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 Governmental Atonement Illustrated: King Zalukas

I read this and thought that it was very good:


Someone asked me, "Couldn't God have simply forgiven our sins?" I explained why God couldn't simply forgive without atonement. Under God's government, as under any government, penalty serves a purpose. The purpose of executing penalties upon law breakers is to discourage crime. The purpose of punishment is not to gratify wrathful feelings or a vindictive spirit. The purpose of punishment is to maintain law in order to promote the well-being of a community. If God simply forgave us, by setting aside our penalty, than He would not be discouraging crime. The problem with mere forgiveness is that it would weaken the law of God and thus endanger all of His subjects. Therefore if God is going to forgive us by setting aside our penalty, He must substitute our penalty with atonement in order to accomplish what our penalty would have accomplished. If God can express His regard for His law through the atonement, as equally as He would have expressed it by executing the penalty of the law upon law breakers, then the problem of forgiven is overcome, crime is discouraged, and therefore mercy or pardon is made possible. I taught that now that atonement has been made, which substitutes our penalty, which satisfied the purpose of our penalty, God can remit our penalty if we repent and believe. I cannot see how a loving and intelligent God could forgive any criminal unless there is atonement made.


In order to illustrate the atonement I told a story about an Italian King named Zalukas. The King saw how adultery had the potential to destroy a society. If there is adultery in a Kingdom, there could be children born out of wed lock. This breaks down the family unit. There could also be jealousy and murder when a husband finds out that another man has been sleeping with his wife. Therefore for the good of His Kingdom, the King outlawed adultery.

But laws are not respected or regarded unless they have consequences. Penalties give the law authority and influence. Therefore the King assigned a very severe penalty for those who violated his law. Those who were found committing adultery would have both of their eyes removed by a hot poker!

A few people were found committing adultery and quickly the penalty was executed. This showed the Kingdom that the King meant business. He surely regarded his law and meant to maintain it. It wasn't long until adultery literally ceased from his Kingdom.

One day a man was brought before the King who had been committing adultery. It was the Kings own son, the prince of the Kingdom. The King was in a dilemma. On the one hand the King wanted to maintain His law. The authority and influence of his law depended upon the execution of the penalty. If He didn't execute the penalty, his Kingdom would question whether or not the King really regarded his law or not. If the King did not execute the penalty, the Kingdom would think that he gave a bad law or that he gave too severe a penalty. But on the other hand, the King cared about his son and was prone to forgive him. The King naturally preferred to show his son mercy. How could he do both? How could the King show mercy to his son but still uphold the authority and influence of his law throughout His Kingdom at the same time?

The solution which the King found to his dilemma was a painful one. The King had one of the eyes of his son removed, and in lieu of the other eye of his son, he sacrificed his own. He substituted one of his own eyes for the eye of his son. In this way the King found a way to show mercy to his Son by not executing the full penalty of the law upon him, while also expressing to his Kingdom his regard for his law and thereby maintain the authority and influence of the precept.

I then explained that God gave his universe a very good law for our own good. The law of God promotes the highest well-being of all. In order to give authority to the precept, God has given a severe penalty. The penalty for violating God's law is to burn in hell for all of eternity. That is eternal death.

At first there were angels who rebelled against God. They were quickly thrust out of Heaven and are now waiting Judgment Day. But then mankind sinned. Mankind was made in the image of God. Men were the crown of God's creation. God was prone to forgive mankind, but He must also maintain His law. On the one hand, the authority and influence of His law throughout His universe or Kingdom depends upon Him making a proper expression of His regard for His law so that crime is discouraged. But on the other hand, God would prefer to forgive mankind by withholding or setting aside our penalty. How could God do both? How could God pardon disobedient men without encouraging the rest of His universe to sin? How could God remit our penalty of eternal hell but still uphold His law and maintain its authority and influence? The answer is the atonement.

God offered His own Son to make atonement for our sins. The atonement was given in lieu of our eternal punishment. The atonement of Jesus Christ substitutes the eternal punishment of sinners. The problem of mere pardon is that it leaves the purpose of penalty unfulfilled. The purpose of penalty is to prevent crime, to stop the spread of rebellion. The problem of mere forgiveness is that it encourages sin. But when an atonement substitutes our penalty, the problems of forgiveness are overcome. The atonement accomplishes what our penalty would have accomplished and therefore our penalty can be remitted. God expresses His regard for His law through the atonement in an even greater way than He would have through the punishment of sinners. Therefore His law is upheld throughout His universe, maintaining its authority and influence, through the atonement as it would have been through our penalty. God can safely pardon criminals, without endangering the well-being of His universe, because an atonement has been made. God promises that He will remit our penalty if we will simply decide to turn from sin and trust in Christ. God will turn from His wrath, withhold our punishment, or remit our penalty, if we are converted to Christ.

 2009/9/24 0:55

Joined: 2006/6/19
Posts: 927

 Re: Governmental Atonement Illustrated: King Zalukas

So, is it accurate to say that the govermental view of the atonement doesn't [i]actually[/i] secure the salvation of anyone - it simply makes it possible for people to be saved if they are wise enough to believe in Christ?

With care in Christ,

Taylor Otwell

 2009/9/24 9:00Profile

Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37633
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11


This sort of theology is not correct at all. But the purely opposite and extreme is not true either. It matters how we live. Yet the atonement is our only way to be saved.

it is not an example like jehovah witness, mormons, etc.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2009/9/24 9:04Profile


The atonement of Christ substitutes the punishment of hell fire for sinners, therefore no sinner has to go to hell, everyone can be saved from hell. All men can now have their sins forgiven. God can withhold the punishment of all.

The atonement is a substitution and it is the only reason we can have mercy and forgiveness. If there was no atonement, God could not remit our penalty. If there was no atonement, God could not pardon anyone. But now that an atonement has been made for everyone, God can pardon everyone, if they repent and believe.

How many sinners were saved at Calvary? Just one. The repentant theif. The rest of us were saved after the atonement. We were saved at conversion, not Calvary. Calvary made salvation available, but salvation did not become actual until conversion.

"Christ’s work on Calvary made atonement for every man, but it did not save any man....Universal atonement makes salvation universally available, but it does not make it universally effective toward the individual." A W Tozer

"with a real atonement for all, some perish... the atonement is only provisory in its character; that it renders men salvable, but does not necessarily save them." John Miley

Jesus died for all but not all are saved from God's wrath. Many of those Jesus died for still went to hell. The atonement made it possible for God to turn from His wrath, but until sinners turn from their sins God does not actually turn from His wrath. Those Jesus died for (all men) are under Gods wrath until they repent and believe.

 2009/9/25 10:12

Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


The Atonement does not actually save mankind; what saves man is the relationship with the Father through Christ because of the Atonement. The Atonement must be personally applied to each individual by the individuals themselves. Just as each household had to apply the blood to there own door post during the Passover (Exodus 12:7, 21), so we must apply Christ’s blood to our own lives in order to be saved. This is a fact, if not, if the Atonement actually does the saving of mankind, then even those who stay in rebellion would be forgiven.

Atonement is required for the reason of proving the true worth of God and His character while forgiving the offender of the crime against God. The atonement acknowledges the true value and worth of God by the One who is sacrificed on behalf of the guilty. God must sacrifice something just as valuable, if not greater in actual worth as the one who offended Him. The sacrifice must be of equal severity as to the offence of the crime committed. The punishment must fit the crime.

The only one able to atone for the damage that is done to His name must be equally great, not only in worth but in all aspects to God whom we offended (not just deemed as valuable as mankind is); The one who makes atonement can not be a mere mortal, for then he would only be able to atone for just one man (Gen 9:5-6, Exodus 21:12-14, Lev 24:17, Numbers 35:31, Deut 19:11-12). Furthermore, he must be eternal so that He may atone for all (Hebrews 9:14).
Therefore, it must be God Himself in the likeness of "sinful flesh" who must make atonement (Roman 8:3); for Jesus is the only one who has satisfied the Father, even until the cross, therefore, only He can satisfy Him on the cross.

The one being atoned for must change in order for him to be forgiven. He must first meet the set conditions in order for the atonement to be applied for the forgiveness; these requirements (or “set conditions”) are faith in what Christ has said & done and repentance to prove the faith to be real and genuine. This proves that the one being atoned for understands the true value of the one who is forgiving and that he can not take this whole thing lightly.
If one refuses to acknowledge the true value and worth of God and refuses to meet the set conditions in order to be forgiven; if he takes lightly all that God has said and done to forgive, he can not be forgiven.(Matthew 18:23-35, John 15:8)
The atonement is an influence on ones heart/soul. The selfless, loving sacrifice on our account is to break the heart of the sinner and cause him to acknowledge his sin and the judgment of his sin. A revelation of the suffering of Christ should break and subdue ones heart and bring him to complete surrender to God. The atonement should so affect our hearts that we turn from our disobedience in humble, sincere, and deep repentance, repenting out of a motive of love, remorse, and sincerity (1 John. 4:19). God is drawing all men to Himself through the atonement (John. 12:32), and it is His loving kindness which draws us (Jer.31:3; Rom. 2:4). The Atonement transforms and liberates through reciprocation, when men obey the gospel of Jesus Christ from the heart because God was loving them all along, from the beginning.

Substitutional Atonement satisfies the law &/or justice so that God is justified in forgiving those who put their faith in/on what Jesus has said & done.
However, there is no possible way that anyone to have a substitute for punishment of a crime such as murder in a moral government judicial system as we have in society; For example, a father could never take a son's place in his execution for murder. Furthermore, a King could never let a law breaker go free as in the case of Daniel and the lion's den. However, Jesus did take our place in judgment through His sacrifice that He might satisfy the law as our proxy. He could do this because sin is only against God personally and not against a moral governmental judicial system.
(Some, maybe all of this is from what truefaithsav has writen)

 2009/9/25 16:16Profile


Just as each household had to apply the blood to there own door post during the Passover

I would absolutely agree that there would have been no salvation for any Jewish household that Passover night without an application of the blood of the lamb, just as the Gospel is only the Power of God unto Salvation to those who believe. I agree. But, if you look at Exodus 12 carefully, you will see that the Word of Lord, (that Word of Salvation) was only given to God's chosen people, Israel. Egypt was not given the opportunity to apply the blood to their door posts, only Israel. No Egyptian heard God's voice; God's warning and promise. (through Moses). They were left to themselves.

God spoke in times past through the prophets (like Moses) but He speaks now through His Son, and those who are His sheep will hear His voice. They will hear , “repent and believe the Gospel” , and they will obey.

 2009/9/25 16:50


First, I would like to say that I think this thread is a very fruitful one. To me, any discussion that causes me to really dig and consider what I believe is good.

"Christ’s work on Calvary made atonement for every man, but it did not save any man....Universal atonement makes salvation universally available, but it does not make it universally effective toward the individual." A W Tozer

I have the book that this quote is from, Paths to Power, and I have read it many times. I like the book and I used to agree with Dr. Tozer concerning the atonement...

If we look at God's saving hand in the Old Testament; when He saved Israel. What we see is that God ACTUALLY SAVED Israel. When Israel was saved from their enemies, it was not a potential salvation. It was actual; they were not expelled from the land; their inheritance, and God’s salvation in the Old Testament is a type and a shadow of what He did at the Cross.

I mentioned this before, but look at David in his defeat of Goliath. Israel was about to be destroyed and lose their inheritance, but God raised up a man, from obscurity, whom He chose and anointed to save His people. David defeated Goliath. His victory was a vicarious victory for all of God's chosen people, Israel. He actually saved them. It was not a potential salvation. It was real and definite. In fact, if you consider the covenant that Israel had with God, He actually saved them from Himself. They were a disobedient people, and according to the covenant that the nation had with God, He should have let them be defeated and driven out of the land. But, He did not. He gave them a King....and that King saved them....

Look at Acts 13 and you will see that Paul says as much to the people in Pisidian Antioch

 2009/9/25 17:38

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California


But did Jesus think that His death only made salvation possible? He said that He was the Good Shepherd who would give His life for the sheep.

So from this can't we say that He Himself limited it to "the sheep"?

And to be fair, we can look at Isaiah 53 where is says, "all we like sheep have gone astray...", but to whom is Isaiah speaking to first and foremost? is it not the covenant people of God since he was addressing Israel?

So when Isaiah goes on to say, "and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all", is he not saying that the iniquity of all the covenant people of God(sheep) was put on Him(the Messiah)?

Just curious.

patrick heaviside

 2009/9/25 17:48Profile


Atonement + nothing = no salvation: we must repent and believe

Atonement + faith = no salvation: we must also repent.

Atonement + repentance + faith = salvation.

God only has mercy when the conditions of atonement, repentance, and faith are met.

The atonement has been made for all but not all are saved. Nobody is saved from God's wrath until they repent and believe, even though Jesus Christ already died for them.

Jesus died for me before I repented and believed. But I was not saved from God's wrath until I repented and believed.

 2009/9/25 18:33

Joined: 2005/1/14
Posts: 2164


Here is a question that I think may be pertinent.

Is the "moral law of God" something that God created or something that is innate in His being?

Did God create it because of His great wisdom or is it an essential part of His being, which in turn makes it eternal?

Josh Parsley

 2009/9/25 18:46Profile

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