Notes compiled by Marty Zide and Steve McAtee
The atonement of Jesus is the very heart of Christian belief. Other religions base their claim to recognition on the teachings of their founders. Nothing is made of their death. The reason is, if their founder has died, they are still dead, and their death didn’t pay for anything. Jesus’ death is totally different.
The atoning work of Jesus on the cross was the capstone of His life. His atoning death paid the penalty for sin that God demanded and satisfies His wrath for all who believe in Jesus as Messiah.
Because this is such a vital subject to get right, if one is to be the recipient of true salvation, we can be sure that there will be a host of attacks that will be directed towards this teaching.
The Biblical Vocabulary of the Atonement
The Word of God uses several terms that describe various facets of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. Each one sheds light on the importance, the meaning of, and the necessity of the atonement.
Some of the terms and concepts that revolve around the atonement
Fulfillment of a plan
A Payment for sin
A ransom price for redemption
Penal, Substitutionary Sacrifice
Jesus’ Atonement Is A Fulfillment Of A Divine Plan
Throughout the Bible, the atonement is spoken of as a fulfillment of a plan that goes back before the foundation of the world. It was no surprise that mankind was going to fall into sin and it was no surprise that a plan was in place to correct sins consequences.
Rev. 13:8 - All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.
Acts 3:18 - But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.
Acts 17:2-3 - And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Messiah had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.
Acts 4:27-28 - For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
Since the atonement of Jesus is the fulfillment of a divine plan, His death was not something that took place because the anger and envy of man got out of control. Everything that took place, did so, as a result of God being in control of everything.
Jesus’ Atonement Is A Payment For Sin
The purpose of why Jesus came and died is so vitally important, that if we get this wrong, nothing much else will matter. We can be right on a lot of other subjects, but being wrong here has devastating consequences.
This does not mean that one has to be able to explain every facet of the atonement in detail in order to be called a believer. But it does mean that, whether we can put it into words or not, our relationship to Jesus and therefore to God depends on the way we view the cross. We must be Biblical in this doctrinal area.
Rom. 8:3 - For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.
1 Pet. 3:18 - For Messiah also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.
1 Cor. 15:3 - For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
1 Tim. 1:15 - It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Messiah Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
Heb. 9:26 - Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Matt. 1:21 - She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.