Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bart Ehrman – FORGED! (Part 2) - Atonement in Luke

Bart Ehrman claims that we cannot find substitutionary atonement in the book of Luke. [1]  Ehrman seems to assume that all doctrines are in each book – can we say this of the book of Ecclesiastes?

When Zacharias mouth was opened he spoke of the redemption of God’s people (Lk 1:68).  Anna, “…spoke of Him [Jesus] to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Lk 2:38).  Isaiah 44:22 states, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”  Christ has paid the price for our sin when he suffered on the cross in our place.  Redemption involves paying a price:

Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches,
none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him for the redemption of their souls is costly, and it shall cease forever - that he should continue to live eternally, And not see the Pit (Ps 49:6-9).

If your rich uncle pays your mortgage payment next month, you don’t have to.  Zacharias went on to say about John the Baptist’s ministry of preparation, “To give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God …” (Lk 1:76, 78).  Salvation is by God’s mercy – we don’t work for it.  This is clearly shown by the scapegoat: 

Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. … But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. … Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions, concerning all their sins, putting them on the head of the goat, and shall send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a suitable man.  The goat shall bear on itself all their iniquities to an uninhabited land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness (Lev 16:8,10,21,22).

Atonement involves a substitute who bears our sins – the Lord Jesus Christ!

When Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms he said, “With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation” (Lk 2:30).  That is, Jesus IS salvation, not the one who points the way to enlightenment.  Jesus died on cross – Christ himself in his own person took the penalty for our hateful deeds.  Jesus is Lord (Lk 2:11), so he is perfect and thus did not die for his own sins – he must have died for the sins of others.

Luke quotes Isaiah 40:3-5 in Lk. 3:4-6 and in the same context we read:

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for … Say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!" (Is. 40:2,9).

Jesus, the God-Man, paid for our sin on Good Friday.  He was our Sinless Substitute.  At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" (Lk 3:22).  This is again an indication of Christ’s perfection – he did not die for his own sin, but that of those he loved (cf. Lk 22:41,47).  Christ, by forgiving sins, demonstrated that he is divine (Lk 5:20-24, 7:48).  Since Jesus is God, he did no evil, so there is no reason that he should die unless he took the penalty that others deserved (Lk 24:52).

Luke 7:22 refers to Isaiah 35:5,6 and in the same context we read:

… but the redeemed shall walk there, and the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away (Is. 35:9,10).

Redemption involves paying a price.  Jesus paid the penalty for sin and so we can have eternal life with him in heaven.

Luke 8:10 quotes Isaiah 6:9 and in this passage the angel says to the prophet, “… Gone your guilt, your sins wiped out” (Is. 6:7 Msg).  God is just and he must punish sin (Pr 11:21, Nahum 1:3).  So how can Isaiah get his sins wiped out?  He was looking for the coming Messiah who would suffer in his place for his unclean lips and other wrongs.

Christ predicted his death and resurrection – another proof of his deity.  Christ is divine and so did not die for his own sins (Lk 9:22; 18:18,19,32,33; 20:14,15).

The donkey in the Triumphal Entry was prophesied in Zechariah (Lk 19:30, Zech. 9:9).  In the same context we find:

… He [Christ] shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’  As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit (Zech. 9:10,11).

How can we gain peace with God?  Only through the blood of the New Covenant shed by Jesus on the cross for us.

On the road to Emmaus what Old Testament examples did Christ explain (Lk 24:25-27, cf. Lk 24:44)?  Surely Genesis 3:15, where we are told that the Messiah’s head will be wounded – this occurred at the cross.  Apparently an animal had to die to clothe Adam and Eve (Ge 3:21) – a substitute suffered to cover their shame!  Certainly Jesus expounded Isaiah 53 which clearly teaches substitutionary atonement (vv. 4-6).

In Luke 24:46,47, the cross and forgiveness are connected.  Only through the vicarious death of Christ is forgiveness possible.  Mike Horton has written a helpful article on the atonement.

Part 1 of this series on Bart Ehrman responded to his low view of the reliability of the New Testament.

1) Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman (HarperCollins, NYC, 2005), pp. 166,7.

No comments: