For those wanting an antidote of the classic Gospel and a defense of subsitutionary atonement after reading Ed Bacon’s denial of the same earlier today. Here you go. Matt Kennedy has his discussion of Article III posted on Stand Firm, and the section on God’s character and the atonement flashed out at us like a neon sign after we’d been reading so much of the reappraisers’ mush (or worse) on the topic recently as we’ve been working to pull together many of the recent articles which have been raising this question.
And it is true that God is the very origin and measure of love. God is not simply “loving” as if love were some external quality that might be used to describe him, but as John says, “God is Love.” (1st John 4:8)
And yet love is not all that God is. As Dr. RC Sproul points out in his book, “The Holiness of God,” the one attribute of God revealed in the superlative sense is not “love” but “holiness.” In Isaiah 6, for example, God is not just described as “Holy” but as: “Holy, Holy, Holy”. The thrice-repetition of an adjective is the Hebrew equivalent to our superlative: “most”. God is “most” Holy. This is not to say that God is anything less than the perfectly superlative measure of love. It is to say, not to labor the point, that alongside his perfect love, God is also Holy. And elsewhere in the scriptures we learn that he is “just” and “righteous” and that sin provokes his “wrath”. God’s character, then, certainly includes love but love is not his sole attribute.
As we discussed in last week’s article, all of God’s attributes; love, wrath, justice, righteousness, come together perfectly on the cross where God’s just and holy wrath against human wickedness is exhausted or “propitiated” on himself in the person of his Son Jesus Christ. And, in his perfect love, God in Christ willingly bears it.
Through this, his own substitutionary sacrifice to propitiate his own just wrath at human sin, God has made a way for human beings to escape the wrath we all naturally choose and justly deserve. In him, in Christ, those who come to faith do not face the eternal and infinite consequences sin because Christ bears those consequences for us. There is no more wrath for those in Christ Jesus.
But while this eternal blessing and benefit of the cross is commonly acknowledged, what is often forgotten is that the cross stands as a stark and fearful warning that God, in his justice, does not leave sin unpunished. The infinite cup of God’s wrath that the infinite God in Christ willingly drained to the dregs on the cross remains full, it is brimming with judgment, for those who are unwilling to repent, cry out, and seek refuge and salvation in the Son.
Thus, throughout the New Testament, the promise and proclamation salvation in Christ Jesus is accompanied by a warning for those who refuse and reject it.
Kennedy v. Bacon. Looks indeed like we have two very different “gospels” being preached. Only one of them can be true.