The Atonement

 Bruce Demarest references Denney’s assertion that the Atonement is the unifying theme of the Old and New Testament Scriptures.[1] What exactly is the Atonement? Christ’s finished work on the cross, making amends for our salvation. The nature of the Atonement is the restoration of a right relationship between God and mankind through the life and death of the sacrificed Savior. Within this restoration, several key benefits are received by the believer.

Benefits of the Atonement

The first benefit received by the believer through the Atonement is penal satisfaction. Through Christ, the penalty due to us for sin was satisfied because it was placed upon him. As the apostle Peter relates in similar terms, “He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

Secondly, believers receive the benefit of a substitute sacrificed on their behalf. Paul profoundly sates God made Jesus “who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” with the result being imputed righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). In Galatians 3:13, he further upholds that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, becoming a curse for us.

Believers also receive the benefit of expiation, the removal of guilt. The Lord crushed Christ and his soul became an offering for our guilt (Isaiah 53:10). The author of Hebrews asserts Jesus put away sin by his sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26) and offered one sacrifice for sins for all time (Hebrews 10:12).

In addition, the gift of redemption is granted to believers in the Atonement. The psalmist predicts God’s future redemption of Israel’s iniquities before Christ (Psalm 130:8). Jesus himself refers to his life as a “ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). This “ransom” paid was the death of Christ and the redemption from sin and bondage to Satan occurred.

The fifth benefit of the Atonement is the propitiation of Christ on our behalf. John uses this very word in regards to Christ as the propitiation or substitute for our sins (1 John 2:2). Furthermore, he illustrates a divine display of love, God sending Jesus as our substitute for sin (1 John 4:10).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Atonement carries a final benefit of Christ providing reconciliation in order to bring mankind back into fellowship with God.[2] It was through Christ that God reconciled believers to himself and gives us the ministry of reconciliation as well (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).

[1] Bruce Demarest and John S. Feinberg, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2006), 147.

[2] Grudem, Systematic Theology, 580.

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