Posts Tagged ‘atonement’

For this Christian (and I hope it is the same for others), words and the proper use and understanding of terms is key to the discussion of issues of faith, belief and the Bible. With that in mind, before I begin my series of studies in preparation and leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I want to look at some of the vocabulary that is central to the events and their implications for believers and non-believers.

For this post, I want to start with the word ATONEMENT.

I will share some of the insights I have in tomorrow’s post, but in preparation for that, here is your assignment:

  1. What is the dictionary definition of atonement? Consider looking in a traditional dictionary as well as a Bible dictionary. You might also consider an online resource like http://www.dictionary.com.
  2. Consider Leviticus 17:11. What does it add to your understanding?

nothing but the blood

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As promised, here’s some of what I found and thought on the issue of atonement:

Paul E. Little in Know What You Believe says “atonement means, “at-one-ment”–that is to say, a bringing together of those who are estranged.” He concedes that in the Old Testament, atonement referred more to a covering. The covering for sin provided under the sacrificial system would suffice until the death of Christ. In the New Testament, Little says that atonement encompasses several ideas, namely reconciliation (as mentioned in Romans 5:10), and appeasement or propitiation–“the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift.” (See Romans 3:25).

According to Grudem in his Systematic Theology, two aspects of the character of God are at work in the atonement: His love and His justice. The love we see explained in John 3:16 and the justice we find in verses such as Romans 3:25. Grudem says, “the love and the justice of God were the ultimate cause of the atonement. . . . without the love of God, he would never have taken any steps to redeem us, yet without the justice of God, the specific requirement that Christ should earn our salvation by dying for our sins would not have been met. Both the love and the justice of God were equally important.”

For me, atonement brings to mind imagery of the Old Testament, blood filling the Kidron Valley at Passover and other high holidays as it flowed from the Temple, from the sacrifices killed one after the other on the bronze altar in the court yard–the blood flowed out of the animal and met the sin of the offeror. God had established the blood as a means to cover the offeror’s sin. It was His law.

So it was with Jesus, with His blood on the cross. His blood met my sin–it satisfied the debt my sin represented in the economy of God. It was a permanent solution to my sin problem.


Perhaps a hymn by William Cowper can best express the idea:

There is a fountain filled with blood 
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins,
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains

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