Monday, September 25

Quiz: Answers to Quiz on Words Describing Christ's Work

As promised, here are the answers to last Friday's quiz. Remember that this quiz is about the specific focus of a particular word, so just because an answer is wrong because it's not the focus of the word in the question, that doesn't mean it isn't one of the aspects of Christ's work on the cross.

Question 1:
The word redemption, as used to describe what Christ accomplished on the cross, focuses particularly on
  • a. the averting of God's wrath toward sin.
  • b. the cross being a payment made in order to buy freedom.
  • c. the sinner's natural state as a slave to sin.
  • d. all of the above.
  • e. b and c above.
The correct answer is e. b and c above. Redemption has to do with the buying back (or ransoming) of someone who is a captive or slave. This word, then, as used to describe Christ's cross work, focuses on the sinner's state of captivity to Satan or slavery to sin. Seen from the vantage point of redemption, Christ's work was a ransom payment to buy the sinner's freedom from bondage.

Leon Morris says that the idea of redemption also
brings out the magnitude of the price paid for our salvation. It shows us that the death of Christ was meaningful. It was more than the martyrdom of a good man who was not strong enough to resist the machinations of evil people. Rather it was the outworking of the love of God. It was God's costly way of overcoming evil.[1]
Question 2:
The word reconciliation, as used to describe what Christ accomplished on the cross, emphasises that
  • a. sin is a barrier between the sinner and God.
  • b. sinners are God's enemies.
  • c. Christ's death makes peace between God and sinners.
  • d. all of the above.
  • e. b and c above.
The correct answer is d. all of the above. Reconciliation is the removal of hostilities between two parties, and includes the restoration of their relationship. Used to describe Christ's work, it points to real hostility between God and sinners. Sin alienates us from God, and God from us. Christ's death does the work of reconciliation by removing the barrier of sin and restoring peace between God and the sinner.

Question 3:
The word justification, as used to describe what Christ accomplished on the cross, specifically points to
  • a. the payment of a ransom.
  • b. the idea that sinners must be saved in a way that is right.
  • c. the existence of a just legal penalty for sin.
  • d. all of the above.
  • e. b and c above.
The correct answer is e. b and c above. This one gets a little complicated, but justification is used as a legal term, so the use of this word points to the legal difficulties of the sinner. You may run into arguments against the use of justification as a legal (or forensic) term; however, scripture seems to use the word in a legal context, as in Romans 8:
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn?
Bringing a charge against someone is a legal act. So is condemning someone. Wayne Grudem points out that in this context (and others), justify is used as the opposite of condemn, [2] and that would make it a legal term: to condemn is to make a declaration of someone's guilt, so to justify, as used in this context, is to make the declaration that someone is not guilty.

Justification also points to the idea that the sinner's forgiveness must come in a way that is legally right, or that fits with justice. No passage of scripture states this any more strongly than Romans 3:25-26, where Paul tells us that God's leaving sin unpunished required that Christ die on the cross. From Leon Morris again:
The cross demonstrates the righteousness, the justice of God. In the very act by which sin is put away decisively, the death of Christ on the cross, God is seen to be just. It is not the fact that Christ forgives that shows him to be righteous, but the fact that he forgives in a certain way, the way of the cross. It is the cross that shows God to be righteous in the very act of forgiveness. [3]
Question 4:
The word propitiation, as used to describe what Christ accomplished on the cross, concentrates our attention on
  • a. the idea that the sinner deserves to die as a penalty for sin.
  • b. the need that sinners have for divine wrath to be turned away from them.
  • c. the sinner's bondage to sin.
  • d. all of the above.
  • e. b and c above.
The answer b. the need that sinners have for divine wrath to be turned away from them. Propitiation, as the word is used scripturally, has to do with averting God's wrath. In the first three chapters of Romans, Paul builds the case that all people, being sinners, are objects of God's wrath, and then gives Christ's propitiation (Romans 3:25) as the necessary solution to that problem.[4] Justification is the solution to the legal penalty for sin, redemption is the solution to our slavery to sin; and the solution for "the wrath of God that is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men" is propitiation. There is much more evidence that can be given for understanding propitiation as turning away God's wrath, but that scripture describes each one of us as under the wrath of God, and then gives Christ's death on the cross as the solution for that problem, is the simplest and--for me, at least--the most convincing argument for understanding the word that way.

[1] Morris, Leon; The Atonement: It's Meaning and Significance; page 130.
[2] Grudem, Wayne; Systematic Theology; page 723.
[3]
The Atonement; page 195.
[4]
The Atonement; page 169.
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