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The Atonement and the Demand for Justice

Posted Feb 10, 2018 by Adrian Ebens in Everlasting Gospel
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Sermon Notes

Walter Veith

The great majority of mankind totally misses the point of the atonement. Why was He numbered among the trangressors? Why did he bear the sins of many? How did he do intercession for the transgressors? You see God had a standard and a norm and He said that if you transgress then the wages, the consequence is death. That’s God’s justice. Justice demands the death of the transgressor. Grace demands the forgiveness of the transgressor. Walter Veith, The Atonement – 12 min mark

Ellen White appears to agree

Justice demands that sin be not merely pardoned, but the death penalty must be executed. [See DA 761] God, in the gift of His only-begotten Son, met both these requirements. By dying in man's stead, Christ exhausted the penalty and provided a pardon.  {1SM 340.1} 

Justice and Mercy stand Apart in opposition to each other.

Justice and Mercy stood apart, in opposition to each other, separated by a wide gulf. [See DA 761] The Lord our Redeemer clothed His divinity with humanity, and wrought out in behalf of man a character that was without spot or blemish. He planted His cross midway between heaven and earth, and made it the object of attraction which reached both ways, drawing both Justice and Mercy across the gulf. Justice moved from its exalted throne, [See CTr 11] and with all the armies of heaven approached the cross. There it saw One equal with God bearing the penalty for all injustice and sin. With perfect satisfaction Justice bowed in reverence at the cross, saying, It is enough.--General Conference Bulletin, Fourth Quarter, 1899, vol. 3, p. 102.

Satan’s charge in regard to the conflicting attributes of justice and mercy.

Christ's death proved God's administration and government to be without a flaw. Satan's charge in regard to the conflicting attributes of justice and mercy was forever settled beyond question. Every voice in heaven and out of heaven will one day testify to the justice, mercy, and exalted attributes of God. It was in order that the heavenly universe might see the conditions of the covenant of redemption that Christ bore the penalty in behalf of the human race.--Manuscript 128, 1897.  {7ABC 470.1}


Ellen White

The condemning power of Satan would lead him to institute a theory of justice inconsistent with mercy. He claims to be officiating as the voice and power of God, claims that his decisions are justice, are pure and without fault. Thus he takes his position on the judgment seat and declares that his counsels are infallible. Here his merciless justice comes in, a counterfeit of justice, abhorrent to God. {CTr 11.4}

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Here is language that expresses His mind toward a corrupt and idolatrous people: “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together.” Must He give up the people for whom such a provision has been made, even His only-begotten Son, the express image of Himself? God permits His Son to be delivered up for our offenses. He Himself assumes toward the Sin Bearer the character of a judge, divesting Himself of the endearing qualities of a father. {TM 245.2} – Granville Sep 13, 1895.

THE MIRROR - Psa 50:20-21  Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.  (21)  These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes.

God bowed His head satisfied. Now justice and mercy could blend. Now He could be just, and yet the Justifier of all who should believe on Christ. He [God] looked upon the victim expiring on the cross, and said, "It is finished. The human race shall have another trial." The redemption price was paid, and Satan fell like lightning from heaven.--Youth's Instructor, June 21, 1900.  {7ABC 470.4}


In the opening of the great controversy, Satan had declared that the law of God could not be obeyed, that justice was inconsistent with mercy, and that, should the law be broken, it would be impossible for the sinner to be pardoned. Every sin must meet its punishment, urged Satan; and if God should remit the punishment of sin, He would not be a God of truth and justice. Da 761.4

Every manifestation of God's power for his people arouses the enmity of Satan against them. Every time God works in their behalf, Satan with his angels is aroused to work with relentless vigor to compass their ruin. He is jealous of every soul who makes Christ his strength. His object is to instigate evil, and when he has succeeded, throw all the blame upon the tempted one, presenting him before the Advocate, clothed in the black garments of sin, and endeavoring to secure to him the severest penalty. He would urge justice without mercy. Repentance he does not allow. The penalty, he argues, can never be remitted, and God be just.  {RH, September 22, 1896 par. 7} 

The sinner cannot contradict or answer the charge of Satan against him, but our Advocate presents his wounded hands, and makes an effectual plea in behalf of the repenting one who has placed his case in the hands of Jesus. Our Saviour silences this bold accuser by the unanswerable argument of the cross. Jesus stands to plead his own blood in behalf of the sinner. He has unveiled the disguised tempter, and shown him in his true light, as a malignant enemy to Christ and man. The condemnation and murder of the Son of God were brought about by Satan's false accusations, and that against one who was pure, holy, and undefiled. This work has forever alienated from Satan the affections and sympathy of the heavenly world. Not one thought of sympathy remained in their hearts for him who had been an exalted angel. This same work he is carrying on in the world today in the children of disobedience,--those whose minds are subject to his control. The cross of Calvary shows how far Satan will carry his work.  {RH, September 22, 1896 par. 8}

 This counterfeit justice that Satan advocates, God abhors; it must not come into the experience of the sons and daughters of God. Satan's censuring must not be imitated by any one who is a partaker of the mercy and the love of God. {RH, September 22, 1896 par. 9}

Were the angels affected by this concept of justice that sin must be punished?

"Before Christ’s first advent, the sin of refusing to conform to God’s law had become widespread. Apparently Satan’s power was growing; his warfare against heaven was becoming more and more determined. A crisis had been reached. With an intense interest God’s movements were watched by the heavenly angels. Would He come forth from His place to punish the inhabitants of the world for their iniquity? Would He send fire or flood to destroy them? All heaven waited the bidding of their Commander to pour out the vials of wrath upon a rebellious world. One word from Him, one sign, and the world would have been destroyed. The worlds unfallen would have said, “Amen. Thou art righteous, O God, because Thou hast exterminated rebellion.” But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God might have sent His Son to condemn, but He sent Him to save. Christ came as a Redeemer. NO WORDS CAN DESCRIBE THE EFFECT OF THIS MOVEMENT ON THE HEAVENLY ANGELS: With wonder and admiration they could only exclaim, “Herein is love!” {RC 58.4,5}

Absalom’s desire for Justice.

2 Sam 15:3-6  And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.  (4)  Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!  (5)  And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.  (6)  And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.


Now to Continue – Back to Walter Veith at 1 hour and 5 mins

Isa 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father…

Excuse me, what are they calling Jesus here? The everlasting Father. He and the Father are one. This is a divine decision. So Roman Catholicism that teaches that the one party is being wrathful by pouring his wrath out on His Son and crushing Him is a false theology.

Now we notice how Waggoner dealt with this question.

We must not forget that redemption is the work of God the Creator. When men are injured they naturally seek a victim in the transgressor; but when God was sinned against, he offered himself. He was not offended, requiring to be appeased, but he gave, and still gives, his life to reconcile the world. No man's sins are imputed to him, but God has taken upon himself the responsibility for every man's transgressions. No man's sins will ever be charged to him, unless the man deliberately takes them on himself, and will not let them go. {May 1904 EJW, MEDM 162.2} The Medical Missionary.

The sacrifice for sin has been made once for all. It is nothing less than the gift of God's life. The sin of all the world was upon him who upholds the worlds; and so, in giving himself, he atoned for the sins of the world. God will not impute any man's sins to him until the judgment shows that the man claims it as his own, and refuses to let it go. This being so, how surpassingly sure we are of being "saved by his life," if we but receive it as freely as it is given. {May 1904 EJW, MEDM 162.6}

Now remember that "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself," and you will see that God Himself has made the sacrifice for us. It is by the death of Christ that we are reconciled, and God was in Christ reconciling the world. The Word that was made flesh, and that was offered upon the cross, was God. {November 9, 1893 EJW, PTUK 501.3}

Just a thought concerning the idea that Christ's death was necessary to satisfy outraged justice. Christ death was necessary to satisfy the love of God. "God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Rom. v. 8. "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." Justice would have been met by the summary death of the sinful race. But God's love could not suffer that. So we are justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Through faith in His blood, God's righteousness-which is His life-is declared upon us, and thus He is just, and at the same time the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. Rom. iii. 21-26. The Present Truth 9, 25. Sep 21, 1893

Waggoner gives a similar emphasis as David Asscherick – an emphasis on God giving Himself. The difference is found in the text God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.   

We see that Waggoner also appears to still have the same view of Justice and this is the reason for the shift to giving of Himself rather than a focus on giving His Son.

The Summary

We must understand the atonement correctly to come into the ark.

The view of justice that demands God to kill the wicked creates an immediate problem for the idea that God sent His Son to die. It opens the door to the idea of child sacrifice as Pr Asscherick indicated.

When we understand the God is not the author of death and does not pay the wages of sin directly Himself then we see the gift of His Son very differently.

The Father yielded up His Son through the request of His Son to pay the penalty which Satan and man believed was justice that men could then believe that God would forgive them. That is love supreme.