Is an Atonement that ATONES hard to understand?

The following is a correspondence that took place on an internet forum some time ago between Marc, myself, and a tolerant Calvinist (“TC”).

Marc:When you end up arguing against people who think that all regenerate people don’t necessarily believe in the deity of Christ, or, as you said, “Who’s to say that many a Muslim, Hindu or Pelagian doesn’t hang on to the old trappings of their false religion for a season?”, there’s really nowhere to go from here.

TC: I do stand by my statement. I think a Muslim can convert to Christ and take awhile to fully realize how wrong Islam was. It takes time to unlearn false doctrine. You seem to think that God waves His magic wand and the elect reject the false and hold to only the true.

Marc: I thought at least you or others would draw the line at the deity of Christ or at least at Islam, Hinduism, or Pelagianism. But you don’t.

TC: We do, but we also allow for time in all this It can take time. Ever hear of patience? We’re to be patient with men, but where is this in OTC?

Marc: It’s like arguing with a liberal. You have no rule. You have no measuring stick. You have no standard whereby you make judgments. It’s whatever is right in your own eyes. And thus this discussion is fruitless. It’s all about the gospel. Those who do not believe the gospel are lost. Yet you don’t even know what the gospel is, even if it is stated for you plainly. That’s sad.

TC: We have the Bible and that is our standard, but even like the Apostle Peter humbly admitted, that Paul said things that were hard to be understood. OTC seems to lack this humility my friend.

Chris: Peter said that Paul wrote things hard to be understood. AND he also said regarding these things that were ‘hard to be understood’: ” … which the unlearned and unsettled pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). Peter admits that there are things hard to understand. But he does not cut them any slack, now does he? So go ahead and tell the apostle Peter (who was carried along by the Holy Spirit; 2 Peter 1:21) that he lacks this “humility” you spoke of.

To true Christians, the gospel of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ is one of simplicity and purity. It is very easy to understand. It is very easy to be understood. The Stone which God has laid in Zion is precious to them.

But to those that are deceiving and being deceived, the simple and pure message that God promises to save His people — not conditioned on anything that they do or are enabled to do, but conditioned exclusively on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ — is NOT a message of simplicity, but rather a message hard to understand. They stumble at the Stone-of-stumbling. They are offended at the Rock-of-offense. They are offended that salvation is conditioned exclusively on this ROCK, on this STONE. They would attempt to remove the offense of Christ’s cross-work by asserting that the sinner has to meet certain “grace-enabled-and-thus-non-meritorious” conditions. On the contrary, to assert that the sinner has to meet any conditions whatsoever for salvation is to assert that salvation is by the sinner’s works. It is to put one’s condition-fulfilling WORK in the place of Christ’s condition-fulfilling WORK. Faith is NOT the condition for salvation, rather faith believes that Christ ALONE met ALL and fulfilled ALL conditions for salvation.

And because for them it is ‘so hard to understand’ and takes along time to understand, they would attempt to convince true Christians that the gospel of Christ is not so simple after all. They would vainly attempt to corrupt the thoughts of true Christians by their perversion of this simple message to their own destruction.

Ironically enough though, many of these perverters of Scripture would accuse Christians of ‘adding to’ this simple gospel message. They say that we just have to “believe in Jesus”. This is absolutely true. But those who say such things also say that this “christ” which we are to believe in helps us to save ourselves by either helping us to meet conditions or by ‘powerfully’ and ‘infallibly’ enabling us to meet conditions for salvation. In stark contrast to this aforementioned blasphemy, Christ ALONE met the conditions for salvation. His atoning blood and imputed righteousness is the sole and only condition for salvation, and this is what FAITH believes. For a person to assert that “faith” is the condition for salvation shows that they do NOT know what faith is. What this person asserts is not faith, but blatant unbelief. They believe that they have to DO something before God can “freely” bestow eternal life (i.e., salvation). Again, in stark Biblical contrast to this, Jesus Christ did “DO something” at the cross — He established a righteousness that answers the demands of God’s holy law and justice.

God freely imputes this everlasting righteousness to His people. The imputation of Christ’s righteousness is NOT contingent, nor does it’s so-called “free bestowal” hinge on the sinner’s “faith”. For if it did it would not be free, and if it is not free then it is not grace (Romans 11:6).

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