Atonement: Unquantifiable

Ken Hamrick

Active member
How many sins did Adam commit before he stood in need of a Savior? If Adam had died with just that one sin on his record, and God had intended to save Adam and no one else, would the ordeal of the cross have been abbreviated? No, even from the first sin, Adam needed the entirety of Christ’s suffering and death just to save him alone. Sin is like that. One sin puts you under the whole wrath of God.
James 2:10 ESV
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
Rom. 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But atonement is just as immeasurable. That which is required to save the least of sinners is abundantly able to save the worst.

The fact that Christ’s death is sufficient to pay for the sins of any man does nothing to extinguish the debt of those who have not put their faith in Him. William Shedd explains:
The mere fact that Jesus Christ made satisfaction for human sin, alone and of itself, will save no soul. Christ, conceivably, might have died precisely as he did and his death have been just as valuable for expiatory purposes as it is, but if his death had not been followed with the work of the Holy Spirit and the act of faith on the part of individual men, he would have died in vain. Unless his objective work is subjectively appropriated, it is useless so far as personal salvation is concerned…
The supposition that the objective satisfaction of justice by Christ saves of and by itself, without any application of it by the Holy Spirit and without any trust in it by the individual man, overlooks the fact that while sin has a resemblance to a pecuniary debt, as is taught in the petition “forgive us our debts,” it differs from it in two important particulars. In the instance of pecuniary indebtedness, there is no need of a consent and arrangement on the part of the creditor when there is a vicarious payment. Any person may step up and discharge a money obligation for a debtor, and the obligation ceases ipso facto. But in the instance of moral indebtedness to justice or guilt, there must be a consent of the creditor, namely, the judge, before there can be a substitution of payment… Second, after the vicarious atonement has been permitted and provided, there is still another condition in the case, namely, that the sinner shall confess and repent of the sin for which the atonement was made and trust in the atonement itself…[1]
Since atonement does not proceed on the order of the payment of a [pecuniary] debt, then no sinners have the benefits of Christ’s death applied to them unless and until they come to Christ in faith (which the Judge in the case requires). But even then, it is a one-for-one substitution.

Because the sinner’s debt is criminal, each individual sinner owes the entirety of Christ’s suffering and death. All of His blood was needed to wash away my sin alone. I cannot look to His cross and say that only one stripe on His back or only one drop of His blood was for me—He suffered my penalty and all of it was for me. So how is there any left over to save you?

Most Baptists see Christ’s sacrifice as an overabundance, paying for the sins of all God intends for it to pay, and with an infinite surplus of “value.” As Millard Erickson sees it, the reason that Christ’s sacrifice is able to save so many is because it is of infinite value:
When evangelicals ask the question, “For whom did Christ die?” they are not asking whether the death of Christ has value sufficient to cover the sins of all persons. There is total agreement on this matter. Since the death of Christ was of infinite value, it is sufficient regardless of the number of elect…[2]
But this is flawed, as it makes each sinner’s share of those six hours of vicarious suffering infinitely small, so that only an infinitely small time-slice of Christ’s suffering was necessary to pay what I owed for my sin. Not only is sin devalued, it is infinitely devalued. The cross does not save on the principle of a value-based transaction, but on the principle of one-for-one substitution.

The payment that was exacted of Christ on the cross was exactly equal to what any single sinner owed: it was the suffering of the complete wrath of God. The fact that each of us owes exactly that same debt means that anyone can look to the cross and say, “He paid what I owed.” The Biblical expression, to bear sin, means to bear the penalty due for sin. Since every sinner is due the same penalty, which is the full wrath of God against sin, then Christ was able to bear a penalty that belongs to each and every sinner.

So then, what Christ endured was not a quantified sum of penalties due to each elect, so that one fraction of a stripe paid for my sins and one fraction of a thorn paid for yours. Rather, what He endured was the archetypal penalty that each individual sinner owes. All of His blood was needed to wash away my sin alone, and there is no excess.

Ken Hamrick

[1] William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2003), Third ed., pp. 726-727.
[2] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), pp. 825-826
 

Our Lord's God

Well-known member
How many sins did Adam commit before he stood in need of a Savior? If Adam had died with just that one sin on his record, and God had intended to save Adam and no one else, would the ordeal of the cross have been abbreviated? No, even from the first sin, Adam needed the entirety of Christ’s suffering and death just to save him alone. Sin is like that. One sin puts you under the whole wrath of God.

But atonement is just as immeasurable. That which is required to save the least of sinners is abundantly able to save the worst.

The fact that Christ’s death is sufficient to pay for the sins of any man does nothing to extinguish the debt of those who have not put their faith in Him. William Shedd explains:

Since atonement does not proceed on the order of the payment of a [pecuniary] debt, then no sinners have the benefits of Christ’s death applied to them unless and until they come to Christ in faith (which the Judge in the case requires). But even then, it is a one-for-one substitution.

Because the sinner’s debt is criminal, each individual sinner owes the entirety of Christ’s suffering and death. All of His blood was needed to wash away my sin alone. I cannot look to His cross and say that only one stripe on His back or only one drop of His blood was for me—He suffered my penalty and all of it was for me. So how is there any left over to save you?

Most Baptists see Christ’s sacrifice as an overabundance, paying for the sins of all God intends for it to pay, and with an infinite surplus of “value.” As Millard Erickson sees it, the reason that Christ’s sacrifice is able to save so many is because it is of infinite value:

But this is flawed, as it makes each sinner’s share of those six hours of vicarious suffering infinitely small, so that only an infinitely small time-slice of Christ’s suffering was necessary to pay what I owed for my sin. Not only is sin devalued, it is infinitely devalued. The cross does not save on the principle of a value-based transaction, but on the principle of one-for-one substitution.

The payment that was exacted of Christ on the cross was exactly equal to what any single sinner owed: it was the suffering of the complete wrath of God. The fact that each of us owes exactly that same debt means that anyone can look to the cross and say, “He paid what I owed.” The Biblical expression, to bear sin, means to bear the penalty due for sin. Since every sinner is due the same penalty, which is the full wrath of God against sin, then Christ was able to bear a penalty that belongs to each and every sinner.

So then, what Christ endured was not a quantified sum of penalties due to each elect, so that one fraction of a stripe paid for my sins and one fraction of a thorn paid for yours. Rather, what He endured was the archetypal penalty that each individual sinner owes. All of His blood was needed to wash away my sin alone, and there is no excess.

Ken Hamrick

[1] William G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, (Phillipsburg: P & R, 2003), Third ed., pp. 726-727.
[2] Millard Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990), pp. 825-826

The sun shines upon any number of people. Its shining effect is not related to how many it shines upon - ten, or ten thousand. So it is with Christ.

The Lamb of God atones for any number of sins for any number of people.
 

Ken Hamrick

Active member
The sun shines upon any number of people. Its shining effect is not related to how many it shines upon - ten, or ten thousand. So it is with Christ.

The Lamb of God atones for any number of sins for any number of people.
You are a heterodox unbeliever. God is Three Persons in One Being. Until you show yourself to be genuinely seeking the truth, I will not take your bait. Repent and believe on Christ the Second Member of the Trinity and you will be saved! (And if your truly seek the truth on that matter, you will manifest that by doing so in the Trinity forum).
 

Carbon

Well-known member
You are a heterodox unbeliever. God is Three Persons in One Being. Until you show yourself to be genuinely seeking the truth, I will not take your bait. Repent and believe on Christ the Second Member of the Trinity and you will be saved! (And if your truly seek the truth on that matter, you will manifest that by doing so in the Trinity forum).
Amen!
 

Our Lord's God

Well-known member
You are a heterodox unbeliever. God is Three Persons in One Being.

Are you referring to Jesus Christ's God?

Or yours?

Until you show yourself to be genuinely seeking the truth, I will not take your bait.

Stop your ears as you wish. No one is forcing you to hear facts.

Repent and believe on Christ the Second Member of the Trinity and you will be saved!

Unbiblical invention of men.

(And if your truly seek the truth on that matter, you will manifest that by doing so in the Trinity forum).

Would that comfort you?
 

civic

Well-known member
You are a heterodox unbeliever. God is Three Persons in One Being. Until you show yourself to be genuinely seeking the truth, I will not take your bait. Repent and believe on Christ the Second Member of the Trinity and you will be saved! (And if your truly seek the truth on that matter, you will manifest that by doing so in the Trinity forum).
Amen to the TRUTH
 
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