THE FACT AND PHILOSOPHY OF
It Lies at the Foundation of Christian Doctrine from the Bible Standpoint --Three Views of the Subject--The "Orthodox View," the "Heterodox View"; the Bible View, which Unites and Harmonizes Both-- Evolution Theory Antagonistic to the Truth on this Subject--Reconciliation of Divine Justice Accomplished--Reconciliation of the Church in Progress--Reconciliation of the World Future--The Grand Final Results when the Mediatorial Throne and Kingdom will be Vacated.
THE doctrine of the Atonement lies at the very foundation of the Christian religion. Having thus the most important place in theology, a clear understanding of this subject is very essential, and this is generally conceded amongst Christian people. Nevertheless, the Atonement, though believed in, is little understood; the various ideas and theories respecting it are disconnected as well as vague; and faith built upon these disconnected and vague views of the foundation doctrine must, of necessity, be proportionately unstable, weak and vague. On the contrary, if this important subject be clearly seen, in all the grandeur of the proportions accorded it in the Word of God, as the foundation of the divine plan of salvation, it not only will firmly establish faith, rooting and grounding it upon correct principles, but it will serve as a guide in discriminating between truth and error in connection with all the minutiae of faith. When the [E16] foundation is well established and clearly discerned, and every item of faith built upon it is kept in exact alignment with the foundation, the entire faith superstructure will be perfect. As we shall show later, every doctrine and theory may be brought in contact with this touchstone, and have its proportion of gold or of dross quickly determined thereby.
There are two general views of the Atonement:
(1) What is known as the orthodox view, namely, that man, as a transgressor of the divine law, came under divine condemnation--"under wrath"; and that God, while hindered by Justice from exonerating the sinner, has provided a just redemption for him, and thus provided for the forgiveness of his sins, through the sacrifice of Christ. This entire work of satisfying the claims of Justice and making the sinner acceptable to God, is denominated the work of Atonement.
(2) What is known as the unorthodox view of the Atonement (at one time represented chiefly by Unitarians and Universalists, but which has recently been spreading rapidly and generally in every quarter of Christendom), approaches the subject from the opposite side: it presupposes no requirement on the part of divine justice of a sacrifice for the sinner's transgression; it ignores the wrath of God as represented in any special sentence of death; it ignores "the curse." It holds that God seeks and waits for man's approach, placing no hindrance in the way, requiring no atonement for man's sin, but requiring merely that man shall abandon sin and seek righteousness, and thus come into harmony with God--be at-one with God hence this view is generally styled At-one-ment, and is understood to signify harmony with righteousness regardless of the methods by which mankind may be brought into this state: atonement for sin being considered from the standpoint of expiation by the sinner himself, or else as unconditional forgiveness by God. From this standpoint our Lord Jesus and all [E17] his followers have part in the at-one-ment, in the sense that they have taught and exhorted mankind to turn from sin to righteousness, and in no sin-offering or ransom sense.
(3) The view which we accept as the Scriptural one, but which has been overlooked very generally by theologians, embraces and combines both of the foregoing views. The Bible doctrine of the Atonement, as we shall endeavor to show, teaches clearly:
(a) That man was created perfect, in the image of God, but fell therefrom, through wilful disobedience, and came under the sentence of wrath, "the curse," and thus the entire race became "children of wrath." Eph. 2:3
(b) While God justly executed against his disobedient creature the sentence of his law, death, and that without mercy, for over four thousand years, yet, nevertheless, blended with this justice and fidelity to principles of righteousness was the spirit of love and compassion, which designed an ultimate substitutional arrangement or plan of salvation, by which God might still be just and carry out his just laws against sinners, and yet be the justifier of all who believe in Jesus. (Rom. 3:26) By this plan all the condemned ones might be relieved from the sentence without any violation of Justice, and with such a display of divine love and wisdom and power as would honor the Almighty, and prove a blessing to all his creatures, human and angelic --by revealing to all, more fully than ever before seen, the much diversified wisdom and grace of God. Eph. 3:10 Diaglott
(c) It was in the carrying out of this program of Atonement to the divine law for its transgression by father Adam, that our dear Redeemer died, "a ransom for all, to be testified in due time," 1 Tim. 2:6
(d) But the sacrifice for sins does not complete the work of Atonement, except so far as the satisfaction of the claim of Justice is concerned. By virtue of the ransom paid to Justice, a transfer of man's account has been made, and his [E18] case, his indebtedness, etc., is wholly transferred to the account of the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid to Justice the full satisfaction of its claims against Adam, and his race. Thus Jesus, by reason of this "purchase" with his own precious blood, is now in consequence the owner, master, "Lord, of all." Rom. 14:9
(e) One object in this arrangement for Adam and his race was the annulment of their death sentence, which, so long as it remained, estopped Love from any efforts to recover the condemned, whose privileges of future life under any circumstances were wholly abrogated--destroyed.
(f) Another object was the placing of the fallen race beyond the reach of divine Justice, and under the special supervision of Jesus, who as the representative of the Father's plan proposes not only to satisfy the claims of Justice, but also undertakes the instruction, correction and restitution of so many of the fallen race as shall show their desire for harmony with Justice. Such he will ultimately turn over to the Justice of the divine law, but then so perfected as to be able to endure its perfect requirements.
(g) Though originally the only separating influence between God and man was the divine sentence, now, after six thousand years of falling, degradation and alienation from God through wicked works--and because of ignorance, superstition, and the wiles of the Adversary--and because the divine character and plan have been misrepresented to men, we find the message of grace and forgiveness unheeded. Although God freely declares, since the ransom was accepted, that he is now ready to receive sinners back into harmony with himself and to eternal life, through the merit of Christ's sacrifice, nevertheless the majority of mankind are slow to believe the good tidings, and correspondingly slow to accept their conditions. Some have become so deluded by the sophistries of Satan, by which he has deceived all nations (Rev. 20:3), that they do not believe that there is a God; others believe in him as a great and powerful adversary, without love or sympathy, ready and anxious to torment [E19] them to all eternity; others are confused by the Babel of conflicting reports that have reached them, concerning the divine character, and know not what to believe; and, seeking to draw near unto God, are hindered by their fears and by their ignorance. Consequently, as a matter of fact, the number who have yet availed themselves of the opportunity of drawing nigh unto God through Christ is a comparatively small one--"a little flock."
(h) Nevertheless, the sacrifice for sins was not for the few, but for the "many," "for all." And it is a part of the divine program that he who redeemed all with his own precious blood shall ultimately make known to all men, "to every creature," the good tidings of their privilege under divine grace, to return to at-one-ment with their Creator.
(i) Thus far only the Church has been benefited by the Atonement, except indirectly; but the teaching of the Scriptures is that this Church shall constitute a priestly Kingdom, or "royal priesthood," with Christ the Royal Chief Priest, and that during the Millennial age this Heavenly Kingdom class, this royal priesthood, shall fully and completely accomplish for mankind the work of removing the blindness which Satan and error and degradation brought upon them, and shall bring back to full at-one-ment with God whosoever wills, of all the families of the earth.
(j) In harmony with this is the Apostle's statement that we, believers, the Church, have received the Atonement. The Atonement was made, so far as God was concerned, eighteen centuries ago, and that for all; but only believers have received it in the sense of accepting the opportunity which the grace of God has thus provided--and the rest of mankind are blinded. "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." 2 Cor. 4:4
(k) In harmony with this thought also is the statement of [E20] Scripture, that the first work of Christ in connection with his Millennial reign, will be to bind, or restrain, Satan, that he shall deceive the nations no more for the thousand years (Rev. 20:3), also the numerous statements of the prophets, to the effect that when the Kingdom of God shall be established in the earth, the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the whole earth, as the waters cover the great deep, and none shall need to say to his neighbor, "Know thou the Lord" (Heb. 8:11), also the petition of the Lord's prayer, "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth"--because this implies what the Apostle expressly declares, that God desires all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Tim. 2:4
(l) The Atonement, in both of its phases--the satisfaction of Justice, and the bringing back into harmony or at-one-ment with God of so many of his creatures as, under full light and knowledge, shall avail themselves of the privileges and opportunities of the New Covenant--will be completed with the close of the Millennial Age, when all who shall wilfully and intelligently reject divine favor, offered through Christ, "shall be destroyed from among the people," with "an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power"--with a destruction from which there will be no hope of recovery by future resurrection. Acts 3:23; 2 Thess. 1:9
(m) Then the great work of the Atonement will be completed, and all things in heaven and in earth will be found in harmony with God, praising him for all his munificence and grace through Christ; and there shall be no more dying and no more sighing, no more pain there, because the former things shall have passed away--as the result of the work of the Atonement, commenced by the propitiation of Justice by our Redeemer's sacrifice, concluded by the full reconciliation of all found worthy of eternal life.
However the word Atonement may be viewed, it must be conceded that its use at all, as between God and man, implies [E21] a difficulty, a difference, an opposition, existing between the Creator and the creature--otherwise they would be at one, and there would be no need of a work of atonement, from either standpoint. And here particularly we discern the deadly conflict that exists between the Bible and the modern doctrine of Evolution, which, for the past thirty years in particular, has been permeating the faith of Christian people of all denominations, and which shows itself most markedly in theological schools and in the principal pulpits of Christendom.
The Evolution theory denies the fall of man; denies that he ever was in the image and likeness of God; denies that he was ever in a fit condition to be on trial before the bar of exact Justice; denies that he ever sinned in such a trial, and that he ever was sentenced to death. It claims that death, so far from being a penalty is but another step in the process of evolution; it holds that man, instead of falling from the image and likeness of God into sin and degradation, has been rising from the condition of a monkey into more and more of the image and likeness of God. The logical further steps of the theory would evidently be, to deny that there could be any justice on God's part in condemning man for rising from a lower to a higher plane, and denying, consequently, that Justice could accept a sin-offering for man, when there had been no sin on man's part to require such an offering. Consistently with this thought, it claims that Christ was not a sin-offering, not a sacrifice for sins--except in the same sense, they would say, that any patriot might be a sacrifice for his country; namely, that he laid down his life in helping to lift the race forward into greater liberties and privileges.
But we find that the Word of God most absolutely contradicts this entire theory, so that no harmony is possible between the Scripture teaching and the teaching of Evolution --science falsely so-called. Whoever believes in the Evolution theory, to that extent disbelieves the Scripture theory; and yet we find a very large number of Christian [E22] people vainly struggling and attempting to harmonize these antagonizing teachings. To whatever extent they hold the theory of Evolution, to that extent they are off the only foundation for faith which God has provided; to that extent they are prepared for further errors, which the Adversary will be sure to bring forward to their attention, errors presented so forcibly from the worldly-wise standpoint that they would, if it were possible, deceive the very elect. But the very elect will have "the faith once delivered to the saints"; the very elect will hold to the doctrine of the Atonement, as presented in the Scriptures; the very elect will thus be guarded against every item and feature of the Evolution theory: for the very elect will be taught of God, especially upon this doctrine of the Atonement, which lies at the very foundation of revealed religion and Christian faith.
The Scriptures unequivocally testify that God created man in his own image and likeness--mental and moral; that man, an earthly being, was the moral and intellectual image or likeness of his Creator, a spirit being. They declare his communion with his Creator in the beginning; they declare that his Creator approved him as his workmanship, and pronounced him "very good," very acceptable, very pleasing; they show that the proposition of life or death was set before the perfect Adam, and that when he became a transgressor it was an intelligent and wilful act, inasmuch as it is declared that Adam "was not deceived." They declare the beginning of the execution of the death penalty. They record the progress for centuries of the death sentence upon the race. They point out how God revealed to faithful Abraham his purpose, his intention, not at once, but later on, to bring in a blessing to the race, which he declared he had cursed with the sentence of death. Gen. 1:31; 2:17; 3:23; 1 Tim. 2:14; Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 3:17
Since the curse or penalty of sin was death, the blessings promised implied life from the dead, life more abundant: and the promise to Abraham was that in some unexplained way the Savior who would accomplish this work of blessing [E23] the world should come through Abraham's posterity. The same promises were, with more or less clearness, reiterated to Isaac, to Jacob and to the children of Israel. The prophets also declared that the Messiah coming should be a Lamb slain, a sin-offering, one who should "pour out his soul unto death," for our sins, and not for his own. And they portrayed also the result of his sacrifice for sins, in the glory and blessing that should follow; telling how ultimately his Kingdom shall prevail, and, as the Sun of Righteousness, he shall bring into the world the new day of blessing and life and joy, which shall dispel the darkness and gloom and the sorrow of the night of weeping, which now prevails as the result of original sin and the fall, and inherited evil tendencies. Isa. 53:10-12; 35; 60; 61
The Apostle Peter, speaking under the inspiration of the holy Spirit, so far from telling us that man had been created on the plane of a monkey, and had risen to his present degree of development, and would ultimately attain perfection by the same process of evolution, points, on the contrary, a reverse lesson, telling us that Christ died for our sins, and that, as a consequence of the redemption accomplished by his sacrifice, there shall ultimately come to mankind, at the second advent of our Lord, great times of refreshing--times of restitution of all things, which, he declares, "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." (Acts 3:19-21) Whoever may think the Apostle Peter was preaching a doctrine of evolution, when preaching the gospel of restitution, must have closed his eyes and stopped the operation of his reasoning faculties; for if the original condition of man was that of a monkey, or if it was anything whatever inferior to our present condition, the Apostle would have been the veriest fool to hold out, as a grand hope and prospect, times of restitution, for restitution means a restoration of that condition which previously existed.
On the contrary, the Apostle's words are thoroughly out of harmony with and antagonistic to the theory of evolution, [E24] and in strictest harmony with the doctrine of the Atonement, reconciliation and restitution--in strictest harmony with the Scriptural teaching that mankind were sold under sin, and became the slaves of sin, and suffered the degradation of sin, as the result of father Adam's original disobedience and its death-penalty. Restitution, the good tidings which Peter preached, implies that something good and grand and valuable was lost, and that it has been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and that it shall be restored, as the result of this redemption, at the second advent of Christ. And the Apostle's reference to the prophets, declaring that these restitution times were mentioned by all of them who were holy, distinctly implies that the hope of restitution is the only hope held out before the world of mankind by divine inspiration.
All the Apostles similarly pointed backward to the fall from divine favor, and to the cross of Christ as the point of reconciliation as respects divine Justice, and forward to the Millennial age as the time for the blessing of all the world of mankind with opportunities of knowledge and help in their reconciliation to God. They all point out the present age as the time for the gathering out of the elect Church to be associates with Messiah (his "royal priesthood" and "peculiar people") to cooperate with him as his "bride," his "body," in the work of conferring upon the world the blessings of restitution secured for them by the sacrifice finished at Calvary.
Mark the words of the Apostle Paul along this line: "By one man's disobedience sin entered into the world"--and death as a result of sin; and so death passed upon all men, for [by reason of inherited sin and sinful dispositions] all are sinners. The Apostle Paul quite evidently was no more an Evolutionist than the Apostle Peter and the prophets. Mark the hope which he points out as the very essence of the Gospel, saying: "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us; much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath [E25] through him." (Rom. 5:8,9) Here is a specific declaration that the race was under divine wrath; that the saving power was the blood of Christ, the sacrifice that he gave on our behalf; and that this sacrifice was an expression of divine love and grace. The Apostle proceeds to show the work of Atonement, and the restitution which will follow as a result, saying: "As through one offense [Adam's disobedience] sentence came upon all men to condemnation [the death sentence]; so also through one righteous act the free gift [the reversal of the sentence] came on all men unto justification of life. For as through the disobedience of one man [Adam] many were made sinners [all who were in him], so by the obedience of one [Jesus] many [all who ultimately shall avail themselves of the privileges and opportunities of the New Covenant] shall be constituted righteous." Rom. 5:12,18,19
The same Apostle, in many other of his masterly and logical discourses, presents the thought that the Atonement, so far as God is concerned, is a thing of the past--finished when "we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son," while we were yet sinners. (Rom. 5:10) In this he evidently did not refer to a work accomplished in the sinner, reconciling the sinner to God, because he states it in the reverse manner, and declares that it was accomplished, not in us, but by Christ for us, and while we were sinners. Note also that in various of his learned and logical discourses he points out a work of blessing to the world, to be accomplished through the glorified Church, under Christ, her divinely appointed Head, showing that it will consist in bringing the world to a knowledge of God's grace in Christ, and that thus so many of the redeemed world as may be willing can return to at-one-ment with their Creator during the Millennial Kingdom--a restitution of the divine favor lost in Eden.
As an illustration of this point note the argument of Rom. 8:17-24. Here the Apostle distinctly marks as separate salvation of the Church and the subsequent salvation [E26] or deliverance of the world, the "groaning creation." He calls attention to the Church as the prospective joint-heir with Christ, who, if faithful in suffering with him in this present time, shall ultimately share his glory in his Kingdom. He assures us that these sufferings of this present time are unworthy of comparison with the glory that shall be revealed in us by and by. And then he proceeds to say that this glory to be revealed in the Church after its sufferings are all complete, is the basis for all the earnest expectations of the groaning creation--whose longings and hopes necessarily await fruition in the time when the sons of God shall be revealed or manifested.
Now the sons of God are unrevealed; the world knows them not, even as it knew not their Master; and though the world, indeed, looks forward with a vague hope to a golden age of blessing, the Apostle points out that all their earnest expectations must wait for the time when the Church, the sons of God, shall be glorified and shall be manifested as the kings and priests of God's appointment, who shall reign over the earth during the Millennial age, for the blessing of all the families of the earth, according to the riches of divine grace as revealed by God in his promise to Abraham, saying: "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." Gal. 3:8,16,29
The Apostle proceeds to show that mankind in general, the intelligent earthly creation, was subjected to frailty ("vanity") by heredity, by the transgression of father Adam, according to divine providence, and yet is not left without hope; because under divine arrangement also, a sacrifice for sins has been provided, and provision made that ultimately mankind in general may be emancipated, set free, from the slavery of sin, and from its penalty, death, and may attain the glorious freedom (from sickness, pain, trouble, sorrow) which is the liberty of all who are the sons of God. It was from this plane of sonship and such "liberty" that mankind fell through disobedience, and to the same [E27] plane of human sonship they will be privileged to return, as a result of the great sin-offering at Calvary, and of the completion of the work of Atonement in them, reconciling them to the divine law by the Redeemer, as the Great Prophet, the antitype of Moses. (Acts 3:22,23) The Apostle also points out that the Church, which already has received the Atonement (accepted the divine arrangement) and come into harmony with God, and has been made possessor of the first-fruits of the spirit, nevertheless, by reason of the surroundings, groans also, and waits for her share of the completed work of the Atonement, in her complete reception to divine favor, the deliverance of the body of Christ, the Church, in the first resurrection. Rom. 8:23-25
These two features of the Atonement, (1) the righting of the wrong, and (2) the bringing of the separated ones into accord, are shown in the divine proposition of a New Covenant, whose mediator is Christ Jesus our Lord. When father Adam was perfect, in complete harmony with his Creator, and obedient to all of his commands, a covenant between them was implied, though not formally expressed; the fact that life in its perfection had been given to father Adam, and that additionally he had been given dominion over all the beasts and fish and fowl, and over all the earth as the territory of his dominion, and the additional fact that it was declared that if he would violate his faithfulness to the Great King, Jehovah, by disobedience, he would forfeit his life and vitiate all those rights and blessings which had been conferred upon him--this implied, we say, a covenant or agreement on God's part with his creature that his life was everlasting, unless he should alter the matter by disobedience, and bring upon himself a sentence of death.
The disobedience of Adam, and its death penalty, left him utterly helpless, except as the Almighty provided for the recovery of the race through the New Covenant, and the New Covenant, as the Apostle points out, has a mediator --God, on the one part, deals with the mediator, and not [E28] with the sinner; the sinner, on the other part, deals with the mediator, and not with God. But before our Lord Jesus could become the Mediator he must do for mankind a work which, in this figure, is represented as sealing the New Covenant with his own precious blood--"The blood of the New Covenant." (Matt. 26:28; Mark 14:24; Heb. 7:22; 9:15-20) That is to say, God, in justice, cannot receive nor deal with the sinner, either directly, or indirectly through a mediator, so as to give the sinner a release from the sentence of death, and reconciliation to God, with its accompanying blessing, the gift of eternal life--except first divine Justice be remembered and satisfied. Hence it was that our Lord Jesus, in paying our penalty by his death, made possible the sealing of the New Covenant between God and man, under the terms of which all who come unto God by him, the mediator, are acceptable.
Reconciliation with God, at-one-ment with him, was impossible until, first, the redemption had been secured with the precious blood, that the one seeking at-one-ment might approach God, through the mediator of the New Covenant: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John 14:6) It is for this reason that the highest privilege of the most favored of mankind, previous to the commencement of Christ's sacrifice, was that of "servants" and "friends" of God--none could be accorded the high privilege of sonship (with all that this implies of divine favor and eternal life), and none were thus recognized. (John 1:12; Matt. 11:11) Thus it will be seen that those who ignore the sin-offering and Justice-appeasement features of the Atonement are ignoring important and indispensable parts--primary and fundamental features. But not less do others err, who, while recognizing the sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice of the Atonement for sealing the New Covenant, ignore a work of reconciliation toward men, by which men are to be brought, through the operation of the New Covenant, back into harmony with God. [E29]
Nor can this work of Atonement, so far as mankind is concerned, be accomplished instantaneously and by faith. It may begin in an instant and by faith, and at-one-ment may be reckonedly accomplished between the sinner and the Almighty through faith; but the scope of the At-one-ment which God purposes is grander and higher than this. His arrangement is that those of the human race who desire to return to at-one-ment with him (and his righteous law) shall be reckonedly accepted through their Mediator, but shall not be fully and completely received (by the Father) while they are actually imperfect. Hence, while it is the work of the Mediator (Head and "body") to proclaim to mankind the fact that God has provided a sin-offering, whereby he can be just and yet receive the sinner back into harmony with himself, and that he is now willing to confer the blessing of sonship and its eternal life and freedom from corruption, it is additionally his work to make clear to all mankind that this offer of salvation is a great boon and should be promptly accepted and that its terms are but a reasonable service; and additionally to this, it is the Mediator's work, as the Father's representative, to actually restore --to mentally, morally and physically restitute mankind--so many of them as will receive his ministry and obey him. Thus eventually the Mediator's work will result in an actual at-one-ment between God and those whom the Mediator shall restore to perfection.
This great work of the Mediator has appropriated to it the entire Millennial Age; it is for this purpose that Messiah's Kingdom shall be established in the earth, with all power and authority: it is for this purpose that he must reign, that he may put down every evil influence which would hinder the world of mankind from coming to a knowledge of this gracious truth of divine love and mercy; this provision under the New Covenant, that "whosoever will" may return to God. But while the great Mediator shall thus receive, bless and restore, under the terms of the New Covenant, all who desire fellowship with God through him, [E30] he shall destroy from among the people, with an everlasting destruction, all who, under the favorable opportunities of that Millennial Kingdom, refuse the divine offer of reconciliation. Acts 3:23; Matt. 25:41,46; Rev. 20:9,14,15; Prov. 2:21,22
The close of the Millennial age will come after it shall have accomplished all the work of mediation for which it was designed and appointed. And there the mediatorial office of Christ will cease because there will be no more rebels, no more sinners. All desirous of harmony with God will then have attained it in perfection; and all wilful sinners will by that time have been cut off from life. Then will be fulfilled our Lord's prophecy that all things in heaven and earth will be found praising God; and then will be realized the divine promise that there shall be no more dying, no more sighing and no more crying, because the former things (conditions) will have passed away. Rev. 21:4; Psa. 67
When the great Mediator-King shall resign his completed work to the Father, delivering up his office and kingdom as the Apostle explains (1 Cor. 15:24-28), what lasting results may we expect the great Mediator's redemptive work toward mankind to show?
It will have accomplished:
(1) The sealing of the New Covenant with his own precious blood; making its gracious provisions possible to all mankind.
(2) The reconciling or bringing back into harmony with God of a "little flock," a "royal priesthood," zealous of good works--willing to lay down their lives in God's service; who, because thus copies of their Savior, shall by divine arrangement be privileged to be his joint-heirs in the Millennial Kingdom and partakers of his divine nature. 1 Pet. 2:9,10; Titus 2:14; Rom. 8:29
(3) The reconciliation, the full restitution, of an earth full of perfect, happy human beings--all of mankind found desirous of divine favor upon the divine terms: these the [E31] Mediator turns over to the Father, not only fully restored but fully instructed in righteousness and self-control and full of the spirit of loyalty to God, the spirit of holiness and possessed of its blessed fruits--meekness, patience, kindness, godliness--love. In this condition they shall indeed be blameless and irreproachable, and capable of standing every test.
(4) The destruction of all others of the race, as unworthy of further favor--the cumberers of the ground, whose influence could not be beneficial to others, and whose continued existence would not glorify their Creator.
Thus, at the close of the Millennial age, the world will be fully back in divine favor, fully at-one with God, as mankind was representatively in harmony, at-one with God, in the person of Adam, before transgression entered the world: but additionally they will possess a most valuable experience with evil; for by it they will have learned a lesson on the sinfulness of sin, and the wisdom, profit and desirableness of righteousness. Additionally, also, they will possess an increase of knowledge and the wider exercise of the various talents and abilities which were man's originally in creation, but in an undeveloped state. And this lesson will be profitable, not to man alone, but also to the holy angels, who will have witnessed an illustration of the equilibrium of divine Justice, Love, Wisdom and Power in a measure which they could not otherwise have conceived possible. And the lesson fully learned by all, we may presume, will stand for all time, applicable to other races yet uncreated on other planets of the wide universe.
And what will be the center of that story as it shall be told throughout eternity? It will be the story of the great ransom finished at Calvary and of the atonement based upon that payment of the corresponding price, which demonstrated that God's Love and Justice are exactly equal.
In view of the great importance of this subject of the Atonement, and in view also of that fact that it is so imperfectly comprehended by the Lord's people, and in view, additionally, [E32] of the fact that errors held upon other subjects hinder a proper view of this important subject, we propose, in its discussion in this volume, to cover a wide range, and to inquire:
(1) Concerning Jehovah, the Author of the plan of the Atonement.
(2) Concerning the Mediator, by whom the Atonement sacrifice was made, and through whose instrumentality all of its gracious provisions are to be applied to fallen man.
(3) Concerning the holy Spirit, the channel or medium through which the blessings of reconciliation to God are brought to mankind.
(4) Respecting mankind, on whose behalf this great plan of Atonement was devised.
(5) Respecting the ransom, the center or pivotal point of the Atonement.
Taking these subjects up in this, which we believe to be their proper and logical order, we hope to find the divine statement respecting these various subjects so clear, so forceful, so satisfactory, as to remove from our minds much of the mist, mystery and misconception which has hitherto beclouded this admittedly important subject of the Atonement. But to attain these desirable results we must not come to these subjects hampered by human creeds or opinions. We must come to them untrammeled by prejudice, ready, willing, nay anxious, to be taught of God; anxious to unlearn whatever we have hitherto received merely through our own conjectures or through the suggestions of others, that is not in harmony with the Word of the Lord; anxious also to have the whole counsel of God upon every feature of this subject. To all who thus come, who thus seek, who thus knock, the great Teacher opens the way, and "they shall be all taught of God." Isa. 54:13