In this book Jeremy Treat does what it seems few are interested in doing these days: he gets rid of the binary and focuses our eyes to the messy reality of “both/and.” Over the course of about 300 pages (and some change), he shows us how theology (biblical and systematic) and the two dominant motifs of the atonement (penal substitution and Christus Victor) should not be understood as sides we must choose, but tools and truths (respectively) that explain the ultimate reality of the way in which God is advancing his kingdom.
Although this book was written before Jeremy was a full-time preacher, you can see the gift in his writing. He’s skilled at taking very complex truths and enabling lay-people (like me) to understand it. Further, he’s very good at turning a phrase so that the truth communicated becomes memorable. Both of these are best friends to a preacher.
The following is a list of 20 of my favorite quotes from the book. Enjoy!
1. Page 34-35
Biblical and systematic theology, therefore, both draw from Scripture and seek to understand its unity, albeit in different ways. Biblical theology emphasizes the unity of Scripture through the unfolding history of redemption or, in literary terms, the development of the plot in its story line. Systematic theology seeks to understand the unity of Scripture through the logic of its theology and the way in which individual doctrines fit together as a coherent whole.
2. Page 41
The kingdom of God is first and foremost a statement about God — who he is (king) and what he does (reign).
3. Page 45
The kingdom entails God’s deliverance from foreign oppressors and for the realm of God’s new creation.
4. Page 53
The kingdom is telic — oriented to the end-time hope that God will put all things right by reigning on earth as he does in heaven. The cross is central, in that all history moves toward it and unfolds from it.
5. Page 54
From the bruised heel of Genesis (3:15) to the reigning lamb of Revelation (22:1), the Bible is a redemptive story of a crucified Messiah who will accomplish a royal victory through atoning suffering.
6. Page 65
The only hope for Isaiah before the holy king is that his sins would somehow be atoned for and his guilt taken away, which is exactly what happens by the grace of God (6:7). Isaiah’s encounter with God demonstrates, as does the role of the temple in General, that to be under the saving rule of God, one must have their sins atoned for. Atonement and kingdom are inseparable.
7. Page 90
The baptism of Jesus is pivotal in Mark because it looks back to the Old Testament to describe Jesus’ mission and forward to the cross as its climax. Within Mark’s gospel itself, the baptism (Mark 1:9-11) forms and inclusio with the crucifixion (15:37-39). In the baptism, the heavens are torn, a voice comes from heaven, and Jesus is declared to be the Son of God (1:9-11). In the crucifixion, a cry is voiced from the cross, the curtain is torn, and Jesus is declared to be the Son of God (15:37-39). For Mark, Jesus’ anointing at his baptism anticipates the climactic event of his enthronement on the cross.
8. Page 97
Whereas the divine plan has been revealed as the kingdom by way of the cross, Satan’s counterplan is also revealed: the kingdom without a cross.
9. Page 104
Jesus uniquely combines the events of Passover and covenant-sealing in himself, interpreting his death as redemption from sin and for a new covenant with the king.
10. Page 107
Jesus reveals his kingship not by coming down from the cross to save himself, but by staying on the cross to save others. Jesus reigns by saving, and he saves by giving his life.
11. Page 131
The forgiveness of the kingdom comes at the cost of the king.
12. Page 136
In other words, the cross is not only the end of one age, but is itself the very transition to another.
13. Page 141-142
Jesus does not stop reigning in order to serve. Rather, he reigns by serving.
14. Page 160
While in the Roman world, the cross was an instrument of same and humiliation, Jesus declared it to be his glorious exaltation.
15. Page 173
The cross is neither the failure of Jesus’ messianic ministry nor simply the prelude to his royal glory, but the apex of his kingdom mission — the throne from which he rules and establishes his kingdom.
16. Page 176
Augustine’s notion of inseparable operation (opera Trinitatis ad extra indivisia sunt) is helpful, for though one can distinguish between the acts of Father, Son, and Spirit in the event of the cross, atonement is ultimately the work of the one God.
17. Page 185
The atoning work of Christ is grand and glorious; its accomplishment is as wide-reaching as the sin to which it provides a remedy.
18. Page 197
Adam, who had been created in the image of God to rule over every beast of the earth (1:26, 28), had failed at his task and was now ruled by the craftiest of all the beasts.
19. Page 209
Satan is the serpent-king who rules through temptation, deception, and accusation — resulting in death. Jesus is the servant-king who rules through obedience, truth, and suffering — resulting in life.
20. Page 223
Conceptually, penal substitution addresses the “how” of the atonement and Christus Victor addresses its effects on Satan, demons, and death — both within the broader aim of reconciliation for the glory of God.
Christus Victor alone implies that humans are merely victims of Satan who must be rescued from the problem rather than sinners who are part of the problem. But even with Satan defeated and shackles broken, only those whose penalty has been paid can enter the kingdom of God as citizens.
He rules through serving and guarding. He exercises power through weakness and strength. The coming of his kingdom entails salvation and judgement. God is the compassionate and just king.
God’s kingdom was present in Jesus’ life, proclaimed in his preaching, glimpsed in his miracles/exorcisms, established by his death, and inaugurated through the resurrection. It is now being advanced by the Holy Spirit and will be consummated in Christ’s return.
Jesus comes as the last Adam, the faithful servant-king who not only fulfills Adam’s commission of ruling over the earth but removes the curse by taking it onto himself. As Jesus wore the crown of thorns, he bore the curse of God…The thorns, which were a sign of the curse and defeat of Adam, are paradoxically transformed into a sign of the kingship and victory of Jesus.