Atonement and Society - RR198B4
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|This transcript is unedited. It was:|
|Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library|
|Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules|
|Posted by permission of the Chalcedon Foundation|
Let us worship god. Grace be unto you and Peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Let us pray.
Almighty God our heavenly Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast chosen to dwell in the hearts of thy people, that thou hast declared that thou wilt hear and bless those who seek thy face. We come to Thee with all our burdens, our hopes, our joys. Restore unto us the peace and assurance of thy salvation; quiet in our hearts in the midst of trouble and affliction. Make us ever confident in Thy ways, so that our minds lightened by Thy grace may give rest to our souls. Oh Lord our God, we thank Thee that Thou art ever near, and so we come into thy presence, rejoicing in all thy mercies, to hear Thy word, to sing Thy praises, and to seek Thy face. In Christ’s name, Amen.
Our Scripture is Hebrews 2:9-18, our subject Atonement and Society. Atonement and Society, Hebrews 2:9-18.
“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
10For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.
13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.
14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.
17Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.”
Paul in First Corinithians 1:18-31, calls attention to the fact that to the Jews, Christ crucified was a stumbling block, and to the Greeks, foolishness. To neither group was the atonement other than an ugly and offensive thing because it was attained by crucifixion. God had made man to be the one to exercise dominion under him, over the earth. And man had fallen. Man the sinner is incapable of Godly dominion, and yet, this is his calling. As Franz Delitzsch observed and I quote: “Man in his present natural state is evidently not Lord of the Universe. His destiny, to rule over it is not yet fulfilled. But in Jesus, it is fulfilled, already.” [00:05:24]
The work of Jesus Christ is to restore man to this...
The work of Jesus Christ is to restore man to this calling. It is to enable man to exercise dominion and to subdue the earth under God. Man’s dominion task must be preceded by the atonement and the regeneration of man. One of the basic aspects of the atonement is the restoration of man to his original task and to his original calling. To separate the atonement from the dominion mandate is to give man a man centered meaning to his life, and also to the atonement.
It reduces the meaning of Gods work, to man’s personal peace, and that is wrong. God gives peace, but that is peripheral to his central calling of us. Because dominion belongs to men and not to Angels, the purpose of the atonement is to remake man for his calling and destiny. In terms of this at the right time God sent his son to become a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Now Christ’s subordination to the angels was in his submission to the death penalty for man, it is not that Jesus Christ was ever in his nature lower than the angels, but by his calling he was made lower than the angels to experience death, something no angel experiences.
The ministry of angels is never of so radical a scope that they must die. Jesus Christ tastes death for us. The expression to taste death appears several times, in the New Testament. In Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, Luke 9:27, and John 8:52. It means the total experience of death in all its horror and isolation. [00:08:24]
Verse 10 tells us that this was necessary, because...
Verse 10 tells us that this was necessary, because our savior had to be made perfect through sufferings. To make perfect, means literally to carry to the goal or consummation. To bring to maturity and fulfillment. It does not imply moral imperfection, but rather means that Jesus Christ experiences to the full mans experience of suffering and death. He is crowned with glory and honor because he has tasted death for every man, but not as deserving it, but as our vicarious substitute. He is the captain or leader of our salvation verse 10 tells us. By his incarnation Jesus Christ, God the Son, becomes man our brother. All things were made by him we are told in John 1 verse 3. And all things exist because of him.
But here we are told that God the Father made all things and causes all things to exist for the redeemer, as the Lord over all the redeemed. Their captain, one of us, is made perfect though sufferings. Jesus Christ was made all the more perfect or mature brother to his new humanity, by the sufferings he experienced on their behalf.
What we are told then is that Jesus Christ knows what it’s like to be human. To know the pain of being hurt. To know the suffering, of seeing things go wrong in the lives of others. To know the anguish and pain of death. He experienced all this on our behalf. Sanctification is the path to glorification, and the sanctifier and the sanctified are now alike the new humanity, with Jesus Christ as the last Adam, our federal head.
In verse 12 the reference is to Psalm 22 verse 22. The messiah is there shown speaking to us his brethren. The word church is in the Greek Ecclesias, which has as its meaning: The governing council of the community. The church thus has the duty of making its community and its world a Godly one, to be Gods government in its sphere, furthering the work of the kingdom. This the early church did by its evangelism, education, charity, courts of arbitration, and much, much more. [00:12:19]
Verse 13 is a quotation from Isaiah 8...
Verse 13 is a quotation from Isaiah 8:17 very freely rendered. The Messiahs praise of God will be to put his trust in God. This given the sufferings he faced, was not easy to do. However the Messiah includes us in that trust. Earlier we are referred to as his brethren; here, as his children. He is saying in every way: I am your family. I am the one you can turn to, I am the one who is mindful of your need.
Christ because we are flesh and blood, became the same as we are, and mortal, so that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, verse 14 tells us. Because the devil introduced sin, he brought in death, so that his power is the negation of life. The devil is not lord over death, but the one who introduced it like a plague bearer. He does not inflict death, but rather carries it, and all who follow him contract it. God the Son comes to deliver those who have been in bondage to death, because sin was brought into the world by the tempter.
The fear of death was pronounced in antiquity, very pronounced. Modern anti-Christian bravado tries to pretend otherwise, but not very effectively. The fear of death is still prevalent among the ungodly, in particular. What God the son did was not to become an angel, one who serves God, but without the exposure to sin and death. Angels are immune to those things. He became a man, in the line of Abraham. His incarnation thus was from his birth on very, very real. He was in all things like his fellow men, so that he could be a merciful and faithful high priest. [00:15:19]
In all things pertaining to God, a faithful high priest...
In all things pertaining to God, a faithful high priest, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people. For us. The reality of the incarnation made possible the reality of the atonement. In every area of his work as our high priest, his incarnation has made him our effectual brother. He is our true intercessor. Because he knows our every want and need, as well as our sins and short comings. Where our brothers after the flesh cannot know us, he knows us. Unlike purely human high priests who have been exalted and remote persons, Jesus Christ is closer to us than we are to ourselves, and he is both merciful and faithful.
Because Jesus Christ was tempted, he is able to aid and rescue those of his brethren who are tempted, verse 18 tells us. His sufferings were his trial and temptation. The nature of society as given to us in Hebrews, is totally in line with the whole of the bible, basic to community is atonement. All societies outside of Christ, whatever foundation they may seek to have or profess, are founded on sin. No social order established on sin can experience anything other than death. It is without atonement, without grace, and without a valid hope. If society has its foundation in Christ’s atonement, and Gods law as its way of sanctification, then it has a future under God, because it is in the realm of life and not of death. [00:17:57]
Hebrews thus tells us that without Jesus Christ’s atonement...
Hebrews thus tells us that without Jesus Christ’s atonement there is no true society or community. Men everywhere are trying to build a society and a community apart from Christ, on man or in terms of the state or in terms of education, or in terms of psychotherapy, which is the belief of some, nowadays. On any foundation other than Jesus Christ. So they are building on sand, and this is why civilizations rise and crumble.
Hebrews also strikes at partial, or false, or defective gospels, such as a purely personal gospel, which sees salvation as simply the salvation of the individual soul. But Christ’s atonement is cosmic in its scope. It points to one thing, a new heavens and a new earth, wherein righteousness or justice dwelleth. Let us pray.
Our Father we give thanks unto thee for this Thy word. Grant that by Thy grace having been redeemed by Christ’s atonement, we make it the foundation of our lives, of our being and of our world. Make us more than conquerors through him, in Christ’s name, amen.
Are there any questions now about our lesson? [00:20:09]
[Audience Member] in the Apostles Creed we say that Christ descended into hell, in regard to the total death of Jesus here in Hebrews, does that relate to the fact that he had to die physically as well as spiritually and be separated from God?
[Rushdoony] Yes, His descent into hell, it literally in the Greek is Hades. The condition of death. So he experiences to the full, everything that man must experience, because of the fall. And therefore he can be called captain of our salvation; it was not an academic rescue, he didn’t throw us a life buoy or something to pull us out. He experienced everything we are told, to the uttermost. And therefore he is in an unusual way able to hear and answer us, to know our every prayer, and every unspoken prayer. This is why, confession is so important in the Christian faith, and private confession especially, because there you can open up totally to God, without any intermediary except Jesus Christ, who knows every fiber of our being, declares himself to be our brother, and therefore he is able to understand and to help us and to strengthen us, in a very, very remarkable way. Yes.
[Audience Member] Is it possible to practice pietism in a godly way?
[Rushdoony] Piety yes, but not pietism. Because pietism puts a very, very self-centered expression on personal acts of piety, devotional exercises, and so on. As though we are going to be blessed by God for a lot of pious gush, but all this without action. We had the rise of pietism several times in history in the late mediaeval period, and again beginning somewhere in the last century, when people turned away from doing what they should do, to retreats in which they were instructed in the deeper life, deeper fellowship with God, all in terms of nothing but emotional experience. And that has corrupted every branch of Christendom. Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, they all have become hyper pietistic, except for those who have gone in in recent years for the social gospel. All of this has very much undermined the church, because the social gospel is just the political gospel, it is not what God and His Law tells Christians to do. And pietism assumes that your personal acts of devotion are all that are needed, and the result is in the late middle ages you had pilgrimages, and by going on a pilgrimage it ostensibly gave you a great plus with God. And, in the past century or more, going to retreats or spiritual conferences, conferences that simply emphasize the deeper life, by which they mean: more time in prayer by the hour. [00:25:04]
[Audience Member] How about convents and monasteries...
[Audience Member] How about convents and monasteries?
[Rushdoony] Yes. That earlier was a place of work, later it became a place of retreat. So that too has changed. Now, the great American Evangelist Dwight Moody was at time theologically a bit ultra Arminian, but at other times his basic common sense made him a very remarkable man. And one of the wonderful things bout Moody, two stories that I have told before, and I think they are worth telling again.
When he once went to a major American city, and I believe it was Chicago, a group of laymen and ministers met him and since he was going to begin the evangelistic services the next day they said: “Brother Moody, we are going to have an all night prayer that many souls be saved with your coming here” And Moody patted them on the back, and he said: “Well, I am going to go to my hotel, and after a good dinner I’m going to go up and I’m going to kneel by my bed and I’m going to say “Lord, make it effectual, grant that many souls be saved.”” And he said, “With that, I am going to bed and sleep.”
On another occasion Moody was in London, and this one pastor who was a part of the planning committee got up to pray at the beginning, and he went on and on and on. I believe his prayer was over 20 minutes when it was--- well, at any rate, Moody saw a group of college students walk in, sit down, and he thought they were probably there out of curiosity to hear this prominent American Evangelist. And after about 15 minutes or so they stood up to leave. So Moody jumped up immediately. He did not want to see them go out, and he said: “While our brother is finishing his report to God, let us unite in such and such a hymn.” And the college students laughed and sat down, and one of the converts in that group was Sir Wilfred Grenfell, one of the great men of this century. [00:28:13]
So, Moody had a healthy sense of practicality...
So, Moody had a healthy sense of practicality. Any other questions or comments? Yes.
[Audience Member] You mentioned how modern Churchmen and professing Christians separate the atonement from the creation mandate; because of that they can’t always put things together in (standard times?) and they are really blind many times. Can you maybe comment on the implications of this divorce and why they are blind and this shouldn’t surprise us?
[Rushdoony] Well, what I said about the essential relationship of the atonement to the creation mandate was nothing new, it’s just that periodically the church has forgotten about it. It has chosen to neglect it, to concentrate on the individual. Now, that’s egoism. It is saying that the most important thing for God is your salvation, whereas in truth, it is the creation mandate. God wants us to roll back the effects of sin in every sphere of life and thought, and that is our calling. Yes?
[Audience Member] Well isn’t pietism and a deeper lifeism just essentially a man centered religion?
[Rushdoony] Yes! It’s very man centered, it’s not even man centered, it is self centered. When you say man you are including other people, and it is self centered. Well, if there are no further questions, let us conclude with prayer.
Our father we give thanks unto Thee for Thy Word. We thank Thee our Father that Thou art mindful of us when we are not mindful of Thee. Gracious to us, when we are impatient with Thee. How great Thou art oh Lord, and we thank Thee. Give us strength day by day for our tasks, our burdens, and our opportunities. And make us a conquering people.
And now go in peace, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, bless you and keep you, guide and protect you, this day and always, amen. [00:31:02]