"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

God Will Not Relent in Love Till He Has My Heart

"For Your love is as strong as death; Your ardent love is as unrelenting as the grave." Song of Solomon 8:6.

The power of One.

Some say relationships are mended only when two at animosity with each other finally see eye-to-eye and reconcile. Not always. There is a powerful, unconditional, unrelenting love that will not stop until the one with animosity is won over because of this agape love.

"We love Him because He first loved us." (I John 4:19).

Too many people think God and His love are like us and our love. When our hearts are filled with animosity toward a person who has offended us, we must see change in the offender to be reconciled. So we assume God is the same way. For God to be reconciled with us, He must see some kind of change in us.

Not so.

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were yet still offenders (sinners), Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8).

The unrelenting, unconditional, personal and powerful love of God obtained reconciliation for sinners to Himself even when we sinners weren't asking for it. In other words, sinners were reconciled to God at the cross.

"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the reconciliation." (Romans 5:11).

The King James Bible uses the word atonement in place of reconciliation in Romans 5:11.

The great biblical scholar Adam Clarke writes: "It was certainly improper to translate katallage here by atonement, instead of reconciliation; as katallassw signifies to reconcile, and is so rendered by our English translators in all the places where it occurs."

All modern translations (e.g. NKJV, NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, and Holman Standard) properly translate Romans 5:11 as "reconciliation" - "by whom we have now received the reconciliation."

Why does the King James Version use the word atonement in Romans 5:11?


William Tyndale Invented the English Word Atonement

When William Tyndale (b.1494 - d. 1536) first took it upon himself to translate the Greek New Testament into the English language, he came to Romans 5:11. Wanting to convey in English the full impact of the Greek word katallage (normally translated reconciliation in English), Tyndale struggled. Tyndale did not wish to use the English word reconciliation because of how the Roman Catholic Church in the early 16th century used the word reconciliation.

I think William Tyndale chose wisely. Atonement is a really good word which properly conveys full reconciliation of sinners with God.

Let me explain.  

The Roman Catholic Church in the days of Tyndale viewed reconciliation as being made to God at the cross for only Adam's original sin, but not for the penalty of individual sins. The Roman Catholic Church taught that Catholics had to pay God for their individual sins by works of special merit and penance.

So the Roman Catholic Church in Tyndale's day taught that a sinner is reconciled to God at the cross by Christ's work for original sin, but not be truly at peace with God, or fully accepted by God, because of their own sins. Sinners must make it up to God for their individual sins. So, according to the Catholic Church, Christ's work at Calvary was only half of what was needed. For the sinner to be at peace with God, one must perform works of penance and works of merit and fulfill the sacraments.

This false Roman Catholic teaching led William Tyndale, while translating the Bible from the original Greek, to want an English word that conveyed the overall teaching of the Bible that God made sinners completely accepted by Him through Jesus Christ at the cross!

Tyndale knew that the Bible taught "God makes sinners fully accepted in the Beloved One" (Ephesians 1:6), but he also knew the church of his day was teaching something different. Tyndale knew that God, by His great grace and love for sinners, made sinners at one with Him through the expiatory sacrifice (e.g. "the removal of the guilt of the offender") of Christ, a sacrifice undertaken by God's own initiative. Tyndale despised the notion that something more than the work of Christ had to be done for sinners to be made right with God.

So Tyndale invented a new English word. At-one-ment

Let's take these three syllables from last to first and see Tyndale's intentions with the word atonement

Ment - is a Latin suffix which means "the act of." It turns verbs into nouns. For example, cement is a word that means "the action or process (Latin: ment) of hardening (Latin: se)." Likewise, when you call someone demented, you are saying they have gone through the process (Latin: ment) of unraveling (Latin: de). At-one-ment is "the act of making one."

One - English definition: Unity, without division.

At - A preposition that points to a specific location or event.

The immortal, invisible and loving Creator, came to earth as Man, to remove the guilt of sinners at the cross, to reconcile sinners to Himself in the act of at-one-ment.

When the King James translators (1611) published their English version of the Bible, they adopted Tyndale's invented word "atonement" for Romans 5:11, believing that it more accurately conveyed the concept that sinners are "fully accepted by God in the Beloved One" (Ephesians 1:6) through Christ's work.


Atonement Is the True Meaning of Reconciliation

Sinners are reconciled to God at the cross. The cross is "the act of making sinners at one with God." Because of Christ, nothing stands between God and sinners. Nothing.

No sin. No unbelief. No hardness. No guilt. Nothing.

"But wait! The atonement must be received!" modern evangelicals cry.

I find it amazing how modern evangelicals are not much different than 16th century Roman Catholics whom Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and a host of other reformers opposed.

It's not that the act of Jesus' atonement "must be received," as much as it is Jesus' atonement "will be received" by those for whom He died, for God will not relent till He has my heart.

God's unrelenting, unconditional, personal and eternal love wins me over to love Him. My love for Him may never measure up to His love for me, but I can rest in the knowledge I am fully accepted by Him in the Beloved One.

400 years ago the Roman Catholic Church wrongly said, "God made reconciliation for Adam's original sin, but individual sinners must pay for their own sins through penance and works of merit."

William Tyndale said, "No! God has made sinners fully accepted in the Beloved One through atonement."

Today, modern evangelicals wrongly say "God made it possible for sinners to be at one with God (atonement), but sinners must receive the atonement to actually be reconciled to God."

William Tyndale would say, "No! God has actually reconciled sinners at the cross through the at-one-ment of Jesus Christ."

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst." (I Timothy 1:15).

"You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

The Bible knows no such language of God "hopes to save." He shall save. He has saved.

We are saved by His grace through faith, but even that faith is "not of ourselves" for He is the "Author and Finisher, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end of our faith."

We love Him because He first loved us.


God Will Not Relent in Love Till He Has My Heart

The power of One.

God has done everything.

He has loved me with an eternal love. He has given me His Son. He has reconciled me at the cross. He has made me one with Him through His Son. He is fully at peace with me, though I am never fully in love with Him.

In my previous post, I explained how a "hopeful" universalist like my friend Paul Young, author of The Shack, believes that God has reconciled every sinner without exception to Himself at the cross. Paul believes that God's love for the world means every sinner without exception. I believe God's love for the world means sinners without distinction (e.g. "a great multitude from every nation, from all tries and people and language groups" Rev. 7:9).

Paul Young, I and William Tyndale all believe the same thing about the powerful, unconditional love of God and the efficacy of the cross of Christ.

Paul Young simply disagrees with William Tyndale and I over the question "For whom did Christ die?" 

I have a dear friend and worship mentor named Daniel Brymer. He is an amazing song writer and musician. His gifted son, David Brymer, has written a song that he and Misty Edwards sing called You Won't Relent.

David Brymer wrote the song based on Song of Solomon 8:6 where the people of God recognize that the love of God is strong as death, and the ardent love of God for His people is as unrelenting as the grave.

You will not understand Song of Solomon 8:6 or the words of David Brymer's song - "You will not relent in love till you have my heart" - unless you recognize that nothing can stop the unrelenting love of God.

Nothing.

Jesus reconciled you to God through His work, not yours. God has made you fully accepted in Jesus Christ.

God will not relent in His love for you until He has your heart.

The power of One.

This is the Gospel.


16 comments:

Mark White said...

A very thought-provoking post, which leads me to a question: so what is the true relationship between the Greek term katallage and the Hebrew term kipur, which are both translated in the KJV as atonement? Are their meanings similar or completely divergent?

You say that katallage has been mistranslated as atonement instead of reconciliation, but I'm wondering if it's not the inverse -- that atonement is the proper term for katallage, and it's kipur that's been mistranslated, leading us to have a deformed understanding of "atonement."

I wonder that because it seems the OT uses of "atonement" carry at least some connotation of a transaction -- I did X, that was a sin, therefore I must do Y to "atone" for it, a transaction that balances an inequity. And that transactional interpretation of "atonement" doesn't seem to fit with its etymology.

Wade Burleson said...

Mark,

I think I was saying just the opposite about the word "atonement." I thought he did a masterful job translating kattalage with the word he coined (atonement). So, I DON'T call it a mistranslation. Mr. Clark (whom I quoted in the post) did, but not I.

I tried to show why Tyndale used atonement rather than reconciliation.

In the Hebrew covenant, God's love for national Israel was conditional. There were grace Hebrews within national Israel, but the Old Covenant is a conditional, national covenant. If one believes the eternal covenant (e.g. the New Covenant)God makes with the world is conditional (which I do not), then obviously Christ's atonement only makes reconciliation with God "possible" through the actions of the sinner.

One of the fundamental differences between the Old Covenant with Israel and the New Covenant with the world is the unconditional nature of the New Covenant. The Law (the Old Covenant) was designed to drive us to an understanding of the brilliance of Jesus fulfilling the Law and giving perfect righteousness to His people.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

"This is the Gospel". AMEN!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome post and song at the end! Goosebumps all the way.

Wayne

Curious Thinker said...

Interesting post. In response from part of your previous post and this one, I see God loving every single one of us unconditionally even those who reject Him, turn away from his ways and live of life of evil, wicked and vile just like a parent who unconditionally loves his/her children no matter how bad they turn out. He doesn't have to approve of the way you lead your life and even hate some the choices you make but the love is still there. However, He can still choose not to welcome those who are unrepented in their evil and wicked sinful ways while on earth into His kingdom in the afterlife. He can still reject those type of sinners for eternal damnation despite His love for them just as a parent punishes a child who does wrong and rewards them when they do good. For sinners who receive and embrace Him, are rewarded by being welcoming them into His Kingdom not because they deserve it but because Jesus died for all our sins on the cross so all who receive Him are blessed and there is atonement. So I really can't get on board with the idea that God only unconditionally loves some sinners but not all but he welcomes some into his Kingdom but not all after death. God Bles.

Anonymous said...

Wade, Paul Young denies penal substitutionary atonement. He sees the cross as the place where we ask, who is this God in the midst of my sadness? God allowed humanity to crucify Jesus and release their hatred and cruelty on him. He does not believe that Jesus death was dying in our behalf bearing the wrath of God on the cross.

RRR said...

Wade,this is a great post and very helpful to me in understanding why the KJV uses "atonement" rather than "reconciliation". I suspect this explains why modern day Catholics continue to go the priest to pay penance for their daily sins. Perhaps this explains why I've heard some Catholics say that they really seek no lifestyle change from their habitual sinful ways because they can simply go to mass and pay penance each week.

I believe I see where you are going on the continued exposition in your post. It seems to me you are suggesting, again, that Christ died on the Cross for those individuals that He chose to save, like yourself, and that He determined that others would go to hell. I perceive this as being a position that eliminates the free will of individuals and their responsibility to acknowledge Christ as Lord and to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him.

For those of us who disagree with your portrayal, you propose, in this post, that we are of the same mindset of those early Catholics who taught that Christ died for the original sin nature of mankind and we must each pay penance of all subsequent sins, as do the Catholics. I "think" you would categorize us who hold to the position that "Christ paid the price for all sinners and this free gift of redemption is available to all who believe in Him" are of a "works-based" theology.

This is what disappointments me in your biasness. You are saying, those of us who disagree with you are "wrong". I personally do not consider you to be "wrong". I consider you to have a different position than I on a doctrine which has been disputed by Bible scholars for centuries on an issue concerning an Almighty, infinite, mysterious, unfathomable God.

For you to conclude that those of us who disagree with you on this to be "wrong" is disappointing. That attitude inhibits discussion and dialogue and does nothing to edify and affirm our brother/sisterhood.

You're not "wrong" as far as I, anyone else, know, regarding the definite conclusion on this doctrinal issue. But you certainly are no more supported by Scripture or God's character and providence than I in my position. Better that we assume the position on such topics as our having "different positions" than assuming the position of fundamentalists who conclude they are right and all others wrong.

Hope that is not offensive to say. I do respect you and love reading your posts and gain a lot from it.

Anonymous said...

Wade you said, "Paul Young, I and William Tyndall all believe the same thing about the powerful, unconditional love of God and the efficacy of the cross of Christ." No you don't. Wade, Paul Young thinks that your view of penal substitution is crazy and wrong.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

You write, "I believe I see where you are going on the continued exposition in your post. It seems to me you are suggesting, again, that Christ died on the Cross for those individuals that He chose to save, like yourself, and that He determined that others would go to hell."

So much in what you write that must be defined before I would ever agree that this is my position.

For example, I would put it like this: "Christ died on the cross for those sinners He chose to save, a vast multitude from the entire world (e.g. "from every nation, tribe, family and language group"), but He also has chosen to allow some sinners to receive the just consequences and punishment of their free-will sins, which is death. The sins for which sinners pay the penalty of death are not sins God committed; they are sins sinners committed against God and their fellow man of their own free will. Had they obeyed God fully and completely as they are called to do, they would be given the gift of immortal life (Romans 2:7). Because these sinners of their own free-will chose not to obey the revelation God gave them by nature and in their own conscience (Romans 1), and worshipped themselves and the creation, they will die of their own doing."

That's what I believe.

By the way, I'm not sure where you pick up on me saying you or anyone else is "wrong." What I'm saying is I cannot see Scripture teaching anything other than those who die because of their disobedience did it of their own free will and accord, and those who are gifted with immortal life are recipients of pure grace from God.

Wade Burleson said...

Jeremy Meyers,

I could not find the code you in the HTML. I use Blogger and only put in a web address in the "widget" panel. If you give me a new web address that you would like for me to link to with the Top 100 picture, I will. Otherwise, I will be happy to pull it down if it is sending people to the wrong link.

RRR said...

Wade, you explained above that; "Because these sinners of their own free-will chose not to obey the revelation God gave them by nature and in their own conscience (Romans 1), and worshiped themselves and the creation, they will die of their own doing."

WOW! Perhaps I have been deaf to what you've been saying all along but I never recall hearing/reading you say that men are accountable for rejecting Christ by asserting their own "free will". This suggests strongly to me that you believe that God does not cause people to assert their own "free" will one way or the other, but that it is just that, "free" will to choose to accept or reject Christ and ultimately, it's that decision for which we are held accountable. If that is the case, then you and I are in synch and I apologize for suggesting otherwise.

You questioned where I got the idea that you were saying anyone was "wrong". That perception came from your saying in your post, "I find it amazing how modern evangelicals are not much different than 16th century Roman Catholics whom Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and a host of other reformers opposed." and especially your writing, "Today, modern evangelicals wrongly say "God made it possible for sinners to be at one with God (atonement), but sinners must receive the atonement to actually be reconciled to God."

Comments like those are what led me to think you were saying that those, like me, who say, "You must receive the atonement to actually be reconciled to God", are wrong. AND it again leads me, perhaps erroneously, to think that you are suggesting people are judged for exercising their own "free" (?) will but that God determines what the conclusion of exercising their own "free" will is!

WHAT? Did I just write that! This can be a maddening dialogue to conduct through written media. I suspect that I just need to hope that if we were in verbal conversation together we would discover we have the same opinion, but I'm not so sure.

Regardless, I really appreciate your response above and attempting to bring me to a correct understanding of your position. I would not want to misquote or even personally misinterpret your position on such important issues.

Wade Burleson said...

RRR,

We are ALMOST agreeing - almost. :)

I did not say as you wrote, "men are accountable for rejecting Christ by asserting their own "free will".

I wrote, "men are accountable for their sins against God, sins they've committed each of those sins by their own free-will." I also wrote, "If a man, having natural revelation and a sense of the Creator, were to continually do good to his fellow man and honor the Creator with his life and never fall short of what the Creator expects, that man would be given the gift of immortal life" (Romans 2:7).

Of course, the argument of Paul is that "we have ALL fallen short of the glory of God."

So, I believe in free-will. Man rebels against God freely. Man will be held accountable and judged for their sins because they were all committed freely against God (the Creator forced nobody to sin).

But when it comes to DELIVERANCE, that is a matter of pure grace. Judgment (isolation and imprisonment for sins against God and humanity) will vary according to one's number and depth of wickedness of their free-will sins, and all judgment will end in "the second death" of the wicked.

The grace of God makes those in Christ "co-heirs" with Christ.

I tell any sinner who wishes to be delivered that there is salvation in Christ and "believe on Him," but if a sinner wishes not to look to Christ, I encourage them to be the best possible person they can be.

Their future judgment depends on it.

RRR said...

Every individual will either spend eternity in the Kingdom of God or outside forever, depending upon whether they come to Christ broken and submissive and acknowledging Him as the only doorway into The Kingdom. We ALL are condemned to hell until we are redeemed in such fashion. The atoning blood of Jesus Christ is only then applied to the sinner rebel; me.

Degrees of reward or punishment is another matter. But nobody ever can escape an eternity in hell through being the best possible person they can be.

I conclude, brother, that you are correct in saying,"We are ALMOST agreeing - almost. :)"

But the "almost" makes all the difference in eternity. Very serious stuff and essential that we strive to present The Gospel in a manner that minimizes misunderstanding to the listener. My fear is that saying "if a sinner wishes not to look to Christ, I encourage them to be the best possible person they can be.
Their future judgment depends on it." could easily be interpreted as proposing a person can escape hell, or even the degree of torment in hell in its intensity, by good works. Whether your intent is to say this or not is unclear.

Hell is real and it is a sure destination for all who choose to reject God's offer of salvation through the surrendering one's life to Jesus Christ. Any degree of limitation in their suffering will be of no consequence to them. It will still be hell. Any limitation in the degree of reward for any of us spending eternity in The Kingdom will be of no consequence to us other than the joy of knowing that we have pleased our Father. We won't relish in it or be pridefully gratified by it.

Because you are my brother in Christ, I choose to again conclude that we must surely be close in our interpretation but our struggle to communicate does not allow us to agree completely. God, help us all to correctly proclaim The Gospel and help us to recognize the slightest imperfection in the manner in which we articulate "The Way" and correct it.

Christiane said...

"Let nothing trouble you
Let nothing frighten you
Everything passes

God never changes
Patience Obtains all
Whoever has God Wants for nothing
God alone is enough"

(Sr. Theresa of Jesus)

Christiane said...

In my Church is said:

God "gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist." And since God was able to make light shine in darkness by his Word, He can also give the light of faith to those who do not yet know Him.

Christiane said...

“St. Paul says that “the love of Christ compels us,” but this “compels us” can also be translated as “possesses us.” And so it is: love attracts us and sends us; it draws us in and gives us to others.”
(Francis)