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Substitutionary Atonement As Foundational For Ministry Among Poor (via Mez McConnell)

Mez McConnell carries out remarkable ministry among marginalised groups of people, a background that he shares with those he ministers to.
Here he writes about the way in which the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, rather than detracting from his ministry to the needs of people, actually is the foundation that enables him to serve.

Here’s the introduction and the last his six points from an article on 20schemesequip.

There can be a misapprehension in some circles about how we minister effectively to the poor. I was at a conference once, and the discussion centred around handing out food and other necessities. My frustration was that this is often the apex of help given to the poor and needy, when what is needed is a much more comprehensive approach to this kind of ministry.
The poor need to be taught as part of our service to them. They need to hear the gospel, and when some respond (as they will) they need to be taught in order for them to grow, mature, and be allowed to move into positions of leadership. Of course, all doctrine and teaching is important, but here are some reasons why I believe teaching the doctrine of the atonement is vital to ministry among the poor.
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6. It keep us from preaching moralism. It’s easy for law to overtake grace in housing schemes. This is the silent killer here. People live such chaotic lives that it is easy to send them away with a ‘to do’ list rather than continually preach grace to them. It is easy for Christians to put their assurance for salvation in the things they do for Jesus rather than in the Son of God himself.
I woke up this morning confident of heaven. Not because I had a great devotional or because my prayers were on fire, but because Jesus died on the cross for my sin. He absorbed the wrath that was duly mine. He paid a price that I could not afford. He has been raised to the right hand of God the Father where he intercedes for me, even now. The atonement was His glorious, bloody idea from start to finish.

Read the whole post here.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 16

40.
Q. Why did Christ have to suffer death?
A. Because the righteousness and truth of God are such that nothing else could make reparation for our sins except the death of the Son of God.

41.
Q. Why was he “buried”?
A. To confirm the fact that he was really dead.

42.
Q. Since, then, Christ died for us, why must we also die?
A. Our death is not a reparation for our sins, but only a dying to sin and an entering into eternal life.

43.
Q. What further benefit do we receive from the sacrifice and death of Christ on the cross?
A. That by his power our old self is crucified, put to death, and buried with him, so that the evil passions of our mortal bodies may reign in us no more, but that we may offer ourselves to him as a sacrifice of thanksgiving.

44.
Q. Why is there added: “He descended into hell”?
A. That in my severest tribulations I may be assured that Christ my Lord has redeemed me from hellish anxieties and torment by the unspeakable anguish, pains, and terrors which he suffered in his soul both on the cross and before.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 15

37.
Q. What do you understand by the word “suffered”?
A. That throughout his life on Earth, but especially at the end of it, he bore in body soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race, so that by his suffering, as the only expiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from ever lasting damnation, and might obtain for us God’s grace, righteousness, and eternal life.

38.
Q. Why did he suffer “under Pontius Pilate” as his judge?
A. That he, being innocent, might be condemned by an earthly judge, and thereby set us free from the judgment of God which, in all its severity, ought to fall upon us.

39.
Q. Is there something more in his having been crucified than if he had died some other death?
A. Yes, for by this I am sure that he took upon himself the curse which lay upon me, because the death of the cross was cursed by God.


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The Most Compelling Argument For The Truth Of Christianity Is The Cross At Its Center (via Fleming Rutledge)

From Fleming Rutledge:

“Religious figures are not usually associated with disgrace and rejection. We want our objects of worship to be radiant, dazzling avatars offering the potential of transcendent happiness. The most compelling argument for the truth of Christianity is the Cross at its center. Humankind’s religious imagination could never have produced such an image. Wishful thinking never projected a despised and rejected Messiah. There is a contradiction at the very heart of our faith that demands our attention. We need to put a sign on it, though, like the signs on trucks carrying chemicals: Hazardous material, highly inflammatory cargo. Handle at your own risk.”

Fleming Rutledge, The Undoing of Death, Eerdmans, 2005.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 11

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 11

29.
Q. Why is the Son of God called JESUS, which means SAVIOUR?
A. Because he saves us from our sins, and because salvation is to be sought or found in no other.

30.
Q. Do those who seek their own salvation and well-being from saints, by their own efforts, or by other means really believe in the only Saviour Jesus?
A. No. Rather, by such actions they deny Jesus, the only Saviour and Redeemer, even though they boast of belonging to him. It therefore follows that either Jesus is not a perfect Saviour, or those who receive this Saviour with true faith must possess in him all that is necessary for their salvation.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 6

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 6

16.
Q. Why must he be a true and righteous man?
A. Because God’s righteousness requires that man who has sinned should make reparation for sin, but the man who is himself a sinner cannot pay for others.

17.
Q. Why must he at the same time be true God?
A. So that by the power of his divinity he might bear as a man the burden of God’s wrath, and recover for us and restore to us righteousness and life.

18.
Q. Who is this mediator who is at the same time true God and a true and perfectly righteous man?
A. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who is freely given to us for complete redemption and righteousness.

19.
Q. Whence do you know this?
A. From the holy gospel, which God himself revealed in the beginning in the Garden of Eden, afterward proclaimed through the holy patriarchs and prophets and foreshadowed through the sacrifices and other rites of the Old Covenant, and finally fulfilled through his own well-beloved Son.


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Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 5

Heidelberg Catechism – Lord’s Day 5

12.
Q. Since, then, by the righteous judgment of God we have deserved temporal and eternal punishment, how may we escape this punishment, come again to grace, and be reconciled to God?
A. God wills that his righteousness be satisfied; therefore, payment in full must be made to his righteousness, either by ourselves or by another.

13.
Q. Can we make this payment ourselves?
A. By no means. On the contrary, we increase our debt each day.

14.
Q. Can any mere creature make the payment for us?
A. No one. First of all, God does not want to punish any other creature for man’s debt. Moreover, no mere creature can bear the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and redeem others from it.

15.
Q. Then, what kind of mediator and redeemer must we seek?
A. One who is a true and righteous man and yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is at the same time true God.