Monday, April 6, 2009

Do we really understand the Atonement? - Part 1

I figured that I would write something on the Atonement, considering Resurrection Sunday is next week and Palm Sunday just passed. The main question i want to answer and ask is, "Do we really understand what Jesus did on the cross?" This might sound basic to some and some may even read over this and skim through this because it may seem so basic...In this day we take on this attitude that says that "Im past the cross, and Im moving on to bigger and better things in God...the cross is elementary". Now, while many don't say these words with their lips, the fruit of their Christianity corresponds with this statement. The cross is not some "one-time" historical act that we honor and remember annualy like we do Lincoln's Birthday or something. It is so much more than that.We need to keep the cross before our eyes at ALL times. We live in a day where people are after "signs, wonders, and levels and "greater heights in God"...but many dont even understand or are even moved by what Christ did on the cross in saving a people. To many,Christ's death is a one time event that gets you in the kingdom. Sure, we see the TV specials on Easter; we might see a few films on the life of Jesus...and Im sure we will all be breaking out our copies of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", popping them into our DVD players and reliving the crucuifixion experience of Christ all over again. But is this the only time we really even consider the cross? Is this the only time we sit and think about the Glory of Christ in saving sinners? Next week, millions of people will dress up in bright colored suits, wear beautiful flowers and all pile into well- lit churches and cathedrals with exciting music, moving easter presentations and sweet uplifting sermons....all in the name of Christ...and thats great!!...but how many of us have really grasped Who He is and what He did on that day 2000 plus years ago?

God's sending of His Son is the greatest manifestation and demonstration of His glory, namely, the glory of His grace, that has ever been shown and will ever be shown throughout all the ages ( John 1:14 ) . When the Rock Solid Justice of God could have wiped out sinful, God-hating mankind, the millisecond after Adam and Eve bit into the forbidden fruit, God, because He is the essence of love (1 John 4:8), chose to display His glory and demonstrate His love in sending His only- begotten Son to this infinitely small world (in comparison to the entire universe) to save a people for Himself that He had chosen from the foundation of the world (Romans 5:8 ). And what the devil meant for evil in deceiving Adam and Eve, God had already designed it for good, foreordaining Christ to die for His sheep from the foundation of the world ( 1 Peter 1:18-20 )
Because men were enemies of God, sinners, and wicked, we deserved the burning hot, incomprehensible, fiery wrath of God. His fury was twoards us because we walked contrary twoards Him. His wrath is infathomable; He held us in His his hands looking upon us in anger...holding us over the blast furnace of hell, like one holds a spider by one of its tiny limbs. His weapons were aimed at us, His arrows were sharpened and His sword was pointed to destroy ( Psalms 7:11-13 ) ...because we trampled His glory underfoot, and when we knew God in our inner consciences, we rejected Him and were unthankful, not giving Him glory. (Romans 1:21)
God was just in condemning us. He would be going against His infinitely valuable glory and righteousness if He just forgave sinners without executing punishment for their crimes. Proverbs 17:15 says " He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD." Seeing this verse, it creates a great dilemma for us. God could not justify the wicked and uphold the inifinite worth of His glory and righteousness. He would be just in punishing us , because we deserved His wrath. But God treated mankind and His chosen people much better than they deserved. He let the sun rise on the kingdoms that rejected Him and He gave breath to those who fought against Him . In Israel's sacrifices unto God, and in all the burnt offerings, God passed over and atoned for the sins of the people...but this wasnt enough.Hebrews 10:4 says "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins" price had been paid and no punishment had been executed for mankind's trampling of God's glory . Justice must be satisfied and someone had to pay. Someone had to bear God's wrath! ( 1 John 4:10 ; Romans 3:23-26 )

Romans 3:23-26

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

More to come...

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