Monday, April 19, 2010

O Sweetest Exchange!


A little over a year and a half ago I came across a wonderful section of Calvin's Institutes where he talks about a "wonderful exchange." I liked it so much I quoted it on my blog here. Then a little over a year later I found a quote from Luther where he also wrote of a wonderful exchange. So when I came across a similar writing from a much earlier source I wanted to quote it here also. I saw the quote from this ancient writing over on Justin Taylor's great blog and realized that years ago I had purchased a copy of this same text. It's from the Epistle to Diognetus, a very early Christian writing most likely from sometime during the 2nd Century. The version I own is a slightly different translation from the one quoted by Justin Taylor. The author of the epistle writes:
And when the cup of our iniquities was filled, and it had become perfectly clear that their wages - the punishment of death - had to be expected, then the season arrived during which God had determined to reveal henceforth His goodness and power. O the surpassing kindness and love of God for man! No, He did not hate us, or discard us, or remember our wrongs; He exercised forbearance and long-suffering! In mercy, of His own accord, He lifted the burden of our sins! Of His own accord He gave up His own Son as a ransom for us - the Saint for sinners, the Guiltless for the guilty, the Innocent for the wicked, the Incorruptible for the corruptible, the Immortal for the mortal! Indeed, what else could have covered our sins but His holiness? In whom could we, the lawless and impious, be sanctified but in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable accomplishment! O unexpected blessings - the sinfulness of many is buried in One who is holy, the holiness of One sanctifies the many who are sinners!

- The Epistle to Diognetus 9:2-5


7 comments:

Anonymous said...

"He became sin, who knew no sin" (II Corinthians 5:21), became a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53:3), that we may be joyful and new creatures in Him. "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5) It is indeed the sweetest exchange...blessed be HIS name!!!

Matt, each time I read your blog I feel renewed and uplifted once again, thank you.
~A.J.

Matt Perkins said...

Thanks for the encouragement A.J. To God be the glory!

P.S. I was actually thinking of quoting 2 Corinthians 5:21 on a blog post as one of the clearest examples of the "Wonderful Exchange" in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Very poetic, Matt~

I suppose the only question is:

"What took so long?"

Why didn't the atonement occur immediately the fall?

And what happened to all the Jews who lived before the atonement?
(I always thought it confusing that Virgil could guide Dante through purgatory, since Pagans are confined to the first circle of hell.)

I hope you are having a good week,

Scarlet Pimpernel

Matt Perkins said...

Well, S.P., I suppose I can see how those things you brought up might seem problematic from the human perspective. As to your first question "What took so long?" I think a better question would be why did the atonement happen at all? Why did the perfect, sinless, completely worthy of all honor and praise Son of God allow Himself to be dishonored and violently murdered for the likes of depraved, filthy sinners? That's the question I would ask, not "what took so long?" as if we were entitled to something from God. I feel like that question presumes upon God's mercy.

But if the question is why did God display His mercy and love in the life of Christ in a particular place and time - I don't know the answer. But I'm willing to trust God with His choice of place and time.

And when it comes to the Jews who lived before Christ's earthly life, death and resurrection I think this is where it is important to remember that God is above time, He is outside of time. A verse came to mind which in your favored translation (KJV) reads, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8)" The NIV translates it as "... the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." But a version that I trust more, the ESV, reads, "and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain." I don't know which translation is more faithful but either way it conveys the idea that Christ's sacrifice is applied to those who are saved from "the foundation of the world." So all the Jews who lived before Christ and were saved were saved by Christ's sacrifice and God's sovereign grace, not by any work of their own although works could have been evidence of that salvation. So although Christ's life, death and resurrection most certainly happened in time, his merits and righteousness can be applied by God's grace to sinners who lived at any time in the history of the world.

Anonymous said...

Hi Matt,

Happy Earth Day!

In all that I have learned from your blog, the lesson that strikes me the hardest is that I apparently do not convey well what I intend to say. At all. This is increasingly humbling to me as you never respond the way I think you will. Looks like Psalms 81:10 doesn't apply to blogging;)

Moving on.

Did I really say that the KJV was my favorite translation? I recall just saying it was the one I was most familiar with. And when I asked you for some guidance in choosing a more correct translation, you appeared to shrug this off with "I'm not a big stickler for one translation being the best....none of these variations have any impact on any of the central or even more peripheral doctrines of Christianity."
And yet here you are calling the ESV "A version I trust more"!

You're killing me, Smalls.

I'll download the ESV to my Nook right away.

If I had a Nook:)


SP

Matt Perkins said...

Hey SP,
You're right that I'm not a big stickler for translations unless it's a really bad one. But as far as I know most of the popular ones aren't too bad like NIV, NLT, etc. I do like the ESV best because so many theologians who know much more about Hebrew and Greek than I do have given it very high marks. But I certainly don't look down on people who use a different translation for the most part.
Matt

Anonymous said...

Matt,
I think that's a great idea...it IS indeed one of the clearest examples of the "Wonderful Exchange." It is just amazing that He'd do that, become sin for us, "that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him"...wow, I am struck again and again how absolutely wonderful, merciful, loving, giving,EVERYTHING God is to us-undeserving, sinful, wretched creatures that we are!!!
~A.J.