A Study of Theology III – Part 8
Work of Christ
A Study of Theology III – Part 7 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
The “finished work” of Christ consists of three things: redemption toward sin, reconciliation toward man, and propitiation toward God.
A Study of Theology III – Part 8
Dr. Thomas Figart
- The Saviour (con’t)
- The Finished Work of Christ. Although all the doctrines concerning our salvation could very well be included under such a heading as this, there are three spheres in which His death specifically finished the work of salvation. These are: redemption toward sin, reconciliation toward man and propitiation toward God. These three together constitute the finished work of Christ.
- Redemption toward sin.
1). Definition: Redemption is an act of God by which He Himself, in the Person of Christ, pays as a ransom the price of human sin which the holiness and government of God requires. Redemption is not a synonym for salvation or for atonement; it refers only to the liberating price which has full power to deliver us from the bondslavery of sin.
2). Old Testament ideas of redemption.
a). The redemption of Israel from Egypt, Ex. 12. Redemption was by the power of El-Shaddai, Almighty God, and by the blood of the Passover lamb, from the bondslavery in Egypt.
b). The redemption of individuals by the kinsman-redeemer, Lev. 25:25, 47-48; Ruth 4:4. The Hebrew word ga-al means “to set free by payment of a ransom” and the participle form, go-el, is “the one who redeems, the kinsman-redeemer.”
3). New Testament Greek words for redemption.
a). Agoradzo, from agora, the market place. Agoradzo means, “to purchase at the market,” Rev. 5:9. Concerning humans, we were in the slave-market of sin “sold under sin,” Rom. 7:14, but Christ paid our ransom, 1 Cor. 6:20.
b). Ex-agoradzo, “to purchase out of the slave-market, to remove from sale,” Gal. 3:13; 4:5. This adds the thought of permanence to redemption. The purchased one will never be returned to slavery.
c). Lutro-o, “to loose and set free,” Titus 2:14; 1 Pet. 1:18. The ransomed one is not held in unwilling bondage; however, just as the slave could voluntarily serve his master for life, Ex. 21:1-6, so the Christian should present his body to the Lord. Rom. 12:1-2, cf. Ps. 40:6-8; Heb. 10:5-9.
d). Lutron, “a ransom,” Matt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45. In the Greek O.T. (LXX), lutron was a common term for ransom money paid for freedom of slaves; so in the N.T. it means that the sinner is set free. Antilutron, in 1 Tim.2:6 emphasizes the substitutionary aspect.
e). Apolutrosis, “release, pardon, dismissal, set free,” Rom. 3:24. Redemption is the price which made justification possible. Cf. Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:15. In Heb. 9:12, lutrosis is used, emphasizing the aspect of deliverance.
- Reconciliation toward man.
1). Definition: Reconciliation is the aspect of Christ’s death by which God recognizes a complete change in the position of the world to Himself, and more specifically a complete change in the position of the believing sinner to Himself. By reconciliation man is brought from an attitude and position of enmity against God, to an attitude and position of amity and peace with God, through the work of Christ on the Cross.
2). New Testament Greek words for Reconciliation.
a). Katallasso, Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-20. The root word is allos, “another,” so the verb allasso means, “to make otherwise, alter, change,” Acts 6:14. Thus, katallasso means, “to change, or exchange.” It is important to note Rom. 5:11,”…we have now received the reconciliation,” showing that reconciliation involves more than a change of attitude; it also includes a change of position which we have received.
b). Katallage (noun), Rom. 5:11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18-19. It has the same basic meaning as the verb, here referring to the ministry of reconciliation. The word “atonement” in Rom. 5:11 (King James Version) should be “reconciliation.”
c). Apokatallasso, Eph. 2:16, “to change completely.” This word was coined by Paul and used in relation to Christ’s work for us. His work affects the whole universe, Col. 1:20-21 which now is groaning, Rom. 8:21-23, but will be changed and cleansed from defilement, Job. 15:15; 25:5. Thus, Col. 1:20-21 is not speaking of universal salvation.
3). The Nature of Reconciliation: Who is reconciled?
a). William G.T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 2, 395-97: God is reconciled to man. Rom. 5:9 indicates that the wrath of God needs to be appeased; then from man’s view, in Rom. 5:10, the death of Christ accomplishes this.
b). Objections to Shedd’s view.
(1). God always reconciles man; God is never spoken of as being reconciled, since there is nothing in God which needs changing. Shedd never comments on 2 Cor. 5:14-21, which is a major passage on reconciliation.
(2), Shedd confuses reconciliation with propitiation. Any change of attitude on the part of God is because His righteousness has been satisfied by propitiation, but that is not reconciliation, nor is it a change in position.
(3). Shedd appeals to Matt. 5:23-24 which refers to reconciliation between two humans. However, what is necessary with man cannot be necessary with an unchanging God. This would destroy His immutability.
c). Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, 514-15: God and man are both reconciled. Reconciliation is an expiation to God which has to do with God’s enmity toward man. Christ’s death justifies the sinner but does not result in the immediate subjective change in the sinner in sanctification.
d). Objections to Charles Hodge’s view.
(1). Hodge confuses positional truth with experiential truth. Reconciliation is positional, not having to do with man’s feelings. The sinner is at enmity against God, because he is in Adam, not because he has feelings against God.
(2). Progressive sanctification does not improve his reconciliation
(3). God never changes and is therefore never reconciled.
e). Karl Barth, The Humanity of God, 46-47 (Neo-orthodox view): Reconciliation was accomplished by the incarnation of Christ, not by His death. We meet with God in Christ. The infinite God has bridged the gap to finite man by including man in His deity.
f). Objections to Karl Barth’s view.
(1). This view transfers reconciliation from the cross to the Person of Christ. However, if Christ had not died, there would be no reconciliation, Rom. 5:10.
(2). Barth’s view does not deal with the sin question, which must involve a change in man’s position before God.
g). The Biblical Statement: “Be ye reconciled to God,” 2 Cor. 5:20.
(1). 2 Cor. 5:17-18, the new creation is a change from the former position in Adam to a new position in Christ where all things have become new; a total change.
(2). 2 Cor. 5:19-20, the whole world has been reconciled, that is, changed with regard to their position; they have been rendered savable through the death of Christ.
- Propitiation toward God.
1). Definition: Propitiation is that aspect of Christ’s death by which He satisfied the righteousness of God through His blood, and opened the way for God to manifest His love in forgiveness toward man and to bestow righteousness and grace on those who believe.
2). New Testament Greek words for Propitiation.
a). Hilaskomai, Lk. 18:13; Heb. 2:17. The root word is hilaros, “happy, cheerful.” The verb, hilaskomai means, “to be gracious, make gracious.” The Latin word is propitiate, “to render favorable.” God is righteous and cannot look upon sin; His righteousness must be satisfied and this has been accomplished through the death of His Son.
b). Hilasmos (noun), I John 2:2; 4:10. In I Jn. 2:2 the universal aspect is given.
c). Hilasterion (noun), Rom. 3:25 which gives the means of propitiation, the blood of Christ, and Heb.9:5 gives the place of propitiation, the mercy-seat. Cf. Lev. 16:1-15, the place of blood and Ex. 25:20-22 the mercy-seat, the meeting-place between God and Israel.