Salvation and Atonement

Table of Contents

1. Salvation and Atonement: Part 1
2. Salvation and Atonement: Part 2

Salvation and Atonement: Part 1

We are all learners, if indeed we have a teachable spirit, and any progress in the knowledge of what the word of God contains is only an approximation to a fuller comprehension of the truth, which was taught by the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. More than what was then taught we cannot look to know. All progress in the apprehension of truth since their day is only a recovery in measure, of what was then set forth. For all the truth that we have, we are indebted of course to God's grace; and how has grace been manifested in recovering for the saints truth after truth during the past three hundred years! Bearing then in mind it is wholly of grace that truth forgotten has been in any measure recovered, none of us have anything to boast of. So if one sees any mistake in the teaching of another, or a want of clearness in the apprehension of parts of divine revelation, it becomes us, as we point such out, to remember in what darkness and ignorance we were formerly ourselves. It is in this spirit that we would comment on some statements in the Pietisten," by Dr. Waldenström, for September, 1881.
To be saved, to be redeemed, to be reconciled (Swedish försonas), he writes, all mean the same thing seen from different sides. Salvation actually is man's försoning with God. (§ 710.) "Against all such wrong ideas the scripture teaches us that no change took place in God's disposition towards man consequent on man's sin; that it was therefore not God that needed to be reconciled (försonas) to man, but man that needed to be reconciled to God, and that as a result thereof the atonement (försinengen), or reconciliation is a work that starts from God, and is directed towards man, and has for its object, not to appease Him, but to cleanse man from sin, and place him again in a right relationship to God." (§ 716.)
Now in treating of truth it is important to get a clear understanding of the meaning of scripture terms, To "save," "redeem," "reconcile," all describe acts on the part of God towards, or for man. The “Savior," the "Redeemer," the "Reconciler" is God, or the Lord Jesus Christ. The "saved," the "redeemed," the "reconciled," are men. But these terms do not convey the same meaning. Lost ones are saved. (Luke 19:10.) Enemies are reconciled. (Rom. 5:10.) Those needing a ransom by blood are redeemed (Eph. 1:7), whilst awaiting the redemption of their bodies in the future.
Of salvation we read that it is deliverance from God's wrath, which has not yet been poured out, (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10.) It is of grace through faith, and the gift of God. (Eph. 2:5-8.) It is offered to all who enter in by Christ the door (John 10:9), and by Him only. (Acts 4:12.) It is for sinners, for the lost who are dead in trespasses and sins (1 Tim. 1:15; Luke 15; 19:10; Eph. 2), who receive the word of salvation (Acts 13:26; 1 Cor. 15:2; Acts 11:14; 1 Thess. 2:16), believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31; 1 Cor. 1:21), and call on the name of the Lord (Acts 2:21; Rom. 10:9-13.) Thus believing they have the salvation now of their souls (1 Peter 1:9), whilst awaiting full deliverance, which is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:5.) All, then, having been done which God required for Him righteously to save ungodly ones who believe on His Son, the salvation being ready to be revealed we wait for it. So we are saved in hope (Rom. 8:24), and shall be saved, that is, be brought through all troubles by the power of Christ's life, ἐν τῇ ξωῇ αὐτοῦ. (Rom. 5:10.) Meanwhile, we are to grow by the word unto salvation. (1 Peter 2:2.) God, then, has come out to us in the character of Savior (1 Tim.; Titus), the Lord Jesus Christ being Himself our Savior, and what is offered to all who will hear it is the salvation of God. (Acts 28:28.)
Of reconciliation we learn that it had for its object to remove the enmity of man's heart to God. God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. But when men, instead of being reconciled, crucified His Son, God raised up a ministry of reconciliation, and provided the message to draw alienated hearts to Himself. (2 Cor. 5:18-21.) This act on the part of God has not been without effect. Some have been reconciled to Him, and that by the death of His Son. (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21,22.)
By redemption, as treated of in the New Testament, we are reminded of a ransom, in virtue of which those who benefit by it have entered on a change of condition, being redeemed by the blood of Christ. A drowning man, pulled out of the water, would be a saved man; a slave set free from slavery by a ransom would be a redeemed one. Salvation reminds us of a change of state, and recalls to us from what we are delivered. Reconciliation speaks of a change of feeling in man's heart towards God. Sometime enemies, by wicked works, but now reconciled to and by God in the body of Christ's flesh through death. To be saved, to be reconciled, to be redeemed are then far from meaning the same thing, though equally applying to believers who share in that of which they speak. Nor can it be admitted that salvation is man's försoning with God; for salvation and reconciliation are quite distinct- a change of state and a change of feeling are not at all the same, though man is the subject of both.
But försoning is also the Swedish term for atonement, and for propitiation. Now salvation, atonement, and propitiation are to be distinguished. Of salvation man is the subject, his welfare is the object. In atonement, God's holiness and righteousness, as well as the sinner's need, that he may stand in acceptance before the throne, are all fully cared for. This is plainly declared in the Old Testament. Salvation was known by Israel before the question of atonement was brought before them. "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord," was the word of Moses to Israel on the western shore of the Red Sea. (Ex. 14:13.) They learned what that salvation was when they stood on the opposite coast. " The Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation," were the words of Moses and of the children of Israel on that eventful morning, as they saw the—Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. (Ex. 15:2.) " The Lord," we read, "saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians." (Ex. 14:30.) Then, for the first time, was God's salvation to them displayed and known. But atonement was not spoken of till they reached Sinai. (Ex. 29:36.) God first told them of salvation (Ex. 14:13), as He had of redemption. (Ex. 6:6.) God, too, first taught them the need of atonement; and He who spoke of these things, in His grace provided them all; and in the way that He spoke of them, and gave His people to participate in the results of them, He made it very plain how different they were.
For atonement by blood an altar is wanted, and a sanctuary, and a high priest to make it. No priesthood was needed, either for salvation or redemption to be enjoyed by the earthly people. For atonement to be made it was otherwise, for that involves both propitiation and substitution, integral parts of atonement, as Lev. 16 sets forth. In no sense, then, is salvation man's forsoning with God. The försoning is the result of it. Salvation, too, is widely different from reconciliation. It is clearly distinguished in the word, as we have seen, from atonement, and hence from propitiation. In truth, atonement is needed for us to enjoy salvation.
But what are we to understand by atonement? some may inquire. Let scripture provide us with the answer. In the New Testament the term does not really occur. In the Old it is frequently to be met with; a reason for this it is not difficult to discern. The term is really a complex one, embracing more than one idea, namely, the death of the victim, propitiation by blood, sin-bearing, and the enduring the judgment of God. These, all comprised under the one term כִּפֶּרִים in the Old Testament, are spoken of as distinct truths in the New Testament. (John 3:14,15; 1 John 4:10;2:2; Heb. 2:17; 9:28; Rom. 4:25; 1 Peter 2:24;3:18.) By salvation deliverance is effected. By atonement the question of guilt and the dealing with sins is settled with God. Salvation tells us of the love and power exercised towards those who are the subjects of it. Atonement reminds us of propitiation made by blood to meet and maintain the holiness and righteousness of God, that He might be just, and the justifier of ungodly ones who are of the faith of Jesus. Also it tells us of the sins of guilty ones carried away never to come back, and of divine judgment borne by a sinless victim on their behalf and in their stead. In this work the guilty ones who profit by it have no actual part. It has been done by the High Priest for them. And since the Lord Jesus Christ has risen, we can say, it is all settled between God and Him for all those who believe on Him.
Very plain, then, it is that in no sense, we must repeat it, is salvation man's forsoning with God. It is important to be clear on this; and till the difference between salvation, reconciliation, redemption, and atonement is perceived, the teaching on such subjects cannot be clear. Nor whilst the same term forsonas is used for reconciliation, propitiation, and atonement, will the truth be made plain.
It is true God did not need to be reconciled to man, but man to God; yet, had there been no atonement provided by God, there would have been no reconciliation by the death of His Son. It is likewise true that no change took place in God's heart towards man consequent on the fall, but God's ways with man did necessarily change. He drove him out of paradise, and man could never afterward approach Him acceptably except on the ground of sacrifice. Death must take place ere a guilty creature can draw nigh to God to be accepted by Him. But more than death is wanted for that; and this God delineated in type, and made good by the sacrifice of His Son. Hence the institution of sacrifice by God, which witnessed that no change had taken place in His love toward man, though His ways with man had changed, because, though unchangeable in love, He is equally unchangeable in holiness. It is true, too, that atonement had not for its object to appease God, nevertheless, it was absolutely requisite ere God could receive in righteousness fallen creatures before Him If atonement, then, was called for, propitiation and substitution, which are integral parts of it, were clearly needed. So whilst salvation, reconciliation, and redemption tell of the activity of God in love to sinners, none of them, nor all of them together, can provide the ground on which He can be manifested as righteous in justifying ungodly ones without compromising one iota of His holiness. Atonement alone provides this. All that He is, as holy and righteous, is fully met by the blood on the mercy-seat, and the sins of His people having been laid on the head of the Substitute and carried away, God can righteously proclaim full forgiveness of them all.
God's wrath rests on the unbeliever. (John 3:36.) We were all by nature children of wrath (Eph. 2:3), and God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18); and it will be poured out in a day that is surely coming- the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Rom. 2:5.) That we all deserved it is true. How, then, can any escape it? How can we escape? Who shall answer that question but God? That a guilty creature needs forgiveness we can all understand. And through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true sin-offering that is provided, as He Himself declared on the day He rose from the dead. (Luke 24:47.) But that is not all. Cleansing the sinner was not all that was requisite. God's wrath was righteously deserved. How could that be stayed? God's holiness, too, required to be maintained. Let us see what scripture can teach us on these two heads.
And first as to a sacrifice restraining the just outflow of divine wrath. Comparatively early in the world's history did God teach that. Before the law was given He had Himself declared it, when He addressed Eliphaz, Job's friend, as recorded in Job 42:7,8. We quote the passage, "And it was so that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right as my servant Job hath. Therefore, take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer for yourselves a burnt-offering, and my servant Job shall pray for you, for him will I accept, lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant, Job." The need and the efficacy of a sacrifice to turn aside the wrath of God is here plainly stated. Death must take place for that to be effected; and the offering was by God's appointment to be a burnt-offering, which, as we learn by the law subsequently given, could not be offered apart from the thought of atonement. (Lev. 1:4.) It is not here the cleansing of a sinner from his sins that is spoken of, but the turning aside of divine wrath from the proper objects of it, wrath already kindled, but which was stayed. For Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar did as the Lord commanded them, and the Lord accepted Job. We know of what those sacrifices were types. The death of the Lord Jesus Christ, then, was really required for God to act in grace and mercy to Job's three friends. In truth none of us can rightly measure the guilt of sin, and really understand, unless taught of God, what is wanted to meet His holiness and to maintain, unsullied, His righteousness. A sacrifice then can shield a person from wrath, and it is requisite for that purpose. It can also arrest the further outflow of divine vengeance, as David learned at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite. The Lord in mercy had arrested the arm of the destroying angel uplifted to smite Jerusalem; but the angel's sword was sheathed only when the offerings had been offered on the altar erected by David that day. (2 Sam. 24:25; 1 Chron. 21:26,27)
Further, on the ground of sacrifice, God's way of dealing with His fallen guilty creatures can righteously change. The story of Noah's burnt offering illustrates this. The flood had swept away the old world, leaving only those alive who had been preserved through it in the ark. Still man was not changed. He was not improved. So as far as he was concerned, if it was righteous to cut off men by the flood, it would have been equally righteous to have dealt in judgment still. There was nothing in man which could plead for grace, or claim a blessing from the Creator. The Lord tells us, most plainly, what He saw man to be after the flood (Gen. 8:21)- morally no better than he was before it. How ingrained is the taint of the fall! The flesh is unchanged and unchangeable. Yet God could do, and did by virtue of the burnt offering, what He had never done, that we read of, since the fall; He blessed His fallen creatures, and blessed them as regards earth in one way more fully than He had blessed Adam in innocence, in that He gave them everything on earth for food, which He had never done before.
But more. As in the case of Job's friends, so in that of Eli's house, we are reminded that sacrifice is indispensable for divine judgment to be averted. "I have told him," said the Lord to Samuel, "that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore have I sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever." (1 Sam. 3:13,14.) That guilt should not be purged, לאיחְכַּפֵך or atoned for, by sacrifice forever. Nothing else can deal with the question of guilt, and avert the deserved judgment. Job's friends profited by the sacrifice. Eli's sons could not. But in both cases we learn that it is by sacrifice that divine judgment is averted. God's wrath must be averted. For that atonement is requisite. It is love which provides the sacrifice. It is holiness and righteousness which demand it. Atonement is needed.
What then shall we say to such a statement as the following; "There is not a single passage in the Bible which sets forth the forsoning as having its ground in this, that God's righteousness needed a vindication." (§ 720.) It is true "we must allow our heavenly Father to be as good as He says He is" (§ 719); but we must also allow that He is holy as He says He is. "I am holy," is His own word. Scripture has plainly taught us that His wrath can be stayed from breaking forth against those who deserve it, if the appointed sacrifice is offered up. We have also seen that the remainder of wrath can be restrained by virtue of sacrifice; and further that God can bless sinful creatures on that same ground. What, too, kept the destroying angel from entering the houses of the Israelites? The blood on the door-posts, the witness that life had been given up. "When I see the blood I will pass over you." God was dealing in judgment, and every house not sheltered by the blood would be visited by the angel of death. Yet those cut off were not really worse than the first-born of the Israelites who were spared. The blood on the door-posts proclaimed that there was no difference morally between them. But being there the angel was kept out. Jehovah passed over that house. It was love surely that provided the way of escape, but only in perfect consistency with God's righteousness. The love was seen in appointing a way of escape, and in telling the Israelites about it. Righteousness was displayed both in visiting each house that was not thus protected, and in shielding each family from the loss of their firstborn, who had, in faith in the divine word, put the blood on the door-post outside. Thus God's righteousness was seen displayed in a somewhat similar manner to that of which Rom. 3 speaks. He is righteous in taking vengeance (ver. 5) as He did that night. He is righteous in sheltering from it all who make use of the divinely appointed way of escape. The teaching of scripture is clearly opposed to the statement of Dr. Waldenstrom, which we have quoted above.
One more instance will suffice. We read in Numbers 9:13, where the observance of the passover is made incumbent on all the people, that " the man that is clean, and is not in a journey, and forbeareth to keep the passover, even the same soul shall be cut off from among his people: because he brought not the offering of the Lord in his appointed season, that man shall bear his sin."If he duly kept the passover it would be well with him, in that case he would bring the offering of the Lord. If on the other hand he did not keep it, he would be amenable to divine judgment. He did not keep the passover because he had sinned. Yet by keeping it he would be saved from the threatened judgment, a judgment he would undoubtedly deserve, if he brought not the offering of the Lord. Now if cut off, would it have been the activity of divine love which did it, or would it have been an act of God in righteousness? Was it love that demanded the transgressor's death, or righteousness? It was love which warned him of his danger, that righteousness should not have to be vindicated by dealing with him in judgment. God then may have to act in righteousness, and deal with people in judgment.
(To be continued, the Lord willing.) C. E. S.

Salvation and Atonement: Part 2

Remarks on an Article in the Swedish Magazine "Pietisten," for September, 1881
But, says Dr. W.: God's wrath is not appeased through the death of Christ. (§ 728.) True, as to any outflow of it against the impenitent. Yet by sacrifice God's wrath can be turned from objects of it, as Job's friends proved, and as the godly in Israel will by-and-by declare, " Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me." (Isa. 12:1.) Deliverance from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10) shows that God's wrath will yet be poured out; the death of Christ has not dried it up. But that wrath is turned away from those who believe on Him. For believing on Him now answers to the bringing the offering of the Lord under the law. The man who brought it when needful was preserved from the threatened visitation of divine judgment. The one who now believes on the Lord Jesus Christ shall not come into judgment.
Nor is this all that is effected by sacrifice, for God's holiness is met and maintained by it. Now that had to be cared for, as well as His righteousness to be vindicated. The Lord would purge His camp of old from the presence of every leper, and of every one that had an issue, or who was defiled by the dead, that they should not defile their camps in the midst whereof He dwelt. (Num. 5:3,4.) Besides this, He provided that by sacrifice the person should be cleansed from the defilement attaching to him. Turning to Lev. 15 we read of certain defilements, and of the sacrifices to be brought in consequence (Lev. 15:14, 15, 29, 30) to make atonement for the person, God by this providing that death should not be meted out to him. "Thus," we read, "shall ye separate the children of Israel from their uncleanness, that they die not in their uncleanness, when they defile my tabernacle that is among them." (Lev. 15:31.) Similarly we read in Num. 19:20, "But the man that shall be unclean, and shall not purify himself, that soul shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he hath defiled the sanctuary of the Lord: the water of separation hath not been sprinkled upon him, he is unclean." The man or the woman could not help being defiled by the issue. (Lev. 15) The man, too, might only have been doing his duty in touching a dead body. He clearly was not breaking any law, if he carried out the body of one who had died in the tent; but he would have defiled the sanctuary of the Lord, if he had not made use of the appointed ritual, to which the holiness of God necessitated his conformity on pain of death. Thus the uncleanness was met by sacrifice directly as in Lev. 15, or indirectly as in Num. 19. Death had to take place in either case for the defiled one to be made clean, otherwise the defilement could not be put away. And because by his presence, if he availed not himself of God's gracious provision, he defiled the sanctuary, death was the portion, to be meted out to him. In these cases it is plainly seen that God's holiness had to be thought of as well as the sinner's forgiveness, and by the death of a sacrificial victim only could divine holiness be fully cared for, and perfectly maintained. For atonement, be it remembered, was required because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, as well as because of their transgressions in all their sins. (Lev. 16:16.)
Clearly then there were other issues to be met by atonement than "the cleansing man from sin, and placing him again in a right relationship to God." (§ 716.) To confine the scope of atonement to the sinners wants as these words of Dr. Waldenstrom clearly do, is to present a very defective view of what is effected by it. The man who refused to use the water of separation defiled God's sanctuary. The person unclean by an issue, would, if he were disobedient to the divine word, defile God's tabernacle. In God's eye then there was another question raised besides the person's uncleanness, and that question was nothing less than His own holiness. His tabernacle, His sanctuary was defiled, if the person refused to conform to the ritual appointed for him. Now that ritual was based on death. The person who was rendered unclean, brought a sin offering and a burnt offering to make atonement for himself in Lev. 15 The one defiled by the dead, profited by the water of separation, prepared by being mixed with the ashes of the burnt heifer. (Num. 19) Death, as seen in Lev. 15, the bearing divine judgment, as well as the dealing with the blood were all requisite for the unclean persons not to defile the sanctuary of Jehovah. Not, be it remembered, that the one unclean defiled the sanctuary by his presence within it, for unless he was one of the tribe of Levi he could never set his foot inside it; yet the sanctuary would be defiled, if one such person was allowed in the camp.
God, then, has provided atonement by which His holiness and righteousness are maintained, and the sins of the guilty can be put away. But what moved Him to do this? He has told us. It was love, "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10.)" Again, "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, bath quickened us together with Christ." (Eph. 2:4, 5.) He loved because He loved, as He told Israel. (Deut. 7:7, 8.) His love, it is true, did not need any forsoning (§ 718), for He is love. But He did not love because it is righteous to love, as Dr. W. states. (§ 720.) "It is righteous," he writes, "both for God and man to love sinners, to have compassion, and to save sinners. It was righteous that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for its salvation." This is all confusion. It is righteous for a man to love his neighbor as himself, for God commanded it. It is fit that God's children should love their enemies (Matt. 5:44, 45), because they are born of God. But God loves because He is love. Love is the activity of the divine nature. God is seen to be righteous in loving. The blood on the mercy seat proclaims that. But it cannot be said that it is righteous in God to love the wicked. What righteousness would that be to love a child of the devil, or the son of perdition? "With such a love (John 3:16) He has loved Cain as well as the Virgin Mary, Judas as well as John." (§ 718.) This is a mistake, arising from the application of a general statement to every individual. The passage itself makes it plain, " God so loved the world.... that whosoever believeth." It is not said that He loved each one in the world, but that He so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth, &c. Here the individual comes in. Of no one are we authorized to say God loves him, till he has shown himself to be God's child by believing on His Son. Into whose heart is God's love shed abroad? The covetous, the liar, the blood-thirsty and deceitful man the Lord abhorreth. (Psa. 10:3; 5:6.) Does God love such? Again, we read, "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." (Mal. 1:2, 3.) Here at any rate is one mentioned whom God did not love. Was it righteous, we ask, for God to send His Son to die? Under what obligation did God lie, that He had to send His beloved Son to die for sinners? Scripture tells us it was love that made Him do it. (1 John 4:10.)
Atonement being needed, who makes it? Does God (§ 762)? Scripture tells us it is the priest. (Lev. 4 20, 26; 5:6, 10, 13; 6:7;12:8;16:32-34, and Heb. 2:17.) God reconciles enemies. The priest made propitiation for the sins of the people. God provided the sacrifice by which atonement could be made, hence the language of the Psalmist (78:38; 79:9); and God appointed the priest by whose service in the sanctuary and at the altar it could be accomplished. (Heb. 5:4, 5.) For by the high priest alone, and when alone in the sanctuary, could propitiation be effected, and by him alone could the scape-goat be charged with all the sins of the people.
But first on that day (Lev. 16) God was thought of, and His nature, and His throne cared for. Propitiation by blood was made in the sanctuary, ere the high priest sent away the scapegoat, on which were placed all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins. The value of propitiation by blood, and the nature of it, the New Testament teaches us. "God sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." (1 John 4:10.) "He is the propitiation for our sins." So the saint who has failed can always turn to God, and know that his standing before the throne remains ever the same. "But not for ours only," adds John, "but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:2.) For on the ground of the value in God's eyes of that blood God is seen to be perfectly righteous in acting in grace towards any one and every one, who is willing to share in the proffered salvation. The making propitiation was an act Godward, and required the high priest to effect it. (Heb. 2:17.) Results which flow from it are declared in Rom. 3. Of the one then who has made it, of its abiding value, and how far God's grace can reach in consequence, and who provided for it, of all this we read in the writings of John. Of the official position of the one who has made it, and of beneficial results which flow to us from it, Paul has taught us.
Turning to substitution, an integral part of atonement, though the term is not met with in the Bible, the truth expressed by it is plainly declared, nor is the thought of it confined to the Mosaic ritual. Abraham and Isaac both experienced the benefits of it, when the father was able to offer up the ram provided by God instead of Isaac his son. (Gen. 22:13) The Israelites, too, must have understood what is meant by the term, when the Levites were taken by God to keep Aaron's charge and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle instead of all the first-born males of the other tribes. (Num. 3) Of substitution David spoke in the bitterness of his grief for Absalom, lamenting that he had not been able to die instead of his rebellious son. (2 Sam. 18:33) Of substitution really effected for guilty ones Isaiah prophesied in terms now familiar to so many: "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." "And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." "He shall bear their iniquities." “And he bare the sins of many." (Isa. 53:5, 6, 11, 12.) That, and more than that, which David could not do for Absalom, the remnant of Israel will find has been done for them. Of this the Lord spake in Matt. 20:28; Mark 10:45. And of it Paul speaks when he writes, "Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many" (Heb. 9:28); and Peter likewise, "who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24); and "Christ hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18).
Now of this the scape-goat was typical. For Aaron was to lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, which he was then to send away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness. And the goat bore on itself all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited. No plainer type of substitution could we have than this. The sins transferred to the goat, it carried them away, never to return. If the goat did not return, the sins laid on it could not again be brought up against the guilty. They were gone, not as blotted out, but as carried away on the head of the appointed victim.
But substitution is not confined to sin-bearing, though the scape-goat is the plainest type that we have of it, it includes also the bearing divine judgment, which the Lord. Jesus Christ has borne in the greatness of His grace (Psa. 22:1), that those who believe on Him should not come into judgment. (John 5:24.) Now this was typified on the day of atonement by the burnt offering, which was wholly consumed on the brazen altar, and by the appointed part of the sin offering that was burnt upon it, and unless this part of the day's ritual was carried out atonement was not completed. (Lev. 16:24.) Whatever was consumed on the altar was burnt up by the fire thereon, which came down from heaven on the eighth day of Aaron's consecration, and for the keeping alight of which provision was made under the law. (Lev. 6:13) Thus the bearing divine judgment in the place of God's people was symbolized, as often as any sacrifice or a portion of it was burnt on the brazen altar by the priest-typical of that which the Lord endured that we should never pass through it.
But it is expressly denied that the offerings under the law set forth a bearing of divine judgment in the guilty one's place (§ 756); for unbloody sacrifice, as a flour offering, could at times be brought for a sin. It is, of course, true that every offering put on the altar could not symbolize death, but there was not one burnt on it which the bearing divine judgment was not directly typified. Death and judgment are quite distinct, though of course generally connected. We say generally, because the beast and false prophet will pass at once into their final condition of judgment without first dying. (Rev. 19:20.) Death was not always typified, but the bearing of divine judgment was portrayed in whatever was put on God's altar. So the flour offering of Lev. 5:12 was not rightly dealt with till part had been burnt on the altar. The endurance by the Lord Jesus Christ of divine judgment for sinners, God had always typified before Him. How precious was that in His eyes! No meat offering could be dealt with at the altar without the endurance of divine judgment being distinctly traced out in type. We cannot make acceptable mention before God of the spotless life of His Son, if we do not own that He suffered for us, bore our judgment. The burning then of the offering wholly or in part on the altar, effectually answers the objections in sections 756, 757 to a substitutionary bearing of divine judgment. What Dr. Waldenstrom denies was just that which was never omitted in type in any offering that was put on the altar. Nor is his remark of any value that offerings for atonement did not express a substitutionary bearing of judgment, since they could only be offered for such sins as had not the penalty of death attached to them (§ 757); because in cases of defilement, for which a sacrifice was provided to make atonement, thus showing that death could in certain cases be averted (but if averted by sacrifice it must in default of it have been inflicted), the Lord distinctly declared He made that provision, that they should not die in their uncleanness, when they defiled His tabernacle. (Lev. 15:31.) What would have been meted out to the one who refused compliance with the ritual to make atonement for his uncleanness? Again, in Num. 19, whilst the water of separation, if used, would preserve the defiled one from death, it is distinctly stated that, if such an one neglected to use it, death was the only lot to which he could look forward. The penalty of death was not needful to be inflicted for the uncleanness; but should the person refuse compliance with the divine command, judicial dealing was his desert. Offerings then, as we have pointed out, provided for cases in which the death of the unclean one was not primarily called for, did indicate in type divine judgment borne on his behalf by another-his substitute, which kept him from bearing it. And if uncleanness might necessitate the death of the individual, what shall we say of transgressions or sins? In truth Dr. Waldenstrom leaves out in his reasoning an important factor in the case, viz., the nature of God, which must be cared for in all its holiness and righteousness, even at the cost of divine judgment being borne either by the substitute or by the individual concerned. Indeed, how little is the nature and the need of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ understood, even by those who really believe in it!
And what shall we think of a statement, "that scripture never speaks of its being righteous to punish the innocent in the place of the guilty"? (§ 755.) One could scarcely suppose a Christian so preoccupied with his thesis as to forget that the Lord Jesus offered up Himself. (Heb.7:27.) He gave Himself for our sins. (Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 9:28.) Nor will Dr. W 's remark on Isa. 53:4, 5 help him. The prophet Isaiah, it is true, sets it forth as an error that the Jews counted the Lord to be merely smitten of God. But why? Because the act of smiting was not a substitutionary one, nor has it to do with atonement, though it took place when He made atonement. They viewed Him as smitten for His own sins, whereas in truth, as the prophet shows, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities." The prophet distinctly asserts the substitutionary character of His death.
Further as to the laying on of hands (§ 758), it did not express, it is true, the transference of the punishment to the animal, but it did express identification of the offerer with the victim. If it was an offering of sweet savor, the offerer was accepted, being identified with the sweet savor of the sacrifice. If it was for sin, the offering was identified with the sinner, and so could stand in his place, and be treated as he deserved. All this is very simple. But the teaching of scripture will not be understood till it is seen what is really comprised in the term-atonement; and that a great deal more is really comprised in it than simply purging the sinner from his sins. Nor shall we grasp the teaching about it by simply analyzing the word. We must see what scripture tells us of all that to which the term atonement is applied. The priest it was who made it, by which propitiation as well as substitution was effected. Not that He did it as God's substitute, as Dr. W. states. (§ 764.) It was part of the duty of his office. (Heb. 2) Was the Lord as High Priest God's substitute? Yet not to appease God. Here Dr. W. is right, and we cannot too stoutly maintain that. But God, because of what He is, required the blood of atonement to enable Him in righteousness to accept guilty ones before Him. Atonement, then, is much more than cleansing. Propitiation was needful for God to cleanse guilty ones.
It is true atonement is by blood, but that necessitated death-for blood is the life of the flesh. But the dealing with the live goat was also an integral part of atonement, the two goats being but one sin offering; so all that was done with both, was together what was comprised under the one word atonement. If the reader seizes this thought, he will see that it is not the derivation of the word atonement that will teach him its full meaning; but the application of that term to the different acts of Aaron on that eventful and solemn day. Attention to this will clear up a great deal, and keep each one from being carried away by his own thoughts. C. E. S.