Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday - Some Thoughts on the Atonement 5



The atonement as sacrifice deals with the guilt of our sin, the atonement as propitiation deals with our unrighteousness, the atonement as reconciliation deals with God’s alienation from us, and the atonement as redemption deals with our bondage to sin.  Christ’s work as a whole means total salvation of the whole person from the penalty and power of sin.  Here we will focus on how the atonement redeems us from the curse of the law and from the power of sin.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”  Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”  But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3:10-14)
Now it is important for us to clarify here that we are not redeemed from the law.  That would be to say that we are redeemed from not having any God’s before the one true God of the covenant or to say we were redeemed from the requirement to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbor.  This would obviously be nonsense.  Instead the Bible does say that we are redeemed from the curse of the law. The curse of the law is its penal sanction for those who disobey it.  Because of our disobedience to God’s law we are under a curse and must be redeemed from that curse.  Christ has redeemed us by becoming a curse for us in hanging on the tree.  He paid the penal sanction that we owed.
and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom 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.  It 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. (Rom. 3:24-26)

In this passage we can see that we are redeemed from the guilt of sin.  Paul has finished his universal case against humanity in showing that we are all sinners who fall short of God’s glory.  So we are all under God’s wrath.  After this Paul proclaims that now we who believe in Jesus are justified and redeemed so that the guilt of our sins is paid for by the blood of Christ.  So there is no guilt for those who are in Christ and God is just in justifying us in him.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14)
Here we see that redemption from the power of sin does not just mean its guilt but also its controlling influence.  Christ gave himself so that we might be redeemed from all lawlessness and might be purified and zealous for good works.  The grace of God in Christ’s atoning work is not a grace that takes place in a vacuum but is instead a grace that is tied to teaching us to renounce all ungodliness and worldly passions and to live in a manner that is please to God.  So redemption is not in anyway limited to penal sanctions or to guilt but is closely related to holiness and presenting us before God as actually redeemed from sin’s power. 

All of this emphasizes the point made above, salvation in Christ is the perfect salvation of our whole person.  It saves us from the penalty of sin (sacrifice).  It saves us from our own unrighteousness (propitiation).  It saves us from God's alienation from sinners (reconciliation).  It saves us from the curse, guilt, and power of sin (redemption).


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