“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17: 1)
Webster’s defines atonement as: “make amends, reconciliation. The reconciliation of God and humankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.”
At the very heart of Christianity lies the important doctrine of atonement. The death of Jesus Christ was sacrificial and necessary for man’s redemption as Jesus’ death “atoned” for our sins. This refers to the atoning death of Christ through which the sinner is reconciled to God and restored to His favor.
In the Bible, atonement is associated with man’s sin. God commanded Israel to set aside one day each year, the 10th day of the seventh month, which He called “the day of atonement.” On this day, the Jewish people were to bring a sin offering of an innocent, perfect animal to the altar within the Holy of Holies. The High Priest took the blood from a young bull and sprinkled it inside the veil where the Holy of Holies is located. This was only a temporary covering that had to be replicated each year. This was a foreshadowing of what Jesus would ultimately do on the cross, as His innocent blood was shed for sinners, once and forever.
Atonement typifies the plan of salvation that was made possible by Christ’s perfect, sinless life and His perfection in keeping the Law of Moses that man couldn’t. His death was the atonement that God required to enter His Kingdom. Jesus’ death paid the full wages of sin and ransomed us from eternal damnation.
We believe that men are regenerated, redeemed, reconciled to God, justified, forgiven, adopted, not by the Doctrine of the Atonement, but by the Atonement itself, by the sacrificial and substitutional death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Atonement is all about God reconciling man to Himself and covering our sins with Jesus’ righteousness as He ransoms us from the penalty that sin deserves…eternal death.
Additional References: 1 John 2:2, 1 Peter 2:24, Hebrews 9:12
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