The Doctrine of the Atonement of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:11 (NKJV) 

The very heart of Christianity is the doctrine of the Atonement. Is it no wonder that so many proclaiming a “new type of Christianity” also attempt to do away with this doctrine? Any attempts to redefine Christianity by modifying or eliminating this doctrine are marks of heresy. I have seen professing Christians argue and write off former brothers in the faith over aspects of our faith that are nowhere near as vital to orthodoxy as the doctrine of the Atonement. I have been cursed and called heretical because I have differed from those doing so on things like eschatology or on the Sovereignty of God in our salvation. How can we do that to our brothers and sisters in Christ whose sins have been atoned for by Christ just as ours have? Emerging Christianity is a nebulously defined paradigm that sees doctrine as divisive and, therefore, unimportant. Its advocates want Christianity to be only about social and relational things and not about doctrine at all. To make that paradigm shift though requires a departure from Christian Orthodoxy because that also says that the Atonement of Christ is not something that should be what defines what real Christianity is or is not.  Continue reading

The necessity and nature of the Atonement


by John A. Broadus

The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth from all sin. I John 1:7

My hearers, what is the most wonderful event that ever occurred on earth, that ever happened in the universe? The history of our race is so full of wonderful events-you might well pause for your answer. My answer would be this: by far the most wonderful thing that has ever happened in the universe, is the atoning death of Jesus Christ the Lord. If without philosophizing, if in simplicity you will take what God’s Word declares concerning it, you will not only see this to be so, perhaps you will feel it to be so. If you will remember who he was-the thought would startle us if we were not so used to it-if you will remember how he died, how the Lord of life and glory, the sinless one, how he died in suffering and shame, and above all if you will remember what he died for, what his death is declared in the Scriptures to mean for the universe and for us, then you will believe that this is the great wonder of all wonders. And yet, God be thanked, it may be the simplest matter of each individual human heart’s everyday experience to rest upon that wonderful thought. There are many things we can never comprehend as to their nature, which are yet unquestionable as facts and essential to our existence. To declare before heaven and earth that all our hopes are turned upon the atoning death of Jesus Christ, a man may do that, may live on that atoning death, although it be a mystery he cannot solve. Continue reading

Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God


by Mike Ratliff

 29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NASB)

In my Nave’s Topical Bible there is a subsection under “Atonement” titled “Atonement – Made by Jesus.” It covers half of page 85 and runs through half of page 88. I find it interesting that the leaders in the emergent church such as Brian McLaren focus so much of their energies on trying to deny that the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of His people was the primary mission of His incarnation. Instead, these false Christian leaders point their followers to follow a man-made Jesus whose purpose in His incarnation was to show people how best to live and make the world a better place. At the same time, so many “denominations” are rapidly apostatizing through cultural compromise and moving away from God’s moral standards. Our enemy has planted easily believable lies throughout the visible Church and has given verbiage to the lying mouths of his prophets that are designed to confuse and take away the clarity of God’s Truth. For instance, the emergent leaders cannot preach a thing without emphasizing that ultimate truth is unknowable while elevating indefiniteness as a virtue. They teach that if solid, defined lines run between professing Christians and God in which doctrines are clearly held and proclaimed then those Christians have made-up what they believe and are no longer in communion with God. Sounds a bit like a post-modern version of Gnosticism to me. Continue reading

It is through the Atonement of Christ that we are reconciled to God


by Mike Ratliff

11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. Romans 5:11 (NASB) 

The very heart of Christianity is the doctrine of the Atonement. Is it no wonder that so many proclaiming a “new type of Christianity” also attempt to do away with this doctrine? Any attempts to redefine Christianity by modifying or eliminating this doctrine are marks of heresy. I have seen professing Christians argue and write off former brothers in the faith over aspects of our faith that are nowhere near as vital to orthodoxy as the doctrine of the Atonement. I have been cursed and called heretical because I have differed from those doing so on things like eschatology or on the Sovereignty of God. How can we do that to our brothers and sisters in Christ whose sins have been atoned for by Christ just as ours have? Emerging Christianity is a nebulously defined paradigm that sees doctrine as divisive and, therefore, unimportant. Its advocates want Christianity to be only about social and relational things and not about doctrine at all. To make that paradigm shift though requires a departure from Christian Orthodoxy because that also says that the Atonement of Christ is not something that should be what defines what real Christianity is or is not.  Continue reading

Justified


by Mike Ratliff

23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. Romans 3:23-26 (NA28)

23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed as a propitiation by his blood received through faith. This was in order to display his righteousness because in his divine forbearance, he passed over previously occurred sins. 26 This was to display his righteousness in the present time, for him to be just and the justifier of the one having faith in Jesus. Romans 3:23-26 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

In my mornings before work or before anything else if it is the weekend or a holiday I spend some time in prayer as the coffee brews. I write down what I pray as this helps me focus. There is nothing legalistic in this. There is nothing mystical about it. This just helps me pray. It also gives me a record of what I pray, which is pretty cool when God answers one of those requests. Part of all of my prayer contain something similar to this,“…I pray for your glory in and through me this day. I pray for your kingdom to come into fulfillment soon. I pray for you to be glorified in my worship of you this day in church and in my walk and service. Use me as you will. I pray for wisdom and discernment…” There is alway more of course. Some days are better than others, but on those days when God’s Word really speaks to me and as I pray I do indeed worship. It is on those days that I have a deep sense of the magnitude of our Election, the Atonement, and our Justification. On those days, I worship, Oh yes, I worship our Lord and Saviour!  Continue reading

Look, the lamb of God, the one lifting up the sin of the world!


by Mike Ratliff

29 Τῇ ἐπαύριον βλέπει τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐρχόμενον πρὸς αὐτὸν καὶ λέγει· ἴδε ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ αἴρων τὴν ἁμαρτίαν τοῦ κόσμου. John 1:29 (NA28)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the lamb of God, the one lifting up the sin of the world!” John 1:29 (translated from the NA28 Greek text) 

In my Nave’s Topical Bible there is a subsection under “Atonement” titled “Atonement – Made by Jesus.” It covers half of page 85 and runs through half of page 88. I find it interesting that the leaders in the emergent church such as Brian McLaren focus so much of their energies on trying to deny that the Lord Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice on the Cross to atone for the sins of His people was the primary mission of His incarnation. Instead, these false Christian leaders point their followers to follow a man-made Jesus whose purpose in His incarnation was to show people how best to live and make the world a better place. At the same time, so many “denominations” are rapidly apostatizing through cultural compromise and moving away from God’s moral standards. Our enemy has planted easily believable lies throughout the visible Church and has given verbiage to the lying mouths of his prophets that are designed to confuse and take away the clarity of God’s Truth. For instance, the emergent leaders cannot preach a thing without emphasizing that ultimate truth is unknowable while elevating indefiniteness as a virtue. They teach that if solid, defined lines run between professing Christians and God in which doctrines are clearly held and proclaimed then those Christians have made-up what they believe and are no longer in communion with God. Sounds a bit like a post-modern version of Gnosticism to me. Continue reading

What is Penal Substitution and why is it so important in Justification?


by Mike Ratliff

6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. (Romans 5:6-11 NASB)

As I researched the doctrine of Penal Substitution for this article I was amazed at the lengths some people go to in order to obscure God’s truth through man-centered verbiage slanted away from Sacred Scripture towards human reasoning. Not one piece I read that decried Penal Substitution could attack it exegetically. In every case I read, the focus was on the barbarity of such a doctrine and how this shed a very negative light on the character of God. Before we go any further let us define what Penal Substitution is.

Penal Substitution is a theory of the atonement within Christian theology, especially associated with the Reformed tradition. It argues that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of sinners, thus satisfying the demands of justice so God can justly forgive their sins. Penal Substitution is, therefore, a specific understanding of substitutionary atonement, where the substitutionary nature of Jesus’ death is understood in the sense of a substitutionary punishment. Continue reading

Christ’s Blood and the Atonement


by Mike Ratliff

7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV)

A proper study of the doctrine of Penal Substitution will reveal that it is actually a line of contention, or line of demarcation if you will, that divides Orthodox Christianity from those forms whose advocates have in some way come up with their own version of the Gospel. These forms are diverse and too numerous to go into here. As we read the “opinions” of those decrying the validity of Penal Substitution, it becomes quickly apparent that the modus operandi or focus of these people was never from the perspective of God’s glory or His majesty or His righteousness or His justice or His Sovereignty. No, it was always from man’s perspective of either the writer’s religiosity or philosophy. There is never any attempt to use Biblical exegesis to make their points. In other words, those who decry Penal Substitution also seem to have a serious issue with Sola Scriptura. So, instead of focusing this post on these vain arguments and speculations, let us focus on the incredible mercy of the Atonement in which Christ reconciled His people to God the Father and what that purchased for them.

Continue reading

Redeemed Through the Blood of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  (Hebrews 9:13-14 NASB)

Central to Covenant Theology is understanding that the Old Covenant represented the former age. The Ceremonial Law given to the Israelites by Moses consisted of earthy copies of the “heavenly things,” which made up the Old Covenant (Hebrews 9:23). These were “shadows of the good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1). Our Lord spoke often of the age we are in now as “this age,” with an age still to come. The New Covenant is God’s economy in this age. Instead of our faith revolving around the earthy copies of the “heavenly things,” partakers of the New Covenant participate in the reality of “heavenly things” within it. These are the “good things that have come” (Hebrews 9:11).  However, those in the New Covenant still look forward to “the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5), which will be their “Sabbath rest” (Hebrews 4:1,9). With this in mind, shouldn’t Christians remain focused on God’s Promises of this “Sabbath rest,” which is to come instead of falling for the deception of the emergents like Brian McLaren who teach that God’s will is for us to be focused on the here and now within a Social Gospel? Continue reading

It is Finished


by Mike Ratliff

28 Μετὰ τοῦτο εἰδὼς ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤδη πάντα τετέλεσται, ἵνα τελειωθῇ ἡ γραφή, λέγει· διψῶ. 29 σκεῦος ἔκειτο ὄξους μεστόν· σπόγγον οὖν μεστὸν τοῦ ὄξους ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες προσήνεγκαν αὐτοῦ τῷ στόματι. 30 ὅτε οὖν ἔλαβεν τὸ ὄξος [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· τετέλεσται, καὶ κλίνας τὴν κεφαλὴν παρέδωκεν τὸ πνεῦμα. (John 19:28-30 NA27)

28 After this, Jesus having known everything that had been completed that the Scripture may be fulfilled, said, “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of vinegar was there, so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on a hyssop branch and put it to his mouth. 30 Therefore, when he received the vinegar, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And having bowed his head, he gave up his Spirit. (John 19:28-30 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Many of those with whom we earnestly contend for the faith have a problem with the absolute truth that is presented to us in the three verses above. Many of them may deny the fact that they hold to a form of salvation that denies the sufficiency of the atoning work of Christ on the cross to accomplish all that is required for all of the elect to not only believe the gospel, but also to persevere. Those who have doubts about that do so because they either do not understand or believe the doctrine of imputation. We have looked at this many times and I do not intend to go into that here. In this post we will look at what Christ meant when he knew that everything had been completed in John 19:28 and then said so in John 19:30. Continue reading

Justified Without Charge


by Mike Ratliff

23 πάντες γὰρ ἥμαρτον καὶ ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ 24 δικαιούμενοι δωρεὰν τῇ αὐτοῦ χάριτι διὰ τῆς ἀπολυτρώσεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ· 25 ὃν προέθετο ὁ θεὸς ἱλαστήριον διὰ [τῆς] πίστεως ἐν τῷ αὐτοῦ αἵματι εἰς ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ διὰ τὴν πάρεσιν τῶν προγεγονότων ἁμαρτημάτων 26 ἐν τῇ ἀνοχῇ τοῦ θεοῦ, πρὸς τὴν ἔνδειξιν τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ νῦν καιρῷ, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν δίκαιον καὶ δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ. (Romans 3:23-26 NA27)

23 for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus, 25 whom God displayed as a propitiation by his blood received through faith. This was in order to display his righteousness because in his divine forbearance, he passed over previously occurred sins. 26 This was to display his righteousness in the present time, for him to be just and the justifier of the one having faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:23-26 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

As I got ready to “attend Church” this morning with my wife, I spent some time in prayer as the coffee brewed. I write down what I pray as this helps me focus. There is nothing legalistic in this. There is nothing mystical about it. This just helps me pray. It is also gives me a record of what I pray, which is pretty cool when God answers one of those requests. Part of my prayer this morning was. “…I pray for your glory in and through me this day. I pray for your kingdom to come into fulfillment soon. I pray for you to be glorified in my worship of you this day in church and in my walk and service. Use me as you will. I pray for wisdom and discernment…” There was more of course, but as the worship service began, there was something different. We noticed that we were going to have Communion today because the “Elements” were on the Communion Table. Also, there was a Cello on the stage. When the pastor, Rick Holland, spoke, he said that we would be led in worship by part of the Christian Worship band “Enfield.” The leader and his wife were in town for a wedding. It turned out that the Cellist was the bride. In any case, the music was all Christ glorifying and incredibly edifying. By the time we took communion, I had tears rolling down my face. Did God answer my prayer? Who can worship God like that? It is only those who are justified without charge, the ones justified freely by his grace through the redemption of Christ Jesus. Continue reading

Grace of Acceptation With God


by Mike Ratliff

[16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (John 14:16 ESV)

As we look about us with any discernment at all in these times of spiritual deceit, it can be heart rending to see the outright lying done in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. There are so-called men of God preaching and teaching and ministering and doing things that could best be described as either the teaching or application of damnable heresies. I know that there are some who call themselves Christians who automatically have a problem with that last statement because they are afflicted with the disease of post-modernistic thinking. They believe everything is relative. Sorry, to the wind with that. If you are uncomfortable with the proclamation of God’s truth as absolute then you will not be comfortable here. God’s Word is His truth, a precious gift to His Church. In it we learn theology and His doctrines. This includes the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. From that we learn that our salvation is entirely by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). We are justified by faith, not works. God’s truth is objective and absolute not subjective and relative. The grace we possess as Christians was purchased for us at the Cross of Christ.  Continue reading

Our Propitiation


by Mike Ratliff

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience– among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV)

I had a good friend stop by my office today to offer his condolences and comfort me with the loss of my dad. It was much appreciated. However, he walked in just as I was reading a comment I had just received on last night’s post The Atonement of Christ. WordPress had automatically flagged the comment as spam and it was by chance that I saw that there was a comment in that queue. He asked why the inscrutable look on my face when he had first came in. I let him read the comment. He shuddered and looked puzzled for about 30 seconds or so. I asked, “Does your brain hurt yet?” His response nailed it. He said, “Well, that is certainly a different spirit…” He then asked how often I get “comments” or “emails” like that (I will deal with it below). I told him that I usually get at least one like that a day when I teach things about the Atonement or the Gospel, but there are times when they just flood it. I find it interesting that they often are especially virulent when I am dealing with things in the midst of the fiery trials God has me in at that time. I will never forget Steve Lawson’s statement during his sermon at the Shepherd’s Conference this year that the closer we get to the front lines in our obedience in ministry the more we will find ourselves in the crosshairs of our enemy in the battle for the truth. God will allow him to attack us in order to humble us so that we can be usable clay vessels in the hands of our Lord (paraphrase).  Continue reading

The Atonement of Christ


by Mike Ratliff

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (Romans 5:11 ESV)

The very heart of Christianity is the doctrine of the Atonement. Is it no wonder that so many proclaiming a “new type of Christianity” also attempt to do away with this doctrine? Any attempts to redefine Christianity by modifying or eliminating this doctrine are marks of heresy. I have seen professing Christians argue and write off former brothers in the faith over aspects of our faith that are nowhere near as vital to orthodoxy as the doctrine of the Atonement. I have been cursed and called heretical because I have differed from those doing so on things like eschatology or on the Sovereignty of God. How can we do that to our brothers and sisters in Christ whose sins have been atoned for by Christ just as ours have? Emerging Christianity is a nebulously defined paradigm that sees doctrine as divisive and, therefore, unimportant. Its advocates want Christianity to be only about social and relational things and not about doctrine at all. To make that paradigm shift though requires a departure from Christian Orthodoxy because that also says that the Atonement of Christ is not something that should be what defines what real Christianity is or is not.  Continue reading