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The Person and Work of Christ - Atonement Print E-mail
The Person and Work of Christ

I.  Introduction:

As we discussed last week, Jesus was completely obedient to the will of the Father. Paul tells us that Christ was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Christ, in obedience to the Father, willingly gave His life at Calvary. Tonight, we want to talk about His crucifixion, His work of atonement, or paying for our sins. The question that we are trying to answer is this: what did Jesus accomplish at the cross? Letís begin by looking at the Baptist Faith and Message.

II. Baptist Faith and Message:

After speaking of Christís incarnation and His obedience to the Father, the Baptist Faith and message affirms: Ďin His (Christís) substitutionary death on the cross He made provision for the redemption of men from sin.í It uses the language of substitution to speak of Christís death, a point we will return to, and makes it clear that He died to redeem sinful men.

III. Passages:

A. Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12 Isaiah makes it clear the coming Messiah will suffer for the sins of Godís people. He will bear their iniquities and be wounded for their transgressions. He will offer himself as a payment for our sins and through this offering will make many to be accounted righteous. He will make intercession on behalf of the transgressors. This is what Christ has done at the cross.

B. Mark 10:45, 14:34-36, 15:34 Jesus knew that He had come to die and He knew that the purpose behind that death was to give his life as a ransom for many. He also knew the cost of our forgiveness. He knew that He would have to bear the weight of His Fatherís wrath at the cross, and such a thought caused Him to say to His disciples in Gethsemane: My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. We see the climax of this when He cries from the cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus knowingly drank down the cup of Godís wrath against our sin so that He might pay our ransom and redeem sinful men.

C. Romans 3:21-26, 5:6-11 Paul spends the first couple chapters of Romans telling us that we are all guilty before the Lord and that none of us are without excuse. The problem is that none of us are righteous before God because of our sin. In 3:21- 26 he tells us the glorious good news that we can be righteous through faith in Christ. Our sins can be justly forgiven because Christ bore Godís wrath (propitiation) in our place. The penalty that was due to us because of our sin, namely Godís wrath, was paid for by Christ as our substitute. Paul makes it clear in 5:9 that Christ has indeed saved us from the wrath to come.

D. Hebrews 2:14-18, 7:27, 9:13-14, 24-28 The author of Hebrews also uses the language of propitiation in describing what Christ did for us at the cross. We also see the repeated comparison between the work of the priests under the old covenant and the work of Christ. He did not offer sacrifices for His sins because none was needed. Likewise, He did not offer bulls and goats. The offering He made was Himself, once for all. He did all of this to bear the sins of many, just as Isaiah spoke of many years before.

E. 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18 Peter speaks of Christ bearing the weight of our sin at the cross. He died for our sins that we might live to righteousness and be reconciled to God.

F. 1 John 2:2, 4:10 Once again we see that Christ is the propitiation for our sins and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

IV. Implications (or What did Jesusí death accomplish?):

A. Through His crucifixion, Jesus took the penalty of our sins and bore the wrath of God in our place. This view of the atonement is often called Ďpenal substitutionary atonement.í Again, He took the penalty of our sins and was our substitute at the cross. Other views have been offered, but this one fits closest with the teaching of the New Testament concerning the death of Christ. Some argue against this view because they conclude that since God is loving, He could not pour out His wrath on His Son. But as we saw in our study of the doctrine of God, building arguments based around only one of Godís attributes can lead to faulty conclusions, which is what happens here. Yes, God is loving, but He is also holy and just. His holiness demands that the penalty be paid for sins, lest He forgive us unjustly. Because He loves us, His plan included Christ paying for our sins in our place at the cross. More could be said here, but I hope you see why the objections to penal substitution are not valid (or biblical).

B. Through His crucifixion, Jesus made provision for the sins of the world, but His atonement will only be applied to those who repent and believe in Him. These points have been heatedly debated throughout Church History, so I want to briefly state my opinion at this point. Following men like Bruce Ware and Bruce Demarest, it seems that the best way to speak of the extent of Christís atonement is to say that He actually paid the penalty of sins for the whole world (1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 4:10), but only those who repent and believe (or the elect) will receive the benefits of that payment. He paid for the forgiveness of all and He secured the forgiveness of His own. Thus, again, the provision was for all, but the application is limited to those who repent and believe. 1

V. Conclusion:

Obviously when we are talking about the atonement of Christ, we are speaking of the heart of the gospel. The good news is that He has taken our place. He has paid the price for our redemption. He has satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. The only response to such glorious news is to fall at the Saviorís feet and freely commit ourselves to His service. It is not news that we should keep to ourselves. It is not news that we should be quiet about. No, we should run, not walk, to a lost and dying world and tell them that their sins have been paid for by Christ. We should call them to repent and believe in His work of atonement. We should call them to join the happy throng of those whose sins have been forgiven for their great good and His great glory. Amen.

1 Bruce Wareís view can be found here; Bruce Demarestís is found in The Cross and Salvation (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1997), p. 189-93.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 27 November 2008 )

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