In What Sense Did Christ Atone?

“Paul states in Romans 5:11: ‘And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.’ In what sense did Christ atone for our sins?”

This passage is one of many in our English translation of the Scriptures where it is necessary to consult the original language to ensure we have the proper sense of what the apostle was seeking to convey. When we do so, we find that the Greek word katallage or “reconciliation” is used. It is understandable that the KJV translators used the term atonement because in their day the term meant “agreement, concord, or reconciliation after enmity or controversy.”

For the sake of clarification, in contemporary language the word atonement obscures the meaning of the passage. The emphasis of Paul’s special revelation here is on reconciliation, not atonement, as confirmed by the Greek text. The Hebrew word kaphar, translated “atonement” in the Old Testament meant “to cover.” Hence, the blood of bulls and goats merely covered the sins of those in Old Testament times; it didn’t have the efficacy to remove them.

“And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Heb. 10:11).

Through the forbearance of God those sins that were atoned for in time past are now removed on the basis of the shed blood of Christ (Rom. 3:25). Today, Paul teaches us that we are freely justified and forgiven by the blood of Christ: “Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). In other words, the blood of Christ doesn’t atone for our sins, it actually cleanses them forevermore.

In the context of the above passage, the apostle was instructing the Romans that it is a source of joy to know that we are at peace with God (Rom. 5:1), seeing that we have accepted His gracious offer of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:18). The subject of Romans 5:11 is reconciliation, not atonement.

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

The Making of a Busybody – 2 Thessalonians 3:10-14

 

Summary:

When the Thessalonians overreacted to learning about the Rapture by quitting their jobs, it caused several problems. First, it led to the creation of “busybodies” (v.11), people who meddle into the affairs of others. Plus, busybodies are usually “tattlers” (I Tim. 5:13), or idle talkers. And once tattlers start down the road of idle talking, it is not long be-fore they are “speaking things which they ought not” (ITim.5:13). Since most of us love to meddle in the affairs of others and tell them how to work out their salvation, Paul tells us: “work out your own salvation” (Phil.2:12).

Paul commanded these busybodies to go back to work when he was in Thessalonica, and in his first epistle to them (IThes.4:11), and now here again (IIThes.3:12). But he also chooses to “exhort” them. This is a New Covenant word. Under the Law, God never exhorted the Jews to do anything, He commanded them, and they knew it was obey or else. But under grace Paul can’t issue an “or else,” so with this third command he chooses to exhort them. Under grace, you can remind other adult sons that they will reap what they sow if they ignore Paul’s warnings, but adult sons don’t always care. This is why Paul told Timothy to “exhort with all longsuffering” (IITim.4:2). Under grace, all grace pastors can do is convey Paul’s commands and then suffer long if God’s people reject them.

“Quietness” is a lack of strife (Pr.17:1), a lack of trouble (Job 34:29), and a lack of fighting (IChr.22:9). In telling the Thessalonians to work “with quietness,” he was telling them they could avoid strife, trouble and fighting with their brethren. You see, there was money involved. In telling the busybodies they should work and “eat their own bread,” it implies they were eating the bread of their brethren who had not quit their jobs. Not working creates more than just busybodies and tattlers, it creates moochers.

If you think I’m reading too much into that phrase “eat their own bread,” notice Paul tells the brethren they were sponging off of not to get weary in helping people (IIThes.3:13). We know he’s not changing the subject and moving on here because in Verse 14 he instructs them about what to do about the moochers.

Now he’s not telling them to continue to help the moochers; he told them to distance themselves from them. But you know how it is. If you help people who are unworthy of your help long enough, it makes you hesitant to want to help those who are worthy of it, so Paul tells them not to get burned out on helping others.

When Paul spoke about obeying “our word by this epistle,” remember, his words were God’s words. To despise them was to despise God’s words (I Thes. 4:8). God spoke through Paul’s words as He did all Bible writers (IPe.1:21).

People say we elevate Paul over the Lord Jesus, but in the Tribulation, when Trib saints look to John’s book of Revelation to guide them, will they be elevating John over the Lord? No, they’ll just be recognizing that he wrote about the time in which they will live. In the same way, it is not elevating Paul over the Lord to say that Paul wrote about the time in which we live, the dispensation of the grace of God (Eph.3:1-9). Are we elevating President Obama over President Lincoln when we choose to obey the laws that govern our country now? No! Then why would anyone think we are elevating Paul over the Lord when we choose to follow the rules that govern our dispensation?

When Paul says that they should have “no company” with these busybodies (IITh.3:14), it reminds us of how he told the Corinthians “not to keep company” with the fornicator (ICor.5:11). This puts not going to work in a serious class of disobedience. Even unbelievers know they should work to provide for their own families (ITim.5:8), and “to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Notice this shunning measure is not punitive, it is restora-tive. It is done to make the busybody “ashamed” (IIThes.3: 14). Shame is a powerful motivator, and shunning to achieve it is a time-honored Bible tradition (Num. 12:14). God used it to cause His people to seek Him (Psalm 83:16).

That Explains It!

Did you ever wonder why nominal Christians give you grief when you insist that salvation is by grace through faith alone apart from any good works (Eph. 2:8,9)? The Apostle Paul understood the reason that men troubled him for proclaiming this message, and he came up with the perfect illustration to help the Galatians understand it. Speaking of the two sons of Abraham, he observed:

“But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now” (Gal. 4:29).

When we look up the passage that Paul is quoting here, we learn that Ishmael “persecuted” Isaac by “mocking” him (Gen. 21:9). And, if you know the story, you know why Ishmael was giving his younger brother grief. When Abraham got tired of waiting for God to give him the son He had promised, he took matters into his own hands and fathered a child by his wife’s servant, intending to make Ishmael the heir that God had promised (Gen. 17:18). God rejected this notion (Gen. 17:20,21) and eventually gave Abraham the son that He promised through the miraculous birth that Abraham’s wife Sarah gave to Isaac.

Ishmael was thirteen years old (Gen. 17:25) when Isaac was weaned (21:8), and based on his father’s assurance that he would be his heir, he had doubtless worked very hard to be worthy of his inheritance. Then suddenly there appeared this interloper, this young child Isaac, whom Sarah rightly declared would be her husband’s heir (Gen. 21:10), and God agreed (v. 12). That meant that after all Ishmael’s hard work his inheritance was now going to be just handed to this infant who hadn’t done a thing to earn it other than to be born the child of promise.

Now, if you can’t relate to the anger that Ishmael felt toward the newly-declared heir, I certainly can! When I was twelve, I asked my father to buy me a Schwinn Fastback Stingray bicycle. He informed me that I was old enough to work for the money that would be needed to make such an expensive purchase. He then reminded me that I could work as many hours as I wanted at his tool and die shop. To help me out, he graciously bumped my salary up to 50 cents an hour (he had started me out at 15 cents an hour!). But while I was working and saving for my $75 bike, my younger brother learned to ride a bike, and was given—a Stingray bicycle! I remember feeling angered that he had just been handed something for which I was having to work so long and hard!

That explains how Ishmael felt about Isaac, which in turn explains how professing Christians feel about those of us that champion the cause of salvation by grace through faith apart from works. Such “Christians” are angered at the notion that the salvation for which they themselves are working so long and so hard is being offered so freely to men and women who haven’t done a thing to earn it other than to be born again a child of God’s promise (Gal. 4:28).

How should we respond to such religious animosity? Paul answers in the opening words of the very next chapter in Galatians: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (5:1)! It has never been easy to stand for the pure, unadulterated gospel of the grace of God, but as the old hymn of the faith expresses so very well, “it will be worth it all when we see Jesus”!

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Is the Word of God Consistent?

Inconsistencies are the way of man. Politicians are inconsistent; they often promise one thing and do another, depending on how the political winds are blowing. The testimony of a murderer is often inconsistent with the evidence that is presented. Even medical science is inconsistent with its own declarations. The conventional wisdom years ago was to stay in bed for two weeks after major surgery to heal properly. Today, most patients are required to be up and around the same day.

I recall the time I was speaking to a young dispensationalist who was convinced that the “two…in the field; the one…taken, and the other left” was clearly the Rapture. I graciously shared with him that he was anticipating revelation. That is, he was taking something he had learned from Paul’s writings and was superimposing it on the Lord’s teaching about His Second Coming. I pointed out to him that his view was inconsistent with the context of Matthew 24. When I inquired who was removed from the earth in the days of Noah, the believer or the unbeliever, he was speechless.

Unlike man, the Word of God is never inconsistent with itself, even though it may appear to be at times. God is omniscient; therefore, His Word is like a finely woven tapestry from beginning to end. A friend in Christ once wrote to me about an observation he had made from the gospel according to Matthew:

Here’s one that will probably stump you—it has me! Matthew states that the “blood money” that was used to purchase the potter’s field after Judas hanged himself was in fulfillment of “…that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet” (Matt. 27:8-10). I’ve searched the Book of Jeremiah thoroughly and I am sorry to report, it’s not there.

He’s right! A few years ago he would have had me over a barrel on this one. But recently, I did some research on this portion and discovered the solution to the problem staring me in the face. Normally, the Gospel writers state, “As it is written…,” such as we have in the case of John the Baptist (Compare Luke 3:4,5 & Isa. 40:3,4). However, Matthew does not say that which was fulfilled was written. Instead, Jeremiah is said to have spoken these words, which the Spirit of God revealed to the apostle by a special revelation. This is another thread of inspiration that is carefully interwoven throughout the Scriptures (II Tim. 3:16; II Pet. 1:21). Indeed, the Book you hold in your hand is the Word of God!

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.

An Apostolic Example – 2 Thessalonians 3:8-10

 

Summary:

Paul was raised a scholar (Acts 22:3) but he had a trade (Acts 18:1-3), so was able to say he didn’t eat any man’s bread “for nought” (IITh.3:8) or for nothing. That is, he paid for his keep. Paul had to work “night and day” (3:8) to pay for his own needs and those of his helpers (Acts 20:34).

He did this even though he had the “power” not to do this (IITh.3:9). When he told the Corinthians he had the power to “forbear working” (ICor.9:1-6), he wasn’t implying that being an apostle wasn’t hard work. He told Timothy to give himself “wholly” to the ministry (ITim.4:13-15), and he wouldn’t ask him to do anything he wasn’t doing himself. Giving yourself wholly to studying and teaching the Word is hard work (Eccl.12:12).

No, he meant he had the power to “forbear working” as a tentmaker. He gave up this right in Corinth (ICor.9:12,15) because they were a big church, the only church Paul wrote to that was too large to meet in a home (ICor.11:18cf.22), and they were in a wealthy city. Because of this, “ten thousand instructors” had descended on the church, all claiming to be spiritual leaders, and all wanting to be paid.

That means when Paul hit town, he knew he had to do something to distance himself from these religious hucksters, so he didn’t do what he usually did when he entered a city. He usually went straight to the synagogue (Acts 13:13,14; 14:1; 17:10). He eventually got to the synagogue in Corinth (18:4), but first he got a job (18:1-3) to show he wasn’t after their money like all the religious profiteers. This way they knew he wasn’t lying when he told them he didn’t want their money, he wanted them (IICor.12:14).

Paul also gave up his right to forbear working in Ephesus, as we’ve seen he told the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:34). He prefaced that remark by saying he hadn’t coveted their gold (v.33) because he’d probably been charged with coveting their gold. People probably suspected he put the idol-makers out of business so that he could swoop in and start a church and start collecting the money that people used to spend in worshipping Diana. In addition, since Paul added that he worked with his hands in Ephesus to teach the elders to give to the weak (v.35), we know this was another reason he gave up his right to forbear working.

In Thessalonica, Paul gave up his right to forbear working as “an ensample” to them (IITh.3:9), knowing that some had quit working when they heard the Rapture was imminent. To address this error, he reminded them that from his very first visits with them he had told them if any wouldn’t work, he shouldn’t eat (3:10). Notice that he didn’t say if any couldn’t work he shouldn’t eat, he was addressing those who could work but had ceased working.

Even under the Law, if you lost your job, no one handed you a free lunch. Farmers were told not to glean their crops too carefully so that the poor and unemployed could follow the reapers and earn their meals (Lev.19:9,10).

It is human nature to overreact to the thought of imminent deliverance. After Moses told Israel they were about to be delivered (Ex.4:29-31), they couldn’t quit their jobs as slaves, of course, but they may have slacked off enough to give merit to Pharaoh’s charge that all that talk about going into the wilderness to sacrifice to God had “let” or hindered them from their burdens (Ex.5:4,5). It is natural to overreact to the thought of imminent deliverance, but doing what comes naturally is never a good thing (ICor.2:14).

If you’re thinking this wasn’t much of an Easter message, I assure you that working for a living is part of living the resurrection life of Christ (Phil. 3:10). “The power of His resurrection” was the power that enables us to do good works. When the unbeliever does good works it is sin (Mt.7:22,23). So if Paul says we should work with our hands the thing which is good (Eph.4:28), surely going to work is a good work—if you are a believer. If you are not a believer it is a sin (Pr.21:4). Going to work is a good and righteous thing to do, but if you are not saved, it is a work of self righteousness, something that is filthy in the eyes of God (Isa. 64:6).

Determining What is Acceptable to God

“Living the Christian life can be challenging at times. How do we determine what is acceptable to God when there is no direct command of Christ?”

The Word of God is always relevant—it transcends the ages! If a particular matter isn’t dealt with specifically in Paul’s writings, we are to defer to a broader principle. For example, you may want to ask yourself the question, will my action or participation in something glorify God? If you have any reservations whatsoever, you are probably skating on thin ice. Paul says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31).

Another principle to apply is to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thes. 5:21,22). Proving has the sense of putting things to a test. If you are remodeling an old house and the steps going upstairs look unsafe, you naturally make sure that the steps will hold your weight before you attempt to ascend the stairs. We wouldn’t think of placing ourselves in harm’s way—the same should also be true of our spiritual life.

Test: Should we take possession of something that is not rightfully ours? To illustrate, what would you do if you came across a satchel of money sitting beside a park bench? Often, examining the conduct of a servant of God in such matters will help determine whether our actions will be acceptable to the Lord.

When the Apostle Paul won Onesimus to Christ at Rome he could have reasoned that since this runaway slave’s slate was wiped clean from past offenses he would claim him as his own. After all, think how profitable Onesimus could have been to Paul in the work of the ministry. But Onesimus rightfully belonged to Philemon, so the aged apostle returned him, along with a letter, to allow his coworker in the faith to make that decision. In other words, he didn’t simply assume his friend would understand, he did what was right. The Lord will handsomely reward Paul for his good deed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. What would you do if you found yourself in a similar set of circumstances?

To the Reader:

Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:

"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."

To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.


Two Minutes with the Bible lets you start your day with short but powerful Bible study articles from the Berean Bible Society. Sign up now to receive Two Minutes With the Bible every day in your email inbox. We will never share your personal information and you can unsubscribe at any time.