In the end of last week’s post, it clear that Mr. Ericksen’s emotively prompted response to the woman who felt guilty for abandoning God is misplaced, according to Scripture. As I stated, he should have been expressing joy that a sinner who has abandoned God, feels guilty for doing so.
Ericksen says this turning away from God, which God reciprocates toward us, is a “pernicious theological claim . . . that’s a lie. Don’t believe it.” But what do the Scriptures teach about fallen man’s relationship with God?
Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear (italics mine).” So, while we see that God can save, man’s sin has separated him from God.
Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all (italics mine).”
Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:12, “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (italics mine).”
Romans 5:10a, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son (italics mine).”
Does it sound like there is a separation between God and man? The amazing thing is that for those who are his, there will never be separation or a time of God turning his back on us, as Paul writes:
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
After saying that God turns his back on us is lie, Ericksen clarifies his point further:
Sure, the Bible can be interpreted in that way. People often point to the Adam and Eve story as evidence. Adam and Eve turned their back on God by eating the forbidden fruit, so God turned God’s back on them. Many claim that God has been angry at Adam, Eve, and their children (that’s everyone!) ever since. Strangely, these people continue, God had no other way of dealing with his pent up anger than to inflict violence upon God’s own son.
You’ve heard that story before. It’s called penal substitutionary atonement. Again, don’t believe. It’s a lie.
Wow! I think the most flabbergasting statement is Ericksen attributing God’s holiness and disgust of sin to be nothing but pent up anger. He doesn’t say it, but that is exactly what the implication is.
Has he read Leviticus?
Does he understand the sacrificial system is what made it possible for Israel to be God’s people?
If God did not make provision through the sacrificial system, which only cleaned the outside of the cup (Hebrews 9:1-10), Israel would have been further separated from God; Israel would have been (to use a New Testament expression) as a Gentile and a tax collector to God.
So, did God inflict violence on his Son? “It was his will to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10). He decreed from before the foundation of the world that the Lamb would be slain for the sins of the world. It was violence that God decreed, but it wasn’t the violence Ericksen presumes it to be; it was a righteous giving of oneself for the unrighteous . . . the most honorable of actions. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay his life down for his friends” (John 15:13). It was what Christ came to do (Matthew 20:28; John 10:15, 17; 12:27).
I won’t post the entire foretelling of the Lord as the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 53:1-12, but a few choice verses are needed to demonstrate Ericksen’s error.
Verses 4-5 – “Surely has borne our grief’s and carried our sorrows; yet we esteem him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (italics mine).”
Verse 6b — “and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all (italics mine).”
Verse 10 —“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him (italics mine).”
And all of this speaks in regards to Jesus, the Son of God, who was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, [and was] crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).
And what was the reason for this?
Because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). His own blood secured an eternal redemption (9:12b).
His death reconciled fallen man to a Holy God:
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself ” (2 Corinthians 5:18a)
I leave you with what Peter says regarding Christ’s death:
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
So, is penal substitutionary atonement a lie?
Did Christ not die for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God?
Well, I am not going to be able to finish responding to his article. My word count is getting up there; however, there is just too much that needs to be said regarding this truly precious doctrine, which our faith hinges on, so I don’t want to give it a light treatment.
I will pick up on where I left off next week.