God's Tasks

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate a solution without an understanding of the problem. To oversimplify the problems God faced in restoring a ruptured God-man relationship (reconciliation) [1]To reconcile means to restore to favor, adjust our differences, cause one thing to cease and another to take its place. The reconciliation outlined in the Bible is two-fold: 1.) between man and God and 2.) between man and man (see 2 Corinthians 5:18–20) is to face the prospect of missing the full impact of His solution (redemption). In order for God and man to once again enjoy a mutual, loving, happy relationship, several obstacles need to be overcome. We’ll take a preliminary look at the various problems in order.

  1. First, the one God loved happened to be a criminal on death row, thus making God’s initial order of business to find a way …
    To remove the just consequence of death from a law violator He loves. [the governmental problem]
  2. The second problem was that man, by virtue of his moral drift, lost his concept of God. He didn’t know what God was like or what He thought. God, therefore, in order to restore a mutually happy relationship needed to …
    Reveal Himself to man. [the personal problem]
  3. Thirdly, the problem of man’s pride. He had been away from God so long he had lost all perspective regarding to his own importance and ability. He was actually under the impression that life revolved around him. Because there could be no meaningful relationship as long as man had this self-centered opinion, it became necessary for God to …
    Reveal man to himself. [the hypocritical problem]
  4. Once this was done, man moved back into fellowship, with a complete pardon in hand and the renewed ability to see God and himself. Yet one problem still remained. In order to induce man to terminate his love affair with sin and to prevent the new relationship from reverting to its prior state, God had to find the right formula to …
    Maintain the restored relationship by establishing a powerful sin-deterrent barrier. [the motivational problem]

This is part of reconciliation. If and when God found a solution to these problems, the tender love relationship originally intended between God and man, and temporarily enjoyed in Eden, would once again flourish. It is very important at this stage to reiterate that there were many things to be accomplished by the atonement. A solution to just one or two of the above problems would not have been adequate. Many theories on the atonement deal with only one or another of the various problems of reconciliation; and while they may deal correctly with that particular aspect, they nevertheless fall into error by not embracing the full design of God in the atonement. The moral influence theory (Socinian), for example, while dealing with the problem of maintaining a restored relationship, does not adequately address God’s governmental problems in the matter of reconciliation.

While any correct, biblical explanation as to the nature of the atonement will include a solution to several objectives, God’s design is often such that many ends are accomplished by a solitary action. God did not generate light, for example, only that we might see. While it is true that without light we would be totally incapable of viewing our surroundings, there are, as Albert Barnes notes, “numerous other ends known to us, and perhaps many which are unknown, that were equally contemplated in its creation.” [2]Albert Barnes, The Atonement, Bethany Fellowship, p. 239. It is directly responsible for color, warmth and time, as well as being indispensable in the development of agriculture. Many ends, one solution.

Keeping all this in mind, we will now examine in more detail the four major difficulties God faced in His effort to restore the God-man relationship.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. To reconcile means to restore to favor, adjust our differences, cause one thing to cease and another to take its place. The reconciliation outlined in the Bible is two-fold: 1.) between man and God and 2.) between man and man (see 2 Corinthians 5:18–20)
2. Albert Barnes, The Atonement, Bethany Fellowship, p. 239.

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