victim.” Christ, in Rom. 3:2424Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (Romans 3:24), is a “mercy-seat” (the place where God is accessible) “through faith in his blood.” But He is the propitiation for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:22And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2).) The righteousness of God is now manifested to the world, in that Christ has gone to His Father, and the world sees Him no more. (John 16)
We read again (p. 185), “Nor has He accomplished this expiatory act, in which the treatment which the sinful world deserved was manifested, with the object of dispensing, as from offering to God, the reparation which we owed Him.” What is the reparation we owe Him for sin? From beginning to end it is M. Godet's gospel, not that of the word of God— “which is not another.”
I shall not occupy myself with M. Godet's other interpretations; I do not accept them, neither his two justifications, nor the subsequent loss of those who have been once justified; for the apostle says, “whom he justified, them he also glorified.” I might have taken up a, mass of things which I believe to be anti-scriptural, a crowd of entirely false interpretations. But I will not mix these things with the foundation of the truth of the gospel of God. The gospel, and the revelation of God in Christ, that of the Father in the Son, have disappeared, as well as the cup which an infinitely precious Savior had to drink for us. It is this that makes me speak. M. Godet tells us that the Savior comes ever since He went up. My pen, but for that, might remain dormant. But if another Christ than the true one is presented to souls, and another expiation than the true one as revealed to It by the word, and if this be done under the banner of orthodoxy, this concerns all the world.
M. Godet's system is the re-establishment of the first man, not the introduction of the Second Man. The first man is not only a sinner, but he is lost and condemned. God has for our instruction used every means in His power to try if man could be restored. Left without law, the world had to be destroyed. The law having been given, man could not keep it; his flesh cannot submit to it. God sends the prophets: man persecutes and kills them. God then says, “I have yet my Son.” He comes, and binds the strong man; He manifests a power sufficing to remove all the consequences of sin. But God's presence having been then and thus manifested, man would not have it. Sin, enmity against God there in goodness, manifest themselves to the utmost degree; man crucifies the Son of God; they had seen and hated both Him and His Father. From that time the history of man in the flesh was closed: “Now is the judgment of this world,” says the Savior. The fig-tree, man under God's special care, is condemned, never again to bear fruit. Stephen sums up his history. (Acts 7) The law violated; the prophets persecuted and killed; the Just One betrayed and put to death; the resistance of the Holy Ghost: such is man in the flesh. Nevertheless man's sin only brought about the accomplishment of God's counsels. Christ was made sin for us; there He glorified God, and faith can say, “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree.” “He hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling.”
Born of the Spirit, Christ being our life, we count that we are dead to sin. Our bodies being the temples of the Holy Spirit, we live from the life of the risen Christ, whilst waiting till He comes to take us to Himself in the glory (not to be man—God, like Himself, but) to be in the same glory, so near Him as to adore Him with the knowledge of what He is, and what He has done; not “restored,” but saved and glorified, not merely by the death of a holy man, as though that were all; but saved from the second death, from eternal torments, by Him who, upon the cross, ere He died, was forsaken by God that we might be brought to and ever with Him. He was far from being “the object of the displeasure and reprobation of God” (p. 190). Never was His obedience so pleasing. “On this account the Father loveth me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.” But this does not prevent that He drank the cup given by His Father, and that He bore in His soul the consequence of our sin.
I have finished. I will only direct the attention of him who reads these pages to the uncertainty and the ambiguity of M. Godet's expressions. I will quote but two examples. “The true meaning of history since Christ's appearing is expressed by ‘that which is born of the Spirit is spirit’” The history of what? And again: “Christ has re-established fallen humanity.” What is re-established? Has man ceased to be a sinner? Is he reconciled to God? J. N. D.