Dying With Christ -- By: John V. Dahms

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 36:1 (Mar 1993)
Article: Dying With Christ
Author: John V. Dahms


Dying With Christ

John V. Dahms*

Throughout the history of Christianity the major theories of the atonement have been (1) the ransom (classical; Christus Victor) theory, (2) the satisfaction theory, (3) the governmental theory, (4) the moral influence theory, and (5) the penal substitution theory. It is not my purpose to discuss the respective merits and/or demerits of these theories. It is my concern to draw attention to a Biblical emphasis concerning atonement that has suffered from comparative neglect—namely, the emphasis on dying with Christ.

It is to be noted, in the first place, that prior to the Sinaitic legislation there is no Biblical reference to sin offerings and/or guilt (trespass) offerings.

Cain and Abel are credited with what were apparently gift or tribute offerings (Gen 4:3–5).1 The offering of drink offerings (35:14), peace (fellowship) offerings (Exod 20:34; 24:5)2 and, probably, covenantal sacrifices (Gen 31:54) is also reported for this period. Of special prominence and significance, however, was the burnt offering (8:20; 22:1–13; Exod 10:25; 18:12; 20:24; cf. Job 1:5; 42:8),3 the offering mentioned most frequently in the OT. But though the gravity of sin is emphasized (e.g. Gen 18:20; 39:9; Exod 10:17; 20:5) there is no indication that a consciousness of sin ever prompted the offering of sacrifice, nor is it ever suggested that sacrifice had any significance with respect to wrongdoing—unless it be in Job 1:5, which will engage my attention shortly.

The burnt offering and its significance are of special interest to us. Its first mention is in Gen 8:20, which states that Noah offered burnt offerings after he came forth from the ark. He is described as “a righteous man, blameless in his generation” (6:9). His offerings were not because ...

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