Last week we covered our statement of faith's first point, relating to inerrancy and preservation of scriptures. Next, we assure visitors and congregants alike of our belief in (.2) the triune God of the Bible, (3.) Christ's deity and sinless humanity, and (4.) Jesus' virgin birth. We trust those are well understood here at MBC. We modified the ACCC's 5thpoint to read as follows:
5. His substitutionary, propitiatory death, in that He gave His life "a ransom for many".
For the first 300 years, the early church wrestled with points 2-4 above, finally arriving at the doctrine of the triunity of Christ. But church history records that a full explanation of what Jesus actually did at the cross wasn't clearly articulated until 1093 AD when Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, explained 2Cor. 5:19 using "the Satisfaction Theory" of the atonement. This is succinctly explained in The 100 Most Important Events In Christian History, (Curtis, Lang & Petersen; Christian History Institute, 1991): "In Cur Deus Homo (Why Did God Become Man?), Anselm put forth a theory about how Christ's death on the cross reconciles men to God. God, Anselm said, is Lord of the cosmos, a Being Whose honor is offended by man's sin. Though He Wishes to forgive man, in order to maintain moral order in the universe, He cannot simply 'overlook' sin. Some satisfaction must be made, something equal to the offense. Since sin is man's, satisfaction must be made by man; yet man cannot offer adequate satisfaction. So God became man, and the one who offers satisfaction is both God and man: Christ."
Many today agree that Jesus Christ is our substitute, but what is not agreed upon is to what extent His death actually paid for sins. His death was propitiatory, meaning it truly made a full reconciliation between God and all whom Christ represented, and favorably disposed the offended towards the offender. The Greek word hilasterion relates to a full placation of God's wrath. Thayer's Lexicon notes its root is "used of the cover of the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies, which was sprinkled with the blood of the expiatory victim on the annual day of atonement ° signifying that the life of the people ° was offered to God in the blood as the life of the victim, and that God by this ceremony was appeased and their sins expiated." Praise Him for a full redemption!