12th December 2016

Atonement Or Expiation

“What is expiation?”Answer: The word “expiation” does not appear in the New Testament, but it does accurately describe an aspect of the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Expiation means “to cover sin” and/or “to cleanse sin.” Expiation reflects the idea that the negative and degrading effects of our sin are removed through the grace of God. Another word for expiation is atonement, and truly this is one of the results of Jesus’ atoning death for us.Through expiation—the work of Christ on the cross for us—the sin of all those who would ever believe in Christ was cancelled. That cancellation is eternal in its consequence, even though sin is still present in the temporal sense. In other words, believers are delivered from the penalty and power of sin, but not the presence of it. Justification is the term for being delivered from the penalty of sin. This is a one-time act wherein the sinner is justified and made holy and righteous in the eyes of God who exchanged our sinful natures for the righteousness of Christ at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Sanctification is the ongoing process whereby believers are delivered from the power of sin in their lives and are enabled by the new nature to resist and turn away from it. Glorification is when we are removed from the very presence of sin, which will only occur once we leave this world and are in heaven. All these processes—justification, sanctification and glorification—are made possible through the expiation or cancellation of sin. It is good to know also that there are other benefits of Jesus’ death for us. One of them, not included in the concept of expiation, but just as true and biblical, is propitiation, which is “to appease wrath.” Truly the atoning death of God the Son satisfies the wrath of God the Father against rebellious, sinful humanity (John 3:36; Romans 5:9). Expiation, justification, sanctification, glorification, propitiation, and many more – we have countless reasons to praise God and to run to Him in faith and trust.

 

“What is the substitutionary atonement?”Answer: The substitutionary atonement refers to Jesus Christ dying as a substitute for sinners. The Scriptures teach that all men are sinners (Romans 3:9-18, 23). The penalty for our sinfulness is death. Romans 6:23 reads, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”That verse teaches us several things. Without Christ, we are going to die and spend an eternity in hell as payment for our sins. Death in the Scriptures refers to a “separation.” Everyone will die, but some will live in heaven with the Lord for eternity, while others will live a life in hell for eternity. The death spoken of here refers to the life in hell. However, the second thing this verse teaches us is that eternal life is available through Jesus Christ. This is His substitutionary atonement.Jesus Christ died in our place when He was crucified on the cross. We deserved to be the ones placed on that cross to die because we are the ones who live sinful lives. But Christ took the punishment on Himself in our place—He substituted Himself for us and took what we rightly deserved. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Here again we see that Christ took the sins we committed onto Himself to pay the price for us. A few verses later we read, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). Not only do these verses teach us about the substitute that Christ was for us, but they also teach that He was the atonement, meaning He satisfied the payment due for the sinfulness of man.One more passage that talks about the substitutionary atonement is Isaiah 53:5. This verse talks about the coming Christ who was to die on the cross for our sins. The prophecy is very detailed, and the crucifixion happened just as it was foretold. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Notice the substitution. Here again we see that Christ paid the price for us!We can only pay the price of sin on our own by being punished and placed in hell for all eternity. But God’s Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth to pay for the price of our sins. Because He did this for us, we now have the opportunity to not only have our sins forgiven, but to spend eternity with Him. In order to do this we must place our faith in what Christ did on the cross. We cannot save ourselves; we need a substitute to take our place. The death of Jesus Christ is the substitutionary atonement.

 

“What is justification?”Answer: Simply put, to justify is to declare righteous, to make one right with God. Justification is God’s declaring those who receive Christ to be righteous, based on Christ’s righteousness being imputed to the accounts of those who receive Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though justification as a principle is found throughout Scripture, the main passage describing justification in relation to believers is Romans 3:21-26: “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ’s own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God’s demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us.Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well: “Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

 

“What is sanctification? What is the definition of Christian sanctification?”Answer: Jesus had a lot to say about sanctification in the Book of John, chapter 17. In verse 16 the Lord says, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world,” and this is before His request: “Sanctify them in the truth: Thy word is truth.” Sanctification is a state of separation unto God; all believers enter into this state when they are born of God: “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is a once-for-ever separation, eternally unto God. It is an intricate part of our salvation, our connection with Christ (Hebrews 10:10).Sanctification also refers to the practical experience of this separation unto God, being the effect of obedience to the Word of God in one’s life, and is to be pursued by the believer earnestly (1 Peter 1:15; Hebrews 12:14). Just as the Lord prayed in John 17, it has in view the setting apart of believers for the purpose for which they are sent into the world: “As Thou didst send Me into the world, even so send I them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (v. 18, 19). That He set Himself apart for the purpose for which He was sent is both the basis and the condition of our being set apart for that for which we are sent (John 10:36). His sanctification is the pattern of, and the power for, ours. The sending and the sanctifying are inseparable. On this account they are called saints, hagioi in the Greek; “sanctified ones.” Whereas previously their behavior bore witness to their standing in the world in separation from God, now their behavior should bear witness to their standing before God in separation from the world.There is one more sense that the word sanctification is referred to in Scripture. Paul prayed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “The God of peace Himself sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul also wrote in Colossians of “the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel” (Colossians 1:5). He later speaks of Christ Himself as “the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) and then mentions the fact of that hope when he says, “When Christ, who is our Life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with Him be manifested in glory” (Colossians 3:4). This glorified state will be our ultimate separation from sin, total sanctification in every aspect. “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).To summarize, sanctification is the same Greek word as holiness, “hagios,” meaning a separation. First, a once-for-all positional separation unto Christ at our salvation. Second, a practical progressive holiness in a believer’s life while awaiting the return of Christ. Third, we will be changed into His perfect likeness—holy, sanctified, and completely separated from the presence of evil.

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