Derek Rishmawy describes “the triune shape of the gospel,” correcting the idea that the Father had to be convinced by the Son to love us:
Many critics have rejected the atonement as the satisfaction of God’s justice and wrath because they’ve gotten the impression that somehow the picture is about a loving Jesus going to the cross in order to satisfy an angry Father who’s just out for blood. And even when it’s not explicitly taught this way, unless corrected, many people in the pews can get the impression that God somehow has to be convinced he ought to be merciful.
But this is not what we see in Scripture. Instead, we have a portrait of the triune God of holy love who purposes from all eternity to redeem sinners for himself, before it ever entered their minds to repent he looked to embrace us in Christ (Eph. 1:4-5; 1 Peter 1:20). God revealed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, cursing God with every breath, that the Son came to die for us (Romans 5:8). God doesn’t have to be convinced or persuaded to love us, nor does the Father need to be convinced by the Son.
Indeed, Jesus makes it clear that the Father loves the Son precisely because the Son goes willingly to lay down his life for the sheep just as the Father desires because of his great love for us (John 10:14-18). Hebrews makes clear that the Son does so in the power of the Spirit (Hebrews 9:14). This is the triune shape of the gospel: Father, Son, and Spirit beautifully and harmoniously accomplishing the salvation of sinners.
In that case, we have to understand that God is not moved from wrath to love because of the death of Christ. He is moved by love to satisfy his wrath (i.e. judicial opposition to sin) against us by removing our guilt and enmity through the blood of his cross. Whatever else our people understand, they must see that mercy and grace are God’s idea and accomplishment before it ever enters our minds, because God, by his very nature, is love.
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