Clarence E. Mason's "Soteriology"
BY THE AUTHOR
Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible
- THE MEANING OF THE WORD' ATONEMENT
- The word "atonement"
is a translator's interpretation rather than a translation of the actual
meaning of the word itself.
- The word "atonement"
occurs 78 times in the AV, 77 times in the Old Testament and once in the
New Testament (Rom. 5:11), and that by mistake.
In the American Standard Version, the New Testament reference (Rom. 5:11)
is translated correctly "reconciliation. " Dr. Scofield says
it is to be regretted on every account that the revisers did not also
eliminate the word "atonement" from the Old Testament, where
it invariably means "covering, " "coverings, " "cover,
" or " "to cover." The Hebrew word is "kaphar.
" It is an Old Testament word exclusively.
Lookup: Ex. 29:36-37; 30:10,15-16; 32:30-35; Lev. 1:4; 4:20,26,31, 35;
- The sacrifices of the Old
Testament did not "take away sin, " Heb. 10:1-4.
- The Biblical meaning of "atonement"
is nothing more than "to cover." The theological meaning is
"the taking away of sin or the complete satisfaction for our sin.
" Only the Lord Jesus Christ could make full satisfaction for our
The Old Testament sacrifices made "a covering" for sin and secured
forgiveness if offered in faith. The sacrificer acknowledged his sin and
his just desert which is death. But it took the sacrifice of Christ to
remove the sinner's sin.
- Interesting Scriptural comments:
Rom. 3:25; Acts 17:30; Ps. 78:38.
- THEORIES OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST
IN RELATION TO THE ATONEMENT
- The accident theory holds
that the cross was something UNFORESEEN in the life of Christ. Calvary
was not in the plan of God for His Son. Christ's death was an accident,
as unforeseen and unexpected as the death of any other martyr was unforeseen
and unexpected. This theory would make the death of Christ something not
contained in the Divine plan, and would make the Lord Jesus Christ a victim
- This theory limits the
omniscience of God.
1 Jn. 3:20; Isa. 46:9-10; Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:18-20
- According to Revelation
13:8, Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,
thus refuting that it was not in the Divine plan.
- Christ's death was not
unexpected, but very definitely planned. Gal. 4:4-5, "fullness
of time"; Acts 2:23
- Christ gave evidence
that He knew of His death by foretelling it again and again. Mt. 16:21;
- The Scriptures contain
many predictions of His death. Isa. 53:5-6; Lk. 24:26-27,44
- The martyr theory holds that:
Christ's death was the same as that of any other noble man who has given
his life as a sacrifice for a principle and for truth. His faithfulness
would argue for similar devotion to truth and principle on our part, even
to the point of willingness to suffer for our convictions like Christ.
- Then Christ should have
so declared Himself. Jn. 12:32-33; 14:1-3
- Paul should have been
1 Cor. 15:1-3; 1 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 5:25,27
- Why didn't Christ have
the comfort that martyrs receive? Lk. 22:39-46;
cp. Phil. 1:23; Acts 7:60. Paul distinguishes between the death of
Stephen and the death of Christ. He never preached salvation by the
death of Stephen.
This view may make martyrs, but it will never save sinners.
- The moral example theory
Christ's death has an influence upon mankind for moral improvement. "The
example of His suffering ought to soften human hearts and help a man to
reform, repent, and better his condition. So they teach that God grants
pardon and forgiveness on the basis of simple repentance and reformation."
Evans - Great Doctrines of the Bible, p. 75
- This theory does not
deal with the question of sin.
- It confines the influence
of the death of Christ to those who have heard it, thus excluding
heathen. Thus, Christ could not have died for the world.
- The knowledge of Christ's
suffering alone does not so affect men today, nor did it affect the
Jews of Christ's day.
- It embraces a valuable
element of truth, but it fails to emphasize properly the primary accomplishment
of the death of Christ, Mt. 26:28.
- The governmental theory holds
that the benevolence of God requires that He should make an example of
suffering in Christ in order to exhibit to man that sin is displeasing
in His sight. God's government of the world necessitates that He show
His wrath against sin.
- God has shown His displeasure
at sin before, Gen. 19:24-25; 6:13.
- Why didn't God take a
guilty man and make an example of him instead of the sinless Son of
- The actual power of the
death of Christ over the human conscience is due, not to its exhibiting
God's regard for law, but to its exhibiting an actual execution of
law, and an actual satisfaction for the violated holiness of God accomplished
when Christ died in the sinner's stead, Gal. 3:13; 1 Pet. 2:25; 3:18.
- The love of God theory holds
that Christ died to show men how much God loved them, so that ever after
they would know the feeling of the heart of God toward them.
- The death of Christ is
a provision for salvation from sin's guilt and penalty. The Scriptures
which speak of God's love as being manifested in the gift of Christ
also give another reason, Jn. 3:16; IJn. 4:10; 1 Pet. 3:18.
- This theory has an element
of truth, but it is not the whole truth. The Old Testament is full
of the love of God, Ex. 20:6. Man could know the love of God apart
from the cross.
theory holds that Christ's death was in my room and stead. He bore the
penalty I deserved.
"The story of the Passover lamb (Ex. 12), with 1 Corinthians 5:7,
illustrates the meaning of substitution as here used: one life given
in the stead of another. 'The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of
us all' (Isa. 53:6). God made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for
us (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ Himself bore our sins in His own body on the
tree; this is substitution (1 Pet. 2:24). Christ died in our place,
bore our sins, paid the penalty due our sins (1 Pet. 3:18); and all
this, not by force, but willingly (Jn. 10:17-18). The idea of substitution
is well illustrated by the nature of the preposition used in connection
with this phase of Christ's death: In Matthew 20:28 Christ is said to
give His life a ransom for all (also 1 Tim. 2:6). That this preposition
means instead of is clear from its use in Matthew 2:22: 'Archelaus did
reign in the room (or in the stead) of his father, Herod.' Also in Luke
11:11; 'Will he for a fish give him a serpent?' (See Hebrews 12:2,16.)
Substitution then, as used here, means this: That something happened
to Christ, and because it happened to Christ, it need not happen to
me. Christ died for my sins; I need not die for them if I accept His
sacrifice. For further illustrations, see Genesis 22:13, where God provides
a ram to sacrifice in the place of Isaac; also, Barabbas was freed and
Christ bore his cross, taking his place."
Evans - Great Doctrines of the Bible, pp. 72-73
Upon a life I did not live;
Upon a death I did not die;
Another's life, another's death,
I stake my whole eternity.
- THE REASONS WHY CHRIST DIED
- The holiness of God demanded
it because of the sinfulness of man, Nah. 1:2-3; Heb. 12:29.
- To display the glory of His
righteousness, Rom. 3:24-26; Gen. 18:25; Rev. 19:2a.
- THE DEFINITION OF ATONEMENT
"Atonement" is, a word used in the Authorized and Revised Versions
of the English Old Testament as the translation of the Hebrew words signifying
"to cover" and "coverings, " in relation to the effect
of the Levitical offerings upon the sins of the offerers.
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