The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 8: Of Christ the Mediator - Commentary

...verses against the doctrine of Definite Atonement, give an interpretation consistent with Definite Atonement and show some problems if these passages speak actually of humans, world, or all without exception. We’ve already dealt with Romans 5:18-19 (see) and 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (see) above, so there is no need of repeating ourselves.

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who Takes Away The Sin Of The World

This verse is used to prove that the Lamb of God died for every single human being. Is that what is being said by John the Baptist? If this is what is being said then the only option available is Universalism, which is not biblical and which Arminians do not accept. Why do I say that? It is because of the way that the work of the Lamb for the “world” is described. He is to take away its sin. How does the Lord Christ do that for every single human being? The expected answer is that for this to be effected we must believe, that is well and true (John 1:11-12). As Calvinists, we believe that both faith and repentance, the conditions of salvation, are granted to us by God based on Christ’s atoning death (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; see here). Unbelief is a sin and that is certainly a sin for which Christ died (John 16:8-9; Heb. 3:12; Rev. 21:8). But if Christ takes away the sin of every single human being, then that should mean that everyone’s sins have been forgiven and therefore, Hell should be empty. But that is not usually what our Arminian brethren believe. We go back to Owen’s argument (see here). If unbelief a sin did Christ die for it or not? How has Christ according to Arminians taken away the sin of the world? Is this something that is a possibility based on conditions dependent on man? That does not seem to be what John the Baptist is saying. He says straightforwardly that He is to take away the sin of the world. He will not try, but He certainly will do. This is the purpose of His coming in the flesh. 1 John 3:5 uses a similar expression.

Now we are left with a problem if we understand the word world to mean all people without exception because that would lead to Universalism, which is contrary to Scripture by the fact that there still remains punishment for sin (e.g., Matt. 3:12; 25:46; Dan. 12:2; Jude 1:12-13; Rev. 14:11). It is unreasonable to think that the word means everyone without exception here. It simply means humanity in general, which in Jewish thought was composed of Jews and Gentiles. This is relevant to the situation as the Jews thought that the Messiah was Israel’s Messiah alone and that He would come for her alone, not for the nations. Therefore John, by using the word “world,” goes against their idea of Jewish exclusivity. What John is saying is thus that Christ, the Lamb of God foretold (Gen. 22:14) and typified through the sacrifice, is not only the atoning sacrifice for Jews, but also for Gentiles. He is the atoning sacrifice for the whole world. There is no reason to think that the extent of the atonement is to all people everywhere without exception when the purpose of the atonement is limited in scope.

It is perfectly fine to say that the Lord Christ died for the whole world if by that we mean that He is the only atoning sacrifice available and He died for people from everywhere under heaven. Check our comments on Revelation 5:9 above. In Revelation 5:9, the habitable world is described in terms of tribes, peoples, langu...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

.... There are no longer clean and unclean animals because Christ declared all foods clean (Mark. 7:19). There is no longer a need for purity laws because we are made clean by the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:22; Rev. 7:14). All these laws pointed to Christ. Believers under the Old Covenant knew that sacrifices were not the way to God, but rather obedience and faith (e.g., Abraham in Gen. 15:6 and Gen. 22:14; or David in Ps. 51:16-17 and Ps. 32:1-2). They who truly knew God under the Old Testament knew that there was no atonement in the offerings, rather, these merely covered but did not do away with sin. They looked through these sacrifices to the ultimate sacrifice, to the “Lamb of God who Takes Away The Sin Of The World!” (John 1:29).

The tabernacle and the temple pointed to Christ. He Himself claimed to be the temple (John 2:19-22) and His people have become the true Temple wherein His Spirit dwells (e.g., 2 Cor. 6:16). There is no longer a need to look toward Jerusalem or go to Jerusalem, for our Lord said that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). A spirit is not limited to space and matter but is everywhere. No longer will God manifest His presence in a special way at a particular place on the earth, because His people are spread throughout the face of the earth. The writer of Hebrews claims that “They serve[d] a copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Heb. 8:5). The feasts which the people of Israel celebrated are no longer need because they were shadows and are fulfilled in Christ (Col 2:16-17), Who is the true and real substance and the fulfillment which they shadowed.

The Abrogation Of The Ceremonial Law

I refer you to the brief discussion about Ephesians 2:14-16 and the abrogation of that which set Israel apart—the ceremonial law, above.

In Hebrews 10:1, we read:

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

The term “law” here specifically refers to the ceremonial law concerning the priesthood and sacrifices, for that is what the author is speaking about. The previous mention of “law” is in Hebrews 9:22 and it speaks about the need for purifying everything by blood. That is ceremonial and not moral. In Hebrews 10:8, the Author quotes Psalm 40:7 and speaks about offerings which “are offered according to the law”. All these things make it clear that Christ does away with the ceremonial law because it is weak and it is now fulfilled in Him. What shadow does “thou shalt not murder” or “thou shalt have no other gods before me” have? None. Now that the reality has come, there is no longer need for shadows.

In Hebrews 10:5-9, Christ does and establishes the will of God, by doing away with the ceremonial law. He does away with “Sacrifices and offerings”, and establishes God’s moral will for Him, that He become a sacrifice for His people and therefore the fulfillment of all those things which He did away with to establish this will of God concerning Him.

Colossians 2:14, 16-17

Colossians 2 is also a major text to this effect, although it is often used to claim that the Sabbath day is here abrogated. We beg to differ.

Col. 2:14-17 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and pu...

1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 7: Of God's Covenant - Commentary

... among the people of God that God will provide a lamb:

Gen. 22:14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

Atonement for the sins of God’s people will certainly be provided for. Among other things, this promise might have run through John the Baptist’s head when he said the following:

John 1:29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who Takes Away The Sin Of The World!

God has indeed provided His own Lamb: His beloved and only Son Who was to take the sins of man upon Himself on that judgment tree and bear the full wrath of God for the people of God. He is a pure lamb without blemish Whose blood was shed for our sake (1 Pet 1:18-19).

The Land

In the New Testament, the promise concerning the land is expanded. The Lord does not bother Himself with a little land in the Middle East, but rather, as Paul says, He wants the whole world!

Rom. 4:13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

God wants the people of God to inherit the whole earth, not only a portion of land in the Middle East. The whole earth is the Lord’s and the meek shall surely inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). This becomes important when we clear up people’s ideas about the afterlife. Oftentimes we think when we die we go to Heaven and stay there for eternity. That is not true. Heaven is not our eternal resting place, rather, the earth is our eternal resting place. When the Lord Jesus shall come in glory, He will resurrect the righteous and wicked and judge them. Afterward, He will make all things new and He will reign with us in and over the New Heavens and the New Earth (e.g., Rev. 21-22). We are in agreement with the great expositor John Gill on this point:

...But rather, by “the world” here, is meant, both this world and that which is to come; Abraham and all believers are the “heirs” of this world, and of all things in it; “all things” are theirs, and, among the rest, the world, Christ being theirs, and they being Christ’s; he is heir of all things, and they are joint heirs with him; and how little soever they may enjoy of it now, the time is coming, when they, by virtue of their right, “shall inherit the earth”; see Ps37:9; and now they have as much of it as is necessary, and with a blessing, and which the Jews call their “world”....And as he and all the saints are heirs of this world, so of the world to come, the future salvation, the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, never fading, and reserved in the heavens; for they are heirs of God himself, and shall inherit all things: now this large and comprehensive promise, which takes in the things of time and eternity,...[41]

Thus, certainly, according to the promise of Almighty God, the saints will inherit the world. As it is in Revelation 11:

Rev. 11:15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

World without end, amen!

Circumcision of the Heart

The Jews boasted of the fact that they had circumcision and that they were the covenant people of God. Circumcision was the condition for the entrance to the covenant. Anyone who was not circumcised was cut off from the community and coven...

John 1:29, 'takes away the sin of the world'

... propitiation, whose blood continually speaks. [2.] To the paschal lamb, the blood of which, being sprinkled upon the door-posts, secured the Israelites from the stroke of the destroying angel. Christ is our passover, 1 Cor. v. 7. He is the Lamb of God; he is appointed by him (Rom. iii. 25), he was devoted to him (ch. xvii. 19), and he was accepted with him; in him he was well pleased. The lot which fell on the goat that was to be offered for a sin-offering was called the Lord's lot (Lev 16:8; Lev 16:9); so Christ, who was to make atonement for sin, is called the Lamb of God.
  • (2.) That Jesus Christ, as the Lamb of God, Takes Away The Sin Of The World. This was his undertaking; he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. John Baptist had called people to repent of their sins, in order to the remission of them. Now here he shows how and by whom that remission was to be expected, what ground of hope we have that our sins shall be pardoned upon our repentance, though our repentance makes no satisfaction for them. This ground of hope we have--Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God. [1.] He takes away sin. He, being Mediator between God and man, takes away that which is, above any thing, offensive to the holiness of God, and destructive to the happiness of man. He came, First, To take away the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, to vacate the judgment, and reverse the attainder, which mankind lay under, by an act of indemnity, of which all penitent obedient believers may claim the benefit. Secondly, To take away the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace, so that it shall not have dominion, Rom. vi. 14. Christ, as the Lamb of God, washes us from our sins in his own blood; that is, he both justifies and sanctifies us: he takes away sin. He is ho airon --he is taking away the sin of the world, which denotes it not a single but a continued act; it is his constant work and office to take away sin, which is such a work of time that it will never be completed till time shall be no more. He is always taking away sin, by the continual intercession of his blood in heaven, and the continual influence of his grace on earth. [2.] He takes away the sin of the world; purchases pardon for all those that repent, and believe the gospel, of what country, nation, or language, soever they be. The legal sacrifices had reference only to the sins of Israel, to make atonement for them; but the Lamb of God was offered to be a propitiation for the sin of the whole world; see 1 John ii. 2. This is encouraging to our faith; if Christ Takes Away The Sin Of The World, then why not my sin? Christ levelled his force at the main body of sin's army, struck at the root, and aimed at the overthrow, of that wickedness which the whole world lay in. God was in him reconciling the world to himself. [3.] He does this by taking it upon himself. He is the Lamb of God, that bears the sin of the world; so the margin reads it. He bore sin for us, and so bears it from us; he bore the sin of many, as the scape-goat had the sins of Israel put upon his head, Lev. xvi. 21. God could have taken away the sin by taking away the sinner, as he took away the sin of the old world; but he has found out a way of abolishing the sin, and yet sparing the sinner, by making his Son sin for us.
    • (3.) That it is our duty, with an eye of faith, to behold the Lamb of God thus taking away the sin of the world. See him taking away sin, and let that increase our hatred of s...