. . . I still want to go on to a final statement or proposition and, in many ways I think that this is the most important of all. There are a number of statements which emphasize the Godward aspect and God’s activity in the death of our Lord. You see the importance of that? All those false theories kept looking at us [man], and if they did not look at us, they started looking at the Lord Himself. But I shall give you statements which show that God the Father was in this.
First of all, certain Scriptures teach us that it was in God’s mind and plan before the foundation of the world there is an eternal aspect to what happened on the cross on Calvary’s hill. Take Acts 2:23: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. It was the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God that sent Him to the cross. Or 1 Peter 1:20 says: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you it was planned before the foundation of the world. And again we read in Revelation 13:8: And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. There are some who say that that should have been rendered, “. . . whose names are not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb slain. It does not matter which, the fact is that names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world and when He did that, He did it because He knew that that person was to be covered by the death of His only begotten Son.
But let me end by giving you this specific statement which literally tells us that it was God that was doing this thing on Calvary: Isaiah 53:6: All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. But have you realised that John 3:16 says this? For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son to the death of the cross it is God who gave Him. Take again Romans 3:25: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God there it is again. Or Romans 8:32: He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? He, God, He ‘spared not His own Son but delivered Him it was God who did it.
Then there is that great statement in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19: And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself . . . it was God who was doing it, God the eternal Father. God was doing this by means of the cross, through Christ.
And then, above them all there is the last verse of 2 Corinthians 5, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (v. 21). You will never find anything stronger than that and any view you might hold of the atonement must cater for that. Indeed I feel that that one verse is enough. There it is, a specific statement of the eternal Father: He put them upon Him; and then He tells us that He punished them in Him. Any idea or theory of the atonement must always give full weight and significance to the activity of God the Father.
In his chapter on the necessity of the atonement, the Doctor adds this:
. . . Let me sum it up like this: the real difficulty people have with this doctrine is generally due to the fact that their whole view of God is inadequate. They forget some aspect of His character. They emphasize one side only, to the exclusion of others. If they were to take God as He is and to realise the truth about Him, their difficulties would vanish.
Strangely enough, the Christian gospel let me say this with reverence, lest I be misunderstood the Christian gospel does not start even with the Lord Jesus Christ, it starts with God the Father. The Bible starts with God the Father always, everywhere, and we must do the same because that is the order in the blessed Trinity . . . You find that very thing emphasized and impressed [in the first five verses of John 17], for the statement is that salvation is entirely of God; this is the first thing we must say when we begin to consider this question of salvation. Salvation is entirely of God, it is the gift of God: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou has given him it is all there.
. . . But not only that, I want to emphasize the way in which the gospel displays the great love of God. You notice I draw a distinction between the benignity, the mercy and compassion, and the love of God. I feel we must do that, for, after all, the love of God is displayed in particular in this m
UPDATE: It is now possible to listen to a sermon I have preached that touches on this subject – it addresses the notion of God condemning sin in Jesus from Romans 8:3.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Great Doctrines of the Bible, Volume One, Substitution, “The Necessity of the Atonement”, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2003, chapters 29 and 30, pp.317-337.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Assurance of Our Salvation, Part One, The Glory of God in the Plan of Salvation, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 2000, chapter 3, pp. 41-53.