Pastor Keith: Welcome to this episode of Doxology Matters. We’re so glad that you have joined us. We desire to think deeply about God’s Word as we give Him the praise that He is due. We’re so thankful that you have listened. We’re grateful for all the emails and the texts and the conversations of people sharing even with me, your host Keith McMinn, about how God is working in your life through this ministry, and we’re thankful for that, and we recognize it as God’s good grace to us. We pray that you will continue to listen.
Today begins a conversation around a book that our good friend Kevin Hass – who’s here with us, and Jeff Mingee, as well, they are back in demand. And we’re going to begin a conversation around a book called Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray. And I believe he’s a Presbyterian. Right? We’re going to do a series of podcast episodes that are going to walk through this book. If you want to go to your favorite place where you buy books and buy a copy of this, either digitally or check it out on Amazon and let somebody drop it by your door, and read along with us, that would be great. We would be so thankful for you to do that, and we pray you’d be built up.
Our first chapter we’re going to look at is “The Necessity of the Atonement.” And though this content is rather on the deeper side, we’re going to try to serve you well in our conversation. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Pastor Jeff, what does John 3:16 tell us about the atonement?
Jeff Mingee: Keith, thanks again for having us back, and what greater subject to talk about than the atonement. I love the fact that in the intro to the book, Murray says, “Let’s recognize that we’re dealing with a mystery, and we will never exhaust this mystery.” In fact, we should just, in some ways, stand in awe of it. But ours is the great task to think deeply about it, and to continue to proclaim it. So your questions, what does John 3:16 tell us about the atonement? And the answer is that it tells us exactly what you just said when you quoted it. It tells us that it begins in the love of God. “For God so loved the world.” Murray says in chapter one, “No treatment of the atonement can be properly oriented that does not trace its source to the free and sovereign love of God.” So when I think about Jesus dying for me, I’ve got to begin that thought at the love of God. So it tells me that it begins with love. It tells me that it begins with God’s love. And then John 3:16 goes on, “For God so loved the world.” Well, it’s not just me. Okay, it includes me, but it is not limited to me, so when I think about God’s love for me, shown in the atoning work of Christ, I got to think about other people as well. “For God so loved the world, that he gave,” and there it is. The giving of His Son is at the heart, I believe, of the atonement.
Pastor Keith: Amen. I’ll come back to you. Do you think that most Christians feel the love of God in Jesus Christ? Do you think that that is a struggle even to receive God’s love?
Jeff Mingee: I do. I think, A, we’ve built up a faulty definition and understanding of love. So we consider it an emotion that must be felt to a degree. I think you should have a definition of love. I like Voddie Baucham’s. He says, “Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” I think every teenage girl, especially, needs to memorize that, and when she goes out on a date and the little boy says, “I love you,” and he bats his baby blue eyes, right, she needs to say, “Hold on. Time out. Define love.” Right? If he can’t do it, date’s over. [Laughter] But I think, yeah, Christians do struggle with the love of God. What is it? Does He really love me? And we ought to be able to look at the cross of Christ and once and for all satisfy that question.
Pastor Keith: Why do you think it’s hard for us to – why do you think we ask that question?
Jeff Mingee: I think we ask that question because so often we feel unlovable.
Pastor Keith: Yeah. I know growing up as a kid, I had a strong sense of God’s wrath, and it wasn’t until probably when I was serving the church in Chicago that I started really to feel – there’s the word feel. I don’t often use that word – to receive – I was a regenerate Christian. I mean, I want to speak in clear terms, but to really know in a deeper way God’s love for me. It was by a sermon that was preached by Pastor Ben Willey.
Jeff Mingee: And maybe the word is acknowledge. You had received it, and you had felt it and feeling is part of it, but you were beginning to acknowledge it on a –
Pastor Keith: In a deeper way.
Jeff Mingee: – different way. Yeah.
Pastor Keith: Do you think theological terms like atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, should average Christians use those? Is it helpful, big words?
Jeff Mingee: Biblical words. I think average Christians should use biblical words. And as they build – let’s build from there to other words and a bigger vocabulary, but man, I want to make sure I’m using biblical words.
Pastor Keith: There you go. Awesome.
Jeff Mingee: And yeah, the Bible does talk about propitiation. Just one of those big, hard [crosstalk].
Pastor Keith: Yes, yes. Pastor Kevin, yes sir.
Kevin Hass: I think one of the images I use – and I’m glad to be here. One of the analogies I use often is imagine watching a football game, American football, and not having the vocab word for touchdown. And you’re trying to celebrate with somebody or teach somebody the game, but you can’t use the word touchdown. And you’re like, “Hey, our team just got six points and we’re going to have a chance for a seventh point, and what that means is that we’re in a position where the guy had the ball and he ran across the line.” Why would you spend three paragraphs trying to describe something when if the definition of that one word communicated so much more? We do this in every other sphere of life. Why are we lazy in our willingness to get our terms right in matters of faith and holiness?
Pastor Keith: Why do you think that is?
Kevin Hass: Well, I think, one, that people are so afraid of speaking. I think pastors and preachers can be scared of overwhelming the audience listening.
Pastor Keith: Preaching over their head?
Kevin Hass: Yeah, but I mean, I think we talk down to our teens. I think we preach down to our teens. I think kids understand biblical concepts far more than we would give them credit for, and so I think some of it is at the highest levels of leadership where we’re unwilling to create an atmosphere where curiosity is rewarded and where learning is an expectation for the community. I want to be in a place, want to be leading a community that wants to learn. Do you really want to peak in your theological understanding at 22?
Jeff Mingee: No. No, is my answer.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, no.
Pastor Keith: Mine too.
Kevin Hass: My heros of the faith have better questions at 80 than they ever had at 30, and that’s the trajectory I want to be on and I think that’s the trajectory you want to be on, I know Jeff, and you. That’s why we’re doing these podcasts.
Pastor Keith: Exactly right.
Kevin Hass: We want to lift up the necks of those who are trying to eat from higher fruit up on the tree, and it’s there. By God’s grace, He’s revealed these things to us. Why would we want to limit our understanding of what God has revealed. Are we going to know everything? No. But we are invited to know the things that He has spoken in His Son.
Pastor Keith: And when we see Him more fully, we worship Him in a deeper and a richer way, a more biblical way.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: Pastor Kevin, what is the connection between predestination and God’s love?
Kevin Hass: Predestination is entirely rooted in God’s love.
Pastor Keith: Okay. First, can you define it?
Kevin Hass: So predestination is the idea that God has chosen a people for Himself and that He is actively working out all things for His glory and their benefit. And so you see this in the Old Testament in the broadest terms, in God choosing Israel as a people. You jump into Deuteronomy 8 verses 7 and 8, and Moses is being asked the question, essentially, “Why did God chose Israel?” He could have chosen any of the -ites, right, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Jebusites, put any -ite in there you want. But He chose the Israelites. Why? Well, you don’t get a why. You get a why He didn’t. It’s not on the basis of how big they were, for they were pretty tiny. It’s not on the basis – it is ultimately because He set His affection on them. So why does God love Israel? Because He set His affection on them.
Pastor Keith: People usually ask the other question.
Kevin Hass: Why doesn’t He chose everyone? And so one of the most important things as we go deep into Murray and into the doctrine of the atonement, I want to whet our appetites with a significant thought. And that is, no one receives injustice from God. No one. No one receives injustice from God. They either receive justice or they receive mercy. Nobody receives injustice. And so I think for – many time when people want to start talking about predestination, they need to understand that we are not entitled to anything. I think most of the time the conversation is upsidedown.
Most people feel like – I feel like that most people have commercialized heaven and hell, and we’ve turned them into, “Heaven is the place where good people go and hell is the place where bad people go.” And then we go, “All right, well, who’s bad enough to deserve hell?” And we start talking Pharaoh, Hitler, Al Capone, make a list, rather than reversing that and saying, “Why on earth would a holy God let anyone like me be in His presence?” We’re not entitled to heaven. God doesn’t need to give us a reason why we’re so bad we deserve to be separated from Him, experiencing His wrath in payment for sin. It’s the reverse. Because He loves His people, He saves them. He rescues them. And the doctrine of the atonement hinges on that reality. That there’s no injustice, but there is justice or mercy, and mercy is by far better.
Pastor Keith: What would you say to the Christians thinking about, “Well, I received mercy. Why doesn’t God give mercy to somebody else?” Generally thinking about the doctrine of election, predestination, and trying to understand, is it just that we have finite minds and we can’t grasp that? Is that part of the equation?
Kevin Hass: Sure. I mean that’s always – I mean, you’re talking about the mind of God compared to the mind of man. There’s always an infinite mind of God, and a finite mind in man. And so that’s always going to be part of the discussion. But I think it’s – so the New Testament frames its understanding of predestination based on the historical framework of election in the Old Testament. And so if you’re willing to say, “Well, God chose Israel, and He didn’t choose any of these other people groups,” then I can grant that premise. Then why is it hard to imagine – because that’s the basis upon which – especially the Apostle Paul, in Romans 8, 9, 10, and 11, is building from. He takes the historical framework and highlights Jacob and Esau. The same mom and dad. Why does He love one –
Pastor Keith: Hate the other.
Kevin Hass: – and leave the other to himself? Esau is left out. And so the way we understand those texts is rooted in the choosing of Israel. Is God not free to choose Noah and his family? Is God not free to choose Abraham and his family? Of course He is. He’s free to do all His holy will. So why then are some not saved? Because God has not done the saving work in them. He has not worked faith, by the Spirit, into their lives. But He hasn’t done an act of injustice. He’s leaving an act of justice. We all would reject.
So let me summarize it this way, and I’ll let us get to the next question. No one in heaven will ever say, “Yeah, I deserve this.” And no one in hell will ever say, “I don’t deserve this.” That’s the bedrock reality of the human condition. And I don’t mean to be capricious about that. I don’t mean to be witty or playful or emotionless. When we talk about the doctrine of hell, we’re talking about one of the most important doctrines, and it’s among the most topics that Jesus talked about, in terms of volume. Jesus talks about hell more than everybody else in the Bible. And so it is a doctrine that we need to take seriously, but it’s wrong headed most of the time when we have the discussion, because we run to justice, and then define justice as opportunity for all. Instead of saying, “No, no, no. Love is the root for salvation. It’s the reason for salvation. And God is not just part love, He is love. And that expresses itself in the redeeming of a particular people.
Pastor Keith: I must say that, thinking about the Old Testament with God choosing Noah and all these different figures that you mentioned, I have not thought about it in connection to predestination. That logic going backwards in the Old Testament, but that makes a lot of sense. I mean, Romans 9 kicks us back to the Old Testament, but I haven’t thought about it in those additional ways.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, the entire New Testament stands on the shoulders of the Old Testament. So that’s Paul in Ephesians 1, “In love he predestined us,” 1:4 and 5, verses 4 and 5.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, it’s a terrible verse break. Isn’t it?
Jeff Mingee: Oh, my goodness, yes. I was thinking the same thing.
Kevin Hass: He predestined – no, no, no, no. In love he predestined.
Jeff Mingee: So if you read Ephesians 1, you read verse 4, it ends with the phrase, “In love.” The verse split, so verse 5 begins, “He predestined us.” It’s one statement, “In love he predestined us,” which reminds us that the verses and chapters are not original. Right? We read the whole text together. I think, as I was listening to Kevin, I’m reminded of what Paul said in 1 Timothy chapter 1. Paul talks about, “Why did I receive mercy?” And he say, “I received mercy for this reason, that in my, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display” – the foremost of sinners – “Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” And so Paul saw election, and I think this is proven elsewhere, he saw his election as a motivator for evangelism. It’s a motivator that, “Man, I’ve received mercy. Let me display mercy to a watching world and to those who will one day believe.”
Pastor Keith: Right. Which shatters the whole notion of hyper Calvinism.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah. Great chapter in another book about this. John Piper’s The Pleasures of God, his chapter – chapter 6, “The Pleasure of Election,” very helpful in understanding this concept.
Kevin Hass: And it’s written at a lay level. You don’t have to be a professional theologian to be able to jump into The Pleasures of God. That would be available to anybody. In fact, I’ve got an elderly couple in our church who’s just got turned on to John Piper, literally. And so I gave them a copy of that book. Can’t recommend it enough.
Pastor Keith: That’s on my reading list this summer.
Jeff Mingee: Great one. So I think what Murray says there, any treatment of the atonement must trace it’s source to the free and sovereign love of God. So every time we look at the cross and we think about the cross’s implications on us, we ought to think, “The free and sovereign love of God.”
Kevin Hass: And it’s important – you can’t fit everything on a poster. Right? So when we make 3:16 stand out – John 3:16 stand out, it’s wonderful. It’s true. But it also is followed by 17 and 18, which I’m going to read from the ESV. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” And so part of what’s happening is Jesus doesn’t come in to condemn the world. The world’s already condemned. God sends Jesus in to save. And that saving work is effective, and we’ll get into why and how more as the chapters go on.
But it’s critical that we don’t say, “Well, it’s unfair.” Well, it’s unfair that any – I mean, that’s the definition of mercy. Mercy is by nature unfair. Right? J.I. Packer has got my favorite definition of mercy and grace. What is grace? What is the doctrine of grace? J.I. Packer says grace is unmerited favor? No, that’s the common definition. What he says is it is mercy contrary to merit. You have earned something, and you are given mercy despite what you’ve earned. It’s mercy contrary to merit. When we say it’s unmerited favor, you could presume that you started neutral and that you get favor. We don’t start at neutral. We start in debt.
Pastor Keith: Okay, Packer’s definition is my favorite now.
Kevin Hass: It is. Yeah, it’s in Knowing God.
Pastor Keith: Oh, great book.
Kevin Hass: That mighty epic work. Mercy contrary to merit.
Pastor Keith: Murray talks about here, on page 5, he begins this conversation of the necessity of the atonement – the necessity of the atonement. Could one of you, maybe Jeff, explain what Murray’s driving at here when he talks about the necessity of the atonement?
Jeff Mingee: I think Murray’s asking the question, why did Jesus have to die? Why did He have to die? And he’s not necessarily going into the – what I would often consider the theological reasons. Well, God is holy and we are not, and there needed to be an atonement. Though he’ll do that later.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, and there are some sentences in this chapter that sure talk about God’s goodness.
Jeff Mingee: Right. There’s almost an assumption that those things are true.
Pastor Keith: Yes, before you even read the chapter.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, and so Murray is driving at the, “Man, if God gave His Son, let’s talk about the giving. Let’s talk about the heart and the mind of God that was behind the giving of His Son, in order that we might believe and believing, be saved from wrath.” So Murray, in this chapter, as he talks about – I think he’s talking about, why did Jesus have to die? Did Jesus have to die? And not only what caused it, what did we do to cause our need for atonement, but let’s look back at the free and sovereign love of God and the mind and heart of God that was behind the giving of His Son.
Pastor Keith: Could He have done it another way?
Jeff Mingee: Well, that’s the question that Murray’s asking. And Augustine would say, “Yes,” and Murray would say, “Mmm, maybe not.” Looking at the constraints of Scripture, which is another thing I love that Murray does in this book, is he says, “Look, when you begin to chase the what-ifs of your imagination when it comes to the atonement and the death of Christ in your place, time out. Time out. We have one driving source, and it is Scripture.”
Pastor Keith: Exactly right.
Jeff Mingee: So let’s drive our hearts and minds back to Scripture. Anytime we think, let’s drive our minds and hearts back to Scripture. Which, Keith, just a little insert, man, I think you do this really well.
Kevin Hass: Amen.
Jeff Mingee: I think you, whether it’s when you’re leading worship or in conversations like this, you’re always driving us back to Scripture, and I think that’s a great gift that you have.
Pastor Keith: Thank you. We were at a conference, Choral Festival, and we were reading different pieces of music – this is years ago – and Joy and I were there, and there was this beautiful song – I’m not going to name the title – because I’m not that kind of podcast host – this beautiful song, and musically it was so nice. And the soloist was killing it, and Joy and I were like, “Wow, this is so beautiful.” And she was like, “Honey, look at the text.” And I’m like, “That’s right.” And all the whole first three-fourths of the song said, “You could have come like this. You could have come like that. Your work could have been like this.” And it was posing all these questions, and then it got to the end and then it basically said, “But Jesus you came.” I just thought, “That is not helpful for the church to pose all these questions in a corporate worship, biblical worship.” It was not helpful. It wasn’t clear. And I don’t think Augustine would have been driving at questions like that. That made me think of that song.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, we always benefit when we tie and anchor ourselves to Scripture. Chasing the imagination is never better than rooting and anchoring yourself to Scripture.
Kevin Hass: Which is why we love guys like C.S. Lewis or Tolkien, who want to know what a holy imagination looks like. And certainly The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit or Narnia, there’s holy imaginational expressions there.
Jeff Mingee: That’s a great one.
Kevin Hass: But it’s rooted in their first love which is the God of the Bible. Not the Bible. The God of the Bible. The God who makes Himself known in the Bible, through the Bible. And so our constraint is not that we shouldn’t imagine things. It’s that we should imagine them based on the principles and truths of Scripture. And that’s why we anchor it into the text. It’s not because we love the text, it’s because we love the God who gave it to us, that we would know Him.
Jeff Mingee: We need more artists and song writers to use that imagination well. Yeah, absolutely.
Pastor Keith: Rooted in Scriptures.
Jeff Mingee: Rooted, yep.
Kevin Hass: Rooted in Scripture, and driving to the dominant expression of God’s love. I mean, the New Testament thinks of the cross slightly differently than I think the average Christian does. When the Bible talks about the New Testament – when the New Testament talks about the cross, it’s talking about the moment of Jesus’s glory. His glory is on the cross. I think many of us expect that His glory is in the exaltation, and certainly there’s glory there. But there’s no greater expression of who God is, what He’s like, what He loves, what He hates, than the atonement. I mean, it’s why this book is so important for us, because Murray’s immersed himself in that question. Who is God according to the atonement? And then he’s constrained himself to say, “I’m going to imagine only through what the Scripture says, and that’s going to inform and enlighten.”
Pastor Keith: And Murray drives that further, where he talks about the perfect Savior, His atoning work at the perfect Savior. Just a note, when I watched Lord of the Rings – don’t judge me – but I fell asleep. Maybe I was just tired that day.
Jeff Mingee: I’ve fallen asleep a couple times while watching it.
Pastor Keith: But when I watched March of the Penguins – I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that, with Morgan Freeman and the – it was very interesting. But I got a little sleepy there too.
Kevin Hass: I think that just means you work hard.
Jeff Mingee: I don’t know if Lord of the Rings has ever been compared to March of the Penguins. That may be a first.
Kevin Hass: That might be a first, podcast first. Keith, always breaking new ground.
Pastor Keith: What are some notable contributions with Thomas Aquinas and Augustine? What have those brothers contributed to the faith?
Jeff Mingee: I’m going to ask Kevin to jump in, because I don’t know a thing about some of those guys.
Kevin Hass: Sure. I mean – so, tons. Tons in the history of the church.
Pastor Keith: Okay, Augustine, when did he live?
Kevin Hass: So Augustine is in the time period 4th century, so 300s AD essentially. So you get the main creeds of the early councils. The great battle was between Augustine and Pelagian. And so Pelagian was very much destroying the faith and making it man-centered and St. Augustine stood in the void and said, “No, no, no, no, no, this is not what the Bible says. This is not who God is.” And he wrote extensively two works that I think are foundation to church history – foundational to church history. The first is The City of God, which is one of the best primers for the study of eschatology, the study of the end times. What does heaven look like and what will it be like?
Pastor Keith: Is it reachable?
Kevin Hass: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anybody could read – you know, high middle school, ninth grade reading level, stuff like that, certainly I think could dive into it. Not plumb the depths of it, but follow. And then the second work is Confessions. I think every Christian should read that, because Augustine has a way of uniting orthodoxy, right thinking, right belief with orthopraxy, right behavior, but also the third in that stool that it stands together is doxology. Right? So it’s right belief; it’s right practice or action, and right glory, praise. The Confessions is full of the story of his coming to faith. His experience of God and what God says.
He has great use of a holy imagination there, rooted in Scripture, but also pretty dreamy. And some of the metaphors are foundational for Christian discipleship. There are guys who quote guys who have no idea that Augustine laid the foundation for where that quote comes from. Might not be a direct quote from him, but it comes from there. John Piper has one where he references Augustine as Augustine deals with a prayer that he had, which is, “Lord, command whatever you will, but give what you command.” Meaning, “You can make the bar whatever You want the bar to be, but I can’t get over it unless You enable me, unless You empower me.” And that’s true in election, in salvation. That’s true in everything. Lord, command whatever You will of me, but then give me what you command.
Pastor Keith: A side question, do you think Jonathan Edwards gets as much press as he should have due?
Kevin Hass: Certainly not. But he’s high level thinker. Yeah, he’s way over most of our heads.
Pastor Keith: His classic work, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, that I think anybody could read, and you will be amazed at the contrast between how human our Christianity is, man-centered, versus his view of how God-centered the Bible is.
Pastor Keith: He was an American theologian, right?
Kevin Hass: Yeah. New England.
Pastor Keith: So how about Aquinas?
Kevin Hass: So Aquinas is usually reference more by the Catholics than the Protestants.
Pastor Keith: I like you said New England. Noted.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, Edwards. So for Aquinas, you’re talking Middle Ages. His great seminal work was the Summa. Michael Angelo, with the painting he did with all the theologians and philosophers, basically pictures them holding one tome, one book in their hands, and they’re all titled. So you kind of know who they are. Aquinas is holding the Summa, his great life-long kind of answer for everything. He tried to write a theology of everything, which is pretty tough to do. So there’s lots of good in Aquinas, but he isn’t somebody that most of the Protestant church looks back on quite so –
Pastor Keith: Favorably?
Kevin Hass: Yeah, favorably. He tends to be more of a philosopher than a theologian, though he speaks in theological terms. But he’s very important if you’re trying to do academic research. I don’t think he’s as important for Protestants to know kind of just discipleship-wise.
Pastor Keith: When we were preparing for Easter Praise, a video that we’ll show next year, we traced church history and the key figures, and we asked questions why these figures were significant and what their contributions were. And then we did this video tracing it from Acts all the way to Bethel.
Kevin Hass: Oh, neat.
Pastor Keith: It’s super special. We’ve got Catalyst in there. So we’ll have to show that video next year.
Kevin Hass: Can’t wait to see it.
Pastor Keith: Yeah. Why do you think God saves at His good pleasure? Can this be offensive to some people to think that God is not good to all but only to some? I know we talked about it some with mercy. Why do you think that He does? Let’s maybe take the first part of that question. Why do you think He saves at His good pleasure?
Jeff Mingee: Well, I think I would go back to the Murray quote where he says, “No treatment of the atonement” – again – “can be properly oriented that does not trace its source to the free and sovereign love of God.” And so if we’re going to rightly –
Pastor Keith: I love that quote.
Jeff Mingee: If we’re going to rightly understand the cross and the atoning work of Christ on the cross in my place, then I’ve got to trace that back to the free and sovereign love of God. And if I’m going to do that, I’ve got to remember that God is God and I am not. And is that offensive? Oh, yeah. All day. Genesis 1:1 is the most offensive verse in the Bible. “In the beginning, God” – not in the beginning, Jeff Mingee. Because I so often tend to live as though I am at the center of all things. And justice revolves around me and mercy should be shown to those who I think should receive mercy. But it’s not. It’s the free and sovereign love of God. And when I rightly understand that, I am both deeply offended and deeply comforted.
Kevin Hass: Offended in pride, comforted in desperation.
Jeff Mingee: Yep.
Pastor Keith: Yeah. Look at you with concision.
Jeff Mingee: Hey, look at – come on.
Kevin Hass: Jeff’s rubbing off on me.
Pastor Keith: That’s awesome.
Jeff Mingee: From six feet away.
Kevin Hass: The more we do this, the more I learn.
Jeff Mingee: Hey, man, you and me both.
Pastor Keith: Was it possible for Jesus to save sinners without His sacrifice?
Jeff Mingee: No. Well, not according to Scripture.
Pastor Keith: I mean, without the forgiveness of sin – what is it?
Kevin Hass: Without the shedding of blood, there is –
Pastor Keith: There is no remission of sin.
Kevin Hass: Hebrews 9 if you’re looking to look that up, 22 through 28.
Jeff Mingee: Yep. This is part of Murray’s argument in chapter 1 is Scripture clearly, Murray argues, lays a foundation that says, “No, sinners could not be saved apart from the death, burial, and resurrection, and perfect obedient life of Christ in our place.
Pastor Keith: How was the specific sacrifice by the specific Person of Jesus the one that was to be effectual? I don’t know if any of you are following that. How was the specific sacrifice by the specific Person, Christ, the one that was to be effectual?
Jeff Mingee: So Murray says – and it’s point number three. In the second half of chapter, he lists the number of points that kind of argue, “Yes. Jesus had to die for our salvation.” Point three, he says, “Such passages as” – and he gives an example of those in Hebrews – “teach very plainly that the efficacy of Christ’s work is contingent upon the unique constitution of Christ’s person.” So the efficacy or –
Kevin Hass: Effectiveness.
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, there it is. The effectiveness of Christ’s work is contingent on His person, the uniqueness of His person. So no, not just anybody could have died for us. Only Christ could have done what He did, which – again, if we’re going to deepen our understanding of the atonement, that means by necessity, we’re going to have to deepen our understanding of Christ’s person. You cannot think deeply about the work of Christ without thinking deeply about the person of Christ.
Pastor Keith: Absolutely. Absolutely, yeah. Pastor Kevin, I’ll ask you this. How is the sacrifice of Jesus different than that of a Levitical one?
Kevin Hass: Okay, so the book of Hebrews goes neck deep into this, chapter 9 and chapter 10. So in Hebrews 10:4, the Hebrew author says, “For there is no power in the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.” And so when you look at the old testament Mosaic – Moses – Mosaic sacrificial system, what you see there is that sin in any form, preconceived and planned or spontaneous, outward, inward, that there must be a cost paid in blood for every sin that occurs. And so as you think through the constant slaughtering of doves and bulls and rams and all the things that the law requires and all the oils that would be poured out and all of the – because it’s not just blood sacrifice, but the incense bowl in the Tabernacle is an image of prayers being lifted up to God. Right? So there’s vivid imagery throughout the Old Testament in the setting up of the Tabernacle, in the institution of the Temple, and in the Levitical work.
But ultimately the Hebrew author looks at those works and says that those guys have to keep doing it day after day after day from morning to sunset. They rise and they slaughter and they sacrifice and they sprinkle blood and they do all of these things. They’re burning parts of animals. They’re eating parts of animals. They’re setting it apart so nobody touches it. They’re doing all of this hard, brutal, bloody work, and it’s not efficace [sic]. It’s not effective to take away sins. So they have to keep doing it and keep doing it. Once a year you have Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement. You have to keep doing it year after year after year. You have to impute the sins of the people on the head of the animal and then release it out into the wilderness and then slaughter the one next to it. It’s all of this intricate system that is entirely designed to show us that sin has a cost that can only be paid in blood. But not just any blood. It has to be a righteous lamb without spot or blemish. But ultimately, if you want to redeem a people, then only a person can redeem a person. The animals are insufficient to do it.
Pastor Keith: Do you think the Old Testament, what you just shared, falls – we often miss that?
Kevin Hass: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. I’m trying to avoid lots of tangential roads here. As we think about the way that the atonement functions, the Old Testament sets the stage. It’s the blueprint for understanding and recognizing what Christ has actually done. And the Hebrew author is basically like, “Look, the Levitical priests stand day after day offering the same sacrifices over and over and over again. Jesus offered His sacrifice once and sat down, never to rise again to have to provide an atonement.
Pastor Keith: That’s what I was thinking about when you were sharing that about the Old Testament. Jesus did it one time and it’s –
Kevin Hass: Yeah, that’s it. It actually accomplished the thing that was promised that it would and that we can look back on. So all of human history hinges on that life and death of Christ to His resurrection and exaltation. And so that is the basis for salvation for Moses, for David, for Abraham, for Adam, and for you and me and Peter and everybody. No one is saved apart from that work of Christ, because there’s no power in the blood of bulls or goats to take away sin. The power to forgive sin comes by divine right – only God can do it – and through the effective work of the atonement. And that’s really the stage that Murray is setting up in this first chapter.
Jeff Mingee: There’s a Christian rapper who – he puts it this way, and correct me guys if you think this is not helpful.
Kevin Hass: No, no, go for it.
Jeff Mingee: He said, in the Old Testament, they were saved on credit, and after the cross, New Testament, we are saved by debit.
Kevin Hass: Amen.
Jeff Mingee: They looked forward to the lamb that would come. We look backwards on the lamb that did come. And so we hear John the Baptist say, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And we, with the saints in Revelation say, “That’s my lamb.”
Pastor Keith: So is this LeCrae? Trip Lee?
Jeff Mingee: I can’t remember.
Pastor Keith: Shai Linne?
Jeff Mingee: Yeah, I don’t know.
Kevin Hass: I think it’s in the doctrine of The Atonement, the album called The Atonement, which had several artists in it. If you want to tie that thought to Scripture, which we always want to do –
Jeff Mingee: Right, Hebrews 10.
Kevin Hass: So you could do Hebrews 10. You can do Hebrews 9. You can do Hebrews 8, 9, 10, kind of building up. But here it is in a more summary nature. Here’s the summary. So Paul, as he’s writing the church in Rome, in chapter 3, starting in 23 through 26, he says this, he says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation” – vocab word – “by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance” – in God’s ultimate patience, divine forbearance – “he had passed over former sins.” What’s Paul thinking of? He’s thinking about all of the Old Testament saints that He receives in glory and saves before He has payment made. That’s the credit. And we can see that because of verse 26. So here’s the sound bite. “It was to show his righteousness at the present time” – and of course Paul’s talking about that moment of Christ having comes and accomplished redemption of His people – “at this present time” – here we go – “so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” And so he looks at the Old Testament saints, and he looks ahead to us and all the New Testament saints, and he says there’s one basis for salvation. And so it was credit before, because God didn’t have payment yet. And now He has such a surplus of payment that it’s not being applied and doled out of the bank. So it used to be on credit, and now it’s on cash. Debit rhymes better, but for our purposes – and so you can see that thought right here in the center of Paul’s presentation of the atonement in Romans 3 through 5.
Pastor Keith: So do you hold to the L of the TULIP?
Kevin Hass: Oh, sure.
Pastor Keith: Could you explain limited atonement?
Kevin Hass: I think Murray’s going to get into it in future chapters.
Pastor Keith: Okay, well, let’s hold off on that.
Kevin Hass: No, but I’ll summarize it for you. Here’s the idea. No a single drop of Jesus’s blood was spilled in vain.
Pastor Keith: I agree with that.
Kevin Hass: Not a single drop of Jesus’s blood was spilled in vain. God saves effectively everyone He intends to. And so when we talk about limited atonement, it’s the word limit that I think hiccups a lot of people. If we talk about particular redemption, that God is redeeming a particular people, I think the language gets a little bit more comfortable to us as American Christians. And limited atonement only caught fire as a title because it rhymed with TULIP, and a lot of this thinking was coming out of the Dutch Reformed, and if you go to the Netherlands, tulips are everywhere. And so it’s an easy memory device as you are teaching the five points of Calvinism, the Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints.
So when we talk about limiting atonement, here’s the thing. It’s sufficient for all. It’s effective for the ones He intends to save. So sometimes people are like, “Well, then you’re making the cross small. If you believe in limited atonement, you’re making the cross small.” I’m like, “There’s nothing bigger and more glorious than the cross of Christ.” I’m not doing that. Everybody limits atonement unless you’re a universal salvationist, which makes you a heretic.
Pastor Keith: I’ve never been at the position where it minimizes the cross, but the limited atonement for me – I get it. It’s effectual for those that He elects. What was it you said? The first part? What did you say at the beginning of that? I lost it.
Jeff Mingee: He talked about universal in scope.
Kevin Hass: Oh, sufficient for all.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, sufficient for all.
Kevin Hass: Sufficient for all. Effective for the elect.
Pastor Keith: So sufficient for all, so how is it sufficient and effectual for some at the same time? Or how are both of those things true? Because they seem to oppose one another?
Kevin Hass: So yeah, they’re not opposing. You have a giant circle and smaller one inside it. And so the cross could save anyone God determined to save. And it does save everyone God determines to save. So here’s how everybody limits the atonement in one of two ways, unless you’re a universal salvationist, as I said, which makes you a heretic. So either you limit to whom it was purchased for or you limit to whom it’s being applied. But if you have a hell and anyone is in it, then you’re limiting the atonement in one of those two ways. Who was it secured for? Or who has it failed to be applied to? So when somebody says, “I don’t like the doctrine of limited atonement,” I’m always sort of laughing. Because I’m like, “Well, you limit it, you just aren’t upfront about it or aware of kind of what the Bible is saying about it in a more robust way.” Which isn’t a dis on you or anybody else. It’s a way of understanding and putting together logically what the Bible says. But I think the affront, the offence initially to the language of limited atonement puts people in a desire to rebel. It puts them in a defensive, push you away kind of thought.
Jeff Mingee: I think some of this comes down to the word possibility that people like to insert into the conversation. The cross makes salvation possible for everybody is the kind of suggestion. And Murray, I think it’s later in the book, is going to say, “Did He die to make salvation possible? Or did He die to save?” And the answer is, biblically, He died to save, not just make it possible. And that’s part of this limited atonement. He didn’t just die to kind of see, “Ah, we’ll see what happens. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t.” No, He died to effectively save His people.
Pastor Keith: Yeah. I hold to that.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, and John Owen sets it up best. From my perspective, in Western culture, John Owen sets it up and says, “Look, either you’re limiting the scope of the atonement or you’re limiting the power of the atonement.”
Jeff Mingee: Yeah. That’s – yeah.
Kevin Hass: So scope and power is essentially what it comes down to. If Jesus died for all, but only some are saved, then it wasn’t powerful enough to save. And the New Testament just doesn’t talk that way, anywhere.
Pastor Keith: Right. Exactly.
Kevin Hass: So then you flip it and you say, “All right, well if the scope is limited, then it’s unlimited in power.” And that’s the way the Bible speaks, that God effectively saved His people and not the other way.
Pastor Keith: I feel comfortable with that.
Jeff Mingee: And I for one –
Kevin Hass: So I just erased your lack of a fifth point. So you’re now a five point Calvinist.
Jeff Mingee: There you have five, yeah. I find great comfort in the fact that Jesus didn’t just die to make my salvation possible. He died to secure my salvation.
Pastor Keith: Oh, absolutely.
Jeff Mingee: I can rest in that. Possibility leaves a lot of open-ended questions and a lot of weight on my shoulders.
Kevin Hass: And a lot of room for human pride. Why do you believe and your neighbor doesn’t? I – no, no, no, the Bible never says that. The Bible never says you made yourself a Christian by utilizing what was available to you in the cross. The Bible says God made you a Christian because of what Christ has done in the cross. So I think we have to face our individualistic mindset that says mercy is deserved. Here’s what I mean.
There are TV shows now that are pretty popular where somebody gets a house made for them. So you get the back story of a person. You know, the dad died as a firefighter and the mom has five kids, works three jobs, and just is really struggling to make ends meet, and she serves the community and maybe she’s a nurse or whatever. So you get this bio on a person that the presenters of the TV show are giving you, and you fall in love with them, and you’re like, “That’s an amazing person. She’s so deserving of this act of generosity.” And so many people would say, “Well, the show is built on mercy.” Well, the TV show is ultimately built on viewership. Right? If people stopped watching, advertisers stop giving, the show will stop being made.
Jeff Mingee: No matter how good the story is, doesn’t matter.
Kevin Hass: But they’ll say – you know, Ryan Seacrest will be interviewing this girl and the kids will be picking out furniture or rooms, and there’s always extras at the end that they didn’t know about. It’s like they have to prove in the first 20 minutes of the show why this woman is deserving of this act of mercy. Because how many other single moms with five kids are in that town or city or whatever. Why did you give this to her and not to somebody else? So they’re building the case for deserving.
Pastor Keith: Yeah, you’re right.
Kevin Hass: And so if I said, “Here’s 20 bucks, Keith. Go give it to anybody you want.” And you turn around and give it to your kid, most people would be like, “Well why did you give it to – how many kids you got? You gave it to one kid. You didn’t give 20 bucks to all your kids? That’s not fair.” And you’re like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Somebody gave me 20 bucks and I was free to do with it whatever I wanted.” And then you look for somebody deserving or you look for an act that one of your kids does that’s deserving of a reward. The payment for sin has nothing to do with deserving a reward. It’s the relieving of what you deserve. It’s the removal of debt and the giving of cash.
And so we have this very self-centered construct of what mercy looks like, and we’re always having to justify who we have mercy on. God is not like us. Praise God. He is not like us. And so we say, “Well, why did you give mercy?” And He says, “Because I wanted to.” And we go, “All right, what were the factors? Was it because they were small?” Nope. “Was it because they were big?” Nope. “Was it because they were poor?” Nope. “Was it because they were rich?” Nope. We want to know all the factors, and the Bible says it’s not based on any of these human factors. It’s because God in His love determined to love.
Pastor Keith: Ephesians chapter 2.
Kevin Hass: Yeah, He set His affection on whom He loved and He rescues. And all others receive justice, the just penalty for their sin. So I don’t want justice for my sin. But I darn well want justice, if not vengeance, for the sins committed against me. I hope this never happens, but if somebody murdered my family, I would want justice for that heinous sin. Why? Am I wrong to want justice for that? No. God will settle all accounts. God will settle all accounts. And so it is a good thing to have justice. We don’t want to live in an unjust society. Scariest line in the Bible to me, that doesn’t deal with hell, comes from the book of Judges, “Each man did what he thought to be right in his own eyes.” Scariest chorus sung in a book in the Bible. I do not what to live in a world where justice is absent and everyone can determine for themselves what is good or just or true. I don’t want that. And praise God, that’s not the way the world works. All accounts will be settled.
Pastor Keith: Amen. Well, we’re thankful for God’s goodness to us in Jesus Christ, and that’s double, triple, quadruple exclamation point, we’re thankful for that. Brothers, thank you for joining this episode as we delve into chapter one. Thank you all for listening. We really would love for you to like/follow us, Doxology Matters on Apple Podcast or Spotify or your other favorite podcast listening service. And we would like for you to follow us, not because of us, but because we want to help you go down into the depths and study God’s Word, know God’s Word, and see the glorious Savior and worship Him fully. Thank you for listening.