Before all time; prior to all worlds; when there was nothing “outside of” God Himself; when the Father, Son, and Spirit found eternal, absolute, and unimaginable blessing, pleasure, and joy in Their holy triunity – it was Their agreed purpose to create a world. That world would fall. But in unison – and at infinitely great cost – this glorious triune God planned to bring you (if you are a believer) grace and salvation.
This is deeper grace from before the dawn of time. It was pictured in the rituals, the leaders, and the experiences of the Old Testament saints, all of whom longed to see what we see. All this is now ours. Our salvation depends on God’s covenant, rooted in eternity, foreshadowed in the Mosaic liturgy, fulfilled in Christ, enduring forever. No wonder Hebrews calls it “so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3).
Early in your Christian life, you thought salvation was “great” didn’t you? Do you still think about it that way today?
In Christ Alone
Any adequate understanding of the atonement must include within it this aspect of Christ’s disarming of the powers of darkness. It is personally gratifying in this context to be able to quote some apt words from the late Professor John Murray:
Redemption from sin cannot be adequately conceived or formulated except as it comprehends the victory which Christ secured once for all over him who is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air. . . . It is impossible to speak in terms of redemption from the power of sin except as there comes within the range of this redemptive accomplishment the destruction of the power of darkness.
A comprehensively biblical exposition of the work of Christ recognizes that the atonement, which terminates on God (in propitiation) and on man (in forgiveness), also terminates on Satan (in the destruction of his sway over believers). And it does this last precisely because it does the first two.
In this respect, [Gustav] Aulén’s view was seriously inadequate. He displaced the motif of penal satisfaction with that of victory. But, as we have seen, in Scripture the satisfaction of divine justice, the forgiveness of our sins, and Christ’s defeat of Satan are not mutually exclusive but complementary. Each is an essential dimension of Christ’s work. Each is vital for our salvation, and each provides an aspect of the atonement from which the other aspects may be seen with greater clarity and richness. Moreover, these aspects are interrelated at the profoundest level. For the New Testament the dramatic aspect of the atonement involves a triumph that is secured through propitiation. Aulén therefore failed to recognize that in setting the dramatic view over against the penal view of the atonement he inevitably enervated the dramatic view of its true dynamic.
For the Fame of God’s Name: Essays in Honor of John Piper
Via: Justin Taylor
There are many reasons, but usually they involve three things. First, we have such a low sense of the holiness of God and we are insensitive to the sheer intensity of it. To whatever extent our sense of God’s holiness is diminished, to that extent our sense of amazement at God’s grace will be diminished. Second, we adopt superficial views of our sinfulness and too often guard against the ministry of the Word and Spirit exposing it. Jesus said that it is those who are much forgiven who love much. The reason is that those who are most conscious of their sin become most conscious of their need of grace, and therefore most aware of the wonders of grace. Third, we think too little of the costliness of grace. It comes freely to us because it was so expensive to Christ to satisfy the justice of God on our behalf. Sadly, in our contemporary “Christianesque” subculture, we are weak in reflection and meditation on Christ and the meaning of the cross.
Only sinners need grace. If I do not see myself as a sinner then I will (however foolishly) expect “fairness” from God. If I believe I have behaved “decently” toward Him (after all, I never did Him any harm!), I will expect Him to behave “decently” toward me. That is probably the world’s most popular creed. But it is not the Christian’s creed, nor is it the gospel. Only when I see my sin do I seek grace from God. That is true at the beginning of the Christian life. It remains true right to the end.
It is legitimate to speak of “receiving grace,” and sometimes (although I am somewhat cautious about the possibility of misusing this language) we speak of the preaching of the Word, prayer, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper as “means of grace.” That is fine, so long as we remember that there isn’t a thing, a substance, or a “quasi-substance” called “grace.” All there is is the person of the Lord Jesus — “Christ clothed in the gospel,” as John Calvin loved to put it. Grace is the grace of Jesus. If I can highlight the thought here: there is no “thing” that Jesus takes from Himself and then, as it were, hands over to me. There is only Jesus Himself. Grasping that thought can make a significant difference to a Christian’s life. So while some people might think this is just splitting hairs about different ways of saying the same thing, it can make a vital difference. It is not a thing that was crucified to give us a thing called grace. It was the person of the Lord Jesus that was crucified in order that He might give Himself to us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.