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Essentials of Wesleyan Theology - Lesson 9

Incarnation Fully Reveals God

The incarnation reveals what God is like and what we are meant to be. The revelation comes in a personal form. Only as principles are embodied in a person do they become power.  The work of Christ on the cross is our faith in microcosm. (Ppt 4-5)

Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
Lesson 9
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Incarnation Fully Reveals God

I. Introduction to the Incarnation

A. Significance of the Incarnation

B. Understanding the Incarnation in Wesleyan Theology

II. The Nature of Christ's Incarnation

A. Fully Human

B. Fully Divine

C. The Hypostatic Union

III. Implications of the Incarnation

A. Revelation of God's Nature

B. Redemption and Atonement

C. Christ as the Model of Holiness

IV. Conclusion: The Centrality of the Incarnation in Christian Theology


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  • By studying the Essentials of Wesleyan theology, you learn about its historical roots, key principles, and the importance of grace, holiness, and Christian perfection in this theological perspective.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a thorough understanding of Wesleyan theology, its tasks, key theological perspectives, and distinctives, providing you with a solid foundation for further exploration of the Wesleyan tradition.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into Wesleyan theology's goal of pursuing holiness through sanctification, understanding the three stages and the practical implications for discipleship, spiritual growth, and the church's role.
  • In this lesson, you explore the doctrine of God in Wesleyan theology, learning about His attributes, the Trinity, and His relationship with creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain a deep understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, exploring its scriptural basis, historical development, and practical implications for Christian living.
  • This lesson deepens your understanding of the Trinity from a Wesleyan perspective, emphasizing its historical development, implications for Christian faith, and the significance of love and relationship within the Godhead.
  • Gain insight into Wesleyan theology's Doctrine of Creation, its biblical basis, and the practical implications it has on understanding God's sovereignty, human responsibility, and stewardship of creation.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into Wesleyan theology's understanding of Christ's person and work, exploring key concepts like the Incarnation, Atonement, and Second Coming.
  • In this lesson, you gain insight into the incarnation of Jesus Christ, its dual nature, and its implications in revealing God's nature, redemption, atonement, and modeling holiness.
  • In this lesson, you gain a comprehensive understanding of the Cross of Christ in Wesleyan theology, exploring atonement theories, the scope and application of atonement, and its impact on the believer's life.
  • By studying the Cross of Christ Part 2, you gain insights into the theological concepts of the cross and the unique features of Wesleyan theology, ultimately learning how to apply these principles in your daily Christian life.
  • By examining the significance of the resurrection in Wesleyan theology, you gain insight into its foundational role in Christian faith, its connection to justification and sanctification, and its far-reaching theological implications for believers.

In this class on the Essentials of Wesleyan Theology, you explore the historical background and development of Methodism, its key doctrines, and the unique approach to Scripture that John Wesley promoted. You gain a deeper understanding of prevenient grace, justification, assurance, sanctification, and the concept of Christian perfection. Furthermore, you learn about Wesley's quadrilateral of authority, his emphasis on holiness, and the impact of Wesleyan theology on social reform, evangelism, and contemporary Christian thought and practice.

Dr. Steve Seamands
Essentials of Wesleyan Theology
TH502-09
Incarnation Fully Reveals God
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:21] Well, let's go back to thinking about the cross this afternoon. As I said, kind of when we were bringing things to a close, we've got lots of biblical images and metaphors. We talked about these seven different kind of areas they fall under. But out of a coming out of that what have been traditionally known as the three major theories of the atonement, the three major ways that the cross has been. Proclaimed and spoken about first as a great victory. That was one oversight and the powers of evil. And that's kind of where we were when we broke for lunch. We were talking about how in the really the first thousand years of church history, it was the major way that Christians spoke about the meaning of the death of Christ in terms of a victory of God over the forces of evil. And I think we quoted Irenaeus, who kind of reflects that particular view and way of putting it. So let's talk about this particular way of preaching the cross and proclaiming the cross. Each one of these, when you start to think about it, addresses a different kind of human problem, a different kind of consequence related to sin. And in the case of the classic theory or the Christus Victor theory, the issue here has to do with bondage forces outside of us because of sin, have now have us under their control. And these are understood to be forces that are more powerful than we are. One of the strengths about, I think, this way of understanding the meaning of the death of Christ is that all creation is seen as sort of being in bondage. All creation is under the control of the the wicked one. So it's not simply as we'll talk about the second theory or the theory of the Atonement one, it focuses sort of individually on human beings.

[00:02:21] In this case, it's all of creation that's in travail. Human beings, of course, are understood to be victims and prisoners of Satan. They're in bondage to certain death and the devil. And then, of course, the work of Christ in this case is understood primarily in terms of his of of his victory over the forces of evil, the whole life of Christ. Maybe you've never thought about it can be framed in this way. Think about even the birth of Christ, a wicked king who tries to take him out. So even in that case, there's a battle that's being he's winning a battle. He wins a battle. When Satan tries to tempt him, all of his miracles are understood as victories in this war against Satan, even his nature, miracles bringing back order and a disordered nature. So his life and then, of course, his death is the final battle where like a mighty dragonslayer, he goes into the den of the dragon to slay the dragon. And in his death he doesn't overcome by, you might say, brute power or force. It's not like a clash of the titans, but he overcomes in a sense, through the power of suffering love. He overcomes not power with brute power. But it's the slain lamb power that overcomes. And then, of course, his victory, his victory is has confirmed through the resurrection. In this particular way of of understanding it, then we face a defeated foe. In the powers of darkness. The victory has been won. Oftentimes, folks, at least in the last 50 years, have kind of compared this to the victory that's been won on D-Day, which really settles the outcome of the war. And yet we're still in that interim period between D-Day and V-E Day.

[00:04:24] Well, there are a lot of battles going on. But we face a defeated foe. I guess I've been quoting you, Stanley Jones a lot, haven't I? I like his his statement. He says that when Satan attacks you, command him in the name of Jesus to bend his neck. It was on the back of it. You'll find there's a nail scarred footprint. He has crushed the head of the serpent. He has trampled the enemy down in any kind of day and age or culture, cultural setting or situation where people feel sort of oppressed by outside forces. You know, sometimes these can be social forces. Sometimes in a culture like ours where there's a lot of addiction to things where you feel powerless. This way of presenting the work of Christ has power and speaks deeply to people. It's interesting to me that C.S. Lewis seems to be working with this basic way of presenting the work of Christ in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Think about. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. How, Edmund? Becomes a prisoner of the white witch. And how does that happen? She kind of tricks him. She kind of deceives him. He eats the Turkish delight, you know, wants more of the Turkish delight. And then he betrays his sisters and his other brother and so forth. But Edmund becomes a prisoner. And throughout that book, throughout the movie, you see how his slavery to her tends to increase. Then in the encounter between Aslan and the White, which you remember, she makes this statement. She says, You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey. And that for every treachery, I have a right to a kill. You have a traitor there, Ashlan. She says I have a right to that, you see.

[00:06:29] Ashlan does not deny her rightful claim at this point. Excellent. You remember? Well, let me read it a little bit here. And so continue the witch. That human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my. My property. Aslan says It's very true. This is the deep magic, isn't it? This is the deep magic that's built into Narnia. Well, how does Aslan overcome? What does Ashland do to set Edmund free in days in the Stone Age? Yeah. And there's this. There's this prisoner exchange, isn't there? Kind of. Edmund is released, but. Aslan. Dies in Edmond's place, as it were. And then, of course, there's the resurrection scene, you know, and the whole thing, they're shining in the sunrise larger than they had seen before. Shaking his main stood Aslan himself. He's come back to life. Oh, you're real. You're. You're real. Oh, Ashland, cried Lucy. And both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses. But what does it all mean? Ask Susan. Susan. The two girls tends to be the theologian in the story. Have you noticed that? You know. What does it all mean? She's kind of wanting to know. It means, said Ashland, that though the witch knew the deep magic, there's a magic deeper still. What? She didn't know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back into the stillness and the darkness before time dawned, she would have known that one a willing victim who had committed no treachery, was killed in a trader's stead. The table would crack and death itself would start working backwards. So he wins the victory, doesn't he, over the white, which and again, he doesn't win.

[00:08:32] It's not through a through a brute short show of power. In fact, at one point, the witch herself says, Do you think he can overcome me just by violence? The victory is won not through a sort of a violent power, mating power to clash of the titans sort of thing. But it's through this power of suffering love. He actually overcomes the hole that she has on Edmund and all of Narnia. Augustine says not by power, but through justice. Takes away the rightful claim. So he takes away the rightful claim that she has on him. And then, of course, he's set free. This particular way of presenting the work of Christ speaks deeply to people who are who feel the force of bondage in their life in different ways, who feel powerless sometimes over social forces outside of themselves that they have no control over. People who are addicted to the things. An addict, an addict. It'll. This this still speaks powerfully, I think, to people today. The second. Major way that the cross has been proclaimed. Throughout the centuries. The second as a great price that was paid to cancel the debt we owed on account of sin. Most people date the shift from 1 to 2 with the writing of a little book by Anselm around the year 1100 called Why God Became Man. And of course, now, you know, you're in a completely different context. You're in medieval Christian Europe. So let's talk a little bit about this particular way of presenting the work of Christ here. The problem that's being addressed primarily is not so much the problem of bondage and freedom, but it's the problem of guilt, isn't it? Who do we have up there on the screen? That's Lady Macbeth, remember? Who would wash your hands.

[00:10:40] Over and over, she'd sleepwalk. In. In Shakespeare's play, you know, And she would cry. Out, out, out. Damn spot. Would these hands ever be clean? All the perfumes of Arabia can't sweeten these little hands. The sense of guilt. I think if you were a Christian in medieval Europe, you would have felt this. Very strongly think about the even the penitential system. The sacrament of penance and confession. And those things that make people profoundly aware that they stand guilty before God. So you see how this particular way of presenting the work of Christ answers to a different need. And here, of course, the work of Christ is is conceived of primarily in legal terms. Really the first theory of the moment hearkens back to the battle imagery that we talked about that's in Scripture, the conflict in imagery. But this harkens harkens to the legal imagery and has to do with satisfaction. This idea that Christ satisfies meets the demands of the law or God's holiness, or in some cases, even for Anselm, it was God's honor that had been offended. Actually, I think Tim Tennant speaks about that in that chapter on honor and shame and guilt and so forth and so forth a little bit. Of course, there's plenty of biblical basis for this particular way of understanding the work of Christ. And here you see some of the passages that are often quoted. Are we like sheep of have gone astray. We've turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities. Galatians three That speaks about becoming a curse for us. First, Peter, Chapter two of Christ died for our sins, the righteous, for the unrighteous to bring us to God.

[00:12:45] He bore our sins in his body on the through on the tree, and then the Romans passage that we've referenced before. And I would say that probably, as I said earlier, for most of us in this room, this is the way of conceiving of the work of Christ that we've cut our teeth on. Most of us would have heard the gospel presented. And if you asked an average person in an American evangelical church, why did Jesus have to die? They would probably speak about how he died to save us from our sins, and he died in our place. If you think about all the humanity, here's a Charles Wesley hymn that reflects this view. You know, the father's co eternal son bore all my sins upon the tree. Or how about William CalPERS great hymn. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains. Or think about gospel songs. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Or how about Jesus paid it all? All to him. I o sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow. How about a 1990s vineyard chorus? I know a place, a wonderful place where accused and condemned. Find mercy and grace. With wrongs we have done and the wrongs done to us were nailed there with him. They're on the cross. Do you sing in Christ alone around here? What? What do we call this? A praise him. Notice the last four lines there till on the cross. When Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied for every sin on him was laid here in the death of Christ. I live so this is understanding here the work of Christ, primarily in terms of Jesus substituting for us paying the price that we don't have to pay.

[00:14:49] There is a problem. Sometimes I think in the way this theory of the atonement, in the way this is preached and proclaimed, and I want to talk a little bit about that. It has to do with how sometimes if we're not careful. In laying this out, we can end up driving a wedge. It seems to me, between the father and the son. Driving a wedge between the father and the son, so that the father is this wrathful sort of angry one. And the son steps in. He's the good guy. You know, it's like somebody said, I love Jesus, but I really hate I don't really like God very much. We've driven a wedge between the two. Jesus, is this sort of innocent third party. And. In order to satisfy. I made the demands of the wrath of God. He steps in. And takes the bad stuff. So you and I don't get the bad stuff and we get the good stuff. I never, ever heard a sermon. Or a presentation that kind of set it up that way. I think it's unfortunate when that is done. What we need to understand is that it is the whole try and God here Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the whole God who in a sense God Himself, bears the consequences of our sin. If we're going to preach the substitution work of Christ. I like John Scott's phrase. He says it's the self substitution of God. And Donald Bush says that the holy God makes himself the object of his own wrath in the person of his son. He carries his own wrath, as it were. He he bears it in himself. This is an artist's attempt taken out of a church over in Europe to convey the whole Trinity and the Cross.

[00:16:59] You see the nearness of the father to the son there. That's why I stuck it up there on this on this PowerPoint, because I think it we don't want to create this great divide. Between the wrath of a vengeful father and the loving son. That's not the way to rightly understand this, he wills. That sense should be punished. But he doesn't. Will that send? She'll be punished without also feeling that the punishment fall upon himself. So what we're saying here is that God in Christ carries his own wrath, carries the punishment, bears the penalty himself. Can I ask a question? Yeah. How do you interpret the word wrath in that context? I'm never quite sure. Okay. Now, we talked about Wrath a month ago, and we talked about how wrath God's God's wrath is just is how we experience God's love. In terms of his resistance to said. His reaction to sense. So first of all, to understand it, I just want to say that now. My question is, why do you ask? Because whenever I read it or he sounds like there's a very angry God. Yeah. Yeah. That's the way it reads to me. So what are we talking about then? Are we not talking about God's legitimate repulsion and resistance to that which is evil? That that which is against His will? And to the consequences of separation from God. To understand this primarily in emotional terms as this angry God is to miss the point. Right. You know, I know that's not it. But that's the way my your your I interpret that word that way most of the time. Wrath, anger. Right. But that's not the context here. Right. What I'm trying to get at here a little bit, Alan.

[00:19:05] It's like when you forgive someone. What do you do with the. Anger. Related to the hurt and the injustice and the wrong that's been done. Someone chooses to make your name like mud or something, you know, or really, really hurts you. Wrong, wrong you, and you choose to forgive them. What do you do with that? With what the AG don't you in a sense choose to carry that if you want to put it that you carry it yourself? Exactly. And what we're saying is that it's a real it's a revulsion. It's a wrong It's it's not like something you can just sort of say, well, it isn't there. It's a legitimate thing for you to have that right. Wrong has been done. This is evil. You know, I haven't been properly treated or respected, so but I choose to carry that myself. And that's what I'm talking about here. As God carrying his own wrath. And maybe that word wrath still just puts us off. The word does show up in both the old and the New Testaments, you know, And but as I said, not to understand this as a capricious, angry, out of control God, but a God that does take. Sin seriously, and sin creates resistance. What we're trying to say here is God carries that. That's what we're saying. God carries that within himself. He bears it. Rather than insisting that I bear it or you bear it, he carries it. Interesting how in the recent book The Shack. I don't know if a lot of folks around here read The Shack. If you did anything with it, were there any study groups that studied the book or looked at it? You know, I was in a parent church out in Virginia a couple of years ago, and they were they were kind of doing a, uh, a study of it.

[00:21:10] And the pastors were actually doing a good job of both showing the good, the bad and the ugly in the book. I mean, the downside There's a downside. There's some there's some things missing. In the shack, don't you think? Doesn't have a very high view of the church, does it? You tend to go off by yourself and have these kind of experiences, you know, with God and so forth. So this pastor, I thought, was really wise in the way he used that book, both as a means of talking about some really good things that it was saying. I think one of the things that people have been. Made aware of the rating. The shack is the relational nature of God. The Trinitarian nature of God even comes through. But here's Mack talking to Papa. Who is, of course, the father. Right. How can you really know how I feel? Mack asked, looking into Papa's eyes. Papa didn't answer, only looked down at their hands. His gaze followed, and for the first time, Mack noticed the scars like those he now assumed Jesus also had on his wrists. Pap allowed him to tenderly touch the scars out lines of a deep piercing. And he finally looked up again. Tears were slowly making their way down. Little pathways through the floor. Actually, the floor. Oh, no. Oh, this is the kitchen. I threw that through the flour that dusted Papa's cheeks. Don't ever think that what my son chose to do didn't cost us dearly. Love always leaves a significant mark. We were there together. So he's trying to say. The father is there as well. I brought along an article that appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader about five or six years ago. Why in your name did you do those things? God.

[00:23:05] And here's a fellow that's a senior at Duke talking. He's the way I learned it in Vacation Bible School. Jesus had to die in my place because he was perfect for me. To die. Wouldn't have paid even the interest on my debt. Having once lied to my mom about drawing on the furniture with permanent markers. So you called in a holy ringer. That's where the logic gets muddy for me. And he goes on and talks. And finally he says the real Rob is the crucifixion. What parent expresses love to his naughty children by nailing the one who behaves to a tree? If you understand this innocent third party person over here that's getting all this gets, he's getting the whipping so you don't have to get one. I think you've missed it. I think you've missed the meaning of the death of Christ here. One of the things, though, that this way of portraying the cross I think does well is that it underscores the costly ness of atonement. New Testament scholar CFT. Moore says there was no overlooking of guilt or trifling with forgiveness. No external treatment of SEN. But a radical, a drastic, a passionate and absolutely final acceptance of the terrible solution and absorption by the very God himself of the fatal disease so as to neutralize it effectively. What this particular way of understanding the cross does well is that it says that, well, why can't God just forgive it? Why can't why doesn't God just speak it away? Why doesn't God just there's a place in Anselm's book why God became man. And if you've ever read that, it's a it's a dialog between Anselm and a fellow named Bozo, and they go back and forth, you know, question and answer dialogical form.

[00:25:05] And at one point when Bozo says to Anselm, Well, why can't. God just he's God. Why can't you just speak it away? And there's this famous line where and some says. I perceive you have not considered what a heavyweight sin is. Well, this. Understands that Sen is a heavyweight. God is being true to his own character, isn't he? And God chooses to carry his own wrath to take the consequences into himself. And the result, of course, is that that there is a forgiveness now that is real and substantial. So when we speak the word of forgiveness to someone and when we say. Maybe praying with someone. In the name of Jesus Christ, you're forgiven. Or in a communion service if there is a. Forgiveness of sins and and a declaration of pardon. It's done. Sometimes in the name of Jesus Christ, you're forgiven. That's got something behind it. It's not just an empty word. It's got the redemptive work of Christ. The debt that was paid. Standing behind it. So it's a forgiveness that's real and substantial. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Right. Isn't that what James says? Mercy triumphs. How does it triumph over judgment, though? It triumphs over judgment, not by overlooking judgment. But by bearing judgment. By bearing judgment. By carrying judgment. Sort of going back to your question, Alan. If you've ever forgiven someone on a human level, I think you you understand that forgiveness is costly. H.R. McIntosh, an old Scottish theologian, says in every great forgiveness, there's enshrined a great agony. There's a sense in which when I choose to forgive, I choose to accept undeserved suffering. I choose to accept undeserved suffering. That person ought to pay for what they did to me. I've had people in my office.

[00:27:42] Who? Talked about someone who. Stole their innocence. Perhaps through sexually abusing them and did some horrific things. And they'll say things like that. That person should pay for what they did to me. And. And my answer is, you know, you're absolutely right. They should pay. Yet. I think when you choose to forgive someone, you give up the right, in a sense to be their judge, jury and executioner. There will be a judgment for sin. But what I'm saying is you give up the right to be the one that sees that they pay. And what do you do? You carry. You bear the pain. You carry your own wrath, as it were. And in here, wrath is a good thing. It's a recognition of evil that's been done and wrong. It's been committed, and it's a response to that. You know, but you carry it, don't you? And what we're saying is that God has carried his own wrath in the person of his son. When we talk about dying in our place, it's not just the sun. It's the whole it's God himself. And I think this way of framing the message of the cross still continues to speak. Powerfully in our day and time, although and we'll come to this a little bit later on, there are voices out there who are saying maybe this isn't the best way in a post-modern context to proclaim the cross. In an age of moral relativism where folks aren't going around feeling like Luther did, you know, how can I find a gracious God? They're not so much asking questions about what? How do I you know, I'm guilty before God? Do people feel guilty before God? A lot of people suffer from the consequences of sin.

[00:29:42] You might say the anthropological consequences of sin in their life. They know because of the sin. My relationship with my with my spouse failed. Or I have an addictive behavior that cost me. You know, they know those kinds of consequences. They know anthropological consequences. But they don't oftentimes think of those things so much in the context of a relationship with God. And so when you come in and you preach this all by itself, people are saying, is that the best way to to communicate? Is that the best place to start with people? The last. Major atonement theory. The moral influence theory is understanding how the cross is a great revelation of the depth of God's love. That's conveyed as an example for us and told him What wondrous love is this, all my soul that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul. What wondrous love is this? Problem here is not bondage. It's not guilt. The problem here is the problem of ignorance. What are we ignorant about? We're ignorant about the depth of God's love for us. Think about what we find in Genesis chapter three, when Adam and Eve, having sinned, flee the presence of God. When they sense that God is in the garden, what do they do? They hide behind a tree. They hide behind a tree because they fear God's presence. Now, has God's attitude toward them really changed? Is he out to get them? Or is he a loving father kind of trying to come, but they perceive God. And so the idea here is that because of sin, we perceive God as being against us. So we need a revelation. Here. Notice a great revelation. We need a revelation of the depths of God's love that will kind of overcome our natural human default setting.

[00:32:00] Now that says cease. God is sort of being out there, being a policeman in the sky. That's out to get us. And the cross then is understood as presenting this great revelation to us. How do we go about proclaiming the cross in this way, and particularly in a way that I think can convey to people the depth of the love of God to us? I find it helpful here again to think in Trinitarian terms. As we were talking about the last. Atonement theory to make sure we don't drive a wedge between the father and the son, but to think in Trinitarian terms, in helping people understand the depth of God's love. I found it helpful. To take people. Took these words that Jesus speaks on the cross. The fourth word that he speaks from them, from the cross and the traditional order of the seven words from the cross. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? The significance of this cry of dereliction. What's that all about, anyway? Why does Jesus cry out? My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? Now, obviously, this man has been beaten and scourged and he's been hanging on a cross. He's dehydrated. He's in shock. Is this a kind of a psychological. Cry of distress. Only. I mean, he's feeling God forsaken, right? He's feeling God forsaken. But does that cry actually reflect something more than just a feeling of God forsaken us? Well, this is something that theologians and executes have kind of. Thought about and wrestled with a lot. I, for one, believe there's more than just a feeling of God forsaken ness. There's a reality here. But Jesus is experience experiencing. As he bears the scent of the world. One of the consequences for sickness is separation, isn't it? Does he feel something here that he's never experienced before, as it were? A separation.

[00:34:32] Yeah. You know, sometimes we hear the phrase the father turns his father face away. Ah. His eyes are too pure to look upon evil. So there's an awareness of a separation that he's experiencing right now. And he's. He's feeling that. But is this is this something that only that that's only something that's experienced on the sun side? He's saying I feel. Fatherless. My God. And by the way, this is one of the only times in the Gospels that he uses the more formal, distant. My God. And not the more intimate personal my father. Now, maybe that's just because he's quoting from the 22nd Psalm. And so he's just saying this out of a kind of. But there's there seems to be something here going on. Interesting passage out of the book of Amos. I don't think I've ever heard anybody talk much about this on Good Friday. This is a good Friday text, isn't it? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This is a. Amos, the prophet says. And on that day, says the Lord, I will make the sun go down. And. Yeah, that. That actually happened, didn't it, On Good Friday and dark on the earth in broad daylight. He says, I will make it like morning for an only son. And the end of it like a bitter day. A father who is mourning for his only son, the fatherlessness of the son who cries out, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? But what about the son? Less ness of the father? The father. Feels sunless here. The sun. Experiences fatherlessness. Juergen Woltman puts it like this. And the surrender of the son. The father also surrenders himself. Though not in the same way. The sun suffers dying.

[00:36:48] The father suffers the death of his son. The grief of the father here is just as important as the death of the son. The fatherlessness of the son is matched by the son closeness of the father. He goes on here, The innermost life of the Trinity is at stake. Here are the communicating love of the father turns into the infinite pain over the sacrifice of the son. Here, the responding lover, the son becomes infinite, suffering over his repulsion and rejection by the father. What happens on Golgotha reaches into the innermost depths of the Godhead, putting its impress on the Trinitarian life and eternity. I don't know if too many people have thought much about this. But if I'm understanding what he's saying, what happens? On Good Friday. It's not only the death of the son, but it's also the grief of the father. It's not only the sacrifice of the son, but it's the sacrifice of the father. And for me at least, this helps me to begin to understand the depths of God's love in a way that I haven't seen it before. That the sun not only suffers, but the father suffers too. I can relate to that as a human parent. Who on occasion have said, Well, I'd rather let that happen to me than let my child suffer that way. So who suffered? More on Good Friday? The father of the son. Yeah, maybe that's a bad question. But the point is, it does underscore the fact that the father suffers, too, which is something we tend not to think much about. Again, he's the the wrathful one, you know, he's the one that. No, but this. This creates. A tension here that goes right according to molt line into the depths of the Godhead.

[00:39:04] Luther calls this. Here we see God against God, kind of, you know. And there's the verse in in Hebrews. He was 914. It says, who through the eternal spirit, offered himself without spot to God. The spirit in a sense, and I've heard theologians discuss this, is this bond that you have the eye of the father and the and the you of the son. Or the vow of the sun that I am the thou and the way of the Holy Spirit, and He's the way who brings things together. He's actually that's one of the roles that the Holy Spirit plays in the Trinity and even in our life. Who is the one that joined you to Christ? Who's the one that you know that cries Abba Father and you that causes you to glorify Christ, causes you to cry out of Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus, the Spirit works to to bring things together. So in this kind of frame of things, he is the one that's kind of holding or holding the Trinity together here. I want to take this too far so it's going to get blown apart. We'd be in real trouble, but somehow the spirit is involved in this. Well, understanding the depth of God's love that's revealed here in the death of Christ. How deep the father's love for us. Another song that kind of kind of gets at that. Or how about a at the end of Isaac? What's great? Him? He cries out love. So amazing, So divine demands my soul, my life, my all along with the contemporary chorus that's been added to it today. People are singing this today and it's a great hymn, but it that's the only or adequate response, isn't it? Love So amazing. So divine demands my soul.

[00:40:56] My life. My soul. We've just kind of briefly kind of walk through these three. Theories of the atonement ways of preaching proclaiming the cross. Robert Webber in his book Ancient Future Church and trying to help us think about where all this shakes down in the world that were living today has this chart. Where he kind of lays out what's gone on in the past and suggests that in a post-modern context. And if you look at the way he tries to bring them all together, they're by his sacrifice. He won a victory over the powers of evil and left us an example to follow. The way he frames that the winning of the victory is really the key thing there. And he feels like we need to go back to Christ as Victor as the primary way of explaining the meaning of the death of Christ to people today and the work of Christ. Here's what he says. There's a need to recover the emphasis that Christ death is a victory over the powers of evil. In the supernatural world of post-modernism, there's a new understanding of the powers of evil. People wrestle with the brokenness of society, with the constant violence of our inner cities. Which has now spread to the rich suburbs. Numerous people deal daily with broken marriages, broken relationships, financial hardships and the inner struggle with evil. Christus Victor says Weber makes the connection with church and unchurched people. It says that God has won a battle for us that we ourselves can't win. This message is the point of contact with people frustrated by the powers. Well, I wonder what you all think. Do you think Webber is right? He's saying of these three major ways. Even though we we want to kind of combine them, he pays a great price.

[00:43:02] But he wins a victory by his sacrifice. Leaving us an example. But he's saying that that Christus Victor theory is the way to go. And part of his argument is that, you know, just the title of his book, Ancient Future Church, he's saying that actually we are at a time that's more like. What the early Christians faced in the first three centuries. In terms of a kind of a religious pluralism, multicultural kind of world. We're in the same kind of world that they were in. They were in a pre-Christian world. We're in a post-Christian world, which is kind of like that. And so this makes sense to kind of go back there. I thought it would be interesting. To look at the alpha material just to see. How are they doing this? Not that Alpha's the only way, but it's an attempt to try to reach. Unchurched people and it seems to be doing a pretty good job and has had success in a lot of places and ways. Here's the the little booklet on why Jesus that Nicki Gumble put together. Why do we need him? Why did he come? Well, I noticed that the big word here is freedom. The word ransom comes from the slave market. A kind of person might buy a slave and set him free. Okay. Freedom from what? That's interesting. Freedom from guilt. Which obviously kind of would tie in most easily with the second of these three. So it's a combining, but freedom is actually putting you on that first, freedom from guilt and then freedom from addiction. Freedom from fear. Freedom. For what? Freedom to know God. Point a second. Point be freedom to love and say freedom to change. Notice the primary framing here is actually.

[00:45:12] Number one, I think. Putting it in the context of the need for freedom. And going from there. Well, I don't have a dog in this hunt. Particularly. I think you can do a good job of actually combining them all. You need a frame for this picture? And you're going to have to, in a sense, have an overarching narrative here that uses a frame. If you think of Lewis's Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I think the storyline is Christus Victor. But to me, the stone table. Really represents to. And I think he's pulled those two together. Pretty well and shown how they work together. Actually, if you look at church history, whenever any one of these has sort of got veered off too far on its own and it can get into trouble, you know, you end up in the first one with God owing a debt to the devil that he has to pay and then the deception of the devil. I don't know if I wouldn't. Quotes one of the church fathers who talks about Jesus is like a worm on a hook. And the devil's like a fish that's, you know, like a small, a hungry smallmouth bass or something that just wants to pop that, you know, and not realizing what he's gotten into when he's put in, you know, that he's got that he's hooked. So somehow then God was involved in a kind of a deception of the devil and that, you know, you can you can get some of that in the second one. You can end up in post reformation Protestantism with a real strict understanding of how much death Jesus paid on the cross. Did he die for everyone or just for the elect? And it's almost like you have this quid pro quo.

[00:47:06] He has to suffer this much for this money. You know, it gets very legal. And and then the third theory of the atonement in and of itself. Is that really the problem? That we just need a revelation? That tends to go along with a fairly low view of sin that sees sin primarily as ignorance. So if you just show people how much God loves them, they'll respond. And they'll turn and they'll change. Well, yes, somebody has said happy thoughts and and bootstraps won't do. We need rescuing. So each one of them, if you take it by itself. Really has some problems and some weaknesses in it. You know, I think of the passages in first Peter, you know, he has given you an example to follow in his steps, which is oftentimes cited. That is a word to believers, isn't it, who are suffering on account of their faith. Above all, what I'd like to challenge you to do is just as you teach. As you write about, as you preach, as you convey the meaning of the work of Christ, particularly the death of Christ to others, think through. What you're trying to do, what you're trying to convey. I think traditionally we evangelicals have been too much of a too glued to to the second. And just kind of assumed that that's just the. Why it is. That's the only way of thinking about. The death of Christ. I'm not saying it's not important and not foundational. But it's not the only way. And in some cases it may not be the best way to start, at least with someone. Depending on where you are. And maybe the first one, actually, when you think about it, works better when you're in an unchurched context and you're trying to evangelize.

[00:49:01] Okay. You're trying to evangelize. As over against working in a more churched context. See, all these things have to be taken into account, don't they? To me, the beauty of what we have in Scripture is we've got, as we said earlier, seven strings on this guitar. Ways of talking about this. But I think this is a time for us to think this through and reflect on it. Maybe like you were saying, Art, the difference between what Paul does in a in a Jewish synagogue and what he does when he's on Mars Hill. Maybe what we would do in one setting is over against another. We need to think that through and just not automatically go down one line.