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"We also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (Rom. 5:11)
ATONEMENT BRINGS JOY:
Knowing about and being the subject of the atoning work of God, in and through Jesus Christ our Lord, is an occasion for great joy. The doctrine of the Atonement should not be selected as an occasion for wrangling and strife which, sadly, it has been down through the ages. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). So, with the deep (or high!) and difficult principles of the Atonement, as with all the things of God, we must humble ourselves and be teachable. Otherwise we just will not understand.
Atonement means ‘at-one-ment’…(of people to God, who had before been estranged from Him) Another word used for atonement is ‘reconciliation’, which is used in the following places in the New Testament….2 Cor. 5:18-19 and Hebrews 2:17, whilst the related words, reconcile, reconciled and reconciling, occur eleven (11) times.
However, the word ‘atonement’ is by far the word more often used in Scripture and occurs 77 times in the Old Testament and once in the New testament…..in Romans 5:11, as quoted above.
THE NEED FOR ATONEMENT:
Before we can ‘joy’ in ‘having received the atonement’, in being reconciled to God, we must firstly UNDERSTAND OUR NEED of it and then BELIEVE AND DO WHAT IS NECESSARY to be ‘at-one’ with God.
We are not naturally ‘at one’ with God, for we are born ignorant of Him, of His thoughts and ways, just as we are born ignorant of everything else. Also, when we reach an age of being able to understand the Bible, we are still, as the prophet Isaiah describes, "all we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way", (Isaiah 53:6). We sin by not doing what God wants for us, but rather by doing what we want for ourselves. Unfortunately, it is mostly our will that we want done, whilst we perhaps don’t want to know about God’s will!
God’s word reveals that there are two, and ONLY two things, which alienate us, or estrange us from God and we all come to the atonement being the subject of them both. Those two things are IGNORANCE AND SIN, in thought and action..( Ephesians 4:18; Colossians 1:21) As we progress to adulthood, the ignorance with which we were born becomes serious.
As adults we sin, or transgress God’s laws, sometimes knowingly but often ignorantly. SO….the FIRST STAGE IN COMING TO GOD’S ATONEMENT IS TO KNOW AND BELIEVE GOD AND HIS WAY---by which ignorance is replaced with knowledge. THE SECOND STAGE IS TO OBEY HIM---by which sin is replaced with obedience. The obedience of faith is the faith which pleases God….(Hebrews 11:6; Romans 16:26 (See studies The Truth About Faith and, The Truth About Forgiveness).
THE PRINCIPLES OF THE ATONEMENT:
Adam sinned and his sin brought ‘sin and the sentence of death’ into the world. (Romans 5:12 Genesis 3). As Adam’s descendants, we are all born subject to death. ( 1 Corinthians 15:21-22), and we are all born with selfish desires which tempt us as responsible adults, to do the sins to which we have all yielded. (James 1:13-16; Romans 3:23) see The Truth About Sin.
Because "the life of the flesh is in the blood’, God has decreed that "without the shedding of blood", or, the pouring out of the life of the flesh, "there is no remission( of sin)".(Leviticus 17:11-14…Hebrews 9:22). In literal terms this means that God’s way of forgiveness, and salvation for man who has sinned by serving self, MUST BE by denying self and serving God. The Mosaic Law taught it in a figure, and Jesus taught it literally…. "if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me". (Matthew 16:24)
God has made the ‘obedience unto death’ of His Son, "the man Christ Jesus", His appointed ‘covering’ for man’s sin. As Adam and Eve must (and did) put on the ‘coats of skins’ with which God ‘clothed them’ (Genesis 3:21), and as ‘the children of Israel’ must offer the proscribed animal, bullock, goat, lamb or doves, ‘without blemish’, (Leviticus ch. 4 to 8), so, under the New Covenant, we MUST ‘put on’ the sinless Christ, (Galatians 3:27), the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).
The sinless, obedient Jesus is OUR EXAMPLE of how God wants us to live, and to die, in loving service to God and to our fellow man. (1 Peter 2:21-25)
God deals with mankind under two heads, or families—Adam God’s first son, and Jesus Christ, his only begotten son. (Romans 5:12-21). Those "in Adam" by natural generation, both sin and die. Those ‘in Christ by faith’, or spiritual regeneration, both live righteously and will be raised to gain eternal life. (1 Corinthians 15:21-23).
To get out of Adam and into Christ, God requires that we be "born again" or "born of water and the spirit" (John 3:3-8). This rebirth commences with believing "the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 8:12; Mark 16:15-16), then being baptised (immersed in water) into the death of Christ for removal of sin (Romans 6), and hereafter living faithfully (Romans 2:7).
Being first justified (being made right with God), then progressively throughout life being sanctified (being cleansed from sin) and finally, at Christ's coming, being saved from eternal death , (given eternal life), is all by God's grace, through our faith in Him and in His word.
LIVING THE ATONEMENT:
If denying self to serve God is God’s way for our at-one-ment with Him, then the same way, along with serving others, is the way to LIVE the atonement in the remainder of our lives. That is why the two great commandments of both the Law of Moses and the law of Christ, are given as…1. "Thou shalt love THE LORD thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, ……"(Deut. 6:4; Matt 22:37-38), and, 2. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39)
ENJOYING THE ATONEMENT:
If we ..1, know and believe God, by believing the Gospel, or ‘good news’ of His salvation, and 2, surrender to His way by being baptised into Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and 3, live lives of love, hope and faith, THEN WE ARE AT-ONE WITH GOD, who, "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16), will live in us by His spirit.
He will talk to us through His Word, and we will talk to Him in prayer and shall also walk faithfully with Him in peace and joy, awaiting His coming kingdom and glory. We will truly know that we were redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ". (1 Pet 1:18-22…Rev. 5:9) and we will rejoice in that knowledge, supported as it will be by ‘faith, hope and love’. (1 Cor. 13). Our new life in Christ, with whom we will enjoy sweet fellowship, will be like Adam and Eve in Eden before they sinned!
Fellowship LOST by Adam will become AT-ONE-MENT by, and IN Jesus Christ.
"There is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus…For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.". (Romans 8:1-4)
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, REJOICE". (Philip. 4:4)
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