Thursday, November 01, 2007

More W. G. T. Shedd on 1John 2:2

In Shedd’s view of Christ’s expiation for the sins of mankind, the work of Christ is not merely theoretical. Christ has done all that is necessary for the sins of man to be forgiven. In relation to God’s justice, Christ’s atonement cancels the claims of the law against the human race:

In the third place, atonement, either personal or vicarious, naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims. This means that there is such a natural and necessary correlation between vicarious atonement and justice that the former supplies all that is required by the latter. It does not mean that Christ’s vicarious atonement naturally and necessarily saves every man; because the relation of Christ’s atonement to divine justice is one thing, but the relation of a particular person to Christ’s atonement is a very different thing. Christ’s death as related to the claims of the law upon all mankind cancels those claims wholly. It is an infinite "propitiation for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2). But the relation of an impenitent person to this atonement is that of unbelief and rejection of it. Consequently, what the atonement has effected objectively in reference to the attribute of divine justice is not effected subjectively in the conscience of the individual. There is an infinite satisfaction that naturally and necessarily cancels legal claims, but unbelief derives no benefit from the fact.

W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, 3d. edition, page 724. This being the case, the gospel can be freely offered to all:

The atonement is sufficient in value to expiate the sin of all men indiscriminately; and this fact should be stated because it is a fact. There are no claims of justice not yet satisfied; there is no sin of man for which an infinite atonement has not been provided. All things are now ready. Therefore the call to come is universal. It is plain, that the offer of the atonement should be regulated by its intrinsic nature and sufficiency, not by the obstacles that prevent its efficacy. The extent to which a medicine is offered is not limited by the number of persons favorably disposed to buy it and use it. Its adaptation to disease is the sole consideration in selling it, and consequently it is offered to everybody.

Shedd, page 750. The man who refuses the benefit of what Christ has done effectively limits the atonement by his unbelief. Christ has done all that is necessary for the salvation of every man as far as God’s justice is concerned. For those who refuse the gracious offer of Christ’s expiation, justice will be satisfied another way.

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