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Reconciliation through satisfaction?

28-02-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet

images_12 Why did Jesus Christ have to die? Below are a few answers. Christ had to die:

  • … because God’s righteousness demanded satisfaction.
  •  … to bear God’s punishment for our sins.
  •  … to pay the debt of man to God.
  •  … so that God can forgive man.

These are some, traditionally known answers and the average churchgoer is familiar with them. The basic idea is always that Jesus’ death was a required deed to satisfy God. It is called, “Reconciliation through satisfaction.” At times, it is also called, the satisfaction doctrine. It is a concept which has ‘papers’ of long ago, mainly developed by the medieval monk, Anselm of Canterbury, but also by John Calvin and many others. However, I do not hesitate to assert that this concept is not in accord with Scripture. In fact, it makes a caricature of both, of God and of the cross of Calvary. On Calvary, God did not receive satisfaction, but was treated most horribly unjustly, in the murder of His Son. Nowhere in Scripture do we read that Jesus, in His suffering, carried God’s punishment or wrath. Jesus bore the sins (1Pet.2:24), that is true, i.e. He endured all the injustice that was done to Him. He bore the punishment, yes, namely, the death penalty imposed on Him by the people (Isaiah 53:5), and not because He was “smitten and afflicted” by God (Isaiah 53:4). Why did God give His Son over to be crucified (Romans 8:32)? The biblical answer is: to bring about reconciliation. Reconciliation takes place, after all, “by the death of his Son” (Rom.5:10) and “by the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20). But what do you mean: to bring about reconciliation? Here again, the dogmatics has given the truth a spin of 180 degrees. It is said: God is reconciled through the death of His Son. But the reverse is true: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2Cor.5:19). Be sure to read it right! God did not reconcile Himself with the world. He never has been an enemy to her! God reconciles a hostile world to Himself. How? By making all mankind alive through his murdered Son (1Cor.15:22). God gives to all, life through the one whom they have slain! God demonstrated his unconditional love for this world on Calvary. Even when the world nailed God’s son to the ‘cross’, it did not, at all, change His love. No degree of enmity can withstand God’s love. As Joseph, of long ago, demonstrated when his brothers had thrown him into the well and had sold him into slavery; yet, when the brothers came to him, years later in a famine, he did not blame them for anything, but he generously gave them bread. Thus, he won their hearts. That is reconciliation. Joseph gave ‘life’ to his ‘murderers’. Scripture does not teach ‘reconciliation through satisfaction’. God reconciles the world precisely by means of the greatest injustice that was done to Him.