When pastors preach more of a “be like Jesus message” instead of the “it is finished” Gospel, it is summed up by Frank A. James III:
Reading the Scriptures and gaining insight through a dialogue with history still does not address application to the individual Christian life. Apprehending the truth is not always the same thing as internalizing it. To fail to internalize the atonement in one’s own life, both behind and in front of the Sunday morning pulpit is to fail at a crucial point. If the atonement is rightly understood, it must have a practical and personal significance. Moreover, the atonement belongs in the evangelical pulpit, and if it is as valuable as we think it is, it must be preached in the church. We fundamentally agree that the aim of all theology is a changed life-or, as Martin Bucer, the Alsacian Reformer of the sixteenth century and John Calvin’s mentor, put it so well nearly five hundred years ago: “True theology is not theoretical or speculative, but active and practical. For it is directed toward … a godly life. … It is theology’s aim … that we shall ever more firmly trust in God and live a life that is increasingly holy and more serviceable in love toward our neighbor. Perhaps the reason the atonement has fallen on hard times is that most Christians have not understood well its meaning or its significance for their personal lives. Somehow we have lost the connection and interest in one of the basic questions for Christians-namely, why did Jesus have to die on the cross? Was it a defeat or a triumph? The editors believe that to understand the atonement is to gain a deeper understanding of Christ and his salvation and that such an understanding will enrich the Christian life immeasurably.*
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”(Ro 3:23–26). Soli Deo Gloria!
For His Glory,
*Charles E. Hill;Frank A. James III. The Glory of the Atonement: Biblical, Theological & Practical Perspectives (p. 17-18). Kindle Edition.