Intro

This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I began the project on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed it on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. I still do that every once in a while.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Cross of Christ and Human Sin

 "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." — 1 Cor. ii. 2

Who is he who hangs thereon bowing his head in death? It is none other than the Son of God, who dwelt in his bosom and shared his glory before the world was. By him, "the image of the invisible God, were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions; all things were created by him and for him" (Col. 1. 16). Equal in power and glory with the Father, he says, "I and my Father are one." "He who hath seen me hath seen the Father." This person of infinite dignity is nailed to the cross, voluntarily laying down his life as a ransom for many. The cost of redemption is the measure of the turpitude of sin. Jesus died to antagonize sin, to neutralize its baneful effects and to arrest its consequences in such a manner as to afford no encouragement to sin, but rather to raise up the strongest safeguard against it. If Jesus Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man, it proves that in every man there is some fatal plague spot which must be removed, which nothing short of the death of the Son of God could effect. I need not tell you that this plague is sin which embitters and blights every human soul, casting an eternal eclipse upon its future existence.

Before Jesus was born it was said, "He shall save his people from their sins." He began to preach and his theme was repentance of sin. He visits John the Baptist and he hears himself designated as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." He heals the paralytic, — but his omniscient eye sees deeper than the paralysis of the body the sin of the soul, which he hastens to forgive before he utters the omnipotent word, "Arise, take up thy bed and walk." From the top of Olivet he looks down upon Jerusalem and weeps over her sins. On the cross he prays, not Father, deliver me, but Father, forgive the sins of my murderers.

The whole scheme of revelation in both Testaments has distinct reference to sin. The great problem with which omnipotence wrestled was how to annihilate sin without annihilating the sinner. Justice said: "Let them share the same fate." Mercy cried: "Let me devise a ransom, though it be the most precious thing in the universe, even the only begotten of the Father. Let his death atone for the sins of the human race with whose nature he has forever united himself. Let him satisfy the demands of the moral Governor and the Protector of law, and at the same time melt the obduracy of sinners and sway them to a penitent acceptance of Christ as both Saviour and Lord." The chasm between sinners and God is bridged by an atonement satisfactory with God and influential with man.

We may not be able to state correctly the philosophy of the atonement on its Godward side, showing in what way he is affected by the death of his Son. But the saving efficacy of the atonement does not depend on our perfect philosophy, but on that faith which inspires love, imparts spiritual life, overcomes the world, and purifies the heart. The Father is grossly misrepresented when he is represented as a pitiless and vengeful Shylock demanding his pound of flesh, while his Son is the sole embodiment of mercy. The Father originated the atonement and himself suffered in the gift of his well-beloved Son beyond all possible conception by men or angels. Suffering is the highest proof of love. To say that the gift of his Son to the manger and the cross did not wring the heart of the Father with the keenest anguish, is to strip him of every proof of love to a world of sinners. Professor Fairbairn asserts that it is a great error to teach that God is incapable of suffering.

The self-sacrifice of both the Father and the Son in providing for human redemption pours a light of double intensity upon the awful nature of sin. Not so distinctly are we taught that the Holy Spirit suffers in his part of the scheme of redemption. But in the application of it by convicting the world of sin, he must be deeply grieved with every individual who rejects his mission and hardens himself in sin. The three Persons of the Trinity being interested in the elimination of sin are pained by its existence in any human character.

"With joy the Father doth approve
The fruit of his eternal love;
The Son looks down with joy and sees
The purchase of his agonies;
The Spirit takes delight to view
The contrite souls he forms anew;
While saints and angels join to sing
The growing empire of their King."

Jesus Exultant, Chapter 6.