The Atoning Death of the Son of God.

"Without shedding of blood is no remission." Heb. 9:22.

Charles Stanley.

We shall find this is not a mere solitary text of Holy Scripture; but the basis of all Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. It is all-important, however, to notice the position man is in, since the fall, as recorded in Gen. 3. "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." Thus the head of the human race was driven out of the presence of God through sin. And the question is, What can give man liberty to enter that presence again

The first man born of Eve, Cain, tried this principle. He tried to do his duty, tilled the land as he was commanded, and brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord. But he entirely ignored the whole question of sin and the curse, and utterly set aside the necessity of the shedding of blood. Outwardly he seems an amiable man; and he comes to God, as some one has said, as if nothing were amiss. Just coming to Him as to a common Father, who was too kind to make any question as to sin. This is the principle of Unitarianism: God, the common Father of all mankind; and the setting aside the need of the shedding of blood. Abel, on the contrary, acknowledged the holy claims of God. He approached God through the death of a substitute. "He also brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof." God refused the one and accepted the other, thus marking the only true way of approach. And let us also remember, however outwardly amiable the character of Cain had been, he murdered his brother Abel. He might build his city, adorn the world, and his sons seek to make that world as agreeable as possible; yet he was the wandering murderer; the vagabond; his sons the sons of the murderer; the curse of sin upon them, however they might seek to forget or deny those words; the doom of the sinner. "So He drove out the man." Yes, these root principles in these early histories illustrate the position of every human being on earth at this day.

The way of Cain is one of the marks of the last days. "Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain." (Jude 2.) Yes, God's woe is surely pronounced upon all those who approach Him in the way of Cain; upon all who ignore man's lost and guilty condition, and would come to God without the death of a substitute, as though He were the common Father of all mankind, and there was nothing amiss. No, man is not now as God made him, and placed him in paradise. He is fallen; he is guilty; he is driven out. However amiable, man is a murderer; we are all the sons of the murderers of the Son of God! Jews and Gentiles conspired to put Him to death. Woe to my reader if he denies his true condition and God's remedy. There is no other.

The great truth of atonement, we shall find, does not depend on the meaning of a word. We will bring Scripture to show that it can only mean the real expiatory death of the holy substitute, the Son of God.

We propose to point out: 1. Some of the pictures, or types, of the atonement. 2. The promises of the atonement in the Psalms and the prophets. 3. The fulfilment of the fact of the atonement in the gospels. And 4. The statement, and application of the atonement in the epistles. In a short pamphlet this can only be done very briefly. First,

The Pictures of the Atonement.

"And Noah builded an altar to the Lord; and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar." Now is it not remarkable that whilst the Lord fully recognized the utter evil of man, yet He accepted Noah's offering, as He had Abel's, before the flood? Thus blessings on this earth to man flow through the efficacy of Noah's offering, when seen as it was, a picture of Christ. And when Abraham was tried, in the offering up his only begotten son, what a type of the great transaction on Calvary, when God gave up His beloved Son. Yes, those words of Abraham were then fulfilled: "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb." And God did. Hear him speak: "Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God." Isaac was spared. The ram was killed; offered up in his stead. "Jesus must needs suffer."

We have another picture of the "Lamb of God" in the paschal lamb, when God brought Israel out of Egypt. That lamb must die. "The whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts, and on the upper door posts of the houses," etc. Yes, the blood must be shed. "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood I will pass over you." Thus we see in this picture, nothing can shelter from Divine judgment but the death of another: the blood of the substitute lamb. God says, "When I see the blood I will pass over."

Now look at Exodus more closely. What is the meaning of that tabernacle? We shall find the answer in Hebrews. But mark this striking fact. Why is that altar with its grate, to receive the killed victim to be burnt for a sweet savour to God, placed at the door of the tabernacle? Is it not to teach in picture that there is no way to God but by the death of another? God has been pleased to give us a whole book describing the various offerings and service of Israel: the book of Leviticus. These are not the mere writings of Moses; but "the Lord called to Moses and spake to him." Here God gives minute descriptions and instructions. The burnt-offering, the peace-offering, the sin-offering. In all these there must be the death of the victim to make atonement. Now, if these are not pictures of Christ, what are they? For in themselves God had no pleasure. (Heb. 10.) There was also the meat-offering, in which case a life was not offered. This evidently set forth the living person of the Holy One of God. The more He was tried in His own person, even by the fire of judgment, the sweeter the savour to God. It would be impossible in so short a paper to point out the precious distinctions in the offerings, precious because pointing to that which is precious in Christ. Beginning with the sweet savour of His offering Himself for us, and our acceptance in the sweet savour of Christ to God, and ending with the sin offering, consumed by fire, outside the camp. Christ forsaken of God during those hours of darkness on the cross; consumed, so to speak, by the fire of Divine judgment for us. Ever bearing in mind that God's great lesson in all these offerings is this, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul." (Lev. 17:11.) How fully this agrees with those words, "Without shedding of blood is no remission." If, then, the atonement is the great picture lesson of all these offerings, it follows that in order to understand the atonement, Leviticus must be closely studied.

Once every year there was to be a great day of atonement. (Ch. 16.) And don't forget this is what Jehovah spake to Moses. Was Aaron even at liberty to come into the presence of God without blood? Far from it; the sin-offering must be killed. "He shall take of the blood of the bullock and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward; and before the mercy-seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times." Oh, read carefully the whole chapter! What a distinction between these two goats. The one is killed; its blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat for atonement. It is the propitiation that reconciles the holy place and the tabernacle. Now the tabernacle was a figure of things in the heavens, as we learn in Heb. 9:21-23, we thus see, that through the propitiation of the death of Jesus the glory of God is maintained in reconciling all things to Himself by the blood of the cross: whether they be things in earth or in heaven. (Col. 1:20.) Propitiation is not substitution; but that aspect of the death of Christ which maintains the righteousness of God in showing mercy towards all.

The other goat is substitution clearly. There it stood, the substitute of the people. "And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat: and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness," &c. Here, then, is God's picture of Christ bearing the sins of His people as their substitute; and to deny this is to charge God with folly. For if it is not this, it is a picture, or shadow, of nothing. We shall see shortly whether these beautiful pictures are not fully borne out in the New Testament.

Is it not strange that God should have, in such loving care, given us so many types of instruction so accurate and yet men are so blind that they see nothing in them. But the truth is, if the atoning death of Jesus is not seen in them, nothing can be seen. What do those two birds in the cleansing of the leper mean if they do not set forth the death and resurrection of Christ? It is either the matchless wisdom of God, in setting forth in picture, that death by the one bird killed over running water, and the risen Christ, by the other bird, dipped in the blood of the dead one, and sprinkled seven times on the leper, to be cleansed, and then letting the live bird loose, the priest pronouncing him clean; or it is a mere formal ceremony. Great was the joy of the poor leper when he heard the words and saw the little bird loose. Greater still the joy of the burdened sinner when he hears the word of the Lord, and knows that he is now justified from all things; for God hath raised Jesus, His sinbearer, from the dead. Yes, volumes might be written on all the pictures God has given of the atoning death of His eternal Son.

Whether it be the cleansing of the leper, the consecration of the Levites, or the priests, the blood of atonement must flow, must be shed. What streams of blood were shed for fifteen centuries! The strict observance of these laws of the offerings was what marked obedience in the good kings of Israel; and the neglect of these marked those that did evil in the sight of the Lord. For the laws of these sacrifices read Lev. 4 — 7; the consecration of Aaron and his sons, Lev. 8, 9. "So the Lord has commanded to do, to make an atonement for you." (v. 34.) The cleansing of the leper, Lev. 14. Nay, in one way or other the atoning offerings of the law form the chief subject of Leviticus, and a great portion of Numbers. And think of the thousands of victims offered in sacrifice by David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, and others; renewed again by the remnant when restored from captivity; and all this appointed by God. Do you say, How terrible this long story of atoning blood! Is not blood most loathsome? It is; but "without shedding of blood there is no remission." If sins were as loathsome to us as to God, we should not then wonder at this long story of atoning blood. Now what can these vivid pictures of atoning blood point to, if not to the one atoning sacrifice of the Son of God?

We now turn to the

Promises of the Atonement in the Psalms and the Prophets.

There can be no doubt that Psalm 16 refers to the death and resurrection of Christ; for so is it applied both by Peter and Paul. Calm, precious rest in Jehovah, when, as man, the Holy One gave up His life. "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption," etc. But, oh, that terrible cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Did not this unutterable anguish find its utterance on the cross? (Ps. 22.) And up to verse 21 we hear the deep cry of the holy sin-bearer forsaken of God. (See also Ps. 35, 40, 55, 69, and many others.) The things written concerning Himself.

And in Isaiah do we not hear Jehovah, who clothes the heavens, say, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting"? (Isa. 50:6.) And then read His sufferings at the hands of His own nation as the Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. (Isa. 53:1-3.) But then mark, deeper, yea, atoning, substitutionary suffering is foretold. Thus speaks the prophet more than seven hundred years before the Son of God was actually nailed to the cross by wicked hands, "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed. … The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. … For the transgression of my people was He stricken. … Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief: when Thou shalt make His soul an offering for sin, etc… For He shall bear their iniquities. … He bare the sin of many." Now, it is evident from these plain declarations that all the picture instructions of the atoning victims of the law pointed to this one sacrifice, to this one atoning victim, yet to come. And is not all this expressly applied to the Lord Jesus in Acts 8:35? Yes, from this very same Scripture did Philip preach Jesus to the Eunuch. Surely there is nothing to argue about; we must either believe God or make Him a liar. Such will be the discovery of Israel in the day of their gathering, when this very Redeemer comes to Zion. They will discover that He whom they had esteemed as a mere man, and therefore an imposter, stricken and smitten of God, was in very truth their true sin-bearer and substitute on the cross. This chapter describes their astonishment, and the next their joy.

Do you believe Jesus to be the true sin-bearer, as here declared by the word of God? All turns on this, both to Israel and to you. It was clearly foretold in the prophets that Messiah should be cut off, and received up to God, though this should in nowise interfere with His future reign on earth, at the same time His eternal Godhead is maintained. Take this out of many Scriptures: "But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth to Me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (or the days of eternity). (Micah 5:2.) Thus we have His birth at Beth-lehem. But He goes to God, is to be ruler of Israel, and His eternal Godhead. You notice this would be all false if Jesus were only man. "Let God be true." So in that wondrous communication from God to Daniel, that within seventy weeks from the going forth of the decree to rebuild Jerusalem — or four hundred and ninety years from the twentieth of Artaxerxes — reconciliation for iniquity should be made, everlasting righteousness brought in, and Messiah cut off. All this actually came to pass. Reconciliation for iniquity was made on the cross by the atoning death of the Son of God. Everlasting righteousness was brought in by His resurrection from the dead, and yet as Messiah He was cut off, and His reign postponed until after Jerusalem's desolations. We now pass on to

The Fulfilment of the Fact of Atonement in the Gospels.

How significant His precious name at His birth, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus (Saviour): for He shall save His people from their sins." Such was to be the name of "Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matt. 1:21-23.) One thing let us carefully notice — though God with us, "He humbled Himself, and became obedient to death, even the death of the cross." Sin and Satan were in this world, and he would not have a bit of it, no, not so much as a foot of it, where to lay his head. Adam sought to be as God. He sought the highest place; Jesus took the lowest, even to death, the death of the cross. Satan sought hard to make Him assert His Godhead: "If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." But Satan could not move Him from His path of devoted humiliation, and dependence on God, and adherence to His word. Mark the craft of Satan; he now points to this very path of real humanity, in deepest humiliation, and says Jesus did not teach His Godhead, and therefore He was not God. Will you believe this deceitful lie of Satan? Oh, wondrous Emmanuel, God with us! yet clothed in such humility as had never been seen before; yet even at His baptism the three distinct persons in one Godhead are present; none can deny this. "The heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:16-17.)

How can we understand His humiliation unless we own that eternal glory from which He descended? Thus God speaks by the apostle John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." What is here said of "Jesus," "Immanuel," "the Word"? Self-existent was the Word, yet distinct in person with God. Still He was ever eternally God, yet, distinct in person, eternally with God. The whole universe the work of His hands. The Word of God with us. Jesus, Saviour. Such was that blessed One who gave Himself to be the Atoning victim on the cross. Yes, He could say, as no mere man could possibly say, "Before Abraham was, I am." On this occasion He owned His eternal divinity. If He had been only a man it was blasphemy, and the Jews would have been right in stoning Him. (John 8:58, also John 10:30.) Yes, there they again took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy, and "because that Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God."

Yes, on His path of humiliation, which led to the cross, His Godhead could not be hid. The dead were raised by His word, the winds and waves obeyed the One that made them all. If only a man, the cross was evidently the death of an impostor. Truly God, eternally God, became flesh; truly man, and thus as Son of God, and Son of Man, He became the devoted victim to bear our sins. In these four gospels then read the accomplishment of the atonement for sins.

Did you say the many scenes of blood that shadowed this forth were loathsome? What was it to our precious Lord? See Him fall on His face, hear the cry of His heart, "If it be possible let this cup pass from Me." It was not possible, if the sinner must be saved; hence entire submission to the Father's will. But none but the Father knows what He passed through at the prospect of being made sin for us. The torture of the cross was dreadful; the tender hands and feet nailed to the tree; and when the cross was lifted up and let fall in the hole dug to receive it, oh, the anguish! yet hush, hear those words, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." It may have been just at the moment of that cruel act. Oh, what hours of anguish! but those three hours of darkness, and forsaken of God. At last the moment came: "It is finished." He bowed His head and died. And even then man, yes man, must pierce His side.

What is all this? Do the inspired epistles speak with certainty? Was this the atoning expiation for sins? Must He needs thus suffer? If this is salvation, what must be its character, temporary or eternal? The redemption thus accomplished? What questions! Let us turn to the epistles and inquire, and God grant that what we find there the reader may, through grace, believe.

The Statement and Application of the Atonement in the Epistles.

Let the reader well note, that in the two epistles which speak of the atonement most fully, Romans and Hebrews, Jesus is "declared to be the Son of God with power." (Rom. 1:4.) "But to the Son He says, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." (Heb. 1:8.) Surely we need not say, Such words as these could not be applied unless Jesus was essentially and eternally divine.

If we now call to mind the picture teaching of God in Leviticus on the day of atonement, we shall find in Romans both aspects of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus — the propitiation (chap. 3) and the substitution (chap. 4, 5).

All the world, Jews and Gentiles, being proved guilty before God; "for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" the righteousness of God in our justification is thus revealed. "Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has set forth to be a propitiation (or mercy-seat) through faith in His blood to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are passed, through the forbearance of God: to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness, that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believes in Jesus." (Rom. 3:24-26.) How has God revealed His righteousness, whether in remitting sins before Christ died, or in justifying believers since? What is the mercy-seat? "Propitiation through faith in His blood." God sees that blood of propitiation, and He is righteous in the free favour of our justification. What is it, then, to disbelieve the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ? It is to disbelieve God; to deny that which He has set forth. Thus the propitiation of Christ, His blood, brought before, and on the throne of God, is the only righteous ground on which God can show mercy to a lost world. That is how God explains it. How God is righteous.

We will now look at substitution; the truth pictured forth in the other, the people's goat. This, as we saw, became the actual substitute of the people. All the sins and transgressions of the people once a year were laid upon it; transferred from them to it; and borne away, never to be seen again. Now, do the Scriptures teach that the Son of God actually took this place, of very substitute of His people? and that our sins were thus laid on Him, the atoning sin-bearing substitute? Why, this is the foundation of our justification. It is not only written how Abraham was accounted righteous through faith, "but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed (accounted), if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Now, is not the real atoning substitution of Christ set before us here, as distinctly as His propitiation in chap. 3? Thus He was delivered for the very purpose of bearing our offences, as the holy substitute; and was raised from the dead for the very purpose of our being accounted righteous. Justified on believing God, who thus gave Him to bear our offences, and raised Him from the dead; all believers are thus accounted righteous before God; and being so, on the principle of faith, we have peace with God. Oh, blessed effect, or result, of faith! but mark, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And see how this substitution is enforced (chap. 5), "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." Can this mean anything but what it says? Ah, when we were not only guilty, but without strength, Christ died for the ungodly. It is no doubt a great mistake to suppose, through sin having come in, God became our enemy; and that the atoning death of the Son of God was to reconcile God to us. The following verses teach the very contrary of this: "But God commends His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we (not God) were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (vv. 8-10.) Thus we have the same two things in the atonement here as in the teaching of Christ. (John 3.) First, God's righteousness in justifying the sinner must be maintained. The Son of man must be lifted up; for God so loved the world. That love was thus shown in the lifting up of Jesus on the cross, as Moses lifted up the serpent of brass. So here the death of Christ for us. His atoning blood, by which we are justified from sins; His death, by which not God is reconciled to us, but we are reconciled to God. In all this, God commends His love toward us when we were enemies. This leads us to joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the reconciliation. God accepted the atonement, and proved His acceptance by raising up Jesus from among the dead. We receive the effect of the atonement, that is, reconciliation. Thus the atonement is the foundation of all truth and blessing in the epistle to the Romans. Take it away, and the whole fabric falls to the ground.

In like manner, when the apostle declares the gospel he had preached to the Corinthians, he distinctly says it was this: "How that Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures." (1 Cor. 15:3-4.) Christ the substitute then, bearing our sins in death, is the foundation of all he preached to the Corinthians. The distinct truth of His reconciliation is taught in 2 Cor. 5. "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ. For He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Oh, marvellous words of God! To the Galatians also the apostle writes of our Lord Jesus Christ, "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." (Gal. 1:4.) Thus to them the atoning death of the Son of God was the only true foundation.

The same is revealed to be the eternal purpose of God in Christ Jesus, "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:3-7.) The same atoning blood is the foundation truth in the epistle to the Colossians, "Giving thanks to the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son." But how and in whom has all this been effected? "In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1:12-14.)

And what was the gospel Paul preached to the Thessalonians which produced such marked effects? Simply this: "That Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach to you, is Christ." (Acts 17:3.) Thus did the inspired apostles ever set forth the atoning death of the Son of God, "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:14.)

In James there is nothing as to the atonement: that is not the subject of the epistle, but a holy life; justification before men; the fruit of faith. In Peter it is the great foundation truth again. The very sanctification of the Spirit is "to obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus." (1 Peter 1:2.) "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (v. 18.) "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." (1 Peter 2:24.) "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God." (1 Peter 3:18.) God could not have used more distinct language to teach us the substitution of His beloved Son. It is just this, Do we believe God, or make Him a liar? (1 John 5:12.)

There is one peculiar effect of this atonement however only known, and understood, in the light as God is in the light. Whatever profession, the darkness of unbelief knows nothing of it. It is this, "The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7.) This is a statement so amazing that it has no parallel to illustrate it. No words can fully explain it; faith alone accepts it. It does not however mean that whilst we are here, sin is eradicated from the old nature. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." (vv. 8-10.) But as God said of the type, "When I see the blood," so here God sees the effect of that blood is to remove from His sight all our sins. It is not past, present, or future, but the infinite efficacy of that blood in the sight of God. But if a cleansed believer should sin? "My little children, these things write I to you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the whole world." The relationship with the Father is thus sustained in so sad a case; our righteousness is still there, with the Father. But take away Jesus the propitiation, and then what are you — lost for ever! Blessed be God, this can never be to those who can say, "He is the propitiation for our sins."

And now in the Revelation of Jesus Christ — His coming judgments and coming glories, what can all believers say? "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." (Rev. 1:5.) Ah with all learned twisting of words, I solemnly ask the Unitarian, can you utter these words, Has Jesus washed you in His precious blood? And when the atoning Lamb of God shall take His place in the midst of the throne, oh, will you be able in that day to say, with the church of the first-born — oh, can you join that song saying — "Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood"? (Rev. 5:9.) Oh, how can the despiser and rejecter of pardon through that blood now, of peace through that blood now, ever sing then the new song of redemption glories! How can he either sit with this redeemed company, or stand with that innumerable multitude yet to come, who will be before the throne and before the Lamb, those arrayed in white robes? One of the elders asks, Who are they, and whence they came? and then answers, "These are they which came out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev. 7:14.) Oh, everlasting, fatal mistake, to reject the atoning death of the Son of God!

Having thus noticed in a general way how the atoning death of the Son of God forms the great theme of all Scripture, we would in conclusion call especial attention to the statement of that atonement, and its effect, on those who believe, in the epistle to the Hebrews. As we have already hinted, the glory of His person is first presented. God speaking in Him. The appointed Heir of all things. By whom also God made the universe. "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high." Can these words be applied to a mere man? Impossible! What man could be the self-existent brightness of the glory of God? It would be nonsense to talk of any mere man upholding this universe. Or how could a mere man have purged our sins eighteen hundred years before we were born? No; the Son of God is before us, truly God — "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever;" yet as truly man — "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity; therefore God, even Thy God, has anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows;" and yet as truly the Jehovah of Genesis — "And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of Thy hands," etc.

All things shall be put under this Jehovah-Jesus. "But we see not yet all things put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for (or by) the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9.) Please notice, then, that it was the free favour of God, grace — by which the Eternal Son came to die for us. Surely this is enough to melt our hearts. What, then, must be the character of that redemption accomplished by the death of an infinite being like the Son of God? It must be eternal, as repeatedly stated — "And being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation to all them that obey Him." (v. 9.)

This will greatly help us, in studying the atonement, to see its perfect and eternal character, in contrast with the imperfect and temporary atonement under the law. At most its efficacy was yearly. Chapter 9 contains the formal statement of the atonement of Christ. It is the question of what can bring the sinner into the holy presence of God. In the earthly tabernacle there was a veil which shut man out; and within that veil "the high priest alone entered once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people." There was no entrance without blood, and then no permanent abiding entrance. "The Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while, as the first tabernacle was yet standing," all those offerings, washings, etc., could not make the conscience perfect.

We must thus bear in mind, that entrance once a year into the holiest of an earthly tabernacle was a very feeble shadow of that which the Son of God came to open to the sinner, whose sins must otherwise have for ever shut him out.

"We have such an High Priest, who is set on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens." Not a place of worship on earth: the heavens opened to Him and to us.

"But Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." (Heb. 9:11-12.) Then what the High Priest did as an imperfect shadow, for a moment, once a year, on the day of atonement, our great High Priest has done perfectly by entering heaven by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption for us. This is an overwhelming statement. Do we believe it? "For if the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?" Here then is the statement of the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God. To deny it is simply infidelity. By His own blood He has obtained eternal redemption for us. All this through the eternal Spirit. Thus the distinct person of God the Holy Spirit is proved to be eternal, through whom the Son offered Himself; and it is also through that death, "they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance" — all is thus eternal. He is the author of eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9); eternal redemption (Heb. 9:12); through the eternal Spirit. (v. 14); eternal inheritance. (v. 15.) What a study. Every verse is full of living truth, because it is Christ. If then you reject the testimony of God to the blood, is there no remission, no forgiveness of sins? Impossible. "Without shedding of blood is no remission." Is not this a solemn truth, not only to the rejecting Unitarian, but to anyone who puts anything whatever in the place of the shed blood of Christ? It is the very sentence of God. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us." Now does not this show that the atoning work is done, the whole thing finished eternally? not like the offerings of the law, "nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the High Priest enters into the holy place every year with blood of others. For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world." Thus to suppose another offering, or this continued or repeated, is to disbelieve the eternal efficacy of the one offering. But more, it is to suppose an impossibility; for if the offering is repeated, Christ would have to suffer again. Christ offered again to be of any value for the remission of sins, His blood must be shed again. "For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world."

There is now no holy place on earth. Christ has entered heaven itself, by His own blood having obtained eternal redemption for us. Where then, pray, is the value of all the pretended offerings of Christ on the altar as a sacrifice, and expiating offering for the sins of the living and the dead? Plainly it is all not only a mistake, but a denial of the eternal efficacy of the one offering. A million masses are not worth a farthing unless the priest can assure me that he has shed the blood of the Son of God again; for without the shedding of His blood there is no remission, and unless He suffers the death of the cross again, there is no offering for sins; and this is doubly impossible. There is no more need of an offering, and death can have no more power over Him.

"But now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Heb. 9:26.) It is not thus a question of words. This was the purpose for which the Son of God appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. Did He fail? To offer another sacrifice is to say He did fail. Why should we doubt what God declares? Woe be to him who denies what God says. Thus in the perfect rest of faith we know: "And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation." Can you thus say, He bore my sins; God is my Justifier; when Christ comes there is no question of sins for me? Think, to see the very One who bare our sins. Don't alter these words. They do not say that judgment is appointed to ALL men, neither does it say He bare the sins of all; never does Scripture say He bears away the SINS of the world. But this is the question, Can you say, He bare my sins? "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many." For such how can there be the judgment of those sins again?

We now come to the effect of the atonement on us who believe God. (Heb. 10.) There is what the sacrifices of the law could not do; there is what the one sacrifice of Christ has done: the first could not take away sins, could not make the comers thereunto perfect, or complete as to the conscience. If they could they would have ceased to be offered, "because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins." (Heb. 10:2.) This, then, is the subject before us. The worshipper once purged has no more conscience of sins; plainly the blood of bulls and goats could not thus put away sins. This is granted as impossible, and therefore, which is very precious to our souls, God had no pleasure in those sacrifices which could not put away our sins. What a God we have to do with! He says, as it were, Such is my eternal love to you, I cannot have pleasure in those sacrifices that fail to present you in holiness without conscience of sins. He entirely took away that which could not take away our sins. "He takes away the first that He may establish the second."

It is important now to notice that the atonement of the Son of God was according to the will of God. God so loved. "Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me) to do Thy will, O God." It is also by His will that we are sanctified or set apart to God, by the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. This is the first effect of the atonement as applied to us. Through it, by the will of God, we are sanctified to Him. Then follows a very important verse: "And every priest stands daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins."

This was true of the many Jewish priests then, for the temple was still standing, and its daily sacrifices were being offered. At that time Christian worship was entirely heavenly. Where the priest was, there was the worship; and He had entered heaven itself, as we have seen. But what of the imitation temples in this day, and the many priests of man's appointment, and the many pretended expiatory sacrifices offered daily? Let all the priests of the Greek and Roman churches, and their imitators in this land, stand up and hear this one sentence of the word of God. All your pretended many offerings "can never take away sins." What! are all these crowds wrong? Yes. "But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool." (Heb. 10:12.) What do these words mean? The word translated for ever is not the one which means everlasting merely, but continuance. The one offering of Christ so perfect, He has never to rise up to offer another. Must it not be so if you think of the glory of His person? The I am; the first and the last; God over all blessed for evermore. To deny this is infidelity. And yet this man! The efficacy of the blood of a goat, or a bull, was temporary, and needed another. Oh, the wickedness of either denying the eternal efficacy of the blood of Christ like the Unitarian, or doubting it with the Ritualist. Truly Jesus may say again, "Ye do dishonour Me."

But now mark the effect of this atonement. "For by one offering He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified." We have seen that sanctification, or separation, to God by His will was the first effect of the one offering: "Through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once." But here we find the effect of His perfect work, His one offering, is equal to the cause. Is He seated in unclouded rest in continuance, after offering one sacrifice? By that one offering He has perfected for ever (the very same word) those that are sanctified. Thus as to liberty to enter the holiest, as to their acceptance through His one offering, all is perfect, in immutable continuance. Always the same. Mark, there is no question here of our responsibility. That comes after, and is according to this perfect acceptance. But perfected for ever is entirely the work of the Son doing the will of the Father. Now look at the redeemed, the people separated to God by this sacrifice. All their sins laid on Him, transferred to Him, borne by Him; and by one offering He has perfected them for ever, as to their sins, as true as to this now as it will be in the glory. The three persons in the Godhead engaged in this stupendous work; the will of God; the work of the Son; the witness of the Holy Ghost. Yes, "the Holy Ghost is a witness to us. … And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Reader, are you a Christian, separated to God by this sacrifice? Then do you believe God the Holy Ghost? He says, the Son of God has perfected you for ever. He says, God will remember your sins no more. Surely, if you believe this, then you can have no more conscience of sins, and no more need of a sacrifice for your sins.

Do you say, Does that mean that I shall never more be conscious of failure and sin? No, indeed not; for the nearer we are to God, the more conscious we are of failure. It means this: that all your sins having been laid on Jesus, and purged by His atoning death, God never charges one of them again to you. "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." There can be no need of another offering if we believe God. It is no question of repeated offerings, or repeated sprinklings, or fresh applications. All that is Jewish, and has now vanished away. It is eternal salvation, and therefore perfect.

There will be constant, fresh applications of the water of the Word. And in the fatherly care of our God chastisements and restoration to communion if we fail; and in His governmental dealings with us confessions, repentance, and forgiveness; and, above all, the ever-loving, watchful advocateship of the Lord Jesus with the Father (Heb. 12; 1 John 1:10), and constant diligence in holiness. (Heb. 12:14.)

But all these flow from the perfect position, in which we stand for ever perfected as to the conscience — always, continually perfected. This is His work, not ours. He hath for ever perfected. How seldom we meet with any one who really gives Him this glory! One says, "No, I cannot believe that; for the believer after all may be lost." Another says, "No, I cannot believe that, because the Church says we need many continual sacrifices of Christ for the sins of the living and the dead." Another says, "I never saw that before. I thought for every fresh sin there needed fresh blood." If so, He would truly have to die afresh, to suffer often, since the foundation of the world. But oh, how sad, whilst the Unitarian pretends to be a Christian he denies the true atoning sacrifice of the Son of God altogether! "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"

In this very epistle the Jews who had made the profession of Christianity are warned that if they gave it up, and despised the sacrifice of the Son of God by giving it up, and going back to the offerings of the law, they were assured there was no efficacy left, no possibility of restoration; there was nothing to look for but fearful judgments. (Heb. 6:1-7; Heb. 10:26-30.) Oh, Unitarian reader, pause ere it be for ever too late! Do not suppose the atoning death of the Son of God rests on a few isolated texts. It pervades all Scripture. Take it away, and there would be no foundation — no way for a poor guilty sinner like me to enter the holy presence of God. How can you be saved if you reject this eternal salvation, this eternal redemption, that for ever perfects by this one offering for sins?

The peace that He has made by His blood is perfect peace. But it is astonishing how few Christians ever get hold of this divine truth. They look at themselves, and have no idea what that means — "For He has perfected for ever them that are sanctified." He has. They say, "Yes, I see it up to conversion; but what of sins since?" Were not all our sins future when He was offered for them, the sacrifice for sins? "So Christ was offered to bear the sins of many." And God says, "And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Is not this enough? Shall we not believe God? Again, remember this is no question of entrance into a place or temple of worship on earth. It is really the holiest of all, the very presence of God in heaven. Now then, reader, does the blood of Jesus give you boldness to enter? or do you need something else? No matter what it is; it would deny the eternal value of that one sacrifice. It is not that we hope to have, but "having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." (Heb. 10:19.) He having perfected us for ever by His one offering, it is our present, immutable continuous privilege, having boldness to enter the holiest by the blood of Jesus.

Purged worshippers, lift up your eyes to heaven; there is your holy place of worship; there is the great High Priest that purged your sins by His own blood. You have boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus. Dying Christian, thy spirit just departing — absent from the body, present with the Lord — thou hast boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus. Hark the assembling shout! the Lord Jesus comes quickly to receive His own to glory, raised in incorruptibility; or we who are alive and remain, changed in a moment. Enter the glory, ye myriads, for each one has boldness to enter by the blood of Jesus! Now we can say, "Unto Him that loves us, and has washed us from our sins in His own blood." And, poor, weary, heavy-laden, guilty sinner, He who gave His precious blood the propitiation for sins, has the right to say to thee, "Come to Me, and I will give thee rest."

"God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."