Christ Died For God

“Indeed, if one reflects even for a moment on the sinful condition of the race vis-a-vis the holy character of God, it will become clear that its Godward reference was the cross’s primary reference. The Bible plainly teaches the doctrine of the wrath of God. It teaches that God is angry with the sinner, and that His holy outrage against the sinner must be assuaged if the sinner is to escape his due punishment. It is for this reason that a death occurred at Calvary. When we look at Calvary and behold the Savior dying for us, we should see in his death not first our salvation but our damnation being borne and carried away by Him!”

Dr. Robert L. Reymond
A New Systematic Theology Of The Christian Faith — pg. 639

There is a bit of a contradiction in this otherwise fine quote from Dr. Reymond. Early on in the quote he says that, ‘it will become clear that its Godward reference was the cross’s primary reference.’ Yet later Dr. Reymond can say of the cross work, ‘we should see in his death not first our salvation but our damnation being borne and carried by him.’

Because Dr. Reymond was correct the first time Dr. Reymond should have said in the later quote something to the effect that, we should see in his death, not first our salvation, nor even first our damnation being borne and carried by him, though those are both fundamentally true, rather what we should recognize in his death first, precisely because Christ’s cross work was Godward in its primary reference, is that Christ was clearing any doubt about the Character of the Father being both just and merciful. In the death of Christ the Father’s justice is upheld regarding His opposition to sin thus showing that He does not leave guilt unpunished. In the death of Christ the Father’s mercy is revealed in the reality that God, in the incarnate second person of the Trinity, would rather take upon Himself His own just wrath then visit that Wrath upon His own people. At the cross we should see in Christ’s death first the vindication of God’s name and then and only then should we see that in the vindication of God’s name the Father showers the Son by giving Him a people (Isaiah 53:11).

In short the cross is not primarily about us. Christ died for God before He died for us. To be sure our fate was tied up in His but the blessing that we receive from Christ’s death is a blessing because the Father was the Son’s primary consideration.

Now this reality blows holes in most evangelistic efforts which often tend to communicate that people were at the center of Christ’s death. Christ died for people, or so we often say, and that is true in a secondary sense. But if Christ died first and foremost for people then it seems what we are saying is that the chief end of Christ was to glorify people so that He might fully enjoy them forever. Yet we know that even in the death of Christ the chief end of Christ as 100% man was to glorify God.

The reason that this idea needs to be trumpeted is that we have tended to make the good the enemy of the best in our evangelism. Because we tend to think that the death of Christ was first and foremost about us and forget how God’s glorious name was first and foremost we tend also to diminish God’s glorious name in how we craft the message. Because we tend to think that the death of Christ was first and foremost about us we tend to craft a Gospel message that is more sensitive to fallen sinners and their feelings then a Gospel message that is reflective of the work of Christ who prioritized the Father’s desires. I sometimes wonder if it is the case that because we think the Son’s death was first and foremost about us that we end up communicating a Gospel that has God prioritizing sinners repenting over the character of His name being upheld. (Yes, Yes, I know …. there shouldn’t be that kind of dichotomy in our thinking since the only way sinners will genuinely repent is if God’s name is upheld, but such are the times that such dichotomies seem to exist in people’s thinking.)

Another thing we should interject here before we finish is the idea that it is not the case that in the Christ’s atonement the Father was changed from being mean to being nice. We must remember that it was the love of Father that sent the Son. The atonement did not cause God to be gracious but rather was indicative of the already existing character of our eternally gracious God. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. The love of God for His glory required His Holy opposition to sin. The love of God for His justice visited His punishment for sin upon Christ. The Love of God for a company to publish His glorious character sent Christ to be our propitiation. Herein is Love indeed!

The atonement was the revelation of a Father’s love who loved His glory so much that He would rather win a people by bearing His own punishment in the incarnate second person of the Trinity then have the character of His mercy come into question. His love for His own glory became the overflow for our rescue.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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