The Westminster Conference 2006: Day 2
1. THE PURITAN DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT.
Garry Williams, a lecturer of Oak Hill Theological College, addressed this subject with Robert Oliver as the chairman.
Amongst the Puritans there was a majority doctrine of the atonement and that was the teaching summarized in the Westminster Confession’s eighth chapter:
He was made under the law, and did perfectly fulfil it; endured most grievous torments immediately in His soul, and most painful sufferings in His body; was crucified, and died; was buried, and remained under the power of death, yet saw no corruption. On the third day He arose from the dead, with the same body in which He suffered; with which also He ascended into heaven, and there sitteth at the right hand of His Father, making intercession; and shall return to judge men and angels at the end of the world.
The Lord Jesus, by His perfect obedience and sacrifice of Himself, which He, through the eternal Spirit, once offered up unto God, hath fully satisfied the justice of His Father; and purchased, not only reconciliation, but an everlasting inheritance in the kingdom of heaven, for all those whom the Father hath given unto Him. Although the work of redemption was not actually wrought by Christ till after His incarnation, yet the virtue, efficacy, and benefits thereof, were communicated unto the elect in all ages successively from the beginning of the world, in and by those promises, types, and sacrifices, wherein He was revealed and signified to be the Seed of the woman, which should bruise the serpent’s head, and the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world being yesterday and today the same, and for ever.
To all those for whom Christ hath purchased redemption, He doth certainly and effectually apply and communicate the same;(1) making intercession for them;(2) and revealing unto them, in and by the Word, the mysteries of salvation;(3) effectually persuading them by His Spirit to believe and obey; and governing their hearts by His Word and Spirit;(4) overcoming all their enemies by His almighty power and wisdom, in such manner and ways as are most consonant to His wonderful and unsearchable dispensation.
Garry Williams added, “I happen to believe that.” Amongst the Puritans it was John Owen who expounded the doctrine of the atonement most fully, and also engaged in silencing the opponents of this truth. Thus in his writings we meet with a number of other theories about the Cross, Owen helping us to understand what were their errors. How would one summarise Owen’s doctrine of redemption?
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