The atonement is a terrible, beautiful, amazing thing. As Wayne Grudem defines it: “The atonement is the work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.” He came from heaven and humbled Himself so low as to become a man. That in and of itself is an amazing miracle. One of which it’s hard for me to understand. Starting from the moment He came into this earth when Mary bore Him to when He ascended into the heavens, He lived a perfectly sinless and righteous life.
Why did Jesus Christ have to come down to the earth and die anyway? First because of God’s love for us. In John 3:16 it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Since God is love He sent Jesus to the earth to die for us so that we could have a way (the only way) to heaven. Not only is it God’s love that He sent His only Son to die a horrible death on earth, but also His justice. He, being a perfectly just God, had to pour out His wrath on our sins. Paul says it was, “to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over former sins”( Romans 3:25). So when Jesus Christ died on the cross He carried all our sins upon Himself and God’s wrath was poured out on Him.
Some may ask “ Couldn’t there have been another way besides the atonement to save us?” But let us consider what Wayne Grudem has to say: “Before answering this question, it is important to realize that it was not necessary for God to save any people at all. When we appreciate that ‘God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into nether gloom to be kept until the Judgment’(1Peter 2:4), then we realize that God also could have chosen with perfect justice to have left us in our sins awaiting Judgment. He could have chosen to save no one, just as He did with the sinful angels. So in this sense the atonement was not absolutely necessary.”
But since God did decide to save us then there was no other way than by sending His Son. “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as You will” (Matthew 26:29). Also in Luke24:25-26 when Jesus is talking to the two on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Bruce Wares says, “ When Jesus cried out to His Father, weeping in agony, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me”( Matthew 26:39), can you imagine the Father turning down His Son’s earnest request if there really were another way? The only reason we can possibly understand that ‘it was the will of Lord to crush Him [Christ]’ (Isaiah 53:10) is that through the shed of blood of His only Son, and only in this way, could forgiveness of our sins and our full salvation accomplished.” The Old Testament sacrifices are not sufficient to save us all from our sins. Christ Jesus our Lord was the perfect sacrifice and no other way will or would suffice.
There is so much Scriptural evidence on the atonement. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Here it says outright that God sent Jesus into the world. Romans 3:21-26:But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” NKJV. We all have sinned but Jesus will redeem those who have put their faith in Him, Christ righteous showing through them. (Matt 7:16-20: “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”). “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30 KJV).
This doctrine is meaningful to me because it has brought me from death to life in Christ changing me totally. Also it is what this life is all about. My job needs to be sharing this splendid message, the Gospel, with everyone I see. Not only do I need to share it with others, but I myself need to ponder on it, savor it, and thank God for providing a way of salvation for us instead of sending us all to hell to spend eternity there where there will be a never ending supply of weeping, suffering, and gnashing of teeth. By living your life with Jesus, by accepting His gift of Salvation and holding Him as Lord over your life you will experience true happiness even in sufferings.
In conclusion I thank God for His wonderful gift of Salvation. Here are more passages on the atonement:
Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
1 John 4:7-11
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.