View Full Version : Was Atonement through Jesus God's Afterthought?
20th October 2004, 19:19
This is an honest question. No offense intended.
If God intended to forgive all mankind through the sacrifice of Jesus, why did he not start this apparently "easy way out of man's sins" from day one? What is going to be the fate of man born before Jesus?
21st October 2004, 18:43
God did make mention of salvation in Christ directly after the Fall, through the following prophecy.
Genesis 3:15 -- And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.
So God made Adam and Eve a promise in the garden that day, before he cast them out of Eden. And down through the millenia, God has given more promises, such as the one to Abraham that he would have a son, the one to the Jews that God would send them a Messiah, and finally the promise of salvation to all through Christ's atoning death and resurrection. It is, and it has always been, by believing in the promises of God that a person is saved.
21st October 2004, 20:48
Thank you for your reply Joe.
However, I am sorry, I did not get the answer to my question. Let me rephrase:
If I understand correctly, after the sacrifice of Jesus, man's salvation is now dependent merely on whether or not man believes that Jesus died to redeem him of his sins. Is this correct? If it is not, the please help me understand the idea better. If, however, it is then please let me know how was man to get salvation during the time of Abraham or Moses or Jacob or anyone before Jesus?
21st October 2004, 21:00
It's kinda like this. Before Jesus came and died, people were saved based upon their faith in what God would do to accomplish their salvation. After Jesus came and died, people were, are, and will be saved based on what God did do to accomplish their salvation. The object of faith has been the same all along; only the perspective and clarity with which that object of faith was perceived by people has differed.
What confuses people usually is that they'll say, "Well, didn't God put the Jews under a law?" Yes, that's true, but the law didn't alter the basic premise that a person would be saved through faith in God's Messiah (be it the "seed of a woman" from Gen 3:15 or the more explicitly revealed Messiah in Isaiah 53). The law was simply a disciplinary tool which would guide the Israelites in how they ought to live until the Messiah should come and fulfill the law.
21st October 2004, 21:36
Before Jesus came and died, people were saved based upon their faith in what God would do to accomplish their salvation.
And what was that, If you please?
The law was simply a disciplinary tool which would guide the Israelites in how they ought to live until the Messiah should come and fulfill the law.
This is a very interesting point. Can you please cite the exact verse on which this idea is based?
21st October 2004, 21:50
What God would do is send Christ to die for their sins, although they didn't know all the details at the time. At first, God only said he would send "the seed of a woman," so that's what people put their faith in at the beginning. Then, God promised Abraham that he would have a son and that through him all the nations of the world would be blessed (by the Messiah which would come from Abraham's line). So people believed in that for salvation. Then the revelations concerning the Messiah came in the Law and the Prophets, so people believed in that for salvation. Finally, Jesus himself came and died for the sins of the world, and this was God's final and fullest revelation of himself. So now, people need to believe in Jesus for their salvation because he has been revealed to them in full through the gospel.
But as you can see, all down the line it's been God saying, "I will save you. Believe in me." All that changed is that it became clearer and clearer over time, as God spoke more and more to people, just how that salvation would be accomplished. Today, God speaks most clearly of all, saying, "I sent my Son to the cross for your sins, and I raised him from the dead on the third day, and if you will accept him as your Lord and Savior, then I will forgive you all your sins and accept you into heaven to be with me for all eternity."
As for the purpose of the law, look to these verses:
Galatians 3:1-4:7 -- O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain -- if indeed it was in vain?
Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? -- just as Abraham "believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, "In you all the nations shall be blessed." So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "the man who does them shall live by them."
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it. Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.
Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
21st October 2004, 22:18
As for the purpose of the law, look to these verses:
Whenever you have the time, I would really appreciate if you can cite something clearly mentioning this idea from the OT. Galatians, obviously, was preceded by the Christian theology.
I will really appreciate your help in this regard.
21st October 2004, 22:39
The OT by itself is obviously not going to be as clear as the NT is on these matters. One purpose of the NT is to make the OT clear. For this reason Paul quotes the OT several times in the passage reprinted above.
21st October 2004, 22:47
So, whatever Paul or the authors of NT say about verses of the OT will be held as correct, even if the words or the context of the OT does not clearly accept that meaning?
And please bear with my ignorance, but what is the basis of the belief that the authors of NT are to make the verses of OT clear?
21st October 2004, 23:17
So, whatever Paul or the authors of NT say about verses of the OT will be held as correct, even if the words or the context of the OT does not clearly accept that meaning?That's correct, because Christians believe that Paul was speaking in his letters under the inspiration of the Spirit of God just as the OT prophets were. In essence, the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul to make clearer what he had already spoken through the OT prophets earlier.
...what is the basis of the belief that the authors of NT are to make the verses of OT clear?Well, first, there's the example of Matthew, who often used events in Jesus' life to shine some light on verses in the OT. Then, there's the example of Peter, who spoke to the crowds at Pentecost and interpreted David's Psalms in terms of Christ. Then there's the record at the end of Luke in which the risen Christ appeared to the disciples and showed them from the scriptures all the things that pointed to him.
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