The Necessity Of The Atonement -- By: Daniel T. Fiske

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 018:70 (Apr 1861)
Article: The Necessity Of The Atonement
Author: Daniel T. Fiske

The Necessity Of The Atonement

Rev. Daniel T. Fiske

The scriptures plainly teach the necessity of the sufferings and death of Christ: “the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and of the chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again “(Mark 8:31). “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life “(Jn. 3:14–15). “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day “(Lk. 24:46). “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead” (Acts 17:2–3).

These, and many other passages, clearly teach that the passion of our Lord was ‘necessary; and the inquiry naturally arises: What is the ground of this necessity? Why was it needful that Christ should suffer and die? If it be said, that “the scriptures might not be broken — that the Old-Testament prophecies respecting the Messiah might be fulfilled,” then we ask: Whence the necessity for these prophecies, un-

less there was a prior necessity for the thing predicted? Why did God before show, “by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer,” unless his sufferings were foreseen to be necessary? If, again, it be said that the necessity for Christ’s passion was in “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” then our inquiry is only carried back another step: Why was it necessary that God should, beforehand, determine to deliver up his only-begotten Son, to suffering and to death? Whence the necessity for a divine purpose that should include the humiliation and mortal agonies of the “Word,” that “was in the beginning with God? “If, from this point, we step back upon the fatalist’s ground, and recognize an absolute necessity, higher than God, binding his will and all its issues, with the chain of an inexorable destiny, then our inquiry is at an end: Christ’s death was necessary in the same sense, and for the same reason, that all things are necessary. But if we regard the divine will as free, and all its purposes as spontaneous and self-determined, then the way is still open to pursue our inquiry touching the ground of the necessity for the Saviour’s passion. And the inquiry now becomes teleological. God had some definite end in v...

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