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be gathered from His historic life; but arrives at the truth through the personal discovery of the gracious ends secured by the death of the Cross. Those who discard Paul for Christ, and are content to rest their faith in the love and Fatherhood of God on the authority of Christ alone, place themselves at a disadvantage in the maintenance of that faith. They not only lose the confirmation of it that comes from the Cross of Christ and the experience of salvation, but they have also to contend with the doubt, arising from the fact that Jesus died a victim to the wickedness of the world and the powers of darkness, lest He who rules the world and suffers His Dearest and Best thus to perish and yet gives no sign, should not be Love after all. Paul, viewing the Death and Resurrection as the two parts of a Divine arrangement intended to work out human redemption, is not troubled with this difficulty. The death of Christ was the very hinge on which the execution of God's redeeming purpose turned; and so far from being a stumbling-block to his faith, the Cross became the object of his glorying, for it was the supreme revelation of the infinite love of God to men. “God commendeth His own love to us,” he could say, “in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."! It will not do to base our faith in the doctrines of Christianity on the teaching of Christ alone, and apart from the revelation of truth contained in the historic facts of the Death and Resurrection as interpreted to us in the Pauline Gospel.2
i Rom. v. 8 and Gal. vi. 14.
? Referring to the Death on the Cross, Gess asks, “How can one maintain that here God's love and faithfulness is revealed ? Could it be more completely concealed than it was from the Friday afternoon to the Sunday morning? Only by the Resurrection was the mystery solved, and it became credible, and gradually indisputable, that what appeared the very opposite of love and faithfulness must nevertheless have been love and faithfulness” (Christi Person u. Werk, vol. iii. p. 263). See also extract from Häring to the same effect in Note A on the Significance of the Resurrection in Relation to the Love of God.
The peculiarity, moreover, that belongs to the apostle's presentation of the love of God as an inference from the death of Christ, suggests that in his view, that event was something more than a revelation of the love of God, it was an accomplishment as well, an offering to God, a deed that effected the redemption of men. Those who would explain the virtue of the death of Christ to save solely on the ground that it is a manifestation of the love of God that has force to draw us out of our sins and win us to His love and service, are certainly out of harmony with the apostolic thought. Love, indeed, is revealed in that deed; but, as Paul puts the matter, it is not that God reveals His love in the death of Christ, and so redeems us, but rather that God redeems us by the death of Christ, and so reveals His love.1 Redemption is an objective benefit that has been obtained for us by the death of His Son. We are called, therefore, to consider that event as a deed, an achievement by Christ, and a factor in our redemption as much so as the love is from which it issued and to which it bears witness. This is the leading point of view from which the matter is regarded by the apostle, and, accordingly, we go on now to consider the characteristic features of his teaching on this subject.
II In approaching this theme, namely, the nature of the connection between the death of Christ and our salvation viewed as a veritable ACCOMPLISHMENT on His part, it is necessary to recall what Paul's conception was of the salvation that he traces so directly to the death of Jesus. His experience, as we found, was a very rich and full one, including benefits that were both religious and moral in their character. The new life in Christ was at once a life of forgiveness, of restored fellowship with God, of sonship, and all that enters into the perfection of our religious standing; and it was a life of moral power, of deliverance from the dominion of sin, issuing in the renewal of the whole being. All this moral and religious good which formed his consciousness of salvation was connected directly with the death of Christ, and gave to that event the character of a deed possessing saving power. Now, while that good was in his experience an indivisible unity, while forgiveness is in fact inseparable from moral renewal, still the two things are separate in idea, and are dealt with separately by the apostle: and we may look at these two elements of his Christian experience as distinct effects of the death of Christ. We ask, then, what further light is shed by Paul's Epistles, first, on the connection between the death of Christ and the forgiveness of sin, or the perfection of the religious state of man? and second, on the connection between that event and freedom from sin itself, or the attainment of the moral Ideal ? 1
1 The difference between these two conceptions of the Death of Christ is well illustrated by Dr. Dale in his Christian Doctrine, pp. 219, 220.
2 In His death Christ acts at once on God's behalf, revealing to us God's love, and on our behalf, offering to God what we ought but cannot offer. These two points of view are difficult to adjust, the one to the other; and error has arisen from theologians pressing the one to the exclusion of the other, sometimes emphasising the death of Christ as a Revelation, so that no reason can be found for it as an Offering to God; at other times exaggerating its purpose as an Offering so as to comproniise its value and purpose as supreme Revelation. It is the task of theology to harmonise these two sides of truth.
What is the teaching of the apostle regarding the death of Christ and its connection with the forgiveness
It is one of the merits of Ritschl's treatment of Pauline doctrine that he brings out clearly that Justification does not bear directly on the ethical life, that it has to do with our relation to God and secures our religious perfection. Its direct consequences, falling within experience, are peace with God and the firm hope of acquittal at the last judgment, confidence in prayer, patience under the sufferings of life, trust in God's providence, mastery over the world and all the ills of life-all of them religious determinations. See his chapter on “The Religious Functions that flow from Reconciliation with God,” in his great work on Rechtfertigung u. Versöhnung, vol. iii. pp. 575-635, third ed,
of sin, or restoration to the favour of God? That there was in his view a most intimate connection between these two things every page of his writings shows. That on the ground of what Christ did when He died for men God is now dealing with His creatures on a principle of grace, forgiving sin and receiving them into His fellowship, on the condition of their faith in Him and in the love manifested in Christ—this, in broad terms, is the tenor, not of one Epistle, but of all. Nor is this doctrine peculiar to Paul; it is the doctrine of the New Testament writers generally. The apostolic Churches with one accord attached this value to the death of their Lord. In writing to the Church at Corinth Paul reminds them that he had preached to them what he had received, and what had become part of the tradition of the Church, that “ Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and rose again ”;1 that is, that the death of Christ possesses the significance of a Deed of salvation—is the ground on which sin is forgiven. We find allusions in the New Testament to current doctrines that were subversive of the Christian faith. We do not find one that suggests the suspicion that any section of Christians denied that Christ's death was the ground of man's salvation ;? and in this matter we are safe in saying that the teaching of Paul echoes the testimony of the entire Church.
There is more reason for hesitation as to the answer to be given to the question, what is distinctive in his doctrine here, and what explanation is contained in it of the connection, admitted by all, between the death of Christ and the forgiveness of sin? Why had Christ to die in order that sin might be forgiven ? Wherein does the efficacy of that event to achieve the result consist ?
Ti Cor. xv. 3.
2 This point is emphasised by Seeberg in his work, Der Tod Christi in seiner Bedeutung für die Erlösung (pp. 180, 181).
When we ask what answer Paul enables us to give to this question, it is evident, from the different interpretations which his words bearing on it have received from men at once competent and believing, that we are here on more uncertain ground, where it becomes us to proceed with caution. There are some, indeed, who despair of the attempt to harmonise the different points of view that we find in the Epistles. They hold that Paul had no consistent doctrine on the subject, and that we must be satisfied to believe that there is a connection, abandoning the hope of arriving at any reliable conclusion as to the how or why of it. One would be slow to adopt this view. It is not likely that so penetrating a mind as the apostle's would be satisfied with a belief in Christ that could not give any account of itself to his intelligence, that did not embrace in it some perception of the way in which the death of his Lord was related to so vast a change on the religious fortunes of men as he ascribed to it. It is to be expected, indeed, that some of the forms of statement used by him in this connection would be more luminous to those for whose benefit he wrote than they can be to us whose religious training differs so widely from theirs. He wrote no systematic treatise on the atonement. He never formulated his views. His utterances were on each occasion directed to meet the religious wants and difficulties of the Churches he had founded; and it is by no means easy for us to put ourselves into their mental condition and appreciate the bearing of what he says on their thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, it is easy for us to read far more into his affirmations than they really contain, and to understand him as answering our problems while in reality he is dealing with problems very different. But giving all weight to such considerations, we are prepared to find in the Epistles the outline at least of some scheme of thought on the subject that