Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Meaning of "Atonement"

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
The word "atonement" is not of Latin origin; it's a plain old Saxon word that means to "be at-one-with" someone from whom you have been alienated. It's always a sweet experience to become "at-one-with" a friend or relative from whom you have been alienated, but no words can describe the sheer joy that becomes ours when we are at last "at-one-with" the Lord--so there is no alienation between us. Our natural state as fallen humans is to be alienated from Him: "The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7).

"At-one-ment" means to be restored to the intimate closeness with the Lord that was ours as humans before our first parents yielded to the deceptive claims of the fallen Lucifer in the Garden of Eden. Ever since, as humans we have been at odds with the Lord; it's our nature; it's something passed on down to us through our fallen father, Adam. "The carnal [natural] mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." And no one can claim that he is better than all the other fallen sons or daughters of Adam and claim that he doesn't have that problem. We are all in the same boat.

No one can claim that he/she does not need the divine human Saviour who gave Himself for us.
The very story of Jesus moves us toward salvation if we will but listen and believe it; there is redemption in the story itself.

(a) Our fallen father Adam passed on to us in our nature the lostness that became his.

(b) Christ has fired him from his job of being our "father," and He Himself has become our "second" or "last Adam," reversing the judicial condemnation that sin has brought on all of us.

(c) Therefore as our "last Adam," the Lord Jesus Christ has given to the human race another probation: Christ has erased the judicial condemnation that was against us "in Adam" and has given us, not merely offered us, a judicial verdict of acquittal. Let's read it in Romans 5:
"It was through one man that sin entered the world, and through sin death, and thus death pervaded the whole human race. ... But God's act of grace is out of all proportion to Adam's wrongdoing. For if the wrongdoing of that one man brought death upon so many, it's effect is vastly exceeded by the grace of God and the gift that came to so many by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ. And again, the gift of God is not to be compared in its effect with that one man's sin; for the judicial action, following on the one offence, resulted in a verdict of condemnation, but the act of grace, following on so many misdeeds, resulted in a verdict of acquittal. ... It follows, then, that as the result of one misdeed was condemnation for all people, so the result of one righteous act is acquittal and life for all" (Rom. 5:12-18, Revised English Bible). What does this say?

(d) The Father has not merely offered to give Jesus to us; He has given Him to us!

(e) Since the world began, only one "righteous act" has ever been performed--the sacrifice of Jesus.

(f) The Father gave Him and He gave Himself for us, each one individually, going to hell and giving Himself forever, to save us each individually.

Kneel and think about it, your eyes closed, your radio and TV off, until you can begin to appreciate it.

--Robert J. Wieland

From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: December 19, 2008.
Copyright © 2011 by "Dial Daily Bread."

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