Theology Thursday: Atonement

By Randall Downs

Bible open in the sun

Atonement, which is found only in Christ Jesus, is pivotal to the Gospel message. Atonement refers to the life and death of Christ, which brought about restored relationship between God and mankind. The atoning work of Jesus Christ ushered the removal of separation between God and man for all who believe.

Importance to Us

We cannot understand the utmost importance of atonement if we do not have a biblical understanding of sin. Sin is not a mistake or an accident. Rather, sin is open rebellion against a holy and perfect God. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit, sin has plagued mankind. Our sinful natures insist that we know best for our lives and that we do not need God. Scripture tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23, NASB) and that our sins “have made a separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:2, NASB).

The atoning work of Christ highlights God’s great love for us. He was willing to bring us into right relationship with Himself, even though we were enemies by our own declaration and actions. The problem with the restoration of man is that God is both loving and just. Sin cannot go unpunished because of the just nature of God. However, because of God’s nature of love, His desire is to reconcile man to Himself.

This could not be done flippantly or without cost because that would undercut the justness of God. Rather, the debt of sin needed to be paid and mankind did not have the ability to pay it. Therefore, Jesus paid the cost of our sins through His perfect life and perfect sacrifice. The Word of God says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Imagine the pain and suffering that Jesus endured because of our sin, as He experienced beatings, mocking, crucifixion and the wrath of God. And He, being sinless, was the only one who did not deserve to endure these hardships.

Because Jesus’ sacrifice pleased God, as an atonement for sin, the Christian can rest assured that the separation between God and man is lifted for all who turn to Christ.

Daily Application

The veil in the temple tore in two after Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51). Man can now have intimate relationship with the Father. Not only do we know Him because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace” (Hebrews 4:16, NASB). God would have been justified in letting mankind die in their sins. However, because of His great love, grace and mercy, He offered atonement in Christ Jesus. When life seems frustrating, difficult and disheartening, remember that we are not alone. Because the separation has been removed, we have His Holy Spirit dwelling within us, strengthening, comforting and encouraging us in whatever we face.

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