The Applicability of the Atonement
In our previous post (found here) we saw that the design of the atonement should always be distinguished from the question of its inherent value. Following the Hodges, moreover, we find that the same thing is true concerning its applicability. But what exactly does the term “applicability” mean, and more importantly, what is the biblical basis for such an unfamiliar affirmation?
To begin with, the applicability of the atonement is an objective concept not to be confused with the subjective application of the atonement. While the latter is particular, and therefore limited to the elect, the former is unlimited and therefore universal. It may be helpful to point out that “applicability” simply means that the righteousness of Jesus Christ is able to be applied to every member of the human race. It does not mean that it is, or ever will be so applied. To conclude such would be to collapse the very categories we have labored so hard to distinguish.
Continue reading “All Sufficient Christ (3)”
He is Not Simplistic
When we talk about the simplicity of God, we do not mean to say that God is simplistic in the sense that there is nothing about Him which we do not understand. This indeed would fly in the face of inherent limitations we have as creatures, because it implies that God is not ultimately incomprehensible. But the Scriptures are clear; that which we know about God “we know in part,” only as those who “see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:9, 12).
Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14)
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What’s the Difference?
In addition to His Unity, the Belgic Confession of Faith affirms that God is both simple and spiritual – (Art. 1). At a first glance this may seem like theological redundancy, as if the Confession is merely saying the same thing twice. But this is not the case. Strictly speaking there are significant differences in what these descriptions involve, and therefore both are necessary for an overall understanding of what God is like. In this installment we will examine one of these designations. However, in the interest of beginning with what might be more familiar territory, we will take them in reverse order.
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Beginning With God Himself
According to Jesus the first and greatest commandment is not to love God with all your heart. For to love Him is to serve Him. But all service to God is vanity apart from an accurate knowledge of Who He is. Jesus was not commending the woman at the well when he said, “ye worship ye know not what” (Jn. 4:22) and the apostle Paul did not endorse the service of the “Unknown God” whom the Athenians “ignorantly worshiped” (Acts 17:23). Rather Paul declared plainly that all such devotion is superstition and idolatry. Therefore when Jesus was asked by the scribe, “Which is the first commandment of all?” he was careful to begin his answer in the right place.
And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. (Mk. 2:29-30)
Continue reading “The Unity of God”