Chapter XVI. Of God’s Reconciliation with Men.

Chapter XVI.

In order completely to bring about all that, which the human race required for the insurance of their soul’s salvation, the Son of God has especially satisfied the demands of divine justice, and thereby effectually reconciled them unto God.


406. The Lord Jesus, that he might accomplish his work, had to perform three different acts viz:

A. To reconcile men to God,

B. to acquaint them with this reconciliation and to bring them to God, and

C. to govern them, i.e. to lead them by his commands, to protect them from their enemies, to adjudge and reward to every man good or evil according to his deserts. To him therefore belong three different offices, viz: the office of High priest or reconciliation; the office of prophet or teacher; and the office of governor or king.

In the Chapter before us we intend to treat of the first of the above mentioned three offices.

407. The office of high priest and reconciliator. — Although we have stated formerly (§. 276) that all men are bound to yield unlimited obedience to God their creator, yet it is to be remembered that there is no man upon earth, who, after the fall of the first parent, is able to pay the debt of his guilt and to render this obedience, since there is none that doeth good, and none that did not commit sin. But God’s justice nevertheless requires the discharge of this duty, nor can that justice be satisfied by any thing short of it. It was for this reason that Christ has been induced fully to discharge this debt on our behalf, in order that no man might, by his guilt, be hindered from participating his intended benefits.

408. Christ has therefore freed us from this guilt, with which we were burdered in the face of the divine judgement, by his holy, spotless and godly life. This is testified by Christ himself Matth. 5, 17:”Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;” Galat. 4, 4. 5: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that, we might receive the adoption of sons;” Rom. 5, 18. 19: “Therefore as by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation’, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” —

409. Now all men have sinned and divine justice must either subject them to eternal punishment, or exact from them complete satisfaction. But in this emergency no man knew any means of helping himself or others, as we read Pslm. 49, 7. 8: “None…can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for Mm, for Hie redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth (lasts) for ever.”- Here again the Lord Jesus has graciously interposed, and mediated between God and men, inasmuch as by his sufferings and death he has satisfied the demands which God had to made upon guilty men. For he has taken upon himself the punishment of our sins, in order that mankind might be reconciled to the heavenly Father, and that divine justice might have no claim, upon them on account of their sin.

410. But that this point might be fully understood, we must attend to the three following inquiries, viz.

I. Whether the Son of God has, by his suffering and death satisfied divine justice in behalf of the sins of mankind,

II. Whether this satisfaction was brought about for the sins of all mankind, and

III. Whether such satisfaction was able to remove every guilt and every sin.

411. I. The first assertion, Whether the Son of God by his suffering and death has satisfied the demands divine justice in behalf of the sins of mankind, can be proved from the nature of those passages of Scripture in which this subject is referred to. There are, more especially, four different evils mentioned in scripture, of which men have been redeemed by Christ, viz:

1. from sin,

2. from the wrath of God,

3. from the curse of the law, and

4. from devil and hell.

412. 1. Christ has redeemed us from sin, because

a. he has delivered himself up for the very purpose that ‘he might redeem us from sin; Rom. 4, 25: ” Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences and was raised for our justification; Galat. 1, 4: Who (Christ) gave himself for our sins.” Titus 2, 14: “Who (Christ) gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity.”

413. b. Because he has borne our sins, Isa. 53, 14: Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;”– v. 6; “the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all;” John. 1, 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” 2 Cor. 5, 21: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” — In this respect we find a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus in the institution of scape goat (of the old Testament dispensation). For the highpriest was commanded to put his hand upon this scape-goat whilst he confessed all the transgressions of the congregation; all transgression and every sin having thus been laid upon this goat, the latter was led out by a man into the wilderness; so that thereby, as it were, the sins of the people were carried away by the goat into the wilderness, there to be put an end to, along with the animal, Levit. 3, 16. 20. ff.

414. c. Because he has taken upon himself and suffered the punishment our sins had merited. Isa. 53, 5: “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 were healed.” This latter prophecy is quoted by St. Peter, Epist. 2, 24, and thus explained: “Who (Christ) his ownself bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

415. d. In that lie has sanctified and purified us by his blood. 1 John, 1, 7: “1l:he blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God cleanseth us from all sin.” Heb. 13, 12: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.”

416. In that he has died for our sins. 1 Cor. 15, 3:”Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;” Heb. 9, 15: “For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions…. they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”

417. From all which we must conclude, that he, who is giving himself for the sins of others carrying their sins on his own body, who bears the punishment which others deserved and dying for the sins of others, sanctifies them by his blood, — that such an individual is able to satisfy the demands, which divine justice may have upon the sins of others. Now this has been the case, in the fullest sense of the word, with the Lord Jesus, who can therefore be said with the fullest right to have satisfied divine judgement on behalf of our sins.

412. 2. Christ has also redeemed us from the wrath of God and from his judgement; this has been accomplished:

a. by his reconciling God unto men, for:

I. he has offered himself as a sacrifice of his body, for a sweet smelling savour, Ephes. 5, 2: “Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling savour;”

II. He has become the propitiation for our sins, 1 John. 2, 2: “He (Christ) is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” ibid. 9, 10: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.’-

III. He has made peace by his blood, between God and men. Coloss. 1, 19, 20: “For it pleased God…. by him to reconcile all things unto himself.”

IV. He has reconciled us by his death, Rom. 5, 10: “When we were enemies, we were reconciled by the death of his Son;” Coloss. 1, 21. 2f: “Now hath he reconciled you in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.”

V. He has procured for us grace by his blood, Rom. 3, 25: “God hath set forth (Christ) to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remissin of sins that are past.”

VI. He has given himself unto God as a propitiation for our sins, 1 Cor. 5, 7: “Christ our passover is sacrified for us“. For like as in times of old, God graciously accepted of sacrifices for sins, and (as a type) forgave the latter, for the sake of the first, Levit. 4, 21. 26. 31. 35. even so has our heavenly Father accepted the sacrifice of his beloved Son, and for his sake pardoned our sins.

VII. By his blood he has acquired for us forgiveness of sins. Matth. 26, 28: “This is,my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

419. b. By his saving us from the wrath of God inasmuch as he has not only given himself as a propitiation for all, 1 Tim. 2, 6. but also has redeemed us from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. 1, 10., by the sacrifice of his own life, Matth. 20, 28: “the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many;” and by the shedding of his blood, “In whom (Christ) we have the’ redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin. Ephes. 1, 7. Coloss. 1. 14.

420. c. By his purchasing us from divine judgement and making ourselves his own; Acts. 20, 28; “the church of God which he has purchased by his own blood; 1 Pet. 1, 18. 19: “ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ;” Revel. 5, 9: “Thou (the Lamb) hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” 1 Cor. 6, 20: “ye are bought with a price.” 

421. d. By his justifying us by his blood. Every one who is justified, is, by this means, delivered from wrath and from judgement. If therefore the Lord Jesus has justified us by his blood, Rom. 5, 9. than has he, of course, by his blood delivered us from wrath and divine judgement.

422. If therefore we read of one, who has given himself unto God as a propitiation for the sins of mankind, who has made peace between them and God; who, by his death, has reconciled God, and brought about grace by his blood; who has acquired forgiveness of sins by his blood, given his life for the salvation of men, purchasing them by his blood from divine judgement, and justified them by his blood, then we may be sure of his having redeemed mankind from the wrath of God, by his himself making satisfaction for their sins. Now Christ has accomplished all the above mentioned facts; and has thereby redeemed mankind from the wrath of God, by making satisfaction for their sins.

423. 3. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law; he has accomplished this, in that he subjected himself unto the law, Galat. 13, 13 ff. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us, for it is written: cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree, that the blessing of Abraham might come on the gentiles through Jesus Christ.”

424. Which leads us to the conclusion that, if one is redeeming others from the curse of the law, so that he himself becomes a curse for them, he must necessarily by this act satisfy the demands, the judge has upon the guilt of transgressors. Now the Lord Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law in that he himself has become a curse for us, and by this satisfied God the Father in behalf of our sins and paid our dues.

425. 4. Christ has, finally, redeemed us from devil and hell. This he has done by his death, Heb. 2, 14: “that through death he might destroy the power of death, that is the devil.”The devil is, (as is the case with some men in an earthly court of justice) the executor of the sentences of divine justice. He carries out the punishment, which has been pronounced over the sinner; but as soon as he looses this his power he has no more dealings with divine judgement. For as long as the sinner’s sentence is to be carried out, as long must the devil retain his power over him. But if one, by his death succeeded in taking from the devil his power his executor of the sentences of divine judgment, he would gain as much for the sinner, that the sentences could henceforth not any more be executed. This could only be done by his dying in the place of the sinner, that thereby divine judgement might be satisfied. And as the Lord Jesus by his death has redeemed us from the power of Satan, it follows that by this death he has, for our sake, satisfied divine justice.

426. II. The second inquiry: Whether this satisfaction has ‘been brought about for all mankind, is also to be answered in the affirmative, because such we are frequently taught in scripture; for

427. a. God has promised His Son to be the Saviour of all mankind. Genes 3, 15: “It (the seed) of the women shall bruise thy (the serpent’s) heel;” ibid. 22, 18: “And in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed.” These promises concern all nations of the earth, and no man upon earth can therefore be said to be excluded from them. It is this the first promise which has been given unto Adam, not for his own benefit only, but also for that of the whole human race, which had sinned in Adam.

428. b. God has given ‘his Son for the Salvation and to the benefit of all mankind, John. 3, 17. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved; 1 John, 4, 14: “We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world;”’ Rom. 8, 32: “He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all;” Galat, 4, 4: “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman made under the law.” But all men, without exception are under the law, as we are read Eom. 3, 19: “What things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law, that every mouth might be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” This proves that the Son of God has been sent to all men; Titus 2, 11: “The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men; Luk. 2, 10:”I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”

429. c. Upon the Lord Jesus have been laid all our sins. Isa. 53, 6: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;” John. 1, 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”

430. d. Because the Lord Jesus has died for all men. 2 Cor. 5, 14. 15: “We thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; and that he died for all etc. Heb. 2, 9: “he (Christ) by the grace of God, should taste death for every men;” Coloss. 1, 19. 20: “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell,…by him to reconcile all things unto himself, by him whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.”

431. e. The Son of God has improved the condition of every human creature, even of as many as have been polluted by Adam’s sin. Matth. 18, 11: “The Son of man is come to save that which is lost;” Rom. 5, 18: “As by the offence of one judgement came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” 1 Cor. 15, 22: “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

432. f. All men are called upon to partake of the benefits of the Lord Jesus. As many as have been called upon by God to enjoy the benefits of the Lord Jesus Christ, for as many has the latter made satisfaction; but God is calling all men, without exception: Matth, 11, 28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;” Acts. 17, 30: “Now commandeth God all men every where to repent.” (Of this more shall be said when we treat on the office of prophet and teacher.)

433. g. The unbelievers are to be punished for the very reason, that they would not believe that Christ died for them, Mrk. 16, 6: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned;” John. 16, 8. 9: “When be (the Holy Ghost) is come he will reprove the world of sin….because they believe not on me;’— ibid. 3, 18:”He that believeth on him (the Son) is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” — And what was it, these condemned unbelievers had been called upon to believe; — nothing else but what the Apostle Paul himself confessed: viz, “the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me,” Galat. 2, 20. Whosoever has no faith in this, is condemne4 because of his unbelief. Thus, for instance, has Judas been condemned because of his not believing that Christ has given himself for him; and Caiphas also had the same fate because of the same unbelief Now God, does not condemn anybody because of his not believing anything to be true which in reality proves not be true at all; which shows it to be a truth, that Christ has given himself for Judas, Caiphas, and for all other unbelievers, consequently for all mankind.

434. h. Even those have been redeemed for by Christ, who are eventually lost for all eternity. The human race is divided into two parts, viz: the believers, concerning whom there can exist no doubt that Christ has died for them, — and the unbelievers. If the Son of God can be proved to have died also for the latter, then it must follow that he has died for all mankind; for there is no human being who does not belong to one of the two just mentioned classes.

That Christ has died also for the unbelievers can be proved from the following testimonies. Rom. 15, 15: “Destroy not him with they meat, for whom Christ died;” 1. Cor. 8, 11: “through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died;” 2. Peter 2, 1: “False teachers….denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction;” Heb. 10, 29: “0f how much more punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.” — We are therefore sure, that Christ has died for all men, for if it were otherwise,

i) There would be little or no comfort in the consideration, that the Lord Jesus has died but for a few among men. For then no man could anyhow be sure that Christ had died for him. Whilst, on the other hand, there must always be great comfort in the conviction, that Christ, by his death, has redeemed all mankind without any exception. We have seen already that he has died for all men: I am a man, therefore I may rest assured that Christ has died also for me.

436. III. We proposed to inquire, thirdly, whether such satisfaction was able to remove every guilt. This question also is to be answered in the affirmative, and to be supported by the following considerations:

a. Christ has redeemed us from sin, reconciled us unto God and acquired for us forgiveness and righteousness. On this head it is to be kept in mind, what has been already stated concerning redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness of sin, and justification. We conclude accordingly, that a prisoner, who is not entirely freed from all his fetters, is not in state to leave his prison; like as a criminal who has treated with his judge about a part only of his guilt and transgression, cannot be said to have done with him. The sinner to whom only part of his sins have been forgiven, cannot be said to have already found entire forgiveness for the same; he cannot be said to be justified, who is not free from every sin. If therefore Christ is said to have redeemed and reconciled us, and acquired for us forgiveness and justification, then we must conclude, that he has purified us from every sin.

437. b. God forgives every sin to all those upon whom he has mercy. That God’s grace removes every sin can be proved: Isa. 38, 17: “thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back;” Michah 7, 19: “He will turn again, he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” — That such has been done by Christ, can be proved Joh. 1, 17: “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;” Acts 4, 12: “Neither is there salvation in any other” etc., which proves, that every sin, which has been forgiven, has been atoned for by Christ; and as God is forgiving their sins unto all men, we conclude that Christ has atoned for the sins of all men.

438. The scriptures expressly declare, that Christ has taken away all sins from us: 1. John. 1, 7: “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from every sin;” John. 1, 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world;” Zachar. 3, 8. 9: “I will bring forth my servant the Branch; for behold the stone that I have laid…. saith the Lord Zabaoth, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”