ATONEMENT FOR WHOM? (part 3)

 

 

APPENDIX  A

 

THE SATISFACTION OF CHRIST: ITS TYPIFICATION

 

 

Christ has been greatly dishonored and His atonement grievously misrepresented by the attempts which have often been made to illustrate it from supposed analogies in human relations. Rightly has it been said that, "The plan of redemption, the office of our Surety, and the satisfaction which He rendered to the claims of justice against us, have no parallel in the relations of men to one another. We are carried above the sphere of the highest relations of created beings into the August counsels of the eternal and independent God. Shall we bring our own line to measure them? We are in the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; one in perfections, will and purpose. If the righteousness of the Father demands a sacrifice, the love of the Father provides it. But the love of the Son runs parallel with that of the Father; and not only in the general undertaking, but in every act of it we see the Son’s full and free consent." 

 

But while no parallel to the Great Transaction, or to the relation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to its accomplishment, can be found in any of the relations of mere creatures to one another, God has graciously adapted a series of types, historical and ceremonial, to the illustration of His wondrous plan, and especially to portray the various aspects of the office and work of Christ. In them the Divine wisdom is signally displayed, and it is the part of human wisdom to devote our closest attention to the same. By the typical system, God was not only educating His people for the "good things to come," but was also preparing human language to be a fit medium for the revelation of His grace in Christ. It is to the types we must turn if we would define aright the sacrificial terms of the New Testament.

 

But an impression obtains in some quarters that instruction by the types belongs to an inferior dispensation, and was only designed for the Church in the days of its infancy. Scripture teaches otherwise. It is true that "the typology of the Pentateuch is the Divine kindergarten," yet it is also true that "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning (Rom. 15:4), and that God’s dealings with Israel were "our types" (1 Cor. 10:6 margin). Yea, so far from the study of the types being an elementary one, Hebrews 5:10-12 shows that they furnish our "strong meat."

 

While it is true that the "typology of the Pentateuch is the Divine kindergarten," this does not mean either that the teaching of the types is to be lightly esteemed, or that the instruction which they furnish is inferior in quality to that which is given in the Epistles. No schoolchild is really qualified to take in the teaching of the higher grades until he is thoroughly familiar with and has more or less mastered the lessons of the lower grades. So none are fully equipped to receive the evangelical teachings of the New Testament, if the key-phrases of the old Testament types are neglected. Not only has the sacrificial work of Christ as many aspects as there are great sacrifices in the Pentateuch, but the doctrinal statements of the Epistles are frequently couched in the language of the types, and can only be rightly interpreted in the light which they furnish.

 

"A type is something emblematic or symbolic, used to express, embody, represent or forecast, some person, truth or event. It is an image or similitude of something else, sustaining to doctrinal teaching some such relation as a picture does to a precept or promise, presenting to the eye or imagination a concept addressed to the ear or understanding. It is one of the most frequent forms of figurative teaching in Scripture, but being sometimes more obscure than obvious demands keener insight and closer study." The types were prophecies, forecasts of things to come, and therefore do they furnish one of the most striking and conclusive proofs of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, for only He Who knew the end from the beginning could have so accurately, so fully, and so marvellously anticipated and adumbrated Calvary thousands of years before Christ died.

 

"The Old Testament types were a mode of instruction of the way in which God was to be approached, and were peculiarly suited to the human mind struggling with a sense of guilt; and they have furnished to the Church of all times, a vocabulary or nomenclature, without which men could not with sufficient precision have been able to hold intercourse with each other on the subject of the Atonement. It deserves special notice that prophecy and the sacrifices are always found together, and throw light upon each other; and that they run in parallel lines through the entire Old Testament economy. Nay, the sacrifices may be regarded as a sort of prophecy, or a guarantee to which the veracity of God was pledged, for the shadow must one day be a reality" (Geo. Smeaton). "A type is a prophetic symbol, and since prophecy is a prerogative of Him who sees the end from the beginning, a real type, implying as it does a knowledge of the Reality, can only proceed from God." 

 

The Old Testament types supply incontrovertible evidence that the Gospel was no novel invention of New Testament times. When the risen Savior would make known to His disciples the meaning of His death, we read that, "Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Lk. 24:27). So far from the evangel of the apostle’s being any (absolutely) new thing, every element in it was revealed long centuries before their birth, not only in words, but in visible representations: there was both a wondrous anticipation of and preparation for the Gospel. Thus a reverent contemplation of the types supplies a blessed confirmation of faith, for they attest the Divine Authorship of both Testaments. Moreover, they stimulate adoration, even when we know a person, we enjoy looking at his picture; so here. It is Christ that is before us in them.

 

The Divine origin of sacrifice is self-evident. Whoever would have dreamed of the device of offering animal sacrifices to God as a method of acceptable worship? That Abel should have "brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof" (Gen. 4:4), can only be satisfactorily accounted for on the ground that he knew this was what God required from him. And this is precisely what the New Testament affirms: Hebrews 11:4 declares that it was: "by faith" that Abel offered his sacrifice, and Romans 10:`17 says "faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Thus, Abel had received a revelation from God, and believing what he had "heard," acted accordingly. Moreover, the acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice by a Divine testimony of approval (Gen. 4:4), which, no doubt, was given by the descent of consuming fire from heaven—Leviticus 9:24; Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38—intimate the same thing. That solemn testimony of reception would only have terrified the offerer, had he himself invented this mode of worship! "The lightning shooting round the altar, and consuming the victim, would have conveyed the impression of an angry God: how, then, could they have apprehended by this means that they were reconciled? How could they have know without a Divine revelation that this consuming fire was a token of Divine acceptance?"

 

The great sacrifice of Christ was foreshadowed from the beginning. He Who predestinated the salvation of His elect, did also appoint the means thereto: the Lamb was "foreordained before the foundation of the world" (1 Pet. 1:20). Then what memorial could be devised more opposite than that of animal sacrifices? By such a means was exemplified the death which had been denounced upon man’s disobedience, and in the shedding of the victim’s blood and the violent character of its death, was portrayed something of the awfulness of that death which was the "wages of sin." At the same time a fit representation was also made of that death that was to be undergone by the Redeemer, and thus there was connected in one view the two cardinal facts in the history of men—the fall and recovery from it. The Old Testament sacrifices were a "showing forth of the Lord’s death till He came."

 

It is both important and blessed to note that the Gospel-covenant was revealed by God immediately after the Fall. The promise that the woman’s Seed should bruise the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15) and the institution of the types (Gen. 3:21), were to the very end that faith and hope might be preserved in what God had so graciously purposed. God did not leave even our first parents in ignorance of His merciful designs, but made known the nature of His eternal counsels. Soon after, a further revelation was made unto Cain and Abel, and still later to others. The infinite wisdom of God so contrived the types that they might in the most intelligible manner (that material things can describe spiritual) signify the Redeemer, and life and salvation through Him. "From the time of the fall, there has been but one way open to Heaven, and that was through Christ; and all believers, before and under the law, hoped for pardon of sin and salvation through Him. In hopes of that pardon and salvation they observed the typical services."

 

That the Old Testament saints perceived something at least of the mystical and spiritual meaning of the types is clear from a number of passages; that they had a much clearer and fuller apprehension of them than is commonly supposed, is the writer’s firm conviction. The Lord Jesus declared that "Abraham rejoiced to se My day: and he saw, and was glad" (Jn. 8:56) Hebrews 11:13 tells us that the patriarchs confessed themselves to be "strangers and pilgrims on the earth," which shows they knew that their true "inheritance" was in Heaven; while Hebrews 11:14, 16 expressly states they sought and desired "an heavenly" country. Job said, "I know that my Redeemer liveth" (19:25), and the Hebrew word there for "Redeemer" signifies one who is a redeemer by right of affinity or kinship—not only a Redeemer in act, but in office. So also David acknowledged, "my flesh longeth for Thee...to see Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have seen Thee in the sanctuary" (Psa. 63:2), that is, by means of the figures and shadows of the vessels of the tabernacle and the Levitical services and sacrifices.

 

"First the blade, then the ear and then the full corn in the ear" enunciates one of the principles of Divine work in everything, the types not excepted. The further we proceed, the profounder their meaning, and the fuller their detail. In the Divine clothing of our first parents with "coats of skins" (Gen. 3:21), there were illustrated the facts that: fallen man needed an external covering to fit him to stand before God; that he could not produce this by his own labors; hat the life of an innocent victim must be taken, in order to provide a suitable covering for him; that God Himself must provide it. In the offering of Abel and God’s acceptance of the same (Gen. 4:4), we learn that God can only regard any sinner with favor by virtue of his acceptance in Christ. The Divine origin of sacrifices is again intimated in that before flesh was eaten by man, the distinction between clean and unclean animals was quite familiar (Gen. 8:20). The power of an accepted sacrifice to remove the Divinecurse was plainly signified in Genesis 8:21. The principle of substitution was strikingly manifested in Genesis 22:13.

 

What may be termed the first great sacrifice was the "Passover," recorded in Exodus 12. There we behold the efficacy of the lamb’s precious blood to deliver those sheltering beneath it from that judgement of God which their sins deserved. What virtue, an infidel might ask, had the blood of a poor animal to secure the life of Israel’s first-born from the sword of a mighty and invisible angel? Was the blood on the door a necessary mark for the angel, because he had not understanding enough to distinguish between the houses of Egyptians and Israelites? Could not God have signified His pleasure to the angel without such a mark as that? The answer to these, and all such questions is, God’s design was to furnish a type of Christ, and instruct the faith of His people in things to come.

 

The following is a bare outline of the point in the Passover-type which may be profitably studied by the reader. First, Divine judgement was pronounced: "all the firstborn [the representative of the family] in [not of] the land of Egypt shall die" (Ex. 11:5). Second, God "put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel" so that not one of His own people were hurt (Ex. 11:7). Third, not by Israel’s choice or Moses recommendation, but by Divine appointment every Israelitish household was to take an unblemished lamb, kill it, and apply its blood to the outside of his house (Ex. 12:3-7). Fourth, the Divine promise was, "when I see the blood, I will pass over you" (Ex. 12:13). Fifth, the angel entered not such houses, for death had alreadydone its work there—a substitute had been slain. Here is redemption; deliverance from judgement.

 

At Sinai God made known His will much more fully respecting the sacrifices which He required. A great deal of instruction therein is to be found in the first seven chapters of Leviticus, into most of which we cannot now enter: much deeply important teaching is to be found therein in a typical form. The Levitical sacrifices emphasized the enormity of sin and the punishment which must be visited upon it, as well as set forth the dependence of the forgiving grace of God on an expiatory offering. Under the Mosaic economy an elaborate system was developed to show that in many ways man offends God and is worthy of death. The sacrifices vividly evidenced the fact that the Divine punishment incurred was inevitable, yet that that punishment could be borne by a substitute, and on that ground the offender could be restored to favor. The principal thing they were designed to exhibit was the indispensable necessity of atonement by vicarious expiation: the one great truth they illustrated was that God could not sacrifice His holiness to His love.

 

That the Mosaic sacrifices all pointed forward to Christ and had their end in Him, was evidenced by the fact that very soon after He had come and shed His blood, God caused the shadows to pass away. Within a very few years the temple was destroyed, and with it all the Jewish sacrifices ceased. And though a century or two later Julian the Apostate gave the Jews permission to build heir temple, and that for the very purpose of restoring the ancient rites, yet God from Heaven blasted all their attempts in a miraculous and extraordinary manner.

 

The Levitical sacrifices made clear to men the ground on which the Divine pardon could be obtained. It was not an act of absolute mercy, nor was it bestowed on the sole condition of penitence, but on the consideration of something quite distinct from both. "And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing. And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the Lord for his sin...and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin...and it shall be forgiven him" (Lev. 5:5,6,10). If we compare these verses with Leviticus 17:11, which informs us that :it is the blood which maketh an atonement for the soul", then the proof is conclusive that the sacrifice presented by the offender was the appointed means of obtaining forgiveness for his transgression.

 

The burnt offering (Lev. 1) and the sin offering (Lev. 4) claim particular attention, for not only were they the most important sacrifices of the Levitical dispensation (as Psalm 40:6 intimates), but they represented the sufferings of our great High Priest under two distinct aspects. The burnt offering principally shows Christ as he was to God, the sin offering as He is to men. In both He was represented as a sin-bearer, for in both of these sacrifices transfer was made of sin by the priest laying his hand on the head of the victim (Lev. 1:4; 4:4); in both the victim’s blood was shed and sprinkled (Lev. 1:5; 4:4-6); in both atonement was made for sin (1:4; 4:20); and both were burnt, either wholly or in part upon the altar (1:9; 4:9,10). These points of union were sufficiently close to show that they corresponded in representing the sacrifice offered by our High Priest on the cross.

 

But there were also distinctive differences between them of a character sufficiently marked to show that they represented Christ’s sacrifice under different aspects. Thus, the burnt offering was voluntary (Lev. 1:2,3), the sin offering compulsory (Lev. 4:2,3). The burnt offering was flayed, cut into pieces, and the inwards and legs washed in water; but none of these things were required of the sin offering. The blood of the burnt offering was merely sprinkled round about upon the altar (1:1), but the blood of the sin offering was put upon the horns of the altar, sprinkled seven times before the Lord, before the veil of the sanctuary, and poured out at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering (4:6,7). Other differences we now pass over, desiring to direct attention merely to the first one mentioned.

 

The voluntariness of Christ’s death is clearly brought out in Psalm 40:7,8 and Ephesians 5:25; John 10:17,18 also shows He freely laid down His life for His sheep. But, when in the councils of eternity ratified by the everlasting covenant "ordered in all things and sure," Christ had undertaken to be our Surety, then what was before purely free and voluntary became in a sense compulsory. Just as when God binds Himself by oath, He is obliged to fulfill His word, so Christ once He had bound Himself to stand in His peoples’ place and stead, was no longer free—though, not that He wished to be free. Just as the type was bound with cords "unto the horns of the altar" (Psa. 118:27), so Christ was held fast to the Cross not only by love to His people, which floods could not quench, but by His own eternal covenant-engagement.

 

The substitution of Christ in the sinner’s place was most distinctly shown in the types, particularly in the sin offering. Before the animal was slaughtered, the sacrificing priest laid his hand upon its head (Lev. 4:3,4). That act represented the transferring of sin from the transgressor to the victim (Lev. 16:21): it identified the one with the other. It showed the substitution of the victim for the offender, and declared by a visible sign that it bare his sins and endured his death-penalty. In this way was the solemn yet blessed truth of imputation foreshadowed. It was because God transferred to Christ the guilt of His elect, constituting Him "sin for us," that the sword of Divine justice smote Him as He bare our sins in His own body on (or "to") the tree.

 

The most important of all the types is that which is found in Leviticus 16: the appointed ritual for the great day of atonement. The type of Leviticus 16 goes much farther than does the one in Exodus 12: the Passover illustrated the redemptivecharacter of Christ’s sacrifice; that of Leviticus 16 its propitiatory nature. In Exodus 12 we see the blood sheltering from judgement those who are under it; in the early chapters of Leviticus, we see the power of the blood restoring to communion the penitent transgressor; but in Leviticus 16 we behold the blood opening a way into the very presence of God, entitling the penitent and believing worshipper to come with boldness unto His very Throne.

 

By a careful comparison of Deuteronomy 27 and Leviticus 16 we may discover how the law was, and still is, a "schoolmaster" unto Christ (Gal. 3:24). In the former chapter, we see that the law demanded implicit and complete obedience to its demands (v. 10); and how that the Levites pronounced with "a loud voice" a curse on the transgressor of it (vv. 14,15). That curse was repeated twelve times, according to the number of Israel’s tribes, and on each pronouncement thereof "all the people" were required to say "Amen": the final word being "Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them" (v.26)—cf. Galatians 3:10. The law required sinless perfection under the penalty of eternal damnation, and thus it revealed the imperative need of an atonement. While in Leviticus 16 we see how that law by its great sin-offering, with its blood of atonement, pointed forward to Christ.

 

The sacrificial system of Judaism reached its climax on the great day of atonement. As the ark was the chief object in the tabernacle, so the annual Day of Propitiation was the chief one in Israel’s religious calendar. On that auspicious occasion the high priest divested himself of his robes of "glory and beauty" (Ex. 28), and put on "the holy linen" garments (Lev. 16:4). The spotless white in which he was clothed spoke of the perfect righteousness of Christ, which, tested as it was both by man (John 8:46) and Satan (John 14:30), and then passing through the infinitely searching scrutiny of God under the fiery trial of the cross, insured the Divine acceptance of that satisfaction which He made to God on behalf of His people.

 

Two young goats were selected "for a sin-offering;" though there were two animals, it was but one offering. Two goats were selected in order that a fuller representation might be given: the one being designed more expressly to exhibit the means the other the effect of the atonement. They were brought and presented together before the Lord (v. 7), the Lord determining by lot which of them was to be slain. The other animal stood by and was atoned for (Hebrew of verse 10) by he dying victim, and then bore away the sins laid upon it into the land of eternal forgetfulness (vv.21,22): a blessed figure of that remission of our sins when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation.

 

Passing by what was done with the bullock, e confine our attention to the two goats. After the one had been killed, the high priest took its blood within the veil and sprinkled it upon the mercy- seat not once, but seven times "before" Him to provide a perfect standing ground for His people. The antitype of this is seen in Hebrews 9:12, "But by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption" (Heb. 9:12). The consequence of this is that "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He hath consecrated for us" (Heb. 10:19,20).

 

After the high priest has finished his work inside the sanctuary, we are told, "he shall bring the live goat, and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel...and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: and the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities into a land not inhabited" (vv.20-22). That was a continuation and completion of the ceremony concerning the sin-offering, so that this symbolic transfer of their sins to the head of the scapegoat, which bore them away, plainly signified that the atonement effected by the sacrifice of the first goat was the complete removal of all their transgressions from before the face of God.

 

"And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall put off the linen garments, which he put on when he went into the holy place, and shall leave them there" (Lev. 16:23). Why? To denote that his work was finished. The blessed antitype of this we see in Luke 24:12: on the resurrection morning, those who came to Christ’s empty sepulchre "beheld the linen clothes" lying there, a token that He was risen from the dead, and so of atonement completed, and accepted by God.

 

One other important feature in the types, often overlooked, claims our notice, namely, the burning of the victim’s body on the altar (Lev. 1:10 etc.). The animal was first slain as a just judgement for the sin which had been transferred to it by the laying on its head of the hand of the offerer; and then, after guilt had been borne, its flesh was laid on the altar and burned, and went up with acceptance unto God, a "sweet smelling savor." In this was represented the glorious truth that, not only was Christ our sin-bearer, but that He is also our righteousness before God (Jer. 23:6; 2 Cor. 5:21). We are identified with Him not only in His death for us, but also in the fragrance of it before God.

 

In Numbers 19 there is yet another most important type upon which we can only now say a few words. In it we see how the death of Christ has made full provision for those defilements which His people contract while passing through this evil world. In it too we behold again the steady progress in the types, and the deeper instruction which God gave to Israel from time to time. They were yet in the land pf Pharaoh when the passover was instituted: the doom of Egypt and their own deliverance therefrom were the thoughts then presented to their souls. Later, they were brought nigh to God, Himself tabernacling in their midst, and in Leviticus 16 they are shown the high demands of His holiness. Now in Numbers 19, they are taught that even the unavoidable contact with death (the world lying in the Wicked one) defiles. But God has provided cleansing from it.

 

In closing, we call attention to one other deeply important value of the types and the use to which they may be put: they furnish an infallible rule by which can be tested any man’s (our own included) interpretation of the New Testament Scriptures concerning the Atonement! He who denies the penal and vicarious nature of Christ’s death, repudiates the clear testimony of the types; he who sets aside the efficacy of His sacrifice by reducing it to a merely "making possible" the salvation does likewise, for the types know nothing of an ineffectual sacrifice. So too in them we see plainly the limitation of God’s love to His elect people, for no lamb was provided for the Egyptians, nor did Aaron make any atonement for the sins of the Midianites and Ammonites!

 

 

 

APPENDIX B

 

1 JOHN 2:2

 

 

THERE is one passage more than any other which is appealed to by those who believe in universal redemption, and which at first sight appears to teach that Christ died for the whole human race. We have therefore decided to give it a detailed examination and exposition.

 

"And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2). This is the passage which, apparently, most favors the Arminian view of the Atonement, yet if it be considered attentively it will be seen that it does so only in appearance, and not in reality. Below we offer a number of conclusive proofs to show that this verse does not teach that Christ has propitiated God on behalf of all the sins of all men.

 

In the first place, the fact that this verse opens with "and" necessarily links it with what has gone on before. We, therefore, give a literal word for word translation of 1 John 2:1 from Bagster’s Interlinear: "Little children my, these things I write to you, that ye may not sin; and if anyone should sin, a paraclete we have with the Father, Jesus Christ (the) righteous". It will thus be seen that the apostle John is here writing to and about the saints of God. His immediate purpose was two-fold: first, to communicate a message that would keep God’s children from sinning; second, to supply comfort and assurance to those who might sin, and, in consequence, be cast down and fearful that the issue would prove fatal. He, therefore, makes known to them the provision which God has made for just such an emergency. This we find at the end of verse 1 and throughout verse 2. The ground of comfort is twofold: let the downcast and repentant believer (1 Jn. 1:9) be assured that, first, he has an "Advocate with the Father"; second, that this Advocate is "the propitiation for our sins". Now believers only may take comfort from this, for they alone have an "Advocate", for them alone is Christ the propitiation, as is proven by linking the Propitiation ("and") with "the Advocate"!

 

In the second place, if other passages in the New Testament which speak of "propitiation," be compared with 1 John 2:2, it will be found that it is strictly limited in its scope. For example, in Romans 3:25 we read that God set forth Christ "a propitiation through faith in His blood". If Christ is a propitiation "through faith", then he is not a "propitiation" to those who have no faith! Again, in Hebrews 2;17 we read, "To make propitiation for the sins of the people" (Heb. 2:17, R.V.).

 

In the third place, who are meant when John says, "He is the propitiation for our sins"? We answer, Jewish believers. And a part of the proof on which we base this assertion we now submit to the careful attention of the reader.

 

In Galatians 2:9 we are told that John, together with James and Cephas, were apostles "unto the circumcision" (i.e. Israel). In keeping with this, the Epistle of James is addressed to "the twelve tribes, which are scattered abroad" (1:1). So, the first Epistle of Peter is addressed to "the elect who are sojourners of the dispersion" (1 Pet. 1:1, R.V.). And John is also writing to saved Israelites, but for saved Jews and saved Gentiles.

 

Some of the evidences that John is writing to saved Jews are as follows. (a) In the opening verse he says of Christ, "Which we have seen with our eyes....and our hands have handled". How impossible it would have been for the apostle Paul to have commenced any of his epistles to Gentile saints with such language!

 

(b) "Brethren, I write no knew commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning" (1 John 2:7). The "beginning" here referred to is the beginning of the public manifestation of Christ-in proof compare 1:1; 2:13, etc. Now these believers the apostle tells us, had the "old commandment" from the beginning. This was true of Jewish believers, but it was not true of Gentile believers.

 

(c) "I write unto you fathers, because ye have known Him from the beginning" (2:13).Here, again, it is evident that it is Jewish believers that are in view.

 

(d) "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that Antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us" (2: 18,19).

 

These brethren to whom John wrote had "heard" from Christ Himself that Antichrist should come (see Matthew 24). The "many antichrists" whom John declares "went out from us" were all Jews, for during the first century none but a Jew posed as the Messiah. Therefore, when John says "He is the propitiation for our sins" he can only mean for the sins of Jewish believers. (It is true that many things in John’s Epistle apply equally to believing Jews and believing Gentiles. Christ is the Advocate of the one, as much as of the other. The same may be said of many things in the Epistle of James which is also a catholic, or general epistle, though expressly addressed to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.)

 

In the fourth place, when John added, "And not for ours only, but also for the whole world", he signified that Christ was the propitiation for the sins of Gentile believers too, for, as previously shown, "the world" is a term contrasted from Israel. This interpretation is unequivocably established be a careful comparison of 1 John 2:2 with John 11:51,52, which is a strictly parallel passage: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad". Here Caiaphas, under inspiration, made known for whom Jesus should "die". Notice now the correspondency of his prophecy with this declaration of John’s:

 

"He is the propitiation for our (believing Israelites) sins."

 

"He prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation."

 

"And not for ours only." - That is, Gentile believers scattered throughout the earth.

 

"He should gather together in one of the children of God that were scattered abroad."

 

In the fifth place, the above interpretation is confirmed by the fact that no other is consistent or intelligible. If the "whole world" signifies the whole human race, then the first clause and the "also" in the second clause are absolutely meaningless. If Christ is the propitiation for every-body, it would be idle tautology to say, first, "He is the propitiation for our sins and also for everybody". The could be no "also" if He is the propitiation for the entire human family. Had the apostle meant to affirm that Christ is a universal propitiation he had omitted the first clause of verse 2, and simply said, "He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world". Confirmatory of "not for ours (Jewish believers) only, but also for the whole world" - Gentile believers, too; compare John 10:16; 17:20.

 

In the sixth place, our definition of "the whole world" is in perfect accord with other passages in the New Testament. For example: "Whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world" (Col. 1:5,6). Does "all the world" here mean, absolutely and unqualifiedly, all mankind? Had all the human family heard the Gospel? No; the apostle’s obvious meaning is that, the Gospel, instead of being confined to the land of Judea, had gone abroad, without restraint, into Gentile lands. So in Romans 1:8: "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world". The apostle is here referring to the faith of these Roman saints being spoken of in a way of commendation. But certainly all mankind did not so speak of their faith! It was the whole world of believers that he was referring to! In revelation 12:9 we read of Satan "which deceiveth the whole world". But again this expression cannot be understood as a universal one, for Matthew 24:24 tell us that Satan does not and cannot "deceive" God’s elect. Here it is "the whole world" of unbelievers.

 

In the seventh place, to insist that "the whole world" in 1 John 2:2 signifies the entire human race is to undermine the very foundations of our faith. If Christ is the propitiation for those that are lost equally as much as for those that are saved, then what assurance have we that believers too may not be lost? If Christ is the propitiation for those now in hell, what guarantee have I that I may not end in hell? The blood-shedding of the Incarnate Son of God is the only thing which can keep any one out of hell, and if many for whom that precious blood made propitiation are now in the awful place of the damned, then may not that blood prove inefficacious for me! Away with such a God-dishonoring thought.

 

However men may quibble and wrest the Scriptures, one thing is certain: The Atonement is no failure. God will not allow that precious and costly sacrifice to fail in accomplishing, completely, that which it was designed to effect. Not a drop of that holy blood was shed in vain. In the last great Day there shall stand forth no disappointed and defeated Savior, but One Who "shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied" (Isa. 53:11). These are not our words, but the infallible assertion of Him who declares, "My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure" (Isa. 64:10). Upon the impregnable rock we take our stand. Let others rest on the sands of human speculation and twentieth-century theorizing if they wish. That is their business. But to God they will yet have to render an account. For our part we had rather be railed at as a narrow-minded, out-of-date (people), than be found repudiating God’s Truth by reducing the Divinely-efficacious atonement to a mere fiction.

 

 

 

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