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Overview of The Bible

What Are Demons?

What is God's Spirit?

Who Wrote the Bible?

The Names of God

The Atonement

What is Heaven?

What the Bible Teaches About Faith

A Beginner's Guide to Bible Prophecy

The Tree of Life

The Bible promises us that the earth will be this place of peace, goodness, and prosperity. In reality, that isn't what we see at all.


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The Atonement

The Problem

So you, and I, and the world, have a problem. The Bible promises us that the earth will be a place of peace and goodness, but in reality, that isn't really what we see at all. In fact, the world is actually a picture of something much different. Sin and evil are rampant.

Our tendency is to blame everyone else - it is that nation's fault there is so much violence… why can't the government stop pollution and global warming… or why doesn't anyone but me seem to care about family values?

But when we really stop and think about it, and when we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that the root of these issues is something that we all deal with every day – and that's sin! Every one of us is prone to pride and, selfishness, envy, and greed.

These problems are part of the human condition, and there isn't all that much you or I can do about it, so for God to deliver on his promise of a world full of peace and goodness, He had to come up with a means of dealing with sin and its effects.

When sin entered the world for the first time – when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God's command in the Garden of Eden – God had a couple of options. Potentially, God could have decided to ignore sin and live with the consequences of a race of sinful humans. Or He could have given up completely on his plan to make the earth a place of peace and goodness and destroy mankind.

God's Solution

But God really wanted the earth to be filled with righteous men and women. So, in his wisdom, God found a means of forgiving sin without ignoring it. He found a way to show us mercy but, at the same time, clearly demonstrated that sin must be overcome.

In Bible terms, this is called "Atonement."…. Atonement is a word that we don't use very often – it is a term that sounds intimidating and theological. But the word 'atonement' isn't complicated at all. It simply means a covering. God provided a means by which sins could be covered – or perhaps in more simple language – forgiven. Incredibly, he also provided a way in which the effect of sin could be lifted. So, whereas sin leads to death, forgiveness provides an opportunity for life!

You've probably heard the common understanding of the Atonement. It goes something like this: Jesus died instead of you. So God provided his son as a substitute, putting him to death for your sins so that you don't have to die. The son of God paid your debt. But the trouble with this understanding is that it isn't consistent with one of God's most important characteristics. Our God is a God of absolute righteousness. Everything he does is right and just.

Imagine a trial where, after deliberating, the judge determines that a man is guilty of murder. Then, the next day, during sentencing, the judge lets the murderer go free and instead condemns an innocent bystander to a lifetime in prison.

We can't imagine such an outcome in our court system, but this is what is commonly taught concerning the most important sacrifice ever made!

So, what did happen? How did Jesus' sacrifice provide a covering for sin?

The simple key to understanding the Atonement is to realize that Jesus shared our sin-prone human nature — in other words, our tendency to sin. While he never once did sin, every day, he was tempted, just like we are.

Rather than Jesus' death being a substitute sacrifice – dying instead of us, his sacrifice demonstrated to us that our sinful tendencies must be overcome - sin must be put to death. So, if we go back to our imaginary trial – the judge doesn't make an unfair decision, but he determines in front of the entire audience that sin and human nature are the problems. His righteousness shows us that they need to be put to death, and so God is upheld as the righteous judge.

Why the Cross was Necessary

But what about dying on the cross? Why did Jesus have to die if he was perfect and sinless? Well, think about this — Jesus would have struggled with temptation forever if he had not died on the cross because it's not just sin that needs to be overcome, but human nature itself is a problem. Instead of allowing His son to struggle on through life constantly battling against sin, he allowed him to die in a way that lifted him up in the sight of all people and raised him up three days later to life and immortality, never to face temptation again.

The key principle that you want to remember is that Jesus' sacrifice was not a substitutionary one. He did not die instead of you. Rather, his sacrifice was a representation of the obedience that God is looking for from every one of us. God wants you to put sin to death in your life every day.

Now, of course, you and I are incapable of following the example of Jesus perfectly. We sin and fall short of the example Jesus set for us. But by faith in Jesus Christ, God offers to forgive our sins. He removes our sins and the consequences. God is willing to forgive us and give us eternal life.


The next time you look at the state of the world and get discouraged, remember that God hasn't given up on his plan to fill the earth with righteous men and women. God wants all of us to follow the example of his son and put sin to death every day. And when we fail, which we will – that is where the Atonement comes in. God will forgive our sins, and one day soon, he will change our nature so that we don't have to struggle with sin any longer.


The Atonement

The Bible promises us that the earth will be this place of peace, goodness, and prosperity. In reality, that isn't what we see at all.

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