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Richard Myers

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The Atonement
« on: July 22, 2017, 09:32:32 PM »

The word occurs in the New Testament only once (Rom. 5:11), where it is the translation of katallage, a word meaning
"reconciliation," or a "reconciling," and is elsewhere so translated (Rom. 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18, 19). The related verb
katallassa occurs six times, and in each case is translated "to reconcile" (Rom. 5:10; 1 Cor. 7:11; 2 Cor. 5:18-20).
Katallage should be rendered "recon-ciliation" in Romans 5:11 also. The word "atonement" is much more frequent in
the Old Testament. It occurs most frequently in the verbal eXpression "to make atonement" (Lev. 1:4; see Ex. 29:36), but occasionally also in the noun form "atonement" (Lev. 23:27; et cetera). The verb is the translation of an intensive form of the Hebrew kaphar, a word that basically means "to cover." The simple form is found in Genesis 6:14, and although translated "to pitch," really means "to cover." It is thus thought that the basic meaning of "atonement" as the term is used in the Old Testament is to cover sin. From this come the derived meanings "to make amends," "to make matters right," "to expiate," "to make atonement."

In theological circles the term "atonement" has assumed a technical meaning and is generally used to describe the redeeming effect of Christ's incarnation, sufferings, and death. Christians are not all agreed as to what was accomplished by these events in the life of Christ, and consequently hold various theories of the atonement. It is therefore necessary to make clear what aspect of the atonement is under consideration in any statement concerning the transaction. Quite generally those who teach that a completed atonement was made on the cross view the term in its popular theological sense, but really what is meant by them is that on Calvary, the all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of Christ was offered for our salvation. With this concept all true Christians readily and heartily agree. "We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb. 10:10). Those who view this aspect of the work of Christ as a com-pleted atonement, apply this term only to what Christ
accomplished on the cross. They do not include in their definition the application of the benefits of the atonement made on the cross, to the individual sinner. There are those however, who believe the atone-ment has a much wider connotation. They fully agree with those who stress a completed atonement on the cross in the sense of an all-sufficient, once-for-all, atoning sacrifice for sin. They believe that nothing less than this took place on the cross of Calvary. They believe, however, that in the ancient typical sanctuary service other aspects of the atonement are brought to light. In the morning and evening sacrifice they see sacrificial atonement provided for all men (Ex. 29:38-42). In the sinner's own personal offering they see sacrificial atonement
appropriated by the individual (Lev. 4:31). Then came the grand climax on the Day of Atonement—day of judgment—when sin
was definitely and finally dealt with. These ancient services, they believe, were all typical of the work of Christ. The morning and evening sacrifices and the individual offerings for sin pointed forward to the Saviour's sacrifice on Calvary's cross. The ministry of
the priest in these services pointed forward to the high priestly ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, where He applies the benefits of the atoning sacrifice to the individual sinner. Then the Day of Atonement services, they believe, pointed forward to the work to be accomplished in what they call the Investigative Judgment which eventually culminates in the final obliteration of iniquity at the close of the millennial period. A study of certain Old Testament experiences, not connected with the sanctuary, will help to illustrate some of the meanings properly derived from the Hebrew word kaphar, which is rendered "atonement":
1. Notice the incident concerning Moses and Aaron and the making of the golden calf. This is recorded in Exodus 32. There we learn of the unfaithfulness of the people while Moses was in the mount with God. Under direction of Aaron they made a golden calf, reminiscent of their stay for so many years in the land of Egypt. When Moses descended from the mount, he was greatly disturbed over the apostasy of the people, and it was in this crisis that the tribe of Levi stood by his side. Then he declared to Israel, "Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin"
(Ex. 32:30). Here is atonement, an atonement made evidently without a blood sacrifice, without any blood being sprinkled upon an altar. How was this accomplished? Moses did not bring a sacrificial offering to the Lord; no, he made an atonement in the fact that he offered to take the place of the people. In this he was a fitting figure of the Lord Jesus, the Saviour of mankind. In
his earnest desire that the people might be saved, he was willing to be blotted out from God's book of life. "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written" (verse 32).
2. Another instance is the case of David in his contact with the Gibeonites. The story is recorded in 2 Samuel 21. Saul had slain many of the Gibeonites, whom Israel had solemnly sworn to preserve. David, in seeking to make amends for the wrong done, called representatives of the Gibeonites together and said to them, "What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement?" (verse 3). Then follows the story of what was done. When seven of the sons of Saul were hanged, the atonement was made. Here atonement means making adequate compensation for the wrong that had been done. This aspect is also em-
bodied in the great sweep of Christ's atoning work. This is emphasized in the following words: He [Christ] ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life. The Father ratified the covenant made with Christ, that He would receive repentant and obedient men, and would love them even as He loves His Son. Christ was to complete His work, and fulfill His pledge to "make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir."—ELLEN G. WHITE, The Desire of Ages
(1940), p. 790. (Italics supplied.)
When upon the cross He cried out, "It is finished," He addressed the Father. The compact had been fully carried out. Now He declares: Father, it is finished. I have done Thy will, 0 My God. I have completed the work of redemption. If Thy justice is satisfied, "I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am." . .. The voice of God is heard proclaiming that justice is satisfied.—Ibid., p. 834.
3. Still another incident recorded in Numbers 16 well illustrates a further aspect of the atonement. Israel had grievously provoked the Lord. The people had murmured against God; 250 of the princes, men of renown, had rebelled against the Most High. Resulting from this apostasy a plague broke out in the camp of Israel. In connection with this we have the divine
declaration: And Moses said unto Aaron, . . . Go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them (verse 46).
And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among
the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and
the plague was stayed (verses 47, 48). Here we see Aaron as a mediator, a fitting type of Christ Jesus, our blessed Lord. In thus stepping in between man and God, and by his sacrificial abnegation and devotion, standing between the living and the
dead, covering the people from the wrath of God, he thereby made an atonement for them.
4.. There is another aspect of the question, however, that should be considered. This grows out of the narrative recorded in Numbers 25. Israel had fallen captive to the seducing wiles of the heathen around them. They had sinned grievously in the sight of God in committing the abominations of the Canaanites. One man brought a heathen woman into the camp. God showed His displeasure by sending a plague among the people. Then Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, realizing the gravity of the offense, went out in the name of God and slew the offenders. When this was done, the plague was stayed. Because of this man's
jealousy for the work of God, the Lord said:Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel (verses 12, 13).
In this instance we see that this loyal priest made an atonement by removing the incorrigible offenders. The people of Israel were taught this aspect of God's plan in the sanctuary service as the Day of Atonement came around each year. The final act on that great day was the removal of the goat for Azazel, representing the instigator of evil. This goat was taken from the camp
of Israel and banished forever. So it will be in the closing work of God. Then the last act in God's great plan of cleansing the universe from sin will be to remove the greatest offender of all, he who was a liar from the beginning, that old enemy, the devil and Satan. These four experiences teach us vital and important lessons concerning the work of the atonement. In God's eternal purpose, He who makes the atonement is the Mediator. Everything in the typical service—the sacrifices and the work of the priesthood—pointed forward to Christ Jesus, our Lord. He took our place and died in our stead. In doing this, He became our substitute. In dying on the cross, in yielding His life an atonement for sin, He made adequate compensation for the wrong done; He met in full the penalty of the broken law of God. Christ's sacrifice in behalf of man was full and complete. The condition of the atonement had been fulfilled. The work for which He had come to this world had been accomplished.—ELLEN G. WHITE, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 29.
But the work accomplished on Calvary involves also the application of the atoning sacrifice of Christ to the seeking soul. This is provided for in the priestly ministry of our blessed Lord, our great High Priest in the sanctuary above. Not only are His people cleansed from sin by the sacrifice of the Son of God and saved for time and eternity, but the entire universe is to be purified from the very taint of iniquity with the author of sin utterly destroyed. Then will follow a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13) which will be the eternal home of the ransomed of all ages, those who have been redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb. Some of our earlier Seventh-day Adventist writers, believing that the word "atonement" had a wider meaning than many of their fellow Christians attached to it, expressed themselves as indicating that the atonement was not made on the cross of Calvary, but was made rather by Christ after He entered upon His priestly ministry in heaven. They believed fully in the efficacy of the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of men, and they believed most assuredly that this sacrifice was made once for all and forever, but they preferred not to use the word "atonement" as relating only to the sacrificial work of Christ at Calvary. We
repeat, they believed as fully as we do that the sacrificial work of our blessed Lord on Golgotha's hill was full and complete, never again to be offered, and that it was done once and for all. Their concept was that the sacrifice of Jesus provided the means of the atonement, and that the atonement itself was made only when the priests ministered the sacrificial offering on behalf of the sinner. Viewed in this light, it will be seen that the question after all is a matter of definition of terms. Today, not meeting the same issues that our earlier writers had to meet, we believe that the sacrificial atonement was made on the cross and was
provided for all men, but that in the heavenly priestly ministry of Christ our Lord, this sacrificial atonement is applied to the seeking soul.
Stressing this wider concept, however, in no way detracts from the full efficacy of the death of the Son of God, once for all for the sins of men. It is unfortunate that a lack of definition of terms so often leads to misunderstanding on the greatest theme of the Christian message.


Is this an accurate statement?
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Glen McCluskey

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2017, 07:49:18 AM »
This appears to be at least partly quoted from QOD.

One of the issues that came up, and is still current, is whether there's a distinction to be made between (1) ministering the benefits of an atonement completed at the cross, and (2) performing a final atonement after 1844.  Bible passages like Daniel 8:13-14 and Malachi 3:1-4 point to such a final atonement, and the SOP repeatedly uses this exact phrase.

Here's a quote from Question 30 of QOD:

Quote
Hence, the divine plan of redemption involves more than the vicarious atoning death of Christ though this is its very core; it also includes the ministry of our Lord as our heavenly High Priest. Having completed His sacrifice, He rose from the dead "for our justification" (Rom. 4:25) and then entered into the sanctuary above, there to perform His priestly service for needy man. "Having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9:12) on the cross, He now ministers the benefits of that atonement for those who accept of His mighty provision of grace. Thus the atoning sacrifice, having been completed on Calvary, must now be applied and appropriated to those who are heirs of salvation. Our Lord's ministry is thus involved in the great work of atonement. So as we think of the mighty sweep of the atonement, in its provisions and its efficacy, it is seen to be vastly more comprehensive than many have thought.

Beyond the "benefits" issue already mentioned, this passage uses the word "vicarious", which many object to, because it greatly weakens Christ's role as an all-sufficient sacrifice for us.  This in turn feeds back into the issue of what is meant by "final atonement".

This is a rich theme, and a source of long-lasting controversy.


Richard Myers

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2017, 11:55:12 AM »
Glen, thank you for taking time to read and comment. Yes, it is a rich subject and an important one. There is much error being actively taught in the church. While this subject is not of interest to many in the church, it will be very soon. It is time to move beyond "milk" to the "meat" which we all ought to be feeding upon, who have long  been in the church.

The reason why I posted the statement is because I can't find anything wrong with it. I may have missed something, but it appears to be a very good explanation of the sanctuary and its service wherein, there is a final atonement made when the sins of the saved are blotted out and the sins of the world are placed upon Satan. The heavenly sanctuary is cleansed of sin and our Mediator/Intercessor will leave forever no more to forgive sins. Those who are filthy are sealed, and those who are holy are sealed. Probation is closed and the living Christians will not sin while living in sinful flesh.

Brother Glen has carried us forward to the next question, but before going there, I want to hear from anyone who finds the posted statement in error. I have had to repent of thinking it was wrong. Satan is working very cleverly in an attempt to deceive the very elect, which he cannot. But, so many will be and are deceived.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Richard Myers

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2017, 12:10:05 PM »
Glen, while we are waiting to see if someone has a problem with the statement, let's look at the phrase "final atonement".

It is difficult to understand the language if we do not understand justification and sanctification and the simplicity of the gospel. If we are on a false foundation here, then why would we understand what is the "final atonement"? We would not.
 
The wages of sin is death. One sin, and we die. Jesus' love for us is so much that He not only died for us while we were yet sinners, He suffered for every sin of the entire world. This is grace. It is called the atonement for the sins of the world. The Jews and many professing Protestants think there is need for the sacrifices to begin in Jerusalem again. This is an abomination since the Sacrifice has already been made. Jesus, on the cross, paid the price necessary for every sinner who lived or ever shall live. "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this He did once, when He offered up himself." Hebrews 7:27. "Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." Romans 6:9,10.

Then why does another atonement have to be made. It would appear to many also an abomination to say so. But, there is always more than we know. If we knew everything, we would be as God. That will not be. Language is difficult at the best of times. But, when many professing Christians have not died to self, it makes things much more difficult. Let's try to present the "final atonement" in a manner that a child might understand when he is really wanting the truth so he can walk in it.

I have set the stage, who would like to try and explain in a very simple manner why it is not an abomination to have a final atonement when the atonement at the cross was indeed full and complete, and Jesus will not have to die a second time, nor need any more lambs be slaughtered. Where did the blood come from to make the "final atonement"?
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.

Glen McCluskey

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2017, 02:57:24 PM »
Glen, thank you for taking time to read and comment. Yes, it is a rich subject and an important one. There is much error being actively taught in the church. While this subject is not of interest to many in the church, it will be very soon. It is time to move beyond "milk" to the "meat" which we all ought to be feeding upon, who have long  been in the church.

The reason why I posted the statement is because I can't find anything wrong with it. I may have missed something, but it appears to be a very good explanation of the sanctuary and its service wherein, there is a final atonement made when the sins of the saved are blotted out and the sins of the world are placed upon Satan. The heavenly sanctuary is cleansed of sin and our Mediator/Intercessor will leave forever no more to forgive sins. Those who are filthy are sealed, and those who are holy are sealed. Probation is closed and the living Christians will not sin while living in sinful flesh.

Brother Glen has carried us forward to the next question, but before going there, I want to hear from anyone who finds the posted statement in error. I have had to repent of thinking it was wrong. Satan is working very cleverly in an attempt to deceive the very elect, which he cannot. But, so many will be and are deceived.

Richard's original posting is most of the answer to Question 29 in "Questions on Doctrine", written about 60 years ago.

Question 29 itself reads like this:

Quote
Seventh-day Adventists have frequently been charged with teaching that the atonement was not completed on the cross. Is this charge true?

Richard asks whether the answer to this question has any issues.

To respond to this query, it's worth noting that the Bible and SOP say a lot about the atonement, and if we pick and choose we can apparently prove nearly anything.  For example, it's possible to find SOP statements that appear to say that the atonement was complete at the cross, and others that say the opposite.

One way of reconciling all the raw material is to observe that the process of atonement is universe-wide, and includes not only what happened on the cross, but also issues of the great controversy and end-time events and so on.  Even though we correctly say that Christ was and is at the very center of the atonement, yet it's also true that the Father and Son have invited humans to play an integral part in resolving the great controversy.  The 144,000 are a good example of this.  We can't possibly save ourselves, or atone for ourselves, but we certainly can fully enter into the divine plan of atonement.

The word atonement is sometimes rendered "at-one-ment", and this usage can be found in the SOP.  The overall process involves coming back into complete harmony with God's system of government -- at one with God.

Given this background, what of the answer to Question 29?  Part of the answer is stated like this:

Quote
Today, not meeting the same issues that our earlier writers had to meet, we believe that the sacrificial atonement was made on the cross and was provided for all men, but that in the heavenly priestly ministry of Christ our Lord, this sacrificial atonement is applied to the seeking soul.

The idea here is one of ministering the benefits of the sacrificial atonement made on Calvary.

If we take a look at the answer to Question 30, it says this in part:

Quote
When, therefore, one hears an Adventist say, or reads in Adventist literature — even in the writings of Ellen G. White — that Christ is making atonement now, it should be understood that we mean simply that Christ is now making application of the benefits of the sacrificial atonement He made on the cross; that He is making it efficacious for us individually, according to our needs and requests.

The issue here is a big one -- the Bible and SOP say clearly and repeatedly that there's an atonement taking place right now, and that atonement appears to be more than ministering the benefits of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

An example of such a statement is this one:

Quote
Now, while our great High Priest is making the atonement for us, we should seek to become perfect in Christ. Not even by a thought could our Saviour be brought to yield to the power of temptation. Satan finds in human hearts some point where he can gain a foothold; some sinful desire is cherished, by means of which his temptations assert their power. But Christ declared of Himself: "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." John 14:30. Satan could find nothing in the Son of God that would enable him to gain the victory. He had kept His Father's commandments, and there was no sin in Him that Satan could use to his advantage. This is the condition in which those must be found who shall stand in the time of trouble. {GC 623.1}

Another way of saying it is that not only does Christ wish us to confess our sins, and be forgiven and cleansed, He also wishes to get us off the sin/repentance treadmill altogether.

This is where some other aspects of the atonement become of crucial importance, for example what Hebrews 2, 4, 5, and 10 say about the Incarnation and how Christ was and is equipped to be the perfect Saviour.  This aspect of the atonement goes beyond atonement for sin, and has to do with learning to depend fully on Christ to be kept from falling in the first place.  This idea of dependence is central to the sealing message.

It's worth noting that QOD came about as the result of extensive discussions with evangelicals.  I would expect that a true SDA definition of the atonement would be fundamentally different from an evangelical one.


ejclark

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2017, 06:16:03 PM »
I have only had a chance to read about the first fifth of the QOD statement. The one thing that comes to mind on just that portion is that we need to remember that there is a difference between the word atonement and "THE Atonement". Moses went to make an atonement between the Children of Israel and God. Not that Moses had any merit within himself to stand in in the place of the Israelites, but because he was a righteous man in God's eyes and God could use him to be mediator. Moses was a type of Christ in the way of being a self-sacrificing leader, but not in the way that the sanctuary priests were a type of Christ.

Richard Myers

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Re: The Atonement
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2017, 07:45:26 AM »
It's worth noting that QOD came about as the result of extensive discussions with evangelicals.  I would expect that a true SDA definition of the atonement would be fundamentally different from an evangelical one.

Amen, Glen. What was stated in what I quoted is different. You are correct in bringing other truths into the discussion. There is a work to be done that began on October 22, 1844. We cannot separate these things from "the atonement." It was the "Day of Atonement."  What happened? It was not just a recognition of the suffering and death of Christ, as the Evangelicals see it.

The answer given in QOD did not leave it there. There was an explanation given that there was more to do than Christ suffering and dying, He is our living "High Priest." 

The question was: "Seventh-day Adventists have frequently been charged with teaching that the atonement was not completed on the cross. Is this charge true?"

The answer to the question was answered to explain that there is more involved than just the suffering and death of Christ. It is not a difficult subject if one has an open mind and will accept Bible truth. The answer given did not allow the Evangelicals to believe there was nothing more. There was an effort made to explain there is more to the subject than just the suffering and death of Christ. If we want a total explanation of the Day of Atonement, it was not given, neither was it asked for. And, the book was not written as a text book for Seventh-day Adventists on the Sanctuary and its services. What is given in QOD on many subjects is far in advance of what many in the church believe, including ministers who have been educated at Andrews and ordained.

Was the book misused in an effort to teach error? Yes it was and is misused. As false teachers always do, statements are taken out of context and twisted to teach a lie. What was the purpose of those who wrote QOD? I don't know. As I see the book today, both liberals and conservatives have used it to argue against the truth. So it is with QOD, so it is with Scripture, an so it is with the Spirit of Prophecy. The book must stand on its own. This is why I have quoted a very controversial portion of it. If there is error in this passage, I want to see it. From what I see, what is stated exceeds the understanding of many in the church.
Jesus receives His reward when we reflect His character, the fruits of His Spirit......We deny Jesus His reward when we do not.