God Is Not Accountable to Something Else

Posted: September 21, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real

As we’re thinking this week about why a sacrifice was necessary for our sins, here’s a bit of a blog post by Tim Challies with a quote from John Stott to remind us of something important:

[In The Cross of Christ,] Stott looks at “five ways in which theologians have expressed their sense of what is necessary before God is able to forgive sinners. One speaks of the overthrow of the devil by ‘satisfying’ his demands, others of ‘satisfying’ God’s law, honor or justice, and the last of ‘satisfying the moral order of the world.’ In differing degrees all these formulations are true.” But there is something that we need to be careful to avoid.

The limitation they share is that, unless they are very carefully stated, they represent God as being subordinate to something outside and above himself which controls his actions, to which he is accountable, and from which he cannot free himself. Satisfaction is an appropriate word, providing we realize that it is he himself in his inner being who needs to be satisfied, and not something external to himself. Talk of law, honor, justice, and the moral order is true only in so far as these are seen as expressions of God’s own character. Atonement is a ‘necessity’ because it ‘arises from within God himself.’

He means to emphasize God’s self-consistency to show that there is nothing outside of God that demands satisfaction. It is not like the devil demanded of God a kind of satisfaction or that the moral order demanded a kind of satisfaction that God himself did not. Rather, God must judge sinners in order to remain true to himself.

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