God is willing to go to the length of suffering and dying to enter into fellowship with man. There is a misunderstanding of the Christian doctrine of atonement that goes something like this: God is an angry God, angry at men because men have sinned, and he decides to condemn mankind; but Christ intercedes for man, and God’s vengeance is sated by punishing Christ instead. Although this is a travesty of the Christian position it has unfortunately been too often suggested by interpreters of the atonement as well as by their critics.

-Robert McAfee Brown, P. T. Forsyth: Prophet For Today

 

There is a common misconception I find that many young people—and some of us aged folks—hold on to.  It is the notion that God is up in heaven storming mad and just itching to do something about it (as if he couldn’t if he wanted to).  It’s the assertion that  somehow Jesus’ visit to earth was an afterthought (a sort of plan b), or that it was God’s attempt to somehow mop up his mess—mankind that is.

Brown continues:

But Forsyth, who said, “The doctrine of grace and the doctrine of the atonement are identical,” the true interpretation is that the atonement flows from grace, it does not “procure” grace. This extremely important insight means that our reading of the atonement is more like this: Because God loves men, he suffers on their behalf, bears himself the weight of their wrongdoing, and this restores fellowship, or reconciles. Grace is not something Christ earned for us from God; grace is rather something God gave us in Christ. “Do not say: ‘God is love. Why atone?’ Say: ‘God has atoned. What love!’

I don’t often repeat the same exact words in a blog entry mind you (on purpose anyways)—but these bear repeating… “Because God loves men, he suffers on their behalf, bears himself the weight of their wrongdoing, and this restores fellowship, or reconciles. Grace is not something Christ earned for us from God; grace is rather something God gave us in Christ.”

What we must not do is think that God the Father and Jesus his Son are at odds with one another—they weren’t—they aren’t—and they won’t be.  They are one in the same and God the Father was the one who sent his Son Jesus here in the first place and all because he—just like his Son—loved us.   

 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.    (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, ESV)

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