In Genesis God introduces the first man Adam and the woman Eve whom He provided to be his helper. Both the man and the woman sinned and fell, but this combined fall is referred to in the Bible as the fall of man. This is because the woman was beguiled by Satan, whereas, the man willingly violated God’s Word. While man was made in the image of God regarding his personality and spiritual nature, he was and is a creature. As a creature, he was made with the ability to sin. Among the cherubim, Satan sinned (Ezekiel 28:15; Isaiah 14:12-14), and many other common angels sinned following him, which is certified in the New Testament book of Jude stating, “they kept not their first estate” (Jude 1:6). In like manner, the facts of the old creation are actually transferred to those who by natural generation are “in Adam.” We become possessed of the Adamic nature and we are said to have sinned in him. This is what God decrees as sufficient ground for divine judgment which flows to the human beings whether they have sinned in the same direct disobedience of Adam’s transgression or not. Though humans may protest, that they are not responsible for Adam’s sin, the divine revelation stands that because of the far-reaching effect of Adam’s one initial sin is immediately and directly imputed to each member of the human race with the same sentence of death coming to all (Romans 5:12-14).
Adam’s sin, gave rise to the doctrine of imputation, which is one of the most profound doctrines in the Scriptures. Three imputations are explained in the Scriptures:
- The sin of Adam is imputed to his posterity (Romans 5:12-14);
- The sin of man is imputed to Christ (II Corinthians 5:21); and,
- The righteousness of God is imputed to those who believe (Genesis 15:6; Psalm 32:2; Romans 3:22; 4:3, 8, 21-25; II Corinthians 5:21; Philemon 1:17, 18).
From the concept of imputation, it follows that there was a judicial transfer of the sin of man to Christ the Sin-Bearer.Jehovah hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:5; John 1:29; I Peter 2:24; 3:18). So, in like manner, there is a judicial transfer of the righteousness of God to the believer (II Corinthians 5:21); for there could be no other grounds of justification or acceptance with God. This imputation belongs to the new relationship within the New Creation. Being joined to the Lord by the baptism with the Holy Spirit at the point of belief (I Corinthians 6:17; 12:13; II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 3:27), and now related to Christ as a member in His body, the Church (Ephesians 5:30), it follows that every virtue of Christ is extended to those who have become part of Him through belief. Likewise, by the fall of Adam the effect of the one initial sin is transmuted in the form of a sin nature by inheritance, from parent to child throughout all generations. The effect of the fall is universal; so, also, the offer of divine grace. Men do not now fall by their first sin; we are born fallen sons of Adam. Humans as secular psychology claims, are born sinless and then become sinful by sinning, but God says, they sin because by nature they are sinful. No child needs to be taught to sin, but every child must be encouraged to be good. Even though the fall of Adam came upon all there is evident divine provision for innocent infants and all who are irresponsible. David said that he would be reunited with his dead child after death (II Samuel 12:23) supporting the reasonable belief that infants go to heaven when they die. The same holds true for those with mental disabilities who cannot comprehend their sin nature. We believe that a child is not responsible until they reach the age of majority. That is, when they can understand their fallen nature and need for a Savior.
The holy judgments of God must rest upon all men out of Christ:
- Because of imputed sin,
- Because of an inherited sin nature,
- Because they are under sin, and
- Because of their own personal sins.
Though these holy judgments of God cannot be reduced, the sinner may be saved from them through Christ. This is the good news of the Gospel. The penalty resting on the old man is:
- Physical death, which is separation of the soul from the body;
- Spiritual death, which (like Adam’s) is the present estate of the lost and is the separation of the soul from God (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18, 19); and
- The second death, which is the eternal separation of the soul from God and banishment from His presence forever (Revelation 2:11;20:6, 14; 21:8).
Therefore, by His death and resurrection the believer is in Christ and thus partakes of all that Christ is.
Again, by the fall of Adam the effect of the one initial sin is transmuted in the form of sin nature by inheritance, from parent to child throughout all generations. The effect of the fall is universal; so, also, the offer of divine grace.
The term substitution means the replacement of one thing for another. It is not a Bible word, its specific meaning when related to the Scriptures is describing the atoning work of Christ on the cross. It means that the righteous judgments of God against the sinner are substituted because his sin was borne by Christ substituting in the sinner’s place. The result of this substitution is that the Savior has already borne the divine judgments against the sinner to the full satisfaction of God. There is therefore nothing left for the sinner to do to persuade God to do; but he is only asked to believe this good news, relating it to his own sin, and thereby claim his personal Savior. The word substitution does not fully represent all that is accomplished in the death of Christ
The word atonement has been used to describe what God did for us in Jesus. However, the word atonement, which does not appear in the original text of the New Testament, means, as used in the Old Testament, only to cover sin. However, the word atonement does clearly indicate the divine method of dealing with sin before the cross. In the Old Testament, God did not require any more than a symbolic animal sacrifice for the temporary remission of sins. God was preparing the way for the coming of His own Lamb who would in no way pass over or cover sin, but who would take it away forever (John 1:29).
In consideration of the value of the death of Christ we should identify the unique characteristics:
- That the death of Christ assures us of the love of God toward the sinner (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; I John 3:16; 4:9); added to this, there is, naturally, a reflex influence or moral appeal through this truth upon the life of the one who really receives it (II Corinthians 5:15; I Peter 2:21-24); but this appeal concerning the manner of daily life is never addressed to the unsaved.
- The death of Christ is said to be a redemption or ransom paid to the holy demands of God for the sinner and to free the sinner from just condemnation. It is significant that the one discriminating word for, meaning “instead of,” or “as a price paid for,” is used in every passage wherein this aspect of truth appears (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; I Timothy 2:6). In like manner, the death of Christ was a necessary penalty which He bore for the sinner (Romans 4:25; II Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 1:4; 3:13; Hebrews 9:28). So, also, the death of Christ was an offering for sin, not as the animal offerings of the Old Testament which could only cover sin in the sense of delaying the time of righteous judgment; but as taking it to Himself, bearing it, and bearing it away forever (John 1:29; Isaiah 53:7-12; I Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 9:12, 22, 26; I Peter 1:18, 19).
- The death of Christ is represented on His part as an act of obedience to the law which sinners have broken; which act is acceptable to God in their stead (Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:8; Romans 5:19; 10:4).
- The death of Christ was a priestly mediation by which the entire world was reconciled unto God.
Reconciliation results when enmity is removed, and, while it is never implied that the world’s enmity toward God is removed, it is declared that the judicial state of the world is so altered before God by the death of Christ that He is said to have reconciled the world unto Himself. So complete and far-reaching is this provision that it is added in the Scriptures that He is not now imputing their trespasses unto them (II Corinthians 5:18, 19; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 2:20).
- The death of Christ removed all moral hindrances in the mind of God to the saving of sinners. By that death God is propitiated and thus declared to be righteous when He, (1) anticipating the value of the sacrifice of His Son, passes over the sins of His people who lived before the cross (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15), and (2) to be just at the present time when He justifies those who do no more than believe in Jesus (Romans 3:26). This aspect of the death of Christ is to be distinguished from all others because of its effect upon God. Since, in that death, His infinite love and power are released from restraint by the accomplishment of every judgment which His righteousness could demand against the sinner, God is more advantaged by the death of Christ than all the world combined. The release of His love is seen as Grace.
- Christ, in His death, became the Substitute bearing the penalty belonging to the sinner (Leviticus 16:21; Luke 22:37; Isaiah 53:6; John 10:11; Romans 5:6-8; I Peter 3:18; Matthew 20:28). This fact is the basis of assurance for all who would come unto God for salvation. It presents something for every individual to believe concerning his own relation to God on the question of his own sin. A general belief that Christ died for the whole world is not sufficient, because that is the general offer. But a personal conviction that one’s own sin has been perfectly borne by Christ the Substitute is required — a belief which results in a sense of relief, joy, and appreciation (Romans 15:13; Hebrews 9:14; 10:2). Salvation is a mighty work of God which is provided instantly for the one who believes on Christ.
- The death of Christ is often misinterpreted. Some claim that the doctrine of substitution is immoral on the ground that God could not in righteousness lay the sins of the guilty on an innocent victim. This statement might be considered if it could be proved that Christ was an unwilling victim; but the Scriptures present Him as being in fullest sympathy with His Father’s will and motivated by the same infinite love (Hebrews 10:7; John 13:1). Likewise, in the mystery of the Godhead, it was God Himself who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (II Corinthians 5:19). So far from the death of Christ being an immoral imposition, it was God Himself, the righteous Judge in infinite love and sacrifice, bearing the full penalty that His own holiness required of the sinner. Further, it is claimed that Christ died as a martyr and that the value of His death is seen in the example He presented of courage and loyalty to His convictions even unto death. The sufficient answer to this error is that, since He was God’s provided Lamb, no man took His life from Him He willingly gave it up (John 10:18; Psalm 22:15; Acts 2:23).
Divine grace is three-fold
1.Salvation by Grace.
God saves sinners by grace, and there is no other way of salvation offered to men (Acts 4:12). Saving grace is the limitless, unrestrained love of God for the lost acting in compliance with the exact and unchangeable demands of His own righteousness through the sacrificial death of Christ. Grace is more than love; it is love set free and made to be a triumphant victor over the righteous judgments of God against the sinner. When saving a sinner by grace, it is necessary that God shall have dealt with every sin, which would otherwise demand judgment and thereby hinder His grace. This He has carried out in the death of His Son. It is also necessary that every obligation shall be cancelled, and to this end salvation has been made an absolute gift from God (Ephesians 2:8; John 10:28; Romans 6:23). Likewise, it is necessary that every human merit shall be set aside, lest the thing which God accomplishes shall be in any measure based on the merit of men, and not on His sovereign grace alone (Romans 3:9; 11:32; Galatians 3:22). Since every human element is excluded, the Gospel of grace is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God, which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who will believe.
- Safe-keeping through Grace.
It is through grace alone that God keeps those who are saved. Having provided a way whereby He can act in freedom from His own righteous demands against sin, having disposed of every human obligation for payment, and having set aside eternally every human merit, God has only to continue the exercise of grace toward the saved one to secure his safe-keeping forever. This He does, and the child of God is said to stand in grace (Romans 5:2; I Peter 5:12).
3.Grace Provides a Rule of Life for the Saved.
God teaches those who are saved and kept how they should live in grace, and how they may live to His eternal glory. As the law provided a complete rule of conduct for Israel, so God has provided a complete rule of conduct for the Christian. The child of God is not under law as a rule of life, but he is under the counsels of grace. What he does under grace is not done to secure the favor of God, but it is done because he is already accepted in the Beloved. It is not undertaken in the energy of the flesh, but it is the outliving and manifestation of the power of the indwelling Spirit. It is a life which is lived on the principle of faith. “The just shall live by faith.” These principles are stated in portions of the Gospels and the Epistles.
There is a false teaching by many religious leaders, that Christianity is no more than an ethical system. The revealed fact, however, is that the supreme feature of the Christian faith is that supernatural, saving, transforming work of God, which is made possible through the infinite sacrifice of Christ and which, in sovereign grace, is freely bestowed on all who believe. God has given instruction to those who are saved, to live a life which is consistent with His moral order. In their spiritual blindness, the world, led by its blind leaders, sees in Christianity only the rule of life which is secondary to salvation. The blindness of the world at this point, with the consequent neglect is both anticipated and explained in the Word of God.
The two foundation truths which determine all spiritual perception are that, by divine arrangement, (1) the Spirit is given only to those who are saved, and (2) spiritual understanding is made to depend exclusively on the presence of the Spirit of God in the heart. The precise body of truth which may be understood only through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit is described as, “things” related to the Father, “things” related to the Son, “things” related to the Spirit, “things” to come, and “the kingdom of God”. The Bible says:
I Corinthians 2:14
14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually [by the Spirit] discerned (KJV).
3Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (KJV).
17Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him (KJV).
II Corinthians 4:3, 4
3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them (KJV).
I Corinthians 1:21
21The world by wisdom knew not God (KJV).
I Corinthians 2:15
15He that is spiritual judgeth [discerneth] all things, yet he himself is judged of no man (KJV).
I Corinthians 2:12
12Now we have received not the spirit of the world but, the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God (KJV).
13Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you (KJV).
I John 2:27
27But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him (KJV).
I Corinthians 2:9, 10).
9Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God (KJV).
3Through faith we understand (KJV).
Spiritual understanding is not dependent upon human learning; it depends only on the teaching of the indwelling Spirit. The terms by which men may be saved and thus receive the Spirit as seen are clearly defined in the Scripture. Salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). It is the result of the transforming work of God for man, and not the result of the work of man for God. It is that which God does for the one who trusts in the Substitutionary Atonement of Christ. By that trust, Christ is personally received as the divine Redeemer who shed His blood as a sufficient ransom for the guilt and penalty of sin, as the One who reconciles by having taken away the sin of the world, and as the divine Propitiation who, as Substitute, met every indictment brought against the sinner under the holy government of God.
Since the Spirit is given only to those who are saved through faith in Christ, they alone are able to receive the particular body of truth which the Spirit teaches. Neglect of this fundamental, unalterable fact is the major error of all liberal theologians.
It is assumed by the liberal that any person whose education has qualified him to be an authority in matters of human learning, regardless of the new birth and the indwelling Spirit, is also qualified, because of that learning, to speak with authority concerning the things of God.
That the leaders of liberalism are unregenerate men and therefore themselves spiritually blind is self-revealed by their attitude toward that truth which forms the only basis upon which, according to the Scriptures, a soul may be saved. When men do not believe that the death of Christ was vicarious and substitutionary, they have rejected the only grounds upon which, according to the Word of God, the saving work of God righteously can be wrought for the sinner. Rejecting the saving truth of the Gospel, these men could not be saved upon any promise or provision of God. Then to justify this heresy they must then deprecate the Scriptures. Though educated, religious, and sympathetic to the ethical ideals of the Bible, such men, being unregenerate, are of necessity totally blind to all that body of truth which is imparted by the indwelling Spirit. Preaching and teaching under these limitations, Christianity is represented by these men as a system of ethics only.
The first step in spiritual understanding is the knowledge of God as Father. Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him (Matthew 11:27). And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
Until God becomes real to the heart by the direct ministry of Christ as Savior, all His ways and works are unreal. Not knowing God, the unregenerate mind is not satisfied with the explanation of the origin of things which declares that God directly created things as they are. To such a mind, it is actually easier to believe in a supposed natural development from nothing to something, and to hide all attending problems resulting from this theory. Such is the godless evolutionist. If God is not real, there could be no inerrant Book; the Bible must be fallible as man; nor could God be manifest in the flesh; the Son of God must be of illegitimate birth, and though the greatest of all teachers, to them, He is really no more divine than ordinary mortals.
These blind guides are forced to give some explanation to the meaning of the death of Christ. They therefore contend that He died as a heroic martyr, a loyal patriot, as a wonderful moral example of fortitude, or to show the wickedness of sin. They utterly reject the only reason given in the Word of God for the death of Christ—He died that others might not die. They brand this saving truth as “immoral,” and “unworthy of the goodness of God.” Further they deny the resurrection. They understand little of the resurrection of Christ, His present ministry in heaven, and nothing of the revelation that He is coming again. To these religious leaders, there is no supernatural; for God is not real. There could be no immediate salvation through the Spirit. The salvation in which they believe is assumed to be the result of a self-created character, and the life to be lived is represented only as a heroic struggle of the flesh.
It is equally true, that, those who are spiritually blind are unconscious of their blindness until they are saved by the grace and power of God through Christ. Coming thus into the light, they testify, as all who have ever been saved have testified: Whereas I was blind, now I see (John 9:25). They, like all the unsaved, could be aware of their blindness if they would receive the testimony of God concerning their own limitations; but this is precisely what they will not do. Therefore, a notable neglect of the most vital truths of Scripture and the denial of the essential glories of divine grace is to be expected from these religious leaders who reject the only basis of salvation through the substitionary death of Christ.
Liberals will accept some ideals from the Bible while rejecting whatever they do not like. They pick and choose what suits their narrative. Those portions which are acceptable to the unregenerate mind are received and taught as being authorative on the basis of the fact that these ideals are in the Bible. Here, indeed, is strange inconsistency on the part of men who pride themselves on their scientific reasonings.
The unsaved pastor or teacher, being able to comprehend only the ethical teachings of the Scriptures, is a living proof of the truthfulness of the divine Testimony. He cannot see the kingdom of God. He sees nothing of the glories of divine grace—the things of the Father, the things of Christ, the things of the Spirit, and things to come. He blindly ignores every dispensational division of the Word of God and is, therefore, free within himself to draw material from the kingdom teachings of Christ and from the law of Moses while constructing his world-improvement, sociological theories which he imposes on a Christ-rejecting world.
People of this character are sufficiently numerous in this day of apostasy to be responsible for the present-day impression that the sole objective of Christianity is the improvement of human conduct. Being blind to the real principles and purposes of saving grace, they teach that it makes little difference what is believed, it is the life that counts. Opposed to this is the overwhelming testimony of the Word of God that every aspect of salvation and every blessing of divine grace in time and eternity is conditioned only on what is believed.
Christians are ambassadors for Christ and are commissioned to preach the Gospel to every creature. This ministry does not consist in either the education or the moral improvement of lost men while they are on their way to hell; it is the proclamation of the mighty, redeeming, transforming grace of God which offers eternal life and eternal glory to all who will believe.
We must remember two things from our Lord Jesus Christ regarding the unsaved.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God (KJV).
34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots (KJV).
Daniel E Woodhead, Ph.D.
Reference: Lewis S Chafer Grace, and Systematic Theology