Shalom and Sacrifice

In my last post, I briefly referred to Graham Cole’s book ‘God the Peacemaker – How atonement brings shalom‘. This is a marvellous book which is filled with gemstones worth quoting. I plan to share a few over time but there is too much to cover it fully and I do highly recommend Graham’s book especially if you are studying or preaching about the cross of Christ.

I’ll start at the end – his closing summary where Graham answers the implicit question in his book: how does atonement bring shalom?

“Atonement brings shalom by defeating the enemies of peace, overcoming the barriers to reconciliation and to the restoration of creation. This is God the peacemaker’s mission.”

Graham goes on to sum up his book’s argument which incorporates both penal substitution and the Christus Victor motif as vital for understanding God’s atoning work. (In passing, I note that Michael Bird had a similar line in his book ‘Evangelical Theology’.) Cole then underlines the critical place of faith being worked out through love (Galatians 5:6).

After which he writes: “There is no shalom, however, without sacrifice. Peace is made through the blood of the cross. The atoning life, death and vindication of the faithful Son bring shalom by addressing the problem of sin, death the devil and wrath definitively. Sacrifice, satisfaction, substitution and victory are key terms for understanding God’s atoning project in general and the cross in particular.” This he refers to as the ‘broad and narrow’ ideas of the atonement which are essential for understanding the bible story. (See pages 24-25 and p 117 for his ‘broad and narrow’ discussion.)

“The broad notion should humble us at the thought of a righteous God of holy loving purpose who, in love, has never abandoned his wayward creatures but in a plan of rescue has begun to reclaim the created order and will in the end restore creation to himself and to his glory. Love is the motive, glory the goal. The narrow one brings us to Christ and his cross. He is the linchpin of the plan. We are bright to a real Christ, to a real cross, to a real cost. We are indeed brought to a person whose

‘Love so amazing, so divine

Demands [rightly] my soul, my life, my all’ as Isaac Watts taught the church.” (p 229-30).

Graham interacts with two of his former colleagues, Graham Goldsworthy and Bill Dumbrell, who also taught at Moore Theological College. I’ll be quoting Bill next post, but here are a couple of expansions that Cole makes:

God’s project will “see God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule living God’s way enjoying shalom in God’s holy and loving presence to God’s glory.” (p 230 expanding Goldsworthy’s line).

And Graham’s final footnote has this little gem:

“Biblical theology works with the whole canon and does so with a sensitivity to its storyline. In the light of it, an old evangelical adage needs expansion. Ruin through Adam, redemption through Christ and regeneration through the Spirit (the three R’s of redemption) needs expansion to become ruin through Adam, redemption through Christ, regeneration through the Spirit and restoration of creation through the triune God.” (p 231).

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